Posts Tagged life

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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Sunday Column (420)

Ok. I have some time on my hands, don’t I. Actually I don’t have as much as I would like, and I got a lot busier than anticipated. That’s a positive thing, things are happening. So what do you do if you have some waiting time in London? People just went back to work properly this week being busy, so I had a few meetings in town, but then a few got cancelled last minute. Then I got some additional ones in. The train strike took me to London Blackfriars and this can be a bit inconvenient given most digital businesses’ location in London. Cut a long story short, I managed to walk a bit in London. Yes: W-a-l-k, take things in, smelling the roses. It was fantastic.

Yes, I absolutely loved it. Not only did I manage to burn some calories and make some phone calls, I also managed to just wander around London. I was thinking for a moment to stop all the time and take some pictures, but I found this would distort my idea of experiencing London. I almost went into the National Art Gallery. When did you last have time to just wander through the streets of London, look up the buildings and take in all the architecture. Did you know that from Farringdon you can see the Shard with St. Paul’s Cathedral in between?

What else did I spot? Lots of people smoking and vaping, more than I anticipated. Hipster cafes where I stopped and rested, starting to write this post. A Ferrari mountain bike. Old writing and signs on buildings just on the main streets. New buildings and building sites. Builders looking bored, some being very busy. A few new building sites I hadn’t noticed, some nice facades, a new hidden Neros off Jermyn Street. And I went with the flow, just chilling out and enjoying myself, looking at the world to go by and take it all in.

How much more time do I have to enjoy some down time? When is it getting serious again to go back to work? When would I have to, when would I want to get back to the grindstone? I tell you all next week (teaser).

I learned about priority this week. I was focusing on two important things this week, and those were my only priorities, but only one at a time. This was important. I tried to blend out any thoughts that would interfere with my priority at the time. Mind games, voices in your head, external influences, ideas. Like meditating with your mind fully switched on. I think it worked well. Being in full control of your mind and thinking really helps.

Then there is another topic I am giving priority and I am looking into at the moment: My 40th. Yes, it is coming closer and I cannot deny it or make it go away. It is coming closer day by day. It will either be a party or a mini holiday – the prices seem similar. We are evaluating. I let you know what we decide, not if it is a party though 😉 Anyway.

There is one theme on Linkedin and Facebook since the beginning of the year: Make the most out of 2017. Celebrate life. I am not sure if that mood is connected to the, as it seems, high amount of celebrity deaths last year, or whether it is a general mood to get on with life and make the most of it? Maybe it has been like that every year, but I didn’t notice it that much. This year I do. As if we, as people, are anticipating the world to end in 2017. I hope not. I have so many more plans, and ideas and want to see so many more places. Yes, maybe I should start doing that soon. I don’t want to run out of time. I must trust that there will be a life beyond 2017, despite all uncertainty in the world.

Life seems to be a bit like evaluating things, making decisions, living with it. Jobs. Life. Parties. The way you bring up your kids. We had tantrums this week which brought back memories of having a toddler. Do you let them cry or use reasoning? I tried both, and the former worked in the end, falling asleep being exhausted. Will they learn from it? Probably not. Just another phase, until in a while that phase stops and another one starts. The oldest becomes more of an adult now, and you sometimes wonder how grown up they seem. Wowsers.

Life is moving so fast, and we are evaluating. We make decisions and we move on. The flow. Go with the flow, don’t get stressed about it and feel at ease. In the end things will work out, and you must believe in the end. Have trust. Things never stop. You must trust things will be ok, because they always will be. Don’t let others pressure you into a situation you don’t enjoy and don’t let others make you feel a certain way. It all works out in the end. Trust in it going to happen!

If the video below doesn’t show, please see this Joe Biden article.

But then there was one last thing I noticed this week. Whether it was Obama’s speech, his wife’s speech or Joe Biden: some great leaders and people you look up to that, in public and in very powerful positions, admit to something amazing: Emotions and feelings. It is not about crying but about bringing emotions back into what I would call ‘corporate and public life’. Ever since I have read and written my MBA thesis on Emotional Intelligence (EQ), I believe that the human aspects, emotions, feelings and the sharing of values is sometimes more important than red tape. Humanity prevails. I am moved by what happened in 2016. I have shed more tears and shared more emotions than ever before. Maybe that is why, as mentioned above, people are increasingly coming out with making 2017 the best year ever and to go for it. To show their appreciation, feelings and true emotions. Let’s do it. Let’s share more love and make 2017 happen!

