Posts Tagged productivity

Sunday Column (429)

Last week was a turning point. I believe, and I mentioned that to my wife, that the next few weeks will be a turning point in our life. There are changes coming up, chapters being closed. I start writing this as I am sitting to wait for a delayed flight to Hamburg on Sunday night. So a week ago, prior to Sunday Column 428 being published. Crazy, but that is my creative output. I love writing, keeping myself busy with thinking and strategising. About anything and everything really. I was asked this week what my next book is about, and I said, probably it is about my life, or life or something. No plans yet…

At the weekend we started to speak more German at home. My wife started taking private tuition and the boys tried understanding what I am talking about. I translate the sentences simultaneously. This is only the beginning but we try to become more bi-lingual at home. The weekend was productive with us having done some spring gardening and we finally built the hedgehog house. It was a good weekend, the wife and I went out, maybe a few too many drinks, but hey, that happens now and then. Not many occasions when we can go out to celebrate. Then we had our yearly debate if St. Patrick’s day is actually the first time we met and kissed. Anyway, don’t let me get into that.

Further, I closed the chapter of writing a productivity book. I sent the final drafts off to publishers at Christmas but didn’t get a positive response. So I put it on Amazon Kindle on Sunday, a link is to the right of the post. It is free to download in the first week, but I decided to make little noise about it. A good read I find, and if people are interested, they will find it. I have other focus at the moment than productivity books and worked on them for a few years now. Time to put that to bed. So closing this chapter and focusing on other things is good. Maybe the new book about life 😉

On the other hand I opened a chapter at work. Not only the first 30 minute presentation at a conference for this employer, but also in German! So a double challenge but it went well. So did the panel the next day. I am trying to help out where I can to present the company and hence I flew out to Germany on Sunday. I will continue to be in Germany more often, as I temporary help in the German market. It will be a drag flying, but it is going to be a lot of fun too and a great challenge. Having said that, I had to wait 4 hours for my Easyjet flight coming back, so no more Easyjet for me. The delays were getting to much and I am only back to travelling, so Heathrow it is unfortunately as it is a pain to get there for an early morning flight, and BA or Eurowings instead of Easyjet. The joys. Travelling is never glamorous, and I was hoping to do less, now probably going to do more. But I love a challenge, a chapter and the opportunity to help and support. That’s who I am, that’s what I do, that’s what I enjoy. And work is very good about it too!

As one chapter opens, another closes they say. I travelled with my German passport. I have done since I moved to the UK in 2001. Yet, since Wednesday, I can be hopeful to soon get the British passport too. I pledged my allegiance to the Queen and became a British national. Now I am British and German, soon with two passports. Wow, who would have guessed. It all happened quicker than anticipated in the end. And the application for the passport has been sent. Exciting times ahead. It feels like yesterday that a friend of mine and I discussed this, sitting over lunch in Farringdon. He said, now you know the process, it is easy to do and you don’t know what the future holds. It gives you security he said. He was right. Security and peace of mind. I beat him to it too 😉

I feel at ease. I feel like spring cleaning my life a bit. I put a lot of energy into the new job and really enjoy the challenge. Is it much different to what I am used to? Yes and no. As a friend of mine said the other day: good tech, great people, and you realise how much you know and how much experience you have. Sometimes you don’t realise how much you know, but in this line of work I very much rely on my experience often and enjoy it. Yet, there are new challenges, different experiences, which help me grow and go outside of what I know. Keeping me on my toes. It is great to see the positive difference you can make. And a great team I have!

Then amongst the travel, I listened to a podcast by Tim Feriss, where one of his guests, John Crowley, who has children with a disease, talks about the IPO with his business. His business is in the biotech space to save humans like his children from this particular disease. When he came home after two weeks on the road after the IPO, his daughter woke up when he kissed her goodnight. He said she would be proud of what he has done. And she said, she was proud and that she saw him on TV. He said, what do you think of me on TV? She said he looked short.
In her next breath she asked whether he was around tomorrow to take her to school. That was the most important part for her.
I understand that feeling. The boys aren’t interested if I speak at a conference or close a mayor sales to bring home money to buy the Lego Deathstar (which I refuse to do btw). They care if I bring sweets or if I take them to school the next day. And that’s how it should be. It is important for me to be up at 6 am on a Sunday to do colouring in or build a model of Bumblebee. That should always be our focus, to spend time with our loved ones, to teach them, to help them, to be with them, to share moments with them. And with all the travel, and my wife planning to go back to work, this is still the main priority and focus. And we make it work, as we make anything work we want to make work. Just like turning a page in a book, we move on with life.

