Posts Tagged stress

Thursday Flash (23)

Flash….

No way you living in the Moment – as a Buddhist this is tricky. We should focus on the present moment but our brains are wired to focus on the future. Even more important to train your brain daily via meditation.

Five ways to keep stress at check. It is all about connecting with what matter. Good friends, nature, the outside and disconnect from technology and disturbance. Taking a break from the constant pressure reallly.

The next programmatic revolution. A more industry focused article on why what’s possible with programmatic these days and how it is best used. Like it!

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Sunday Column (383)

Enjoy your bank holiday weekend! I even had Friday off and enjoying a mini holiday. The weather has been ok, sunny yet cold. We went for a nice walk, made bow and arrows and had the fire on. I know….we are having a relaxing weekend really. Good food, too much food, nice wine but also plenty of exercise. I was desperate to run the length of a half marathon and so I did. I really enjoy the challenge of long distance running, so you never know what I might run next…

This week is somewhat decision time upon us. There are many lose ends I feel and trying to tie them all up needs decision making. One of them is the car. We spend last weekend and part of this weekend to go through features, benefits, pricing, ideas, necessities around a new car. The finance offers for a new Skoda Superb are just too superb to ignore. So we are set on the car, we are set on the offer yet have to find the best offer in town. Maybe we can make a decision as early as next week, we shall see.

No doubt there is a basic decision on whether we need a new car in general, whether we want a new car and whether we want to afford a new car. The answer to most of those questions is yes, yet it isn’t an easy decision making. You also need to take into consideration what else is going on in your life.

And that is a lot!

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Starting with some family discussions. We are thinking a lot on the private side of things as well. Should we stay the way we are, should we change. What needs to change internally to keep up with changes on the outside. Lots of decisions and discussions are being made.

And then we are renovating the bathroom. That took a lot longer than anticipated but it slowly takes shape. Some more minor things to do and then one room should be done, another should get done over the next two weeks. The driveway might not get done until autumn, yet the trees will be planted in a couple of weeks time. Then we need to decorate, make decisions on things, change a window and so on. It never stops. I couldn’t do it without my wife, Jenny, who does such a great job organising things. We are getting somewhere, and we are happy. That is the main thing of course but sometimes things are just overwhelming.

We are happy, healthy and have food on the table. I have a good job and enjoy the space I am operating in. As a matter of fact the bit of the industry I am working on is just forming properly, so lots of things happening! What is there not to like.

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Yes, I now need reading glasses. I have headaches, aches, pains from staring at screens all day. I am hopeful the new specs will help me see what is going on more clearly, and release some of that pain I am suffering from. Age, I am getting older, I just did, but not the big one yet. Still one year to go. Yet I feel fitter than I ever did and healthy and all. Just a lot of strain, which seems to get more as you get older 🙁

So there is a lot going on in our lives. Once most of the things have settled down and we have made most of the decisions we needed to do, we can move forward and enjoy life a bit more again. More easy. I guess I am just not the type to be all cool about things when I can see there is so much more to be done. And when it is all at ease…then I get bored again, work more on my book and will be busy again. Life goes in cycles. 6 months cycles some people would suggest. But life isn’t all bad, life actually – in majority – is very good. And we must appreciate that. Daily. Never forget!

We also got a sneak peak to Colin’s next school he goes to in September. A proper tour, met one of the head teachers and I think it is all good. I was impressed with the school actually and it strengthened our choice of moving to Hassocks. Life is good, as I said, and sometimes you forget how well you have it.

Drinking water, hot showers, all there. A roof over your head, a steady job, health.

In those moments it is good to just sit down, calm down and appreciate what you have and what you got. To stop. Smell the roses.

Enjoy the bank holiday.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (375)

I am sitting by the fire. A cosy 25 degrees, wine at hand, heating off, and just above 3 degrees outside. The temperature plummeted over the weekend. We donated blood on Friday, and it was late and I ate that little, that I almost fainted. So Saturday I felt drained. Not sure why, maybe a bug, maybe the donation, maybe the temperature drop. Maybe my old age 😉

So sitting here by the fire on Saturday night is nice. Cosy. Comfortable. A nice Shiraz, my paper and the kids are in bed. We had garlic chicken for dinner with 40 (!) cloves. No vampires for us tonight then.

I get a lot of positive comments about my blog, and appreciate every single one. Even if I get notified of spelling mistakes. I actually appreciate being corrected, no way of hiding my heritage, despite close to 15 years in the country. Let’s see how long it lasts with the potential Brexit looming.

This week has probably been the most stressful one for a while to be honest. Not only was work challenging, I even had problems sleeping. Not even wine helped. It got better towards the end of the week and I chilled out a bit more. Still doing my runs and exercises in the morning. I am feeling pretty fit.

