Posts Tagged fun

Sunday Column (460)

I don’t even want to start with….Monday again 😉 I love sitting on the Monday morning train. I did my 7.5K run this morning and had a mixed weekend. A stomach bug and feeling quite run down. Not as relaxing as I hoped. However, there is a silver lining: my MIL was visiting this week and helped us with the kids. The other silver lining is that there is no travel planned for a while – at least not for work and not on a plane. Isn’t that nice? Even though coming to the end of the year with no more flights, I would on average (!) have done a trip every other week over the year. What I get in return is experience. And the nice thing about experience: it will help you connect the dots moving forward. As Steve Jobs says, in times of uncertainty and unrest, when you don’t know what happens in the future and how the dots will be connected, you need to trust your gut. You need to trust your heart, your inner self and that things will work out and the dots connect moving forward. And they always will. Believe!

I took a sick day this week as well. If I say sick day, I stayed home for two days, really WFH (working from home), so not getting as much rest as I should have. I had a bug lurking around since my trip to Belgrade and it was going on all week. I couldn’t shake it off. I dragged myself in on Monday and Thursday, feeling that I should but I don’t think my body appreciated it too much. I also tried drinking Coca Cola which I hadn’t done in many years, and it was awful. And it didn’t help. I thought I’d try, after all it was invented as medicine. At that stage I would have tried almost anything. One of my former managers used to say: you are worth nothing to the company being ill or not feeling 100%. Take care of yourself first before taking care of others and the business. And he is right. When in an airplane, do you ever watch the safety instructions where they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others? That’s the way to do it: you cannot help others if you aren’t up for it. Did I mention this was the first “proper” sick day in this job? And this besides the extensive travel? I guess I am doing ok then, and my immune system is up to scratch 🙂 The reason I am saying this is because a few years back I didn’t take care of myself and ended up being ill for weeks on end. That has changed. Mens sana in corpore sano. The exercise, better eating, more active life style, less booze. It pays off to look after yourself!

But let’s talk about some positive things. 10 years ago this week I wed my wife. A few years before we met when I was a bouncer at the first O’Neil’s in the UK, in Aberdeen. I remember meeting her in the summer of 2003, just as I had finished my first degree, and I thought, I’d like to see her again. For whatever reasons she didn’t come back to the club until February the following year. The rest is history. No, the culture clash wasn’t easy, but there was such a strong attraction that we even made it despite living apart in the first year we met: London and Wellington, New Zealand. When she came back, we got engaged, bought a house, had kids and lived (and continue to do so hopefully) …. happily ever after I suppose. She is an amazing woman. Very patient as you can imagine and very good with the kids. A supporting pillar without which I couldn’t have coped in life so far and I never want to miss her moving forward. I haven’t met a kinder, more caring person and 10 years on I love her more than ever before. Here is to the next 10! Thank you love!

Oh, and what I think the secret to a good marriage is? Fight regularly, make up regularly, and marry someone with a different mindset but same values. The latter is maybe the 80% that counts, as if your values don’t align, how do you bring up your kids or decide on anything?

On Friday, and thanks to Imodium 🙁 , we went out for a nice meal at Le Gavroche and also stayed the night in London, coming back home after a lovely breakfast. The experience at Le Gavroche was amazing. Besides a superior service and food to die for, the experience was worth the visit itself. The restaurant is run like clockwork. The staff are super trained and don’t miss the tiniest thing. Friendly, chatty and non pretentious. It makes it the best (posh) restaurant I have ever been to, and I would come back to this relaxed atmosphere anytime again. The flavours and composition of food were amazing and in a way you only get in a French cuisine. Thank you to my wife for wanting to go there. What a splendid night.

It is nice to just take a day to connect again, to only worry about ourselves, not the kids and knowing the kids are in good hands (MIL). It was really nice! After the week I had, it was good to just chill, and we even got some shopping in.

What’s next for me? As most people know there are changes coming up. And, there are still so many projects I’d like to do: like writing another book, doing the plastic model I haven’t started yet, spending more time with the kids making up for the travel, and doing the school runs to help the wife. And there are other projects lurking, so we shall see. The dots always connect looking backwards.

