Tag: travel

Sunday Column (266)

Crazy is an understatement when I look back at the beginning of this week. By Sunday night 11 pm we finished packing our whole downstairs minus couch and had removed all furniture from the living and dining room. The couch had gone the week before.

Monday at 10 am our builders rocked up. They took notes, discussed how to move the fish tank, which sockets need replacing, where the TV goes, and where to put the Sonos sound bar. By the time I left at 3 pm to catch a plane from Gatwick, the kitchen had gone. The floor had gone. The place looked like an empty shell.

My wife who I hadn’t seen that stressed since our wedding managed to take one kid to a friend and the other to the doctor, back on the rail replacement bus service. It was chucking it down. She organised a three night stay with friends, gave final instructions to the builders and out of nothing presented dinner to the boys.

In the meantime I had to take a taxi to Gatwick as there had been a fatality on the rails. I had dinner, wrote another article, caught up on emails and felt sorry for myself. Still tired from a challenging mountain bike ride on Sunday, I also caught a cold. Tired and exhausted I slept most of the plane journey, thinking how brave my wife had been. And this was only the beginning.

Why we do it? Because we hope that in two weeks time we will have a nicer place: my wife’s dream kitchen, a fire place, a new stereo system, wooden flooring and a nicer home for the kids. We cannot wait.

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Travelling this week: I don’t want to go on about it but going from city to city over the week, sleeping in different beds, having busy days and evenings, can be quite tiring. My colleagues are at a trade show, probably I got it much better to be honest.

It is a good life though too. I enjoy it. Experience. One hotel was dirty and the manager very apologetic; another had the greatest service. I experienced an “ironing room”, rabbits in a foyer and thanks to Foursquare I met with an ex colleague in Milan and another old friend in Milan also – we happened to be at the same time at the same place.

Yes, I enjoy what I do. It can be exhausting, being away from the family isn’t nice, but it is a good way of working, however stressful it can be at times. Oh, and it isn’t as glorious as in the movie “up in the air” with George Clooney. Not yet, I still haven’t got my golden Easyjet Pluscard. Maybe one day πŸ˜‰

We came back to an empty shell of house downstairs. Plastering, wet walls, cables hidden in the wall, a new window sun seat in the kitchen, the flooring got delivered and my wife had to paint parts of the wall to make sure we can mount the radiators next week. The floor has been leveled, the fish survived so far and we got an electric hob from next door. We manage. The kids are a bit worried but once they see the progress they should be ok.

This concludes a busy and stressful week, both for the family at home (or away) and me. Next week should get better, we have a home again, Easter is coming up, we got some time to ourselves. Life is good, we shouldn’t, and am not, complaining. Just moaning πŸ˜‰

Have a great week,
Volker

Sunday Column (265)

As you know I spent last weekend away from the family. On a stag. I didn’t know I could handle (or judgement thereof is down to my companions) that many shots. Never mind. Thinking you are still at uni whilst ‘rocking the dance floor’ coming up for 40….

It is odd to travel without family for pleasure. No one but myself to look after, nothing to worry about but myself. It is a bit selfish but also nice. I enjoyed it and truly relaxed.

This week was different. I flew to Paris late on Wednesday to start a long day early on Thursday. Busy with meetings and work, travelling and working. This is less fun, one is more engaged with work, less relaxed. But that’s what I do, and I still enjoy it.

One thing stays the same: You miss the kids. It is nice to hear that the highlight of school was me doing the school run. Nice to get the hugs and kisses before I leave. I am used to not being there for bedtime but the older the boys get the more I feel that I am missing out on not being there.

Colin suggested I should stop working. I tried to explain to him that this wasn’t a good idea. Whilst we are looking to rent a caravan we cannot live in it forever. A five year old’s mind works in mysterious ways.

But don’t get me wrong. I love my job, my travel and the European challenge. I enjoy what I do, yet need to be stricter in separating work and life, being more in the moment with the kids. I am improving at weekends. I am making it work.

Just this weekend, despite the stress of packing up our downstairs in anticipation of some renovation work, I didn’t even check my phone nor Facebook all day. I spend some quality moments with the boys and enjoyed their company. At the same time of course they are getting easier in entertaining themselves. Win/win as they say.