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However, next week I am in New York. For the first time in 23 years I am going to one of my favourite cities in the world. Not sure how I can say that but then again how can one not like New York? It has been a long time coming with about three occasions I remember where I was supposed to go to NY but never did. Now I am going. The flights are booked. Will I get a chance to jog through Central Park or see any of the city? I tell you next week I suppose.

I am dreading the flight a bit. It’s a bit longer than usual and I just hope to get an aisle seat or extra leg room at least. We shall see. One day it will be business class, right 😉 I got a few European trips coming up, some from Heathrow as well, because Easyjet has been changing their flight timetable against my schedule. Less business friendly to be honest. Actually I am surprised but guess they have done the research.

The world of business, travel and life life balance. Nothing has changed, yet in between I am doing an office job which feels like an ever growing responsibility, strategic mission, sales and product development. I am enjoying the challenge and it feels good to push boundaries.

Life is funny in that sense. I was home early one night and decided to completely engage with the kids. And I read two books with the youngest and did maths with the oldest. That was fun! It was a real pleasure to be able to switch off. I seem to be able to separate work and life better the deeper I get into either of them. That’s a bit odd but it seems to work.

There haven’t been many other developments. Without wanting to comment on politics it scares me what’s going on in the US re elections. It scares me to think what people think and do and what they think ‘is funny’ and what consequences it might have. Yet we don’t need to look too far, considering the discussion around a possible Brexit. It also surprised me to learn that Saudi Arabia had to borrow money as the oil price is so low and Korea as well as Russia launched test missiles. Hello? Get over it and make peace, live in harmony and sort out global warming. Never mind, why would Ballueder be able to change the world?

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Yet I changed a bit of the world this week. We took on two cats that needed rehoming. So we now have three tabby cats that are lovely and get to know each other 😉 When I say three, one went AWOL but I am sure she comes back at some point. And she did on Saturday night, putting up a fight to come back in. We hope it all works out. The kids are super excited. So after the dreadful animal experience with rehoming cats and letting the dog go, we are on an up in regards to the Ballueder zoo. Fingers crossed.

So I shall raise my glass to all of you out there. To those that don’t have a living room that is nice and cosy. The ones that are unhappy. I have been thinking a lot recently about my responsibility for others. For the world. The world we live in. I mentioned it in last week’s post.

You know sometimes you are waiting. You are thinking. And you are evaluating. Then you think you should do something and never do. Because there is always something that is not 100%. But nothing ever is 100%. What holds us back? What drives us on? What makes us decide?

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (312)

Two months into the new year. It has been a busy start with an acceleration towards end of Q1. I just came back from a trip just to go on to another, then another, a bigger pitch and an exciting conference plus another trip. Wow, the next few weeks will be busy. Good busy. 

I enjoy the travel, and have written about it at lengths. They are a bit of an escape and an opportunity to carve out disconnected time. Disconnected time you usually don’t take, as I feel like I am constantly connected, 5 am to 8 pm. That is wrong, no question, and I will deal with that over the next few months. It affects my sleep and downtime, however I have big goals for self improvement this year. Losing weight, changing my diet, running up the South Downs are part of a bigger picture. And I started. 9.9K up the South Downs, down to almost 90kg from 95 at Christmas. Dropping chocolate, snacking and disconnecting more often is next. 

The main challenge I have at the moment is tiredness. Whether this is the 5 ams catching up with me or the vivid dreams, the disconnectedness or some other stressful things in the back of my mind, I am not sure. Getting 7 hours of sleep should surely be enough, yet the animated, vivid dreams are what seem to crack me up. No nightmares but processing things way down my past history. I believe there is a certain stress factor with challenging times across my life.

A computer generated image of a chain with a broken link.

What I mean by that is manifold. The above mentioned travel and associated business at work cause a strain of course. Don’t get me wrong, it is good and I enjoy it, but life is coming with some challenges. I have some challenges outside work I don’t want to discuss here, but it never pours, it rains. Life is good though, with those precious moments; and we should never forget that, I get reminded when going to bed and seeing the little ones’ blanket off, when you pull it back over their tiny bodies, hugging them, and enjoying the moment to feel so close to them. To be able to teach them gratitude and to challenge the status quo. To build their own vision yet pursue their dreams, regardless of money. I want to be able to support them to do that. 

Those moment you can perish. Enjoy the hugs, and hug them a bit more. Sharing the love. When you, out of the ordinary, take their warm milk to their bed in the morning. When they wake up and smile at you. The smile saying that, I love you dad, and thanks for me being able to stretch in bed and drink my warm milk whilst waking up. The love you feel. The satisfaction you get from them being able to have some special moments. Small things in life.

