Posts Tagged hassocks

Sunday Column (441)

Another Monday morning. Yes, this time it is Monday. I am squeezed between two fellow train passengers on the way o London. The train is busy, smelly, and someone’s phone is pinging every other minute. Can’t people just silent their devices. It is sunny and I try to balance my ipad on my knees.

After a busy weekend, where I got exhausted planting some plants in the garden, uncovering more stones, roots and relics from the past under our lawn, I am on my way back to work. No travel abroad this week which is nice. However, today it feels a bit like bravery. After the attacks on Saturday, terrorism once again came closer to home. I was in London 2005. London and Manchester. London again. This wasn’t the last time someone decides to strike. Our police force arrived and shot the terrorists within 8 minutes. Wow. I am impressed. In a city where you normally need that time to get out of the tube, this is impressive. London is prepared. And we Londoners, even if I live outside London, are not impressed yet don’t let it bother us. Or maybe it is better phrased to say we are bothered but we don’t change – terrorism will never rule our lives. It cannot given the place we live, the life we live – we all have a common conscious of where we are. Multi cultural living. Different nationalities. Different races and religion. All that has nothing to do with terror. Former is beauty and sign of mankind growing up.

Life will move on. Different people are dealing with it in different ways. Some better, some worse. We had endless discussions this week with people in the office and out of the office. People that just care and are humans. The election this week, how was it influenced by recent events. One can only guess and for me, I soldier on. I will not back down.

In other news we moved 5 years ago. What does that really mean? 5 years ago we packed our 2 up 2 down house in Beckenham, Kent, 20 minutes train ride to either Victoria or Charing Cross or Waterloo and moved to the sticks. We gave up the awful parking in our street, the ‘no access’ to our 15 ft garden, the airplane noise and dirt in the streets to move to the country side. 8 years we lived in Beckenham. Various flats and then the house which we bought on the height of the market. We made a small loss, yet recovered by buying a 4 bedroom house in Hassocks. The South Downs on our door step, 10 minutes to Brighton, 30 minutes to a nice beach, mountain biking, running, lifestyle, villages, village markets, quiet, cul-de-sac, off street parking, and the list goes on. We never made a better choice yet in our lives. Yes, maybe we move again, never say never, but for the time being, and besides last week’s post on everything can change, as far as I can see, we going to be here for another 10 years. Let’s see of course, if I can cope with the 1.5 hour commute that long.

My wife did another half marathon this weekend. Well done her. She caught the running bug and I am mighty proud of her achievements. This one was a special one for her, and a special one for me, spending the whole weekend, and I took a half day on Friday, with the boys. Boy, did we have fun!

A few thoughts on the General Election before I finish. I cast my vote via post. I have always done that, as I never know what I am up to on the day. So no last influences on me. I am proud to finally be able to vote in the country I have lived in for so long. I vote strategically, hence I am not voting for any of the bigger parties. Then maybe I should have. Anyway, it is done. There is change. As I keep saying, and my mentor Darren Hardy, there is no constant in life and things are evolving, progressing every single day. Will we continue with Brexit? Will we have another election? Time will tell.

Hope you had a great weekend,
Volker

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Sunday Column (419)

I hope you enjoyed my new blog post on Thursday: THURSDAY FLASH, where I wrote about what I enjoy reading, and which information I found useful over the past week.

And a quick reminder, if you enjoy this blog, please don’t forget to share the content forward:

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Funny picture for my blog

What is next?

What is happening in 2017?

We had the Brexit, Trump takes office, the world hasn’t really moved since the New Year. So essentially, we are still in 2016.
No! This year has already been busy. At least it has been for me. Constructive, forward looking meetings, discussions and idea exchanges. I am buzzing after this week about opportunities out there, and changes to come within the industry. The world. Let’s embrace the change and let’s make 2017 a never to forget year, for the right, positive reasons.

I am overwhelmed by the amount of good will, help and support in the community. What ever happens next, I will never forget and pay back to the community whenever I can. Thank you and a shout out to friends, helpers and mentors out there. One of the best meetings this week was a discussion around ‘gut feeling’ and ‘you know what is right’ with a very experienced industry veteran. We are all the same, and we just need to trust our guts more, our instincts, our bodies, our minds. They already know what is right and what is wrong for us. Interesting isn’t it?

