Posts Tagged life

Sunday Column (458)

I love starting my blog on a Monday. Whilst it won’t make much of a difference to you, the final post being shared on Sunday, I love sitting on the plane or train on a Monday to reflect on the weekend, on life in general. Latter was the whole purpose when I started the Sunday Column now 458 weeks ago. Almost 10 years. It was about not only copying things and sharing things, but making my blog personal. I believe I have achieved that. It also gives me an outlet for my thoughts. My readership is in the thousands and people from all over the world are visiting my site. This is a nice thing to know that every week, people are waiting to read my weekly column. Thank you for bearing with me.

So reflecting on the weekend, I didn’t do much to be honest. We all have a cold and seem to be tired. My best friend from Germany was supposed to visit but was ill himself too. So we ended up with a very relaxing weekend. Some good food and excellent wine, cheese and the fire being on. We also got some game controllers for the AppleTV and the boys thinks we got an Xbox now. Not being an avid gamer myself, the boys and us enjoy the odd game we can play. Life is good and I sorted a few things out over the weekend that needed attention, as well as our holidays to Singapore next year. My cousin lives there and we are keen to visit. Even Economy few months ahead is expensive, but I guess that’s summer holidays and 4 people flying. When booking flights, besides an awful experience on the Singapore Airlines website, we opted for them over Norwegian Airlines. Latter are cheaper and flying from Gatwick, yet with Monarch just going out of business, I think relying on a big airline might just be the way forward. I would have loved to book British Airways, yet the price premium couldn’t be justified at all.

Adventures, experience. That is what life is all about. Gaining a competitive advantage through experience in work and life. Teaching your offspring for them to have a head start in life. This isn’t always easy. I love my manager for that at work, who despite me being prepared for meetings and being on top of things, always finds something else. I soak up his input and wonder if I will be such a good manager when I have another 10 years experience. I hope I will. I am confident I will, but this is for others to decide. My next trip for work takes me to Belgrade, Serbia. Somewhere I have never been, so I am looking forward to it. A new experience, an adventure. This is going to be fun. Not like the weekly commute I have done to Germany throughout the year. No adventure there, just experience 😉

But experience is key. In a workplace which is changing. There are no, or fewer, 30 year long careers. In new industries like online and digital marketing where I am part of, the average tenure is probably around 2 years. Probably even less. And as a friend of mine told me a couple of years ago, if you have done your job you are done, no matter if it is 1 year, 2 years or 5 years – or 6 months. This goes in line with a lot of industry posts I am reading about more and more people becoming consultants. Don’t get me wrong, just recently I have met people that have been with their employer for 11 years and this will exists, but the ones that drive change will be in and out of companies on a short tenure, or found companies themselves. Those progressive and success driven entrepreneurs are the new power managers of tomorrow’s world. I am working on an article around that as we speak.

That brings me to more change. As the leaves turn and I spend some time at home – ill children and then school events – I am looking out of the window and contemplate. Is that it? Is the life we have now, the village set up, is that me for the next 30 years. A yearly harvest festival, Light up Hassocks for Christmas, the local tennis club. Will we not want to change anymore? Is that what they call contentment or happiness?

Spending a day in the local community, showing face at school events and at tennis, I loved being around the boys, being part of their experience. They are my first priority and I do not spend enough time with them during the week. And I absolutely love the way we are living. I love our house, neighbours, driveway, and I am content in the place I am. But coming back to experience, adventure and life changing, when do you know when and how to change? Is it the external Brexit challenge? Is it the shooting in Las Vegas that once again makes a move to the US unappealing? What is it? How do you know? When do you know you found the place you should be staying forever?

Maybe I am impatient and expecting too much. Things come to your at the right time. Things happen for a reason. Change is good. I could quote another 100 sayings like that. But it is true. You MUST trust in the universe that things work out. You think any other ‘animal’ but humans ever think about the future and their mortgage? Ever wondered if the cat on the fence thinks about climate change? We are complicating our lives by thinking and ultimately worrying too much. No, the cat doesn’t. Kids don’t. And dare we teach kids to worry, they should enjoy life and do what they want. Follow their heart. Because the heart knows what is right or wrong.

