Tag: linkedin

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 It is a bit out of date, and I believe the download link doesn’t work anymore.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

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 Β£200,000 – 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?!

Sunday Column (73) – communication on Facebook?

Now, this week there is so much to talk about that I save it for next week. However, there is something I thought I write about, and that is social media. Again, you might think.

My wife ALWAYS makes a point of telling me anything that is going on with Colin prior to putting it on Facebook. And, I appreciate that very much. However, I am sure there are a few dads/mums out there that see their child grow up on Facebook.

So this is not about having a go at anyone but a general question of influence of social media towards our lives. Now let’s think of the following situation: a husband leaves the house in the morning after changing his daughter’s nappy around 7:30. He comes home around 7 pm from work and feels exhausted. By that time his wife had a busy day with the daughter, seeing her speak, walk, and grow up.

Dad however thinks that he is losing out, so during the day he logs on to Facebook and discovers that his wife keeps posting videos of first steps, pictures and many comments on other babies’ sites. It looks to him as if his wife is enjoying herself, sees the daughter grow up and has all time in the world to comment on other mummy and baby sites. However, he also only sees on Facebook how his baby daughter is developing.

How do we live these days, and what is it I want to communicate with this story?

It is simple. Life is getting more and more complex. We (generally) don’t have time to meet with friends, exchange notes and sit down to discuss things. Instead, we are always busy, striving for more action and achievement. Hence we are trying to fit our social life in a little box which currently is Twitter or Facebook. That is where we share, connect or download the information we are in control of. It becomes our newspaper, our blog and our website, our “shout out place”.

And to talk about a child growing up is nothing different. Life is for sharing, isn’t it? But if one person uploads all the information, e.g. videos, pictures and the other person is only downloading the information due to lack of time, one person loses out. The person that cannot physically be there because life has gone too complex to actually be there in person to see his daughter grow up.

These thoughts make me chuckle and worry at the same time. On the one hand it seems nice that we have the ability to download any information, including death of relatives, growing up of children or first / last steps from a website. But, on the other hand, I am worried about the relationships we create, the relationships between people.

The classic and basic communication model suggest that you have a sender, then disturbance, and a receiver. If this disturbance might become Facebook, or communication changes completely to “Sender-Facebook-Disturbance-Facebook-Receiver”, you end up with more factors where communication can go wrong, and does go wrong.

To all those couples where the partner is not as sensitive as my wife, please think about the above. Think about what you share on Facebook and how it may be perceived. Our information surplus and our need to communicate make social media websites strive, however, that doesn’t mean that you can live a relationship through social media or see your kid grow up on Facebook. Because you cannot make them there either πŸ™‚

Have a good week with some human touch.
Cheers,
Volker

Digital Marketing Thoughts

Ok, I admit it. On Sunday afternoon, just before the game, I had one of those moments. I thought I had to write a blog post about Digital Marketing and why and how it works. Here are those thoughts:

I spoke about Inbound Marketing on my blog before. The idea of inbound marketing is that, particularly online, you as a company or individual make enough noise to be seen and getting interest. This interest is then converted into sales. I know that is over simplified, but that is basically it.

To do that, e.g. making enough noise, a lot of companies use Social Media these days. Twitter to form an opinion or to build a brand, maybe a Facebook page, some Facebook discussions, a group on LinkedIn or just a good blog that gets quoted within the industry. Speaking at events is usually welcomed, or sponsorship at events to associate a brand with a sport, e.g. Rolex and Golf as an example.

Now, there is another way of creating awareness. I recently, as you know, entered the online display arena with a company that executes media plans across ad exchanges. That means we can buy inventory more cost effective and get a greater reach for less money than using ad networks for instance. This brand performance can be used solely for branding or it could be used for branding in association with direct response to actually measure the ROI straight away, similar to search marketing.

Another way is to use TV of course. Maybe less targeted (until IPTV comes into play) and of course more expensive. However, the costs of producing a good display ad (creative) or TV advert might differ, but both shouldn’t be neglected.

To my mind, and thanks to Kotler, the 4Ps are still valid. Product, place, price, promotion. People buy because they know a product or a brand and they saw it in a place or associate it with a certain status. Then the price….that is tricky but general speaking if one really likes something, one will be able to afford it. So now, the promotion, is really what I am talking about.

Looking at a Digital Marketing Strategy, there are only a few ways to think, and these ways are 90% online and 10% offline (or all online) and to have the right mix between inbound and outbound Direct Response. What do I mean with that?