What about my New Year resolutions?

I don’t have any to be honest. Why? I will continue to work out, and try to reduce my weight again and trim up. Get in shape. Work on a new exercise routine. So if I talk about weight, this means more physique/circumference/body shape than absolute weight itself. Weight itself is not as relevant, key for me are measurements and fitness level. Back at the end of 2015 I was measured to have the metabolic age of a 23 year old. Did I mention I turn 40 this year? My aim is that by summer I shall have a similar fitness level, eat more healthy again, drink less etc. The usual. And I will do that, as I have done it before, particularly as I haven’t really slipped up too much. I need more of a constant reminder. Every now and then I get a cold or a temperature and stop doing weights, it gets colder etc, but I always keep my fitness up. I am actually thinking of buying some more equipment for body resistance exercises in order to increase fitness levels. We shall see. I also aim to do another 24 hour race which I couldn’t do last year. So things moving along nicely on that front.

Then, the other big thing this year is to focus on family. I think I realised that living where we are living, having the job I love and the career I want, I need to focus on the weekends to spend time with the boys and my wife. The week is just not feasible to calculate arrival times for trains, particularly with the train strikes, and calculate work commitments. The only other way is to move and we are not going to do that. So weekends are family time, Monday to Friday is all about exercise, work and commute, latter being me-time with lots of readings and podcasts and personal development. Maybe another book to write 😉

Overall, I just want to improve my life style even further, progress with my career and give my family the best life. All I want is to make life work – based on our expectations, values and commitments. Simple really. And this is more ambitious than it sounds. Just think about it for a bit. I am not thinking I am demanding a lot, but it is complex to align everything that is going on in your life to make it ‘perfect’ (or close to it).

I constantly improve myself by working and checking against my quarterly goals and objectives. I track my progress and make amendments to both expectations and execution to achieve those objectives. My resolution is changing daily/monthly/quarterly, as I constantly try to better myself. I try to freshen up my toolkit on a weekly basis to sharpen the saw, as Covey would put it in the “7 habits of highly successful people”. My daily exercise, both physically and mentally, is part of that. A new addition is a daily journal to recap of what I appreciate in life. I use “Gratitude Journal”, the top one on this list of Gratitude Journals, for it.

And Dry January? I still hadn’t decided when I started writing this blog but had a glass of wine on Thursday. It is good to take some time off alcohol, but it isn’t as if I drink excessively. I enjoy a drink, particularly over Christmas and New Year, but during a ‘normal’ week, it is good to just have a glass or two every now and then to relax, chill out, or chat with people, being social. Nothing wrong with that. So on to 2017.

So that’s my blurb for the week really. A quiet, yet intensive and fairly busy start in the year. You might have seen my Thursday Flash which is my newest bulletin about articles I think are worth reading each week. I started collecting them and publish about three or so articles, related or not, that I found a useful read each week. Please let me know what you think.

Picking up the earlier comment again: A lot of things feel right at the moment. Some feel wrong. Some feel like they are moving in the right direction. Trust your feelings, and trust you being you. Because you are the one that knows you best.

Enjoy yourself,
Volker

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Sunday Column (320)

This week got me hit a personal goal! I hit 5,000 connections on Linkedin! Yes, that means I am connected to 5,000 individuals, who admittedly I don’t all know. But, similar to Twitter, this is all about reach for me. Being able to connect, network and reach out with updates to that many people makes it fun. Great input whenever you need it. And it works well. Not only can I find useful connections, I also help others to connect. This can be very rewarding at times.

Otherwise it as an interesting week. Monday started with a busy, but not manic day. That means, in work terms, it was almost not a lot going on, when you can stay on top of things…or is it just mental any other day. Anyway, of course the week changed quickly. By Friday we were running around like headless chickens again 😉 And next week is end of month. I have a day trip to Germany and overall I have a lot going on. But that’s the way I like it. Always nice to have a few days where you can just cope 😉

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Oh and oh no…you might remember that not only did I attend a Facebook event but I also went back on Facebook. At least for a few hours to post our shed which we wanted to sell locally. That’s me breaking my Facebook detox 🙂 Is Facebook the new Loot, the new FridayAd, the new Gumtree? For me it is and it makes perfect sense. We also managed to sell the shed in wake of us getting a custom one built next to the house. Work is halfway done and should be finished next week. We already ordered the alarm for the shed, the new garden hose, the Karcher, and the list goes on. I am very excited to see the finished piece that allows for more space in the garage to exercise…and for that I got new kettlebells, new flooring etc. I am very excited about transforming the space in the house.