More autumn thoughts next week, as we are getting further into my most favourite season.

Have an amazing week. Stay well,
Volker

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Sunday Column (449)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Volker

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Sunday Column (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 (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 (437)

Another crazy week. I am getting used to it and honestly, actually I am enjoying them a bit too, those weeks. I flew out to Hamburg on Monday, this time with Easyjet again, and it went ok. The seats, non emergency exit, are awful, but other than that it did the job and got me there on time. Just too small for my long legs, so no proper sleep. Back in an empty Eurowings with a glass of wine, needed after a back to back day. I try to maximise the time I have in Germany. And every time I believe things are all dealt with, something new comes up. Amazing.

Some of you might read this and go ‘Why is he doing it, why is he loving it?’. Let me tell you the story of my life, which you might have heard on here before. I enjoy being busy, sorting things, helping people, supporting and developing people and work. Yes, some people call it work, I call it fun. I don’t mind burning the candle on both ends and push things forward. 10 years ago I would have worked 24/7, and sometimes it felt like that. Why? I don’t know. Just what I enjoy doing. What do I really want to do, someone might ask. I enjoy running, and taking companies/company units forward, working with smart people, being successful. That’s it, simple. Learning.

There is a flip side to that too. Since I had kids, priority shifted. So I am not burning candles on both ends anymore and look for a more balanced life. Running, enjoying a glass of wine, good food, a BBQ at the weekend, quality time with the boys, the wife and friends. I enjoy my fun life too and I do enjoy things outside work. Listening to the OneThing podcast, there was a chap on there the other day, re-iterating that the first thing he does every year is to plan his holidays, then the kids’ school events and he never works beyond 6 pm. And he is mega successful. Similar to the Energy Project, it is about renewal, boundaries, regular breaks and refuelling and regenerating. I learned that over the years, moving from start up to start up, and apply it now. Not every day but most days. This is mega important and should have been more of a focus when I was younger. So when I can, I still work a lot, and if I have a higher priority, then so be it. As a matter of fact I was reading my emails this morning when my youngest woke up. He looked at me and I said, that I should really put the phone away, and he nodded. I did. No question. We must set examples, and make sure they balance life from the outset.

So with all the travelling, cudos goes to my team in the UK for being so patient with me and going through video conference sessions to catch up and the team in DE for the support and commmittment. We are a great team, great company and everyone is working so hard to make things work. Our earnings report this week shows we are so on track to win. I am loving it. Well done all (if you read that anyway 😉 ).

I am buzzing. The biggest cudos of course goes to someone else. My wife and children for putting up with my absence and supporting me throughout. Whether through endless WhatsApp emojis in the morning or funny videos. I love them all and really appreciate their patience. Particularly if I am not feeling too great at the weekend due to some virus. But that seems over now too. So this weekend was family time. Full on.

As I am flying back and try to catch up on some admin, I am wondering about a few things that have happened this week. The days melt into one, from early morning runs, early mornings in the office, discussions with old friends over beers, or endless meeting marathons. It is a lot to take in and as my brain digests this over a glass of vino, I am remembering the often quoted phrase of connecting the dots moving forward. Steve Jobs.

Yes, it all works out in the end. And everyone understands and works in the same direction. Life is for living and moving and looking forward. However YOU want to define that. I am reading an amazing book about evolutionary coaching. I listen to my podcast and I am learning constantly. I am buzzing with new ideas. Life is there to grab it and be successful. Again, you decide and you define what it means to you. Not to look back, regret. But what I also notice is that it is a lot about living and representing values. About agreeing or disagreeing on the path. And that’s the secret. In a relationship with a partner or in a relationship at work. Trust comes to mind. Openness. That’s what life is build on. Maybe not a secret. It all comes together as you get older.

