Posts Tagged travelling

Sunday Column (430)

If I look back at the weekend, this is last weekend, it was a great family weekend. I enjoyed myself, spend quality time with the boys and we even went for some Pokemon hunting. It gets the youngest out and keeps him entertained. I personally do not understand the game, but maybe I don’t have to anymore. Of course I am trying, trying to be the understanding daddy. I guess there will be a time in the future where I will be having more difficulties understanding what the youth is up to and of course how they use technology. On the other hand, I am speaking at more conferences explaining people what programmatic and predictive marketing can do.

Is that mad? Our company is at the forefront of digital advertising, using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and literally predicts the future. Moment by moment. Yet Pokemon Go gives me a headache πŸ˜‰ It is a funny old world out there. This week I went to Stockholm, then to Hamburg and back to London on Friday. Given the age of the kids, this got a lot easier for both of them and my wife and myself, for me to be away. So me travelling regularly to Germany for a temporary assignment won’t be too difficult, unless I travel the days my wife is working. But we can arrange and plan in advance. Exciting times ahead, challenging times ahead. Time to make sure the weekends are planned and well thought out, making it the quality time the family needs.

Given EasyJet’s 4 hour delay a couple of weeks ago, I will change airlines to then travel from Heathrow. This is another headache given the time it takes to go to Heathrow. However, I’d rather have a reliable airline than getting stuck somewhere. EasyJet has been great but the last trip was the straw that broke the camel’s back. 7 years of EasyJet Pluscard, regular European travel come to an end. You could argue I didn’t have many problems looking back, however problems seemed to be more common recently. Of course never say never, I might be back but don’t bank on it. Delays were just too often in the last two months, causing some not needed inconvenience. If the same happens with the new airline…I guess I am back πŸ˜‰ Watch this space. Eurowings, here I come. I just hope to get my passport soon, as not being able to go through the automated passport gates is a pain and took 30 minutes on Friday night πŸ™

I remember thinking travelling was glamorous but if you have done it for years, despite being used to it, it is not glamorous. It is fun sometimes, and it is great to travel upgraded on long distance, but really it is a pain. No matter how short the trip is. At least I stay in nice hotels with both saunas, fitness rooms and nice beds. Life isn’t all bad. And I look forward to the additional challenge looking after the German market for an interim period. Onwards and upwards. The me-time is nicer too. Whilst I normally get a lot of time to myself on the train, the time on a plane is better. No disruptions, no emails, no worries. I can work on presentations, read, or watch movies, sleep or catch up on emails without the inbox filling up again. This is nice. And it gave me another excuse to buy a messenger bag. I love my little bags πŸ˜‰

Sweden. I was in Stockholm for a day and a night to visit the local office. That was great. The Country Manager and I had a great time, good brainstorming and made progress on a presentation we needed to prepare. However, the stay was overshadowed by the terrorist attacks in London. I was glad to not be in London. We have survived 9/11, 7/7 and we will get through this period of time. The scary thing I suppose is that those attacks can happen anytime. At any one time someone could just drive a car into a crowd and launch an attack, in whichever form. And that is the unsettling bit. I guess we soldier on, and get on with our daily lives, hoping we won’t be affected ever. That’s the hope I suppose. But there are no guarantees, life could be over tomorrow.

But I don’t want to dampen any weekend or general (spring) moods. This weekend was sunny and I caught up on some proper boys time. Then it was Mother’s day. I almost missed it if a friend hadn’t pointed it out. Useless Marks and Spencer didn’t even allow me to order flowers for Sunday delivery, so I had to do it ‘manually’. Never mind, I am just too much dependent on online shopping. We had a great weekend!

