Posts Tagged holidays

Sunday Column (502)

This is my holiday post. So a bit more personal, less topical. I am sure I wrote it the other day – apologies but I have a few articles sitting at the ready, so I don’t remember where the wording is – that I am not much of a holiday person. I find it difficult to switch off, so this time I tried to force myself to switch off, which of course doesn’t work either. Having said all that I had a relaxing time, and the amount of sleep I got was amazing. Plus, thanks for the feedback regarding my topical posts, I am glad you are enjoying them.

Having finished my contract work and got my first few days at the new job, having a two week break should be easy. And actually, it was. I was yet thinking a lot about the job, but I refrained from checking emails etc., as I am too fresh into the job as someone really needs to rely on me. Hence, this was probably my only chance for a while for a “work detox”. And I am keen to get busy for one job only too.

On the other hand, I cannot sit still. I am creating an article a day almost, topical blog posts, thinking about my career and developing my podcast ideas. As the brain relaxes, there are new brain connections to be made, resulting in new input, new ideas and fresh thoughts. I try not to write on my book though and focus on other things first. There are podcasts I am going through whilst running and seeking new inputs. Not many podcasts recently chime a chord, and I found books that I put away after a few pages. Time for change is on the horizon. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got!

However, holidays 🙂 Yes, I enjoyed our two week break. We went to Singapore. A lot of people warned us that 10 days were too long but given we lived in a hotel/flat complex where we had our own little flat, pool and breakfast, this was as much a pool holiday as exploring the city as visiting family living out here. And it wasn’t too long. It also was the idea of introducing the kids to a different culture, whilst knowing it is one of the safest places you can imagine. What’s not to like? A holiday where we could use the gym to keep up with our training, park the boys in the pool for half a day whilst writing blog posts, and meeting expats that just came over to Singapore and stayed at the complex before the final move to a long term arrangement. The kids and us both loved it. The weather of course was amazing, hot and humid, just as it was when we left the UK 🙂

I finished reading Richard Branson’s ‘Loosing my Virginity’ biography (the latest one) as well. It was a stunning read and I read a lot about things I didn’t know he was doing. It almost felt like he had me around for a cup of tea, whilst telling me the story of his life. Not only do I agree with him on most topics like Brexit, Trump, Obama and others, the Elders, climate change and saving the world, are all topics I am keen on investing more time on. It almost feels like I would love to work for him on some projects now and help him make a difference. Let’s see where my life will develop into, as I only turned 40+1, wrote 500 blog posts and finding my own path as we speak. I got plans, they slowly materialise and are put on the right tracks I feel. Patience, as always, is the key to everything. Anyway, I tweeted that man, allegedly he reads them all, maybe I might get a reply too.

Another thing I learned on holidays, and would love to have people’s opinion that experienced similar, is the saying ‘Sorry, I don’t think it is worth it’. I said that to (luckily) a friend who when I apologised laughed, but I didn’t mean it in an offensive way at all. I texted him saying ‘attending his birthday party, giving timing and train journeys, is not worth it’ – in German ‘lohnt sich nicht’. It made me think, as neither the German expression or the English one is meant in a negative way. However, the Germans are very direct in their language and appeal to the nature of the event, saying it is hardly worth anyone’s time to be at a party for 1-2 hours. The Brits on the other hand see it as ‘you are not worthwhile my time at all’. Latter is very rude, former is German directness, hence I me translating one with the other isn’t working at all. I can see that now and hope I haven’t offended anyone prior to this, or won’t in the future. Anyway, if I come across to anyone as rude again, just let me know. Most of the time this isn’t intentional and might just be down to a wrong translation.

And that’s really it from our holiday. I was asked why there haven’t been any pictures shared on social media, and I’d like to answer it here. I enjoyed the holidays. We took about 850 pictures and we had a fantastic time. Family and friends would have seen some pictures, but I personally do not think that I need put an album up on Facebook or Instagram to share what a great time we had. I have been thinking a lot about social media recently and it is nobody’s business to see the intimicy of our holidays, or for me to show off what a fantastic, expensive hotel we lived in. Does that make sense? Oh and it wasn’t that expensive either. I have never done that in the past, and that was partly due for me not wanting people to know I was away, but this time we had someone staying at our house at home, so this was the time to let people know where we went. It is different when you are on work trips I believe, and you will find the odd picture on social media, but the majority….I do not know, not for me anymore. In the past I shared far too much, not thinking about implications but these days I feel a lot wiser tbh.

I came a long way, as did Facebook for the past 12+ years, of how I use social media. And when I think back to when I was a child, I had 2-3 rolls of film, 36 pictures each, and had to develop them after the holidays for expensive money. Now over 20 times as many pictures are sitting at the palm of my hand. I saw people running around with GoPro cameras and I wonder if anyone ever sits on holidays and takes on the experience, and to remember it the way they want it to be remembered? What I mean is that we had good and bad times, as you always have anywhere you go, and I just want to remember the good bits. That’s what I have always done, I don’t need to monitor everything all the time and sometimes like to let go.

