Posts Tagged fun

Sunday Column (438)

Sunday night’s routine is tiring. I try to spend as much time with the boys, then I do what I have done for the last few weeks. I fold two shirts. I pack my gym gear, I pack my stuff for a few days away. The youngest often tries to help me, the eldest usually sits in the bath. As I pack my stuff, I realised that I most probably won’t be home for my son’s birthday. I plan to not travel for two weeks in a row, yet then I have to travel over his birthday. I better warn him early and suggested we can celebrate for three days before. Happy days, he is good with that. Balancing life is not easy sometimes, and tiring when you are worn out. Having had a virus, it seems as if I am running on 80% on a good day.

Whilst siting at the airport I managed a good catch up with a dear friend of mine. We discussed work life balance and challenges for having a high pressure job and a family. Coincidently I listened to a podcast re work life balance and blocking time (The1thing.com again) and wonder if work life balance is only becoming a practise now, after we had years of talking about it. Often good ideas take a while until we put them into daily practise. This is fascinating to watch and luckily not a big challenge for me, given the understanding and support of my company.

There was a minor incident on my flight, no nothing serious. My seat neighbour decided that he had to have more arm rest space than me and really started to get irritated when I pushed back and he pushed back himself. Wow, given he was middle seat and I was in the aisle one and we could have shared….I never experienced so much negative energy about something like that before. I backed down, breathed in and out, and moved on. I haven’t experience the sense of righteousness over something so small for a long time, and got really irritated. Seriously, an armrest space, that bl* important. No way.

Irritation is present for me, and I still find it difficult to deal with imperfection. This is because my high standards are often portrayed to others, and my expectations on myself are high. So when finding trainers, I spend another 2 hours trying trainers on Saturday, I want to have some that I know will eradicate my pain. But I cannot do that until I start running 10Ks in them. So I gave the one I chose a few weeks ago back and got two new pairs, hoping that one of them certainly works out. Given they didn’t have my size, I had to order them and hence didn’t have trainers for my trip to Germany. We are so spoiled to have things now and immediately, that waiting and being patient is not something we are good at anymore, or ever were.

It took me a few years to learn that actually. To understand that things are out of your control and that the person serving me dinner on Saturday night is not as sophisticated as I would have hoped for. But on the other hand, my confidence is growing to ask for things and offer compromises when food isn’t up to scratch or products I buy aren’t that great. Life is a learning process, and I hope I could just take half my life’s learning and pass it on to the kids. But that ain’t working, I guess my parents have tried and I didn’t want to hear any of it. Speaking to a good friend later in the week, the same pattern emerged. It was about work, about dreams, and how our experience benefits companies massively. Why wouldn’t it. And as someone said today, as you climb up the career ladder, or ladder of life, make sure it is leaning against the right wall. Moving forward is only progress if it is in the right direction.

Interesting, on a completely different note, I started drinking less coffee. I am not sure if I spoke about it, but I there are two subtle changes I have been making. One is to only drink a double espresso a day. No more caffeine after. A long coffee at the weekend, but I tend to change that too, I think. I find that I am less adjutated and less irritated. See above 🙂 Given I drank 5 or more cups of coffee/espresso a day, I am surprised how little I miss the caffeine intake. Then I try to eat healthier again, which I think is working most days. When I say it is more difficult whilst travelling, it is a sad excuse. You can always eat healthier, despite being on the road. Yet the stress and the temptation of junk food around you …. I took on more of the weekend cooking or reducing the take away in-take (sorry!). BBQs with veggies and lean meat and salad, smaller pizzas and some more salad / veggies at work. I still don’t loose the weight I put back on yet, but I am not gaining more. That’s a progress right? A bit more discipline, maybe less snacks, chocolate and beer, should do the trick. Again, it is a eating balance, finding the right balance in a life that is trying to determine how you feel and what you should do. That’s the key.