Being back in Germany is interesting. I noticed how much I have changed since I moved away 16 years ago. My travel companions (you will remain unnamed) and I shared a lot of chat around corporate values, expectations and challenges. We are so aligned, that it is great to see the progress we are making. It’s those shared values and common understanding, hard work and fun that makes or breaks a job. Whilst I am still very ‘young’ within the company, I am still learning a lot, yet loving the challenge and the people I work with. Plus of course, we do have the best product out there. The share price has grown massively since I started (this is not necessarily a correlation) and it feels so good to be there.

Onwards and Upwards.
Have an amazing week ahead.
Volker

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Sunday Column (326)

A funny, kind of weird week that was. On Saturday last week I was very active in the morning and treated myself to a nice afternoon nap before friends came over for a BBQ. Finally we had the weather, yet I woke up feeling cold and not right. Of course we soldiered on, yet on Sunday I woke up with a temperature. I ultimately postponed my trip to Berlin from the Monday early red eye to Monday afternoon, had delays etc. – to cut a long story short, I felt fit enough on Monday and alright on Tuesday.

After a great conference we went for plenty of beers on Tuesday from which I awoke with a rash, small popped blood vessels on Wednesday morning. Not even feeling hangover at all. Whilst most would say it is a hangover and I am a lightweight (and I am a lightweight), my body definitely had some allergic reaction. I had that previously with beer, so I assume the virus, beer, and maybe some hay fever, all came together to cause this. I felt dizzy on and off, but not bad enough to not go running in Wednesday after coming back home nor on Thursday. I hope coming this Monday things will be back to normal. Yet odd. And today I even got a blizzard of headaches…really odd.

I don’t want to bore you with my health problems, and thank god I am as healthy as I am, but it did give me a scare. Whilst part of my adrenalin flow was surely booze related, there was something that was more an allergic shock. The former I know. The latter scared me a bit. Oh and did I mention some trapped nerves….But it is all good now I think. Getting there anyway.

Life dials you funny cards sometimes. I had a rash on my hands as a boy and went through trillions of test. Cat allergy, cobalt (metal) and all sorts of allergies were found. Boom, the day they tried to get a piece of skin cut out to test it, the rash disappeared. Coincidence? Stress? There are thoughts regarding this too. Maybe some other time.

Going back to the fatherland was a pleasure, the conference was in Berlin. Life is good, sunny, friendly and Berlin is very cosmopolitan. The cultural impact it has on me is amazing, the impact its history has too. I met some great leaders in our space and amazing people. And, I enjoyed my stay but the above of course.

Berlin

I am glad that for the next two weeks I will not be travelling. I will be able to get back to my exercise routine, healthy eating routine and seeing some clients locally, seeing the kids for breakfast. There is not a more precious moment as when you are away for a couple of days, and you go into your four year old bedroom and pull his blanket up whilst he is asleep. He wakes up ever so slightly and gives you that deeply loving smile, turns around and is back to sleep in a second. True bliss.

These precious moments are the key. The key to motivation. To keep going. To think and visualise his smile when speaking to a boring person…..to escape any situation. Escapism. We all need that. Those days being disconnected. A day off or an activity alone. Taking 5 minutes away from what has been a busy day.

So in closing we are waiting for a quote to do the rest of the work upstairs, had some builders around for inspection and settled the suitcase story. Amazon pushed the seller to reimburse the money and I ended up buying one in a shop. About Β£70 cheaper. Win/win and I finally can put that to rest too. We even got some ice cream on Brighton beach today. Life’s too short not to.

Enjoy your moments and have a fantastic week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (290)

A week that starts off with a headache, a 5K run with lots of muscle pain and a temperature drop of 5-10 degrees is not a good week, or at least not a good start of the week. Whether it was the weekend where I overdid my exercise or the amount of chocolate and sweets I ate at the kids party, I do not know. Yet something triggered a typical Monday which turned out to get worse as the day went on. Of course the week changed to the better and I got used to the rather nice autumn weather and went on another trip. But this weekend, I felt it again – so maybe I just need a break πŸ™

