Posts Tagged reflection

Sunday Column (458)

I love starting my blog on a Monday. Whilst it won’t make much of a difference to you, the final post being shared on Sunday, I love sitting on the plane or train on a Monday to reflect on the weekend, on life in general. Latter was the whole purpose when I started the Sunday Column now 458 weeks ago. Almost 10 years. It was about not only copying things and sharing things, but making my blog personal. I believe I have achieved that. It also gives me an outlet for my thoughts. My readership is in the thousands and people from all over the world are visiting my site. This is a nice thing to know that every week, people are waiting to read my weekly column. Thank you for bearing with me.

So reflecting on the weekend, I didn’t do much to be honest. We all have a cold and seem to be tired. My best friend from Germany was supposed to visit but was ill himself too. So we ended up with a very relaxing weekend. Some good food and excellent wine, cheese and the fire being on. We also got some game controllers for the AppleTV and the boys thinks we got an Xbox now. Not being an avid gamer myself, the boys and us enjoy the odd game we can play. Life is good and I sorted a few things out over the weekend that needed attention, as well as our holidays to Singapore next year. My cousin lives there and we are keen to visit. Even Economy few months ahead is expensive, but I guess that’s summer holidays and 4 people flying. When booking flights, besides an awful experience on the Singapore Airlines website, we opted for them over Norwegian Airlines. Latter are cheaper and flying from Gatwick, yet with Monarch just going out of business, I think relying on a big airline might just be the way forward. I would have loved to book British Airways, yet the price premium couldn’t be justified at all.

Adventures, experience. That is what life is all about. Gaining a competitive advantage through experience in work and life. Teaching your offspring for them to have a head start in life. This isn’t always easy. I love my manager for that at work, who despite me being prepared for meetings and being on top of things, always finds something else. I soak up his input and wonder if I will be such a good manager when I have another 10 years experience. I hope I will. I am confident I will, but this is for others to decide. My next trip for work takes me to Belgrade, Serbia. Somewhere I have never been, so I am looking forward to it. A new experience, an adventure. This is going to be fun. Not like the weekly commute I have done to Germany throughout the year. No adventure there, just experience 😉

But experience is key. In a workplace which is changing. There are no, or fewer, 30 year long careers. In new industries like online and digital marketing where I am part of, the average tenure is probably around 2 years. Probably even less. And as a friend of mine told me a couple of years ago, if you have done your job you are done, no matter if it is 1 year, 2 years or 5 years – or 6 months. This goes in line with a lot of industry posts I am reading about more and more people becoming consultants. Don’t get me wrong, just recently I have met people that have been with their employer for 11 years and this will exists, but the ones that drive change will be in and out of companies on a short tenure, or found companies themselves. Those progressive and success driven entrepreneurs are the new power managers of tomorrow’s world. I am working on an article around that as we speak.

That brings me to more change. As the leaves turn and I spend some time at home – ill children and then school events – I am looking out of the window and contemplate. Is that it? Is the life we have now, the village set up, is that me for the next 30 years. A yearly harvest festival, Light up Hassocks for Christmas, the local tennis club. Will we not want to change anymore? Is that what they call contentment or happiness?

Spending a day in the local community, showing face at school events and at tennis, I loved being around the boys, being part of their experience. They are my first priority and I do not spend enough time with them during the week. And I absolutely love the way we are living. I love our house, neighbours, driveway, and I am content in the place I am. But coming back to experience, adventure and life changing, when do you know when and how to change? Is it the external Brexit challenge? Is it the shooting in Las Vegas that once again makes a move to the US unappealing? What is it? How do you know? When do you know you found the place you should be staying forever?

Maybe I am impatient and expecting too much. Things come to your at the right time. Things happen for a reason. Change is good. I could quote another 100 sayings like that. But it is true. You MUST trust in the universe that things work out. You think any other ‘animal’ but humans ever think about the future and their mortgage? Ever wondered if the cat on the fence thinks about climate change? We are complicating our lives by thinking and ultimately worrying too much. No, the cat doesn’t. Kids don’t. And dare we teach kids to worry, they should enjoy life and do what they want. Follow their heart. Because the heart knows what is right or wrong.

More autumn thoughts next week, as we are getting further into my most favourite season.

Have an amazing week. Stay well,
Volker

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Sunday Column (450)

What a fantastic week we had. Taking some friends’ advice we went to Longleat Safari park. Monkeys all over the car, pooping on it too, yet no damage compared to other cars where rubber parts where hanging off after leaving the enclosure. Lions, Tigers – a proper safari out of the comfort of your own car. The boys absolutely loved it and we went on to see a few more animals, played in the play park, did some rides and went into a maze we almost didn’t get out of again. A full on day and three exhausted boys by the end of it.