In other news, we saw some great skies in Europe this week, a red sun caused by hurricane Ophelia carrying Sahara sand. It was a bit gloomy on Monday and my youngest got really scared. Just as he got excited about Halloween. Poor him 🙁 It is so interesting to watch how we (us humans) react to the change of light and associate it with danger and the end of the world. Deep down we are very much connected with our blue planet and everything happening on it. We don’t call it Mother Earth for no reason. I would have loved to be on a plane this week – I know this contradicts what I said above – as someone was describing how beautiful it was to watch the phenomenon from up there. Maybe ironic that I didn’t travel this week.

So a proper mixed week. Feeling ill most of the week, sorting some stressful things out, worrying a lot about things, and trying to balance that with normal life. But what is normal these days. It isn’t easy sometimes. Life isn’t just straight forward, that would be too nice, wouldn’t it? Or boring, really. But guess that’s what it is. I had to cancel a lunch with a friend and I hate doing that, because a) I still didn’t feel right and b) I had a clash with work.

Life isn’t always fair, but we must make the most out of it. We need to sit back, relax, take a deep breath and be grateful for what we have, and what we have achieved. We have to look out for the ones that need our help and the ones we can help on the way. I am a firm believer that if you help others, then others will help you. And everything in life happens for a reason. You attract goodness in your life by giving goodness to others, you are attracting good things. Closing the loop.

In that sense, have a good week ahead,
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 (456)

Is it Sunday again? This week flew past. Literally. I enjoy flying somewhat, but as you know, long distance flights and change of sleeping and training patterns, I am not a fan of. I flew out to New York last Sunday. A packed plane. Not a week long trip like last spring, but this time it was a breakfast meeting with my new boss, team meetings, team social, team meetings and flight home. It could have been any city I stayed in. Home, taxi, plane, taxi, hotel, walk/taxi, office, taxi, plane, home. But it was New York, and it has its charm. I love NY. Seriously, this could be a city to live in. I was back early Wednesday, and the flight back was a bit bumpy. It was a good trip, and it feels like I am now where I wanted to be when I was a freshener at university: high jetting lifestyle.

That was then, in terms of objectives. What is now, is different. It took me all summer to finally go on a bike ride with my eldest last weekend. Bad excuses and not wanting to disappoint my youngest who still hasn’t managed to learn cycling. That is due to a muscle underdevelopment challenge he has. Nothing to worry about, but strength and muscle build up are difficult for him. Anyway, just going out and doing that bike ride felt good. No more excuses. On Sunday we did his homework together and my youngest won with a huge advantage in Monopoly. With my constant travel, and it isn’t as glamorous as I thought as a freshener, I want to make the most out of my time with the boys. Yet, at the same time, I need to carve out enough recovery time for myself too. It is that balance where I am still struggling and trying to find the right way of dealing with it. But I am getting better I believe.

No, in all honesty, I do not enjoy the weekly travel. It should get less now but I keep saying that for a few weeks now. Normally it is just one night a week, sometimes two. And that is ok, and particularly if it isn’t every week. Even New York was only two nights. For me, who works on a running and my new weight training routine and trying to improve my fitness, the constant travel makes it more challenging; this is particularly true as I overworked the scar on my back from the minor surgery I had a couple of weeks ago; I am now listening to the nurse and will stop exercising until it is healed up. Anyway, I am getting better to work around those challenges and the travel to achieve my goals, and whilst I am not shedding lots of weight, I am not gaining any at the moment either. This is a result, as muscles are heavier than fat anyway 😉

So much about travel and routines, and about having the feeling to neglect the boys every now and then. The fine balance between allowing yourself your own time, and doing things with the boys that they enjoy more than me. I am not beating myself up here, and wouldn’t in public, but I do want to share my feelings. The dads I discussed this with and who are in a similar situation, agree. It is a fine balance, and sometimes the weekend ‘hamster wheel’ just ends up wearing you out. Birthday parties, swimming, activities and taxi services. And then the pressure to be the bread winner and be the best you can be. I love my job and enjoy the work I am doing. And without a family I most likely would end up being a work-aholic. That wouldn’t work either.