However, I started Monday with a bang – we did a big restructure in the German office, and this week was all about change. It is great to be in the midst of turning around a company and helping to facilitate change and perception. Life is good and I hope it is seen as a good change, if not now, then certainly in the months to come. Believe! It comes back to experience (see above), trust (see above) and stamina. I am planning my next trips. Things are moving in the right direction, and I got buy in from my eldest. Could things be better?

Honestly? They always could be. But then, if you take a moment to breathe, to stop and smell the roses, you will realise that we are in the midst of war of life. We are in the trenches for survival, and we are doing pretty well. There is no reason to complain, and things work out in the end. Life is happening now, not tomorrow or yesterday. Seizing the moment to catch up with my brother on Monday night in Hamburg was great. Being spontaneous. Living the life and pushing yourself, yet stretching your legs at the weekend and letting go. If you ever stop and think about it, life is amazing and every moment matters. Every little thing is giving you so much back, why not enjoy that ride. That’s what it is all about.

Have an amazing week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (433)

Happy Easter. I love Easter, mainly because I can spend a lot of time with the family. Good food, great chats and quality time with the kids. Particularly if you have the weather and can spend some time outside. It is nice and meeting great friends, chatting about what was and what there will be. Easter, for me, is about reflecting on the winter, the dark months, then to move forward towards the summer. It is also very close to my birthday, so making it a reflective time for me.

I started Easter with a run – a 10 mile run turned into a 23K run – as always I got lost. A lot of uphill and downhill. With the wife – and it was fantastic. I was knackered though. Being out in the woods, spring in the air, some drizzle, some views. Amazing.

This week I have been debating what and how much to write. It will be a shorter post I thought, just because I am really chilling out, relaxing and staying offline more than anticipated. This is a good thing. A friend of mine recently suggested that the trend goes towards digital cameras, MP3 players and any other ‘not connected’ devices. Away from an all in one, phone, connected device. I am not sure about that yet. However, maybe it is a trend and ‘humans’ will try to disconnect again. Hmm. Time will tell.

On productivity, a few weeks ago I started using Inbox for Gmail (by Google) which essentially let’s you snooze your emails to a time/date which is convenient for you. By doing so it removes the emails from your inbox. This way you easily get to inbox zero and also read emails when they are relevant (e.g. important ones in the morning, newsletters on a Friday afternoon). It gives you an immense satisfaction to clear your inbox by the end of the day, before a holiday or sometimes during the day. Latter is less often the case and it helps you to chase and remind people of actions.

Having more control over emails and being able to use inbox as a todo list, something I never recommended to do with a ‘standard inbox’, is a good way to keep your todo list small. On the other hand, the amount of articles lately that suggest to schedule time in your calendar for actions to get them done rather than using lists, is getting more. I will share them via the Thursday Flash, but only partly agree. Blocking time to get through your todo list and work on time relevant things is important and good practise. However, to schedule every task down to the hour only makes sense if your work is very task based and then you work through one after another anyway – hence could use a list. But as outlined in my book (link on the right hand side), the important thing is that you find a system that works for you and that you are consequent in using and applying it.

I enjoy my Easter break. The last 3 and a bit months have been very intense. In a good way though. Time to reflect, recharge and fly to the moon when I am back! The sky is the limit, really! Powered by Rocket Fuel 🙂 Sorry I couldn’t resist. LOL

Whilst I would say that, over Easter I had to explain a few people what we do and how we do it. Our industry is still so young and so far away from the big boys. No surprise there are the big boys like Oracle, Times, Adobe that get into the game. Fun. And surely more mergers and acquisitions ahead. What will life look like Easter 2018?

Anyway, I am disconnected too – a bit anyway. Not fully of course, that wouldn’t be me.