Actually, I do feel a lot more relaxed than before, a lot better for it and fear the jet lag, the shorter nights, the going back into the routine and….I will be fine. And unlike me, I am planning the next holiday already. The boys would move out to Singapore in a heart beat, let’s see if we can discover more places like that. Let’s be Brexit ready, but before we know it I am in a new job, new routine, the boys will attend the same school and we get a deal for Brexit and life will just move on as we knew it. Won’t it?

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (499)

A full working week it seems. Not quite, actually, only four days, but I was working in London and I was busy. I suppose I will get used to it again very quickly. I also recorded another podcast and managed to finish the audio book Sapiens. In all honesty, I wasn’t as taken with the book as everyone else seemed to be. Some interesting snippets of human history but a lot of bla bla about life. Never mind, another book done. I very much enjoy reading Richard Branson’s biography, it is a fun story of a successful man’s life. Stories of Success, really.

However, I then started Homo Deus by the same author of Sapiens and it is more interesting as it is looking to the future. It is about how things might look like moving forward for humans, and mankind and on this planet in general. A philosophical book, it gets you thinking, but again if I didn’t listen to it whilst out running, I am not sure it is my time worth spend taking it all in. Nevermind.

I started writing this post as I sit at Clapham Junction on a Gatwick Express service, air conditioned, cold and with wifi access. We were held as London Victoria got evacuated due to a fire alarm. When the train guard announced that we were held due to London Victoria station being evacuated, you could see how people got really quiet on the train. I am not sure if my perception comes due to me reading about 9/11 in Richard’s book, or because everyone went really quiet, but people just seemed to be worried. And that’s a fear we are living with: terrorism. Although, based on the Homo Deus book, more people die of overeating than undereating these days, and terrorism or airplane accidents are very rare. That of course doesn’t necessarily go in line with our perception of things.

What both books show me time and again is that our thoughts form what we make of our environment. I wasn’t too worried it being a terrorist attack but it crosses one’s mind. And then your mind can go on a rampage. What if the city was under attack, would it not be better to sit in Clapham? It surely would be. It was a false alarm, which is good and we continued our journey. Your thoughts however determine what you make of things.

On that note, on Friday I had a day off. My last one for a while but holidays with the family, and I spend with cars. We had a courtesy car from the garage, an SUV, a Skoda Kodiaq. I really enjoyed driving it but it isn’t sportive, it is an SUV. On the one hand I like sitting up, maybe changing my driving a bit and enjoy more comfort. Skoda has a nice ‘Landrover green’ colour they introduced and next year they bring out hybrid models. Let’s bear all that in mind for now 😉

I also spend the day looking at a few Jaguars. My choice of a second car is clear: a Jaguar XK8 or XKR, 2006 model or younger, as the older model is too small for me. Now I need to find the budget and the time to look at one and buy. Or will I hold off and be sensible. But for what? Life is for living and who knows how long we can enjoy it. Anyway, lots to think about.

And on that note it was the last day of school for the boys. Now I got two boys in middle school from September, they are just growing up so quickly. I love that as much as I hate it. Being able to join the leavers’ assembly was great, a bit emotional but overall it is great to see them moving on, growing up and becoming little grown ups. What will the future hold for them? Will AI and robots rule the world when they will be our age? Nothing ever stays the same, things always change.

Let’s use my parents as an example who have been able to connect with us since the introduction of What’s App. I remember putting coins into a phone booth when calling my grand parents from a holiday. Nowadays we send pictures instantly, whilst then we had to develop a roll of 36 pictures and got them a week after the holidays. Wow. We are talking half a life time here, and things will only get faster.

Have a great summer, enjoy things whilst they last.
Volker

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Sunday Column (454)

This week was an awkward one. Somewhat anyway. I left the house on Monday, just as the installers of our new multigym arrived. My kids had their last day of holidays and went back to school on Tuesday. Daddy left Monday morning and came home late Tuesday night, important meetings with dinner/drinks in the evenings. I was home on Wednesday though, partly to make up for it, but mainly because I had a small surgery, removal of a mole, nothing big. Nothing serious. Yet with it all taken a bit shorter than anticipated, I managed to pick the kids up from school. That was nice.

Those weeks make me think of what would it be like if I am not around at all. No, I am not afraid of dying, or that the mole might be cancerous, it is more about prevention. Hence the multigym, my runs, the diet. I want to be fit as long as possible to see as much as possible of my boys. Guide them, listen to them. Yet, and partly this is due to our choice of moving that far out of London, I often don’t see them. And with the three busiest travel/trade show weeks in the industry, September is a tricky month. I have to admit. Long hours, out of the office, late nights. This is just part of what I do. And I was around a lot in the summer. Not that I need to justify myself, but somewhat this is what I do. At the end of the day, you cannot make up for lost time. The age they are in makes them notice it a lot more. Hence when travelling for most of the week, I try to work from home a day a week.

