Posts Tagged london

Sunday Column (461)

No train on Monday. This week was half term, and I damn well enjoyed myself. Sorry, but I really did. Let’s start with last weekend, when on Sunday we went off to Bracknell to the UK’s longest water slide. A bit of shopping first, and then we headed to the pool, which turned out to be a bit disappointing and the slides a bit dangerous with both boys falling off the rafts inside the slides. Nevertheless, the swimming was fun, lots of water plays and two tired boys at night. That night I managed to sleep close to 10 hours myself and prior to that we had a great steak and chips evening in the Beef Eater adjacent to our Premier Inn. What a way to start a short vacation, and despite previous experience, the Premier Inn was really nice. And unlimited chips too (so much about my diet 🙂 ).

On Monday and Tuesday we were in Legoland. I so desperately wanted to stay in the hotel, that we decided to do that over half term and we chose an adventure room. It was fun, a great themed hotel room, a riddle to open the safe for a toy, and two days of rides and food. What not to enjoy? The possibility to spend time with my two boys and the wife was great. I haven’t had that for a long time and feel like I have been away too much travelling recently. But that is going to stop for a few weeks I suppose, that’s what I think anyway. So time to make up for it and even go down a roller coaster ride. Really? Yup, I did, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. And if I am not mistaken, it was the first time I ever went on a roller coaster. I know…I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to fairground rides. The Ninjago ride/game was great, despite the 90 minute queuing time and the laser ride in the pyramids was fun as well. Probably my two most favourite rides. Yes, Legoland is a great place to be, but after two days, I was done with it. I had enough to be honest. I was “lego-d” out. The most fascinating bit was probably the Star Wars exhibition.

The last day of my half term we went to London to get the boys new German passports. With Brexit lurking and the world being a not so safe place, you never know which passport will be best in the future. So off we went and also spend a sunny day on the Southbank. A boat ride, a relaxed swing on the exhibition in the Tate Modern and lots of tube and train journeys. Just what the boys enjoyed. We skipped the Emperial War Museum and saved it for a rainy day. Yes, another successful day, and three tired out boys in the family 🙂 Time to go back to work, so I did exactly that on Thursday. Not without having a huge pizza and some wine on Wednesday. Back to the diet as of tomorrow, right?!

At time of writing I am still looking back at the experience. What a fun packed week, and when leaving the house on Friday morning after my run, the boys and the wife were still asleep, catching up on the much needed sleep and dealing with the experience of the week. What fun we had! Even a few days away can make such a difference and on the back of it we ignited the Lego fun again. My wife organised a new shelf to organise the Lego and I got myself the BMW R1200 Lego Technic motorbike to build for the weekend. The boys and I put it together on Saturday and on the way I explained them how engines work, mechanics works and what traction for wheels is like. Time to get my hobby car, the Jaguar. Maybe next spring depending on the situation moving forward. We shall see.

As they say, life happens when you are busy making other plans.

And as I read the papers, the noise around a no Brexit deal is getting louder. There is a chance for Brexit, maybe even later than 2019, and there is a chance for a no Brexit deal or even a no Brexit. Two options to not go ahead, or really one to go ahead without a deal and one without a Brexit if that makes sense. I believe that slowly this country comes around and realises the implications a Brexit might have, and that already a lot of banks moved to Europe in order to avoid the uncertainty.

Uncertainty, whether one is out of a job, looking for the next step, waiting to hear about some results, or living in a country to exit a union, is never a good situation. It is, as it says, uncertainty. A situation where one doesn’t know what happens and naturally humans seek security and certainty. Yes, we also need uncertainty, and the 6 human needs clearly show it, but mostly in a controlled fashion in forms of adventure or entrepreneurship. We don’t want to live with constant uncertainty, at least most people don’t. In other words, living in a country with an uncertain future and having an uncertain future, is a combination that doesn’t make life easier. Should one stay or should one go, carry on or do something new? With every uncertainty comes opportunity and as my boss used to say, change is good. Life is good too, did you notice that? Where focus goes, energy flows.

