Posts Tagged things happen for a reason

Sunday Column (489)

The bank holiday weeks are always fully packed. I remember 10 years ago when we worked 40 hours in 4 days to make up for the lost day. Being a freelance consultant this isn’t the case but you loose a day you can charge for work. So I enjoyed it with a fantastic BBQ with friends and the hottest bank holiday weekend since it was introduced in 1978. Does that mean we are on our way to global warming? We spend the Sunday at Brighton Marina sitting in the sun eating South American food. What is not to like? It felt like we were on holidays.

Tuesday I met another very interesting start up. Great to meet so many smart people that are starting to transform our industry. Yes I love what I am doing and the consulting role is actually growing on me. I have so much to give and so much to take care of and so much to help and to introduce to the market….it is fun actually. Does it offer the security I am after or the planning horizon? No, but it offers the flexibility and conversations with interesting and smart people I was missing at some point in my career.

The challenge is, as a consultant, that you always will be a consultant and don’t, at least for now, have shares or build a product which results in a big exit. But is that the ultimate goal? What I mean is that you don’t create anything but just go in and out, not being part of anything. And I still have a few years of wanting to build and create something for myself or others. So I prefer a permanent role for now, and then the consultant, life style choice career, maybe a few NED positions, when I am 5-10 years older. Of course it isn’t all age, but experience. Where are we going to be in a year from now?

Things always happen for a reason. Just imagine you go into any meeting, any conversation and imagine people just trying to help you. There is a conspiracy of people trying to help YOU. It’s one of the oldest tricks in visualisation and personal development and being successful in sales – just replace helping ‘wanting to be sold by you’. I am grateful for the industry friends I have, and the ones that are trying to help me. I am humbled by the help I receive and I know things will work out, they always will. And when I heard of another adtech collapse this week, I decided to pro-actively reach out to a friend there to see what I can do to make his life better. I care. And that’s how I differ from others. I am genuine, genuinely concerned, and don’t talk BS. And I always give it my best to make it work and do a good job. Someone asked me what is my ‘sales’ and I am just really good at building relationships, maintain them and build trust. Because I care.

Anyway. There are two things that stuck with me this week. A good friend of mine said that he appreciated my blogs and that really we are at peak performance when having to make it work. He is right. Also, there was another situation, actually two. One was when I was introduced to a headhunter by three (!) people within one hour for a job that she didn’t contact me for […] and you wonder why only 5% of jobs at my level are found through recruiters.

The other one was when I did something I haven’t done in ages. This week I had a couple of meetings cancelled, and decided to pack up my stuff, put away my headphones and just walked from Holborn to Kings Cross, went into the British Library, had a wander around looking at books and an exhibition. I took time out to take in different input. I then walked to Soho for a meeting. And I enjoyed every minute of London, the Library and Life. You have to cherish those moments because soon enough it will be all work and work and work. When have you last taken an hour to just do something you haven’t done for a while, put your phone and distractions aside and just enjoyed yourself?

Isn’t life fantastic I wonder? No I don’t, I know. I love it. I love life and its challenges. And I love my family and friends. I care. And I start to see that there are more people like me out there that care and help. And that’s good. That’s life and that’s how it should be. I spend the weekend with my boys, as the wife was away, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I made a conscious effort to put my phone aside, to be with them in the moment, take part in their life and being with them. It was fantastic!

Have a great week. Take your time for something you enjoy doing. Take the lunch break and just go for a walk through the park and sit down, smell the roses, and appreciate life.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (464)

Another week, another flight. Yes, you read correctly. As time of writing I sit on a cramped Easyjet flight back from Amsterdam. People smelling of stale cannabis and I wish I had booked a mid week flight rather than the ‘Monday after a long weekend from Amsterdam’ flight back. But I was only over for one day, one interview which turned into meeting people from the whole company. Worth the trip and experience. And when I say that, this isn’t necessarily that I got the job, as a matter of fact the positive noise in the meeting turned into a silence. It turned into something I knew would happened because I trust my gut. I trust myself and I know what I am doing. But when did you last turn down the chance for a final stage interview with a company for a big international role, a big salary because your gut told you not to? Anyway, consider it done.

However, nevertheless, the trip was very successful as it helped me in my decision making. As my former boss would say: Focus, Fight and Change the Conversation. That’s exactly what I am doing. More to come as things emerge over the next 6-8 weeks.

It finally got colder and the condensation is back in the house. We had to turn the pressure (speed) on our air distributor thingy up again. It also meant cosy nights with the fire on and it meant cold mornings in the gym. I am down in the garage 5 days a week now. 5×45 minutes of exercise. Slowly but surely I have the feeling that my body transforms, stabilises, I am getting somewhere, not gaining weight and not loosing more. That’s a good sign for me, at my age anyway 😉

Whenever you meet people in the industry, you always discover something new, or something you knew and look at it from a different perspective. I enjoy that challenge. I enjoy going out of my comfort zone and learn. Further I learned a lot about how people perceive me on LinkedIn. How one topic is seen as industry changing by some, yet hardly noticed by others. What I have been missing in some conversations this week is simple: the growth mindset. I am reading that book by Carl Dweck. The fixed mindset is about people believing their basic qualities, like intelligence or talent are simply fixed traits. The growth mindset is about people who believe their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. A love of learning. Like me, reading self development books and listening to podcasts all day long. You never stop learning.

Again, there will be more on that topic over the next few weeks. I am working on a concept to take this to the wider market, coaching and developing people. And people who want to be coached, want to learn. They want to develop. This week I spoke to mentors and coaches. I am getting the input I am looking for, the advice I was hoping for, but I only have 24 hours in the day. So I need to slow down, reflect, focus.