Of course we cannot be there 24/7. But when we are there, we need to be in the moment. We must be with them and make sure they see that. We must help them to understand the world and share the experience. I have done that a lot lately with my boys. Individually. Together. I feel better for it and so does my relationship with them.

Have a great week and give your loved ones a big hug.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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#BeBetter: A book about productivity and life systems

After 4 years in the making, I have finally decided to publish my new productivity book.
I decided, after all, to publish it on Kindle to ensure most people can access it.

Whilst there is a price tag associated with it, you can download it for FREE until this Friday.

I won’t further promote the item. With the publication I finalise my studies in productivity and focus on other areas for personal growth. I will continue to monitor the space and work on new theories and systems mainly for myself.

For any questions or ideas, please feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Best wishes and I hope you find the book useful.

Volker

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Thursday Flash (10)

Welcome to this week’s bulletin. We are well into March! Wow, time flies, and we are celebrating my 10th Thursday Flash. That means we are 10 weeks into the year I suppose 🙂

In line with my interest in productivity, I am a enthusiastic user of Slack for private groups and work groups and communication. This article on ‘Slack Hacks‘ is useful for the user of Slack and makes the productivity tool more productive. Double win this week!

Tying your data to phone numbers? Oh yes, that’s possible and scary. There are endless possibilities, including cookie data. I am advising a start up in that space and I am astonished to what possibilities there are. Stay tuned for more on that in the coming months I’d say.

And yes, there is more on Artificial Intelligence (AI) – this week is ‘only’ a summary of what AI is and how it is use and how useful it is for organisations. It also outlines the trend of acquisitions/growth of the industry. A worthwhile read in my opinion if you are interested in that topic.

I am sure there is more next week on AI.

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Thursday Flash (7)

Thursday Flash!

As most of you know I enjoy a 5 am routine. I wrote about it before:

5 am routine not for everyone?
5 am productivity booster

And I like to quote a new article I found. One critical one around a 5 am routine – Fastcompany. The author forced themselves to a 5 am routine and didn’t find it useful, yet didn’t last 30 days either. I suppose, and hence my articles above, it is down to you and how you make use of your time. It seems to work for me at this stage in my life. That of course might change.

In line with that, I do agree on a good morning routine. Again, the early morning wake up doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. I have a routine. And I am flexible to allow for early morning flights or calls. But generally speaking it works if you are organised and routined. I am doing it on and off for at least 3 years if not longer. And even if you are getting up just before you need to leave the house, I bet you have a morning routine that works for you. Even if it is just to hit a quick breakfast, coffee and a wash before heading out the door.

My last article for this week is different. I don’t want to overload you with too much productivity tips. Hence here is an interesting article on AI (artificial intelligence), Ford and self driving cars. The future we will be living will be a lot different when it comes to transportation.

I hope you enjoyed this flash – forward it to other people please, and share the love.
Thanks,
Volker

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Sunday Column (413)

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Friday. Around 2 pm and I am sitting on a train home. I have a half day and enjoying myself. Kind of. Light Up Hassocks awaits me. The yearly highlight of switching on the Christmas lights. I am doing the school pick up, my parents are coming. By time of posting this will all be past. It is nice to take a half day, get some initial work done, then chilling in the afternoon. Particularly at such a gorgeous day like today. It is almost too bright to work. And it is almost December too. And it got bitterly cold later on. Light up Hassocks was nice, the weekend with my parents was nice, so all good. The routine starts again tomorrow.

I summed up my life on Facebook on Friday, I thought I share it here. It sometimes feels that simple:

Ok. Left work early to attend light up Hassocks. Parade and lights and fair ground rides. Kids and parents and wife had a fab time. Feeling ripped off paying two months of pocket money on light sabres but hey, it’s for the greater good and the kids. When parents went to bed I finished off work and now reflecting on the day. Remembering the youngest saying ‘Daddy,I haven’t seen you all week and I don’t remember what you looked like’ (which isn’t true). But sometimes feels like it. And what if (not unlikely) Southern rails had had another 20 min delay on top of what they did. I would have had to have a contingency plan for pick up. I did. I didn’t need it. But I cannot trust Southern.
Doesn’t that sum up my life? Dominated by Southern (yet hey are not accountable or responsible), great friends and a full on life.
Enough for tonight. Weekend. Looking after the loved ones. Time to chill. Moaning over.