This week I went to Paris for a night and a day to visit a few clients. As this gets published I finish packing my things for a trip to Istanbul. I have never been to Istanbul in my life, so I am very excited to go. A few years back I went to Egypt realising that I will see the pyramids. Being on work travel schedules doesn’t mean you are doing some sight seeing. Having said that, I went to Iceland before and my wife was annoyed that I saw Iceland and Egypt/Kairo before she did. Now I also see Istanbul. I am not into travelling as much as my wife, I just do my job, but that’s where we differ I suppose. Maybe that is why I am quite happy staying at home with a dog at the weekend, putting my feet up and enjoying “being home”. Istanbul of course is different. I will report back next week of course.

istanbul

What else happened this week? I think there are a few things transport wise worth mentioning. I was on the train towards Gatwick when the train stopped. Then we heard someone got hit by a train. Lucky for us it was behind us and with some delay we managed to get to Gatwick. I did get a bit stressed and was glad I didn’t travel the other direction that night. Bad enough for the person that got hit, it is a bit of pot luck tbh to sometimes make your journey home. At Gatwick I got served an undercooked chicken at Jamie’s Italian. Fancied some superfood salad and ended up with an awful meal. Not great to travel sometimes. The view of course, as of my earlier post, was amazing.

Anyway, things are good overall. One never has enough time for the family it seems and weekends are too short. I caught up with a uni friend and another good friend this week. I have another few people I need to call. I spoke to my granny for her 94th Birthday. I am lucky, all my grandparents reached the age of 90+. Maybe a good omen. None woke up at 5 am to run 10 K, then worked all day and commuted for 3 hours per day. Life seems as if it is in the fast lane at the moment. I like that though.

I know the next few weeks will be busy. I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I couldn’t to be honest. But I am learning a lot too. Prioritising, time management, letting go. All those passionate topics I am writing about over at tidWOWs. It is as if I am fine tuning a bit.

It is good to know that in a few weeks time, probably around mid December, things will slow down. When the dog and I will be having a cuddle with the boys under the Christmas tree and watch the fire, when we think that we are so grateful for what we have. And, that next year we take more time for each other. And this will repeat for another few years. Why I think that? Because I believe that is how it is. Life is living in extremes, on both ends. And I am truly blessed with it.

Love living!
Volker

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Wee man travelling in Munich

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Sunday Column (203)

This week was dominated by flying and associated chaos. Work took me to Cologne on Monday. With the snowy weather I was worried that we might not make the flight. We left the office in time, checked the websites and then arrived at Paddington to find out that the Heathrow Express wasn’t working. Hence we cut it fine and just made our flight using the tube. Wow. A bit too much travel stress for my liking on a Monday.

easyjet snow

Back we went on Thursday, thanks to an unannounced strike by security personnel, we spent 3 hours in the queue and had an hour delay before arriving safely in London Gatwick thanks to a fabulous Easyjet crew. I normally don’t mind travelling, and travelling in a group is always easier. Having said that, if you make your own schedule it is easier if you don’t run into problems. Chicken and Egg. This time we really worked well travelling as a team. The next bigger trip is with the family, this won’t be easy either. No question, Friday turned out to be a slow day. Having not slept Thursday night, I hit a wall around 4 pm and almost fell asleep at my desk. Last week was exhausting.

Three days of sales training paired with good catch ups across our European offices really motivated me. I haven’t actively been selling but got really keen refreshing some of those skills. I actually dug up my SPIN selling notes, Conceptual and Strategic Selling book again when I got home. The fun training paired with some booze and fantastic colleagues as well as a meeting with my cousin made this trip highly enjoyable. I am on fire. Push ups anyone πŸ˜‰

Chats about parenting styles left me reflecting on how you bring up your kids, how much time you want to spend away from the family and what is really important in life. How much trade off are you prepared to make between family and work, career and seeing the kids. It seems to be difficult to make the right decision and / or finding the right balance. I keep working on it. I missed my two boys this week and of course missed my wife. I believe with me living so far out of London that I don’t see the children during the week, I am just “home at night”. Assuming this still counts as being home, however if I was away like friends of mine in the consulting business working from Monday to Thursday away, neither me or my wife would like that. Luckily I am not. Having done the bi-weekly 1-2 nights away, I think that is manageable. This is a difficult one. If you haven’t seen “Up in the Air” with George Clooney, have a look for it. You don’t want to end up like him, or do you?

