Posts Tagged strike

Sunday Column (428)

Another week. More travel. It seems as if the weeks just blur into one and I spend two days a week in a different place. I don’t mind, being away for a night, taking the Easyjet ‘bus’ from Gatwick to Europe. A 430 wake up call followed by a quick exercise routine, a meditation session, a shower and a ride to the airport. Then an almost two hour delay due to air traffic control strikes in France – I was on my way to Madrid. Those delays are annoying. Having just endured almost 12 months of conductor strikes on Southern Rail, I have no sympathy with anyone striking whatsoever. I keep saying it over and over again, I am thankful for the opportunities given to me in my life and wouldn’t want to jeopardise them due to strike actions or anything stupid like that. So I have little understanding for someone who would go to their employer and say ‘if you don’t do this, then we strike’. There are enough people out there that would take jobs and make it happen. Something I am missing?

Yes, there is an argument that if we didn’t have the unions, companies would do whatever they wish. They wouldn’t I don’t think. Companies have a keen interest in making their employees happy. To work with them, to empower them, to make work a nice thing to do. Maybe I am wearing some pink glasses here or something, but companies who are ‘abusive’ to their employees will not succeed. I cannot see that happen. Maybe I am listening to too many American podcasts suggesting that we are all in it together. That we can determine our destiny and people around us want to help us. We must be under that anticipation that an employer doesn’t want you to fail and want to do the utmost to make you happy and successful. After all they are spending money on you and your career. Mine does, and I am grateful for it.

Working in different places is critical. I love seeing the local teams, connecting and understanding the local challenges. Each market is unique, each view is different. Listen to their needs. It widens my horizon and gives me a chance to review what we are doing in HQ and whether we can change things, adopt some local practises, to improve things overall and to help moving the company forward. I enjoy that and believe it adds a lot of value to the company. I have another two weeks of travel ahead of me. Speaking at a conference in Germany which is tricky and challenging as it is a new corporate deck with a translation into German. I will master it and actually I am excited about it. Just in case I fly out the night before 😉 Then Sweden. Then I shall have a couple of weeks in the office before a family break over Easter. No flying then. As much as it is nice to travel, it is not glamorous and it does tire you out. At least I keep up my exercise routine and healthy eating (most of the time). Yet this week I felt a bit drained. The weather is to blame I guess?!

Further to travel this week I read an article in the FT about citizenships and Brexit. You can read it in detail yet the main take away for me was that if you lived here for long enough – and that is uninterrupted – you can continue to live here post Brexit. Or it should be fairly easy to get a passport/citizenship. Or you leave. I am not judging whether that is fair or not, but what I am saying is that if you have lived here long enough there is nothing you should fear. So why did I get the citizenship? Because I wanted to ensure I can stay and be with my family, plus I feel more British these days than German anyway. I don’t have plans to leave this country other than with my family and then we all would be foreigners elsewhere, on the same passport. That’s really it. I wanted to do it years ago but didn’t want to spend the money on it. Now I could and did it. The necessity felt slightly bigger of course. Anyway, this should all be done by next week.

If you feel I write too much about work, then please let me know. I just realised I wrote all about Brexit, travel and work without writing about work or family. If that makes sense? I love management studies, and I love work. That’s what I do and I enjoy it. Even my taxi driver said that, if he won the lottery, he would continue working. So would I, there is no way I could sit on my bum long enough doing nothing. I’d go up the walls. So I used the flight delay to catch up on some work, prepare a presentation, write part of this blog and think about life. I also caught up on some sleep mid air and arrived refreshed. Kind of anyway 😃

The remainder of the week was nice. It is nice to see trains running on time most of the time. It makes a huge difference to both my mood and my state of happiness. Plus the Friday ‘pale ale express’ session with the neighbours. Then I took the wife out for a meal on Saturday. Nothing fancy, just a very nice Thai place, a good chat and some ‘us time’. There is never enough of that once you got children. We are getting better in carving date nights out of our schedule, more than we used to. Then again the kids are getting older. Life becomes easier from a logistical point of view. Attitude, tantrums and questions and demands are the same pain as before, just different. Growing up I suppose 😃 Yes, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I hope all is well with you and yours.
From our little corner of the world, I wish you lots of love and happiness.
Have an amazing week ahead, and please share this blog if you like it.
Volker

