Posts Tagged travel

Sunday Column (457)

Monday Monday. Oh yes, nothing like a 2 hour drive in the taxi on a Monday morning to Heathrow. Longest ever; normally it takes 1.5 hours max. So a bit of adrenaline this week to get to my flight, which ended up boarding late, and everything was fine. Being rushed I ended up grabbing the wrong breakfast and feel just so much better about the week ahead 😉 BBQ Pork for breakfast. Yeah 🙁 Calm, breathe. Life is good, and fingers crossed, I have yet to miss a flight. 25 trips this year so far. That’s on average every other week, and more to come. Wow, the most I have travelled in years. And I keep saying it is getting less, but I haven’t got any more news on that at the moment. I believe it isn’t actually the travel as such but doing an additional job that takes focus away from what I wanted to do in the first place. However, I know there are changes on the horizon, and hopefully they will be good for me. One must believe that moving forward things will turn out the way they should. Believe in the future and that the dots will connect looking backwards. And they always will.

Weekends. Trying to spend more bonding time with the boys we went on a long walk down Littlehampton beach last weekend. It was nice and we all just love being close to and at the sea. The noise of waves coming on shore and then the water disappearing into the pebbles. It is great and calming, it makes you feel far away from home, on holidays. Balancing life.
We also upgraded to the latest iPhone 8 this weekend. A bit of a hiccup, we had to go twice as only passports or UK driving licenses are accepted for having a credit agreement – no German driving licenses or ID cards. But we got there in the end, and it was probably the first time I used my UK passport for something official. The new phone is great, but not much of an advancement in comparison to the 7, and just a slight improvement from the 6s I had before. The main differentiation is water resistance, wireless charging and an improved home button. Having a hardware contract with Apple now, means we are eligible for an upgrade from 12 months and have a 12 months pay monthly deal with Vodafone. This gives us the opportunity to get a new iPhone every year, something I always aimed for. But nowadays the innovation year on year is getting smaller, hence the need to upgrade yearly is less. Anyway, let’s speak about that in a year’s time, as technology and face recognition will move on.

In terms of data, it was easy to restore the iPhone. Everything gets backed up in the cloud but my gratitude journal didn’t. Since February I have been writing a daily gratitude journal which seems to have vanished. This is a bit of a shame. It is a great practise to reflect once a day on all the positive things in life. I wondered if I ever look back at it…guess for now I won’t 😔 I will no longer trust an app, but instead will write the journal on Evernote. Maybe it is my fault for not backing it up properly and then restore it, but then again if it isn’t an obvious process in the app. Never mind. The NHS app I used for 5 years with my BMI/weight data has also vanished, but luckily I had a back up in Evernote. I just love Evernote! So for anyone who hasn’t seen my posts about it, please do use Evernote to track everything. I write my blog on it as it syncs cross device and I can edit it on the go, then copy and paste it later. I collect my Thursday Flash links in it and take all my meeting notes on it. Evernote for everything!

Germany. If short, I stayed two nights in Germany, Hamburg, this week. I went for a walk after work as I still can’t exercise, go to the sauna or gym. I overworked my back after the initial minor surgery, so I now need to wait until it heals properly. It takes longer of course. I reflected on my relationship with Germany, thought about whether I could live there again. I like Hamburg, enjoy the organised life and the city is just georgous. However, I also feel like that about Munich. In Germany, the cities are nice and green, not too big, and one can find a good life life balance within the city or close proximity. It is just right. But it doesn’t feel right. Just because things are ticking all the boxes doesn’t mean they are right for you. Logic doesn’t always prevail. Does that make sense? If your mind isn’t in it, it doesn’t make sense.

I suppose you can achieve the same in the UK but maybe not in London, maybe in smaller cities, or only at a price that is reserved for the few. Yet, I am very happy with my life in London, being able to have the best of both worlds, balancing both village life and city career. Germany yet somehow doesn’t appeal to me anymore. The latest elections aside, and the negative movement towards right wing politics, Germany is just another country – and where I grew up in. After moving to the US 25 years ago, I learned what life could be like in a wide open space and I enjoyed something bigger than what I had at the time. Germany, and to a certain extend Europe, is a place that can get too small. And if not physically, I feel like I couldn’t permanently live in Germany, as it would be too small for me. Not sure if that makes sense. Sometimes village life gets like that too, and without the escapes to London, it might not be for me either. Freedom – that’s what I associate with the open space I experienced. Like the pubs in New York that just have space. Or you find a 20 lane bowling alley in the middle of town with 15 pool tables. The space you have, the freedom you feel. And, as Europe moves towards Brexit, maybe Europe is just not the place to be in a few years time. We shall see.