Next week I am travelling again, yet it is a good thing as the downstairs renovation starts. For the next four weeks, if we can sit in the living room at all, we will sit on chairs. Our couch went on eBay, the new couch will arrive early May. The result will hopefully be amazing. I cannot wait.

I am closing this blog with a video this week. When watching this, I got a lump in my throat and a few tears. This week I got good and bad news, and some very sad news. Life is a roller coaster ride, yet I am very positive about what is there to come. I am so ready for the challenge of it.

What do you think?

Should we sometimes be a bit more considerate with the people we tip…..

Have a great week,
Volker

Sunday Column (262)

When travelling, I enjoy some downtime. Being offline and disconnected on the flight goes down as a treat. However, having an almost five year old that doesn’t understand daddy is travelling, and doesn’t leave for good, doesn’t make it easy. Bribery is key, yet balancing presents and managing expectations of not bringing back lots of presents from trips at the same time is challenging.

Important is the balance and the aforementioned focus. A day working from home to be there for bath time and the good night story, or even taking them to school if the schedule allows. Leaving a paper aeroplane when you leave for a few days or making them a special lunch for the next day, add a little touch and reminder that daddy is still there. And of course, when at home at the weekend, give them your undivided attention.

At my last travel I remember one thing, unrelated to the kids, that my two “row sharers” both had the same rucksack as I did for my travels. What is the coincidence I wonder for that to happen? Also, flying into The Netherlands is always a pleasure. Whilst I would say that working for a Dutch company, the friendly and efficient way of the Dutch is refreshing. Whether that is within the company or in the train or coffee shop (the real coffee that is). I love going there.

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Yet flying over the past few days seem to get a new twist with the disappearance of the Malaysian airplane. My biggest fear is that it was a cyber hijacked. What if people don’t have to be on a plane to control it?

There is an odd thought. I don’t want to be in the relatives’ skin, their situation must be horrendous. Hopefully we all find closure soon. My prayers go out to those involved.

The last week passed quickly. At the weekend, trying to get over a cold which got me to stop exercising, we went to Lewes to visit the castle and to Littlehampton beach. This was great, the weather is fantastic and it feels like spring if not summer.

Being able to lie in the sun, chilling out, eating fresh fish and chips, playing with the kids, watching the world and boats go by. Ice cream. Chocolates. No surprise I am tired, did I squeeze in 18 km on my bike in the morning.

I spent some great time with the boys at the weekend, enjoyed lots of sun and felt tired. Partly this is spring tiredness, fresh air and relaxation. My first really minor cold of the year, and a welcome break for my muscles after extensive exercising the weeks before, got me lots of sleep as I didn’t get up too early. It has been an interesting week.

For next week I hope to continue the progress I am making in my job and some projects I am looking at. Life is truly enjoyable at the moment, more than it has been for a long time.

Have a great one,
Volker

Sunday Column (257)

An exciting week lies behind me. I started my new job with a trip to Eindhoven and a day in Amsterdam, flying back late on Wednesday. The UK was full of storm and rain. I sat on the plane and felt like I arrived: A new challenge to evangelise, position and sell targeting in real time based on TV ads triggering the delivery. A new chapter in the RTB (real time bidding) ecosystem. Connecting broadcast to online ads. Yes, I am very excited!

We came a long way in our industry, and more technology is now enabling us to do more sophisticated things, to make ads more relevant to the users. As I like to tell my stories, four years ago a company that recently filed an IPO still worked off excel sheets. So the rumours anyway. For me this stands as a testament that the industry came a long way, a very long way and is slowly but surely growing up. Pure awesomeness πŸ˜‰

Another thing I am equally excited about is tomorrow, my son’s third birthday. It feels like no time since he was born. He still doesn’t sleep through but charms himself through everything, cuteness 10/10 we were told. There is going to be lots of fun ahead as he grows older.

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Whilst travelling I enjoyed an app called “7 quick fit“, an app allowing you to do strength exercises only using your own body weight, finishing 30 second long stints of push ups, jumping jacks etc. in 7 minutes. Ideal when travelling and yet still exhausting. I enjoyed it and might do it more often, potentially additionally to my gym sessions. We shall see. I also would like to find a sauna routine as (miraculous) I haven’t been ill yet. Both my new boss and colleagues have had the flu, also my wife and kids. But I am in a lot better shape than I was before Christmas. 2014 WILL be my fittest year (ever) yet.