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (407)

img_0522

Monday started off nicely and when drafting my blog I realised I ended up writing a whole post on Brexit. See Brexit.
So I had to stop myself writing another post just about train strikes on Tuesday. The RMT union, rightly or not, strikes. Again. Overrunning engineering works added to the misery. I finally was on my way on the first train (!) running from Brighton to London. Just before 830 am. Two hours later than anticipated. I am up early anyway. I can change my schedule but my employer expects me in the office for 9 am. And they should do. The ongoing situation with Southern Rail is inexcusable. It is utterly disgusting in this day and age. But I wouldn’t add anything to the conversation by getting annoyed.

So I breathe in and out. I decide how I feel. Southern cannot make me feel a certain way. I cannot change the situation. I can only accept it. Doesn’t mean I like it. Far from it. Totally out of my control. The same is true for my headphones. After spending a small fortune on my Bose noise cancellation wireless headphones I exchanged them on Monday. Interrupted and intermittent connectivity. I have been testing the new ones all week. It seems better and I am in close contact with Bose support. We will tackle that. The sound of the Bose headphones are just too good.

img_0523

The commuter nightmare. A lot of people feel the strain and pain. It makes people sick. And I wonder why or do I get sick? On Tuesday I couldn’t leave the house before 8 to catch any train. On Wednesday I was in London before 8. Madness. No reliability or consistency. The fear and worries of the train company’s delays reflecting bad on you and your ability to be at work. Companies luckily understand but they shouldn’t have to. And neither should we as commuters. A never ending story but shouldn’t we just get a reliable service most of the time? The other challenge is that most people don’t know how to use the commuter time. I have habits. In the morning it is very much about me-time. I read. Without (many) exceptions I try to go through a book every 10 days. On the bus it is a mix of emails, podcasts, preparation for the day. Depending on the day I might just chill out to some music. On the way back I work on the bus. Time sheets, feed reader catch up. On the train home I usually work. If there is nothing to work on, which is rare, I read or watch some catch up TV, an episode of a TV series or chill out. Moving forward I also will make sure to finalise my next productivity book. Once I finished reading Bruce Springsteen’s biography. Yet without that routine and use of the time to accomplish something, this commute would be hell. Now it is one of my most productive times of the day. The reduced strike service causes less delays and less time to work. I get home quicker. Bit odd, and counter productive 😉

Due to the strike I also changed my exercise routine. A nice run on Wednesday night, given I had time, resulted in a 43.16 for the 10K on my treadmill. Result. My body went in overdrive and resulted in some ‘stress pimpels’. Never mind. I enjoy challenging myself and pushing boundaries. I feel like I am moving in the right direction and get a few things done at the moment, clearing out the old, bringing in the new input. I am looking forward to a break, to recap on a few things, and make sure I am not missing anything in life. Half term is not too far away! On the other hand there are things that seem a bit off at the moment. Without wanting to go into great detail, just when you think things are all happily moving along, more change is in the air. I hope for positive change of course but that isn’t always guaranteed. Sanity is what you must aim for.

img_0524

Coming back to Springsteen’s biography I realise a few bits about life. No great revelations but essentially, as you grow up, you notice more and more that your life isn’t at all different to other people’s life. Bruce said in one of his chapters that ‘I loved as best as I could, but I hurt some people I really cared about along the way. I didn’t have a clue as to how to do anything else.‘. I see myself having done that in the past, and had to learn a lot about loving people. Something that just didn’t come natural to me. I am great in building rapport with people, mastering situations, dealing with people and having a higher EQ than some. Yet under the skin, the love and appreciation for people beyond the daily interaction was something I had a hard time learning. My wife would be a in a better position to tell you, but also my kids. It took me a long time to come to terms of what fatherhood means to me, and how to love kids in the right way. To appreciate them seeing the world from a different place and to understand how to change my perception to their level. It is a wonderful world, once you are in it, but getting there didn’t come natural for me.