Have a great Easter weekend.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (430)

If I look back at the weekend, this is last weekend, it was a great family weekend. I enjoyed myself, spend quality time with the boys and we even went for some Pokemon hunting. It gets the youngest out and keeps him entertained. I personally do not understand the game, but maybe I don’t have to anymore. Of course I am trying, trying to be the understanding daddy. I guess there will be a time in the future where I will be having more difficulties understanding what the youth is up to and of course how they use technology. On the other hand, I am speaking at more conferences explaining people what programmatic and predictive marketing can do.

Is that mad? Our company is at the forefront of digital advertising, using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and literally predicts the future. Moment by moment. Yet Pokemon Go gives me a headache 😉 It is a funny old world out there. This week I went to Stockholm, then to Hamburg and back to London on Friday. Given the age of the kids, this got a lot easier for both of them and my wife and myself, for me to be away. So me travelling regularly to Germany for a temporary assignment won’t be too difficult, unless I travel the days my wife is working. But we can arrange and plan in advance. Exciting times ahead, challenging times ahead. Time to make sure the weekends are planned and well thought out, making it the quality time the family needs.

Given EasyJet’s 4 hour delay a couple of weeks ago, I will change airlines to then travel from Heathrow. This is another headache given the time it takes to go to Heathrow. However, I’d rather have a reliable airline than getting stuck somewhere. EasyJet has been great but the last trip was the straw that broke the camel’s back. 7 years of EasyJet Pluscard, regular European travel come to an end. You could argue I didn’t have many problems looking back, however problems seemed to be more common recently. Of course never say never, I might be back but don’t bank on it. Delays were just too often in the last two months, causing some not needed inconvenience. If the same happens with the new airline…I guess I am back 😉 Watch this space. Eurowings, here I come. I just hope to get my passport soon, as not being able to go through the automated passport gates is a pain and took 30 minutes on Friday night 🙁

I remember thinking travelling was glamorous but if you have done it for years, despite being used to it, it is not glamorous. It is fun sometimes, and it is great to travel upgraded on long distance, but really it is a pain. No matter how short the trip is. At least I stay in nice hotels with both saunas, fitness rooms and nice beds. Life isn’t all bad. And I look forward to the additional challenge looking after the German market for an interim period. Onwards and upwards. The me-time is nicer too. Whilst I normally get a lot of time to myself on the train, the time on a plane is better. No disruptions, no emails, no worries. I can work on presentations, read, or watch movies, sleep or catch up on emails without the inbox filling up again. This is nice. And it gave me another excuse to buy a messenger bag. I love my little bags 😉

Sweden. I was in Stockholm for a day and a night to visit the local office. That was great. The Country Manager and I had a great time, good brainstorming and made progress on a presentation we needed to prepare. However, the stay was overshadowed by the terrorist attacks in London. I was glad to not be in London. We have survived 9/11, 7/7 and we will get through this period of time. The scary thing I suppose is that those attacks can happen anytime. At any one time someone could just drive a car into a crowd and launch an attack, in whichever form. And that is the unsettling bit. I guess we soldier on, and get on with our daily lives, hoping we won’t be affected ever. That’s the hope I suppose. But there are no guarantees, life could be over tomorrow.

But I don’t want to dampen any weekend or general (spring) moods. This weekend was sunny and I caught up on some proper boys time. Then it was Mother’s day. I almost missed it if a friend hadn’t pointed it out. Useless Marks and Spencer didn’t even allow me to order flowers for Sunday delivery, so I had to do it ‘manually’. Never mind, I am just too much dependent on online shopping. We had a great weekend!

Being back in Germany is interesting. I noticed how much I have changed since I moved away 16 years ago. My travel companions (you will remain unnamed) and I shared a lot of chat around corporate values, expectations and challenges. We are so aligned, that it is great to see the progress we are making. It’s those shared values and common understanding, hard work and fun that makes or breaks a job. Whilst I am still very ‘young’ within the company, I am still learning a lot, yet loving the challenge and the people I work with. Plus of course, we do have the best product out there. The share price has grown massively since I started (this is not necessarily a correlation) and it feels so good to be there.