I am happy. That’s the main thing. But more important is that my loved ones are and the ones in my care. That’s what I do. That is who I am. That is how I strive and determine success.

With that said, I am off to Hamburg again on Monday. Different meetings, different discussions, and I am looking forward to it. I make things work. That’s what I do.

Thank you all for bearing with me,
Volker

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Sunday Column (436)

The days after a bank holiday weekend seem busier. On the one hand as one thinks the work load has to be caught up with, and on the other hand, when working for American companies, you have a day to catch up with the US’s input. Luckily for me, this isn’t too much the case at the moment, and most of the International territories are still off. So a good few days mixed with work loads and a day working from home on Friday. That is to take care of the kiddies and finalise and review a few projects. Reading a book about ‘Essentialism’ makes you prepare to focus on what’s important and put your energy and focus onto what is really important and makes a difference. Puh, a great week.

The weather. I don’t often speak about it and it had been awful last weekend – to an extend we put the fire back on in May (!) – yet it smells of spring, sounds like spring, feels like spring. A bit too dry, not warm enough but it seems we are getting there. Spring and summer are on our door step. Let’s hope we see some nice weather ahead in the upcoming weeks. It can’t get worse I suppose. We managed a BBQ at the weekend. Just, making use of some midday sunshine.

I feel like this week a lot of things fall into place. Let’s hope this is a trend to be continued. Making decisions and focusing on the essential things, is what is key. Finishing above mentioned book on Essentialism by Greg McKeown, really puts your life into perspective. It is highlighting some topics I addressed in my productivity book about habits, routines and focus. Having done 30K in 4 days this week to focus on stretching my fitness level, followed by a deep tissue massage, stretches my body. At the same time I manage to stretch my mind and thinking beyond what I have done before. Getting more done than I ever have, sorting things and seeing results. From little things like giving away our sandpit which no one wanted at first, to filling the shed with new fire wood for the winter (German efficiency), and more important tasks at work. Sometimes it is hard to make decisions but that’s what you have to do. Life is lonely at the top 😉

Writing this as I am about to come to London on the train, I am staring out of the window. It is grey. London has been grey this week, not a lot of light, little sun. More like October weather than May. It is a bit of a shame. I sometimes wonder if the weather will ever improve or if we have to relocate to get enough sun. I never felt more settled in our house, our community and this country than now. Yet, I never felt so much that in the long run I have the feeling I won’t stay around. As if something inside me tells me that one day we pack our bags. Maybe I am wrong, and I have not had that feeling in a long time, yet it is there. I shall forget about it as I focus on the tasks at hand and enjoy the daily moments. The time with the boys, particularly on days like Friday where I was able to work from home and take them to school. I even picked them up and we played. Moments that never come back, and can only be enjoyed there and then.

Isn’t life wonderful and full of surprises?

At the weekend I found out that an old teacher of mine died. Another one, 76, too young. He was a great helper, supporter and mentor. Yet, he moved on to pastures new. RIP.

A full week ahead, so I hope you had a relaxing weekend. I tried to save up loads of energy.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (435)

Happy Birthday to me. The big 40!

So whilst I could write my normal blog, I remembered that I wanted to review my ‘inventory‘, I wrote in 2011. That’s now 6 years ago. A different time of my life.

Each Sunday the FT magazine publishes someone’s, usually public figures’, inventory. They ask about timeless things like

– Earliest Ambition
– Education
– Ambition and Talent
– IQ test

I won’t repeat them here, but then they also ask about things that might have changed. So 6 years on, reflection on my 40th birthday, let me revisit some of the questions.

3 ) Who is your mentor?

I still have several. From mentors I (in)voluntarily choose through work commits, I actively seek industry friends and heavy weights and try to regular connect with them. But also non-industry figures, to keep a good balance of inputs. This is important to me. As Jim Rohn says, you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with the most.

4 ) How physically fit are you?