Those are my thoughts this week. Of course there are more but I don’t want to bore you. Interesting chats about politics with a taxi driver in Germany. Booking of my next trip to Belgrade, Serbia, which will be new experience.
There were days I took the kids to school and felt very privileged to spend more time with them. They are my purpose and priority.

Another busy week and a week of no travel ahead. That will be nice and I have lots to do with the team this week in London.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (456)

Is it Sunday again? This week flew past. Literally. I enjoy flying somewhat, but as you know, long distance flights and change of sleeping and training patterns, I am not a fan of. I flew out to New York last Sunday. A packed plane. Not a week long trip like last spring, but this time it was a breakfast meeting with my new boss, team meetings, team social, team meetings and flight home. It could have been any city I stayed in. Home, taxi, plane, taxi, hotel, walk/taxi, office, taxi, plane, home. But it was New York, and it has its charm. I love NY. Seriously, this could be a city to live in. I was back early Wednesday, and the flight back was a bit bumpy. It was a good trip, and it feels like I am now where I wanted to be when I was a freshener at university: high jetting lifestyle.

That was then, in terms of objectives. What is now, is different. It took me all summer to finally go on a bike ride with my eldest last weekend. Bad excuses and not wanting to disappoint my youngest who still hasn’t managed to learn cycling. That is due to a muscle underdevelopment challenge he has. Nothing to worry about, but strength and muscle build up are difficult for him. Anyway, just going out and doing that bike ride felt good. No more excuses. On Sunday we did his homework together and my youngest won with a huge advantage in Monopoly. With my constant travel, and it isn’t as glamorous as I thought as a freshener, I want to make the most out of my time with the boys. Yet, at the same time, I need to carve out enough recovery time for myself too. It is that balance where I am still struggling and trying to find the right way of dealing with it. But I am getting better I believe.

No, in all honesty, I do not enjoy the weekly travel. It should get less now but I keep saying that for a few weeks now. Normally it is just one night a week, sometimes two. And that is ok, and particularly if it isn’t every week. Even New York was only two nights. For me, who works on a running and my new weight training routine and trying to improve my fitness, the constant travel makes it more challenging; this is particularly true as I overworked the scar on my back from the minor surgery I had a couple of weeks ago; I am now listening to the nurse and will stop exercising until it is healed up. Anyway, I am getting better to work around those challenges and the travel to achieve my goals, and whilst I am not shedding lots of weight, I am not gaining any at the moment either. This is a result, as muscles are heavier than fat anyway 😉

So much about travel and routines, and about having the feeling to neglect the boys every now and then. The fine balance between allowing yourself your own time, and doing things with the boys that they enjoy more than me. I am not beating myself up here, and wouldn’t in public, but I do want to share my feelings. The dads I discussed this with and who are in a similar situation, agree. It is a fine balance, and sometimes the weekend ‘hamster wheel’ just ends up wearing you out. Birthday parties, swimming, activities and taxi services. And then the pressure to be the bread winner and be the best you can be. I love my job and enjoy the work I am doing. And without a family I most likely would end up being a work-aholic. That wouldn’t work either.

Life-Life Balance is what I called it in my productivity book #BeBetter. Being able to balance your life at home with the one at work, and being a coach, mentor and trusted advisor to your spouse and children, whilst still pursuing and succeeding in a career. Living healthy on top of that and being a good husband. That is success. Either one of those could be classified as a success but you need to master all! That is key to not loosing it or loosing in life. And that’s really the content of my book, to balance the pillars of life, and making sure you are the one in the driver seat. You need to be in control of what you do and how you do it. Identifying when things like a bike ride is important or when you start a new project which is only between the boys and me. We want to make birds nesting boxes over the winter months. The shared experience and trust you build now will last a life time.

Coming back to New York, if only two days, was an experience. Once again, I fall in love with that city. It has space, you have a chance to buy cloths and food at a fraction of the price in the UK. I spilled gravy all over my jeans on the flight out and picked up (as a necessity) two Levis cheaper than buying one in the UK 🙂 Amazing. Food is just great. Particularly, but not exclusively, I love the burger and wine at the gate, just before you board the 10 pm flight. Then you sleep the whole way back home. And no one makes burgers like the Americans do. As a matter of fact I did sleep almost 5 hours on the flight back. The city just speaks to you, it attracts you, it is full of differences and great architecture. I love New York, you are just very special.

The trip was great. Getting the right heads together to discuss what is happening with our company moving forward. It feels good to be part of creating something bigger and amazing. Our ecosystem is ready for what there is to come. Or is it? I am not sure if I felt the jet lag or not, or if I just went with the flow, or I am just super excited, but the trip was great. Maybe it was to short to really get jet lagged. I will look back at this time in years to come to kick off something big, something industry changing. Isn’t that exciting?