Onwards and Upwards.
Have an amazing week ahead.
Volker

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Sunday Column (429)

Last week was a turning point. I believe, and I mentioned that to my wife, that the next few weeks will be a turning point in our life. There are changes coming up, chapters being closed. I start writing this as I am sitting to wait for a delayed flight to Hamburg on Sunday night. So a week ago, prior to Sunday Column 428 being published. Crazy, but that is my creative output. I love writing, keeping myself busy with thinking and strategising. About anything and everything really. I was asked this week what my next book is about, and I said, probably it is about my life, or life or something. No plans yet…

At the weekend we started to speak more German at home. My wife started taking private tuition and the boys tried understanding what I am talking about. I translate the sentences simultaneously. This is only the beginning but we try to become more bi-lingual at home. The weekend was productive with us having done some spring gardening and we finally built the hedgehog house. It was a good weekend, the wife and I went out, maybe a few too many drinks, but hey, that happens now and then. Not many occasions when we can go out to celebrate. Then we had our yearly debate if St. Patrick’s day is actually the first time we met and kissed. Anyway, don’t let me get into that.

Further, I closed the chapter of writing a productivity book. I sent the final drafts off to publishers at Christmas but didn’t get a positive response. So I put it on Amazon Kindle on Sunday, a link is to the right of the post. It is free to download in the first week, but I decided to make little noise about it. A good read I find, and if people are interested, they will find it. I have other focus at the moment than productivity books and worked on them for a few years now. Time to put that to bed. So closing this chapter and focusing on other things is good. Maybe the new book about life 😉

On the other hand I opened a chapter at work. Not only the first 30 minute presentation at a conference for this employer, but also in German! So a double challenge but it went well. So did the panel the next day. I am trying to help out where I can to present the company and hence I flew out to Germany on Sunday. I will continue to be in Germany more often, as I temporary help in the German market. It will be a drag flying, but it is going to be a lot of fun too and a great challenge. Having said that, I had to wait 4 hours for my Easyjet flight coming back, so no more Easyjet for me. The delays were getting to much and I am only back to travelling, so Heathrow it is unfortunately as it is a pain to get there for an early morning flight, and BA or Eurowings instead of Easyjet. The joys. Travelling is never glamorous, and I was hoping to do less, now probably going to do more. But I love a challenge, a chapter and the opportunity to help and support. That’s who I am, that’s what I do, that’s what I enjoy. And work is very good about it too!

As one chapter opens, another closes they say. I travelled with my German passport. I have done since I moved to the UK in 2001. Yet, since Wednesday, I can be hopeful to soon get the British passport too. I pledged my allegiance to the Queen and became a British national. Now I am British and German, soon with two passports. Wow, who would have guessed. It all happened quicker than anticipated in the end. And the application for the passport has been sent. Exciting times ahead. It feels like yesterday that a friend of mine and I discussed this, sitting over lunch in Farringdon. He said, now you know the process, it is easy to do and you don’t know what the future holds. It gives you security he said. He was right. Security and peace of mind. I beat him to it too 😉

I feel at ease. I feel like spring cleaning my life a bit. I put a lot of energy into the new job and really enjoy the challenge. Is it much different to what I am used to? Yes and no. As a friend of mine said the other day: good tech, great people, and you realise how much you know and how much experience you have. Sometimes you don’t realise how much you know, but in this line of work I very much rely on my experience often and enjoy it. Yet, there are new challenges, different experiences, which help me grow and go outside of what I know. Keeping me on my toes. It is great to see the positive difference you can make. And a great team I have!