I watched a video recently where, in an experiment, people were put on a line and everyone who had to never worry about money, always had food, always could go to school, never had to worry about a roof over their head etc. took a step forward for each of those priviliges. Priviliges they cannot even pat themselves on the back for. Having a warm home, enough food and the ability to learn gives my children a head start. I am glad I can provide that and hope that in the future I can do even more. Because they are my first priority in life, and nothing should ever change that.

So before I go on about uncertainty and priviliges, I look at the upcoming sun, with a mind like water, and trust that the universe will help me to get where I am supposed to be in the future.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (436)

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

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

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

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

Isn’t life wonderful and full of surprises?

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

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

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (432)

The joys of travel makes it almost enjoyable to sit on an old Southern train on a Friday, bumping in the seat, as I go into the office. The usual routine is back and I had a chance to see both the wife and the kids before I headed out of the house. The life I chose to be living. As I finalise this piece, my kids are sitting in their PJs entertaining themselves, the wife is making lovely bacon butties and I have a strong cup of Joe. Saturday, sunny, and maybe a BBQ on the cards. Life can be pretty awesome.

Friday, and that is not what I anticipated, a terror attack in Stockholm. As I said on Twitter, I was in Stockholm when it happened in London and I was in London when it happened in Stockholm. My friends are safe in Stockholm. I am shocked. I said it then and I say it now, we will see more of those attacks. Terror. Not a lot of casualties but fear. Cheap, little preparation. Stay safe everyone. Then there was Syria. Wow. I don’t know what to say but I am more scared of stupid people than of smart people. And you know what I mean by that.

Anticipating how the week would develop, see comment above ‘or not’, I started my ‘new routine’ this week of flying into Germany for a few days with a lazy Monday night. That was very much needed, and deliberately planned. So I started the week with a long sauna session followed by eating healthy salad, watching ‘The motorcycle diary’, a story about Che Guevaras. The right thing to do. Balancing your life.

I cannot say I know much about him, but he travelled and experienced a lot new input biking across South America. I have not travelled much to new and exotic places (yet) however lived in different cultures since I have been 16. That’s a different experience. A different input. So watching the movie and for Che Guevaras to realise that he is no longer the one he was, stroke a cord with me. I am no longer the me I was when I lived in Germany 16 years ago. Or in the USA 20 years ago. Life moved on and experience took over, and one got busy having a family and all. But we are still we, aren’t we?

Those experiences determine how we react. For our German team we did a personality test (red=driven, blue=organised, yellow=creative, green=team person) which determines your main character. Similar to Meyers Briggs this test just looks at your favourite personality treat but uses colour to determine your preference (see above as a rough guide). I am, of course, red. Driven, determined and GSD (getting sh* done). I strive on productivity and love getting lots done doing two jobs at the time. I try to not let anything slip through the net, but cannot promise to go into every little detail as necessary. That is a challenge for me but as they say, it is interim. This interim position got a lot of traction in the German press which I sincerely enjoy. See my Linkedin profile for details.

So whatever made you the person you are, determined your connections between your left and right brain, and whichever experience helped you to be who you are and achieve what you got, you will always go back to your childhood values. Can you tell I have been in Germany, getting back to making those long winded sentences (Schachtelsatz) 🙂 Values often don’t change but come out in different ways. The basic you, the one that doesn’t change, is still there, even after all those years and experience. And this is what I find fascinating, to still get adjutated (sometimes) with the same things by getting a trigger in Germany. Pushing the button on small things that I had long forgotten. That includes words, actions and attitudes. An amazing muscle/brain memory function of going back and making those connections mentioned above.

As I start writing this post I am about to take off from Hamburg. A lovely city. A nice city. It is funny how every airline seems to take off slightly different, like a different driver of a taxi, getting used to Eurowings. Moving forward I will go back to Easyjet at least for the outbound journey due to a) costs and b) convenience. Also, in all honesty I enjoy the extra challenge of having two jobs on one company, however difficult it is to manage sometimes. It is fun and satisfying. I strive on a challgene and love the company I work for. I do. And the more challenging it gets, the better the job right?