Life-Life Balance is what I called it in my productivity book #BeBetter. Being able to balance your life at home with the one at work, and being a coach, mentor and trusted advisor to your spouse and children, whilst still pursuing and succeeding in a career. Living healthy on top of that and being a good husband. That is success. Either one of those could be classified as a success but you need to master all! That is key to not loosing it or loosing in life. And that’s really the content of my book, to balance the pillars of life, and making sure you are the one in the driver seat. You need to be in control of what you do and how you do it. Identifying when things like a bike ride is important or when you start a new project which is only between the boys and me. We want to make birds nesting boxes over the winter months. The shared experience and trust you build now will last a life time.

Coming back to New York, if only two days, was an experience. Once again, I fall in love with that city. It has space, you have a chance to buy cloths and food at a fraction of the price in the UK. I spilled gravy all over my jeans on the flight out and picked up (as a necessity) two Levis cheaper than buying one in the UK 🙂 Amazing. Food is just great. Particularly, but not exclusively, I love the burger and wine at the gate, just before you board the 10 pm flight. Then you sleep the whole way back home. And no one makes burgers like the Americans do. As a matter of fact I did sleep almost 5 hours on the flight back. The city just speaks to you, it attracts you, it is full of differences and great architecture. I love New York, you are just very special.

The trip was great. Getting the right heads together to discuss what is happening with our company moving forward. It feels good to be part of creating something bigger and amazing. Our ecosystem is ready for what there is to come. Or is it? I am not sure if I felt the jet lag or not, or if I just went with the flow, or I am just super excited, but the trip was great. Maybe it was to short to really get jet lagged. I will look back at this time in years to come to kick off something big, something industry changing. Isn’t that exciting?

America. Its service culture, its multi-culture, its burgers, its finger food, pool and bowling. I am going to miss you. Always will. Ever since I lived with you over 25 years ago, I have the urge to spend more time with you. That’s just the way it will always be. And I will be back.

Have a great week ahead, I am off to Germany tomorrow, not quite so exciting at all, and the flight is a lot shorter too 😉 No burgers at the gate for me, it is time to shed more weight.

Cheers,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (37)

Flash…

This week’s first article is about the Japanese Way Of Life and how happiness and a fulfilled life leads to a higher life expectancy.

And whilst I am a Slack user, there is fabulous guide on How Slack uses Slack. That’s like looking at Google and asking them how they search stuff. Very insightful I find.

Last but not least, this article tells you all about focus and priority based on entrepreneurs’ views of the world. Great insight if you aske me:
Things Entrepreneurs tell you to do.

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Sunday Column (452)

If feels like autumn, no? I went back to work. It surely doesn’t feel like summer anymore. The sun seems gone, the warmth, yet the golden summer or Indian Summer hasn’t arrived yet either. A great week to get back to work. Five days of full on fun and then 3 days off for the last bank holiday weekend of the year. Yeah! And not long now and the kids go back to school. They missed me this week as I went back to work rather than continued to be at home. Bless. Yes, one can get used to just sitting around doing nothing I suppose 😉

The commute. Did I miss it? A bit. Seriously, I have got hardly any reading done. Now I got my 1-2 hours back where I sit on the train, read, write or listen to podcasts. I am back. For those actitives, I don’t mind the commute. The only challenge is either the length of the journey when you are in a rush to get home or of course delays or cancellations. But my major aim this week was to continue changing my routine. Small things in the morning, staying within the flow, cut out calories, and keeping a relaxed and sane mind. Is it working. I am not sure 😉 But I tried.

I love those first days coming back to work. Things seem in harmony, your body and mind are relaxed and you go with the flow. You breathe differently, you get wound up less, and you seem to be full of energy and anticipation of what is coming next. This feeling usually lasts about 4 weeks max before it returns to normal. Actually by Friday, I was almost back to normal. Crazy. Maybe a 1 week holiday every week, will that keep us sane? Kidding aside, if you are as self conscious as I am, you will notice the effect of full relaxation and, how as a matter of time, it wears off and you fall into old habits. A few small habits but habits never the less. To change those all will be difficult, just conquer one at a time. As my mentor Darren Hardy would say, improve 1% at a time at everything you can. All small changes are adding up.