In line with that, my next project is the spare bedroom which I want to be a second living room, chill out and play room, working and home office room at the same time. And of course, it being free for people when they come to visit us.

As you can probably tell, we plan a lot in the house. Next is still the upstairs’ ceilings to be smoothened, the heating pipes to be stopped from banging, some electrical stuff and a new carpet. Once that is done we still need to do the bathroom and driveway but I guess that’s next year. Let’s not rush and I didn’t win the lottery yet. However, I already envisage the new spare bedroom with lots of productivity and chill out gadgets 🙂 Poor wife!

Coming back to Facebook. A friend had a baby. Of course I wanted to see the little one and make sure he is ok, didn’t I? And Facebook is the place to do that. Did I feel I missed out on things in general? Did I go through the last 3 weeks of updates? NO. And since the detox I have been on it less often to be honest. The local groups slacking people off for cycling without helmets, trying to impose their standards on others…come on guys, each to their own and no need to have a go for people to be different.

Maybe I can use Facebook on a desktop only basis, only at weekends or something like that? Life was busy enough without it. I hardly have time for Twitter 🙁 Unless I can moan about the train services of course.

This leads nicely to my topic of rail fares. I renewed my annual season ticket, £3808. We worked it out, cheaper than driving to work. It was a heated debate at the local dad’s night on Friday whether we get value for money, dependance on the trains, working from home schemes, flexible hours and of course whether we should all work from Hassocks. Maybe not. Again, we chose to live here, partly because of the school. Those are oversubscribed already, just extended last year already, and now they want to build another few houses. Something is not adding up.

Ok, you don’t need a phd to work this one out. One wonders, with the upcoming election, what else is going on. Or you don’t. I try not to. Doesn’t mean I don’t care.

Just one word on Productivity before I let you go: Germans rule productivity, e.g. they focus on getting their work done to have more spare time with their clubs. Makes perfect sense to me 😉 Follow the link to see!

I had a fantastic family weekend. The boys are in a great age, and I really enjoy them!

One sad note to the end. As Rosie, our now 8 months old German Shorthaired Pointer doesn’t get along with the cat, or our 7 year old cat didn’t fight back when she was a puppy, we decided to rehome Hansel as well. It has been a fantastic 7 years with him. We had to rehome Gretel when, after she just coped with the babies, she didn’t cope with the new house. Now Hänsel. We are sad to see him go but as he confined himself to the garage and a good friend offered to take him, he will be a lot happier and better off.

Let’s just hope the dog can stay 😉

Have a good week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (282)

Nothing like Monday morning. After a nice and sunny weekend, a late Sunday reading my papers and catching up with everyday life, I ended up sitting with C on Monday morning discussing thunderstorms, lightning whilst thunder filled the fresh, rainy air. C sat, wrapped up in a blanket, on our new window seat in the kitchen, just watching the outside. He likes thunderstorms and keeps asking me about whether I liked them as a boy and if he could watch TV, as mummy told him TVs would break thanks to lightning.

Anyway, my national rail app alerted me that trains are delayed due to lightning and I keep wondering if there is any excuse not good enough for train companies to delay or cancel trains? However, coming to the station, meeting a few friends, there were no trains for a while. I eventually got on one and my journey and day/week could begin.

There is some positives here. The garden needed the water, it was long overdue. Then the dust that has been collected everywhere around the house from the repointing got washed away. The car which I hosed down on Sundays got “hosed” down again.

And it isn’t a busy period at work, the summer slump. So whether I sit on the train working through some emails or in the office doesn’t matter too much at the moment. Holiday seasons is upon us. Having said that, the rest of the week got really busy.

Whilst sitting on trains, I noticed an interesting behaviour. Often, and that includes myself, one puts his bag next to oneself when travelling. If someone wants to sit next to you, and I normally sit on the aisle as I am a bit taller and like to stretch my legs, they ask and I happily get up and move my bag. Of course I do! You get the odd people not wanting to ask or if really busy I move my bag, signalling my willingness to make space.