Maybe to add, a friend didn’t get home in time because his train was 40 minutes delayed. Life could be so much better without Southern, or with any reliable train service. I know I am going on about train travel but it is just so unreliable.

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Yet the week was kicking off with a media owner event. It was great, yet one thing I noticed (and no, it isn’t criticism): breakfast was from Pret. And so is most day’s breakfast if it is from a media owner or when I go into the office early, or when I have a quick snack for lunch or in between. Where is that obsession of us Brits (and want to be Brits) with Pret coming from? A quid for a decent brew of filter coffee, Apple pay accepted from day one, a sandwich for everybody’s taste, cookies that taste nice, breakfast that seems to cater for everyone and it is convenient too. Not one street corner without a Pret it seems. There is even a vegetarian one. The first one opened in 1986 and they look like a great corporate, with a CEO blog and apprenticeship schemes, organic food without additives, and used to be owned partly by MacDonalds. It’s sister company is Itsu, the up market sushi shop, which can be found most often in close proximity to a Pret. Maybe they need an agency, what a fantastic brand to work on and take to the next level. The love for standard good food seems to align us – the nation – in Pret 🙂 And I love the salmon and egg baguette for breakfast, unless I have a hungover and prefer their sausage muffins….yes, I am obsessed too 🙂

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Another phenomenon that kicked off this week seemed to be around programmatic. A few people keenly voiced their opinion on programmatic being overrated. I have said that before. Where are we with programmatic advertising? I did present that to a client too. Back in the days we were keen on having real time bidding (RTB) to make impression by impression decision making in real time via a bidder. Nowadays, we execute that and a lot more all from one single line item, highly targeted and across multiple channels. Whether that is real time or not, it is programmatic, it is traded in a programmable fashion. So what does that mean? The whole industry gets automated, and we call it programmatic – for some companies a great chance to be ‘specialists’ and to hide margins, for others it is just another acronym that confuses their clients. As a friend on Linkedin wrote this week: the bottom line is whether we answer the question what value we add to the client. And of course, this is a ‘yes we do’ or ‘no we don’t’. Yet the main differentiator is not whether we execute programmatic, but whether we know how to navigate the ecosystem, understand limitations of ‘make or buy’ and use data in a clever way to our clients’ advantage. That paired with excellent planning makes a good agency (and a few other ingredients). But this wasn’t supposed to be a sales pitch, yet my astonishment of how advertisers just cannot understand my part of the industry. So feel free to look up my Linkedin article on AI – take it with a pinch of salt – but aren’t we falling into a big trap of complicating things? And that is why some programmatic consultants still get paid a high day rate without being questioned. As you can clearly see, I am settling in well in agency land. It is time to get closer to clients and make them understand what adtech is all about!

Another theme, a red line throughout my conversations with some mentors and friends this week, suggests that there is more out there to which people and companies aspire to or should at least. As I reviewed my productivity book this week, where I am addressing those situations, I am wondering how to best help. How to best move things along vs. moving things up, vs. making the first move to take massive actions. Where I am leading with that isn’t quite obvious. I guess it is about doing your daily job and thinking beyond and taking over responsibility and accountability (spot a theme, Southern?). To perform beyond your duty and to use what’s in between your ears: no not your hair, your brain! To do what we preach and suggest to our kids. I see that across people and then across organisations. One changes the other, pushing the next. By being able to be consciously aware of what is actually happening around you, what happens in life, and how it is portrayed to you, how you portray things on the outside too. Exciting mind games, great discussions are fuelled on the back of these discussions I had this week. And it is exciting and it makes me grow and want more. I hope my book will reflect that too. And the more people I can get on board, the more exciting it gets for the journey along. It is about my 5 people I spend the most time with, they challenge me, they move me along.

And then there was the guy on the train, after a few beers, who explained to me how he works for a German bank, has an MBA, hates Brexit, worked in Switzerland and wrote a book. Lots of synergies there. We had a good yupp and catch up and I truly enjoyed speaking to him. These are those above random conversations that push you over, take over your thoughts and influence you. I might never meet the chap again, or maybe I will. But he would agree with all of the above and how you need to look in and take it beyond, and it all will fall into place eventually.