Talking about habits, I changed a few and made a few tweaks to my morning routine. Given I don’t run for 10K any longer on most mornings, I tuned down to 5 and 7.5K and some weight training, it gives me more time to sort other things and catch up on emails etc. prior to work. Less rush. Also, I am keen on catching up with more friends after the holidays. It seems like I am always rushing, so given that approach, my Tuesday night beers turned into a few more. Lack of sleep, short nights and I was in bed at 9 pm the next day, feeling like newborn on Thursday. I love random weeks, but reduced calorie intake and bad sleep do drag you down 🙁 Full on, one week in. And yes, I am loving it, and truly enjoyed the catch up too.

In life, I am still trying to figure out what the best approach is. In my diaries, and I found an old letter from about 20 years ago, I wrote that in life you can either be the CEO of Mercedes or the Shepard in Australia. The text book career or the wild life. Now, given I am neither, and given I have family, the latter is probably out of question. However, I do question if the CEO of a big company is actually the goal. Does it matter whether I work for a big corporate with a big name or for start ups and small challenger brands? Exactly the same discussion came up with a friend who I met randomly on the street this week in London, after we tried catching up in Hamburg for the past 4 months. And if it matters, to whom does it matter? Will it be reflected in money and status? And if so, what is the tradeoff? Politics vs. Fun? Reputation and CV vs. Being in the Flow, hoping for the big exit?

For now I don’t have to worry about this question. Watching the TV Series (season 4!) of Silicon Valley brings back the dream, and reading this 20 year old note, almost makes you melancholic. What was it like to grow Mexad from zero to multi million? Often, most thoughts we have in life, have already crossed your mind at some point. You remember my post about me inventing both Facebook and Twitter. But wrong time, wrong place. Will I be smarter next time, or am I just not the Zuck of the future. Did you watch The Founder, the story about McDonalds? As a 54 year old, a sales man, the chap spotted the opportunity to go for it and build a franchise. He succeeded. And why wouldn’t have he? I love those stories, and miss the newest inventions of Steve Jobs – not saying Apple will not innovate, but I guess it will never be the same. The new iPhone is coming soon, then copying Amazon Alexa, Netflix. Are they catching up or are they ahead these days? I don’t really know. Anyway, maybe that is a discussion for another time.

To relax from my first week back, I enjoyed the long weekend, or will still tomorrow.
Have a great, if short, week ahead.
Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (450)

What a fantastic week we had. Taking some friends’ advice we went to Longleat Safari park. Monkeys all over the car, pooping on it too, yet no damage compared to other cars where rubber parts where hanging off after leaving the enclosure. Lions, Tigers – a proper safari out of the comfort of your own car. The boys absolutely loved it and we went on to see a few more animals, played in the play park, did some rides and went into a maze we almost didn’t get out of again. A full on day and three exhausted boys by the end of it.

Holidays. I never was one for taking much time off work, but given the last few months, which have been very intense, it was good to get away for a week. Centre Parks – you either love it or hate it – an organised week of relaxing, too much food, activities and family fun. Even on holidays I wake up early. Good for runs, taking care of the kids and letting the wife sleep. The weather wasn’t too great but we made the most of it.

We did a lot of swimming. What strikes me most is how grown up the boys are. You can let them go down the slides themselves, watch them loosely around the pool and things are alright. They are growing up so quickly. Too quickly sometimes. Having just finished their swimming lessons, they are now safe in most waters, subject to its depth. This takes so much pressure away. Food wise, they are still not experimental. That is a bit of a shame given the international cuisine available in the park. So pizza, chips and fish fingers are still winners 🙁

Then someone shared a video about the Buddha and the Beggar.

This story reflects on any life. You trust that things work out. That life is going to be ok. Your job is ok. That you can continue to provide for the family. You give to others, as you are better off than others. I am trying to teach that to the boys that there are people that need help more than we do. They understand that, they donate to a partner school in Madagaskar, Africa. Everything you give comes back in life. This is like the energy system in mechanical engineering, mechanics. All forces in the system have to be equal. You give, you will be given. The forth dimension, time, is not being taken into consideration.

