Posts Tagged linkedin

Sunday Column (320)

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

Otherwise it as an interesting week. Monday started with a busy, but not manic day. That means, in work terms, it was almost not a lot going on, when you can stay on top of things…or is it just mental any other day. Anyway, of course the week changed quickly. By Friday we were running around like headless chickens again ๐Ÿ˜‰ And next week is end of month. I have a day trip to Germany and overall I have a lot going on. But that’s the way I like it. Always nice to have a few days where you can just cope ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Oh and oh no…you might remember that not only did I attend a Facebook event but I also went back on Facebook. At least for a few hours to post our shed which we wanted to sell locally. That’s me breaking my Facebook detox ๐Ÿ™‚ Is Facebook the new Loot, the new FridayAd, the new Gumtree? For me it is and it makes perfect sense. We also managed to sell the shed in wake of us getting a custom one built next to the house. Work is halfway done and should be finished next week. We already ordered the alarm for the shed, the new garden hose, the Karcher, and the list goes on. I am very excited to see the finished piece that allows for more space in the garage to exercise…and for that I got new kettlebells, new flooring etc. I am very excited about transforming the space in the house.

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

As you can probably tell, we plan a lot in the house. Next is still the upstairs’ ceilings to be smoothened, the heating pipes to be stopped from banging, some electrical stuff and a new carpet. Once that is done we still need to do the bathroom and driveway but I guess that’s next year. Let’s not rush and I didn’t win the lottery yet. However, I already envisage the new spare bedroom with lots of productivity and chill out gadgets ๐Ÿ™‚ Poor wife!

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

Maybe I can use Facebook on a desktop only basis, only at weekends or something like that? Life was busy enough without it. I hardly have time for Twitter ๐Ÿ™ Unless I can moan about the train services of course.

This leads nicely to my topic of rail fares. I renewed my annual season ticket, ยฃ3808. We worked it out, cheaper than driving to work. It was a heated debate at the local dad’s night on Friday whether we get value for money, dependance on the trains, working from home schemes, flexible hours and of course whether we should all work from Hassocks. Maybe not. Again, we chose to live here, partly because of the school. Those are oversubscribed already, just extended last year already, and now they want to build another few houses. Something is not adding up.

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

Just one word on Productivity before I let you go: Germans rule productivity, e.g. they focus on getting their work done to have more spare time with their clubs. Makes perfect sense to me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Follow the link to see!

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

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

Let’s just hope the dog can stay ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a good week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (234)

Can you believe it is September? Show time. There are two conferences and two exhibitions I go to this month. Plus of course my usual work load and commitment. I am loving it. Fast pace. It is going to be a great month! All fired up!

But back to review last week. The night in the tent. It was better than anticipated yet maybe a bit early for the youngest. Having said that, maybe next year it will be great to get away as a family. Anyone selling a used tent?

The kids are my main priority at the moment. I really try to focus on them when I am at home. They stay up the odd night during the week, and in the mornings I see or hear them too. C now goes to the loo at night and then back to his own bed. Normal you might think, yet for me such a big step in his development. He is becoming independent. He is growing up so fast and starts school this week too. My eldest wearing a school uniform. It feels like he was just born yesterday. Where has the time gone?

I am still learning to do all those things the kids love. Letting go and go for kids’ stuff if you like. Reversing my growing up and stiffness a bit, and enjoying the involvement. Time will tell how much I succeed, however it goes in line with my Rotary and Buddhism really: others above yourself.

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It is weird writing this as I am, as repeatedly told over the last few weeks, very open with my feelings. Nothing to hide. Nothing to pretend. I am just a dad learning to get better every week, sharing my experience. Maybe I won’t be the best dad in the world, but I will try.

And you get so much back. Little anecdotes, learning patience, explaining the world, or persuading them to do something they don’t want to. Ignoring tantrums is another one. Leaving your phone turned off or out of reach. Being 100% in the moment with them.

Yes, having grown up with a dad that was home from lunch time, I still get used to be out of the house all week. This is particularly true after 3.5 months at home. I am the bread winner. C asked me if I enjoyed work, and when he is older, he likes to go to work too. And he will. He will, similar to me, become a ‘workaholic’. In a good way that is. I love my new job for instance, and I am not only saying that!

On Friday I organised a night out for the local Hassocks dads, as most of our kids will go to school together, most of the families have moved here over the past couple of years. It is good to see so many familiar faces as in the ‘everyday life of things’ we don’t manage enough ‘man time’. The odd chat at a birthday party between changing nappies isn’t enough. We will repeat that and make it a regular occurrence.