So when you come home only after being away for one night, it is great. It feels like being away for ages, as you missed them so much. School started. The wife shared some amazing pictures of the boys, and the little one does so look like me! Very proud!!! And when you come home late, and they are asleep, and you tug the oldest in, without waking him up. The moment he turns to his side, enjoys the comfort of the blanket, sighs and continues to sleep. Priceless. That’s when I feel humble, sentimental and I am full of love. Or the youngest, after taking him to the loo, snuggles up with his soft toy and goes back to sleep. And they feel that you are back, and that you are watching over them, care for them. And you feel their love and that they feel safer and more comfortable with you being around. That’s the bond, the invisible touch, no one will ever explain to you, cannot explain to you, but every parent feels it. It’s a mixture of love, trust, comfort, protectionism, challenge as well as fear and safety at the same time. It works both ways. That’s when I feel truly blessed.

Work: we finally announce the merger/take over. I knew when joining my company in January that either we will be sold or we will have lots of challenges. I cannot speak about it in detail, neither do I want to, but we officially sold to Sizmek this week. That puts us in an amazing position within the ecosystem. A full stack solution. End to end demand side. Creative, DCO, DMP, AI, execution, ad server, reporting, analysis, brand safety and much more. Amazing, and exciting times ahead. The potential we have moving forward is immense. My third exit in the industry and I am excited about the prospects. The meeting this week actually showed me how much I care about building a useful and exciting demand side technology stack, yes I can actually get excited about what I do! I usually do 😉 Anyway, I keep you posted on any developments but for now I am super pumped.

With the pain in my back (see above minor surgery) I  didn’t exercise the rest of the week. So I took a break and caught up on some sleep. The next few weeks will be rather sleep poor, as I also just confirmed another international trip. The joys. But I love what I do, see above, and shall not moan.

Saturday happened my long planned ‘boys day out‘ of the year. A few friends of mine and I met in London to hit the pubs, eat lots of food and play some pool, drink some whisky and so on. Yes, it was a great day! Whilst on the one hand I dread those days, they give you so much back by just letting your hair down a bit, talk ‘men talk’ and having a good time, forgetting about everything else. So another long sleep on Sunday and a first trial at getting back into exercise despite the back strain.

Anyway, have a fantastic week ahead.

Volker

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Sunday Column (451)

The second and last part of the holidays took us to the Isle of Wight. We wanted to go for a long time. Unfortunately we didn’t have a whole week, so left on Sunday and spend the most day on the beach. I even went into the sea. The next day we spent at the Needles, an old navy outlook and defence system dating back to the 19th century. We didn’t expect an old ‘fort’ but had an amazing walk along the seaside. Attached to it was an amusement park/tourist trap where the kids saw how glass and sweets were made, and we ended up on a beach with different sand colours via a cable car – I decided to walk back as those heights still freak me out a bit. Before heading home from the short trip we experienced an amazing Indian meal. Yes, the food on holidays has been treating us well! We also spend some time at the sandy beach in Ryde which we very much enjoyed. Not to mention my slight red face too 😉

Again, whilst not going very far, we had a fantastic time away. Just being able to spend time with the boys in a relaxed atmospheres, learning about things like how glass is made (this is so comforting to watch) – all those things are precious and it means we are growing closer as a family. I genuinely enjoyed our holidays this year. Let’s see what we are planning for next year. The kids however were glad to be back home. 10 days away is still very long for them. The remainder of the week we spend at home, chilling and getting ready to go back to work really, whilst the wife was away for a family matter.

Every time I go on holidays in the UK, I keep thinking of having a holiday home we could go to everytime we have time off. The challenge is simple: costs first and foremost, but then location. And how often would you go, based on location. Can you drive/fly there and be there within 2 hours? Can you rent it out 20-30 weeks a year through AirBnB? Most people I spoke to that have holiday homes, don’t like the idea of going to the same place every year. So you are bound to a certain holiday destination or you consider renting it out the whole year, probably yielding more than you do on a second home. It sounds quite appealing to me, whether in Devon, Isle of Wight or the Scottish Highlands. Yet the financials aren’t there yet, still saving the pennies for my beloved Jaguar.

Holidays, and I wrote about that last week, make me feel detached. It makes me realise a few things. I do love work. Yep, I am happy to admit it, I actually like to fill my days with commercial and management challenges. It’s my idea of fun and I always enjoyed doing that, developing staff, solving problems, making things happen, GSD. It also makes me realise that my biggest hobbies are fitness and family, as well as my fish tank. Hence the need for a hobby like a car or holiday home to keep me busy with things 😉 Guess not for a while. But by spending more time with the family I realised that I should do that more often. Get away with them, or have 1-on-1 time with the boys and spend quality time together. Things come up which normally we only scratch the surface on in our day to day life. And that is important to form the relationship with our kids.

