Posts Tagged food

Sunday Column (489)

The bank holiday weeks are always fully packed. I remember 10 years ago when we worked 40 hours in 4 days to make up for the lost day. Being a freelance consultant this isn’t the case but you loose a day you can charge for work. So I enjoyed it with a fantastic BBQ with friends and the hottest bank holiday weekend since it was introduced in 1978. Does that mean we are on our way to global warming? We spend the Sunday at Brighton Marina sitting in the sun eating South American food. What is not to like? It felt like we were on holidays.

Tuesday I met another very interesting start up. Great to meet so many smart people that are starting to transform our industry. Yes I love what I am doing and the consulting role is actually growing on me. I have so much to give and so much to take care of and so much to help and to introduce to the market….it is fun actually. Does it offer the security I am after or the planning horizon? No, but it offers the flexibility and conversations with interesting and smart people I was missing at some point in my career.

The challenge is, as a consultant, that you always will be a consultant and don’t, at least for now, have shares or build a product which results in a big exit. But is that the ultimate goal? What I mean is that you don’t create anything but just go in and out, not being part of anything. And I still have a few years of wanting to build and create something for myself or others. So I prefer a permanent role for now, and then the consultant, life style choice career, maybe a few NED positions, when I am 5-10 years older. Of course it isn’t all age, but experience. Where are we going to be in a year from now?

Things always happen for a reason. Just imagine you go into any meeting, any conversation and imagine people just trying to help you. There is a conspiracy of people trying to help YOU. It’s one of the oldest tricks in visualisation and personal development and being successful in sales – just replace helping ‘wanting to be sold by you’. I am grateful for the industry friends I have, and the ones that are trying to help me. I am humbled by the help I receive and I know things will work out, they always will. And when I heard of another adtech collapse this week, I decided to pro-actively reach out to a friend there to see what I can do to make his life better. I care. And that’s how I differ from others. I am genuine, genuinely concerned, and don’t talk BS. And I always give it my best to make it work and do a good job. Someone asked me what is my ‘sales’ and I am just really good at building relationships, maintain them and build trust. Because I care.

Anyway. There are two things that stuck with me this week. A good friend of mine said that he appreciated my blogs and that really we are at peak performance when having to make it work. He is right. Also, there was another situation, actually two. One was when I was introduced to a headhunter by three (!) people within one hour for a job that she didn’t contact me for […] and you wonder why only 5% of jobs at my level are found through recruiters.

The other one was when I did something I haven’t done in ages. This week I had a couple of meetings cancelled, and decided to pack up my stuff, put away my headphones and just walked from Holborn to Kings Cross, went into the British Library, had a wander around looking at books and an exhibition. I took time out to take in different input. I then walked to Soho for a meeting. And I enjoyed every minute of London, the Library and Life. You have to cherish those moments because soon enough it will be all work and work and work. When have you last taken an hour to just do something you haven’t done for a while, put your phone and distractions aside and just enjoyed yourself?

Isn’t life fantastic I wonder? No I don’t, I know. I love it. I love life and its challenges. And I love my family and friends. I care. And I start to see that there are more people like me out there that care and help. And that’s good. That’s life and that’s how it should be. I spend the weekend with my boys, as the wife was away, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I made a conscious effort to put my phone aside, to be with them in the moment, take part in their life and being with them. It was fantastic!

Have a great week. Take your time for something you enjoy doing. Take the lunch break and just go for a walk through the park and sit down, smell the roses, and appreciate life.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (470)

What a Christmas we had. Lots of driving to and from Germany, but the main challenge wasn’t the driving itself but the weather. No, not really snow or anything like that, but it was grey and dark. Things were just miserable, no light, the sat-nav had a dark background, literally thinking it was night time, the whole drive both ways. Some delays but overall we were lucky enough to make the journey without an complications. I guess that’s all what matters. And then, we relaxed.

Christmas in Germany seems different. Maybe because that’s where I ‘learned’ Christmas, and it always feels home and secure, and comfortable. Maybe it is the Christmas decorations or the family bond you have at Christmas, and anyway, we had a fantastic time with mum serving my favourite food. Needless to say we had a lot of it, plenty of wine and lots of laughter. A Christmas market, some shopping, and seeing friends and family. But it was dark and grey. Just saying, I guess I have to move to the other end of the world in order to have a sunny Christmas.