America. Its service culture, its multi-culture, its burgers, its finger food, pool and bowling. I am going to miss you. Always will. Ever since I lived with you over 25 years ago, I have the urge to spend more time with you. That’s just the way it will always be. And I will be back.

Have a great week ahead, I am off to Germany tomorrow, not quite so exciting at all, and the flight is a lot shorter too 😉 No burgers at the gate for me, it is time to shed more weight.

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (453)

Welcome back. Yes, another very quick week passed. Last weekend was actually the hottest August bank holiday I remember. We were spoiled and spend most of the weekend at the beach – a variety of beaches to be precise – and enjoyed the BBQ weather. I love a sunny Bank Holiday in August! Didn’t I write about it being autumn already in last week’s blog? I guess it is getting colder in the evenings, the sun is lower on the horizon, and we nicely move into the Indian Summer. If it wasn’t getting colder, this could be my most favourite time of the year. It is I suppose. It almost seems as if the summer in England shifted to June/July and end of August/September. Maybe that’s the way forward and we plan our holidays accordingly next year. Rain July/August. Take notes.

This week was short. On Monday I managed a 10 mile/16 km run. I was struggling to be honest. Whether that was the elevation or the weather, I just don’t feel that fit at the moment. Similar on another run later in the week. With my diet on the go I eat slightly less than I should, but my multigym arrives next week. So full steam ahead to loose a few kilos which I will notice when I go to another running event. No decisions as of yet. With busy weekends ahead, I don’t see myself doing another 16 km for a while. Maybe I rest my ambitions until I know whether I was accepted on the London Marathon and once I have done some more strength training. I guess 15-25 km per week is enough to keep fit.

Whilst running I love listening to podcasts. Usually at 2x speed, I get through a few. One was about ‘when do you know when to quit’. And I believe it was Seth Godin who described things not going well as either being a dead end or a slump. So you need to evaluate quickly if it is a temporary slump you get out of again or if it is a dead end. That’s true for business or private life. For the dead end, there is no escape: quit. Even the most persistent sales person won’t be able to make a difference to a product that is a dead end. He also suggested that most ideas have been taken to market before. They have been tried and tested in one form or another. Learn from industry peers, understand the market, get an understanding of what is happening. Then re-evaluate before making a final decision.

The business and life advice I am getting through podcasts is immense. I almost believe it is too much at times. Physically I cannot read or listen to more advice, and everytime I think I heard it all or listened to all podcasts, read all the development books, there is a new spin, a new angle to a similar story. And I love reading about different spins of the same thing. Because essentially, most personal development theories are similar. So is mine. I actually noticed that some of my book #BeBetter looks at similar theories as the Energy Project: it is about bringing your life systems into balance. And this summarises most theories, yet every bit looks as a slightly different way of doing so, with a different emphasis on what’s most important, depending on your slightly different approach to work and life. And some focus on one area only and go a lot deeper. Fascinating – I find anyway 😉

On Tuesday something interesting happened. Instead of my usual breakfast I had a protein shake for breakfast. This is part of my exercise and weight loss routine. Accidentally, as a few other things were going on at the same time, I ended up forgetting to have my daily double espresso. At work we don’t have the greatest of coffees, so I decided to wait and see. By the time I got home my headache was that bad, that I needed a coffee. Unbelievable. It is interesting to see how dependent you can get on caffeine, yet an article I read this week suggested that three coffees a day really prolong your life. So I should be good 😉 As my mentor Darren Hardy says, every now and then you should give yourself a break from something, just to make sure you are still in control. I am. I decide what I do. I am in charge.

Travels went well this week. Another couple of days in Germany, supporting the team and meeting some important people, catching up and strategising. The hotel was noisy, sleep poor and I am struggling to come to terms with the quality that Hilton offers vs. my recent experiences. It must be very hard for a brand to represent values and standards and enforce them across a variety of businesses on a global basis. I suppose it is part of my job to ensure exactly that on a B2B level. Not always easy, yet my team is excellent, I have to say. The team at the Hilton in Hamburg seems to be not so well trained, particularly to the Hilton I stayed in in Düsseldorf, and the difference is mind blowing.