But let’s not be sentimental on holidays, you might think. The weather wasn’t nice at all, until finally Wednesday night we lit the BBQ. Yes. Result. I have been waiting for this the whole week. LOL. Burgers. Bacon and Cheese. Wine. Holiday mood, that’s it. Thursday turned out to be even sunnier. I managed to slightly burn myself playing tennis.

Whilst being in Centre Parks, we are thinking if we would return again. Two years in a row. The boys enjoyed fencing and archery. We did too. New experiences, new things to do. That is great. A safe environment, lots of swimming, food and little worries. Yet, of course you are confined to the compound. If the boys were older, they could go off, play pool and enjoy themselves without us. They are now in the “in between stage”. They still love crazy golf but are not 100% competitive to play it against each other. They play a bit of pool but aren’t good enough to compete against each other. Same for most sports. Whilst that is fine, I believe, given I grew up with a brother, that if they were 2-4 years older, they would just love to compete on various sports and run around all day. Cycling around the campus and spending their own money, making friends. On the other hand, my wife and I would love to show them more of other countries and experience, more variety of things. So that’s what we are planning for the next few years, yet probably come back to a Centre Park break in the near future. Or we ask the whole family to go somewhere in Europe for a week.

A great week. Just spending more quality time, not worrying about work and being there with the family is de-stressing. I don’t actually feel too stressed so no need to de-stress really 😉 Just not having to worry about day to day was nice. And last but not least, I watched (too many) kids’ TV commercials. Clarks’ ones was the worse. They are getting a beating on social media for their gender ‘enforcing’ models. I asked the kids what they thought the advertising was about and they had no idea. Wow, I understand TV ads build brands but they aren’t really tailored to kids, or if they are, they seem too influential. Crazy. But I guess that’s the industry we live in, and glad we control a lot online in terms of targeting.

Anyway, I hope you had a great week too.

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (449)

Oh yes. No Monday morning 5 am taxi pick up and a delayed flight after a bad breakfast to Hamburg. No, this Monday it was the normal 7:29 train service to London. No travel abroad and lots of catching up with my UK team. This was fun! I even squeezed a civilised dinner in with our American visitor, and made it home before 10 pm. Great result and great way to start the week. After having spend the last few days trying to cure the man flu, having my parents to visit, and sorting my infected toe, this was nice. Actually, I had a really nice, productive, day. 
The train home was quiet. My inbox also, given it is slowly getting to the quieter weeks of the year. This is nice, as I can focus on some not so urgent but equally important work tasks as well as catching up on some BBC iPlayer videos whilst writing my blog. Having the super sized screen, the iPad does allow for multi tasking, even if your brain doesn’t. Reading a book about the flow of things and how you best utilise your brain to be happy – the flow. I will update you on it as I read along.

The week stayed calm, or did it? Whilst the emails coming in are fewer than usual, the amount of work associated with each seem to go up. In other words, I was booked out back to back the remainder of the week, with requests coming in, needing a lot of my attention. But, and I said it before, I love what I am doing and I am GSD (getting shit done). However, coming home Tuesday night, after having had a few pints instead of coffee, I ended up with a Chinese and more wine. The weekend seemed to have started early this week, trying to cramp it all in. Despite all that, I was back to my first 10K on Wednesday morning at 5 am. Yes, that felt good. The first longer run since the Spitfire event. The first after my toe infection and the first after the man flu which slowly disappeared this week. I am getting back on it. I even fitted in a first weight session on Thursday. Winning it back. One morning at a time. Life is all about the daily routine.