I have a great feeling about it.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (412)

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The week started off nicely after a relaxing weekend. Desperately needed. Finally, after 4 years in our house, the work started to get our driveway done. Those who know me know what that means. On the one hand it means that we got all renovation done in the house, yet started over again thanks to the wifey, but it also and foremost means that we soon can park more than one car off street. It will be practical and a feature to the house. Parking is awful in our cul-de-sac thanks to commuters and people going on holidays from Gatwick, parking their car for weeks at a time. We are now independent and Daddy can consider his mid life crisis dream. We shall see. It feels like a long journey in this place comes to an end. We made it ours.

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Whilst we enduring the mild weather, we still get a bit of mud into the house. All be done by next Friday they say. Everything is going to be done some time, isn’t it. No, I am not having thoughts about dying yet, still far too early and too many dreams to finish, but we had a big presentation this week. I knew it would be done by 11.30 on Thursday. I knew that a few weeks ago. The same as I know that some other meetings, next Tuesday, next Friday etc. are coming and going. And they will be over and I will survive them. Some I have prepared better than others and some I have to shine and sell, others I just ‘attend’. My point I am trying to make, and this isn’t different to any other job I ever had, is that time doesn’t stand still. We have all the same time, 24 hours in a day to be precise, and we sometimes start with the end in mind, the task for a presentation. And as we go along the journey unfolds, and eventually we will get there. You don’t let yourself fail, do you? And if you fail, that’s good, as you learn from it. So not that failure is bad but you wouldn’t want to fail on purpose. At a presentation on Friday someone quoted Edison, not that he tried to invent the lightbulb by failing but by trying 1000 different ways. Language is beatiful, isn’t it?

Life is intense at the moment. This is due to work being busy and I am still finding my feet. But I am settling in very well, really enjoying the challenge. I finally find a bit more of a routine and seem to get things done. That’s what I like. And I enjoy being busy. This week I also managed to catch up with some friends, long overdue, which I haven’t seen for a while. That was very nice. I also managed to to do my back in. Despite having pain last week and a massage last weekend, I must have pulled a muscle in my back. Spasm whilst running and difficulties getting out of bed. Ibuprofen and a bit of rest should do the trick, but one feels unable. I find I almost got addicted to running and exercising, so not knowing what to do with myself at 5 am is difficult 😉 I pass the time, don’t get me wrong, I am actually reviewing the next productivity book at the moment, so a bit of extra time helps. Not being able to follow your passion and get that energy out of your system is difficult though. I’ll make up for it. In most areas life seems to fall into place. Exciting.

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Home. That’s the place I am far away from London and work. It is not so much that I am bothered by either, but about having a physical distance to the place I spend my week at. Looking out of the living room window and seeing a lot of green, a lot of trees and being able to walk into woods or fields within 5 minutes of leaving the house is priceless. Nice clouds, lovely sunrises and sunsets. A short drive and we are at the beach. The fire in the wood stove that goes on when we are cold and the gym in the garage for my every day routine. The place I feel safe and happy, confident and relaxed. And so does my family too. Peace. Looking at recent house prices it also seems as if we gained a bit on the house over the years, which of course doesn’t really matter. We are here to stay.

Yet, with the nights getting longer, and it getting darker and colder outside, it is nice to sit down, relax and reflect. Where has my journey taking me? Where have I been coming from? What have I learned? I am content. Happy.

From my little corner of this world, I wish you a nice autumn and relaxing weekends. Not long before Christmas now.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (407)

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Monday started off nicely and when drafting my blog I realised I ended up writing a whole post on Brexit. See Brexit.
So I had to stop myself writing another post just about train strikes on Tuesday. The RMT union, rightly or not, strikes. Again. Overrunning engineering works added to the misery. I finally was on my way on the first train (!) running from Brighton to London. Just before 830 am. Two hours later than anticipated. I am up early anyway. I can change my schedule but my employer expects me in the office for 9 am. And they should do. The ongoing situation with Southern Rail is inexcusable. It is utterly disgusting in this day and age. But I wouldn’t add anything to the conversation by getting annoyed.