More disturbance happened when two appointments that got confirmed got moved last minute, then moved again and I got different confirmation from different people. Again, people in client services. Very frustrating and in line with the service level I mentioned above. I guess it all turned out ok in the end, and it always will, but time is passing quickly and there is so much to do and so much to sort. Time flies, literally. I am struggling sometimes to focus on the right things and channel my energy to the right things. There were some aggrevations this week where I clearly wasn’t in charge of my energy, and then I have had a few situation where I decided how I felt about where to channel my energy to. Balancing my energy system and being on top of the feelings is not always easy, rather hard at times. Keeping my zen and adjusting, learning. But I am managing better as I get deeper into meditation and balanced life, mind and better sleep 🙂

On that note, I had a relaxing weekend. Travel makes you tired.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (448)

Finally, reaching some milestones this week. Firstly, I am writing this post on my iPad Pro. Yes, after the contemplation of upgrading or not, I decided I’d go for it. The keyboard is fantastic and better than the one (the good one) was for my iPad mini. Size wise, it is almost a bit too big, or too close to a laptop. However, the screen size is good for reading and, with my continuous bad eyesight, I enjoy it. It is less strenuous on my eyes. Now, essentially it is a laptop replacement, and with the new iOS coming out later this year, it will even be more productive. For emails, for anything else, it is already what I always wanted.

What about the Apple pencil? Now this is a good question and as I would say: too early to tell. I love the opportunity to have one, but recently I haven’t done too much brain storming on the road. Yet, ultimately, the pencil and the screen sensitivity, is a white board in a pocket. So what are the next steps? Moving to paperless completely, and removing my notebook at work and moving everything to Evernote and notes. Why not? After all those years, it still doesn’t seem acceptable to use an electronic device where you could just do your emails instead of taking notes. I am certain this is going to change moving forward. Also, having drawn a few sketches this week, it really works so much better than any pen I had before, e.g. the Evernote stylus which I sold on ebay.

The next milestone? My last trip to Germany for probably 4 weeks. Yes, it feels like my job in Germany is done. We turned it around and kick-started a few important meetings this week. Now it is all about the regular follow up, building relationships and establishing needs. That must be done by the guys in market, from the market. No more need for me; at least for now. I am here to mentor, to support and help, but it feels like the main job is done. That is nice and deeply satisfactory. A job well done, and I am a bit proud of the achievements over the last few months. I will still go back to Germany for a few visits and the dmexco exhibition in September, but that will hopefully be it. Then, I would not be surprised to do another international role soon which requires me to travel, but hopefully less often and to a more variety of destinations (I technically already have an international role). Time will tell, it is all change.

So what is next on the time line for me. With the sales of the company being announced, the next 3 months will be business as usual. I am working on a very interesting project and hope that this will continue once the companies come together. That is about all I can say at the moment. However, the quieter summer months should allow me to work on a seminar of my book. I also want to look into podcasts and webinars potentially. We shall see, but my ambitions are to refine my #BeBetter book material into more bite size chunks for people to utilise in their daily lives. This probably takes me to the end of the year at least. From there I am keen on working on my next book. I have a few ideas that are kicking about and I like to put it to paper.

I also started looking into my training schedule. Clearly, and you might remember my writing on weight loss, exercise alone won’t make you loose weight. So whilst maintaining my fitness level and increasing my distance to a half marathon distance by mid September, I also want to do two other things; firstly my diet needs to have a revamp as I am falling into the habit of eating badly, particularly (and no excuse here) when travelling. Secondly, I want to focus more on strength training and support the wife in her efforts to do so too. As a result I’d like to reduce my weight by about 3-5 kg, more measured around circumference and body strength as well as fat content. Over the last few months I have been a bit relaxed with what I eat and need to revisit my daily eating routine. As anything, it will be looking at new habits. Less travel should allow me to do so.

On the note of health, my toe which I ‘damaged’ running, got infected. That, the man flu, the travel and the weather being so awful for summer, got me quite into a ‘down slump’ this week. Not that I am not motivated to get things done, never ever am I not, but it feels like things are dragging on a bit. Trains seem to be back to normal but wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the hot weather we had for a bit longer? After all it is the end of July. My parents came to visit over the weekend, stocking up my wine ‘cellar’ and I managed to chill out and relax a bit over the weekend. That was nice and needed.

Overall it was a very nice week, slow but good and I do feel like I accomplished something. That is great.

Have a great one yourself,
Volker

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Sunday Column (445)

Same old … no things are in constant change. It is hot in Europe and I truly enjoy it. Kind of….we really shouldn’t complain about the nice weather. I personally just don’t like it too hot. Anyway, the week was quieter than usual, so just a normal week, and part of it is due to the 4th of July bank holiday in the US. Happy Independence Day!