I am doing all that because I enjoy connecting to people. My LinkedIn network is growing daily and I decided this week (you probably read it) to send an email to all my contacts. It is a scary moment to think that you send over 3,000 people a message of what you have been up to recently. Yes, I do that every day on twitter and every week here on my blog, actually I live a very public life, however sending people an email was a new experience. I hope it was well received, it definitely was sent with good intentions. And most of the feedback was positive so far.

At the weekend I met with a really good friend from university. I haven’t seen her for 4 years, yet it was like I just saw her last night. What I mean by that is that it is great to have friends who you don’t see for a long time, then you see them again and it is like no time has passed. Thanks J!

This really concludes my thoughts of the week. Only my second week in the job yet I feel like I have been there forever. I am excited about the prospects. My first email campaign and lots of learning re my family. And a lot of networking on the way, meeting new and interesting people. That is what I do. That is what I enjoy.

Have a lovely first September week.

Love and Kindness.
Volker

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Leadership & Great Companies

I recently revisited the book Good to Great by Jim Collins which I read a few years ago studying for my MBA. Now, with the TED talk about inspiring leaders and its affinity to both NLP and DBM, it was time for another post.

“It is your Work in life that is the ultimate seduction”, Pablo Picasso.

In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and DBM (Development of Behavioural Models), you drill down on actions by asking:

– What do you do?
– How are you doing it?
– Why are you doing it?

With more modelling this goes deeper, however focusing on this three questions, and looking at the TED talk, we are looking to answer the question what a successful leader is made of, and what are successful companies made of:

– What does s/he do?
– How is s/he doing it? How is he leading, managing and setting example?
– Why is s/he doing it? What motivated the leader and makes him so good in what he is doing and how he is doing it.

The latter seems to be key to a lot of discussions around leadership. Hence in Jim Collins book it is about “good to great”, the “level5 leader”. As of the graph above, the level5 leader builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. S/he differs from the effective leader, e.g. level4, through the input of personal humility and professional will: the main difference is the personal involvement and drive rather than “just following a vision and stimulating higher standards”.

Now my first question that comes to mind is “incentive”: why would a leader be like that? What are the incentives for that?

It seems to me that most examples of level5 leaders are either owner managers or they seem to have a big share package ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of course just want to do it for the recognition but let’s be honest: does anyone really care if you have build a great company over a period of 5 years and you didn’t see any financial rewards from it? I don’t think so.

Of course there are personalities that focus on the larger goal of building a great company, and their ambition drives them on to be above and beyond themselves and only think and work for the organisation.

Another principle Collins introduces is the hedgehog concept, e.g. waiting and being on top of things rather than being a fox that tries all possibilities. Maybe not the best summary of the concept, but I am personally not convinced that this is the best analogy in the first place. It is about “focusing on one big thing” rather than diversifying (too much) and having not real focus.

Let’s have a look at the circles:
– What are you passionate about?
– What you can be the best in the world at?
– What drives your economic engine?

Anyone having achieved a Master Practitioner in NLP and has worked with coaches, coached people or is interested in personal development knows what s/he is passionate about. The fundamental will to live and what makes you tick and cry, what makes you feel complete. What gets you out of bed in the morning. Collins however looks at the company perspective here.

Same with the next circle, from a corporate perspective it is all about: what you are good at? Don’t try to build an engine if you don’t know anything about engineering and don’t try to be a doctor if you cannot see blood. What is it you are good at? What are your skills? This could be something your company is currently not involved in.

Now the economic engine: money and share options? Maybe if you look at this model from a personal perspective but Collins refers to the ROI of your business, how do you measure economic success for the company.

Let’s reflect for a moment: the circles don’t only apply to corporate success but can be equally used to look at personal success. Then, once modelled for the individuals of a company, or maybe founding members of a company, transferred into a model for a successful business. As one of my managers used to say: “I recruit people that I trust and I can work with, I can then teach them the details they need to learn” – personality plays a key role in who we work with and how we (and a company) become successful.

Reading the Collins book, he goes on and describes the use of technology and its importance for further greatness of companies. Definitely a must read book for any manager and aspiring leader.

And the latter is then responsible for keeping the momentum going, or as Collins calls it the “flywheel effect”. Once a company is going, and growing, one needs to look at the results, energize the people and build the momentum to drive the company forward. Not too fast, not too slow, and always looking at the underlying processes. Companies without the right processes, monitoring and feedback tools are prone to fail as control is everything. If you don’t know where your profits come from or whether you make money, you are doomed straight away, becoming a fox.

