Posts Tagged Friends

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 (468)

This week’s post is written on a keyboard I still need to come to terms with: My new MacBook Pro. Since Southern Rail reimbursed me my travel card, I could justify the hefty price tag to get a new laptop. It sounds crazy but the MacBook or the MacBook Air just don’t have enough power to really justify any investment past 1K. So the MacBook Pro, without the fancy touch bar, seems like the only reasonable machine out there if you want to buy an Apple. And I am overall quite happy with it. The keyboard, as said, needs getting used to, the touchpad too but you already know it is better than the old one on the Air, and definitely is similar to the external one; and last but not least, the display is amazing. Particularly compared to the Air. However, as friends warned me, connecting it to my 10 year old Dell screen, just doesn’t cut it. It feels like the Dell is fading, and I prefer to do the main work on the Retina display. Maybe there is another investment coming soon.

First world problems I suppose. On that note, Arnold Schwarzenegger was very outspoken this week about climate change and someone in a podcast said that we are the first generation that actually has enough data to make an informed decision. And, we cannot ignore the fact the world is changing. Minus degrees, snow, it being cold and the fire is on, cosy nights with wine. The next day T-shirt weather and rain, it being around 10 degrees. No, this isn’t normal, and I don’t need to be a meteorologist to figure that one out. What to do? I am still thinking of how I can contribute to the greater good moving forward.

A friend of mine had a website a few years ago about connecting dots. And Steve Jobs is most famous for saying you connect those dots looking back, even if looking forward we can’t see it yet. And it is Anthony Robbins who said that the brain is wired to avoid fear, because that’s how it was millions of years ago. There is history and if we look back, we cannot predict the future – still. But with climate change we can say: it is real!

I figured, sometimes in life we just need to sit still and listen. We need to connect with friends and family, new people and get input. And based on the input we get, we redefine our lives. We all do that, all the time. However, doing it consciously, and deliberately reviewing your life’s purpose, is something else. That’s what I have been doing over the last few weeks, since I took redundancy. I am open about it, because I am wired to talk, to write, to share thoughts. I am not wired to be a great motivational speaker on a stage, as my background is very scientifically grounded. Of course, one doesn’t exclude the other. What I am trying to say is that what I like to produce is profound, which is why I was successful in my sales career: no BS. Ever. Win/Win. Always. And the input this week was as good as last week, maybe a complete different directions. That’s what I call a growth mindset, and I am keen on not doing anything for a few days over Christmas.

This feels like a year end post already. Despite being a bit put off by ‘my’ digital industry, I cannot stay away. Having been at a few Christmas drinks this week, it is so great to see people from the industry I have known for years. That is fun and continues next week, with even more and closer friends. The industry is part of me, and I am part of it. I love technology, and particularly technology pushing boundaries and being in a position to improve the ecosystem and deficicies. My tasks got bigger from selling ads to influencing the way we see the ecosystem and how we approach it. Things are changing. I am changing. And some of the tech I have been speaking about over the past few weeks has been amazing.

I am also deep into personal development and change. Not only in theory with my book about productivity and articles on growth mindsets that I write and that resonate well, but also the application of this on a daily basis. Being one of the few that never struggle with their workloads and emails for instance. It’s about getting things done and putting out more than others at higher quality. But at the same time looking at your balance and work culture for your team. This is difficult when we look at value creation versus hours worked. Quantity vs. Quality. Another discussion this week.

So I have been thinking on how to best combine the two things. In the New Year I will make a few personal announcements. I plan to launch a few things that are more personal development related, that fuel my passion and hopefully your interest in the personal development space. And the main thought for me: focusing on Europe, rather than the US. There is a lot of good influence coming from the US, but I believe we need more focus on what’s happening in our world. Things we can apply to what’s in front of us. There is a lot of great stuff coming from the US and I love those motivational gurus and ideas, but the market is so different to Europe, to the UK. Size and scale are only a small part of it, culture is another.

On the other hand I will continue to focus on changing the world, changing the ecosystem we are living in from a digital and technology perspective. Helping others to understand what’s happening and how to be back in control. Being able to change the world, maybe, and even if it is a little bit at a time.

As Christmas is around the corner things are slowing down. Decision making is almost coming to a stand still. I have taken more online courses and made first decisions. I will disclose at the appropriate times but two projects are secured. Both are, so far, unfunded, e.g. freelance without pay. That is ok though, as there are thoughts behind it. I keep you posted. You, my friends, will be the first to know about my new endeavours and ideas. No, they aren’t related to climate change but there is no reason they won’t be moving forward. One just doesn’t know, do you?

Just finishing the week, we went to the Brighton game on Saturday. I wanted to go back for over a year, when I first took the boys to a football match. And my first one too. So this time my wife joined and we had a great family time. My youngest missed out on his best friend’s birthday party in favour of the game. Creating those experiences are fun, and then it doesn’t matter whether you win or loose. To be there, engage fully, and being part of something, that is key and much more valuable than winning or losing.