So I breathe in and out. I decide how I feel. Southern cannot make me feel a certain way. I cannot change the situation. I can only accept it. Doesn’t mean I like it. Far from it. Totally out of my control. The same is true for my headphones. After spending a small fortune on my Bose noise cancellation wireless headphones I exchanged them on Monday. Interrupted and intermittent connectivity. I have been testing the new ones all week. It seems better and I am in close contact with Bose support. We will tackle that. The sound of the Bose headphones are just too good.

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The commuter nightmare. A lot of people feel the strain and pain. It makes people sick. And I wonder why or do I get sick? On Tuesday I couldn’t leave the house before 8 to catch any train. On Wednesday I was in London before 8. Madness. No reliability or consistency. The fear and worries of the train company’s delays reflecting bad on you and your ability to be at work. Companies luckily understand but they shouldn’t have to. And neither should we as commuters. A never ending story but shouldn’t we just get a reliable service most of the time? The other challenge is that most people don’t know how to use the commuter time. I have habits. In the morning it is very much about me-time. I read. Without (many) exceptions I try to go through a book every 10 days. On the bus it is a mix of emails, podcasts, preparation for the day. Depending on the day I might just chill out to some music. On the way back I work on the bus. Time sheets, feed reader catch up. On the train home I usually work. If there is nothing to work on, which is rare, I read or watch some catch up TV, an episode of a TV series or chill out. Moving forward I also will make sure to finalise my next productivity book. Once I finished reading Bruce Springsteen’s biography. Yet without that routine and use of the time to accomplish something, this commute would be hell. Now it is one of my most productive times of the day. The reduced strike service causes less delays and less time to work. I get home quicker. Bit odd, and counter productive 😉

Due to the strike I also changed my exercise routine. A nice run on Wednesday night, given I had time, resulted in a 43.16 for the 10K on my treadmill. Result. My body went in overdrive and resulted in some ‘stress pimpels’. Never mind. I enjoy challenging myself and pushing boundaries. I feel like I am moving in the right direction and get a few things done at the moment, clearing out the old, bringing in the new input. I am looking forward to a break, to recap on a few things, and make sure I am not missing anything in life. Half term is not too far away! On the other hand there are things that seem a bit off at the moment. Without wanting to go into great detail, just when you think things are all happily moving along, more change is in the air. I hope for positive change of course but that isn’t always guaranteed. Sanity is what you must aim for.

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Coming back to Springsteen’s biography I realise a few bits about life. No great revelations but essentially, as you grow up, you notice more and more that your life isn’t at all different to other people’s life. Bruce said in one of his chapters that ‘I loved as best as I could, but I hurt some people I really cared about along the way. I didn’t have a clue as to how to do anything else.‘. I see myself having done that in the past, and had to learn a lot about loving people. Something that just didn’t come natural to me. I am great in building rapport with people, mastering situations, dealing with people and having a higher EQ than some. Yet under the skin, the love and appreciation for people beyond the daily interaction was something I had a hard time learning. My wife would be a in a better position to tell you, but also my kids. It took me a long time to come to terms of what fatherhood means to me, and how to love kids in the right way. To appreciate them seeing the world from a different place and to understand how to change my perception to their level. It is a wonderful world, once you are in it, but getting there didn’t come natural for me.

Where is that coming from? I often had doubts if I could ever learn it. If I say that Bruce gives me the confidence that it is normal, I don’t have many other people I could ask. But that’s what you learn in life, that actually the challenges you have, the things that you worry about, are the same things everyone else is worrying about. With personal nuances of course. Talking about his puberty, Bruce writes ‘I was a punk, grumbling my way through….My dad’s journey on this ship was probably one fo the most meaningful of his life and I couldn’t respect it.‘ – and I can remember those days when I was just a grumpy old teenager, and so can many, that didn’t respect their parents. And looking back we will feel bad. When Bruce looks back and says he would like to turn back time to change it or get a second chance to make it better, we often don’t get this. We often only have this one chance in life, yet we mess it up. And so what, you might be thinking. You are probably right. I have regrets in my life but I am not worried, don’t want to go back to rectify them. I found my closure in life a few years ago. I went through the exercise of writing letters to people asking them for forgiveness and closure. The ones that wanted, replied. And it is good, it is healing for me, and hopefully it was for them too. We move on in life and need to focus on what lies ahead of us, not looking back. We cannot change the past or dwell on it. We would go crazy. Would I love to go back in time to rectify things? No, I honestly would not. Maybe I don’t have enough baggage and my things are small in comparison to others, yet when in puberty, I am certain my kids will go through the same thing and I will experience life from the other side. What goes around comes around I suppose. Cycle of life.