Then my old iPad mini keyboard broke. No, I didn’t (yet) buy an iPad Pro, but I replaced the 85 GBP Zagg version with a cheaper Tecknet version. Not the same, but I will get used to it I am sure. At the end of the day, I already made the decision to buy an iPad Pro, so now it is a timeline decision. Maybe I see how the connections change in autumn, and if we all get USB C ports instead of lightning connectors, and also there might be an upgrade to the iPad Pro 2 in spring. We shall see. Flying from Heathrow mid day in order to get to Munich in time for a dinner catch on Monday up resulted in a delay and things just didn’t go as planned or hoped. A short and exhausting trip. In the queue to the flight I met someone from Munich. He was from Liverpool originally, studied in Aberdeen about 10 years before I did. And he moved to Munich for his love about 17 years ago. Coincidence, I am not sure. People come in your life for a reason. Life is full of miracles and connections. What is the chance that I started to speak to him in the queue of all the 150 odd people I could have talked to.

This week was the first time I really got annoyed at the constant travel. Mainly because my family isn’t that happy. Not only do I hardly see my wife which annoys both of us, but also the boys are getting fed up with me being away all the time. Understandable. I also look forward to not travel next week. I guess there are a few busy weeks ahead before travel will mainly be for holidays with the family. And I cannot wait to enjoy some downtime with the family soon. The last few months were full on, enjoyable, but exhausting.

On the plane I started to reflect on H1. My first 6 months in the current job. My wife going back to work. Achievements I have made, reducing coffee, publishing my book and moving forward with evolutionary coaching. To understand how learning works and how the “One Thing” allows you to focus and makes everything else unnecessary or easier. Yes, I am striving to apply further productivity techniques to constantly improve my work flow and strive for perfection. One of my staff asked me for the recipe the other day, the recipe to stay on top of everything all the time. Inbox, Google’s add on to Gmail, and the snooze and reminder function are crucial for me. The last 6 months have been busy but good busy, I truly enjoyed them and I genuinely love the work I am doing and the people I work with.

I am happy and slowly try to teach the boys two important things: one is that happiness comes from within. You cannot buy it. You cannot buy it with a great and expensive car for instance. And I have to admit that the Jaguar is nice but whilst it makes me happy, I am not attached to it 🙂 That took the lesson a bit to far, and the oldest said he lost me there. Fair enough. The other lesson is that they need to think. For them to listen, use their brain and then speak. That’s another difficult one for a 6 and 8 year old to understand. They are doing very well. And the weekends and time I do spend with them, they are understanding if I am tired and cuddle up in the movies and are good pals. Until of course they start being typical children and do your head in. Then we go back to play UNO, and I did not count the amount of games we played since they started end of last year. They love it. Same as Trivial Pursuit. Monopoly is next again I suppose, we haven’t played it for a while.

As we go through those phases I have been thinking how they turn out when they are older. Will they become engineers and little brains? We don’t want to dictate them what to do. They already are little brains of course, but what will drive them on. What will they teach their kids and when am I ready to let go? Let them get on with their own life? When will I have enough trust? When did my parents, if ever? They do now – I think. I hope so anyway 🙂 As a responsible parent I need to find the cut off point. And I am sure this will come over time and I will understand when the time is right. My wife surely will support me in my decisions. We will not be able to always watch over them. That’s one of the hardest things to learn as a parent. I think so anyway. And when letting the eldest walk with his mates the last 500 meters to school….that is a first step of independence. Wow. Letting go already?

It was a good week. I got a new white board in my office, a new stand up desk, and I made progress on a project. That strives me on. And I managed to take the wife out for a meal, play UNO with the boys and got cuddles.

What else to ask for?

Love and Kindness from my little corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (443)

You know the opening line? Maybe slightly different this week. My last Easyjet flight for a while. No, I wasn’t fed up too much with them, almost accepting the standard hour long delay on a Monday/Tuesday morning, but they changed their flight schedule. No more early morning flights to Hamburg. So I am back to Eurowings and BA for the next few weeks. I also did my last longer, 3 days, trip to Hamburg. Moving forward it will be a two day visit with 2 hours total commute to the airport. The joys. However, we came a long way with work in Hamburg. It has been a pleasure to guide things so far and change things accordingly. Now it is about guidance and supporting the new set up.

It is a bit of accomplishment, a bit of 7 years of Easyjet, a bit of early morning tiredness that makes me feel a bit melancholic. Seriously, it ain’t over yet. The hard work only just began, but it is the fun bit. It’s like getting your kids out of nappies, to get this annoying phase over. Then it is fun from there on, still challenging but different. And personally, I love the stage the boys are at. Different interests, different favourites, different developments. Own characters. My most favourite thing last week was on Friday night when I came home and heard that the younger one peed on the older one. The older one took it in stride, given it was in the bath. Yet when I explained to him that I was the younger one once, he as ked if I was that annoying to my older brother. Of course I was. That’s the way the younger ones are. No matter what the age difference is. And when they fight in the car for attention and ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways of doing things….or when the oldest says (not in the car) ‘daddy you can have a nap, we are entertaining ourselves’. They are growing up so quickly. It is great pleasure yet just not enough time with them.