Have a great Christmas. Wind down, give your loved ones a hug and make sure you stay warm and safe.

All the best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (465)

This week had a busy start, and a busy finish to be honest. I am starting to write on Monday night, which is late for me. No trains, no commute at the moment, still trying to figure out what I am going to do next. Strategizing life, guess that is one of my fortes, as I love strategizing. Taking a proposition to market. Turning around a market and making sure everyone is on board. People management. Process management. Allround talent for management. Team and individual coaching.

Hmm, what should I do?

I know my skills are there, and I also know – and speaking to a lot of industry friends lately – that my programmatic skills are there and they seem to be rare. Those paired with commercial acumen. Operations plus commercial. Running companies, managing big teams. I have never taken redundancy by being fired for being shit. It sometimes feels like that but I am not taking it personal, I had to let people go this year too. There is no guarantee and no stability anymore from what it looks like in the industry, which suggests to me that self-employment is the way forward. Essentially it is the same risk but with a higher reward. Plus I will be able to manage my own time. And I will be good in what I am doing, I am not worried about it. But there is fear to overcome, it is a big step being used to a senior exec salary, pension payment, and a life style. Having to pay a mortgage, putting kids through school and education and so on. Whilst I rummage about what I am going to do next, I think the there are a few full time positions still to consider. Why not being more focused, more directive and selective, and in the meantime embark on the self employed journey. Yes, this sounds like a plan!

I am open. Why wouldn’t I be? If you read that, you either are an industry friend, we met sometime ago or met randomly, or you are interested in reading my columns.
Then you might feel like you know me. So if you are reading that, from my perspective you are a friend, and with friends I am happy to share my feelings, my thoughts, my ideas. Because everyone has similar thoughts and feelings. I know I am not alone and no one is. Maybe you are in a similar situation – feel free to reach out and we grab a coffee. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks to my friends who so far helped me on the way. Giving thanks for the opportunity I have had and that will be there to come. All beginnings are hard, but there is so much help out there, I am ever so grateful for. Thank you. Thank you.

I could tell you what I did this week and particularly on Monday, I did two school runs and had dinner with my boys. I don’t remember being home for tea time for a long time and it was good to spend that much time with the boys. I am really enjoying that. I feel like I am actually part of their lives rather than rushing to another plane or meeting. Those moments are very important for me, and I enjoy that time. I didn’t have much of that this year. Now it is all about balancing my time with the kids with a future employment. I want to be more with the kids, whilst also knowing it won’t always be feasible. Balancing this is scary and challenging but if I don’t try, I won’t succeed by default. So I must try and I have the time and finances to try it for a while. Things will work out in the end. They always will, one way or another.

So let’s look forward. Let’s conquer the fear and get over it. Christmas, quiet time, is around the corner. Time to reflect. Then there will be a new year, 2018. We still don’t have flying cars, and we yet have to invent teleporting, but recent videos of robots doing back flips and mini drones killing people based on facial recognition scares me. Having worked with AI (artificial intelligence), it shows what’s possible, what humans can do. It is about opportunity without fear, trusting that technology will be used in a good way, for good causes. I guess the future will tell.

Here is to the future. And to better blog posts, but that depends on the input.
Let next week be the week that takes me a step forward.

Have a successful, peaceful and great week ahead.

Volker

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My #spitfirescramble 2017 review

Wow – it has been a day since the Spitfire Scramble. My first ever running event. I was told by my experienced runners and team mates, that there is no such thing as a race. It is an event. You do it for yourself, the team, but not to race but to enjoy. And, a bit surprisingly, I did. As you might remember from my last post, one of my biggest challenges was the camping, believe it or not. The camping itself I really enjoyed. I loved the camaraderie. Maybe it was because I had little to organise, no tents to put up myself or take down myself – I tried to help more or less successfully, and the whole cooking and meals were organised by a fantastic and very experienced team. I was welcomed into the arms of a functioning group of people who have done those events before. Thanks once again!

But how were my laps? What happened?
So I finally got to go out around 4.30 in the afternoon. Adrenaline kicked in big time. I was off to a far too fast start, raced around the track and it took me until mile 4 out of 6 to find my pace. Once I did, I finished in a reasonable time of around 46 minutes for the just under 6 mile course. Far too quickly to sustain it I thought. And I walked a bit in between due to getting side stitches, being off too quickly.

My next round, just about 3 and a bit hours later, still light, was better paced, no walking, and I came in at a similar time. Interesting enough this round I found hardest of all the ones I did. Mentally and physically. I noticed my head playing tricks on me, my legs being really tired, and you work yourself into a pace and just run. I then managed to sleep about an hour before setting off at midnight again.

