Posts Tagged philosophy

Sunday Column (501)

How are we doing? The height of summer and it is warm. Or it has been warm. Allegedly this is due to the jet stream not moving air and weather around the way it normally does, because there isn’t enough cold air above the Artic which means hot and cold air aren’t making the jet stream flow. See this article for a more scientific explanation. I did some research for this topic and want to share accordingly. But also as this heatwave goes on globally (!) there are more articles emerging, including one that had highlighted the high temperatures above the Nordic hemisphere being above 30 degrees Celsius for far too long, and higher than ever before 🙁

We shouldn’t complain, yet the heat gets to me. It’s not what I am used to. And I am probably too British to not complain about the weather. Either way, too good or too bad. What I really worry about though if that’s the start of global warming or if that’s a one off. The Independent says that our minds are ‘clouded’ with our own short term memory and that the weather might just be going through cycles and there is nothing unusual about it. On the other hand, of course, climate change results in spring happening earlier and the seasons being affected, yet is the heat wave down to climate change?

The Guardian on the other hand says the heat wave is due to carbon monoxide, and again not unusual but supported by climate change if I read and understand it correctly. So if I summarise, we should get used to the weather being more extreme and warmer in the spring, colder in autumn, seasons are shifting but the heat wave as such isn’t due to climate change on its own but more a result of a few factors coming together, which as such are also influenced by climate change. Not sure if that is all sensible or not? And surely the Arctic being warmer is due to global warming. Maybe it’s just another earthly cycle, which means we get a colder atmosphere and ice age again sometime too?

I cannot help myself but getting worried. And maybe it is because of the books I read like Sapiens and Homo Deus. The Doomsday scenarios of the world, historical and futuristic, are there. Should we put people in charge who think the world is going to end and we are all ending up in an escape pod or spaceship? Are we relying on finding a solution to the problems humans have created in the first place? On top of that we have Brexit, see my comment last week. Are we living in the most peaceful times on our planet yet instead of going after other nations and cultures we decide to kill ourselves via carbon monoxide emission, ocean pollution and all of the changes affecting our weather? And if that isn’t enough we start changing the political system to add a bit of spice to life? Sorry for a big rant 😉

We should just worry about everyday life, our jobs and families, about not having too much sugar and how we pay for our pension and mortgage. And maybe we should worry about AI and it taking over the world (Human Deus)? Shouldn’t we be happily engrained in society, helping others, and wonder what our kids want to do with their lives? Wasn’t that the life our parents had just one generation ago, or is that me painting a rosy picture of the past? Have I forgotten the struggles they had? Instead, we are worrying if the first person living to 150 years has been born, and if we all live past 100; and in the same breath we talk about our planet being destroyed and us having to go to space. I sometimes don’t really know what to think anymore. And maybe I should stop reading books like Homo Deus and just enjoy the weather as it is…. What do you think?

Given my nature, I just cannot stop thinking about the global impact of those changes. Over 25 years ago I was part of an environmental group warning about the pollution of the oceans and global warming. What have we done to our planet since? I feel like I am turning into a philosopher to a certain extend, and wonder if we end up in space ships driven by AI? Or if we all die young, so we don’t have to worry anymore. Or as Elon Musk or Homo Deus states, maybe we are part of a big model, actually living in the year 3000, and we went back to experiment with the planet to see if we can save it. And will we? And are we? If it is an animation, we would, wouldn’t we?

Given the other part of my nature, I am an optimist. I am positive and believe that we will always come up with a new solution, something that will save mankind. Of course I would not rely on it but somehow we will. There might be mass exodus and mass extinction, and maybe another war, but similar to the TV Series of 100, there will be few of us that will be saved. Maybe that’s what the planet needs? Aren’t we all in it together?

Maybe not my most motivational post, but I thought I share this, as there aren’t any other news. Sommerloch, the German saying of ‘summer hole’, no news in the summer. And I don’t really want to bore you with my day to day all the time 🙂 Hopefully an entertaining, yet thoughtful post. Next on my reading list is a book about AI – maybe you get more posts like that.