Holidays. I never was one for taking much time off work, but given the last few months, which have been very intense, it was good to get away for a week. Centre Parks – you either love it or hate it – an organised week of relaxing, too much food, activities and family fun. Even on holidays I wake up early. Good for runs, taking care of the kids and letting the wife sleep. The weather wasn’t too great but we made the most of it.

We did a lot of swimming. What strikes me most is how grown up the boys are. You can let them go down the slides themselves, watch them loosely around the pool and things are alright. They are growing up so quickly. Too quickly sometimes. Having just finished their swimming lessons, they are now safe in most waters, subject to its depth. This takes so much pressure away. Food wise, they are still not experimental. That is a bit of a shame given the international cuisine available in the park. So pizza, chips and fish fingers are still winners 🙁

Then someone shared a video about the Buddha and the Beggar.

This story reflects on any life. You trust that things work out. That life is going to be ok. Your job is ok. That you can continue to provide for the family. You give to others, as you are better off than others. I am trying to teach that to the boys that there are people that need help more than we do. They understand that, they donate to a partner school in Madagaskar, Africa. Everything you give comes back in life. This is like the energy system in mechanical engineering, mechanics. All forces in the system have to be equal. You give, you will be given. The forth dimension, time, is not being taken into consideration.

But let’s not be sentimental on holidays, you might think. The weather wasn’t nice at all, until finally Wednesday night we lit the BBQ. Yes. Result. I have been waiting for this the whole week. LOL. Burgers. Bacon and Cheese. Wine. Holiday mood, that’s it. Thursday turned out to be even sunnier. I managed to slightly burn myself playing tennis.

Whilst being in Centre Parks, we are thinking if we would return again. Two years in a row. The boys enjoyed fencing and archery. We did too. New experiences, new things to do. That is great. A safe environment, lots of swimming, food and little worries. Yet, of course you are confined to the compound. If the boys were older, they could go off, play pool and enjoy themselves without us. They are now in the “in between stage”. They still love crazy golf but are not 100% competitive to play it against each other. They play a bit of pool but aren’t good enough to compete against each other. Same for most sports. Whilst that is fine, I believe, given I grew up with a brother, that if they were 2-4 years older, they would just love to compete on various sports and run around all day. Cycling around the campus and spending their own money, making friends. On the other hand, my wife and I would love to show them more of other countries and experience, more variety of things. So that’s what we are planning for the next few years, yet probably come back to a Centre Park break in the near future. Or we ask the whole family to go somewhere in Europe for a week.

A great week. Just spending more quality time, not worrying about work and being there with the family is de-stressing. I don’t actually feel too stressed so no need to de-stress really 😉 Just not having to worry about day to day was nice. And last but not least, I watched (too many) kids’ TV commercials. Clarks’ ones was the worse. They are getting a beating on social media for their gender ‘enforcing’ models. I asked the kids what they thought the advertising was about and they had no idea. Wow, I understand TV ads build brands but they aren’t really tailored to kids, or if they are, they seem too influential. Crazy. But I guess that’s the industry we live in, and glad we control a lot online in terms of targeting.

Anyway, I hope you had a great week too.

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (449)

Oh yes. No Monday morning 5 am taxi pick up and a delayed flight after a bad breakfast to Hamburg. No, this Monday it was the normal 7:29 train service to London. No travel abroad and lots of catching up with my UK team. This was fun! I even squeezed a civilised dinner in with our American visitor, and made it home before 10 pm. Great result and great way to start the week. After having spend the last few days trying to cure the man flu, having my parents to visit, and sorting my infected toe, this was nice. Actually, I had a really nice, productive, day. 
The train home was quiet. My inbox also, given it is slowly getting to the quieter weeks of the year. This is nice, as I can focus on some not so urgent but equally important work tasks as well as catching up on some BBC iPlayer videos whilst writing my blog. Having the super sized screen, the iPad does allow for multi tasking, even if your brain doesn’t. Reading a book about the flow of things and how you best utilise your brain to be happy – the flow. I will update you on it as I read along.

The week stayed calm, or did it? Whilst the emails coming in are fewer than usual, the amount of work associated with each seem to go up. In other words, I was booked out back to back the remainder of the week, with requests coming in, needing a lot of my attention. But, and I said it before, I love what I am doing and I am GSD (getting shit done). However, coming home Tuesday night, after having had a few pints instead of coffee, I ended up with a Chinese and more wine. The weekend seemed to have started early this week, trying to cramp it all in. Despite all that, I was back to my first 10K on Wednesday morning at 5 am. Yes, that felt good. The first longer run since the Spitfire event. The first after my toe infection and the first after the man flu which slowly disappeared this week. I am getting back on it. I even fitted in a first weight session on Thursday. Winning it back. One morning at a time. Life is all about the daily routine.