This time it was dark. With a head torch and a flash light, some glow sticks put down by the organisers, I made my way around the course. Mentally not as hard, as you concentrate on not falling over. Some drunk teenagers on one part of the route made it interesting and with the runners field spread wide apart, it was lonely at times. But it was fun, enjoyable. Then my left hip and ITB started to seize up a bit and my knee started to hurt. Not pleasant at all, I came in just around 53 minutes. Still happy enough.

Now, so far I enjoyed it. Really loved it. The third lap seemed easier than the second and mentally I was in a good shape. My left hand site would relax again, wouldn’t it? I saw one of the on site massage therapists and he taped my knee, stretched my glutes and said that my left upper leg muscles were just far too tight. He tried loosing them, suggested others had exactly the same problem. I figured with his help and the following 2.5 hours of sleep I should be fine. I didn’t get a great rest, and woke up in pain a couple of times. When it was time to get up I meditated first. My head was in a very good place, and despite the exhaustion I think my brain was more relaxed than I have seen it in a long time. I was ready. I didn’t even feel tired.

With doubts I made it out into the early morning, around 5. Luckily it was warm, and the little rain we encountered throughout the day was neglectable. But as soon as I set off I knew this time, the leg won’t last. I managed to run around 3 miles without stopping too often, ran with the pain and continued. It felt to me that if I get to the half way point, I make it through to the end. It reminded me of my long night walks and trainings when I was at the navy over 20 years ago. I felt strong, and I felt mentally in a very strong place. I loved the fresh air, the views across London, the lights of the early morning. It was my 5 am time, my usually running time.

But then the pain set in more and I had to start walking a bit more. From there on it was running a bit, longer stretches of walking, running. I spoke to some solo runners who only functioned on ibuprofen. Was I willing to do that? Does that make sense? For what? But I was determined to finish in a good-ish time to not let the team down. I am not going to fail in this lap, even though I knew this lap might well be my last one. Whilst in a combination of walking and running I got up the last hill, I had to be careful to go downhill. My knee pain alternated between the pain I knew and other ligaments wanting to join the party. It wasn’t nice. I finished in just over an hour and that was me done.

My first event. My first wall. I was looking forward to doing that for a long time. Whilst some team members went on to do a 5th and 6th lap, I couldn’t. I am very proud of their achievements. I was afraid of damaging my knee.

So what is the post mortem? Was I not prepared enough? I felt very well, my fitness felt great, mentally I was ready. Maybe I should have stretched more? Maybe more massages in preparation? Or is my body which isn’t used to running longer distances? Should I train a few half marathons or do a marathon before attempting an event like that again?

You can hear from my voice, that I am already thinking about the next event. The next wall in my life. Will it be this event in a year’s time, or something similar. I love the endurance challenges, but maybe I need a different preparation? No, not maybe, I have to work on strength and distance. More focus. I wondered what the point of solo running for this event was and why people end up walking. Some people explained it to me, that this is all about the mental and physical challenge and not about winning, but about having a platform to compete against your natural limits. Solo running. Solo walking. This sounds appealing… or does it?

Whatever my wall will be for next year, I think preparation needs to be better planned. Last year, before I pulled out, I was fitter. I weighted 3 kg less which can make a difference, and I was better prepared. But you don’t know until the day of the race. The day of the event I mean. It made me understand my wife better and her drive to do another marathon. And it made me acknowledge the effort and preparation that goes into a marathon. And maybe I just need to do that. A better preparation, a more planned approach. A marathon? As I keep preaching about, a habit, routine or system, based on the event you are doing. And maybe this comes with experience, yet the main part is to prepare your body for it. Systematically.

My thanks goes to my team mates. The ones that kept up my spirit. The ones that guided me to and from the event track. The ones that cheered for me, and put up with my mood and my dead brain the next day. The one that was awake driving home whilst my body just shut down. Thank you, and maybe, just maybe I see you again next year.

And my knee? I think it will be ok. With some more taping, some TLC, some cooling, lots of Ibuprofen, a sports massage and some rest. I am certain there was no long term damage done. So yes, I am sure I will be ok. My calfs, my abdominal muscles, my brain and all other parts of my body will comply. They always do 🙂

Thank you team!

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Sunday Column (423)

Loads happening this week. Late nights working, getting my feet under the table, early morning runs and getting stuff done. Yes, I had a fantastic week. Busy busy but also demanding and tiring. All good, all happening. I am enjoying myself!

My highlight, clearly 🙂 , was an unexpected meeting with my old ‘boss’. I haven’t seen him for 10+ months, he was in town, and we discussed life, work and what it is worth living for. It wasn’t all sentimental, but it was. A great mentor and friend, it was so good to see him again. I know you are reading that, and hope to meet up again soon. Good to see you!