I hope you enjoy the summer.
Have a good one, wherever you are,
Volker

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Sunday Column (499)

A full working week it seems. Not quite, actually, only four days, but I was working in London and I was busy. I suppose I will get used to it again very quickly. I also recorded another podcast and managed to finish the audio book Sapiens. In all honesty, I wasn’t as taken with the book as everyone else seemed to be. Some interesting snippets of human history but a lot of bla bla about life. Never mind, another book done. I very much enjoy reading Richard Branson’s biography, it is a fun story of a successful man’s life. Stories of Success, really.

However, I then started Homo Deus by the same author of Sapiens and it is more interesting as it is looking to the future. It is about how things might look like moving forward for humans, and mankind and on this planet in general. A philosophical book, it gets you thinking, but again if I didn’t listen to it whilst out running, I am not sure it is my time worth spend taking it all in. Nevermind.

I started writing this post as I sit at Clapham Junction on a Gatwick Express service, air conditioned, cold and with wifi access. We were held as London Victoria got evacuated due to a fire alarm. When the train guard announced that we were held due to London Victoria station being evacuated, you could see how people got really quiet on the train. I am not sure if my perception comes due to me reading about 9/11 in Richard’s book, or because everyone went really quiet, but people just seemed to be worried. And that’s a fear we are living with: terrorism. Although, based on the Homo Deus book, more people die of overeating than undereating these days, and terrorism or airplane accidents are very rare. That of course doesn’t necessarily go in line with our perception of things.

What both books show me time and again is that our thoughts form what we make of our environment. I wasn’t too worried it being a terrorist attack but it crosses one’s mind. And then your mind can go on a rampage. What if the city was under attack, would it not be better to sit in Clapham? It surely would be. It was a false alarm, which is good and we continued our journey. Your thoughts however determine what you make of things.

On that note, on Friday I had a day off. My last one for a while but holidays with the family, and I spend with cars. We had a courtesy car from the garage, an SUV, a Skoda Kodiaq. I really enjoyed driving it but it isn’t sportive, it is an SUV. On the one hand I like sitting up, maybe changing my driving a bit and enjoy more comfort. Skoda has a nice ‘Landrover green’ colour they introduced and next year they bring out hybrid models. Let’s bear all that in mind for now 😉

I also spend the day looking at a few Jaguars. My choice of a second car is clear: a Jaguar XK8 or XKR, 2006 model or younger, as the older model is too small for me. Now I need to find the budget and the time to look at one and buy. Or will I hold off and be sensible. But for what? Life is for living and who knows how long we can enjoy it. Anyway, lots to think about.

And on that note it was the last day of school for the boys. Now I got two boys in middle school from September, they are just growing up so quickly. I love that as much as I hate it. Being able to join the leavers’ assembly was great, a bit emotional but overall it is great to see them moving on, growing up and becoming little grown ups. What will the future hold for them? Will AI and robots rule the world when they will be our age? Nothing ever stays the same, things always change.

Let’s use my parents as an example who have been able to connect with us since the introduction of What’s App. I remember putting coins into a phone booth when calling my grand parents from a holiday. Nowadays we send pictures instantly, whilst then we had to develop a roll of 36 pictures and got them a week after the holidays. Wow. We are talking half a life time here, and things will only get faster.

Have a great summer, enjoy things whilst they last.
Volker

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Sunday Column (481)

Spring is in the air. If you listen carefully as you board the early morning train, you can hear the birds singing. Our cats got a lovely mouse I rescued from them, and there is a ‘new beginning’ in the air. I signed another advisory role for a blockchain and ICO/ITO (Initial Coin/Token Offering). This is exciting for many reasons. On the one hand I get to work with some very smart people and on the other hand, I am able to learn a lot from them and the product/offering itself. There is no doubt this part of technology is going to be big, so getting involved early is never a bad thing. Exciting times ahead, and more info will be shared on LinkedIn when appropriate.