Given the boys are off school and I hear about all their fun activities, I feel like I should be off too. During breakfast, the eldest sits with his huge fluffy teddy bear in the living room reading. The other one sits closer to me, colouring in. I have a rushed bite to eat, a quick kiss to say good bye, and off I go. Back long after they have been to bed. I sometimes wonder what a life would be like where you are home for 6 pm or 7 pm every night. I wouldn’t gain much time I don’t think. Being on the train from 7-8 gives me my hour of work, fun, chill out and declutter my brain time, something I don’t have to do at home. Yes, I miss bath time, but as they get older I see more of them in the evenings. The life and life balance we choose. The choices we make, to live close to London but not in London. To live close to the sea but not by the sea. The choices of houses, schools etc. I feel I made the right choices. However, as a friend of mine said this week over lunch, with Brexit and the current state of affairs, the government is harming it’s own country. Will Britain be strong enough to sustain a healthy economy in the long run. I believe, so I believe things will work out. And if not? I do not know, but maybe we move the family in a few years. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

All of that influences our happiness. Our balances, our systems. I wrote about that in my book. It is up to us to define what we would like to do and achieve. What goals are we working towards to, or do we just go with the flow? Which values do we have and what is important to us? Where would or wouldn’t we compromise. I haven’t read a fiction book for many years. I like to spend my time constantly improving myself. I enjoy that. And that is my flow I suppose. My daily flow of things, my busy weeks balanced by chilled out weekends, shared activities with the family. The discussion around success vs. achievement. Being busy vs. productiveness. One doesn’t mean the other, and each of us has to find their own definition of it. Focus goes where energy flows. Focus on the things you want to achieve, that drive you on, your purpose. Remove noise and time wasters from the equation of your inputs, eliminate news and social media input. Strive for being better every single day.
As I prepare for some time off, rushing through things I know I won’t finish this week, and thinking the world will not end if I don’t, I reflect. Shutting down the brain and trying to relax. Letting go and recharge the batteries. The world will be the same but busier after the summer months, leading into Q4 and Christmas. What will it be like? What does the journey ahead look like? 

Trusting in the power of the universe and that things will always work out, I put my head to rest. I had another almost scare this weekend, a worry that comes with age. All is good though. Thank you. 

Time to reflect, recalibrate and learn from experience. 
Have a great week,

Volker

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Sunday Column (448)

Finally, reaching some milestones this week. Firstly, I am writing this post on my iPad Pro. Yes, after the contemplation of upgrading or not, I decided I’d go for it. The keyboard is fantastic and better than the one (the good one) was for my iPad mini. Size wise, it is almost a bit too big, or too close to a laptop. However, the screen size is good for reading and, with my continuous bad eyesight, I enjoy it. It is less strenuous on my eyes. Now, essentially it is a laptop replacement, and with the new iOS coming out later this year, it will even be more productive. For emails, for anything else, it is already what I always wanted.

What about the Apple pencil? Now this is a good question and as I would say: too early to tell. I love the opportunity to have one, but recently I haven’t done too much brain storming on the road. Yet, ultimately, the pencil and the screen sensitivity, is a white board in a pocket. So what are the next steps? Moving to paperless completely, and removing my notebook at work and moving everything to Evernote and notes. Why not? After all those years, it still doesn’t seem acceptable to use an electronic device where you could just do your emails instead of taking notes. I am certain this is going to change moving forward. Also, having drawn a few sketches this week, it really works so much better than any pen I had before, e.g. the Evernote stylus which I sold on ebay.

The next milestone? My last trip to Germany for probably 4 weeks. Yes, it feels like my job in Germany is done. We turned it around and kick-started a few important meetings this week. Now it is all about the regular follow up, building relationships and establishing needs. That must be done by the guys in market, from the market. No more need for me; at least for now. I am here to mentor, to support and help, but it feels like the main job is done. That is nice and deeply satisfactory. A job well done, and I am a bit proud of the achievements over the last few months. I will still go back to Germany for a few visits and the dmexco exhibition in September, but that will hopefully be it. Then, I would not be surprised to do another international role soon which requires me to travel, but hopefully less often and to a more variety of destinations (I technically already have an international role). Time will tell, it is all change.

So what is next on the time line for me. With the sales of the company being announced, the next 3 months will be business as usual. I am working on a very interesting project and hope that this will continue once the companies come together. That is about all I can say at the moment. However, the quieter summer months should allow me to work on a seminar of my book. I also want to look into podcasts and webinars potentially. We shall see, but my ambitions are to refine my #BeBetter book material into more bite size chunks for people to utilise in their daily lives. This probably takes me to the end of the year at least. From there I am keen on working on my next book. I have a few ideas that are kicking about and I like to put it to paper.