My lowlight on the other hand was the whole story around Trump. I guess that was everybody’s lowlight, no? Segmenting people because of religious belief, origin or maybe even colour of skin? I thought human kind, being German in particular, passed that stage. I don’t want a 4th Reich, another Fuehrer that ends up causing a world war. Peter Maffay, a German (refugee from Romania btw), sang in his song “It’s time” about signals show red, the piper leads you to death, it’s time to realise and look around you, all signs point towards war. I don’t want a 4th Reich, no destruction and war. I freely translated this and think it is so valid, given it was written a while back. Why….why would anyone do what Trump set out to do? I see danger ahead. I feel fear. Yet I also feel encouraged that the supreme court in the US is stepping in and ruling above the president. That’s how democracy should work, similar to the UK re Brexit. Even if the outcome doesn’t change in this instance, we have tried to make sure we are holding up our values of democracy. Yet what the US government is trying just seems to utterly wrong.

On another note, the train services are back to normal and more reliable. One day of delays but particularly evening services are going ok. It is nice to relax a bit more about getting home. Particularly when the weather is wet, cold and you just come from the pub 😉 On the note of weather, my cold didn’t allow me to train as hard as I wanted to this week. I cannot wait for the weather to warm up a bit and me hitting the gym harder again. And I got outdoor, muddy weather, running shoes. I cannot wait to try those bad boys out either. It’s going to be a fun year in terms of exercise I think. Not sure what I plan besides the 24 hour race… but time will tell.

My biggest compliment this week: I am happy, said the wife. She has done well to get a job, so things are falling into place. We renewed our mortgage for the next 5 year on a good rate and we are sorting some other bits out. Winning I think. At least from our perspective. We are happy as a family, and love where we are living. I managed to spend some time with the kids this week, yet R was ill and it was a bit difficult around that. But we managed in the interest of all of us. I couldn’t be more on top of the world at the moment.

I also listened to Kara Swisher being interviewed by Tim Ferris. She mentioned that one of her regrets, if I didn’t misheard, was that she wasn’t as passionate about her kids/family as she was with her job. I am not sure if I am similar. I love my kids to bits, so does Kara, yet we sometimes put work first, and this isn’t right. And it is difficult to understand or for anyone to accept unless you feel similar. I know a few people like that, and it doesn’t mean they do not love their kids, it is more about being so driven in a job, that it seems to overtake everything else sometimes. It is as if you were as passionate about your kids and could spend 50 hours a week with them, it would be awesome too. But we seem to enjoy the work we are doing, and it ultimately benefits the family and kids too. I will be working on that, improve on it, being more mindful. It isn’t a bad thing, it is a thought of priority and passion. And passion is there, priority is difficult sometimes. I am on it.

And on that not, there is nothing like getting this 2 minute hug from your youngest in the morning before going to work. To chat with your 7 year old about how he solved the Rubix cube. To see them succeed and better what we never achieved. You want them to win, be part of what they do. That ignites my passion. I often think of them during the day, what they would be up to in school and what would they be playing just now. And I trust them being young intelligent human beings, making their own decisions. They are growing up far too quickly.

I cannot wait to take them to my new office. To show them around the free snacks area 🙂 To let them draw on the whiteboard wall (paint) in the board room and look at all the goodies we have. They will just love it. Half term is near! I want them to be involved in what I do as I am getting more involved in what they do.

Life is good. I am happy and content and feel like things have just began.

From my little corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (420)

Ok. I have some time on my hands, don’t I. Actually I don’t have as much as I would like, and I got a lot busier than anticipated. That’s a positive thing, things are happening. So what do you do if you have some waiting time in London? People just went back to work properly this week being busy, so I had a few meetings in town, but then a few got cancelled last minute. Then I got some additional ones in. The train strike took me to London Blackfriars and this can be a bit inconvenient given most digital businesses’ location in London. Cut a long story short, I managed to walk a bit in London. Yes: W-a-l-k, take things in, smelling the roses. It was fantastic.

Yes, I absolutely loved it. Not only did I manage to burn some calories and make some phone calls, I also managed to just wander around London. I was thinking for a moment to stop all the time and take some pictures, but I found this would distort my idea of experiencing London. I almost went into the National Art Gallery. When did you last have time to just wander through the streets of London, look up the buildings and take in all the architecture. Did you know that from Farringdon you can see the Shard with St. Paul’s Cathedral in between?

What else did I spot? Lots of people smoking and vaping, more than I anticipated. Hipster cafes where I stopped and rested, starting to write this post. A Ferrari mountain bike. Old writing and signs on buildings just on the main streets. New buildings and building sites. Builders looking bored, some being very busy. A few new building sites I hadn’t noticed, some nice facades, a new hidden Neros off Jermyn Street. And I went with the flow, just chilling out and enjoying myself, looking at the world to go by and take it all in.