Then amongst the travel, I listened to a podcast by Tim Feriss, where one of his guests, John Crowley, who has children with a disease, talks about the IPO with his business. His business is in the biotech space to save humans like his children from this particular disease. When he came home after two weeks on the road after the IPO, his daughter woke up when he kissed her goodnight. He said she would be proud of what he has done. And she said, she was proud and that she saw him on TV. He said, what do you think of me on TV? She said he looked short.
In her next breath she asked whether he was around tomorrow to take her to school. That was the most important part for her.
I understand that feeling. The boys aren’t interested if I speak at a conference or close a mayor sales to bring home money to buy the Lego Deathstar (which I refuse to do btw). They care if I bring sweets or if I take them to school the next day. And that’s how it should be. It is important for me to be up at 6 am on a Sunday to do colouring in or build a model of Bumblebee. That should always be our focus, to spend time with our loved ones, to teach them, to help them, to be with them, to share moments with them. And with all the travel, and my wife planning to go back to work, this is still the main priority and focus. And we make it work, as we make anything work we want to make work. Just like turning a page in a book, we move on with life.

Of course we cannot be there 24/7. But when we are there, we need to be in the moment. We must be with them and make sure they see that. We must help them to understand the world and share the experience. I have done that a lot lately with my boys. Individually. Together. I feel better for it and so does my relationship with them.

Have a great week and give your loved ones a big hug.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (10)

Welcome to this week’s bulletin. We are well into March! Wow, time flies, and we are celebrating my 10th Thursday Flash. That means we are 10 weeks into the year I suppose 🙂

In line with my interest in productivity, I am a enthusiastic user of Slack for private groups and work groups and communication. This article on ‘Slack Hacks‘ is useful for the user of Slack and makes the productivity tool more productive. Double win this week!

Tying your data to phone numbers? Oh yes, that’s possible and scary. There are endless possibilities, including cookie data. I am advising a start up in that space and I am astonished to what possibilities there are. Stay tuned for more on that in the coming months I’d say.

And yes, there is more on Artificial Intelligence (AI) – this week is ‘only’ a summary of what AI is and how it is use and how useful it is for organisations. It also outlines the trend of acquisitions/growth of the industry. A worthwhile read in my opinion if you are interested in that topic.

I am sure there is more next week on AI.

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Sunday Column (427)

This week was different. In a good way I suppose, given it started out with a lovely Sunday meal with the family. We celebrated my wife’s birthday and her finishing yet another half marathon. Well done. I am very proud of her achievements. I originally wanted to eat a salad but ended up with some nice winter warming comforting Pizza – so much about losing weight again. My training is going well, yet before the 24 hour race I should really shed a few more kilos. I guess consistency with weight exercise is needed and more discipline on the food side of things. I am trying. Maybe not hard enough but pushing myself in regards to making sure to complete three 10K runs a week.

On Tuesday/Wednesday I attended an internal conference where eating and drinking healthy wasn’t an option really. I mean, knowing HR is reading my blog ;-), there is always an option, but less discipline I guess. One night to make friends with up to 180 people from our international territory. That’s a lot of people to meet, a lot of networking. A great event though and speaking as well as listening to our CEO was encouraging. I love what I am doing and believe this company is right. We are on a journey and it is a journey I enjoy. People I enjoy. Amazing technology. We are winning. And no, I am not only writing this since HR is listening in. I am writing this as I think there are similarities between my CEO, my MD and myself. This sounds weird, but besides the early morning routines (this sounds weird, doesn’t it), we also seem to understand and enjoy business. Different level of experience of course and backgrounds, and motivations, but overall I can spot a theme. That’s amazing.

I had probably one of the shortest commutes from the conference. It happened in Brighton. So when I got home Wednesday afternoon I caught up on some sleep and then on some work. The next day I was back at my 5 am routine. It killed me at the conference given I was in bed very late and naturally woke by 5, but on Thursday my 10K was refreshing. I started my physio exercises again and taking ibuprofen, so I am hopeful to get on top of my leg pain soon. I also had 9 hours sleep that night which helped immensely to get back to normal.

The remainder of the week was rather busy. A lot of things to organise, conferences to prepare, personal stuff to sort out. Two weeks out from my citizenship ceremony, which I found out is free of charge after all, the government agreed that the status of EU citizens would not change post Brexit. I feel at ease knowing that soon I don’t have to worry about it anymore. No one likes dealing with government processes I don’t think. So putting it all to an end to apply for a passport will be nice. A bit of closure. Britain is home for me. Here is where my family is and here is where I belong.