I also started looking into my training schedule. Clearly, and you might remember my writing on weight loss, exercise alone won’t make you loose weight. So whilst maintaining my fitness level and increasing my distance to a half marathon distance by mid September, I also want to do two other things; firstly my diet needs to have a revamp as I am falling into the habit of eating badly, particularly (and no excuse here) when travelling. Secondly, I want to focus more on strength training and support the wife in her efforts to do so too. As a result I’d like to reduce my weight by about 3-5 kg, more measured around circumference and body strength as well as fat content. Over the last few months I have been a bit relaxed with what I eat and need to revisit my daily eating routine. As anything, it will be looking at new habits. Less travel should allow me to do so.

On the note of health, my toe which I ‘damaged’ running, got infected. That, the man flu, the travel and the weather being so awful for summer, got me quite into a ‘down slump’ this week. Not that I am not motivated to get things done, never ever am I not, but it feels like things are dragging on a bit. Trains seem to be back to normal but wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the hot weather we had for a bit longer? After all it is the end of July. My parents came to visit over the weekend, stocking up my wine ‘cellar’ and I managed to chill out and relax a bit over the weekend. That was nice and needed.

Overall it was a very nice week, slow but good and I do feel like I accomplished something. That is great.

Have a great one yourself,
Volker

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Sunday Column (447)

The running event is done. My knee is healing. Ibuprofen consumption went up and the sports massage yesterday morning released the tired muscles. I loved the event. I enjoyed feeling my body and feeling totally exhausted for days. On Monday I ‘treated’ myself to a glass of wine. After eight days of not drinking it was nice to have a glass. It didn’t make a difference of having it or not, that felt nice too.

I am determined. Determined to strengthen my body more systematically and more specifically to last longer in endurance events. Whether that is Spitfire 2018 or anything else, we shall see. This week I started on my training plan. The game is on. I am hooked, the challenge is on. Time to find my next wall.

Given I just turned 40, mid life crisis they say, it is more about finding myself. No, let me correct myself here. I am not finding myself. I am creating myself. This is true in all aspects of life. We are creating our own destiny by making decisions on what we eat and drink, how we bring up our children, what we choose to do. We are in charge and control of our lives. Yes, 40. Maybe it takes that long to realise which potential we have as a human being. Or it is because life becomes more systematic then. The experience kicks in? Whatever it is, life couldn’t be more exciting than this.

Then on Tuesday I was off to a Germany again. Another trip with lots of important meetings. The main one was the announcement of us (my company Rocket Fuel) selling to Sizmek. So I am now part of another company. This is my third merger/acquisition. That is how our industry works and how things turn out. I got flooded with messages what it means to me and at this point in time it is too early to tell. Usually it takes a couple months for things to align, for paperwork to get done. In the meantime we will discuss company structures, company synergies and determine who or what will have to change. Given we are very complimentary, I don’t fear for many jobs. That said, there will always be some churn, as this is what happens. A big event, and I am a bit proud to experience another exit. It is not for me to comment on any of this, so will leave the discussion here.

Life isn’t a constant. As of above, the event and the job, things are fluid. I was discussing this with a friend of mine earlier this week, and I have mentioned it here before. When growing up, as children, we always envisage that life will be similar to our parents’ life. I came from a good upbringing, mum and dad always had enough money, a bit extra and we had a good life, some holidays. Never anything flashy or extraordinary. I need to ask my parents if that was because they didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to. I assume it was a mix of both. Mum was always good in book keeping. And I guess that is what I do with my kids. Yes, I could get them their own iPad, but that feels like the wrong thing to do. They need to learn how to save up for one, and honestly, they are still too young anyway. What I am saying is that they need to learn values. Core values of being able to appreciate things in life.

However, my life is nothing like my parents life I don’t think – my dad had a secure job (teacher) and my job changes every 2 years (that’s on average 😉 ). I live in a high pace, high impact, London, work environment, and commute 1.5 hours each way. Dad drove to work and finished early afternoon. He was around in the afternoons and sometimes worked at night if he had to finish a lot of marking.