This has changed. I have done some longer runs, just got new trainers that give me the right support. On average I probably run 30K a week plus some longer runs and weight/body resistance training. That wasn’t the case back when I first filed my inventory. I am fit, can be fitter but overall I am quite pleased. There are rumours about the first races too. I keep you posted.

7 ) How politically committed are you?

Now, 6 years on, I am British. Politics are back on the card to become more important. Time to get involved?

8 ) Do you consider your carbon footprint?

No, despite a lot of travel. Yet this is temporary I hope and difficult to offset. My commute is by train though!

9 ) Do you have more than one home?

I still don’t. Ask me again in 10 years, there are plans.

10 ) What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

Whilst I still follow Buddhist philosophy, meditate daily, I seek a Jaguar XJS. Maybe this year or next year, maybe never. We got the driveway for it, so the chances are increasing. Also, I tend to look at alternatives for the Skoda, upgrading it in 2018 maybe. Or instead of a Jag, getting an old Merc. Time will tell. Again, mid life crisis needs to be planned 😉

11 ) What is your biggest extravagance?

We moved, so a car isn’t the biggest extravagance any more. Having a second one would. Expensive wines, good food and an own treadmill, spoiling the boys and keeping the family happy. Nothing wrong with that I think. I am a man of simple pleasures. Time really is what you want more of and it is the biggest extravagance of everybody.

12 ) When are you happiest?

This probably will never change!
Being with my family: my wife, my two boys.

13 ) What ambition do you still have?

Below’s answer from 6 years ago (in italics) is still very valid. Leading a company across EMEA, looking after 100+ staff and exiting with a nice retirement fund, that would be great. Will the latter be the dream most people in the industry chase?
Maybe launching my own thing one day. But I keep saying that. I do enjoy what I am doing, that’s the main thing. I am progressing.

Making a difference in the world and work for the UN or another big charity, helping others. But before that I want to continue my career in media for a good while.

There are ambitions for my sons, for human kind too. But this would go too far I believe.

14 ) What drives you on?

The constant opportunity to learn and to improve other people’s careers. By doing so you grow as a manager/person and help your own career. The same principle is the same for bringing up your kids. Leading is tough but I do enjoy working with people and making a difference.

15 ) What is your greatest achievement of your life so far?

Writing my book and re-writing it in a better way whilst holding up a full time job. That and my family. I just like getting things done, having a productive 14 hour day, non-stop, just turns me up!
My weight loss, my fitness transformation, giving up smoking 20 years ago. Oh dear, I am getting old, things have changed. Look where I am at now. I have done ok, haven’t I?

16 ) What has been your greatest disappointment?

Not always seeing the obvious. Whether in life, family, job – being a bit naive and fearful. Fear doesn’t get you anywhere, being too uptight just hinders you.
But I am working on that daily and constantly. Going out of your comfort zone once a day, in person or in thoughts, gives you an edge. That’s what you want. Pushing boundaries and learning daily.

17 ) If your 20-year old self could see you now, what would he think?

Life never works out the way you think. Life is unpredictable, but you have mastered it well. Good job.
Or he would say: Told you, just a normal life like anyone else. But that’s ok, you have done well. Well done, mate.

18 ) If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Start again. I am a fighter. – still true but could also be to pack my bags and go somewhere and do something completely different. Making a difference. Why not, you are only on this planet once. No reason to not change what you are doing half way, or less than half way hopefully 🙂

21 ) If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what you score?

9 – You must be happy with your life – and I am – but there is always room to improve. Never give up to pursue.

I hope you enjoyed this reflective post. This week saw more changes. Whilst I am still in Germany a couple nights a week, I am now taking the boys to a childminder so my wife can go back to work. This might mean for me to work from home more often and look after them too. Life is a constant change. Work is very supportive. We cannot and I personally don’t want to stand still.

I am not sure what the next 40 years hold. Where I am going to live. If I am going to live. Life is good. And it is there to be enjoyed. Medicine, technology and support is evolving. What is next in life? Whatever it is, we will be part of it. And that’s so exciting. Life is exciting. Daily. Sometimes I think that’s it, that’s where I belong and should be in my life. Then I get this urge, to progress, to do more. Oh life, I just love the way you are!