Trains seem to run fine at the moment. I don’t want to jinx it but since I started my job 6 weeks ago, I can take a direct train again to get to the office for 9 am. That is nice. An easier commute, reliable most days and a more convenient one. However, the train is older and doesn’t cope that well with the old tracks. So slightly more uncomfortable. I find myself typing this blog on Thursday morning. A sunny day, a windy day. The wind woke me up a few times at night. Winter is not quite gone yet, and according to the calendar spring wont’ t start until 21 March. Despite my wife thinking it is the 1st of March. I look forward to the summer, to more fun with the boys. outside, sitting on the patio. To enjoy nature and nature’s warmth. To connect with the roots. But let’s not get sentimental.

Life has been good to us. I am pleased and happy with what we have. My life as a whole. The challenges it comes with. The love from my boys and discussions we have. The challenges we work through as parents. The ‘treadmill weekends’ of going to parties and entertaining the family. I enjoy to be able to help, to make a difference to things. I am content yet hungry for more. I am eager to step up and take on more. And hopefully I will eventually. With patience, consistency and integrity, I am confident to take things further. Life is great.

Have an amazing week ahead.
Best,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (9)

I got asked the last week why I don’t share all of those articles on Twitter. Good question. The reason, however, seems straight forward. Whilst I overheard some older people discussing on the train, whether to join Twitter, I have been using Twitter for 9 years or so. If I am not mistaken I joined in 2008. But since the engagement rate has gone down. So has the engagement rate on Facebook. For reach, I still use Twitter and for important things, I use Facebook as people are still reading it (yet less so I find). Hence the Thursday Flash got a place in my weekly blog to just collect what I find read worthy. And then I still share it via social media.

If you are enjoying it, please share it on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook or where ever else you like to share it!

Thanks. Here we go with the Thursday Flash!

I am a big Tim Ferriss fan (4 hour work week, 4 hour body week, amazing podcasts!), and this article about Deloading is worth a read. A must read in my opinion. If you like it, please visit his website and look for more of his stuff.

Deloading is about having some time to just do things without purpose, to think, brainstorm, enjoy and chill. Loving the idea and coining that phrase.

The next one is an article you might have seen before, about work life balance, trust in employees and working from home. It is a great summary of how our work place culture is changing and how to structure and create a great work place! Did I mention that I work for a company that has been voted ‘Best company to work for’?

Last but not least, most people in the industry think of Artificial Intelligence (AI) being a fad. Let me tell you, it is not. We are just scratching the surface of applying AI to our lives. This article in Exchangewire about Deep Learning hit the spot with me. Ciaran, the founder of Exchangewire, and I are going back a while. I wrote about Deep Learning myself in this article about AI on Linkedin.

Great, that’s it for this week. Enjoy yourselves and see you next week.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (425)

A funny, mixed week that was. Lots of things going on at work and at home. Discussions, ideas, strategies. My head was spinning most days, days turning into a big blur. After two full packed days in the office where we made a lot of progress, I went off to lovely Milan. In the meantime the team even made more progress. I have the feeling we are winning. I know it is early days, just about a month in, but it seems like we are ‘getting shit done‘. It feels good.

Ever since I helped getting Milan and Madrid off the ground for a company I worked for a few years ago, I love going to Milan (and Madrid). It’s the people, the city, the smell, the taste, the food, the wine, the atmosphere, the alps – and being able to visit my new company’s regional office there and spend some time with the guys, was wonderful. I truly enjoyed the trip, and I found it very useful and fruitful to bring things together, learning a lot too. The team is super advanced and I learned a lot.