This sums up the key principles of successful companies by Collins and shows the resemblance between successful personalities/leaders and companies. Maybe another pointer to make a company “more personal” and look at it from a different perspective. What do you think?

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Google+ has hit it off with users….

Google+ has hit it off with users the world over who wanted to get the latest slice of technology on hands. There is a delirious response to the search giant’s newest social networking service, which is hyped by many to deal a death blow…

The international business times published an article on Google+ with some quotes, including mine ๐Ÿ™‚

You can read the full article here.

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Socially public

Now this post was triggered by Claire at the iMedia summit in Brighton. Her, and also John, were speaking about connections made through social media.

It is difficult to think where I best start, and what I really want to say. I was supposed to launch the social media unit of an agency back in 2009. It never happened but it gives me a certain authority to speak about social media. I also managed to get a corporate account up to 1,000 followers within 3 weeks. However, of course I never ran a social media campaign, or did I?

I have my blog. My blog links to Facebook and to Twitter. Twitter links to Linkedin, and my Linkedin profile of course has a link to my blog. Anyone searching for my name will find me, and find out what I do and where I am. The latter thanks to Foursquare which I recently joined (for good).

Now what is my reach? Just short of 1,200 followers on Twitter, over 2,000 connections on Linkedin, and about 160 friends on Facebook. With the latter I am very selective as I am happy to speak very openly about my feelings there which I wouldn’t do on any of the other sites. That is where I draw a fine line between personal and public social life.

But can there be a personal social life? I start to disbelieve that to be honest. I share my life, and I don’t mind. I am happy for John Smith to know that I just checked in at Victoria Station on my way home or that I am at work. He can read my blog and find out how much I love my kids and wife. And I am happy to share my feelings, what I believe is special and what I have done all week. Not many people are interested, but more so my clients enjoy reading my blog. A client said the other day “you are on my Google reader”: I thought that was a compliment.

In our industry, digital and online marketing, we are not client and seller, we are friends with the same passion. Most of us anyway. It is about opportunities, creating value and not being one in a million. We share our lives without being shy about what we think. This industry is open, we share!

However, there is a small percentage of my life I prefer not to share. If my wife is ill, when my dog dies or when I look for a new job. No one’s business really. How bad would it be for me to share on Twitter that I need a new job before my employer finds out. Or for me to tell the world that a close friend died whilst I just have to keep up morale in a client pitch.

This is, luckily I suppose, the minority of my experiences. Besides I am happy in my job, I don’t have too many “problems” that I don’t want to share.

Hence for me the answer to the question whether you might want to have different profiles for a “work twitter” or a “personal twitter” is NO. You are one personality, you are one person. You are who you are, and of course, even Google has a profile of me.

So for me being engaged in social media, writing a blog and being active in and for our industry, I am happy to share. Twitter is me, my blog is about me, and Facebook is my private little online space reserved for closest friends.

I love it. A mini celebrity, somehow. Don’t you think? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Sunday Column (108)

A quick week lies behind us. I am trying to remember how Monday started, but can hardly remember. It was probably just life as usual.

Tuesday I went to a conference from the AOP where we discussed ad exchange optimisation and internal networks. The big agency groups were there and it was interesting to see all of the groups’ solutions surrounding ad exchanges. From my point of view, GroupM’s Jakob Nielsen presented his group’s solution very well. However, looking at the responses and discussion, I also believe things are still in early stages with most agencies. Probably this is a post in itself. However, those of you who have read mexad CEO’s article on DEM, DSP, WTF will understand that it is far too early to rely on technology and that only well trained and experiences people can handle the bidding well across all the ad exchange platforms. With the experience we have, we seem to be miles ahead, and it also seems as if our positioning is much clearer than comparable companies….as some seem to build networks rather than offering an independent service solution.

Enough about my little part of the industry. Besides ad exchanges, I listened to a lot of social media this week. I attended the imedia Brand Summit in Brighton. where I felt home in terms of social media and the overall state of the online industry. My main takings however are that when I was heavily involved in the search, social and mobile marketing side of things, that we discussed the same topics. I still don’t believe that some brands haven’t figured out all the ideas around Twitter, Facebook and Mobile advertising, don’t make use of search and put display into the mix. I don’t want to have a go, but it seems as if the same topics are discussed for over 3 years. It makes me think I should work more as a consultant to the online and digital industry. I believe I have the skills and the broader 360 degree view to do a good job. However, maybe my dream to become Marketing Director of a Whisky Distillery in the Highlands, earning a good living and living the life, will one day become true….but until then I stay put where I am, as I enjoy very much what I am doing. Now, we look forward to the agency summit in the summer. It will be another, more advanced discussion all around. Or will it?