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I am not quite sure where I am leading with that. I look around the full ram packed train which I am on at 7 am in the morning due to the strike in order to get a seat and look at the commuter crowds. If we took a snap shot of those people and ask them the above questions, they would all agree. Life is what it is. No surrender. No regrets. Moving on and up. We can change the now and are obliged to make the now the best one yet. We must ensure that we always give our best, to keep winning and moving in the right direction. I am certain of that.

We sometimes remember snapshots that might be, over time, look bigger than they are. Like the famous objects in the rear view mirror. Yet often the opposite is the case. We lay to rest what we have to lay to rest. It’s done.

I am done. I am done for this week. An amazing week. I feel in more control of things and had a few things I took care of. Nice. I feel like I am winning. In my game. Getting shit done, adding value. But that’s all I want. All I can ever ask for, isn’t it?

Have a fantastic week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (406)

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It got frosty outside. The mornings are colder and you can see a nice layer of frost and fog covering the country side. Idyllic I’d say. As I start my morning commute, start writing this post, you can look at the fields and trees covered in white, cold fog. The sun starts burning holes into it as the day goes on, yet the picture is amazing. As so often I don’t get a chance to take one as we are flying past the pastures. Same as the week passes by. This week has been busy but good busy. I seem to be able to manage my work load and slowly get to grips with how things work. A few weeks in, and I enjoy my job more than ever. I feel like I have arrived, and I can move on from saying I have been weeks in the job to months in the job. It feels good.

It’s funny how your life plans out in front of you. Years of doing one thing, a change in industry, offers from the other side, then moving to the other side, further away from what you ever thought you would do….to end up closer to where you ever wanted to be. What else does life have in stock for us? What is planned? Where next? I mean, for now, I would be foolish to change anything and don’t have any ambitions to do so. But where will I be in 5 years? I have to think…but this is a long time to go. Seeing a little baby boy on Friday in the office made me think. 5 years is not a long time since my youngest (!) was filling his nappies.

Life moves very quickly. Just finishing renovating the house we remodelling our bedroom; I think we are done, yet the kids rooms are re-arranged, and before we know it the teenage posters are up and the doors shut. Let’s make use of every minute of our time with them. They are such a gift!

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How goes it? The voice of my friendly Southern Train Services station staff. Yes, those people are affected the same way we are by their company ….poor management and strikes causing grief across the organisation and commuters. On Monday someone was taken ill on a train and we shared a taxi from Haywards Heath. We as in the commuters. That was a bit of bonding, but you couldn’t blame Southern for it. You can however blame them for the poor service and three days of strike coming up next week. Will it go ahead? When do I start re-organising my trips, my exercise routine and evening appointments to make sure that those days aren’t turning into a night mare? WTF is going on – why can’t Southern sort it out. This week I found out a train was cancelled last minute to rush to the station to make my 9 am meeting. It is appalling and utterly disgusting to see a company not being able to sort out their staff and company issues. VERY poor management. Get rid of your top brass I’d say. It is not only the money and inconvenience, it is an attitude problem I have huge challenge with.

Just imagine I walked in on Monday and said to my boss ( 🙂 ) that I am going on strike…not only am I new in the job, he would hand me my P45 straight away. And rightly so. Fair enough, he treats me nicer than Southern seems to treat their staff, but that’s exactly the point. Never mind, my rant won’t help. The only thing that helps is to breathe in and out, and wonder WTF is going on. Never mind.

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Brace yourself for economic disruption. Yes, the strike is one thing, but the other one is Brexit. The pound is on an all time low. After our PM suggested the date of Brexit or article 50 being triggered to be in March 2017, the stock market lost enough money to push us down to 6th place of wealthy nations. Really? WTF. I started swearing a lot more recently. Can you tell? Do you understand why?

Article 50 will be triggered by end of Q1 next year, and then faith decides if I can stay. Why wouldn’t I? It is an insecurity, another burden. I would have until 2019. So that’s ok. By that time we might all be eligible to get American passports, who knows. No point of worrying. Despite, I am looking into Naturalisation. That means, if things go well, I should not have a problem to become a British citizen by maybe mid next year. However, the process is long, bureaucratic and time consuming as well as expensive. Patience Ballueder, patience.

