Tag: southern

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

Sunday Column (411)

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When a week starts with little sleep, you know it is going to be a long one. Hey ho, no surprise then. Additional to little or bad sleep came a virus. Nothing serious but I caught myself drifting away in meetings and just falling asleep. I felt knackered all week but surprisingly pulled through. Tough lad 😉 I couldn’t stop exercising, needed my daily early morning fix. To top a Monday after a busy weekend, we had a trespasser on the line and it took me 3 hours to get home at night. Some kid wanted to go on YouTube and ran on the tracks. WTF? To not miss my appointment with the embassy, I was worried and panicking about trains on Tuesday morning. But I made it and soon I have a German ID card. Why? See below. And I wondered then, whether this week could be any more eventful…

The non reliability of train services is something I am fighting since I moved to Hassocks. The challenge of not knowing whether you make it home or when. The “no control” of what’s happening and the “no information” drives me potty. Our old place, Beckenham would have been a 60 GBP taxi ride, this could have been done. Hassocks is more like double that. So far I always managed to get home and that’s the main thing. Having said that, I shouldn’t jinx it, but I am sure it is fine. One day the train companies won’t strike, the company will understand the needs of their customers and so on….anyway. I am learning to not get annoyed about it and accept it. Not always easy though. Yet whenever there is a delay, plans and meetings need to be re-arranged and cancelled. This shines a bad light on me. But I made it home every night. Not like others. The news about the tram accident hit me this week, how awful. Too well do I know that bit of the tracks, having lived in Beckenham and used the tram regularly.

Coming back to trains for a minutes. I am not accountable for Southern’s f* ups but I am responsible for my own work. I worked on the train Monday night, got a seat (commuter experience I suppose and a bit of luck) and got a lot done. There is a silver lining. You trade that with no dinner, not seeing the kids and an early start the next day. Another bad night sleep, it was a few times my youngest woke me this week due to nightmares or needing the loo. Thanks R, anytime 😉 At least it is not our new mattress which I believe is great: less back pain unless I sleep beyond 8 hours, which doesn’t happen very often. I can live with 6 hours sleep but would prefer a good 7 hours now and then. Never mind, avoiding alcohol and eating little keeps me focused and productive. I like to think so anyway. My exercise on top and energy is flowing. I am winning first thing in the morning, so how can Southern take that away from me? They can’t and won’t. I resent them. I am not even hating them, they are just not worth my time. So I stop writing about them, shall I 🙂

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I haven’t shared my thoughts about the new Macbook yet. My watch is great, an expensive fitness tracker with some nice features. Exactly what I wanted and I am enjoying it. Then I am debating to get a new Macbook. But the tiny one is not very powerful, yet enough for what I do. The Pro is nice but not necessary, too powerful almost but has this nice bar. Is it really useful so? I bet it is but not for me. So balancing that it comes down to my tax return next year and timing. Maybe the Macbook Air gets a facelift in Q1 and I get a new version then. Or they stop productions it. We shall see. But nothing out there that excites me but our new stove fan, which essentially just circulates hot air. However this is useful if your wood burner is buried in a hole in the wall like ours. So that was a good investment. Speaking of which I had to buy a new rucksack for work. My current one, after the first one broke within warranty, broke again. This time outside warranty. I opted for a cheaper version, why buy the same again if I anticipate it not lasting longer than 18 months. Bad quality, overpriced. Amazon review is not pretty.

Just when I thought I covered the week and wanted to congratulate the first female president of the United States….I was equally shocked to when I woke up and saw the results as when I woke up and saw the Brexit results. Donald Trump winning the election. Is that the dawn of a 4th Reich? Will he be as bad as people make him out to be. Surely not, one would hope. But we said that before. I am scared a bit. Markets are down. Brexit. Now Trump. What has the world come to? An article I shared on Facebook points out what we have been seeing for a while, something I strongly believe in. As we humans going through phases in our life, following patterns, so do nations, so does the world. Up and down. From liberal to radical and back. As if each generation needs to re-learn what we just been through. As if we cannot learn from the past. And some don’t. The article I read can be found History and Brexit and Trump:

Challenges for people seem to be the following:

1. They are only looking at the present, not the past or future
2. They are only looking immediately around them, not at how events connect globally
3. Most people don’t read, think, challenge, or hear opposing views

Isn’t that scary. And analysis shows it isn’t really the blue collar, low income class that voted for Trump. We cannot pin it down to intellect, probably American working class has a lot more common sense! Adolf is long out of most people’s mind. Most Americans (no generalisation intended, but I remember conversations when I lived in the states…) won’t even know about the 3rd Reich, or even think that’s just something in history that happened. And it did. But how could they learn from it given the distance they had to it. They are too far away, even Europeans have difficulties remembering it, which is even worse. I am scared. I am afraid that the things that changed in this world and made this world a better place come to an end. The fall of the Berlin wall. The end of the wars. Stabilisation in the Middle East. Peace across the world, or the majority of it.

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When I grew up I was dreaming of things based on what I knew. I now know things have changed. Technology has advanced. I dreamed of having two phones, one downstairs and one upstairs, to make private calls. I had no idea that I wouldn’t have a landline today. We cannot anticipate that things stay the same, so maybe change is good. We must be hopeful and we must believe in better. Look forward as Tim Cook said, moving forward together. That the human kind, which is a surviving kind, will pull through and will ensure us surviving and creating a better world. It strengthen my belief that it is down to us to make things happen, take massive action, to educate and to explain this to our children. We have to take on the challenge and responsibility for generations to come. I tried speaking to my 5 year old on Wednesday morning, and he asked if the world cracks when the “bad man” wins. I kissed him and said that love will always win, and that the world won’t fall apart and that we humans are a surviving species. And here is another dad trying to explain things to his daughters. And from one dad to another, let’s hope our children understand and never differentiate people on the basis of gender, race, religion, belief or origin. Never again. Aaron Sorkin’s letter is Vanityfair.

I am putting in for a British citizenship, hence needed the ID card. I am hoping to create a better future for my children. I want to stay in the country I love. That is what I am hoping for. What I cannot control is people and people’s decisions. Or maybe I can. I guess anyone reading this post will be influenced by my thoughts. Maybe I should go more public trying toI will continue to observe this thought.

We could discuss life purpose and all, but I guess that’s for another time. This post is a lot longer than anticipated. But what a week? Most people will get on with their daily life, go to work, do what they always done and end up shrugging their shoulders, thinking Trump is only in America, far away. We cannot do that and make the same mistake that in my view the Americans have done in the 2nd world war. We cannot wait until late to get involved. We must be aware and step in soon enough to stop anything awful happening. That is what scares me.

I am not someone for praying and above shows there can not be any evidence to do so. Yet I would suggest us all to pray, to gather and hope for the world to turn better again. And hopefully it will, one day anyway. We must believe in the love and the good in people and help educate the world. I fear to answer to my children in a few years time, and I cannot not be accountable for this world going to shambles. We must take responsibility for our nation and world. Everyone together, baby steps, and forward together.

Before I ramble on, I better stop. I am sad, not even angry. 9/11 passed this week. 11/11 passed this week. Lets not forget.
It’s the end of the world as we know it. Times are changing. Let’s hope and action for the better.

God bless America. God bless the world.
Volker