Enough of a brain-drain this week. Hope it was useful and sparked some thoughts.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (366)

Happy New Year. To 2016. The year I have been in the UK for 15 years! I feel more British than German by now 😉

It is going to be an amazing year.

Why I am saying that? It is really simple. I spent the last year preparing myself, both physically and mentally, to grow personally. I have put mechanisms, routines, habits and structures in place to kick start 2016. Subtle changes, yet I am prepared to move beyond achievements of 2015, both professionally but also personally.

Last week I pushed myself. Over 40K in running in 4 days, concluding over 100K in December and 900K in 2015. I am really getting into my running and will add swimming to the balanced exercise plan as of tomorrow morning. I cannot wait to get fitter and establish a routine to run 100K regularly per month. Working towards my 24 hour relay challenge in July.

Upon us is January. Dry January. I did it last year and I will do it again. No alcohol for the month of January. It isn’t difficult, a lot of people are doing it and it is healthy. I mean most people are debating how healthy it is to go from excessive Christmas drinking to zero in January and then back to normal. A general moderate approach is surely healthier, yet a month without booze won’t harm my liver, mood or exercise routine, that’s for sure.

I am also thinking of logging off my Facebook. Using it half for work and half for pleasure, I think I keep on it once a day but on the desktop only. Constantly checking on the go is such a time waster and not efficient either. So that and some other email, social media and reading apps need to be removed or put in the background to work more effectively and efficient on the go – as some apps are just time wasters and the ease of access via a mobile is just to tempting. Notifications are stopped and more focus put on the work at hand.

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Anyway, I don’t want to repeat what I write over at my tidwows productivity blog. That blog will cease in 2016 or get a new format. This will depend on the progress I am making with my new book and my ideas towards a new productivity guidelines and principles. I shall surprise you.

A New Year. New Year resolutions. Achieve your goals!

I am more prepared than ever to enter 2016. This has to do with the relentless learning I have done in 2015. The relentless working I have done and of course the ongoing work on my book and deep dive into productivity principles. Pair that with stamina, a good health and clear goal setting, I am ready to roll! This might sound like sales pitch, but that’s what it is really. Things will fall into place and things will happen in 2016. The industry is in a state to consolidate.

We wish you a Happy New Year. A healthy new year. May all your dreams and wishes come true.

May 2016 be the amazing year you look back upon in 12 months time and you might say that you lost that surplus weight, ran your first marathon or run your first 5K. You might have had your first baby, got married or moved on from a bad relationship. Whatever it is that 2016 holds in stock for you, it is your path, your life. Make the most of it.

All the best, and thanks for continuing to read my blog.
Volker

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Sunday Column (306)

Another week. At time of writing this post, second time around due to the WordPress app not saving the draft, I am sitting on a cold carriage on the 7.29 from Brighton.

This train became famous this week, as it was in the press. I have been complaining about it a lot before, that we always arrive 10 minutes late, but rumours now have it this train is never on time. Even the Prime Minister got involved and journalists flocked on the train to interview people. Allegedly it is on time less than 30% of all journeys. A bit appalling.

It leads me to my most favourite subject, which I was trying to avoid. The train system is in shambles. Worst about it, at least to my mind, is the reliance on the train. Whilst I believe the majority of the population commutes by car, the ones that commute by train, and particular for an hour or more like myself, need to rely on it. With close to a month’s salary this service is not worth what we pay for. The constant rail fare increase without the felt modernisation isn’t fair or value for money, whilst we are stuck without alternatives. And I suppose that is where my grief comes from: I have no choice but to use a highly priced service that doesn’t offer value for money.

Maybe a lifestyle change is in order? A local job, working from home or for a sole online business? Not being able to rely on trains, on a service, which you are dependent on, e.g. you don’t have an alternative for, is crippling. We are in 2015 not 1896.