In that sense I breathe in, and slowly breathe out. Time to move on and not worry about the things I cannot change anyway. Life is going to be ok. It is pretty good at the moment, not taking above into consideration 😉 I started reading Bruce Springsteen’s biography which made me revisit some old Pink Floyd and Bruce’s albums. Old times. When I had a bike and was a bit wilder than I am now. Those days I put on my biker jacket, the leather gear and just hit the road, see how far I could lean into curves and push boundaries. Crazy, yet it was nice. I sometimes wonder what it would be like today but the wifey isn’t allowing me to have bike no more. And she is probably right. No, she definitely is. So it might just have to be a smallish sports car, we shall see. I am not 40 yet.

Yet life is now. I am embracing it. Minute by minute. And I am enjoying it.

Best,
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 (395)

Has this week finished yet?

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Yes it has. We won 3.60 GBP in the lottery. Must have been a lucky week. And warm it was. 30+ degrees, little sleep, a cold and some runs. 25K runs this week and then a minor operation on Wednesday. All back up and running again 😉 But running has to wait until mid next week.

It was a busy week. Ups and downs. Despite having some time off for above op, it was very stressful. And the main reason, as outline below, is that I am in between jobs. That’s probably the best way of putting it. But more below.

Sometimes it is helpful to reflect. To see what is happening and good to chill out and come down. Reflect and take stock. What is happening, what is working, what isn’t. Where have I gone wrong lately? What has worked well lately? How can I improve?

Life shows itself in various ways, and sometimes one has to let it happen. One has to lean back, take it in and enjoy the ride. I am trying, and sometimes it is easier said than done.

How can I improve myself has been a major topic of mine for a long time. Personal development. Productivity. And just when I end up thinking that most things have fallen into place, I am where I am, and ready to learn more, to conquer the world, to make it happen. Then things seem to fall apart again. Can you win?

Yes, you can. Believing. The end is near, life goes on, and you are unstoppable. You can win if you put your mind to it and if you believe you can. What if you changed your whole life, take a side step in your career, or change your career entirely. You will make it work, no matter what. And it is exciting, isn’t it? Lean back and enjoy the ride that life has in stock for you. It always works out in the end and that for whatever reason the universe decides.

Driving is a new feeling, as I found out earlier in the week. I took the motor for a spin, and boy, not a sports car, but the difference to the Alhambra is immense. I am loving it, and looking forward to many fun years with it. Until of course they bring her/him out as a SUV, next year allegedly. Now, maybe I change the lease then 🙂 Having flexibility and fun in driving…I feel like life is back in town. The struggle of starting a career whilst having young children seems over. To the next 10+ years of my life. NB: I am not 40 yet, however statistically I am at the point where my career and life should really take off! I believe it will.

enjoy the ride

But seriously, the last few years have been functional. Family, small kids, the right child seat, the functional car, etc. We are now moving on, out of the baby stage into a more fun stage with the boys and at the same time we are in a position to finish the house renovation, make our life the way we want it and offer a good life to the boys. Yet, we are also looking around how we can increase and improve other people’s life. And that’s important to me, one of my values in life. I would like to spend more time on that moving forward.

The highlight of the week was Thursday. School leaving assembly. Yup, my oldest finished primary school. Wow, at his age I only just started school. He loved it. And I found that he was very mature in ‘moving on’ from it, very functional about ‘I am not going back, ever’. Guess he got this unemotional side from me, yet I did shed a few tears when one of the kids started crying as he didn’t want to leave school. Bless. They are at a fantastic age. Now on to 6 weeks of summer holidays.

In other news:
I can now say that I signed my settlement agreement at work, in other words, I am leaving my current employer. I cannot talk about why and how, but in the public domain it is known that the company decided to change the way they offer the service I have predominately been selling. The service I evangelised for them over the past 2.5 years. Hence I am now seeking new employment, the next exciting step in my career.

Feel free to contact me with ideas or anything you think we should discuss. You will understand that I won’t speak about any details here, for legal and professional reasons. It was all amicable in the end, so all good, it always is. They will do well as a company, I am sure, and I am confident things will move on for me too. Fingers crossed. For the time being I help to wind down the current product and my official end date will be confirmed in the next couple of weeks.

It isn’t the first time I took redundancy. Relocation of offices, changes in structure, product and politics have lead to redundancies in the past. It often happens in our industry and I can say that I know many people, see last week’s post, that took redundancy. In other industries this is being seen as a problem, and most companies rotate employees every 2-3 years to avoid people getting bored, but in our industry redundancies are very commonplace. Acquisitions, change of strategy, start up and growth companies, changes in direction….are all too common in a young and dynamic space.