How much more time do I have to enjoy some down time? When is it getting serious again to go back to work? When would I have to, when would I want to get back to the grindstone? I tell you all next week (teaser).

I learned about priority this week. I was focusing on two important things this week, and those were my only priorities, but only one at a time. This was important. I tried to blend out any thoughts that would interfere with my priority at the time. Mind games, voices in your head, external influences, ideas. Like meditating with your mind fully switched on. I think it worked well. Being in full control of your mind and thinking really helps.

Then there is another topic I am giving priority and I am looking into at the moment: My 40th. Yes, it is coming closer and I cannot deny it or make it go away. It is coming closer day by day. It will either be a party or a mini holiday – the prices seem similar. We are evaluating. I let you know what we decide, not if it is a party though 😉 Anyway.

There is one theme on Linkedin and Facebook since the beginning of the year: Make the most out of 2017. Celebrate life. I am not sure if that mood is connected to the, as it seems, high amount of celebrity deaths last year, or whether it is a general mood to get on with life and make the most of it? Maybe it has been like that every year, but I didn’t notice it that much. This year I do. As if we, as people, are anticipating the world to end in 2017. I hope not. I have so many more plans, and ideas and want to see so many more places. Yes, maybe I should start doing that soon. I don’t want to run out of time. I must trust that there will be a life beyond 2017, despite all uncertainty in the world.

Life seems to be a bit like evaluating things, making decisions, living with it. Jobs. Life. Parties. The way you bring up your kids. We had tantrums this week which brought back memories of having a toddler. Do you let them cry or use reasoning? I tried both, and the former worked in the end, falling asleep being exhausted. Will they learn from it? Probably not. Just another phase, until in a while that phase stops and another one starts. The oldest becomes more of an adult now, and you sometimes wonder how grown up they seem. Wowsers.

Life is moving so fast, and we are evaluating. We make decisions and we move on. The flow. Go with the flow, don’t get stressed about it and feel at ease. In the end things will work out, and you must believe in the end. Have trust. Things never stop. You must trust things will be ok, because they always will be. Don’t let others pressure you into a situation you don’t enjoy and don’t let others make you feel a certain way. It all works out in the end. Trust in it going to happen!

If the video below doesn’t show, please see this Joe Biden article.

But then there was one last thing I noticed this week. Whether it was Obama’s speech, his wife’s speech or Joe Biden: some great leaders and people you look up to that, in public and in very powerful positions, admit to something amazing: Emotions and feelings. It is not about crying but about bringing emotions back into what I would call ‘corporate and public life’. Ever since I have read and written my MBA thesis on Emotional Intelligence (EQ), I believe that the human aspects, emotions, feelings and the sharing of values is sometimes more important than red tape. Humanity prevails. I am moved by what happened in 2016. I have shed more tears and shared more emotions than ever before. Maybe that is why, as mentioned above, people are increasingly coming out with making 2017 the best year ever and to go for it. To show their appreciation, feelings and true emotions. Let’s do it. Let’s share more love and make 2017 happen!

I have a great feeling about it.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (415)

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2 weeks to Christmas. The kids are getting excited, and before I hear a ‘hello’ in the morning, it is ‘where is my advent calendar’. If I hear them say anything in the morning, as I might be out of the house at crack of dawn. Southern rail put an emergency time table on. Busier trains, less often….great. For 4,000 GBP a year. The wifi stopped working on some trains (I know it is a first world problem), yet what I am trying to say is you getting less and less service for your money. And the price is probably going up by 2.4% again next year. So whilst the train companies get richer, we get poorer and have a worse service. And no choice. We can’t switch providers or drive, really. I heard of the first few people that had to stop working in London as it was too unreliable due to the train situation. Whilst I take that with a pinch of salt, luckily most companies I ever worked for understood, it is probably the bitter reality. Is that ever going to end? Not this year, that’s for sure, but it has been ongoing for 8 months! And my latest app shows me: 1:40 in transit. Yes I work, and yes I study and read, but that’s over 3 hours a day. If you cannot plan that part of your day, it becomes quite stressful to be honest. So I had to cancel a few Christmas drinks already, and I dread leaving our Christmas party early just to be home and not stranded in London. Yes, whilst I could stay over, that just might result in a day on bus replacement services due to weekend engineering works. Not taking any chances at the moment, and I cannot win with Southern.

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After my temperature last weekend, I stayed at home on Monday, without working, so I rested up. Tuesday I felt a bit better but if I compare the status of my wife’s virus with my stage, I won’t feel much better than I did on Monday for another week. Never mind, I just have to get on with it. I hope for the sake of the office that I am not contagious (don’t think I am, otherwise I wouldn’t go in!), and that my output isn’t affected too much. By about 3 pm my brain starts to shut down and needs some relaxation. 10 hour days don’t help I suppose. Fingers crossed it lasts! So whilst I am loosing a bit on the health front, I am also winning. And from mid week things felt better, and I even managed a run on Friday. Fingers crossed this was the last bug of the year!