1st:
As a brand you need to create a lot of awareness. Brand performance is the newest word I use for that. To do that you can use a mixture of TV and Display Advertising with a measurable KPI, e.g. sign-ups or voucher code use. This way you don’t only spend money on a big brand reach and awareness campaign but you start from the beginning to focus on your ROI for every penny you spend.

2nd:
User Engagement. Again: competition or user codes, discussions in forums or blogs, feedback and research rounds, social media like Facebook and Twitter. Having all that combined and using the feedback you are getting from your customers to improve your service and products is key.

3rd:
The trick is to utilise the user engagement (2) and turn that into sales. Using DR (direct response) channels like Display (DR & brand awareness = brand performance), PPC (DR but also brand awareness), social media, and Email campaigns. That means you are turning your brand performance into DR and get a list of hot leads.

4th:
Use good sales people and close those hot leads. Using their feedback and good account management skills for client engagement to make sure clients are happy.

5th:
Feed all those information back into your system – CRM Software. That means you have a feedback loop and know exactly which channel worked best, where to spend more money, where to spend less money and which channel gives you the greatest ROI. Measuring, comparing, adjusting.

It sounds simple but there are a lot of things where brands do go wrong. And, don’t forget, not every user is the same, and not every brand either πŸ˜‰

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on my Digital Marketing Ideas.

Volker

Patience or Impatience….

As some of you know, I can be quite impatient. Mainly, I want to get things done. I like to cross things off my to-do list and get on with the next task. I hate waiting and hate to let others wait. Hence, I am constantly stressing what might happen, or what might be. So naturally, I feel like the grass is always greener somewhere else, and always seeking best opportunities. I hate to stick around places just for the sake of being somewhere……

Anyway, this is not all bad news, and being impatient can have some advantages. However, it can have disadvantages too.

Do you know the feeling? You just need to get something done to cross it off the list, although it could be done tomorrow. Prioritising?! Or is it just organising? Or is it impatience. Depends on the circumstances I suppose.

I was never really good in sticking to a problem, trying to figure it out. It is mainly about “let’s try A, if that fails, try B”. I am hands on. I didn’t get a first class engineering degree by thinking too much about a problem but trying several possible solutions.

However, I have changed a bit, and I work less stressful nowadays. I live more in the now and with the help of mediation and relaxation techniques, I developed a good sense of patience. I still worry about the future, and I like to see what is on the other side, but I am actively practising how to perform better in the here and now without worrying too much about tomorrow or next year.

On Wiki-how I found an excellent article on “How to be patient“. A good start to look at things differently – what do you think?

Please note, the 10 rules have been shortened and you find a full review on the Wiki-how site.

1 Try to figure out why you are in such a hurry. We tend to lose our patience when we’re multi-tasking or when we’re on a tight schedule.

2 Pinpoint the triggers that often make you lose your patience.

3 Overcome bouts of impatience.

4 Look for patterns.

5 Let go if you can’t do anything about the impatience trigger.

6 Remind yourself that things take time. People who are impatient are people who insist on getting things done now and don’t like to waste time. However, some things just can’t be rushed.

7 Expect the unexpected. Yes, you have plans, but things don’t always work out as planned. Accept the twist and turns in life gracefully. Keep your expectations realistic.

8 Give yourself a break. The meaning of this is twofold. First, take a few minutes to do absolutely nothing. Just sit quietly and think. […] Second, stop holding yourself and the world around you to unreachable standards.

9 Remember what matters. Not focusing on what matters most in this life fuels impatience.

10 Always remember that you will eventually get what you want

2010 – goals and objectives

At the beginning of this year, I was refocusing. And, as it happens, once a year, you sit down and reflect on what has happened and what you think might happen. New Year Resolutions!

2009 has certainly brought a lot of changes into my life. However, as I just said to my wife, we didn’t move and no one from our immediate family died. So it could have been much worse.

So for 2010, what are my expectations? My goals? My objectives?

I believe that health is on the forefront of all. Hence I am trying to stick to a more balanced diet, less overeating, not eating meat and cutting down on the lovely grape juice.

Certainty is another one, settling into a new job and doing the best I can to succeed in my new job and still being with the same company in a few years time. I am very excited about the prospects of starting something new and being able to direct and build a satellite office here in the UK. So growth is definitely on my agenda also.