On the other hand there is fitness. Yes, I decided to invest into a multi gym for home. Delivery should happen within the next couple weeks, luckily they also assemble it for me. This and my new regime for eating (I am using my fitness pal again to track what I eat), should counteract my weight gain. After loosing a lot of weight in 2014/15 (my guide here is pretty much two years old) it slowly started creeping up on me again. It settles differently to before, so instead of just being blown up and fat, I have an ever growing gut. Saying that, the holidays and lots of food didn’t help, but a few runs counter acted it to a certain extend. Speaking to a friend it is simple why that weight came back: change of routine, new job, more snacks. Then a lot of travel with no routine and in my case lots of bread in Germany. Whilst you would say it is up to me to decide what I want to eat, you are somewhat bound to the availability. So the fight is on, from Monday I will count calories again and follow my own guidance on loosing weight again. It will significantly improve my running performance too and the weight training should do its part. Fingers crossed.

Now, going back to work on Monday will be great. I do miss my team and getting involved. Likewise, I will miss my long sleeps and live into the day. I will miss the time with the boys.

And the days are not getting longer. I am not sure if it is only me, but it seems to be dark towards 9 pm already, some trees have brown leaves, and I wore my jumper more often than I used to. It is only mid August, the time I consider to be the height of summer. But autumn, the golden autumn usually in the UK, is around the corner. Two more weeks and we enter September. Two months of my favourite time of the year, before we enter into winter. Before we know it is is going to be Christmas.

Ok, I stop with those depressing sounds. Let’s focus on the good things, the good times and the quality time we spend with friends and family. Let’s cherish the moments of love. And, let’s share the love amongst our friends.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world. Have an amazing week!
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 (440)

Another Monday morning flight it seems, yet given the late spring bank holiday Monday, it was actually a Tuesday. A short week to get as much done as in a normal week. The usual rush, stress, escalations, de-escalations and so on. Just another week. Ups and Downs. I have to say, and this is common knowledge, my learning curve is exponential at the moment. As much as I love it, I hate it too. LOL. I am fine, honestly, actually I couldn’t ask for anything else.

Easyjet was delayed, again. Incoming. The weather was the reason and as my German colleagues confirmed, it must have been a bad storm sweeping through Hamburg. Never mind. I am not minding the idea of travelling less, which I will do from July. June is still fairly busy with events coming up in Hamburg and Munich. Also I need to see some clients in Frankfurt and Duesseldorf. As stated last week, I need more focus in London and the boys and wife are fed up of me being away every week. And understandable so. There is a fun aspect too. And the boys love the Gummibears I am bringing home. There is an adventurous aspect to some extend, but not regarding the ‘commute’ but to be able to make a difference, to have an impact. So when I used to travel every other week to different cities in Europe, that was different to me travelling at the moment. Then it was more about helping and advising; now it is more about day-to-day, doing a job in a different town. Not sure that makes sense.

The weather last weekend, and how else could it have been on the last spring bank holiday, was mixed, rainy, muggy. My wife did another 10K run (well done) and the kids and I went to Tailgate park near Crawley. A great day out, lots to do for the kids and we escaped the rain. Just. Some board games, a relaxing afternoon nap, lots of food and a movie. Chill out time prior to the kids’ half term. They enjoying a week off. Just doing nothing, sleeping a lot, and watching movies. Pokemon hunts. Mine craft worlds. Yes, they are having a good time. Lucky them. Brighton, Indian, candy floss, new cloths.

In other news, I think I am getting closer to making a decision on which car to get. Unfortunately I had to rule out the old Mercedes due to the lack of seats in the back. So I am back to dwelling on the Jaguar XJS vs. XK8. Former is older, hence more maintenance and likely needing some electrics sorted at some point. The latter is younger, yet certain engines are having little problems, and the car is not yet a classic. Also it is on average about 1-2K cheaper. I got myself another book to see what the status is on either. Whilst I still need to save up the money, it is getting closer to deciding which car to get. Focus is key. And not getting too excited is key also. Latter is the more difficult part it seems.

Further we are contemplating holidays. So far we booked the summer ones, and for half term in October we booked Legoland. We (I) wanted to stay in the Legoland hotel and do a two day trip to the park. It will be lots of fun. But we still got a few days left before/after where we need to decide on an action plan. We contemplated to go to Hamburg, but now the wife wants to come too, having seen the miniature world on YouTube. So this is maybe for another time when we drive to Germany. This is more cost effective for 4 people. Let’s see. Maybe a few days down at the sea, some days over in Devon or Kent. I am not sure yet. I love staying in the UK and exploring my adopted home.

Whilst I have to say that I try to stay away from politics, it might be at the time to air some thoughts. I cannot see Corbyn being our PM. Yet, I cannot see May getting the absolute majority either. What that means for our country – maybe a hung parliament, a strong opposition and a new referendum? Maybe, and only maybe the future is wide open again. Who knows if in 6 months time we might pull out of Brexit and return to a Europe which will support us, maybe even adopting the Euro as a currency. You will call me crazy. And I am. Yet if I had told you 5 years ago that Britain will exit the European Union and that we have solar cells in every roof tile and cars that are electric and accelerate quicker than petrol cars….you know where I am getting at? We can’t tell the future.