We started playing Trivial Pursuit and it helps them learning a lot. So do we as parents. It is interesting to see their logic and how they put things together. I am just loving it to be a dad. And every weekend it is getting better it seems. Last weekend for instance we went to Laser World for C’s birthday and attended the local school fair. Boy was R excited to do the Maypole dance, whilst C just loved finding more cuddly toys for his bedroom. The difference to last year, letting them go at the school fair to do their own things, is immense. Giving them wings, and now it is about guidance, what to do and what not to do, yet under daddy’s protective shield and help. Just don’t fly too close to the sun. Amazing times ahead. And this weekend: a sleep over for one with mum and Beavers and Daddy time for the other. Fun and one-on-one time. So good.

The Greenfall fire, and I touched on this briefly last week, was horrible. I think it totally surprised me to see the video of one of the flats. It looked to me like all the walls and plaster boards were burnt to the ground. The glue was still on the wall, the bathtub was around and that’s about it. And of course you ask questions of why there weren’t any sprinklers or why was material used that was declared as being unsafe in other countries. And why did no one listen to the people making the council aware of these circumstances? 70+ lives I believe were claimed. Totally avoidable. It makes me furious. Totally for no reason other than profit and bureaucracy. Whoever carried the responsibility for the refurbishment, this person should go to jail. Full stop. No excuse. Shocking on top of this was an interview I saw Friday a week ago. News Night. The moderator was shaking, asking Theresa May questions and she avoided EVERY single one. No compassion, just being a politician. Wow. What has this country come to in the last few months. I am appalled. Time for change, no doubt. I never liked Corbyn but at least he seems to be human! I give May a few more weeks if that. Given Trump in the US is under investigation by the FBI, things are unravelling. Let’s continue to watch how things will unfold. Brexit negotiations started, and the negotiating party doesn’t have full control of the government. At least any Europeans that lived here for 5+ years should be allowed to stay. I am glad I got my passport, I don’t trust those promises anymore.

I finish this post early. I started my day on Wednesday at 7.30 local time (DE) in the office. So when I left the office, given I had a quick lunch, I had done 8 hours. Now I am on an almost empty flight reflecting on 3 days in Hamburg. I am tired. I did my run. It was hot. I made progress. I met friends. I didn’t sleep well. I got s* done. Yeah, that’s the way I like it, that’s the way I roll. I cannot stop, cannot just pause. A flight is a welcome time to sleep, chill out and think. A quick call with a friend from the airport, a thought about the weekend ahead, and some reading. Taxi home and some work, then seeing the wife.

Do I like it. Actually I do. I could do with more family time and less travel, but I also feel that I am needed. And that is a nice feeling, that I can help and support people who need me.

From my little corner of this world I hope you have an amazing week ahead.

Love and kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (442)

I love flying out on a Tuesday. The planes are emptier, the airport is busy with tourists, yet things seem to go smoother than Mondays. Soon I have to fly both ways from Heathrow again, Easyjet stops flying out early from Gatwick. However, as I am going less often, this will be manageable. I didn’t miss not flying last week, and the boys truly enjoyed having me around. On Friday I had a half day, which was to look after the boys. We had an amazing weekend: bowling, pizza, going on the bikes and just having loads of fun.

The weekend was topped by my oldest son’s birthday on Monday. I managed to work from home. So not only could I complete another run but also be there for the 7 am, with him being awake from 5, unwrapping his presents. A new pod or Walkman was the main present, another cosy blanket, and a fidget cube. His actually birthday party was this weekend with a trip to Laserworld. Whilst I cannot believe that he is 8 already, I sometimes wonder how time flies.

Also, we went to the youngest school fair. I remember going to that fair a year before we moved to Hassocks. It is a village get together, a catch up amongst dads, mums and kids of course. A great way to spend a sunny summers day. Great to see you all.

When I was 8, I am sure, I cycled around town on the roads. Maybe I didn’t. My oldest isn’t, and I am still protective of him going up the hill and cycling down in our quiet cul de sac. Maybe our generation is too overprotective. Maybe we fear the worst. Last weekend, we took the bars on the side of his bed off. He still wiggles a lot but claims he slept in beds at friends without bars and didn’t fall out. What if he did? He won’t die falling out of bed. But we fear for their safety and security.