So where does that leave me this weekend?
I am dwelling on a few things. I am thinking about a few things. I am moving forward. I don’t dwell on the past. I am excited about what is there to come actually.
Because I BELIEVE. I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and I know that things work out in the end. That’s the key and as long as you believe that, and trust in the universe, things are going to be ok. They will always work out. Believe in the universe sorting you out.
Positive Energy creates Positive Energy and causes a ripple effect.

If you can be bothered, have a look at Anthony Robbins “I am not your guru” on Netflix. It is a documentary about his five day workshop ‘Date with Destiny’. What he does is very simple, and yet very effective. By using a variety of techniques, and a lot of love and emotions, he shows people their real value in life and why certain situations in life haven’t worked out for them. Together with his team of coaches he transforms lives for the better, for good. For some this might be too much, or a bit cheesy, for me it is a great example on how someone dedicates his life to transforming people and making this world a better place. Amazing.

So this summary shows that a week can be very varied. On Friday night I met a few folk for drinks. London. Ale. Friends. It cannot get better than that. We spend a relaxing weekend with the family. The kids are off school. I am trying to find some peace and wind down. Getting my wife’s cough 🙁

Breathe in, breathe out. Life is good. And it goes on and on and on….

Speak next week, no doubt! 😉

Volker

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Brexit – some personal thoughts

I have been in the UK for pretty much 15 years. That is almost as long as I lived in Germany in any one go, as I left the country when I was 15 to spend a year in the USA. I have seen democracies and understand that the people are the ones in control. When I was young, too young to understand politics, the Berlin Wall came down. That is now over 25 years ago. However, I still vividly remember the visits to East Germany. The discussions with my granny who we took back to where the Russians tried to harm her and the family in the war. The place where my grandad took his two boys, probably not much younger than mine, on his old motor bike to drive them to freedom.

My generation has been lucky. No wars and no conflicts in Europe. We have heard about the war and have been repeatedly told about the evil Nazi machine which had a humongous influence on my grand parents and of course my parents generation. My generation broke free from that. I broke free from Germany 15 years ago.

When I left Germany the primary goal was to study in a more international environment. An environment that supports me. I couldn’t even count the amount of different nationalities that I met whilst studying in Scotland. Then I met my wife and we consciously decided to move to London, a cosmopolitan city open to the world, where we still live – at least in its proximity. This is where my boys were born. This is where I (re)build a base to bring up my boys in a safe environment, with a good education, and where I can pursue both my family life but also my career. Easy access to Europe via Gatwick and Easyjet (and other airlines but I am also part of generation Easyjet).

I never bothered to get the British passport. My boys have both passports: German and English. I work hard and don’t see them often enough to teach them German. Maybe that has to change now. They need to have access to a wider world than ‘England’.

What does Brexit mean for me? I don’t want to leave. I choose this country to live in and bring up my family. I have been planning for the next 20 years to stay where I am, probably longer given retirement age. My pension fund is here, my investments, my mortgage, my bank, my friends.

Here we go with a video from the Wolf on Wallstreet, summing up my mood:

Yet of course we are contemplating. Should we go elsewhere. Would I need a British passport. I shouldn’t have any problems getting one but what for, in a free and open Europe? I guess I got 2 years to decide, and maybe they give me one because I am married to a British citizen? I am not too worried that I will be kicked out of the country and I don’t think that the discussions around ‘immigrants’ that fuelled the Brexit vows are meant against people like me. At least I’d like to think so.

However, it still leaves a bitter taste. There are people in this country, and from what I gather the majority, that don’t understand. People that go with propaganda, the same kind of propaganda Hitler once used. Of course it works, and if you get enough critical mass, you will win a petition.

I am hoping we won’t execute on the petition. There are so many rumours at this point in time, that we will never leave the EU and that article 50 to start exiting the EU will never be executed. We will get a new Prime Minister, the opposition will fall apart over the next couple of months, re-elections etc. The country will reset. The majority of people that are leading the country will have seen the fall out by then, the damage already done, and will do their utmost to stay within the EU or make sure that the impact of us ‘leaving’ will be minimised.

Brexit

Where does that leave us?