And this is exactly my point. Life is fluid. I don’t know where and if I work in 12 months time. I don’t know if cancer hits me when I am 42, 45 or never. We don’t know how life plans out. What was standard last year, might be no standard this year. House prices are going down in the UK and we having more people renting. 10 years ago this was unheard of. Nothing stays the same and we are in the midst of it. And we need to embrace it.

It took me a while to learn all of that. And whilst it is bl* obvious, we don’t live like that. We, as humans, are pre-programmed to worry about the future. That is what we do. So it becomes more difficult to be a Buddhist and live in the moment. We can train to not fear the future but we naturally do. Because fear drives us on, uncertainty and new situations. If we start embracing this, we manage better, become more resilient and succeed. In life.

As I mentioned before, the evolutionary coaching book I am reading helps me understand the obvious. Yet we are struggling to comprehend or wanting to comprehend. We refuse to accept and instead strive to fight what we actually should embrace. If you asked me today, that’s why I would love to coach people. Helping high achievers to push through that barrier. Helping people in my team to move the goal post. Because we can.

Enough for today. How was your week 😉

Volker

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Sunday Column (439)

Hello friends. I noticed that, if I am awake early on Mondays, that this is good writing time. So I am on another flight. Just about 16 hours after I disembarked my last. Yet the last one was for fun. My wife took me to Edinburgh for the weekend. It was amazing. Not only did you not have to worry about the kids but could do all the grown up things kids are not interested in. Culture, sight seeing, castles and whisky tastings. Plus, my wife took me to a restaurant, allegedly the best one in Scotland, the Witchery, where I ate the best steak I ever had in my life (and I had a lot), and I discovered the most interesting and tasting Italian blue cheese I ever had too. What a great weekend. Thank you again.

Later in the week I got a belated birthday present. Two actually. One was the picture of a Buddha my youngest drew. I love it. I even got two copies, one for each office. How sweet is that? The other a book of pictures and quotes collected by my wife from my closest friends. It was very emotional to read the impact I can have on lifes. I love you too guys, and this is only the beginning. 40 is the time you turn up the heat, put your foot down and enjoy the wind in your hair. Because you can. Because you don’t know how much longer you can do it either.

So as I wander through the airport on Monday morning, I am tired. Of course I am. The cold I had is still lingering around. Maybe it is more of a hay fever. The weekend was exhausting. I am happy though and that’s what matters. I am trying to think how we best plan our holidays over the next year(s). Also, I am listening to my podcasts again. This time it is all about passion. That someone should not necessarily want to be like someone else, but everyone is an individual. Realising you don’t want to be Steve Jobs or Anthony Robbins is the first step to realise that you are not like them. As I have learned over the years, it is about what you can take from any of those individuals and how you can put it together to form your self. The podcast guest suggested that you shouldn’t quit your job and start working on your passion. A passion is still what you do in your own time. And if that takes off from a side project, so will be it. Those podcast paired with the book I am reading about evolutionary coaching just make a lot of things come together. What an amazing life we are living, and slowly it all seems to make sense. The dots are connecting more than ever before. Wow.

Discovering your passion as something like ‘helping others’ and ‘developing others’ is great. That’s what I did. And if you as a reader of this blog or someone reading my productivity book is interested in what my opinions are, then please share and get engaged. I am just someone with some strong opinions on certain topics. I believe I know how to set up a productive work life scenario and work efficiently for others. I believe I am mentally strong and have a good working routine. A routine that allows me to cope with the workload and life load. And whilst doing all that, I still have a lot of fun. I cannot see myself being the Jim Rohn or Darren Hardy or Anthony Robbins but I can envisage to offer seminars for lifes’ little tricks in years to come. Not in my 40ies though 😉 And one of the reasons is that once I stopped university, I started learning. Life experience, personal development books and so on. Experience of others that helps me to go through life. And that experience is something I’d like to pass on. But I am far from perfect and yet have many years of (life’s) training to come. Embracing this makes it even so exciting. Evolution at its best.

Bad news this week are coming from Manchester. A terrorist attack killed teenagers and hurt a lot of people. Terror at a ’teenager event’. 22 people died. A 22 year old was named by the police. I am speechless. Those kids had their whole life ahead of them. A 22 year old, someone who just started out in life, what did he know? Was it hatred or religious reasons or just someone being confused. At time of writing I am not sure, but in the end it doesn’t matter. It is awful. My thoughts go out to those affected. And it impacts things in London. Fear of attacks, disruption and anger. United we stand. We will get through this, terror will never win.