So as you can see I keep myself busy. That is essential. It is interesting how weeks evolve and things happening out of nothing and your week just gets a different spin. For example I spoke to a company one day which after only 30 minutes thought I wouldn’t be commercial enough, despite my experience definitely being able to do that. Then just a few hours later I was in knee deep discussions how to help a business to structure their sales and account management team across EMEA. Wowsers. Let’s see. I am hopeful.

I won’t, for obvious reasons, discuss any details here, and I am deliberately vague. However, the point I am trying to make is that with every interview you learn. I even discussed my education and went back throughout my whole career. I enjoyed the thoroughness and the chat, being very reflective, it helped me to focus on what I enjoyed in each job, which is what my interview partner wanted to know. It is somewhat fun this journey, to explore opportunities, technologies, and meeting very interesting people. Yet is can also be tiring adhering to time lines, chasing etc. I am hoping that at the end of this journey, besides a job, I will come out with a position that will last me for a few years. And as of the paragraph above, people see and spot different things in different people. The reason that’s the case is because everyone has their own filter of the world, I am going back into NLP here now, but if you are someone that is keen on finding X in someone, then that’s all that matters. Chin up.

On top of that I recorded 2 of 4 scheduled podcasts this weekand, and I scheduled another 2 to be recorded next week. Amazing conversations, each of their own kind. Maybe I need to increase the frequency and the best thing is, I so love doing them. The thought crosses my mind to build my own media company in years to come. Producing podcasts, events and venturing out into new areas. There is no limit to what you can achieve in life, is there? And I am still trying to identify the perfect way, but to be honest, is there ever going to be something that is perfect? Is there something ever going to be the life you dreamed of? As my wife pointed out, life isn’t a straight line, and once you accept it being up and down, ride the wave. F* it. Easier said than done when you are the breadwinner. Who knows what life holds. One interview this week might have lead to some media deal – oh I love those days in media really LOL – Don’t I?

I am trying to figure out bigger questions in my head, and to be honest, my question supporting those thoughts are around ‘why did we dream of the perfect life in the way we did’. Maybe I should have studied philosophy and psychology, but if we imagine for a moment, and I discuss that in my podcasts, that our dreams are influenced solely by upbringing and parents. So success, and however you want to define that, is based on what ‘seed’ was planted for your dreams. Did your parents suggest you dreaming big or small? In colour or black and white? Were they taking risks or not? One of my podcast guests coined the phrase of ‘entrepreneurial GM’ which I like to adopt for myself. Fits the bill, dont’ you think? He made me a great compliment too 🙂 . And he made me think whether I am already at the right place at the right time, but I haven’t noticed it yet. You ever thought that sometimes you step out of the future you dreamed of, to be sidelined into what you should do (or what seems right to do), but not realise it?

My other theory which goes in line with that is that life is constantly changing. So if I discuss what my career looks like in 5 years time, there is no point. I believe that in 5-10 years our lives would have changed so much, that we essentially work and live completely different to the now. I shared Elon Musk’s theory this week which suggests we all live in a simulation. Maybe we do. Stephen Hawking died this week, one of the greatest philosophers based on physics/science of our time. How is the universe and the universal conscious putting things together to move you forward as an individual? How do we know what is right or wrong, and can our intellect really rely on our gut feeling at all times?

I am drifting again. And people keep telling me that my blog is getting too long. So apologies. Feel free to reach out – with jobs, contract work or for a chat or feedback re the blog 🙂 – as someone said the other morning when we both met on the train ‘Volker, feel free to reach out anytime for a chat, things will be fine, but happy to listen’. Thanks, and you know who you are. And for anyone out there going through the ups and downs as well, ping me, I am always happy to help if I can. Life is about giving back and rising with the tide.

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (476)

We are getting closer to 500 Sunday Columns. That’s close to 520 weeks, which is close to….10 years Sunday Column blog posts. I love writing weekly, actually I journal daily and focus on what I like the best. I like to focus my energy on positive things and things I enjoy. As of my latest podcast, a healthy mind in a healthy body, positivity is key! See more below.