Yes. I am winning. I am winning in the game of life. You know how I can tell? On Wednesday I had a day off (still having to use a few days before the end of the year) and I attended R’s nativity play. This was great. He was a Robin 🙂 The engagement from his end and the looks, and the shared breakfast, the play time at night. The boys love me being around. When I was travelling a lot to Europe, I didn’t see them for a few days but then worked from home for a day. They loved it. On the other hand, I now see them daily but for less time. Keeping the balance is difficult and the ongoing discussion with my wife is, whether it was the right decision to move out of London. We agree, it was, and that the current state of trains just don’t help the situation. We will get over it, and I will be able to win even more. Life just needs to fall into (the) place that it aligns with your values and proposition. With Jen hopefully going back to work soon and trains hopefully getting better, we should be in a much better place already come my birthday. The big one, you remember 🙁

Anyway…On my day off I decided to spend the afternoon with my friends and meet a start-up. I am crazy, I know. I love doing those advisory roles and helping people and discussing options. That’s what I enjoy doing, yet I was home for just after dinner, time for bath and bed time reading. A full on, full rounded day off. If I had felt any better, and the weather would have been warmer, I would have thought of having some good food, wine, chocolate and maybe a cigar. I haven’t had a cigar for a while but feel like it might be time to have one again – post bug, post cough. We shall see what Santa Claus will be having in s(t)ock for me 😉 But seriously, being able to just have time and not hurrying. Not worrying which train to take. To not worry and just wander around. To relax and spend quality time with the boys. This is nice, relaxing, healing.

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A friend of mine launched his business this week. Amazing. I have known James for many years and it is great to see that he is very open about his experience, his life and how he came up with what he launched: Measurematch. Another mate published a post on how he set up his own consultancy three months ago. It is fantastic to see how more and more people setting up their business to service the community and help others to understand the complexity of what we are doing. Something I think isn’t actually that complex. Latter is what I discussed with mentors, the knowledge just isn’t there and I feel like nothing is complicated but we have done it for a few years, haven’t we?

Another highlight of the week was that I finally passed my ‘Life in the UK’ test. Yes, the test that I need to become a British citizen. I studied for it in the summer but wasn’t allowed to take it as I didn’t have the right ID (mine was expired and cancelled and whilst they accept expired ones, they don’t accept cancelled ones). So I got my German ID card which took a few months and I studied for the test again. I passed. It was harder than I thought. Some of the questions were completely different to the app that I relied on. Yet I also used a different app before which I believe saved my life. Anyway, it is done. I now wait for my ‘residency permit’ to be approved – this was supposed to take 8-10 weeks but has now been ongoing since early August and should not take longer than 6 months. Then I can apply for naturalisation. Subject to waiting times, I assume at least another 6 months, I should be a British citizen by end of next year. Why I want to? Because I think that I will always live on the island. That I will always work and live here. And I like to be able to not worry about Brexit and what is happening with Europe. Yet, I also keep my German passport. The best of both worlds I suppose.

Today we were supposed to meet with an old uni friend of mine and his family. Unfortunate they had to postpone last minute. We never spend enough time doing those kind of days. We don’t take enough days to just wander and chill. See comment about about not being rushed and hurried. To meet friends. To carve out time for longer than a pint. To not worry about everything else going on. We should. We should stop every now and then and take stock. Smell the roses – I haven’t used that phrase for a while. Apologies if those posts are less inspiring at the moment, but the winter blues has set in. The mad rush to Christmas. There are a lot of things to balance. We try to finish as much as possible before and then realise on the 23rd that we can’t finish it all. That’s fine. We then postpone and go and have a good Christmas break. I will be working a couple of days, catching up on a few emails, some reading and conference videos. And I will wander, I will take time off with the kids and chill. To rejuvenate.

Hope you are planning your festive break and life is good for you!

From my little corner of the world, have a great week ahead!
Volker

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Sunday Column (397)

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I have been to Scotland over the last week. A long drive up, a short and delayed flight back. I love Scotland. It is a peaceful country. It feels kind of rough and you feel close to nature. Whether that is the rain, the cold or the rocks and trees. It is an outdoor country where you don’t necessarily have the weather to be outdoors much. So the coal and peat fires go on. The heat from the natural resources keep you warm. You are close to the heart of yourself, the earth and close to what’s happening deep inside this planet. We did a 25K run which was nice too. Very connected to the elements I have to say.