Yet others don’t. They are holding on to their bags, almost paranoid not to take up space, eager to jump up if someone just looks at the empty seat besides them. I think people can ask. And then again others just plank their bag on the seat next to them, ignoring people standing and use the spare seat as a luggage rack. Those are the ones even I get tempted to sit next to, just to ask them to move their luggage.

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Train life, commuter life. You then get the people playing or typing on their phones and tablets with the sound on, talking loud on the phone or drink and shout on the train. The nervous ones afraid of missing their plane from Gatwick. The studious ones sitting reading their papers. The working ones doing emails, spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations. A train is a micro ecosystem of what’s happening in our society. But more often than not I cannot even enjoy it, as I am busy myself 😉

Hassocks station got a new train station. A 2 million investment leaving the tunnel connecting the two platforms flooded. These are the things I don’t understand. Or the people trying to dodge their fares. Without wanting to have a general moan, if one spends money to fix things you would expect them to be fixed. Our house wasn’t quite finished despite them saying it would be within one week. It now has been two already.

The joys of life. We just have to look forward, think positive and believe it all works out in the end. And it does. It just ends up costing more money, time and unnecessary hassle. But we are all getting there.

The strong belief, as I was discussing a lot last year, that wherever you are in life, you must believe that this is the right place to be. If you doubt it, change it, but go with your gut. Trust the universe and your gut feeling that life will take you to your (final) destination. Not saying this is easy. It requires a lot of patience and trust in the intangible universe. Are you ready for that?

Have a great week everyone, whilst I didn’t want to complain about the weather, a cooler breeze might be nice for a while.

Stay cool!
Volker

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Sunday Column (242)

This week has been the quickest for a while. But first things first. No panic, my mother didn’t join Facebook, however, my wife joined twitter. Please follow @jennyballueder for updates on her latest venture: baby photography. I am hoping for a blog post introducing the concept and sharing some samples I can share with the wider community here. She has started with some shoots this week which were amazing! And whilst I would say that, the feedback she gets from others is overwhelming. My wife becomes a business woman! #veryproud #excited

What a new beginning. Me helping my wife get off the ground, stressful times, setting things up, doing it right from the beginning, hitting the ground running. Start up advisor. That is what I do, who I am. I enjoy this fast pace environment, putting strategies and business plans together, making people money. And ultimately, hopefully one day, make some money for myself 🙁

So here I am. A late running train messed up my Monday night, drinks in the local with a parents (dads only) initiative for school, Rotary on Wednesday, a catch up on Thursday with friends and the Hassocks’ dads’ night out Friday. Supporting my wife, MIL visiting, ill children, feeling under the weather myself….the list goes on. This week was FULL ON. With lack of sleep carrying over from the past few weeks, I feel drained. Simply ready for a holiday. I got a lie in on Saturday though.

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However, you keep going. I have this deep and inner drive to succeed and learn. Maybe I should have been a teacher? Or a coach? Then again I am a coach, also just hired a coach for some more improvement work for myself. Exciting times ahead! I am really looking forward working with him.

I was wondering, and still am, whether I should treat myself to the latest iPad Air. Not because I need to but I would like to. We shall see. The new design is slick, fast and a beauty. If I think back to my first touch screen device, the palm with stylus, the development has been amazing. Yet I ordered the Evernote stylus this week, to be shipped from the US in three weeks time. A bit geeky yet hopefully an amazing tool! I would love to draw and “think” more on my iPad. But never mind….

What else has happened this week? I had engaging conversations with people around data, USPs, offline and online connections. Connecting the dots sums up the more intellectual stimulating conversations I had. We are living in exciting times around data, analysis, analytics and use of data trying to explain what and who and why we are. I write a bit about that on iMedia this week with more publications to come shortly. Life is very exciting though, full of opportunities. And 3D printing, of food and body parts, might be reality in a few years time. Startrek? We shall see.

Whilst I am writing this I pass Gatwick in the dark. The planes and the airport are lit in a glossy, shiny light. I get a bit romantic, thinking of those night flights I used to do and enjoy. Whilst I like to stay home, travelling across Europe has an appeal. Only if I have to go from London to the North or taking flights not from Gatwick I get apprehensive to make sure I don’t land too late and cannot make it home to my loved ones. Coming home is always the best bit, the hugs, kisses and the feeling of putting your bum into your own sofa 🙂 this now happens on a Saturday morning because I hardly see the kiddies during the week.