No, I am not knocking fear. Just the opposite, fear is healthy. The reason I write about it, is that Tim Ferris in his latest TED talk is speaking about conquering fear. One of his guests stated that if you make easy decisions you have a hard life but if you make hard decisions, you have an easy life. We must make decisions and approach and conquer fear. One must ask the question what the worst possible outcome would be, and if that’s happening, what would you do instead? How could you escape the worst possible situation if what you fear actually happens?

A coping mechanism. And that’s what in my opinions systems are all about. In my book I write about best practises to work on your own systems and define your own habits, routines: systems. Due to lack of time I havnen’t really started to formalise a more condensed approach, e.g. a seminar or one pager or video. This is still all to come and my next project on the horizon. Life doesn’t have to be difficult. Even with doing two jobs, I don’t feel that I am overworked. Sometimes there is too much to do, but on most days I manage fine. Delegation, systems, decisions and focus are key. However, when I worked from home the other day, I was sitting in the living room around 7.30 pm and thought I should carry on. I don’t normally have that much time, but I did miss the 3 hours commute that day, on which I normally finalise a few projects. Systems absolutely help to get on top of things, stay on top of tasks and manage team members well. Yet, more often than not, I am still the one doing more than others, just because I very much enjoying it. Life couldn’t be better at the moment I find, and it seems as if I am settling in just fine.

Just as I think life might be a routine itself, and it never is, there are new challenges ahead, and new decisions to face. Being surrounded by great teams and support staff, I think we can turn up the heat one more bit. I want more out of life, enjoy it more by achieving and experiencing more. Life becomes almost like a drug where achievements sporns me on. Where I feel like I would like to achieve more. This isn’t even about money, ownership and possessions but about owning experience and learning, knowledge and a better system to cope with more. This is particularly true in times like these where we don’t know what the Brexit strategy is or how our government will look like in six months time. Uncertainty is part of our life, in politics and elsewhere, yet Systems stabilise those and make it bearable and conquerable.

One decision I can speak about soon. I want to discuss it with some friends and noodle on it. It is a sporting challenge, but as one says, if you are thinking of already doing something, haven’t you made your decision already? This goes in line with some news I heard this week and some connections I made this week also. Positives and Negatives. Life is yin and yang. And we should honour what we have, and enjoy whilst we can. The terrible fire in London this week reminded us yet again that we never know what’s around the corner.

I guess I talked enough about systems and fear today. In other news I had a quite enjoyable trip to Germany this week. Short and sweet or Kurz und Knackig (short and cross/crisp (?)) as the Germans would say. It is funny how some things cannot really be translated. I came across a quote last week ‘ein Affe auf dem Schleifstein’ which just doesn’t translate. A description of a monkey bending over a far too small tool/table. The look you get if you put your 8 year old on a bike of a 3 year old. Never mind.

Have an amazing week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (437)

Another crazy week. I am getting used to it and honestly, actually I am enjoying them a bit too, those weeks. I flew out to Hamburg on Monday, this time with Easyjet again, and it went ok. The seats, non emergency exit, are awful, but other than that it did the job and got me there on time. Just too small for my long legs, so no proper sleep. Back in an empty Eurowings with a glass of wine, needed after a back to back day. I try to maximise the time I have in Germany. And every time I believe things are all dealt with, something new comes up. Amazing.

Some of you might read this and go ‘Why is he doing it, why is he loving it?’. Let me tell you the story of my life, which you might have heard on here before. I enjoy being busy, sorting things, helping people, supporting and developing people and work. Yes, some people call it work, I call it fun. I don’t mind burning the candle on both ends and push things forward. 10 years ago I would have worked 24/7, and sometimes it felt like that. Why? I don’t know. Just what I enjoy doing. What do I really want to do, someone might ask. I enjoy running, and taking companies/company units forward, working with smart people, being successful. That’s it, simple. Learning.

There is a flip side to that too. Since I had kids, priority shifted. So I am not burning candles on both ends anymore and look for a more balanced life. Running, enjoying a glass of wine, good food, a BBQ at the weekend, quality time with the boys, the wife and friends. I enjoy my fun life too and I do enjoy things outside work. Listening to the OneThing podcast, there was a chap on there the other day, re-iterating that the first thing he does every year is to plan his holidays, then the kids’ school events and he never works beyond 6 pm. And he is mega successful. Similar to the Energy Project, it is about renewal, boundaries, regular breaks and refuelling and regenerating. I learned that over the years, moving from start up to start up, and apply it now. Not every day but most days. This is mega important and should have been more of a focus when I was younger. So when I can, I still work a lot, and if I have a higher priority, then so be it. As a matter of fact I was reading my emails this morning when my youngest woke up. He looked at me and I said, that I should really put the phone away, and he nodded. I did. No question. We must set examples, and make sure they balance life from the outset.