If there was anything to moan about this week it would have to be Easyjet’s flight from Amsterdam to London Gatwick. I couldn’t get speedy boarding, ending up in the back of the plane. The flight then was delayed by 35 minutes and with such a short flight one hardly get anything finished, almost not even the glass of red πŸ˜‰ Luckily the service was switched on and quick…

Tube strikes. Transport problems. Bad weather. We just cannot control everything, can we? I am working hard to accept the fact to not being able to and not getting annoyed at situations you cannot change. Having had a few days off really helped me to improve my state of mind. With the help of my coach I feel like I achieved everlasting change. That was the aim. 2014 will be awesome and already is!

Is life that simple? Surely not. A friend’s dad passed away this week. Cancer. It reminds me of posts I wrote before that we need to really try and prevent diseases by living healthy, staying active and eating well. But even then there is no guarantee that we will be spared. My thoughts are with his family.

As I famously wrote before, from Buddhism, the suffering stops for the one that leaves us and our pain increases. We are still here and need to cope with the endless suffering.

Let me finish here for this week. I got a day off to celebrate tomorrow and I tell you, I am so looking forward to it!!! The best present is the one from me (no bias), a remote controlled monster truck. It is so much fun to play with it….. :-))

Have a fantastic week.

Volker

Sunday Column (206)

I have been in Germany with the family this week. A train to the airport, a “funny” train between terminals, a slightly delayed plane (as a family we haven’t had a travel where the plane was on time yet), an ICE train and a small train before Opa picked is up. 9 hours of travel. The boys loved it, were behaved and the ICE train even had a compartment for families. A luxury journey.

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It was my dad’s 70th birthday, an occasion to meet the family, the kids to play and bond with their cousins, and all of them to bond with Oma and Opa. We had a good time. We drank lots of wine as we stayed up late chatting away and catching up. Normal I suppose. We enjoyed it. There is a lot of things happening in the family. My brother is building a house, dad got his first ever smart phone. Lots of great food, home cooked meals, fresh rolls (BrΓΆtchen) and lots of play with old childhood toys.

The other occasion of course was Rohan’s 2nd birthday, hence the celebration as birthday twins was for 70+2 birthday πŸ™‚ So lots of attention was given to our wee one as well.

Up to a few years ago I wrote a lot about Germany and my love hate relationship. I think that has now passed. I moved on. I actually enjoy coming back as I don’t compare Germany any longer to what I have. Yes they have nicer trains, warmer and better insulated houses, higher quality in a few day to day items, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I am very happy and content with the life I have, and I moved away from trying to be 100% perfect. I like to think so anyway. I feel like I moved on. I found my own purpose.

Despite that I am not sure whether to speak German or English, to feel at home or not. But as opposed to former visits I just embraced things I enjoy. Like the above mentioned rolls and home cooked food that took me back in time. I can let go. I can and actually do enjoy my time in Germany now. The journey back in time becomes a nice journey. I believe that over the last few years I have settled, embraced what I have and was able to let go and focus on the positive things in life. My outlook is positive in all aspects of life and that is what I focus on. Here and Now. Positive!

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Also I was able to switch off from work. I relaxed, felt like I was living at home again where everything is taken care of. Hotel Mama with unlimited wine, food and fun. No worries. At the birthday party I met with friends of my parents who have been some kind of mentors for me over the years. Contacts that helped me grow up and understand the world. People who have seen me through all my stages of life but the last 15-20 years. This is difficult to comprehend I found. Those people used to baby-sit me, nurse me, comfort me, teach me or were just there for me. Now they are 70+ enjoying retirement and grandchildren. They of course loved to see our kids and how I got on in life. Whilst my parents keep them updated, it is nice to personally touch base with them. Again, a much more pleasant journey than anticipated. I actually look forward to going back to Germany again.

