Posts Tagged wife

Sunday Column (469)

Merry Christmas.

Given today is the Holy Night, and Christmas morning tomorrow, I don’t anticipate many people reading my column. That is fair enough. It should be a time of year when you don’t check your social media and relax a bit. You should have down time, and you should not have to worry about what is happening in the world. Christmas for me is all about having a week off, knowing everyone else is off, and you are not missing out on anything.

Merry Christmas to you, peace and happiness.

I want to use this week to look back – personally – on the year. It has been a turbulent one to say the least.

First things first: family. My first priority. We keep on learning how to bring up our children, we make things up as we go along, and I am absolutely enjoying it. From holidays in Centre Parks, travel to Legoland and day trips down the coast, Brighton football games, grandparents visits and trips to Germany, and time for the wife and me in Edinburgh or London. It has been an eventful but good year, and – being hopeful to say that every year from now on – we are getting better at being a family. Not that we weren’t before, but I am a strong believer in a growth mindset, and a collective unconscious. I feel like things are falling into place and we are growing together, and that is so nice to feel and experience. To speak of two things that made my year, I’d say the youngest starting and enjoying Karate classes, and the oldest working hard for 6 months to win a trophy in football. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of my two boys, and without my wife, Jenny, I couldn’t be doing all this. She has been on my side for 10+ years and I love you more every day! I am very grateful, thankful and full of appreciation of what we have.

On the other hand there is my career, which still takes up most of my week. That’s true for work for most of us. In January I joined a plc which I knew might be sold or change its proposition in one form or another. It was somewhat a gamble to join them, yet you never know who might buy a company. Looking back it was the right decision as I got to work with some very talented people, joined a fantastic culture and got a lot of learning from it. Unfortunately, I spent 2-3 days a week in Germany from April to October. That took time away from the family, and juggling two jobs, this put a lot of strain on me, family and the job I was originally employed to do in the UK. But I made it work, working from taxis, airports and making up with the family at the weekends. I loved the experience and sincerely think that I made a difference for the company. I lost out on a lot of things at home and burned a lot of energy.

Then over the summer things got quiet and the company sold. It became apparent, that moving forward, my role might be made redundant. I did what I could to avoid redundancy but likewise appreciate the help and support I got in the process prior to leaving last month. Whilst redundancies are never nice, I have so far enjoyed the time off to re-position myself, to re-evaluate my life and career. I might even go as far as saying that I have grown and gotten more confident. I know what I am doing and got confirmation of that a few times in the past few weeks. New projects will be announced early 2018. Based on the first few months of the year, I shall decide what the long term plans are. Most importantly, I am looking forward to align work closer to my values and my life expectations. Similar to the family, I am growing up too, still, always growing. And the break of a few weeks was needed, I felt burned out a bit. But I got my energy back, and that is the most important part, and of course I made up for some lost time with the family.

In the meantime I want to spend as much time as possible with the most important people in my life. As I do over Christmas. My family. Having had the privilege to spend more time with them over the past few weeks was amazing. From school drop offs and pick ups, them helping me testing some new equipment, watching Star Wars and making a routine and habit work at home. I am training them well I think 😉 They make me realise every day why I am doing what I am doing. They are my inspiration and motivation. Somewhat I enjoyed working and juggling two jobs and a family and going out of my comfort zone whilst upholding a 5 am routine and exercise, and meditation and personal development practise. As I said, I grew over the year, and that is the most important thing for me. It makes me who I am. I am happy. Yet, closer to Christmas I did notice my body getting tired, so time to have a few days off and relax.

A turbulent year. Just as well I am now relaxing and unwinding for a few days. And so should you, to my point earlier, there is nothing to miss out on. Don’t feel guilty and have another glass of wine, the extra piece of cheese or turkey/goose/duck. And if you are a grinch like me and don’t like Christmas, or you might not celebrate it due to religious reasons, enjoy the quiet time. Enjoy not having to read emails, not having to watch the news and spend some time looking deep inside yourself. Embrace yourself. And hug the person next to you, show them appreciation for them being them and being here.

And thoughts for 2018….you are the one that already knows where you want to be, what you should be doing and what is right in life. And you must always trust that the dots connect looking backwards. Hence, move forwards, always, and the right path will open up. You know it will. Trust in the future.

Speak to you in the New Year. All the best for 2018.

Love and Kindness, Peace and Happiness, and of course a Merry Christmas.
Volker

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Sunday Column (467)

Another week in the run up to Christmas. It was a week I spent predominately at home, researching, studying and mulling over my coaching and consulting proposition. It was also a time of writing and outputting more content. On a personal note, if you haven’t done yet, please read and like/comment on the following articles, maybe even share it. No apologies for the shameless punt, but any exposure would be greatly appreciated, despite the Drum feeding me exciting figures back already. What I write resonates within the industry, that is good to hear!

* DMP/CDP post in the Drum
* Consulting and Career post in the Drum
* Growth Mindset

Why I write about data, and hopefully I embark on a few data projects moving forward, is because it becomes key to programmatic execution and is now available at scale and quality. Two factors that haven’t been met over the past few years. That is where programmatic comes into full play.