I have been asked in interviews what I have been doing since I left my last employer. Theoretically I just finished gardening leave. And I have discussed that with people too: looking for a job is a full time job. But me being me, I cannot just do that. I record podcasts, met coaches online, networking, speaking to people, advice companies and consult. I just said to my wife the other night, I am so super busy, what am I going to do when I actually get a full time job 🙂 And just on Friday I got another consulting work through, so yes, I am NOT sitting on the couch waiting for recruiters to call. I could wait a long time for that it seems at times.

When launching this week’s podcast, Pascal Finette, the downloads sky rocketed. An amazing guest and I want to have him back on my podcast. He is such an inspirational interview partner. As Pascal said, we are needing to focus on the bright spots in the world and the ones that drive us forward, not the black spots associated with failure. I am trying my hardest. I am entertaining, that’s how it seems, some opportunities for work, which I know will not result in bright spots, yet they keep up morale. And every opportunity is learning. For some I am too sales lead, for others I am too operational. You cannot win, no matter how much you explain what you have done, it comes down to personal connection and chemistry. I am doing well though, and I am sure things will work out in the end. They always will. It is an up and down, and I want to be honest, the market only picked up mid January, so all I am really looking at is 4 weeks of job hunt. I am doing well for that. Keep your fingers crossed. As above, it’s not that I am not busy.

This week, I heard a sad story from a friend of mine, which puts a job search into perspective. It puts life into perspective and sometimes makes your think why we doing what we are doing. Life ain’t fair, and sometimes it is hard to believe that things will happen for a reason. But they do and the dots will connect moving forward. Trust in the greater universe. But they might just not connect in the way you expect them to. Funny isn’t that? Actually on Saturday morning I had a thought whilst meditating that put life into perspective once again. About energy fields and love – that’s really what connects us humans, and some are better at that than others. I need to give it more thoughts but honestly, Jung’s theory around the collective unconsciousness makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe my next book will be more philosophical. What is life all about? Who determines ‘success in life’? I love that research and part of it is of course my podcast.

Whilst naturally my job hunt dominates my life, there is more to it. My boys and time spend with them. This weekend was my 7th year old’s birthday. Mighty proud he was, and should be. He is super sweet and I couldn’t cuddle him enough, the innocence and heart warming stories he tells me and the things we make up as we go along. Teaching him about life and watching him just now, this moment of writing, warming up in Karate. He has his whole life ahead of him, curious and driven to learn. It is the best thing in the world, no matter how tiring and annoying kids can be at times 😉

I remember as if it was yesterday that I was speaking to the nurse who delivered him. And whilst my wife was about to go into the delivery room, I was still on the phone with my former boss about priorities of hiring a Sales Director. Full on and committed in a start up. Only 7 years ago. I have done a fair share of ‘sleeping under the desk’ within a start up and sacrificing my family life for the sake of companies. And, I would do it again. Yet as I get older I wonder if it is too much to ask to just have a ‘normal job’, which I appreciate doesn’t really exist. What is normal these days. But I am drifting into work stories again. Also, I am not that old yet, and there is still a LOT of fire burning in my belly. One is for a job opportunity I am waiting to hear, which would allow me to do something I have done in the past, but this time I could apply a lot more learning and it would accelerate things. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there are other interesting opportunities I found out this week too. Sitting tight was the advice from a good friend and mentor this week.

It is funny how work is always a major part of ones life until work becomes something pleasurable to do and you hardly notice it. Not sure this make sense. And yet I wouldn’t do anything different if I had to start again. Or would I? My first podcast host mentioned that when you leave university, you should try to work for a big name in the industry. Funny that my first two jobs were with big names and I didn’t even plan it. It didn’t help so far. However, the dots will connect looking backwards. They will. I cannot wait to discover it all.

Anyway, a clip-and-climb afternoon at the local leisure centre followed by a night at the Indian. For someone who isn’t too keen on food, he loved the experience. But experience is all what it is about and that really means, and that means being around and spend time with your first priority. And that is always your family, the work life balance, the life balance, needs to be set right. I can do that. Never ever did I have so much time to focus on my most important things in life. I feel blessed, almost too blessed sometimes. I will look back in years to come to realise which opportunity I had. I might have missed some of it too. But I won’t know until I start looking back. Hindsight in life, isn’t it?