There was more stability in life for them. And I sometimes wonder if I am missing that? I cannot say I am not having a stable job or not enough opportunity. Of course, I am saying that my industry is more volatile and at the brink of consolidation (and has been for years). And having said that, I could not imagine to do the same job for the next 30 years. I love the buzz and change, and opportunity. Yet, it just isn’t like in the olden days. Plus we are having an overload of information. Our phones, social media, news. There is so much more noise out there, trying to influence us and taking focus away from what is really important in life: our family, our values and our health. Those are part of life’s system I am describing in my #BeBetter book. The underlying system, the stability, comes from there. And from the belief that things will always work out in the end, happen for a reason. And they do. Believe!

And many years from now, I will look back at my ‘40ies’ and think that life was great. I will have little regrets. Maybe a few but overall I am very happy. The regrets you have are compromises. Those are ok I find. One cannot connect the dots moving forward, but the dots will connect looking backwards. Never forget. Never stop believing.

Have an amazing life, and week!
Volker

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Sunday Column (446)

A week without travel you might think makes my life easier. It does. It makes it more pleasant. More time with the kids, I saw them most mornings and most evenings. That made a huge difference. However, there is always something that isn’t right. First of all the new keyboard for my iPad which I don’t really enjoy yet and it makes it awkward to type and get anything done. As a matter of fact: I sent it back. The other annoying bit are the trains. A strike and overtime ban result in fewer trains, delayed trains and more annoying travel. So to a certain extend I hope to be back on the road. Yet, there is a huge advantage of being in the office every day: I have time to catch up with people and get real work done. I definitely enjoy that bit.

Last week I ran a promotion for my productivity book. It is about life systems and finding your own systems and habits, to allow for the perfect life. If life can ever be perfect? Probably not. However, if you build a system that allows you to be able to deal with things in a close to perfect manner, you end up being more efficient, more productive, and be better in life. That in my opinion is enough of a reason to consider buying my book 🙂

I am writing this post before I actually do my weekend run. I joined the Spitfire 24 hour relay race. That means I am in a team of 5 running 10K relay over a period of 24 hours. I anticipate to run 30-40K and be totally knackered on Sunday. So I update on the outcome and whether I would do it again next week. I signed up for it last year but couldn’t make it at the end. It is my wall and I shall see what my next wall might be. Maybe some kind of solo race like a marathon or off road challenge, we shall see.

Remember I write this prior to the race. Going out of my comfort zone is one thing. I am almost more worried about the camping logistics than the physical strain. On the the other hand it is going to be tough but the things I always enjoyed is endurance sports. Going beyond your status quo, pushing yourself. I remember vividly to go on a bike ride after little sleep with a massive hangover as a student. And it was a tough ride. And making it through that or running 2.5 hours along the beach in Aberdeen, that is what I truly enjoy. I let you know if that’s still the case next week.

Similar to dry January, I decided to stop drinking this week prior to the race. Not sure it would make a difference, but it is interesting to see how tired I got. The body converts the sugar in booze into energy and gives you a boost. Not having this results in more tiredness. Similar to giving up coffee resulting in you getting headaches. Whilst I wouldn’t consider myself a heavy drinker, I do enjoy a drink on a regular basis. So my body is used to the additional sugar and energy. I will do some more research into it, as I am keen on trying the new wine Laithwaites delivered last week 🙂 And wine, according to Ceasar anyway, is good for you. The French drink a whole lot of it and never seem to be bothered by it. As always, in moderation things are good for you, but for every habit you have – let it be exercise, coffee, alcohol or sweets, chocolate – taking a detox and break from it every now and then is useful and resets the system a bit. I am keen on exploring more, and if I was younger, and I said that before, I would compete with Tim Ferris on experimenting with my body and it’s system a bit more.

Now it is back to some travel over the next two weeks. The nice thing is that with summer being here, I actually have a manageable workload. I said the other day, I wasn’t busy. My staff laughed and I realised I have been busy, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming at the moment, not crazy rushed off my feet. Normal I’d say. And that is nice. That in my world means not busy LOL. In case my boss reads that, I am still busy enough! 🙂

That’s all for this week.
Have a good on,
Volker

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