So I managed to wrap up the week from London and focus my energy on my two little boys over the weekend. Actually I don’t think they are that little anymore. It is great to see them again and make sure they know I am still there and love(d). I cannot wait to spend more time with them over Easter. I managed to bring back some new Pokemon and some Pokeballs. And some Gummibears of course and NicNacs which are still not available in the UK. Allegedly, so I heard years ago, there is some licensing issues around it. You’d never knew.

With those thoughts about the constant evaluation of life and work, character and personal destination, I want to close for the week. I can see an increase in downloads for my book which is nice and encouraging and hope it helps people to organise their life’s systems. Link on the right hand side.

Have an amazing week ahead of you.

Love and kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (403)

What a week! It ended with a walk today where I took this picture:

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Never know where your path is leading to. Yet you have to trust your intuition and faith. Take massive actions towards your goals. Be you. Succeed. You will be ok.

However, the week started with an amazing Adtech event. ATS, Exchangewire own Ad Trading Summit, which I have been attending since the summer of 2010. Ciaran put on an amazing line of speakers, insights and discussions around the real time bidding, programmatic advertising technology market. Well done! This was amazing. An industry get together. A catch up with publishers, suppliers, vendors, media owners and tech heads; geeks and friends. This year felt special, as I find that the industry is growing up, and maybe because there were a few acquisitions announced or talked about, a big tech IPO due soon, and all of those rumours bring the excitement back. dmexco is the largest global online and digital market show. It’s predecessor used to be a competitor show to one I launched and the founders of dmexco once offered me to join them for a sales role. Maybe I should have….hindsight. Anyway, 10 years on my friends have done very well and it is the second time this year, in the aforementioned 10 years, that I haven’t been to Duesseldorf (OMD) or Cologne (dmexco). That’s ok though.

My focus has changed. Not only do I feel more UK focused, I also feel more inward focused, both from a job and a personal perspective. I feel like my new job and challenge is what I was seeking. It is something that uses a different part of my brain, makes me use my intellect and people skills, yet has less pressure on sole revenue figures. Less travel. More home time. Less email strain. More fun. It is a change, and I openly say it, but it feels right and a change for the better. And I am not only saying that. I am convinced this is the step in the right direction. Thanks for the opportunity!

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When you, like me, see an industry growing up. Changing. It feels great. When you are told that you put companies on the market and my name is in line with ‘TV Sync’, it is nice to hear. I achieved something. I made people rich, as someone said, but I also made myself rich. Not in terms of cash but in terms of experience, in respect to contacts and reputation. I am thankful for that. And whilst this sounds like a bit of a funeral speech, I am looking back at my career and feel like I have finally arrived. It has been a good journey, and it will continue to be amazing: that I am sure about. I feel a lot more balanced and content. Isn’t that a good thing? And I haven’t really started yet, have I? My careers is only started, the most important part has just begun.

The remainder of the week flew past. Meetings. Training. Pitches. Management. Kids up late. TV watching the100. New trainers. And on Friday: the Apple Watch. Wow wow wow. Steve. You would have seen a predecessor of that beast. I feel like 2011. When I researched tablets and realised the only device that does what I want and all others are modelled on is the iPad. When I searched for fitness devices 18 months ago I could find the one that was right for me. Garmin was the closest but it wasn’t wearable tech. Now with the Apple Watch I have the fitness tracker and wearable tech in one. I was waiting for it. What a treat. Given I only used it for a weekend, I am impressed by the technology. I mainly used it as a fitness device and still figure out which other added value it has, besides being a gadget and makes me use my phone less often for things like checking the weather, emails, timers, stock market and so on.