In other news, as I still recovered from the weekend, I took it easy this week. A lot of work to catch up on, not too crazy tbh, and I managed to even fit in two saunas. I got a haircut in Hamburg (never as good as home) and caught up on a lot of catch up TV. I haven’t done that for a while, so a relaxing and very productive trip at the same time. Some me time to catch up on important things, testing my new Asics trainers which aren’t as good as the Nike. My pain creep back up running in the Asics but not in the Nike trainers. The weight of the shoes, the way I run in them etc. So the Asics are going back. I might still try some Ultraboost, but at least I am getting back on track. I even managed my first 10K in ages on Friday. Somewhat I haven’t been in a good place with running and the 24 hour race is coming closer with only eight weeks to go. So I better find the right trainers and the right mojo to make it. It’s going to be epic. It must be. Another wall to climb, to break through and move forward from.

When waiting for my plane on Wednesday I was wondering why those trips are so draining. And my conclusion is that you cannot do both of your jobs 100%. I am not sure if that makes sense, but I enjoy what I do. I chose my job to make it successful and be there fully, giving my best and make sure I have an impact. But by doing two jobs, it seems as if I do one or the other, and both only 90%. That is just not satisfying to be not as good as you could be because of restrictions you cannot change. Not sure that makes sense. Nevertheless the support from my boss, HR, colleagues is overwhelming. A great place to work. And so much more to learn and walls to climb. I definitely put my ladder on the right wall here.

However, I enjoy things as I used to. It is a cracking challenge, lots of fun with some really great people and amazing tech. Things are good, and I am not complaining. I am just tired this week, that’s allowed sometimes too I suppose. As the week moved on, my tiredness turns sleepless due to the heat. I am up most nights at 4:30. So I fit in the above 10K, a cheeky 5K and time with the boys before school. Challenging at times, but hey, isn’t that fun. 40 – life is only just beginning. Only now got I the tools to break through those walls. Keep them coming.

From my corner of the world, have a great week ahead. Enjoy the bank holiday weekend! Sun. Summer is almost here. BBQ. Family!

What else to live for?
Volker

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Sunday Column (400)

400 Sunday Columns. Wow. That’s 400 weeks, just about….seven and a half years. Well done me!

dont ever give up

Holidays. Yes, we spent a week in Centre Parks, Elveden Forest, last week. It was great. I have always been a bit sceptical of holiday parks. Yet I was very positively surprised. Given you can book a week, we had essentially four full days of fun, activities and (family) togetherness. And not too far to drive either. Maybe when the boys are older we consider a bigger accommodation or we might stay longer, but a mid week break with lots of activities was just right given their age. A run in the forest most mornings, some wine at night, take aways, good (?) and too much food, swimming, going down a cyclone (check out cyclone video: https://youtu.be/yggVvOid7TI, it scared Colin and me. Both of us luckily did not know what we got ourselves into), lots of water plays, hot tubs, wave pool etc. Then bowling, owls, play parks, cycling, pony riding, adventure golf and the list goes on. Fun. Utterly enjoyed a week off and away. Spending quality time with the family.

centre parks

For many years I have not been a big fan of holidays to be honest. I am quite content sitting at home doing nothing. I did that this year already whilst the wife had the boys in Scotland. And as the boys are getting older it is nice to go out and do things. Even though they fell to bed totally exhausted most nights. But that is how it should be. Wireless throughout helped to stay connected, yet I tried to stay away from social media as much as I could. However, being able to follow the news was nice or not so nice given the earthquake in Italy. I pray for my friends and families who hopefully are fine. I start to enjoy going away and experience things with the family and find new relaxation in doing so. It is nice and great to see the kids engaging in new environments and exploring new things. I believe it is good for them, and me, and the wife of course too. Centre Parks even offers baby sitters so we had a date night too. Result! Only things that lets it down is the quality of food eating out. Yet the spa visit whilst the kids joined a Pirates’ party was amazing. We even consider rebooking for next year already 🙂 Maybe a different park though.

Above are the highlights of the week. I am mentally preparing for a new challenge, a new start of my career. If I say start, it is more of a new beginning. Already, I feel like this is the right move and things will be great. They will be different but I can make a positive change and move my career in the right direction. And, it will be a lot of fun, and hard work. Latter is what I enjoy a lot, so it is all good I think. Given tomorrow’s bank holiday, I look forward to a new start on Tuesday.

There is little else happening in my world at the moment. I am exploring options for diagrams for my new book, e.g. to outsource the drawings. Then there is still a lot of editing to be done which I hope to get done by end of year before publishing it next year – maybe. Time is the main challenge, as I have a few projects on the go at the moment. The other one is to see which or if I can get myself a toy for my 40th birthday next year. When I say toy I am thinking Porsche, Jaguar, Alpha Romeo, Audi….but to be honest I am not sure how much I have to spend and how much I want to spend for something I do not need, but I do want. Not sure if my common sense prevails over my appetite to own and enjoy. A fine balance to strike, and still a lot of money to earn, which then puts things into perspective I suppose. Maybe we postpone to my 45th….

digital agency

What is life all about? Fun, family and memories? Ownership and wealth? Creation and making a difference? I don’t think life is as black and white and I also think it is a combination of above. As a Buddhist it is definitely not about ownership, but about fun and enjoyment. Little attachment, lots of fun, as far as I am concerned. If you realise that, you can own too. Maybe a loop hole but there is no reason to not owning nice things as long as you are not attached to them and they are the only thing you care about. Health is sitting on top of all of this, and you cannot buy health. And if health isn’t great, you end up cutting your life short, excluding most of the above, no? It helps to drill on that every now and then and put life into perspective. And value one’s holidays. To allow the odd indulgence and enjoy life – not excessively but consciously, not knowing when it will end. Yet we must assume it won’t end anytime soon, else we will not be able to enjoy it as much. And this week we enjoyed ourselves a lot!