Given the boys are off school and I hear about all their fun activities, I feel like I should be off too. During breakfast, the eldest sits with his huge fluffy teddy bear in the living room reading. The other one sits closer to me, colouring in. I have a rushed bite to eat, a quick kiss to say good bye, and off I go. Back long after they have been to bed. I sometimes wonder what a life would be like where you are home for 6 pm or 7 pm every night. I wouldn’t gain much time I don’t think. Being on the train from 7-8 gives me my hour of work, fun, chill out and declutter my brain time, something I don’t have to do at home. Yes, I miss bath time, but as they get older I see more of them in the evenings. The life and life balance we choose. The choices we make, to live close to London but not in London. To live close to the sea but not by the sea. The choices of houses, schools etc. I feel I made the right choices. However, as a friend of mine said this week over lunch, with Brexit and the current state of affairs, the government is harming it’s own country. Will Britain be strong enough to sustain a healthy economy in the long run. I believe, so I believe things will work out. And if not? I do not know, but maybe we move the family in a few years. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

All of that influences our happiness. Our balances, our systems. I wrote about that in my book. It is up to us to define what we would like to do and achieve. What goals are we working towards to, or do we just go with the flow? Which values do we have and what is important to us? Where would or wouldn’t we compromise. I haven’t read a fiction book for many years. I like to spend my time constantly improving myself. I enjoy that. And that is my flow I suppose. My daily flow of things, my busy weeks balanced by chilled out weekends, shared activities with the family. The discussion around success vs. achievement. Being busy vs. productiveness. One doesn’t mean the other, and each of us has to find their own definition of it. Focus goes where energy flows. Focus on the things you want to achieve, that drive you on, your purpose. Remove noise and time wasters from the equation of your inputs, eliminate news and social media input. Strive for being better every single day.
As I prepare for some time off, rushing through things I know I won’t finish this week, and thinking the world will not end if I don’t, I reflect. Shutting down the brain and trying to relax. Letting go and recharge the batteries. The world will be the same but busier after the summer months, leading into Q4 and Christmas. What will it be like? What does the journey ahead look like? 

Trusting in the power of the universe and that things will always work out, I put my head to rest. I had another almost scare this weekend, a worry that comes with age. All is good though. Thank you. 

Time to reflect, recalibrate and learn from experience. 
Have a great week,

Volker

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Sunday Column (389)

Thank you all for numerous feedback on my blog over the past couple of weeks. Some think my blog is too business oriented, others find comfort in what I am writing about personal development. I hope that overall I cover enough common ground to interest most of my readers. It is comforting to hear that one likes the thoughts I put out there, the guidance to cope with what is happening in life. And there is a lot happening. See below.

If you like what you read, please share this post and my blog, I would greatly appreciate it. Also, forthcoming, there might be more topics covered here around personal development and productivity. So watch this space.
I suffered a bit this week. Having started my training for the 24 hour relay race in a few weeks time, meant more runs. Even more runs next week. Delayed and short form trains. New developments at work. And yet, I am trying to stay calm, to cope and make sure my mind is like water. That I have enough thinking resources left to keep my mind above water, to not be irrational, and to cope with the pain and strain on my body. I am toughening up, one would say. Also, the picture displayed, is my new favourite profile picture, taken at a conference in Berlin two weeks ago. 

Ballueder

Ballueder


Then the unexpected happen. I got a letter from my doctors with an appointment to have a small surgery I need to get done, nothing to worry about, but they scheduled it 3 days before the 24 hour run. Decision time. 

I am gutted! The fear of having to postpone surgery for another month or even two given the holiday season, I had to cancel the run. My wall. You remember, the one challenge I was looking forward to. The thing that kept me afloat with the hard training. I am not devastated but disappointed. I feel like letting the team down and also to not being able to do this challenge. Would I have succeeded? Will I do it again next year? What do I train for? Do I scale back training?

I must find a new wall.

Moving on. The highlight of the week was today. Seven. The amount of years since my first born came to us. I feel blessed every day for what a gift he is to us. The challenges he brings, the joy he brings and the unconditional love between us. Character wise we are very similar. We clash sometimes and I can see this developing in hopefully a very close understanding of each other. We can guide him and help him, the decisions are his though. Ultimately anyway. But that is for when they are older. Discussing that with another dad earlier in the week, the boundaries cannot be loosened until they are at least 10 or so. For now they are better off in a controlled environment. 

It is weird to think that my son is seven years on this planet. We were in a different place, physically as well as emotionally, back then. A different part of our life. And now he is part of the life we are living. Looking back, we were so young, weren’t we?

And often, when there is so much joy and fun, there are opposite forces at work too.

There were really sad news. I met an long term industry friend a few weeks ago. We caught up properly, on the industry, his job, family and all. He was saying he will be on holidays with his two daughters I believe. Monday I heard the sad and terrible news that he passed away whilst being on holidays.
It is the second industry friend I lost within the last four years. Surely not the last. We weren’t close but could be. A great guy. A family guy, knew what he was doing at work, yet dedicated to life. Genuine. RIP. Never forgotten.