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And the kids? The kids settling in well in school and enjoy the time with the child minder. The wife started her journey back into work. Life is changing once again. It is a good change, feels like we are growing up. As a family. We went to London this weekend too. We can do things. We can experience things together. The boys understand it. They gain from the experience. It is a joy. We went to London Borough market, a bit crowded and more touristy than we remember it from 10 years ago. Then the underground and DLR to the Emirates cable car. Did you see my live video on Facebook? I was a bit scared to be honest but enjoyed the day out with the kids. When they wanted to buy books, yes physical books, I couldn’t deny them the educational piece, could I. Back home via Victoria with a bus. Yes, we love living close to London. Next time we are eying up the London Eye and maybe a river boat journey. We shall see.

And during my meditation and walks, I every so often get reminded to not take things for granted. To treat each moment as being precious. To be sure I cherish the love of my family. To be thankful for what we have. What we can give and the difference we can make. The responsibility we have for our life and the life of others.

I meditate on it often. I am feeling blessed and truly grateful.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (391)

This week’s highlight was Cannes I suppose. As every year, at least for the past 3 years, I went to the Cannes Lions where the adtech and martech industry is celebrating itself (actually it is the creative industry and we hijacked it, but that’s for another time). Lots of meeting, lots of yachts, Rose, fun, booze, dancing (not me), an Irish pub and football, good meetings and new developments. A great event. A bit too hot for my liking, national strikes on the way home, but eventually I made it back. I missed my family most of all, and whilst a lot of people think that Cannes is all fun, it is also hard work – just in a very nice (!) environment.

As a matter of fact the week was very productive. Good outcomes that should bear fruits in the near future. The only bitter taste is that last year the Uber strike made it difficult to get home. This year a national strike affecting the airport as well. Air France called off a strike. Some people got stuck. Some missed international connections. What is happening? France just doesn’t come across as a good country does it. But then….

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Then our vote on Thursday. Brexit. I was surprise hearing from someone that he voted to exit the EU. Anyone with a decent education and common sense should have voted to remain. At least this is my opinion. I awoke in shock. 52% of the country voted for a Brexit. The UK is leaving the European Union. You might have seen my comments on Facebook. I am sad. I didn’t expect that. Friends posted from Cannes that investors started withdrawing money from the UK right from 1 am, when the results pointed towards Brexit.

Where does that leave us as a family? Will we stay in this country I chose to live in and have a family? Will we move to Germany, Australia, New Zealand? What does it really mean? I have always said that history repeats itself, the European Union will come to an end at some point. I anticipated this happening via a few bankruptcies of countries and then the union deciding to unravel. Now Britain decided to leave. Scotland will now most probably leave the Great British Union, then Northern Ireland. Will we then see England being on its own?

And as is stands, a few people that wanted to ‘vote against the system’, never believed their ‘exit vote’ would count. Never mind. We just got through a recession, we are in growth mode and what we do not need is about five years of uncertainty, trouble and bad relationships with our neighbouring countries. Would, post 5 years, things get better? Maybe, but not guaranteed. Let’s face it we are better in than out. And also we don’t really symbolise as a country that we welcome foreigners and immigrants. People we need, the country needs, to fuel growth. As someone said, the people that voted to remain are the ones able to leave; whilst the ones that voted to leave won’t be able to leave and will get the brutal force of the exit. It also seems that more older people voted to exit, whilst the younger generation would have preferred to stay. Democracy I suppose: every vote counts the same.

FT comment on Brexit

FT comment on Brexit

Some predict that five years from now we will see a better and stronger Britain. Will we? Maybe. I always say to trust in the future and that things will work out, and that the universe will sort things out. Yes, I say that. Yes, I believe it. But who is influencing it. In our own little world, it would be us. In the greater world, it might be people we cannot trust anymore. Or can we? I am shell shocked. I am feeling sick and lost at the same time. Sick of thinking that you can build something that lasts. A house, a home for the family. Build to last for 20+ years for the kids to grow up in a stable environment, for us to go to work, go on the occasional holidays and have a good life. All that was put at jeopardy now? For what gain? Or will it all come good? Will we be looking back in 5 years time and say that it was the right decision for the future of our country? Will I have a British passport by then? Might I work in Germany, living in England? I guess only the future will tell.