I hope to look back on life in a few years time or hopefully many years from now and I might even look at my blog and read this – and I’d like to think that most of my decisions and thoughts were right. And that we made the right choices for our little men and pushed them into a happy, content life! It is a balance what you say to them, what you explain to them and how. They suck up your explanations like a sponge and don’t question it at all. Dangerous sometimes.

To finish….I had a dream a while back. I was breaking into a bank and was with two friends. One of which I remember. And we stole some gold bars or tried to anyway, and got caught. Instead of going to jail we were told that we will find out in a few weeks time what would happen. So we went home. Whilst on holidays the dream came back to me. This time being anxious that I haven’t heard and they hadn’t been in touch. I was hoping work wouldn’t find out about me having broken into a bank and trying to steal gold. No, I didn’t think of nor executed breaking into a bank. But maybe that dream tells me something. About waiting for the gold to come to you and not chasing it? Of being patient and seeing the gold in front of you rather than stealing it? Or maybe it was about letting go of ownership and chasing the dream with a friend? Maybe it was just a weird dream. Any ideas?

Have a great bank holiday. Spend it with the people you love and cherish. Share your love and gold and avoid short cuts. Life is good and you should appreciate it when it is there. Don’t live the future dream, enjoy the now.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (390)

A busy week lies behind me. Draining. Even my 5 year old said he was ready for a week vacation. Bless.

Firstly I had to overcome the thought of not climbing my wall, overcoming my fear and challenging my body in 6 weeks time. I am a tad disappointed. It feels like I revert back to my swimming and kettle bell and running exercises as I have done, to keep fit, without a goal. I was asking myself if I should just do a marathon instead. But I still don’t fancy it. So the search continues for another wall. I keep you posted. Any ideas are welcome.

When running a 10K on Tuesday I felt drained, tired. I don’t sleep well lately. The swimming on Monday seems more exhausting than anticipated. 1.5K is my swimming distance and whilst it doesn’t seem that far, it does take a bit out of you. As a matter of fact you burn almost the same amount of calories with a breast stroke 40 minutes swim as you do with a 40 minute run. Who would have guessed.

Next week is Cannes. Less running, busy days, Rose fuelled. Maybe I take it easy for a week re exercise, reset the system and get on with it from the week after again. It almost feels as if I need some time off. Not long until the summer holidays.

Cannes for adtech

Cannes for adtech

I really feel that for the past 2 years I haven’t had a proper break. A detox of work, being responsive to emails. Just this week, reading another productivity article, I have been supported by my theory that those productivity principles don’t cut the cheese. Yes those gurus are right and my summary of the tools are right too. However the key to unlimited productivity lies in a personalised system. As every job, every relationship, every circumstances are different, we must apply a person based productivity principle. That’s the theory I am working on in my next book, to allow for a tailor made system. Being able to get your personalised productivity plan.

Having said that, Forbes published a video about that time bound work, 9-5, doesn’t work any more. And this is one of the overarching principles that will always apply. We are not machinery and each of us has peaks and troughs at different times of day and months. We must work with and in harmony with our own energy system to reach peak performance. Taking breaks every 90 minutes is essential.

What I have noticed is that I haven’t written much about my commute. Sitting in first class accommodation whilst writing this, you would assume it is fine. No, it isn’t. The conductors went on strike. But nothing changed. With the new trains they are fearing for their jobs. However, I understand that Southern and other train companies offered to retrain them and keep them as employers. This is supported by the train drivers, who don’t want to steer 12 carriages without a conductor, fearing to leave the cabin if anything happens on the train. Fair points.

Cut a long story short a lot of conductors are now long term sick instead of going on strike. Train drivers seem to join in a bit and we have lots of cancellation of trains. Today’s train is one in three they didn’t cancel, yet they made it 5 instead of 10 coaches. It is standing only, ram packed and by time we get to Gatwick it will be that full, that I can only assume what the visitors to Great Britain think of our rail system. It is disgusting really and has been ongoing for a while. The service, as you might remember from my last moans, has never been that great but now it is even worse. Lucky for me the air conditioning is working this morning. I saw a pregnant woman and hope she found a seat (she went to a different carriage) and elderly which I likewise hope got a seat. This is getting dangerous. Do I have sympathy with the conductors? I do and I don’t. They should go to work, take offers to be retrained or find a different job. Easier said than done but sometimes work is like that. They wouldn’t have to endure the journey. And another strike is looming next week.