And when you set up the first computer profile for your son to use the computer. And you explain him what a profile is. And you ask him to find out about which games he plays in school, and what he likes to do at home on a computer. They are growing up so fast. My parents always said you have to be 12 to use the computer. But things change of course, technology and exposure to it accelerates dramatically. Mad.

The ever accelerating spiral of technology advancements. The connective-ness and strain, faster moving world, pressure to perform, reply to emails quicker and deal with more in shorter time.

That is it for the week. My WordPress doesn’t show me the visual editor, just the html one, so the post might look out of order.

Love and Kindness.

Volker

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Job Hunt – a roller coaster ride

finish-line I reached the finish line. I am back in full employment, hence I thought I summarise what my thoughts have been over the past few months. It has been a roller coaster ride to be honest.

Where should I start. I started the race for a new job quite well but soon realised a few things: just because you get down to the last two or three out of 20 or 30 or more candidates won’t guarantee you a job. Even after seeing many people, companies might decide last minute to change the profile they are looking for and rule you out. I have been lucky with some interviews where they noticed after 1 session that I was short of experience in one criteria (out of 20) but as the weighting for that criteria was much higher than the other ones: I wasn’t a match.

All of this is of course fair enough, as you don’t want to start in a company where you aren’t a match. And sometimes you find that recruiters put you forward despite you missing that little bit extra, just to fulfil their quota. But never mind. I believe that I cut down the amount of recruiters I would work with in the future to approximately five. This seems like a good number. And the ones that are, know. Thanks for your support!

In our industry the supply of senior people is greater than the demand, so companies get hung up on one criteria. Big brand names, agency contacts, a black book of publishers and all that for a graduate salary. Digital is a flat structure. Between director level and MD/CEO there aren’t that many positions. And everyone seems to wait for a 2014 earn out. Will it happen?

The ultimate choice for me was again to do what I do best: fast pace, high energy and exciting start up! The title is not relevant, as it is the role that is the exciting bit.

For me it was important to go for the right role:

– Exciting product (tick)
– Healthy business (tick)
– Start up feel and environment (tick)
– Within programmatic (tick)
– Responsibility (tick)
– Smart guys (tick)
– MacBook Air (tick)

I need to be enthusiastic about a role and be ready to roll up my sleeves and get on with the job. Leading from the front and knocking on doors. After all I am a trained sales guy, the management part comes later. I believe I found just that role, in a start up, with some awesome, industry leading, cutting edge tech and ideas. Yeah!

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There are a few things that are key to finding a job. I am a natural networker and if I didn’t do anything else I met and caught up with a lot of people over the last few weeks. Some offered me a part time job (Thanks Admonsters!), some offered me commission based jobs and some are interested in me being involved as an advisor. I believe I came out better at the end with a more stable, more connected industry friend network, having shared ideas that might take off one day.

But after all it came down to decide between a full-time position and a part-time / consulting position. Since I got a family, a mortgage and big bills to pay each month, I opted for the full time, the more secure position. A consulting or free-lance position could be an option further down the line, maybe in a few years. We shall see.

However, making those decisions is easy. But the whole period of finding a job (which is a full time job in itself) is actually very stressful. Interviews, preparations, rejections (yes, not everyone wants you) and lastly waiting to hear and get official confirmation. The moment you stop looking because someone verbally told you that you are the next hire, you loose. Never ever take your foot off the pedal until the ink is dry on the paper. And, keep believing. Some company pulled their verbal offer after 10 days – leaving me in a bit of a limbo.

What made it hard for me is that I was always believing things work out, and given my Buddhist conviction on Karma. Having said that, you start doubting yourself, you start exploring other areas, but then things turn around again. Things will work out. They just take time. A week in recruiting is nothing. You get paranoid, you cannot relax, you cannot enjoy your time off. These are existential fears. What if you aren’t able to afford food for your family? What if you cannot keep up with the mortgage payments.

Finding a job in 3 months is hard. I just managed and ideally you need 6 months to evaluate all the right options and compare each opportunity against each other. Particularly during the summer months when companies are not recruiting, people are on holidays. Your mind starts playing games with you sitting around not being able to do anything but not being able to enjoy your time off either. Comfort food, take aways and bottles of wine help to calm you down. Herbal tablets, lots of exercise and a good support system help too. However, the times my wife and I were fighting because you are on the edge were a lot more often in the last few months than over the past 6 years of our marriage altogether.

These periods of fear and stress are periods to test you. You come out of it stronger, with a stronger determination to make things work. Even if it wasn’t your fault that you don’t have a job, even if you got a package to leave, even if it is all down to others, you will be more determined to do better. And you will. Everyone I ever spoke to came out of these periods with a smile and a better position and more happiness.