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The weekend was quiet. A fantastic night out with the Hassocks’ crowd of men and dads, realising we all have the same challenges, feelings and discussions about the commute, work life balance, wives, marriages and children. Likeminded people in a small community. What else to wish for?

We are bracing ourselves for the a great storm that is supposed to come our way tonight and tomorrow. Most probably transport will be disrupted and knowing the British railway system, I will be stuck at home on Monday. Fingers crossed I have electricity and internet 🙂

That’s really it folks. Let’s hope I can get down to exercising again next week, overcome the man flu and the kids enjoying half term with Nanny. I am off work on Friday, hoping for an additional day with the two. And the wife of course 🙂

Buddha bless, stay safe during the storm.

Volker

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Living on holidays

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Sunday Column (226)

I finish writing this post sitting on our patio, a dram of Lagavulin in my hand and the sunset in my face. Life is good to us. We spent the day with friends in a park in Tunbridge Wells. It is also the 7th of July – so I remember what happened in London a few years back.

First and foremost I’d like to thank everyone who keeps me motivated these days. My family, friends and of course YOU – the reader of this blog. I got quite a few compliments this week for keeping others sane and motivated, and I am glad I can give some of what I receive back. Quid pro quo.

I saw the following quote this week which goes in line with my thinking. Weak companies hire the right experience to do the job. Strong companies hire the right person to join their team. Over the past few weeks I have been speaking to a few companies and some ruled me out for limited experience in one area or another. Whilst of course there is competition to have all the skills for a job, it is also as much about the person you hire, most often even more though. But going from 24 down to the last 2 and then losing out doesn’t pay the bills. Things meant to happen for a reason. Also frustrating is to know that you want to be hired by a company but they don’t have a position suitable for you. That goes in line with above. But I will summarise it all once I reached a conclusion.

On another note I read an article about time management. Someone lost their phone and said that they had the best night eating out with friends ever. And the reason was simple: focus. No text messages to attend, no emails, no Facebook, no disturbance. A lot of us have too much noise in the background dropping in and making us changing our focus from one task to another. Our parents didn’t have that. Emails coming in every second of the day, people wanting your attention and you never ever get to focus on the things in front of you. I have my wife to proofread my book on Time Management and hopefully publish it shortly. It will allude to some of those topics also. Focusing on the task at hand whilst ignoring other things is key.

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Will Smith’s quote, and I didn’t know until recently that he is into motivational things, is quite true. Often people excel after they got hurt or felt pain. If that is after rejections of any kind, an accident or death of someone close. We seem to gain power by proving our point after something happens. His movie “Seven Pounds” is about that too (trailer below). You can do anything you want, anything you put your mind to. Like a Phoenix out of ashes we have a lot more strength after pain, and a lot more reason for achieving something. Yet, we get a lot more attention too.

I guess that’s where personal development comes in and makes you capable of changing your mind set and frame, your thinking, language and attitude towards winning. Contact me if you want to find out more 😉 I’d love to do more coaching and actually signed up to be a mentor for graduates of my old university this week.

A few years ago, Peter Maffay, a German singer, did an album which included songs he recorded with people around the world. One of them was Lokua Kanza from Africa whose album Wapi Yo (Where are you?) I really enjoy listening to. I slowly get a bit of my interest in music back. Allegedly music releases the same hormones or triggers the same reaction in a body as sex and other rewards. They say it takes a few weeks to relax after leaving a job, and that is why you should spend at least three weeks on holidays each year. Disconnected. I might not quite manage that this year but we shall see. Life is full of surprises.

To my astonishment I enjoy my life at the moment. Not that I wouldn’t want to change it, and if I could spend more time with the boys not worrying about the future it would be better, but it gives me great flexibility to spend more time with the boys, we are getting a lot closer I believe. Too soon this will be over. For better and for worse.