The flight was fun. After a rough night with kids waking me up at 3 am and a 5 am pick up by my taxi, I slept through the whole flight. Yet when approaching the airport we pulled up again last minute. Another plane was given priority due to a person falling sick on that plane. Fair enough. So we turned up and around and landed on the second attempt. That was a first for me. Next week I am going to Germany, which in regards to culture will be at the other end of the spectrum to Italy I suppose. I really enjoy those travels again and being part of a bigger international team. Working in international companies is fun, and we have some very smart people in the company.

Anyway, let’s not talk about work every week 😃 I spend most of my time with work, so it is good to get some downtime now and then. Last weekend I got little. Last weekend I was very jet lagged. This weekend I had to go to the Apple Store because my MacBook Air gave up on me, I cannot start it any longer. Maybe I just give it back and trade it against an Apple TV? However it turns out that the repair is probably more costly than it is worth in value, as I don’t really need it anymore. So before I find out next week, I got the new Apple TV and the kids (and I) are happy. New games, new fun. There are not many Apple products left I adore and would like to have. Maybe the new MacBook, the slimmer and nicer one, yet having an Air from work suits me fine. If I have to upgrade my iPad mini, I would potentially get a iPad Pro. Never mind, not for a long time I hope.

The main challenge is to see my boys so little at the moment. Because of travel, late trains home from work, them getting up later etc. And yet, when I do see them they seem to change so quickly. It is difficult to keep up with their development, their latest ideas on toys, their wish list for Christmas (already!), the things they enjoy doing. Although they spend most of their pocket money on toys this weekend, leading into half term. However, every night when I do see them, it is a new miracle of thoughts that are coming out of their head which I enjoy exploring and questioning. One responds nicely, the other one doesn’t like it. They are like chalk and cheese, so different, so differently motivated, it is a joy to see, however painful it can be too.

Balancing their needs and mine. Wondering if I am a good dad, do I do a good job? It is a job or is it fun? What is the desired outcome for the boys? You cannot treat it like a work project. I listened to a lot of podcasts travelling, and one of them was about a chess player. He got involved in chess heavily at the age of 6. Should I push my boys more into that? Anyway, just when you think things are going well, I ended up listening to a podcast of a woman who lost two husbands and had two kids, one from each. At least I think that’s what it was, as I lost track a bit dozing off. But it is a sad podcast about a family with lots of challenges.

Those are the moments I thank the greater universe for the health we have. I remind myself to eat healthier and drink less. To look after myself and the family more. To be a better dad. A better husband. To have more time for things. I am sitting next to someone on the plane who seems to write an academic article. Should I have written a phd after all? Should I have gone into academia? I sometimes wonder but I am very happy with what I do and the progress I am making in my career. So life is good and most people I know are healthy. I am blessed, truly thankful for what I have and hopeful that it stays that way.

It has been a good week. I am content and life feels right. I sorted my citizenship ceremony and look forward to become a full blown Brit. Did I mention there is another 88 GBP fee to attend the ceremony? It really seems as if getting the citizenship is also a money making machine. Never mind, I am almost there.

Have a great week, make sure to give your loved ones a big hug.
Volker

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Sunday Column (424)

What an amazing week I had. I spend my week with some amazing people seeing some amazing things. As I started writing this on my flight to San Diego on Monday, I am not sure why I use a cable for my wireless, bluetooth headphones. I had to connect my keyboard to my iPad via wireless bluetooth connection. Is that dangerous? I guess by time of reading this, you will know. I am, in all honesty, not the biggest fan of flying. I have done it a lot in the past, but not the long haul flights with 8 hours time difference. Yet it seems so easy and with enough planning you keep yourself busy. Having proper thinking time, going through endless podcasts and audiobooks and preparing presentations is not a bad thing. Not being connected and constantly interrupted. And the odd glass of champagne – I got an upgrade 😉 That also means I got some sleep both ways and the flights overall were very bearable.