Never mind. It sometimes makes for good yet boring and repetitive conversation. Sometimes, you get more work done before you arrive in the office. But no 9 am meetings. I am restricted by my train company. The argument of course is to get an earlier train which there are two: one leaves 9 minutes earlier and arrives 10 minutes earlier but is totally full, no seat and standing only for an hour. The one I take has plenty of table seats, from carriage 2 downwards. So quite a luxurious travel in comparison to some services (see, it isn’t all bad). The other direct, earlier alternative train is 50 minutes earlier, yet somewhat it gets me into the office too early, I miss out on breakfast with the children and would have to restructure my whole day. Of course, a train in between would be great, but I don’t say that because it is necessary but because the late running of our service makes it a necessity almost. In other words, bring the “7.29” in on time and we are all happy or make it 10 minutes early to arrive late on the current scheduled time?!

I guess this week was about trains. Much better than the draft I had before. Next week my air travel starts again. Also, whilst physical transport, my physio seems to pay off with less problems and pains during my 10K runs which I do twice a week. It all moves in the right direction.

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I have been up early to do the physio and do it regularly, together with my weight training. I am back to the weight I had 6 months ago! It comes to show that routine and habit is what drives a base line efficiency. I will cover more about that over at tidWOWS in due course. A 5 am start followed by some gentle physio and a bench press session whilst catching up on productivity podcasts set me up nicely for the day. The only drawback is that the kids usually wake up the moment I finish showering, so I am missing almost an hour of early morning writing and meditating. Having said that, to spend the first hour of your day with the two most important people in the world is something I am truly grateful for! I can always work on the train… I very much enjoy the time in the morning. As it happens they sleep longer on the days I take the dog out for an hour in the morning, so it makes me question if they might know?

So back to 2015 and the now. I am pushing forward. Productivity, meeting A-Players and thinking about the future, defining the strategy, my strategy. I am refining my strategy. Improving. Pushing further forward. Becoming and being an A-player.

Life is good. I enjoy what I am doing, the space I operate in. This was a good week!

Have a fantastic 7 days ahead of you, make sure you make the most of every single one.
Volker

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Sunday Column (300)

Three hundred Sunday Columns!

Amazing. Almost 4 years. And I get more and more committed readers. Thanks for the support and kudus over the years. I keep on going, maybe stop with column 2,000 – around the age of 70. But who knows if blogs still exists by then, or the Internet. A life’s work by then.

Tomorrow I am off for my last trip of the year. In the first half of the year I spent 22 nights away and had about a return flight within Europe every other week. Yet the 2nd half of the year seemed a lot busier. That’s because I spent two full weeks away, did a longer flight to Turkey, but overall actually had less flights. But the run up to Christmas only seems busier as it starts around September but then it is full on from there. More work in less time. Never mind. I believe travel also helps to get away and clear one’s mind a bit. Whilst the separation from the family isn’t nice, the coming home is fantastic. The balance is key as so often.

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My week has been very productive and I created lots of new content over at tidWOWs. The best quote I read, from Johann Wolfgang von Göthe was “as soon as you start trusting yourself, you learn how to live.” How true and I almost feel that has happened to me over the past two years. Not only job wise but also in regards to my private life, commitment to success and being clearer of what I want to achieve. This quote came to me for a reason, that I am sure about.

On other news we continue to enjoy Rosie. She is growing a lot and learning a lot and seems better behaved. Having said that she is just after any food crum there is, peanut butter toast or crisps. We get through that too.

On Saturday we went to Littlehampton beach. We left early in the morning to be there for sunrise and Rosie had a fantastic run on the beach. It was a bit chilly but it was great to go and the light was amazing.

Being at a beach early in the morning, seeing the sun coming over the horizon, the tide coming in whilst enjoying the fresh crips air with the ones you love. The odd fisher boat leaving the harbour and all you hear is the rattling diesel engine. Is there something better in life? The winter sun was very intense, the temperature pleasant, almost warm, not windy. The kids loved it and Rosie was running around like crazy. Not another soul on the beach. We spend an hour there but it felt like 5. Peace.

Often, I get humble in these situations. I look at the bigger picture, I think about what is important in life. How small the world is compared to the sun. And the little place we are living in compared to the size of the globe. In those moments I just think: Life is amazing! I am happy. I have a good life.

I hope you do too!

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Productivity Of Life – Chapter 9 – Ethical Business Principles

Link to the UK Kindle page: Productivity of Life. Or search for the title in your local Kindle shop.

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Productivity Of Life – Chapter 8 – Social Life Online: Social Media Marketing

Link to the UK Kindle page: Productivity of Life. Or search for the title in your local Kindle shop.

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