Let’s hope this isn’t half way, but with advancement in technology this might just be a third. We must think that way. Yet we also need to enjoy every moment. The good thing is, we don’t know. That means we should just live as best as we can. Daily. Focusing on the one thing that is important NOW.

Love and Kindness.

For he is a jolly good fella….

Have a smashing bank holiday and give your kids and partners a hug. Life is for living.
Volker

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Sunday Column (431)

An immensely intense week I may say. A highly enjoyable week though. It went very quickly too. A normal busy Monday lead to a 3 day off-site in London. That meant I stayed over in London, didn’t sleep well and was sitting in marathon meetings, working early until late. But it was inspiring, useful and drove the business forward. Given one doesn’t have a commute, is used to getting up early, a 7 am start in the office is amazing. One gets so much done. Yet it is intense, but also enjoyable. GSD = Getting Sh*t Done! To finish off the week I met with a friend from NY and ex colleagues on Thursday. That was nice. Friday I made it home for bath time and the boys were delighted to see me. So was I.

Having tried to get over some virus earlier in the week and hence didn’t exercise, I just had to do a 7.5K run plus I had to take an early train to get to the Home Office. The, hopefully, final step to get my British passport, the interview where they ask you all those questions to verify you are, who you claim you are. The guy interviewing me tried to make it funny and entertaining. At least that’s how it came across and I felt very awkward. Anyway, my passport should be with me in the next few days. Some questions were who my parents are, where they were born, which way I drive to take the boys to school etc.

It definitely concludes a successful week. A week when you don’t sleep well, feel under the weather, yet have so much energy and drive to work throughout. I was buzzing on Friday. I so enjoy that. What I didn’t enjoy? Not seeing the boys. So coming home on Thursday to see one still awake at 9, it broke my heart to tell him off to go to bed. I would have preferred to cuddle and listen to him about his week but he had to go to sleep. And the other? He woke just before 10 being thirsty, came downstairs and gave me the biggest smile and cuddle. That made my week!

Besides work and life, there are so many things going on in this world. Article 50 was triggered this week. That means Brexit gets real. There is no way back now and just as well I now have both nationalities. I am safe to chose but hope I never have to. As I mentioned before, the future doesn’t equal the past. With the world changing, we need to realise that years from now we might decide to move elsewhere. Maybe years from now I find myself applying for another nationality in a country far (or close) to home. One just doesn’t know. I will watch the next 2 or more years to see what is coming our way. We must stay flexible and vigilant, always trying to better the situation for us and the generations to follow. That’s our duty.

This weekend we did what the boys wanted to do for ages. They were so taken by the lambs last year, we had to go back this year. So we went to a farm to see the newly born lambs. What a lovely site. Also we saw a sheep giving birth, another one trying and a newly born calf. It was amazing to show the kids and even for us. I am not as taken with the little lambs as my family is, but it makes you think about the time your kids were born. How much effort it was and how much we were fearing for them and the mother. How much pain mother had to endure. It is good to be reminded, yet the main purpose was for the kids to cuddle with the little lambs. They absolutely loved it.

Tomorrow I am off to Germany again. I have taken a temporary assignment to help out leading the office in Hamburg. That not only makes me more busy, which is the part I mind less, but it takes time away from the family. Weekends have to make up for it and hence my wife and I, having known each other for 13 years this week, really plan the weekends and quality family time. So far so good. Easter break is around the corner.