Enough said about work, our part of the industry is still very young, and things are developing quickly. Now, I finished the week off with some visitors from Germany, e.g. Rohan’s godfather, who I have known for many years. Avoiding the awful demonstrations in London over the weekend, we managed to go to the Imperial War Museum, and Colin had a blast running around. We also managed to go through the odd bottle of vino and having a great time and conversation. Today I feel a bit knackered, given the fact the clocks went forward, and that I am still lacking sleep due to the wee one. So bring on another week…I’ll be fine.

Have a good one,
Volker

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ad exchanges or what is Ballueder up to?

Ok, this post is not the opinion of my company mexad but an article I wanted to write for a while. Many people, including my mum, ask me what I am actually doing all day? What is your company doing, and what is the landscape like? Are you still in digital marketing? So this article really is for my mum, so she understands what I am doing all day ๐Ÿ™‚

I worked in search marketing before, and PPC (pay per click) is synchronized bid management on keywords across multiple search engines like Google or Bing. Most people have understood that by now.

advertising landscape

advertising landscape

Now, I moved into display advertising or display optimisation in January, launching a company called mexad in the UK. What mexad or other Display Engine Marketing (DEM) agencies do, is providing a service (mainly) to media planning and buying agencies to access inventory on ad exchanges and optimise display media. We have our own technology that sits across ad exchanges and yield optimisers alike that effectively, similar to PPC, allows synchronized bid management across multiple ad exchange platforms – just that we don’t bid on keywords but on placements.

Ad Exchanges and Yield Optimisers, e.g. Right Media, Doubleclick ad exchange, Rubicon, Appnexus, Admeld and so on, are like a stock market where bidders like mexad bid on inventory and sellers, e.g. websites or publishers, offer their inventory (space for an ad). It is a market place where both sellers and buyers meet in real time. Depending on your target audience, cookies, audience data etc., you decide (or your bidding engine does it for you) whether or not to bid for any given impression and of course how much you want to bid. That is what people would call ad exchange optimisation.

Similar to search engine marketing, we can optimise towards targets, the main one being “CPA” – cost per action. That could be a newsletter sign up, a sales, or any action you want to measure. And, we only buy – in real time – inventory (space) on the ad exchanges that actually work towards the campaign objectives.

Mum, was that clear? We are like a stockbroker that decides how much we pay for any share and whether that share makes a difference for our clients’ business outcome. Just with a small difference that we are not limited to how many shares are available. There are billions of impressions to go around.

How do we differ to ad networks? Maybe mum should stop reading now ๐Ÿ˜‰

Networks traditionally have their own inventory, e.g. they need to fill space. They also work on a fixed price, that could be CPM (cost per 1000 impressions), CPA (cost per action), or CPC (cost per click).

Display Engine Marketing agencies like mexad buy across the exchanges on a CPM basis but pass on the price savings, e.g. working on a lower, dynamic CPM. We also offer different matrix, depending on campaign set up but cannot guarantee leads for example. This is because we are a service provider, not owning inventory and work with a much lower margin than networks. Additionally, mexad then optimises towards the best possible outcome for your campaign, and in case it doesn’t work, you can stop the campaign and don’t have to continue running the campaign. Similar again to PPC.

We can buy blind or fully transparent, again all that depends on what our clients want.

What are DSPs?

I might not be the best person to ask as mexad isn’t a DSP (demand side platform). A DSP, at least in my opinion, is a technology similar to the one mexad has in house but you can use it yourself. You might want to compare it to a search marketing bidding tool. However, there are dangers of using a “blackbox technology” across ad exchanges at this current market place which is still very young. The current market place is new, and only if you have experience and knowledge about each individual technology and exchange, you can make ad exchange optimisation work well. Mike Nolet, co-founder of Appnexus, writes that in one of his blog articles, that the current marketplace needs the human factor to achieve the best possible performance across multiple bidding platforms.

More coverage of our area can be found on Ad Exchanger.com and Exchangewire.com.