To early to make any rush decisions I suppose. Politicians would have to come up with answers. Quickly. We need leadership and guidance, a plan to become a great nation and to offer employment, security and stability for the people in this country, no matter what their background is. London already said they would put all wheels in motion to help people to stay; a petition to have another referendum was already signed by over 1 million people. I just hope I can stay … will be made welcomed (again) but according to the legislation, after the next two years, I might not be eligible to stay. I was crying. I was in tears watching the news. I didn’t expect this. And I have the responsibility (with my wife) to bring my children up in a country with opportunity and in a stable and secure environment. The next year or so will show whether or not Britain can continue to deliver that. Or England as it looks atm, given Scotland’s looming referendum.

The dust will settle and hopefully settles quickly.
All will be good in the end I suppose. I shall and will not panic.
I don’t believe I ever have to leave the country, probably easily get a passport, but do I want to stay in the long term?

Let’s change the topic:

As you know I am writing a lot on productivity and life life balance. There was an article I read this week about why do we work so hard. A rather long article but well worth a read. Mark Zuckerberg originally shared it on Facebook. It gave some insights on our love for hard work. Quote: “It wasn’t the stress of being on the fast track that caused my chest to tighten and my heart rate to rise, but the thought of being left behind by those still on it.”

Is it perception that drives us? Is it what others think?

Having been, more than ones, in difficult emotional situations, I realise that most of what makes us worry, makes us think, flight or fight, is based on our thoughts. Our brain wiring. Coffee or alcohol can accelerate your thinking and emotional stress. Constant input from emails, tasks to finish, things to do, to remember etc etc. brings strain upon us. We don’t want to fail and want to be winning! Being available all the time and not being able to wind down will become, naturally, challenging for ‘human kind’. If I say human kind, I say that with a distinct thought that we must start to relax more often, take breaks, evaluate what is happening. We should not be constantly available and rely on people getting back to us via emails.

Whilst I am working on my next productivity book, I see the need for disconnection. For down time. There is no way that it is sustainable, let alone productive, to be constantly connected and constantly in touch with everyone. I manage to not check emails and work related things at the weekend. Quite frankly this is down to having no time and all priority on the family. This again happened this weekend.

After being away and really missing the boys, not being able to find the key rings they asked for, I took them to the Zoo on Saturday. That was my highlight. My wife was away at the weekend, so the boys and I went on the adventure to the London Zoo. We left early in the morning, spend 4.5 hours in the zoo, walked 12,000 steps (10K) and had lots of sweets, ice cream and FUN! They were knackered. They loved it. They had a fab day and I didn’t have to shout once. Being able to fulfil their needs and care about them, is fantastic. The possibility to engage with them, bonding and creating shared experience. We missed mummy of course 😉

I hope you had a great weekend too.

Enjoy the time you have with your loved ones and with the ones that are dear to you. Uncertain times ahead, yet let us hope that things will always work out in the end. Because they will.

Have a good one,

Volker

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Tonight in the tube

People in London don’t talk on the tube. Yet, an elderly person did. We chatted about the cramped decision on the tube and whether I did that every day.

I said: I did. Crazy, he said.

When asked for my accent and where I was from, someone else got involved.

In a slight English accent but perfect German he said: My wife is from Paderborn; this is about 30 minutes from my home town.

A small place this earth.

A nice place this London.

I thought this was worth sharing.

Cheers,
Volker

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Roofs of London

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London is changing

London is changing. The biggest change is at Victoria currently. You see that building you cannot see anymore. That is where I had my first job/office in London. Almost 10 years ago.

Never mind.

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I love #London

Today I was walking a bit in London.
Isn’t it beautiful?

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London Commute: Battersea Powerstation

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