That’s how I feel. I also felt a bit detached from civilisation. Whilst of course Tesco is still there, same products and offers, which gives you the consistency you are not necessarily longing for, there are a lot of new things. Paying with Apple Pay got a reply from the waitress that ‘this is the first time she has done this’ or looking at the mobile phone reception, you might think you are somewhere in the bush in South America. Other than that, it feels so good to be there, and maybe it is because of these isolation that it does.

Sunrise at Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Sunrise at Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

I relaxed a bit. My MIL helped with the kids, I had snoozes, was cooked for and enjoyed some down time. I shared my bed with my eldest and he was literally heating the bed whilst outside it was down to 3 degrees. Yet it was bright light at 9 pm at night. So when I came back to London it was dark at 9 pm, I thought of putting the fire on and with the drizzle it felt like October or November even. Autumn arrived, the summer is over. Yet we managed to have a great sunny day out on Saturday – boy’s day out.

So I chilled out on the flight back, to turn on my phone and got a message from someone on Facebook. Nothing too uncommon but that I haven’t spoken to her for 21 years. If I say I had forgotten about her, some memories came back. We met 21 years and for some reason she went through some old stuff discovering my name, looked me up, and got in touch. That was rather nice. A blast from the past. Sometime in 1995 our life lines touched. We then went off in different directions. She got a kid, I got kids, I got married and to be honest, the past 20 years, I probably forgot who she was, and this is not meant in a negative way. I am fascinated by those stories of people that come to your life and the reason they do. Some show you a different side to yourself, sometimes you help someone and sometimes you just have a fun time together. So it is without offence that I forget about people sometimes. I discussed that with a friend this week, that we both had friends we tried to find closure with. A few years ago I sent out a couple of letters to reach out to people, thanked them that they were part of my life, and that I never intended us growing apart without clearing some things. Some never got back to me, and of some I don’t even know if they ever got my letter. That’s life I suppose. Life’s little stories.

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This week was very productive in terms of getting a lot of reviews done for my next productivity book. No, it is far from being finished, yet I made some progress this week. Now a lot of tidying, adding and stuff to do. But my hope is that by end of year this should be finished. Fingers crossed. All depends on undisturbed time I suppose, which is getting less. There are so many plans moving forward and life will change a lot. But it can only get better, as things always improve in life. Things change for a reason, and those reasons are always worthwhile. I have been meeting up with interesting people over the past few weeks. Again, everything happens for a reason, some reasons to be discovered further down the line. Job opportunities, product discussions, industry discussions, chewing the fat, discussing life over lunch and wine, partying even with friends. I am having a great time. Every now and then I am in the position to reach out to my network and give back and receive. This was one of those weeks, amazing people!

People are fascinating, so is life. It seems a theme this week, which makes me think how much I appreciate the life I have. The people that are close to me which I miss. The people worth dying for if you like and the people that are close to me, part of my life, and the ones, like above, who came into my life. And I could fill a whole life just to speak to people and philosophise on things, but then I have to focus again on everyday work, and do what I have to and what I want to do. That’s happening too. And then you bring focus back into your life and push back on some meetings. You naturally prioritise.

And I guess that’s how we all live our lives. Bound to our own little back yard, own little circle of friends which every now and then expands. And you suck a few new ones in the circle and you get sucked into other people’s circle, and then you continue as you were. A pulsating way of extending your horizon and circle of influence. I am pulsating. I am breathing. I am alive and I am enjoying my life and my circle of influence and friends. I appreciate you. Thanks for being part of my journey.

Have a fantastic week and make the most of the summer!

Volker

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Sunday Column (379)

The week started with a trip to Hamburg. A night and back again. I am getting used to the regular flights and short trips again. This time I didn’t take my running gear. An unbalanced run the week before paired with a 13K over the weekend left me tired and my knee(s) aggravated. So some needed rest and a treadmill run on Thursday was all. I am cautious of not pushing myself too far and not to injure myself seriously.

I have been thinking a lot over the past few weeks. See last week’s column, that life could be over quickly without you knowing. Things might change. What is important in your life, what do you cherish. Where do you put most emphasis on, what is it that you enjoy and should do more of. I will cover that in more detail. Anyways…

When leaving home my fish tank was playing up. The temperature dropped and I worried a lot. Thanks to my wife and some last minute rescue measures we seemed to have avoided some major fish losses. I had just added some loaches to get rid of the snails, and feel that the ecosystem within the tank is striving.