I think we stay of course. We are settled here, grew our roots. However, it will leave a bitter taste of knowing you are less welcome that you ever were. That the majority of this country doesn’t understand the wider consequences. Democracy doesn’t differentiate between people’s intellect. And quite frankly it shouldn’t. We are living in a democratic state. And hence I am confident that the government will look at the petitions, the damage done so far and will paddle back. Just in time to limit the damage.

And over the years we will see other countries doing the same, until eventually, the EU will fall apart. Until another person, state or power will try to reunite us again….this is up to the younger generation, which luckily are the future of this country. And they overwhelmingly voted to stay in.

There is hope.
There is a future.

Let’s work positively towards a better Britain, remaining in Europe!

PS: By time of publishing, this might be already out of date. Things unravel very quickly here in the UK.

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Sunday Column (386)

This week started off wit some travels. On Wednesday morning I went off to a conference in Rome. It is a great opportunity to network with senior industry peers. It is the second time I attended this conference and often the Festival of Media is referred to as “little Cannes”. I will give full account on our corporate blog if anyone is interested. However, as expected, the conference delivered on some awesome contacts, ideas and talks. Media is changing, accelerating. I am excited.

meditation

On the flight over I finished a series called “Collision”, about a car crash, death and ‘random’ connections. Everything is down to chance. Life that is. The moment you make a decision you go for it. That’s why sometimes we don’t want to make decisions. We procrastinate. And then chance plays into our life. Or is it faith. Can we predict life? Not really. Another plane crash this week. No one knows why. Terrorism, or pilot, or technical fault. Awful!

We must believe in the great there is to come. To focus on success and to not worry about setbacks. If we believe long enough in our higher calling, others will start too. One will always find negativity in life but energy only flows to what we give attention to. And those must be the happy and positive moments. The high moments of life. This one was definitely one of those higher weeks.

At time of starting to write this blog, on Wednesday morning’s flight, I can already name a few highs. My wife and I had a brilliant night and laugh on Sunday. We are still in love and look after each other. Despite setbacks we focus on the positive things.

Of course this isn’t always easy. We aren’t that happy with the bathroom (see earlier post for context) but it is all done now. We hope to not having to replace the bathtub. Even if we do, we will learn from it and move on from it. This experience has been very stressful.

And then, my oldest went away for a day with Beavers. He got a badge. And he got one for his little brother too. They were both mighty proud. And they are happy. The little one woke me up the night before my flight. I gave him a big hug, kiss and cuddle. It was nice to see him and hold him before being away. Two nights, three days, sometimes seem like an eternity. And when finalising the post, there were countless others. Go and find your highlights, focus on them. The run around Vatican City before 730 am? Beating the bicycle going up the hill? Meeting this awesome CEO, or getting this campaign finally off the ground?

There are a few loose ends in my life. Of course there are. Some are only in my brain and I am trying to work out why they are there and how I best deal with them.

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Watching that movie and meditating on some of those challenges, I must trust things will work themselves out. Trust and faith into the future and the chance of it all happening the way you envisaged life. Patience. Sometimes waiting is the hardest part and showing stamina and patience can be very difficult. Because life will always work itself out. It always has done. It always will. So I am sitting back and practise patience.

It’s like when looking back in life. How your childhood experience influenced your university choice, and your choice of fraternity your value system and friends. Your first job, which most took because it was out there, and the big plan we had for ourselves. Still all to come or already achieved? How will the next decision influence our life looking back? The car we buy, the builder we trust or the school we choose for our kids. The activities and influences we engage in. Similar, in a few months time I will look back at this busy period, where we made decisions, learn from the outcome and realise why certain decisions were good when we made them. And, at the same time I have another few loose ends to tie up. Life repeats itself. Every 6 months you are faced with a major decision and something will change in your life. At least that’s true according to a theorist I listened to back in 2004 when moving to London. It doesn’t always work out that way.

What an intense week. A great week. Then that feeling when you look out of the plane window high above the Alps. Above the mountains. I used to do that trip every week. I feel so high – not on drugs – yet on opportunities and possibilities in life. Life is so amazing and embracing it is key. Hugging those little people that missed you. Almost missing your plane because you had to buy them some chocolate. And then you have all weekend to make up for being away.

Life is amazing. I don’t travel next week. For better or worse. Yet I get a lot of work done and rescheduled a few meetings. It gives me opportunities. Life happens whilst you are busy planning other things. Embrace it.

Have a wonderful week,
Volker

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