And, of course, my family. Feeling loved and connected. Growing the family maybe, having a nice holiday and good times together. The icing on the cake would be to contribute to a charity more as I have done in 2009, e.g. instead of donating money, I would love to donate time and knowledge to a charity working with kids or the Guide Dogs Charity for example.

As you can see, all I want in 2010 is to satisfy my basic human needs. That is all. Additionally, it would be great to expand my personal development by practising more Buddhism and continue to write on all my blogs.

In a good NLP manner, I imagine sitting here in 12 months time, reflecting on 2010. Wouldn’t it be nice to say that I successfully launched a new company in the UK market, that my wife gave birth to a second child, that all of my family is healthy and that I managed to work on my personal development, also had time to give something back by supporting a charity. Maybe these are modest goals, but that is all I wish for.

To all of you, all the best for 2010. May all your dreams come true.

If there is a dream – there is reality!

Volker

Review of 2009

Dear Diary, Family and Friends,

Whilst I had many thoughts this year and published many ideas and deep thought pieces, it is always a pleasure to sit down just before Christmas and have a yearly review. Just a review of things that happened, things that should have happened and dreams I had, and of course dreams that came through.

Let’s start with work, not because it was the most important part in 2009, but to get it covered πŸ™‚ The year started with a big pitch and lots of work, many long nights and a great learning experience. However, it ended with my work not managing to secure the business. We had to make people redundant too, including one of my staff. It was a sad time at work. Privately, the times got more and more exciting, looking forward to my wife giving birth to our son in June.

I started writing weekly reviews as of March, just after the “big London snow” in February. The weekly columns helps me to keep track and sometimes I go and read them again. Our male cat Hansel for instance got his balls chopped off in February and we went to a Baby Show. Thinking about it, I still remember every minute of it, particularly the Baby Show πŸ™‚ We also changed our mortgage, thinking that interest rates had hit rock bottom. They hadn’t but we are still happy we have done it. A crystal ball could have helped with a lot of decisions this year. Santa, please put one under the tree this year πŸ™‚

Also in March I went to a conference in Oslo and had a very busy schedule leading up to another big pitch. On the private side of things, leading up to mid April, we had another scan and went to concert of Kate Rusby. Two weeks later I found out that my work closed the London office and since I couldn’t relocate to York, I had to find a new job.

Between anticipation of the arrival of Colin Heinrich Ballueder on June 12th, I went for interviews and could secure a new job which I started as of July this year. I was glad to not have to wait around for too long to find a new position and was very excited about the opportunity. However, as you know, things didn’t work out at the end.

I had never thought how Colin would have changed my life. Not only did you see my 8 weeks review, there was another one later on. He is great and we cannot wait to have another one soon. But when would be a good time? It was a steep learning curve for me to have a boy, and my focus shifted only slowly from “this is my wife’s job” to “I want to get engaged with my son”. I don’t want you to misunderstand this, but I think for someone who is very focused on his job and work, it is not the easiest to adopt to a baby. But, particularly with my time off in December and the great support of my wife Jenny – and of course the cutest smiles and laughs as of month four – I absolutely enjoy fatherhood.

In October I decided to get myself a career coach which helped me a lot towards goal definitions and motivations for my job and private life. Thanks to him, personal contacts, a lot of networking and long ongoing discussions, I decided to start a new exciting job as of January 2010. I think that the next year, from a work perspective, will be the most challenging and most exciting yet. And, whilst being a little bit scared of it, I am very much looking forward to making things happen. I will be starting a new technology service company for display advertising in the UK. The company already exists in Germany and I know the founder for many years. I appreciate his trust and I trust in him and his team’s expertise to conquer and grow in the UK market. Updates will follow next year but I can tell you that I am very much looking forward to it.

So, before we knew it, Christmas is here. I cannot believe that the recession might be over, I changed jobs twice and that my wife gave me the greatest of all gifts: a healthy boy. And, that I was blessed with a lot of family time this year too. (PS: of course we will still feel the recession for years to come unfortunately, but things will get better!)

Below are two pictures we took in the recent snow. My parents have been over to visit recently, and we are looking forward to seeing my mother in law for Christmas and finishing the year with a reflective detox. With us maybe having the last ever Christmas turkey as we might go 100% vegetarian (or Pescetarianism) next year, this Christmas, and with it being Colin’s first Christmas, it will be a very special one.

Wherever you are, we hope you have a peaceful Christmas. This year, more than any year before, made me appreciate what I have, that I am healthy and how well we are doing.

We wish you love and kindness from our home in Kent, just outside London.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

With Love from Volker, Jenny & Colin