Where is that coming from? I often had doubts if I could ever learn it. If I say that Bruce gives me the confidence that it is normal, I don’t have many other people I could ask. But that’s what you learn in life, that actually the challenges you have, the things that you worry about, are the same things everyone else is worrying about. With personal nuances of course. Talking about his puberty, Bruce writes ‘I was a punk, grumbling my way through….My dad’s journey on this ship was probably one fo the most meaningful of his life and I couldn’t respect it.‘ – and I can remember those days when I was just a grumpy old teenager, and so can many, that didn’t respect their parents. And looking back we will feel bad. When Bruce looks back and says he would like to turn back time to change it or get a second chance to make it better, we often don’t get this. We often only have this one chance in life, yet we mess it up. And so what, you might be thinking. You are probably right. I have regrets in my life but I am not worried, don’t want to go back to rectify them. I found my closure in life a few years ago. I went through the exercise of writing letters to people asking them for forgiveness and closure. The ones that wanted, replied. And it is good, it is healing for me, and hopefully it was for them too. We move on in life and need to focus on what lies ahead of us, not looking back. We cannot change the past or dwell on it. We would go crazy. Would I love to go back in time to rectify things? No, I honestly would not. Maybe I don’t have enough baggage and my things are small in comparison to others, yet when in puberty, I am certain my kids will go through the same thing and I will experience life from the other side. What goes around comes around I suppose. Cycle of life.

img_0525

I am not quite sure where I am leading with that. I look around the full ram packed train which I am on at 7 am in the morning due to the strike in order to get a seat and look at the commuter crowds. If we took a snap shot of those people and ask them the above questions, they would all agree. Life is what it is. No surrender. No regrets. Moving on and up. We can change the now and are obliged to make the now the best one yet. We must ensure that we always give our best, to keep winning and moving in the right direction. I am certain of that.

We sometimes remember snapshots that might be, over time, look bigger than they are. Like the famous objects in the rear view mirror. Yet often the opposite is the case. We lay to rest what we have to lay to rest. It’s done.

I am done. I am done for this week. An amazing week. I feel in more control of things and had a few things I took care of. Nice. I feel like I am winning. In my game. Getting shit done, adding value. But that’s all I want. All I can ever ask for, isn’t it?

Have a fantastic week,
Volker

, , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (329)

This week was rather pleasant. I got to spend most of it in Cannes at the international film festival, the Cannes Lion, where my industry (advertising technology) has been represented for a few years now. However, it is not so pleasant when we are looking at sleep patterns, food and alcohol consumption. Being on yachts, drinking Rosé and enjoying stunning views sounds good, but at the end of the day it is still work, networking, meeting, greeting and getting business done. Yet, I am not complaining about my ‘office environment’ this week.

So coming home on Thursday was a bit of a nightmare, mainly because of a taxi strike. I just don’t understand how taxis can go on strike over the innovation of UBER and blocking an airport? What about my right to choose services and paying what I think is correct? Public transport got us there in the end. A bus. Almost on time, and a walk in the heat. Because the trains were on strike too. Luckily, I don’t have more travel planned for the next few months. Of course this might change. And, I was lucky as some passengers and UBER drivers even got attacked. Burning tyres. A war zone…..a bit OTT if you ask me.

running on a beach

Another amazing moment was on Wednesday morning in Cannes. I ran my 10K along the beach boulevard, just before it got too hot. 7 am and I was off. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well, so little sleep, lots of booze, yet the run was good for the soul, and my body I hope. Keeping fit and having to do runs is a new experience. Am I addicted to exercise now?

Running along the water front, looking at yachts and enjoying the views, seeing lots of like minded joggers – that was a pleasant experience. I will continue to take my running gear to conferences I think, it is such a nice thing to do. Whether you do 5K or 10K, that’s up to you, but get it all out of the system and explore the city in a different way.

On that note, there was another thought that crossed my mind this week. Middle aged men, you know the guys that are old and have family and … yes, that’s me now. It sounds silly but somewhat I catch myself being this middle aged man. Lots of us going around, getting lazier and overweight, enjoying life because we can. Yet I focus on exercising and loosing weight because I don’t want to end up like most of us. I got that from my dad I suppose, he never wanted to get fat, and he never did.

And I am, we are, getting greyer. I am now that person I looked at in the past and thought, this is this middle aged person, the family dad … I arrived I suppose.