On Thursday this was followed by more sad news. My friend from Rotary, my mentor and the club’s mentor really, passed away too. He was ill and last I heard he was on the mend. Now, he took a turn for the worse. Bad news seems to trickle in from all ends. RIP Herbert, a good friend and mentor.

Again, it makes you think. It could be over tomorrow. Things might change in an instant. What if. Nobody knows. Yet we cannot think it happens to oneself, yet we cannot think it won’t. Carpe Diem.

To end the post on a positive note: Friends of ours just won a legal better for better treatment for their child. I know it sounds bad that you have to go through such an ordeal. Yet they won. I am very happy for them and their child to have such a positive outcome. Emotions, positive, negative, they are all around us. I have been sitting down a few times lately, drying the odd tear, and thinking how lucky we are. How happy we are. We appreciate what we have, which is so important.

I often fear what would be if….and then remind myself that we must focus on the good things in life. The things that make us great, that keep us going and bring positivity in our life. That’s the key. I don’t want to say to ignore bad news but don’t get beaten up by it. Don’t get sucked into negativity.
Only by beating your fear, by overcoming the fear you might have, you win. There is a bit of risk but no real insecurity. As you will make it work. You will work it out. You will not allow yourself fail. Whatever life throws at you, you will be ready to fight back.

Enjoy life, have a long one,

Volker 

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Sunday Column (296)

This week I feel like I have been there before. When the baby (puppy) cries, I roll over and wake my wife, or vice versa, and one of us attends to Rosie. Taking her to the loo at 11 pm, 1 am, or 3 am. At 5 am it is my turn. I am getting up and whilst Rosie needs the loo and some entertainment, I have breakfast whilst doing some work. That’s fun, yet I can’t exercise as I cannot let her howl in the corridor waking everyone up. Soon, in a few months, I will be able to take her for a run in the mornings. I cannot wait.

In the meantime I go running at night, and did 3x10K this week – that is if I a not watching Twin Peaks. If you are the generation I am from, you were either just old enough or just too young to watch it. I enjoyed watching it as a kid but don’t remember much. It was more for my brother, I was 13 at the time I believe. Just maybe a year or two too young. Now, revisiting it with my wife (who was definitely too young 😉 ) I enjoy watching it all over again. However, after watching the pilot and the first episode the other day, I did dream about it. A very intense, old school David Lynch movie/series. I really enjoy it!

Twin Peaks

It is bizarre watching a movie without internet, mobile or smart phones being present. People smoke in the movie too. That is odd, besides the “80ies” hair styles (which of course are 90ies). Yes, I guess I am getting on a bit. And my most favourite quote so far: I like my coffee black as midnight on a moonless night. Yupp, I am getting a Twin Peaks geek I suppose LOL. Also, Colin commented a bit about my wrinkles, and me getting old and all that stuff. The old charmer 😉

Rosie, on which most attention is focused on, has now had her 2nd jab, which means we can take her out between one and two weeks from last week. So soon we can get her socialised and walking her for 20-30 minutes. Things are improving and her baby stage won’t take as long as with human babies, so we will be alright.

Looking back at half term, particularly at the weekend, I come to the conclusion that there are two important things for me at the moment. One is to really put my phone away at the weekend unless I am going out or having down time. Down time is defined as not spending time with the kids or when the kids are occupied elsewhere. Playing Lego or actively engaging with the kids for 2 hours each day on the weekend is key. They love me being around and I enjoy unwinding from work with them. This of course is normal yet I do want to do this much more consciously as they really deserve as much attention as I can give them. It is part of the effort to enjoy every moment, unfiltered and without distraction. Living in the now and making it count. Each and every time.

So the forthcoming weeks, or 45+ days to Christmas going to be passing quickly. I am travelling again a few times and also stream line some processes and workflows prior to year end. That will be done with some help of a new employee which I am looking forward to welcoming shortly. This year has been great in terms of development for me and the product I am evangelising, and it has once again shown how I can scale even smaller products across Europe within 10 months. I have done it again 🙂 I enjoy what I am doing and getting better at presenting and placing companies at the heart of the European adtech industry. It is a lot of fun.

I will have my yearly review of course at some point around Christmas and will have some guidance and help over at tidWOWs about goal setting, new year resolutions and how to achieve what you want to achieve in 2015. Make it your best year ever. I am confident it will be.

In the meantime there is also a lot to achieve on the private side of life. Besides the aforementioned time with the family, I plan to attend a fraternity meeting I haven’t been to since 2006 (!) and spend some quality time with my wife; I also want to increase my exercise output and decrease my “bad food” input. That as a balance should see me out in a good way of making 2015 my best year ever too. Stay tuned.

Have a great week,
Volker

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