All those “posh” things don’t matter too much to me tbh. I enjoy them, don’t get me wrong, but I am far too much down to earth. Hence I happily admit a tear jerker of a movie called Brooklyn which I watched last weekend. It was about an Irish lady that leaves home for America to fall in love. A simple story, yet ever so timely with Trump trying to ban immigrants. The quote at the end reads: And one day the sun will come out – you might not even notice straight away, it’ll be that faint. And then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who’s only yours. And you’ll realize… that this is where your life is.

It made me think. I arrived in the UK in 2001. As my teacher always said, when I came back from an exchange year in the USA in 1994, he didn’t think I would stay in Germany. Something had changed. I always wanted to go back stateside to live. Yet life hasn’t worked out like that, and I am far from complaining about the life I have. I am very happy. The wife is happy. The kids are and don’t want to live anywhere else either. That is nice. Yet, I sometimes wonder what if things had gone differently. But then we always will. And we make people in the country we move to ours, and whilst it feels like my wife has been part of my entire life, she has no connection to my past prior to me meeting her. That is odd but yet a lifetime since we met. The film definitely hit a spot.

In relations to that I got a letter whilst I was away: I become a British citizen! All application approved and I can pledge my allegiance to the Queen in the next couple of months to then get a British passport. So technically I am already a Brit I suppose. And a German. However, I keep both my German passport and my accent. It is good to know that I am not different to my family any more and I am part of what I have been living for the past 16 years. A new chapter I suppose, but I know where my life is. It is kind of an odd feeling. On the one hand it is a tick box in regards to Brexit and my life here, rather unimportant. On the other hand, you are giving up some of your identity (without loosing your German passport or nationality) and adopt more closeness to a country you chose to spend your life in. A bit of a step to become closer to things in this country. I cannot use my excuse of being a foreigner any longer either.

In other thoughts…when I was at the airport, going out, my youngest had a small accident. He hit his head, broken his glasses and my wife took him home. Nothing to worry about. You cannot be there all the time. But it is a shame that you cannot be there yet of course it is good that someone can. One thinks of what could happen on a long journey. Maybe I shouldn’t but I did. What if… The wife and I discussed it, and yet, we aren’t worried. We are both people that get on with life, we succeed in life. And if anything might happen, this would just be the end of the world for one. The other one moves on, gets on with life. But let’s not even think about it.

I enjoyed the companies of my colleagues on the trip. I am not only saying that but I do feel home. Friends in the industry, good guys, friendly, helpful and they are looking after me. I am still the new guy, ain’t I? It feels longer than 3 weeks. It’s good. It’s fun and I genuinely enjoy the new company. It is nice to feel welcomed and at home, thinking I can add value. The camaraderie, them making me sing my first karaoke in my life and us enjoying ourselves sitting in the sun in San Diego after a few exhausting conference days. I even got a sunburn. We went to the gym most mornings being jet lagged, had some good wine but never really stepped over the line. We met the CEO who is great and down to earth. I met with lots of colleagues from the US. It was amazing and I cannot wait to go back and learn more. Some of the stuff I saw in terms of technology is mind boggling. I am very excited to be part of the company’s journey!

Then it was my son’s 6th birthday party, and my dad’s birthday too. I arrived just in time for the cake. Jet lagged, tired, exhausted, sun burned and knackered. But nothing of that mattered the moment I got the longest hug in the world. The biggest kiss, him telling me all about what he has been up to since I left. And the other one too! We cheated a bit and didn’t get him any toys from the US as it would have been too much hassle to organise last minute with the delivery and all. So instead we ordered some PJs pretending they were from the US. Never mind, when you read this when you are older you will probably kick a fuss yet understand it. And I didn’t really say they came from the US anyway. So you will understand or might not even remember. You didn’t mind and were the happiest boys in the world. Boy did I miss my family this week!

It was a tiresome week. A kick off to a few weeks travelling. A kick off to my new job. A kick off to enjoying world traveller status. A well spent week. Thank you, yet it is good to be home.

Have a fantastic week everyone, love to you all,
Volker

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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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