Life just moves on. In a good way I suppose. Life is good and I am not complaining. I even got a tan this week 🙂

There is a German saying, “von Nichts kommt Nichts”. From nothing comes nothing. Hard work, sweat and honesty, patience and good values get you somewhere in life. Whatever you want to achieve.

Say well and safe,
Onwards and Upwards!
Volker

, , , ,

No Comments

Lufthansa

Oh dear. I suppose you are not surprised to find a blog post about my recent experience with Lufthansa here. Instead of writing a complaint letter, I am writing this blog post of which I will send a link to the Lufthansa service team.

The story. After 5 hours sleep we woke up to get ready to go to Gatwick airport to catch a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. We woke up the boys, 3 years and 18 months, and made it to the airport for 8 am. Tired and with heavy bags.

Given my recent back problems this was pushing it and as you see later, if I had known what day was ahead of us, I had asked for someone to carry my luggage. So I also blame Lufthansa for my continuous back pain. But never mind, no way of proving it.

At Gatwick we were informed about a strike. Lufthansa was on strike. I had no idea. Nor did anyone email, call or text us. A friendly lady advised us that we would get some vouchers, a ticket for the bus to London Heathrow, and that we are booked on the next flight to Frankfurt with Lufthansa.

We complied as we had a wedding to attend. We had ordered kilts, kilt accessories, and the whole lovely outfit for the boys for this special day. Family and friends were looking forward to meet the Scottish family, the three men in kilts. I was proud and excited.

After a bus journey which was fun for the boys but dangerous since buses do not have child seats and our boys are far too small for booster seats, we arrived at Heathrow. Lufthansa put us in the wrong queue which we found out in time to save about 45 minutes. A friendly check in, an almost free meal and we had an hour left to board the plane….so we thought.

Our friends in Germany called and said we were delayed. No word at Heathrow. It seemed as if Lufthansa kept us in the dark but made information available online and in Germany. Further delays caused me to ask at the help desk how long it would take.

20120904-222837.jpg

Lufthansa totally understood, they said: travelling with children? Wife and you at breaking point? Only oldest boy allowed in play area (open for 2-8 year olds), affected by strike action, tired and at airports for 5 solid hours. Lufthansa booked us on a plane that was supposed to leave 5 minutes earlier than our delayed one. How nice I thought…

Whilst walking away from the Lufthansa service desk our delayed flight got cancelled. I thought that I at least saved to queue for changing the flight now. But will my new flight actually leave? Will Lufthansa in Germany have more information and will Lufthansa in Heathrow withhold information again?

Maybe I check? No one at Lufthansa in Heathrow was helpful. Best Lufthansa could do was a high rate German phone number they suggested I call from my UK mobile. Seriously? All you can do? No information, no caring, no love. We later called that number from a German landline and hang up after 30 minutes at 14 ct/ minute rate. Assuming this line had been busy on Friday it might have cost me a little fortune to call. So I am glad I didn’t.

When, at the end of my willpower to fly anywhere, I asked at the desk whether our flight will go today, they announce the gate. We got on first. The boys were asleep before take off (almost), very exhausted. I couldn’t sleep. We were advised there was limited food on board. I was starving. To cut it short: we landed in Frankfurt, asked the Lufthansa stewardess whether the buggy will be brought to the plane and they said yes.

I guess at that point I should have known to not listen to Lufthansa anymore. We waited 25 minutes to find out that the buggy would be delivered to the carousel. And as I found out much later, to one for extra sized luggage pieces. So we waited at the baggage reclaim for nothing. And this was literal, as our bag never turned up.

The lady we filed the claim with told us that up to 90% the bag should arrive that night. She offered to drive it to where we stayed as she lived close by. It never came that night. We went shopping that night for nappies, underwear and deodorant, toothbrushes and hygiene articles. We got our medication, contact lenses, new cloths for the boys, iPad charger, new dress for the wife etc. etc. the next day. We spend 660 Euros in 2 hours (or the wife did to be precise).

20120904-222851.jpg

The case never turned up until Sunday night. Many phone calls, attempted calls, being on hold, arguing with a stressed Mr. Stratmann, until I spoke to a very nice lady. I spoke to her twice on the phone, clarified things and had my case back. Lufthansa delivered the case at the end. With a taxi. Straight to the door.