My dad used to be a teacher. In 1995 he got the chance to build a new school as a principal. As one of the guests pointed out my dad’s career and reputation as a teacher is amazing. He pushed himself to help others, to progress and have more influence. I suppose that is where I got my drive from and my urge to help others, to help develop others. My drive to succeed, take on new projects, seeing them through and coaching younger people to progress in their life. I guess I learned a lot from you, dad, and never realised it before. Maybe you taught me much more than I have ever realised before. I just hope I will be able to be such a good teacher for my two boys also.

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On the fun side: I must look like my dad too. Asking Colin who the person on the picture above was, he said “daddy” not hesitating once. Since then he started noticing slight differences and it is “Opa”, however there is a slight resemblance, wouldn’t you think?

It was nice being back home. My wife and I managed a night out, ate some nice Gyros and we showed C the fresh fruit market. The weather was beautiful with snow and cold winds but it limited us in doing too much. So we just spent the right amount of time in Detmold, hoping to go back for longer maybe next year in the summer. The journey back seemed quick with two brave boys pulling through to the end. They fell into bed being absolutely exhausted. C was still recovering from all the input he received by the weekend. We just chilled out.

I went back to work on Thursday. Lots to catch up. Lots to do. Back to the grindstone. I am back in my routine. Kind of anyway. A few pints with the Hassocks crew on Saturday night and “our home cooked” food Friday and Saturday. It is good to be home. It is good to be settled. We are not creating the memories for our boys for them to experience what I did this week. The circle of life I suppose.

A good week comes to a close. Thank you Oma and Opa.

Love,
Volker

Sunday Column (194)

The only wealth in this world is children; more than all the money, power on earth, you are my treasure. The Godfather III

As cheesy as it might sound, it couldn’t be more true. Annoyingly, I wrote this post on my flight back from Madrid this week but WordPress allowed it to be deleted. Hence I need to recap what I was writing. But I was thinking about my job and travelling. Nothing major.

I have been VP International Sales for a year. Hence the recap maybe. Sounds like a great title, however titles are not all that important. The role and responsibility for me is the key to any role. I could be a sales manager for that matter as long as I had enough responsibility and could make enough decisions. Having been the first satellite office for my company and very knowledgable ( πŸ™‚ ), working in the most advanced market in Europe for RTB, I got the task to help the local Country Managers in Italy and Spain to get off the ground. It is a fantastic and challenging role allowing for much growths and development.

Visiting Madrid shows me that they don’t need me very often. Whilst I can still help and be useful, I am obviously still important in some senior meetings showing face whilst reducing the busy schedule for my CEO. So all good. But the ground work is done I suppose.

However, additionally to travelling the world I also still run the UK office. Quite a challenge and busy life. With the whole travel comes the sacrifice for the family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and what I do, but getting up at the crack of dawn to fly to Southern Europe, be away for a night and then back again, arriving usually late at night, can be quite exhausting. Also the boys are missing me. Not that I see them a lot during the week, they just know I am not at home πŸ™ I am happy to make the sacrifice but probably preferred to be away longer and focus more on travel. In return I would have a few days working from home and travel less regularly if that makes sense. Not sure it does.

Enough about my job. After celebrating my friend’s birthday on Monday night, I felt a bit tired on Tuesday. I just can’t have more than two pints on a school night. Age I suppose. My back on a positive note is improving a lot, and once another cold has passed, I will be back in training. I am eager to get stuck into my exercise routine again and loose another few pounds that I then can fill up at Christmas without regret πŸ˜‰

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Looking at my life I am very happy. A good job as described above, a healthy amount of travelling, and reasonable if not in comparison good health. I am on an upward spiral again with my back and soon running routine. Things look good. Changes that I anticipate in the next couple of months are looking bright too. Of course that is all subject to change. But Christmas is around the corner, more time off.

But the joy is my family. Seeing my wife and my dad decorate together whilst I watched the kids with my mum gave me some really good time with the kids. Taking the oldest to school, watching TV, going for walks. Family is where it all comes together. Challenges. Love. Passion. Fear.

I couldn’t do it all without a family. Life would be boring and simple. There weren’t any challenges. Also, getting a night or so away from home every now and then really helps improve my sleep schedule. I had Friday, Monday and Tuesday off. I enjoy the time. Even without proper lie ins and it being hard work to watch my kids all day, just being with them makes me happy.