As I seem to settle a bit on Christmas Day, just after watching the Queen’s speech, I am reminiscing about the old and the new. You might have read my blog posts over the last couple of weeks, looking back at the year. I am pleased with the differences I have made to some people’s career, how I have been able to change people’s life for the better. I also had to make some tough decisions, which resulted in people not having a good time. But we are forced to make those decisions, and we are mature enough to make them and move on. And take those of others 🙁

So I closed 2017 in my mind. Particularly, I have been brainstorming my own future for the past 6 weeks, trying to figure out what the next moves are. And I found a lot more focus moving forward. The new. I am keen on exploring new opportunities, but I want to move away from just having a job. What I mean by that is that I don’t want to fall back into a position where I just execute for the sake of execution but rather being part of a bigger solution and a long term plan. There are a few of those nuggets around and I am keen on finding them. As and if I make progress I shall let you know.

2018 – for me this is about a few things. Today, being the eve of the new year, I think the main focus will be to maintain an exercise routine but cutting it down to 4 days a week with one 5 am start focusing on writing. I have pushed my body too far before Christmas, and the break was good – sometimes less is more. I am fit though, feel healthy and good.

Also, I am planning to launch a podcast to interview people on their stories of succcess. A focus of this is European success stories or success stories of European leaders. Why? Because I believe too many success stories are not focused enough on the challenges in Europe. So as I launch the website and have sorted the details, I will announce further info on here. Personally, I see it as an extension of my blog in audio format.

I also want to make sure I make my time with the kids count more. So more uninterrupted dad time will be a key focus for me, and have regular date nights with the wife. Less travel, more time at home, more support for my first priorities. They are well worth it. And, last but not least, find a job I enjoy and I can settle in, as of above, and maybe do a 5-10 year stint, wouldn’t that be nice. Having a normal life? However you define normal LOL

I know that some people think that’s not possible in our industry to have a more regulated life, and maybe it isn’t. But I also believe it is time to find that nugget and move forward. Give it all and expect all too.

That concludes my 2018 wishes. Hopefully I didn’t forget anything and if you think I did, please reach out via the usual channels.

Have an amazing, happy 2018 !!!

All the best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (459)

Monday again – ok Sunday when you start reading this. A mixed week is behind me which started with a Monday flight to Belgrade, Serbia. I have never been, heard a lot and went to see the operations office of the company, Sizmek, that acquired the company I work for, Rocket Fuel.

As a VP Client Success I joined Rocket Fuel back in January, anticipating that they either sell or be taken private. I have seen their history from being a competitor to being a partner to being a supplier and knew most of the people there. And I have been around in programmatic for 7 years, so a good fit I thought, but also a bit risky. Then the sale happened this summer and we are now part of Sizmek, backed by a P.E. Company (Private Equity) which originally took Sizmek private last year. So we have two ex public companies joining forces to build the biggest independent demand side stack in the programmatic space. This is a very promising proposition and I was very excited to be part of this. A great proposition.

With my commercial background and in depth operational knowledge, I was hired to align the back office, operations and analytics, with key accounts to drive further growth. Using my commercial acumen with the understanding of the space and experience of how to run campaigns, aligning back office with client growth. We never quite completed that as I was pulled in to run the German office where I successfully managed a turn around. So two senior jobs since the beginning of the year, lots of travel, lots of time away from the family. Now, the structure moving forward will look different. Less client success, more of an operations and sales divide. So things will change with the company and ultimately for me.

Belgrade. Air Serbia, and again a bit of nerve wrecking when my ticket had a spelling mistake, but everything was fine, and a very hard landing with squeaking brakes. I trust old planes 😉 Air Serbia got me there and back again. Belgrade is a city which on first sight resembled the Eastern part of Berlin 20 years ago, yet it turned out to be beautiful and full of the nicest people ever. Lots of meaty food, lovely people and very rich on culture with influences from Russia, Turkey, Hungary and Greece. It took me back to a trip I made to Istanbul a few years back. The merger of East and West, the tradition, cultural influences from all over the region and the amazing, well flavoured food. I believe I got a good feel for the people and the country. Essentiallly, due to travel times, we only spend two days in the office, however those two days were action packed and we learned a lot.

You remember when I spoke about experience in last week’s blog? That’s what it is all about. Understanding. Listening. Sharing the glass of wine and good food. Making friends and bringing people together. An amazing trip, not only for work and the extension of what we are doing in main markets, but to understand the challenges and opportunities in the Serbian market.