Having been back to Germany was interesting. I detach myself more and more from being German and thinking like a “typical” German. Of course it is not as black and white. However, still being able to speak the language, paired with English humour and elegance ;-), seems to get you a lot further in this country. A big publisher said a few years ago “I make my life more enjoyable through sarcasm”. Maybe another good way of putting it. Charming the hotel staff or the airport security works better using some less available skills Germans have paired with my German-ness. I love it…sometimes πŸ˜‰

Anyhow, you probably already noticed that I enjoyed this work week, spending quality time with people I like, I work with (and like) and have known for many years. Most of us have been launching my company in their respective country and mastered similar challenges. We have a lot in common!

At the weekend we had a nice get together with some local folk: parents of Colin’s preschool mates. Lots of booze, great chats and discussions. I am slowly but surely get properly settled within the community. I like it down here. Hassocks is great and I am trying to sell it to friends to move down here too. There is a 3 bedroom available in our road, and plenty smaller and bigger houses around the place. Newly builds and Victorian.

Sunday, finally, Colin came up with the chicken pox spots. So he should be finished with it just in time for our planned trip. I was thinking for a while that he might be immune to it. We made another pulled pork in our slow cooker and had a chilled out day, trying to get on top of some of the mail etc. Another problem when you are away for a week, you have loads to catch up on.

Have a good week. The weather looks warm and rainy. So maybe spring is in the air already? We shall see.

All the best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (168)

What should I say. An eventful week has passed. Summing up the last weekend, we went to a Christening. It was a Catholic Christening and I still feel a bit awkward to go to Churches. I guess I have been a bit detached from religion if you don’t count Buddhism as one. Anyway, it was a great event, and a nice get together afterwards. I hope, once we move, that we stay in contact with all those fantastic people we met in Beckenham over the last 8 years.

We also got a new neighbour. I didn’t post about it as I didn’t want to be the first one announcing it. A fantastic occurence if you think about it. Whilst having two kids of my onw it is still a miracle thinking a new human being enters this world. I love it and still get a bit sentimental.

Nevertheless our two are more than enough work. Nothing warms my heart more than coming home from work or travel and getting big hugs, kisses and a play about with the boys. I absolutely love and adore them!

I travelled to Milan this week and got a chance to read more of the Joan Baez biography. Page by page I realise what kind of world she used to live in. Segregation, inequality between races and genders. I actually cried a bit when she described her relationship with Dr. King. Those hippies set out to change the world, not to become super rich. Their motivation was “to make a dent” in the universe, nothing else.

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Have you thought about the values you are living for? More money, bigger car or bigger house? It doesn’t work like that. It never will. Attachment and greed will ruin our society. Nothing about earning more money, being more successful but at some point you have to stop and think about it. Are a couple hundred more a month worth the additional hassle you have to put in? I guess it depends which level you are talking about but stop and think about it for a moment. Happiness comes from within not out of your wallet.

Making this impact I described above drives me on. Flying to the international offices and making a difference. I enjoy doing that. Having these 19 hours days collapsing at the end of the day with a satisfactory feeling. This is the dent I am making at the moment. On the exact opposite end I enjoy turning everything off during my flight and just relax. That can work wonders too!