We then finished the garden this weekend and the downstairs WC is almost finished. I need to find proper before/after pictures and will publish them here soon.

Have a happy week yourself.

Best wishes,
Volker

Sunday Column (186)

The frequent reader will notice that some weeks I have more to say than others. Normal I guess. This week I startled writing this column on my way back from Milan, one of the three Mexad offices I look after. Every time I take off from Malpensa airport in Milan I forget we are literally on the edge of the alps. Nice views, bumpy and windy starts. I got used to it now. My first trip with my Easyjet plus card, which allows me to speedy board, and it makes my life a lot easier. Thanks boss πŸ˜‰

I should have done that much earlier. Next week Madrid, a week in London, Milan, Germany…the card already paid for itself in 4 weeks. I love it. But do I really? Speaking to a recruiter this week, and I must stress a recruiter working on our side in Italy, one makes the choice in life whether to travel, progress in a career, and potentially travel more and ultimately don’t see one’s children, or if one wants a 9 to 5 job with lots of time for the kids.

I agree. During the week, thanks to my commute, I hardly ever see the kids. The odd day working from home might mean I see them a bit more that day but catch up on work late into the night. The trade off.

20120920-190658.jpg With us moving out of town to provide a better life for the family, we made the conscious decision that life is just like that – in return when I am home, weekends in particular, I have to be 120% home and with the kids. I comply. Happily. Best of both worlds. Trade off. I

I couldn’t do it without the wife though, and 1 night away a week on average three times a month is not too bad. Lots of “me time” too. Now this week has been busy. After last week’s mega event dmexco we hat the ad trading summit hosted by exchangewire this week. A fantastic get together of the industry leaders and a networking second to one. Great content around RTB and data with some good discussions. Unfortunately, or luckily, I had to leave early to see the kids and prepare for my 4 am start to Italy. Tiring weeks with shows and events, so I am glad I missed ad:tech in London vs. the trip to Milan. Priorities.

One more remark re family: Rohan was ill at the weekend and early last week. This means getting up almost every hour at night. That is draining, but of course you do. One does’t have a choice but to help an ill child. Tiring and frustrating as one can comfort but not release any pain, this makes having kids worthwhile. Sounds funny? I feel deep affection and satisfaction to be able to comfort anyone, and being able to help in general. Being able to make a miserable child feel better, particular one’s own, is a VERY good feeling. I love them both very much.

One last word still about Lufthansa. I have been praising Easyjet on twitter for excellent customer service, quick response times for both email but also social media (twitter) responses. I kept including Lufthansa and only after 3 weeks they replied very “stiffly” that if I tweeted my reference number for the email contact, they would let me know which place in the queue I had. It just shows that Lufthansa has no idea how to approach clients in social media. Not only did I only sent them the link to my Lufthansa article for info, I also complained on twitter about their apology email they sent 3 weeks after the strike, offering me Β£15 off my next booking. Ridiculous and rude! I spend close to Β£500 on the flights, another Β£150 unplanned on clothes as they didn’t get the luggage sorted, and they offer me next to no money as compensation. F@ off Lufthansa. If you had offered me Β£100 plus a miles & more card crediting my last flight on it and sent this as a nice letter, then maybe I would have said “wow they care”. This way I don’t.

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Why I get so aggravated about it? Because my understanding and standard for customer service is a lot higher! This wouldn’t happen if I was in charge. Imagine I was to fly 4 times with Lufthansa this month instead of Easyjet….but never mind. Let them do it their way, I will try to avoid them like the plague πŸ˜‰ until of course I have no choice. Even British Airways and I fell out a few years and they managed to get it right at the end. And I love BA for that, great customer service and being a true British airline. However, Easyjet for within Europe is the easiest and most convenient airline for me right now. Enough about this.

The weekend was relaxing. Lots of kids time, hugs and cuddles. I love being a dad. The cat got bitten again and much as a surprise we thinking of welcoming a new addition shortly. More about that in the next few weeks πŸ˜‰ At the same time we are debating to give away one of our cats as she just doesn’t seem to settle.

Sunday I was hungover, worst one for 2 years. Plus I come down with the man flu, whilst it was raining cats and dogs…..

Have a good week,
Volker