A day late for celebrating the wedding in style.
A day late for handing over the wedding gift.
A day late for the presents we brought.

Never mind. We got there at the end. When checking in for our flight back with Lufthansa they checked our bag and it was 27 kg. They almost wouldn’t allow us on. I offered to buy another bag and get Lufthansa to pay for it. I couldn’t care less. They got us into the trouble. Their fault.

We got 485 Euros reimbursed. So we can’t complain too much as this is reasonable for the cloths we got. Still we would have never spent that money in the first place. Others couldn’t afford to. Luckily my kilt was in the hand luggage. Imagine finding a kilt maker in Frankfurt on a Saturday morning.

The flight home was pleasant. Colin and I looked into the cock pit, we had a friendly and good service, got our buggy and luggage and made it home. Exhausted. Drained.

Unnecessary evil. Maybe this could have happened with any airline. However, only with Lufthansa I had bad experiences in the past 3 years. And I fly almost weekly across Europe. Only at Lufthansa I applied 3 times to their miles and more programme and never heard back. Only at Lufthansa I get the impression they don’t really care.

This is my personal opinion. It leaves a bitter taste.

If in doubt or given the choice I would prefer other airlines. Solely based on this weekend. Plus past experiences. But those had been forgotten when I booked these flights. And this experience will fade also.

Safe travels,

Volker

, ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (144)

As a child I never travelled much. Austria or Denmark with my parents, usually by car and we never flew. That was fine then and I have no regrets. I wasn’t jealous of other kids that did fly. Even when I grew up, I never went anywhere. A short trip to Spain and a motor bike trip to Italy and Denmark. But that was about it. Another bike trip around the UK of course. Only when I got married, our honeymoon took us to Thailand, and boy did I love it.

My hotel was next to one of those towers, never noticed the other 🙂

This week I went to Madrid for business. Business travel is always a bit different, unless you get to know the locals. My luck was that our Country Manager in Spain is local but since he wasn’t free the night of my stay, I met with another friend who has lived in Spain for over 10 years. Now, I was shown Madrid. I am not talking night clubs but tapas. The little dishes you have whilst having a good chat in one of the local bars. Having a beer, or a glass of wine, a snack. It is fantastic. You find different and very fresh flavours. If you follow me on Foursquare you will see where I have been. Whilst I abandoned the daily use of Foursquare, I still check in at places I like to remember. Like a travel diary if you like. So, I just wanted to say that business travel, tiring as it is, can also be a lot of fun.

Now the strike action of the public sector. Only in Cameron’s Britain did I ever experience strikes, riots and high unemployment rate. I am might be biased as for the first 8 years of me living in the UK Labour was in power, and maybe they messed a lot of things up. But lately I get increasingly annoyed of what is happening. Anyway, arriving back at Gatwick there weren’t any queues, no problem whatsoever. Fantastic.

But enough about travel. Work is very tiring as it is, but very rewarding too. I even went into work on Friday when I had a day off. This time though to show off the family. It was great to just sit there on Friday afternoon and presenting the kiddies. And the wife of course 🙂 They enjoyed it and I believe my colleagues enjoyed it too. We then went home and did some Christmas shopping on the way.

We also went Christmas shopping in Bromley on Saturday. I believe we decided on a new hifi system so we can dock in our iPods and iPhone(s) as well as USB sticks. Not an easy decisions but as my wife and I are both half deaf, we don’t need a super duper hifi system, LOL.

We also made food plans for Xmas. I cannot wait. I know that after Christmas I want to change a lot of food and drink habits in order to live a lot healthier. We shall see. I have been saying that for years.

Last but not least I am very happy with our fibre optic broadband. I streamed an online movie on Friday night and it was fantastic. Good quality.

Oh, and a quick word about the kids. Every weekend I start enjoying Colin more. It seem as we get along better, communicate better and get to know each other well. Today we went for a long walk (10 km), of which he slept most of it. But even just being out and about with the boys for a walk gives me great satisfaction.

Enjoy December, I think I am slowly getting into the mood for Christmas.

Cheerio,
Volker

, , ,

No Comments