Taking these powernaps at 30,000 ft. I love doing that. The 10 minutes after lunch or on the couch on a Saturday afternoon after the boys woke you up at 5:30 again. I guess I am lucky I can do that πŸ™‚

We all followed the Facebook IO on Friday. Isn’t it fascinating that a social media network is worth so much money by the input we all provide. Should we not all have a bit of a share package? After all if we all withdraw our membership Facebook would be worth nothing. Interesting thought, no?

Anyway. Just when I left work on Friday someone stopped me in the street saying “Volker, you remember me? You interviewed me last year.” I didn’t remember him. He thought I was arrogant admitting it and saying he could add me on Linkedin. Crazy. I normally have a good memory but over the last 12 months I met so many people for interviews and business, how could I possibly remember who is who. I guess I was right (arrogant again) to not employ him, as he obviously didn’t make any lasting impression on me.

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We spend the weekend on a 3rd birthday party and a school party down in Hassocks. I got some sun and we finished the day with a curry in our local restaurant. We cannot wait to move. Hopefully we finally exchange contracts on Monday. Fingers and toes crossed.

Have a great week.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Brussels and an update on life

Hello again,

It has been a week of absolute madness. No, I love my job, but this week was far from quiet. But, it was good.

So, Friday night was relaxing, really chilling out in front of the TV. I know, I don’t normally watch TV but Friday was one of those night that I needed to. Which again showed me, that there is only stupid stuff on TV.

Saturday my wife and I went to Brussels. An early start at 5:30 to catch the Eurostar train from St. Pancras station. We arrived early and had a nice breakfast at Le Pain, a french restaurant chain doing amazing food. On the train itself we got another breakfast – I had booked first class since we were married for 364 days on Saturday. One year on Monday (I let you figure that one out :-)).

We arrived late in Brussels due to the recent fire in the channel tunnel. However, after initial problems with directions, we walked from Gare Du Midi to the Ported de Hal, up to the Palais de Justice (which unfortunately had scaffolding on it), down the Rued de la Regences, passing numerous Palais and Museums to the Cathedrale des Sts. Meichel et-Gurduie.

Not our most favourite town, very friendly and international though, given it is the capital of Europe (from a political point of view). We then visited the Grand Place, the main market place, had some moule and frites and continued with some chocolate shopping and further sightseeing around the town. Of course, we saw Manneken Pis.

We tried to go and see the Atomium but it seemed to far out of town. Therefore we had another rest with a waffle and coffee before we got a taxi back to our train. However, that train we were supposed to catch had a technical fault. They decided to cancel it and we were lucky and got ahead of the cue for new tickets back home. That was not until 22.30 when we arrived tired, full of food and wine from the train journey, back in St. Pancras. Allegendly we are now entitled to a free return ticket due to the inconvenience caused. Maybe we are going to the Christmas Market in Brussels after all?!

Our poor kittens were waiting for us, starving and very thirsty.

The pictures we took are put here: Picasa Web Album

However, my most favourite ones are below. We bought ourselves a new camera as well because the good one got a crack in the LCD screen πŸ™ and the very old one has a worse resolution than my mobile phone.

I found a great if not funny review of the camera on YouTube too. We really like it. The baby mode is great to take pictures with a soft and natural skin tone without using the flash. The video mode has sound, and the quality of pictures is just fine.

That is about all. After over 20,000 steps, equivalent to appr. 20 km of walking, we will take it easy today.

Have a good Sunday,

Volker

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Busy Week – on the road again….

….I was away for 2 days again in York.

Whilst I write so often that I do not like travelling, it is good to get out of your daily routine. But, there is nothing like coming home. Your home, your wife, your kittens….I love home.

My wife put on more pictures of the kittens. So it is nice to know that there is someone at home, waiting for someone. I supposed I get quite settled, don’t I?

On Thursday I am at a conference in Barcelona speaking about “measuring the impact of design“. It is nothing else than a trip to York, 2 hours flight from London, only difference that you won’t get wifi on the plane yet.

So it is a rather busy week but I try to give you another update on what is happening later on this week.

Volker

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