I am wondering where that leaves us as a country. The looming Brexit, the conductor strikes, the shooting of an MP this week. Sometimes I fear this country that I adopted as my home is turning for the worse. I get scared sometimes. Just as we seem to settle, raise the family, and just want to get on with life, this is happening. Let’s hope we get through that turmoil quickly and back to the old British pride in the next couple of months. Very decisive weeks ahead.

At the end of the day it is what it is. You cannot change life. It is almost predestined. Your life overall. Family. Kids. Job. Success. Or not. The way you want to live your life. Whilst it all depends on you, at the end of the day you live the life you were told to live. That isn’t bad and you just carry on, be one of the many. However, some people are very successful in breaking those patterns. They break free and accelerate beyond what would be called the “norm”. They might take more risks than an average person, or they might just not go with the conformity.

I have seen a few changes with people recently which makes me think about the state of affairs. About motivation, external influence, and understanding of business. It might be a phenomenon of our industry yet there are too many people not investing in talent and or experienced managers. They think that they know it all. That they are untouchable. Yet the really successful people have strong, experienced advisors on their side, the ones that help scaling the business and introduce processes important to smooth growth. Hiring of top talent. Maybe I should do more consulting work, yet I enjoy what I am doing at the moment. My company is at the edge of the industry, pushing boundaries. I like that.

Predestined. That’s my word this week. I am not actively watching the Euro Cup yet I am looking at the results and fill in the wall chart for the boys. Who is going to win? When will we all dance like Swedish and Irish fans in harmony rather than rioting? Will there ever be peace?

My bags are packed. For now to go to Cannes. To go and have a few days in harmony. In peace with the industry and have some fun in the sun. Yet a strong business focus too. I hate to leave the kids for the few days, but I am looking forward to a weekend with them next week. The wife is away and I am in charge. We are going to have fun.

I report to you then.

Best wishes,

Volker

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Sunday Column (338)

What a great week off I had. Or did I?

For weeks we wanted to go camping. If I say week, more like years. I have been putting it off, but this year really wanted to go for it. Earlier on this year I got a cooker, cutlery, crockery, sleeping bags, coffee and all the little things that last forever to spend this week camping. And, of course, I got a tent too. New as much as £450 we got it used for just under £100. I was chuffed, little did I know about tents… 🙁

To cut a long story short. We got the tent up, had a fantastic BBQ, kids playing, evening sun, chilly wind, but great evening. We knew the weather forecast wasn’t too good, so here were we….the kids in bed by 9ish – to sleep is a different story – and when I woke up the first time it was because the campsite was under a flight path. They flew until late, I am not used to that anymore. I woke up later because it started to rain. I woke up again, water dripping on my cheek. I kept being awake, hearing dripping water in the ‘living room’ of the tent.

When I finally woke up I saw three or four puddles of water on the floor. I knew camping was over. The tent wasn’t watertight. There is a difference between condensation water dripping and water blowing into the tent and it leaking. No fun.

The worst part was that I started to enjoy it – the camping that is. The most awkward thing was for me to pack it all in the car, little did I know how much stuff you need to take, then of course particularly when going home and we had this wet wet wet tent in there. However, it went to the bin straight away. Maybe we get a different one. New of course.

For myself, and maybe this sounds daft, another learning. I thought a tent lasts forever. I didn’t know you could repair the seams. I was fed up of it too btw, and maybe I was too hasty binning it. A bit annoyed, and given the weather we probably would have called it a day anyway, but the equipment didn’t give us a chance. Maybe I am just too comfortable….and I book ready pitched tents next time again, another Yurt, Tipi or something.

How did we make up for it with the kids? Day trips as you would.

Tuesday we went to Sea Life in Brighton, got soaked and even our jackets didn’t withstand the gale force winds and rain. We went to London to spend a tiring but great day in the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. The boys loved the tube, the bus, the train, the museum – a long but worth while day. We even visited daddy’s work 😉

Colin got his fish tank, as promised for his birthday. We got the first fish in, but decided to place it in the kitchen, to make sure the kids behave with it. We went to see the Minion movie, we didn’t go to Littlehampton Beach as the A27 was closed but had fish and chips….and we continued our decoration of the spare bedroom, played games, coloured in, watched TV, had the fire place on and and and.

No, it wasn’t a boring week. It was a great week, good bonding time and we truly enjoyed each others company. What we didn’t do as much was spend time outside. This weather isn’t August or summer. This is more like autumn. I am back to work on Tuesday (Bank Holiday Monday) and will then work until half term. The last few months of the year tend to be very busy for me, so this will pass quickly. R will start school. He will be shattered. C starts year two. Time goes by. As it always will, it never stops.

I love being a dad. I love having time for the kids.

Have a great week, make the most of it, come sun or rain 😉
Volker

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