As of my meditation above, I thought of my grandparents this week. Partly because it was my dad’s birthday too, but also because Rohan asked me how my granddad died. And that’s when I remember sitting with my grandma, the summer of 2002, I just had lived a year in the UK, when I came back to my granddad’s funeral and an internship for the summer. I remember the emotions and love and discussions we had, sitting in the shade on their balcony. When you feel that deep connection with someone, this inner bond, the energy flow – that special feeling, then try to hold on to it. Be there in the moment and let go of everything else. It is called love. Don’t ignore it. There is nothing wrong with having bonds with people through positive energy.

Have a fantastic week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (246)

Another week. If you are like me, sleep a few hours and you are busy and engaged on your waking hours, weeks just fly past. I had a good week. Somewhat. Lots of frustration yet an overall positive week. Good chats about values, skills and what it is that makes me tick. My coaching is coming along nicely, and I make progress on a lot of ends. I worry about my kids, my wife and whether I can keep up with everything I want to achieve. I guess it is a normal worry, not a “mad worry”. Yet, there needs some more bits coming into play soon. Anyway….

I started to formalise my dream, as in my life milestone I want to achieve. I started thinking differently about certain topics compared to a couple of years ago. I start thinking deeper, thinking purpose, commitment and what stays when you are gone. I write a lot, just added another column in an industry publication to my commitments, and I enjoy sharing things. It helps me think.

dreams

On Wednesday, at our Rotary meeting, I got introduced to a charity helping people with mental problems: Portugal Prints. if you haven’t yet bought your Christmas Cards, please feel free to do so via them. They are amazing. A self help group, financed partly by Westminster Council and partly through their design sales, they help about 35 people to cope with their mental illness.

These are the moments I feel humble. I wish I could hand over a cheque and support them in their daily business with a day or two of myself. Of course they are not the only charity where I see myself being able to help. Yet, there are a few that touch me deeply. Working with disabled children, helping kids in the developed world, negotiating peace deals. I want to give something back and have an inner urge to give, help and make a difference. I started with some baby steps but hopefully I will be able to help more one day. This is part of my dream.

Life. Death. I finished reading the biography of Ayrton Senna. I wonder what made him such an idol? What makes anyone a hero? I guess one part is always the dying part, and dying in mysterious circumstances. Yet Ayrton was healthy, fit, concentrated, had a gift of handling a car and was a likeable, down to earth guy. He followed his passion and tried hard to be the best in what made him tick.

We should all aspire to that. We might not become Formula One racing car drivers but maybe better individuals: at work, at home, in society. I met a friend this week who has been hit hard by life over the last year I’d say. Yet he soldiers on, be in the moment and is soldiering on. He is not giving up. I am grateful for knowing so many brave, enthusiastic people. The ones that look forward, set an example, live of a minimum and just get on with what they do. Never give up. I can be a bit more forceful, more demanding. But that’s me. We are all different.

Being-second-is-to-be-the-first-of-the-ones-who-lose.

I am not sure where this leads us. Some random, charitable, praising thoughts? No common theme again. But maybe someone likes my thoughts. Maybe they are a bit random. It doesn’t help that I read HERO, another book by Rhonda Byrne, the author of The Secret.

On Friday I chaired the last AdMonsters conference for now. This will free up some time to do other pet projects. I recently started coaching a student from Aberdeen University. This is great, I enjoy that. I want to get more involved in Rotary, also looking into another membership. Some people wonder where I take the time and energy from, but it is me expressing myself, creating variety, growth and love around me. That paired with my family is probably the happiest I can ever get.

But let’s stop philosophising. There are still a lot of day to day tasks to be done and lots of stuff to achieve before the dream might become a reality. For now, today, I need to focus on finally shaking off this cold, build up an immune system and get going again on the treadmill.

Onwards and upwards.

Have a good one,
Volker

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