So with all the travelling, cudos goes to my team in the UK for being so patient with me and going through video conference sessions to catch up and the team in DE for the support and commmittment. We are a great team, great company and everyone is working so hard to make things work. Our earnings report this week shows we are so on track to win. I am loving it. Well done all (if you read that anyway 😉 ).

I am buzzing. The biggest cudos of course goes to someone else. My wife and children for putting up with my absence and supporting me throughout. Whether through endless WhatsApp emojis in the morning or funny videos. I love them all and really appreciate their patience. Particularly if I am not feeling too great at the weekend due to some virus. But that seems over now too. So this weekend was family time. Full on.

As I am flying back and try to catch up on some admin, I am wondering about a few things that have happened this week. The days melt into one, from early morning runs, early mornings in the office, discussions with old friends over beers, or endless meeting marathons. It is a lot to take in and as my brain digests this over a glass of vino, I am remembering the often quoted phrase of connecting the dots moving forward. Steve Jobs.

Yes, it all works out in the end. And everyone understands and works in the same direction. Life is for living and moving and looking forward. However YOU want to define that. I am reading an amazing book about evolutionary coaching. I listen to my podcast and I am learning constantly. I am buzzing with new ideas. Life is there to grab it and be successful. Again, you decide and you define what it means to you. Not to look back, regret. But what I also notice is that it is a lot about living and representing values. About agreeing or disagreeing on the path. And that’s the secret. In a relationship with a partner or in a relationship at work. Trust comes to mind. Openness. That’s what life is build on. Maybe not a secret. It all comes together as you get older.

I am happy. That’s the main thing. But more important is that my loved ones are and the ones in my care. That’s what I do. That is who I am. That is how I strive and determine success.

With that said, I am off to Hamburg again on Monday. Different meetings, different discussions, and I am looking forward to it. I make things work. That’s what I do.

Thank you all for bearing with me,
Volker

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Sunday Column (436)

The days after a bank holiday weekend seem busier. On the one hand as one thinks the work load has to be caught up with, and on the other hand, when working for American companies, you have a day to catch up with the US’s input. Luckily for me, this isn’t too much the case at the moment, and most of the International territories are still off. So a good few days mixed with work loads and a day working from home on Friday. That is to take care of the kiddies and finalise and review a few projects. Reading a book about ‘Essentialism’ makes you prepare to focus on what’s important and put your energy and focus onto what is really important and makes a difference. Puh, a great week.

The weather. I don’t often speak about it and it had been awful last weekend – to an extend we put the fire back on in May (!) – yet it smells of spring, sounds like spring, feels like spring. A bit too dry, not warm enough but it seems we are getting there. Spring and summer are on our door step. Let’s hope we see some nice weather ahead in the upcoming weeks. It can’t get worse I suppose. We managed a BBQ at the weekend. Just, making use of some midday sunshine.

I feel like this week a lot of things fall into place. Let’s hope this is a trend to be continued. Making decisions and focusing on the essential things, is what is key. Finishing above mentioned book on Essentialism by Greg McKeown, really puts your life into perspective. It is highlighting some topics I addressed in my productivity book about habits, routines and focus. Having done 30K in 4 days this week to focus on stretching my fitness level, followed by a deep tissue massage, stretches my body. At the same time I manage to stretch my mind and thinking beyond what I have done before. Getting more done than I ever have, sorting things and seeing results. From little things like giving away our sandpit which no one wanted at first, to filling the shed with new fire wood for the winter (German efficiency), and more important tasks at work. Sometimes it is hard to make decisions but that’s what you have to do. Life is lonely at the top 😉

Writing this as I am about to come to London on the train, I am staring out of the window. It is grey. London has been grey this week, not a lot of light, little sun. More like October weather than May. It is a bit of a shame. I sometimes wonder if the weather will ever improve or if we have to relocate to get enough sun. I never felt more settled in our house, our community and this country than now. Yet, I never felt so much that in the long run I have the feeling I won’t stay around. As if something inside me tells me that one day we pack our bags. Maybe I am wrong, and I have not had that feeling in a long time, yet it is there. I shall forget about it as I focus on the tasks at hand and enjoy the daily moments. The time with the boys, particularly on days like Friday where I was able to work from home and take them to school. I even picked them up and we played. Moments that never come back, and can only be enjoyed there and then.

Isn’t life wonderful and full of surprises?

At the weekend I found out that an old teacher of mine died. Another one, 76, too young. He was a great helper, supporter and mentor. Yet, he moved on to pastures new. RIP.

A full week ahead, so I hope you had a relaxing weekend. I tried to save up loads of energy.

Best,
Volker

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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

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