Life is about focus and about doing what you want to do and not what other people expect you to do. Life isn’t the way our parents perceived it and told us to perceive it. No fault of theirs, but that’s how it was. And what do I want to portrait to my kids. I vividly remember sitting with my mother in the living room and I said to her that when I come back from the exchange year in the US (I was 15 at the time), I might just become a car mechanic. She said that I should do at least A levels, and university or a good apprenticeship. A good foundation. She wasn’t wrong, and from what she knew then, this was the right thing to say. Now I wonder what would have happened if I did do a car mechanic apprenticeship. Maybe I would own a few garages now, making more money than I ever made.

However, there is something else: opportunity costs. Money is only one part of the greater life equation. How much money does one have to earn to compromise happiness? Which figure can you put on it? Can you really? Tell me. Direct message me and tell me how much your happiness is worth to you. And then put that money on the table and let me help you find it. Deal?

So how does a life look like for me 2 years from now? Ideally I work with a variety of companies in one capacity or another. Board memberships, non executive roles, advisory boards, hands on consulting and strategy, positioning, connecting and selling….a variety of things to make sure that companies are represented the way they should be. Additionally I would work with companies on corporate and cultural development. Coaching their employees to perform better. 1-2-1 sessions, analysing profiles etc. I would very much enjoy that plus management coaching. I have been coaching friends for a long time and mentored many, however there is so much more I can bring to someone’s life by helping them discover and connect with their inner purpose, connecting to their systems, and discovering happiness.

The right things come to your life for a reason, and at the right time. Be patient. Trust your gut and trust yourself.

To exciting times. More as my positioning is strengthening.

Love and happiness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (463)

Good evening. Sunday night and as usual a busy week for me. To start out with a summary, my Monday was super busy. Working from home to get an air ventilation system installed that pumps dry air into our house in order to reduce condensation and therefore the build up of mould around the windows. We don’t have a huge problem with that so the unit we got should solve it and I am excited to slowly but surely finalise the house and get it into the ‘perfect’ state. So far it is working fantastically. I know it sounds like a daunting task but over the years you want to know what’s going on in your house and make sure the systems are running smoothly and the heating is working, the lights, etc. – guess it is my German efficiency and I just want to keep it in good repair I suppose. Sad life but as I enter middle age, the house is becoming a priority 🙂

I also added some new features to our spare bedroom in order to display my Lego model I build and also to declutter my desk, anticipating I might work from home more often again. Then I don’t want to anticipate too much, as I am still not sure what I will or want to be doing next. My last official day was on Friday, so 10 months, two jobs (running operations and Germany), and some great people and experience. I worked my butt off, flew to Germany every week and I feel like I accomplished something for the company. Some people said to me that this isn’t fair, however it is a job, and life in business isn’t always fair, is it? I never thought about it, as my thoughts are about the future, about what I will focus on moving forward. No point of looking back, I cannot change the past.

Having a few drinks with the crew, reading the leaving cards and looking at a fantastic leaving present (a nice bottle of whiskey), I cannot resist to say thank you. The team has been fantastic, a great time at Rocket Fuel, a great culture and fantastic people. Thank you. You have been fantastic. It is a small industry and paths will cross again. If I am not misinterpreting the notes, I had a positive impact on most of my staff. For that I am truly greatful. Not often can you look back and think you made an impact on someone’s life or people’s life for the better. Gave them some thoughts, some advice or just helped them to get perspective. And as always, I am happy to continue this and be there as an advisor or mentor moving forward. Don’t hesitate to reach out. My mobile is the same and most of us are now connected on various channels. Thank you once again.

Coincidental with me having my last week at work, my wife had 4 shifts to work. That meant school / child minder runs every day with the boys. Great times and thinking about it, I really enjoy waking them up in the morning and having that one on one time with them. We adding more of that individual time too, so moving forward I plan to take the youngest to Karate on a Saturday morning. Not long I will find something with the oldest too. I think that’s super important to build the bond and trust with the main priority in my life (see article on LinkedIn too).

Then I attended an industry event this week. Wow. I am impressed. Or not. I know I have been in programmatic coming up 10 years, but really, the amount of “non existing knowledge” is crazy (and no this is not lack of knowledge from the host or speakers!). Lotame invited for an amazing industry event which really show cased what needs to be done on the data side of things. However, the comments coming from the audience and some of the panel members set me back years. I had an interview earlier that day asking me about how many industry relationships I have and how many people I know, and how much I know about certain tech providers. Maybe it is stating the obvious, but if I need to speak to any industry tech or need my way into any agency, I find a way. Yet even the best relationships won’t get you a deal. I am sales by trade and I know people. People know me, this is surely not a criteria to employ or not to employ me. I have so much more to offer: leadership, management skills, processes, fun, industry knowledge, connections above and beyond and knowledge how to sell technology. Oh yes, I do listen to customer needs and if I don’t know I only sell once the integration or product team actually gave their go ahead. Sales pitch over 😉

Anyway, in the process of networking and knowing people, now that I don’t really manage people at Rocket Fuel anymore, I add them on Facebook. It seems to be a nicer way to connect and be part of people’s life, rather than the ‘professional’ LinkedIn. Latter is becoming cluttered with similar posts to Facebook and is moving into that direction. I wonder where we end up in years to come, if Snapchat can close the age gap and become an important platform, or if a newcomer will enter the market. Who knows. As with most things in the industry, you cannot predict the future or the outcome.

As the week comes to a close I reflect. It has been a good week. A good 10 months. Life is good, and I am healthy and happy. The house is better and I can put my last 10 months aside to focus on my next … 10 years maybe. The future is key and it is going to happen. I might not know how yet but it will and we will be alright. We always will be. Believe.

Things happen for a reason.

Have a great week,
Volker

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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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