Actually not my fish but almost ;-)

Actually not my fish but almost 😉

My eldest wrote me a card to wish me well for the trip and he hopes that I will be meeting some friends. I did. It is nice to see them grow up and also understanding German (my sons, not my friends 😉 ). When my parents were over for Easter, they spoke German to the boys and the eldest clearly understood. Maybe there is hope and as they get older they get more of an interest to learn the language. I don’t think they will ever be native but if they manage to communicate and get by, it would be fantastic. Having had 1-on-1 time with both of them over the last few weeks really helps to seal the bond. It also helps me improving my football skills 😉

The remainder of the week passed very quickly. I spend two days in Germany, back to back in meetings, catching up with the local staff, and having in depth conversations about the industry. It is interesting to see the differences in markets and attitudes towards product deliveries. It is good though, and I do enjoy the work I am delivering, as we are pioneering in a new space, leading the pack for second screen advertising. But hey, I don’t want to market my company here, do I? 🙂

A good friend of mine invited me for lunch on Thursday. A healthy, good lunch, and a wonderful chat. Those type of chats and friendships last for a long time to come. He was joking I should mention him in my column, however, here we go 🙂 Thanks mate!!!

As I write this blog I pass Gatwick Airport on the train. Sunset. The daylight saving time and all, we are back to having light travelling home from work. I look at the sunset and think about the things to come. I keep forgetting about the past, putting it aside. We are launching new products at work. We are renovating the house and finish it the first time around. The wheel is turning and we are going faster and faster. Then I listened to two podcasts this week that told me to sleep enough and take it easy. Don’t get the burn out. I am not afraid, I look after myself. I am trying to anyway, being more easy going than I used to be (at least I think so) and more pro-active, forward looking than I used to. My thinking is changing.

The Germans have this saying “gut Ding muss Weile haben” – good things need their time. There is no need to rush and make too many avoidable mistakes. You hear it coming – time to stop and smell the roses. When flying this week, way after my working hours (in case you reading this, boss), I decided to not work but chill out. To sit and read, doze, listen to music and just take time off to think and reflect. I manage to split work and life. I am learning. Still. I am growing. I am proud of my personal development.

a sin. an awesome sin. loving it.

a sin. an awesome sin. loving it.

I am also proud of my wife. 12 years this week that we met. 9 years this year that we got married, had kids, a house etc. In another 12 years the kids would have left the house and another 12 I am probably still not retired. Wow. That means I have only been through the first third of my career. I am just warming up and boy, I am ready to go! Patience, Ballueder, Patience!

Life is good. I remind myself daily and make sure that life is going to stay as it is. That it won’t get worse or we stop looking after ourselves and the kids. No, I want fun, love, and live.

Have a great week. Summer is on its way!

We managed a first bike ride at the weekend. The little one on the tag along bike and I. We sat down, smelled the freshly cut grass, enjoyed the sun and some sweets. We laughed. We loved.

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (361)

Taking massive actions towards a goal is liberating. I wrote an article on that which I will publish on Linkedin for the new year. Goals are associated with starting a New Year, a new beginning.

I am saying that as there has been a few things on my mind this week. Even to the extend of me being ‘scared’ of flying to Munich on Monday. I was drilling on something. Watching Mad Men and looking at the world of advertising and realising that sometimes you just have to make decisions. Maybe it sounds cheesy but it takes time to process things and make it happen. A hidden entrepreneur somewhere I suppose 😉

You cannot always change what you do, but you can try. You can go for gold. You can aim high and then take those massive actions to make it work. And that is what I am doing. And it feels great.

I am really enjoying to make decisions. Taking on the responsibility, and more often than not, I make it work (sorry for the arrogance). And if not, I put my hands up in the air and we look at a different solution. Even if things are not as new or crazy as they seem, being able to just look at them and making the changes needed, gives you a satisfying feeling.

Taking massive action

Really, I am going at 100 miles an hour. However, on the outside I am calm. I have the feeling of not being stressed whilst getting massive things done. Working abroad in a hotel room having evening and mornings to get stuff done is brilliant. Besides the exercise routine, work load and all, I managed to get a few articles done, organised some things in my life and took the above massive action.

Towards what? Life goals I suppose.

Being in the fatherland, in Munich, I got recognised as being foreign: North German 😉 When I then tell the taxi driver that I am actually living in London, they begin to be friendlier again LOL. I love Munich and if there was any place I’d move to in a future life it would be here. Simple. An amazing city.

I missed the boys this week, yet had a lot of them last weekend. I managed to sneak off with them on Friday afternoon to attend the local ‘Hassocks’ Light Up’ parade, celebrating the switching on of the Hight Street Christmas lights. Less than 4 weeks it is to Christmas. That’s mad. It came around very quickly.

At the weekend we had some friends staying over. We only manage to see them properly once or twice a year. That means lots of wine and whiskey, and of course my wife’s famous cheese fondue. What a night! Generally a fantastic, somewhat satisfying weekend.

Whilst I can’t say I am looking forward to it, yet I did ask Father Christmas for a small present, I am excited for the boys. Seeing R to be mesmerised by Father Christmas. They seem to be so grown up about it and excited about Santa coming down our Chimney, which is the wood burners pipe, diameter around 15 cm tops 🙂 Never mind, I am sure he manages, as long as they are believing it.

Have a great December and stay well.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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