So have a fantastic week, stay safe.
From my little corner of this world,
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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Sunday Column (428)

Another week. More travel. It seems as if the weeks just blur into one and I spend two days a week in a different place. I don’t mind, being away for a night, taking the Easyjet ‘bus’ from Gatwick to Europe. A 430 wake up call followed by a quick exercise routine, a meditation session, a shower and a ride to the airport. Then an almost two hour delay due to air traffic control strikes in France – I was on my way to Madrid. Those delays are annoying. Having just endured almost 12 months of conductor strikes on Southern Rail, I have no sympathy with anyone striking whatsoever. I keep saying it over and over again, I am thankful for the opportunities given to me in my life and wouldn’t want to jeopardise them due to strike actions or anything stupid like that. So I have little understanding for someone who would go to their employer and say ‘if you don’t do this, then we strike’. There are enough people out there that would take jobs and make it happen. Something I am missing?

Yes, there is an argument that if we didn’t have the unions, companies would do whatever they wish. They wouldn’t I don’t think. Companies have a keen interest in making their employees happy. To work with them, to empower them, to make work a nice thing to do. Maybe I am wearing some pink glasses here or something, but companies who are ‘abusive’ to their employees will not succeed. I cannot see that happen. Maybe I am listening to too many American podcasts suggesting that we are all in it together. That we can determine our destiny and people around us want to help us. We must be under that anticipation that an employer doesn’t want you to fail and want to do the utmost to make you happy and successful. After all they are spending money on you and your career. Mine does, and I am grateful for it.

Working in different places is critical. I love seeing the local teams, connecting and understanding the local challenges. Each market is unique, each view is different. Listen to their needs. It widens my horizon and gives me a chance to review what we are doing in HQ and whether we can change things, adopt some local practises, to improve things overall and to help moving the company forward. I enjoy that and believe it adds a lot of value to the company. I have another two weeks of travel ahead of me. Speaking at a conference in Germany which is tricky and challenging as it is a new corporate deck with a translation into German. I will master it and actually I am excited about it. Just in case I fly out the night before 😉 Then Sweden. Then I shall have a couple of weeks in the office before a family break over Easter. No flying then. As much as it is nice to travel, it is not glamorous and it does tire you out. At least I keep up my exercise routine and healthy eating (most of the time). Yet this week I felt a bit drained. The weather is to blame I guess?!

Further to travel this week I read an article in the FT about citizenships and Brexit. You can read it in detail yet the main take away for me was that if you lived here for long enough – and that is uninterrupted – you can continue to live here post Brexit. Or it should be fairly easy to get a passport/citizenship. Or you leave. I am not judging whether that is fair or not, but what I am saying is that if you have lived here long enough there is nothing you should fear. So why did I get the citizenship? Because I wanted to ensure I can stay and be with my family, plus I feel more British these days than German anyway. I don’t have plans to leave this country other than with my family and then we all would be foreigners elsewhere, on the same passport. That’s really it. I wanted to do it years ago but didn’t want to spend the money on it. Now I could and did it. The necessity felt slightly bigger of course. Anyway, this should all be done by next week.

If you feel I write too much about work, then please let me know. I just realised I wrote all about Brexit, travel and work without writing about work or family. If that makes sense? I love management studies, and I love work. That’s what I do and I enjoy it. Even my taxi driver said that, if he won the lottery, he would continue working. So would I, there is no way I could sit on my bum long enough doing nothing. I’d go up the walls. So I used the flight delay to catch up on some work, prepare a presentation, write part of this blog and think about life. I also caught up on some sleep mid air and arrived refreshed. Kind of anyway 😃

The remainder of the week was nice. It is nice to see trains running on time most of the time. It makes a huge difference to both my mood and my state of happiness. Plus the Friday ‘pale ale express’ session with the neighbours. Then I took the wife out for a meal on Saturday. Nothing fancy, just a very nice Thai place, a good chat and some ‘us time’. There is never enough of that once you got children. We are getting better in carving date nights out of our schedule, more than we used to. Then again the kids are getting older. Life becomes easier from a logistical point of view. Attitude, tantrums and questions and demands are the same pain as before, just different. Growing up I suppose 😃 Yes, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I hope all is well with you and yours.
From our little corner of the world, I wish you lots of love and happiness.
Have an amazing week ahead, and please share this blog if you like it.
Volker

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