A time of reflection. A time you want (and I did) to give to charity. You need to keep yourself occupied and help others. Consulting offers, small projects, helping out for free but being busy. I wrote a book, so that is something good that came out of it already. You reflect on what is really important in life.

There are no tips but to be patient as the right opportunity will (eventually) come along.
Plan for 6 months and hope it is shorter.
Enjoy the time with your family; this time never comes back.
Look for a hobby to enjoy: read, write or work on the house: use the time.
It all comes down to timing, karma and belief….and yet, a bit of luck.

If you read that and need some advice, please contact me. I am happy to help, consult and show you tricks how to get through this. I was never worried of not finding a job, I was only worried to go crazy in between and loosing faith. Luckily nothing like that happened, and my wife is still in love with me too. I saw more of the kids, had a great holiday and about to start my newest adventure. I cannot wait!

Good luck to you.

Volker

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The last weeks

I guess that is the last post really before I am a 2nd time dad. Yup, I am very excited. Ecstatic really.

The last weeks….in particular…were the hardest. Anyone who prepared to be a dad will come across several issues. One of the most obvious is your wife/partner. She does change with pregnancy. It is due the hormones they say. And of course they are right. They keep forgetting a lot, being more moody but overall more nesting too. That means they excel in cooking and DIY 🙂 However, I do not want to write a guideline on how to deal with pregnant women.

I just thought I summarise the last few weeks. My wife agreed that I am allowed to mention her high blood pressure. But to be honest, there have been more problems with this pregnancy right from the beginning which limited my wife, our travel plans and our lives. We accommodated that all very well, and I think the whole pregnancy was ok-ish.

But the past weeks my wife’s blood pressure went up. That is not only dangerous to the baby but can potentially be dangerous for her too. Some problems and diagnosis were unclear, and we got shocked a couple of times whether damage had been done to either of them. And whilst of course we don’t find out until the wee man arrives, we are hopeful (and so are the doctors) that things are ok. So fingers crossed.

It also meant that out of nowhere my wife called me at work. I dashed home, drove her to hospital. She stayed a few nights in, was released with blood pressure drugs and just when we settled into our routine, there was a new potential problem. Same scenario.

My employer is quite lenient. So it was fine for me to leave at noon, going to hospital with my wife. Then I left her at 7 pm, going home to work until midnight. Flat out really.

But we wouldn’t have been able to do that without our always so helpful (direct and indirect) neighbours. They have been stars throughout the pregnancy looking after Colin at short notice, and jumping in to feed the cats. They are absolutely fantastic.

And, not least, my MIL – yes the evil MIL 😉 – no, we not only getting along quite fell for living in such a small space, she has been so great helping my wife doing the household, ironing my shirts, letting us sleep in etc. etc. For (in all respect) age and condition she has been a star throughout and without her we couldn’t have not managed.

So we are looking forward to Wednesday (tomorrow, or in 2 days at time of writing), not only to welcome our 2nd son, but also to put a stop to a stressful time. A time where we didn’t know what happens, didn’t know what tomorrow, today or the next hour brings. A time when I went home sick from work to find myself in the parking lot connecting to work via mobile dongle whilst my wife got checked out, me being pumped up to my eyes with painkillers.

We get our life back. We get certainty back. We are hoping for a healthy child, little complication, and fingers crossed, less frequent hospital visits. I can only feel and think of people with ill children/relatives who are under that constant pressure all the time. Only now I can understand how good our life is, and hopefully I will be able to cherish this one, showing love to all the other lives around us.

Not long now, and thank you all!
Volker

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Stress Management – Music

As you can see, stress management seems to be a popular topic. Why?

I think it is because I get fed up being stressed about things. Work, home, cats, garden, house – whatever the case might be. So, I was looking for an article on stress management and music. I bought some Buddhist Chanting CDs the other day and noticed that listening to them in the background whilst working on proposals, presentations or emails, actually calms me down.

On this site there is a whole lot to read about stress relief management with music. It really works.

So I dug a bit deeper into something I did at uni: Brainwaves! I used to have this programme Brain Wave Generator installed on my laptop. Every time I got tired or could not concentrate on my studies, I used to listen to some “waves” to make me more active, more alert. It worked well. So I installed it again to see if it helps me with my presentations and proposals too. I let you know.

Stress is caused if you are in the beta brainwaves. So aim is to reduce the waves to alpha waves. And, music as well as this brain wave generator really can help you with that. The generator even offers headache treatment and increasing of creativity. Awesome.

It comes highly recommended from my own experience at uni, so why should it not work at work?

Best,
Volker

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