One last thought maybe on Beckenham, where we spend 9 years of our London life. We went back to see some friends for a birthday party. We still very much like our friends there but somehow felt we outlived the commuter zone so close to London. People seem less open and friendly and outgoing than people in Hassocks; they seem being more Londoners. Of course not all people in Hassocks are friendly, or all in Beckenham are reserved, but the ones that moved “down from London” like us seem to have done that for the same reason we have: for a better life in the country and for their families. You seem to get along quicker and have more things in common from the outset, similar motivations. We all seemed to have arrived. Arrived at a place we like to settle. This of course is not limited to Hassocks as other people who moved away from Beckenham or similar communities felt the same. I am not sure where I am going with that but it seems that we made the right move for us.

If I could do it all over again I’d done the move years ago. Just before the kids arrived. But things happen for a reason, at a certain time in life. That is what life is about. My life. I love my life. I really do.

However, time to go back to the grindstone, working on my future and the one of my kids. I cannot wait. Fingers crossed.

Have a great week!
Volker

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South Downs Cycling (1)

My wife have me two hours this morning. So I got lost (literally) on a South Downs circular cycle.

I went to a monument, saw a bull, lots of cows, crows, pigs and a beautiful countryside. Poppies, fields, grass. Sunshine.

Am I living in paradise? Maybe.

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Sunday Column (222)

Another quick week because I have been busy. Looking for a job, trying to engage with the family and having a part-time project is a lot harder work than going to work it seems. This is not to moan but you have to chase every lead if you are looking for the right next job, talk to recruiters and have interviews. This is very time consuming but of course very important to do. Necessary even.

There is a lot of pressure on me finding a job. If you accept redundancy you usually aren’t in a hurry, and financially this might be right. However, when your wife and children have one routine and you have another, you have different expectations on how your day plans out than them. This can cause friction. So the rush, whilst still money driven, is also for the ease of routine to master life in bigger strides. Monday mornings get a whole new meaning 😉

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At the moment, trying to fit in a dentist or making time for the pub seems difficult, yet it comes down to planning around those dates. What if an interview crops up then? Prioritising is key. So at time if writing I am on my way into London again. A few meetings and the Rotary. Tomorrow I am going back for a conference to network and speak with people there about more opportunities. It will be good, a great industry get together.

The weekends are planned to a certain extend. Summer is in town and I can hear the sausages sizzling on the BBQ this weekend. A summer fayre at the local school, and Colin’s first swimming class. Actually it was a great weekend. With a massage, Colin’s first proper swimming class, a fun summer fayre and great BBQ with friends. Lots of sunshine and a great walk on the Ditchling Beacon to round it up.

The world seems at ease, a cool breeze blowing over the growing grass, and a quiet environment strengthen that we made the right decision to buy so far out of London. Saturday marked the one year mark. A year ago we moved to Hassocks, had a small but significant building project and lots of plans. Some came true, some we are working on. We are happy, it is a good place to bring up the kids, good schools, high living value what Germans call “Freizeitwert“. Cycling, mountain biking to be precise, swimming, walking or hiking and the small butcher down the road, the play farm, the old pub, local produce for food and drink. It reminds me of childhood, safety, peace and contentment. Life is good if you stop a second and have a look at it you will discover it too. The smell of freshly cut grass, the local boy delivering the paper.

I enjoy life but despite my situation I am almost too busy. I need to learn how to let go more often, to put the phone down and live the moment. Being in the here and now. Helping Colin to learn cycling. Teach Rohan to be less of a ‘pickle’ and let him teach me patience. The list goes on 🙂

I picked up this quote from a newsletter this week: If we choose a job because we’re good at it, we may not love to do it. But if we choose a job we love, we’ll also be very good at it. Like Steve Jobs quote that if we find the thing we want to do in life, we will know it, in our heart! My next job is really important to me. I would like to do something that is cutting edge, with prospects to grow big and really enjoy it. Some place I can try some new things out based on trust (and analysis and strategy of course) to make a difference to the company and put it on the map. I am ready for the next fight to disturb the industry.

Anyway. For now I am exhausted. A long weekend finishes and we got some catching up to do before I have a few big days planned next week – including Colin’s 4th birthday. It seems like yesterday him being in the moses basket, 36 degrees inside the living room (a hot summer!), and I was hunting for a job too. Life works in mysterious ways.

Embrace it.

Have a great week,
Volker

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South Downs

Who needs holidays if you are living in paradise 🙂

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