Of course, mum or anyone reading this, if you have further quesitons, please let me know. I love optimizing ๐Ÿ™‚

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Buddhism and Islands

In my daily newsletter, the following quote was displayed the other day:

Awake and rejoice in watchfulness. Understand the wisdom of the enlightened. By watching keenly and working hard, the wise one may build himself an island which no flood can sweep away. The thoughtless man does not care, but the attentive man looks on wakefulness as his greatest treasure. Meditate, and in your wisdom realize nirvana, the highest happiness. Dhammapada

I used to write those blog posts over at Balamadana but haven’t for a while. So I would like to share it here.

My Island Theory kind of fits with the above. It states that you move from island to island in order to develop, and only settle when you are where your body is in 100% harmony with your spirit.

The wise man building himself the island he can develop in. No one can touch him or his thoughts whilst he moving up through personal development. And, the island becomes a nice analogy for your little space. Doesn’t it?

If you are interested in the theory, let me know. It is a bit out of date, and I believe the download link doesn’t work anymore.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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Happiness

As promised I wanted to write more here. Now, this weekend in the Financial Times, FT Weekend Magazine August 28/29 2010, there was an article on Happiness. Nick Powdthavee reveals seven surprising new discoveries about happiness. Carl Wilkinson asks some happy people how they manage it. So here is the summary added with some of my thoughts.

Allegedly we overestimate the extend and duration of the emotional impacts of e.g. pay rise or death of a loved one. However what really seems to influence our happiness are things like family and friends. All we need to do is devote more time and energy into it, and we will be happier. But how should that work, where we spend most of the day working hard to earn more money to buy us happiness, like bigger cars, houses and more fun? A vicious cycle.

Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

What does that mean? Does that mean, similar to Buddhist theories, that the answer for happiness lies within us? Am I on the right track to discover what makes me happy inside me?

1) Money buys you little happiness: I suppose we already knew that. Not only do we spend more time with things we don’t enjoy (normally) that results in more money, hence we are less happy in order to earn more money? Studies show that poor people have a happier life than richer people because they focus on what they have (see above).

There is an interview with a mathematician saying “mathematics can help planning but doesn’t provide with all the answers“. I once met someone who thought that life can be explained by maths. I disagree but I believe that it is easier to comprehend life if you can put it into a formula. Look at great people like Pythagoras.

2) Friends are worth more than a Ferrari – again a disguise of money. Bigger house, bigger car…it is all in relation. How can you ever be content with what you have if you think that you have to have the most expensive item, the bigger item than your neighbour/peer?

3) Winning the lottery won’t make you instantly happy – Ok, I now see a clear pattern of this article. Again, money just let’s us being able to let go of worries like mortgages. If you are ill, have a disabled child and no friends, you are isolated, and money won’t help you change that.

A Likert scale puts values of “getting married” against money gain to compare it of ยฃ200,000 – how is that ever going to work. They don’t drill on this scale, but I believe that certain things, like getting married or having a child cannot and shouldn’t be measured in money. What about morale? Why do we have to put everything we do down to a value in money?

4) Losing your job makes you unhappy – but less so when others have too. I suppose if you look at the greater scale of things it damages your ego, but also your finances.

I begin to think that this article in the FT really tries to argue that happiness is not associated with money. However, when I read reason

5) Fat friends make you happier than thin ones, I was wondering. This has to do with comparison: if we think that people we really like are fatter and we compare ourselves to them and think we are better off, it makes us happier. Selfishness comes into play here big time. If someone else can eat, I can and still be slimmer than them.

Sir Tom Hunter who says that being rich makes him feel securer also adds that a positive attitude in life makes people happier, and ultimately achieve more. If you think that your glass is half full rather than half empty, you always will look for positive things and growth. This ultimately makes you achieve more things and you are pleased more with yourself. Makes very much sense to me.

6) Divorce can make you happy – it shows that if marriage fails and you break up, then you will get happier over time after your divorce. Now, this is another bad research if you ask me. If you are unhappy with ANY situation in your life, you would feel better and happier if you change that situation for the better. Common sense, no?

7) Happiness is contagious – happy people like to share their happiness with friends and family, so they ultimately get happier. They are happier, nicer, less hostile and their emotions are much more positive.

So overall an interesting article to evaluate whether you are happy, what you might want to change in your life to become happier.

I am happy: of course a lottery win would give me more security and more choice, but it wouldn’t make me happier. Success in my job, another healthy child, a healthy family will of course make me much much happier.

Nick published a book “The Happiness Equation” – in case you want to try to put it all in an equation?!

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