What did I noticed most in terms of the cultural differences – besides a noisy hotel that felt like a youth hostel on the first night (and the manager emailed me to apologise) – people still smoke a lot and you can still smoke in restaurants and bars. Yes, this is more of a Southern culture I suppose. Funny how after only 10 years (the smoking ban was introduced in the UK in 2007), we got so used to having smoke free clothes. I quit chain smoking in 1998, then smoked on and off until about 2004 before I finally gave up. Even that is crazy to think now. And given the lack of sleep, I introduced a second espresso again, and I really needed it 🙂 Not only because of the noise but we wanted to make the most with our hosts to get to know them in and out of the office.

So you would agree I suppose that this week was action packed. Enjoyable, tiring, yet encouraging and full of learning. A roller coaster ride on emotions and reflection on strengths and experience. What else to ask for?

Over the forthcoming weeks I can be more detailed about some personal developments, plans and some ideas; I prepared a few posts on life, work and priorities. Christmas is coming up and Tesco has already filled a whole aisle with things that are Christmassy. Oh yes, the joyful season. We had friends over for dinner, went bowling and enjoyed this autumn weekend.

I hope you did too. It is great to hear from more and more people that they enjoy reading this column. For the forthcoming weeks, keep reading, I will go deeper on a few things. And feel free to let me know what you want me to write about.

Have an amazing week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (383)

Enjoy your bank holiday weekend! I even had Friday off and enjoying a mini holiday. The weather has been ok, sunny yet cold. We went for a nice walk, made bow and arrows and had the fire on. I know….we are having a relaxing weekend really. Good food, too much food, nice wine but also plenty of exercise. I was desperate to run the length of a half marathon and so I did. I really enjoy the challenge of long distance running, so you never know what I might run next…

This week is somewhat decision time upon us. There are many lose ends I feel and trying to tie them all up needs decision making. One of them is the car. We spend last weekend and part of this weekend to go through features, benefits, pricing, ideas, necessities around a new car. The finance offers for a new Skoda Superb are just too superb to ignore. So we are set on the car, we are set on the offer yet have to find the best offer in town. Maybe we can make a decision as early as next week, we shall see.

No doubt there is a basic decision on whether we need a new car in general, whether we want a new car and whether we want to afford a new car. The answer to most of those questions is yes, yet it isn’t an easy decision making. You also need to take into consideration what else is going on in your life.

And that is a lot!

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Starting with some family discussions. We are thinking a lot on the private side of things as well. Should we stay the way we are, should we change. What needs to change internally to keep up with changes on the outside. Lots of decisions and discussions are being made.

And then we are renovating the bathroom. That took a lot longer than anticipated but it slowly takes shape. Some more minor things to do and then one room should be done, another should get done over the next two weeks. The driveway might not get done until autumn, yet the trees will be planted in a couple of weeks time. Then we need to decorate, make decisions on things, change a window and so on. It never stops. I couldn’t do it without my wife, Jenny, who does such a great job organising things. We are getting somewhere, and we are happy. That is the main thing of course but sometimes things are just overwhelming.

We are happy, healthy and have food on the table. I have a good job and enjoy the space I am operating in. As a matter of fact the bit of the industry I am working on is just forming properly, so lots of things happening! What is there not to like.

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Yes, I now need reading glasses. I have headaches, aches, pains from staring at screens all day. I am hopeful the new specs will help me see what is going on more clearly, and release some of that pain I am suffering from. Age, I am getting older, I just did, but not the big one yet. Still one year to go. Yet I feel fitter than I ever did and healthy and all. Just a lot of strain, which seems to get more as you get older 🙁

So there is a lot going on in our lives. Once most of the things have settled down and we have made most of the decisions we needed to do, we can move forward and enjoy life a bit more again. More easy. I guess I am just not the type to be all cool about things when I can see there is so much more to be done. And when it is all at ease…then I get bored again, work more on my book and will be busy again. Life goes in cycles. 6 months cycles some people would suggest. But life isn’t all bad, life actually – in majority – is very good. And we must appreciate that. Daily. Never forget!

We also got a sneak peak to Colin’s next school he goes to in September. A proper tour, met one of the head teachers and I think it is all good. I was impressed with the school actually and it strengthened our choice of moving to Hassocks. Life is good, as I said, and sometimes you forget how well you have it.

Drinking water, hot showers, all there. A roof over your head, a steady job, health.

In those moments it is good to just sit down, calm down and appreciate what you have and what you got. To stop. Smell the roses.

Enjoy the bank holiday.

Best,
Volker

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