The other article is more about a shift in our industry. Just this week I spoke to someone who took redundancy at a big tech company this summer, who joined a start up which might be sold again. It is a cycle of exits, M&A and redundancies on the back of it, unrelated to your quality of work. This is madness compared to what a career was supposed to look like according to the old view of the world, but has it changed. Let me know!

Change is everywhere and with everyone. Like a butterfly we are on a constant metamorphosis.

Yet hold on a minute. Another interesting conversation this week suggested that the career is dead and that it doesn’t matter what you do, how you do it but that you do it. To not miss the boat, to take a risk and overcome fear (despite having a family and a mortgage) to gamble essentially on the big exit. Can it be done? Did we all miss the boat on Bitcoin. Guess not all of us. I just heard about someone investing a cheeky £1,000 a couple years back, now not having a mortgage. But hold on a second, when do we know if something like Bitcoin takes off, something like Facebook etc. How much of a gamble are you willing to take and how do you cheat the system? Or, as a matter of fact, can you actually cheat the system or is it all down to luck? Can you influence luck through the LOA (law of attraction) and by playing the lottery and being a good person?

You can see that I am throwing around some buzzwords, connecting the world of believe with the world of realism. Not sure if that is the best way of putting it, but what would we have to change in our ‘personal’ system and view of the world to make the output of what we are doing just ever so slightly better. To take a punt on something like Bitcoin, or gamble on predictable things. Latter is an oxymoron isn’t it.

I am fascinated by that idea. For me, and I had enough time on my hands this week to think about it, the barriers of business and personal development, to overcome fear and building your own system into the greater macro system (see my book on #BeBetter), is an ever increasing key to success. On the back of that revelation, I started working on a framework around my book to apply to high performance achievers moving forward. Plus, I am having my first concept of a new idea at the ready to be launched in Q1. I have been busy and I will keep you posted. These are exciting times. The plan is to relaunch the ‘Ballueder’ brand with some exciting content, alongside some kind of job of course.

On other parts of my life, I manage to uphold my exercise routine and try very hard to not slack on bad food intake. It is all about what you buy and have in the cupboard, the accessibility of junk food. We are getting better at that. I increased my weekly runs to 30K in total plus two gym sessions. I find it hard but know that I will have a week off over Christmas where all I do is accompany the wife for some longer, yet slower runs. I’ll be fine and my body will have time to recover and soak up Christmas food and drinks. It is the festive season after all 🙂

Being able to take the kids to school most days, making their lunch and becoming part of their daily life, is great to get engaged. When working in London every day, I didn’t have that. Or less of it, thanks to the commute and long hours at work. I think I will get back to that at some point, however whilst it lasts, I am more than happy to enjoy the engagement and what I can do to help on a daily basis. It makes me think what life would be like to live in the country side, have a local job and be home for dinner every night – but as my wife said it would do my head in, as I am just wired completely different. So it is what it is. And she is right.

On that note I hope you are all well, getting your presents sorted and enjoy the quieter time.

Have a great week.
Love and kindness from my corner of the world.

Volker

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Sunday Column (460)

I don’t even want to start with….Monday again 😉 I love sitting on the Monday morning train. I did my 7.5K run this morning and had a mixed weekend. A stomach bug and feeling quite run down. Not as relaxing as I hoped. However, there is a silver lining: my MIL was visiting this week and helped us with the kids. The other silver lining is that there is no travel planned for a while – at least not for work and not on a plane. Isn’t that nice? Even though coming to the end of the year with no more flights, I would on average (!) have done a trip every other week over the year. What I get in return is experience. And the nice thing about experience: it will help you connect the dots moving forward. As Steve Jobs says, in times of uncertainty and unrest, when you don’t know what happens in the future and how the dots will be connected, you need to trust your gut. You need to trust your heart, your inner self and that things will work out and the dots connect moving forward. And they always will. Believe!

I took a sick day this week as well. If I say sick day, I stayed home for two days, really WFH (working from home), so not getting as much rest as I should have. I had a bug lurking around since my trip to Belgrade and it was going on all week. I couldn’t shake it off. I dragged myself in on Monday and Thursday, feeling that I should but I don’t think my body appreciated it too much. I also tried drinking Coca Cola which I hadn’t done in many years, and it was awful. And it didn’t help. I thought I’d try, after all it was invented as medicine. At that stage I would have tried almost anything. One of my former managers used to say: you are worth nothing to the company being ill or not feeling 100%. Take care of yourself first before taking care of others and the business. And he is right. When in an airplane, do you ever watch the safety instructions where they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others? That’s the way to do it: you cannot help others if you aren’t up for it. Did I mention this was the first “proper” sick day in this job? And this besides the extensive travel? I guess I am doing ok then, and my immune system is up to scratch 🙂 The reason I am saying this is because a few years back I didn’t take care of myself and ended up being ill for weeks on end. That has changed. Mens sana in corpore sano. The exercise, better eating, more active life style, less booze. It pays off to look after yourself!

But let’s talk about some positive things. 10 years ago this week I wed my wife. A few years before we met when I was a bouncer at the first O’Neil’s in the UK, in Aberdeen. I remember meeting her in the summer of 2003, just as I had finished my first degree, and I thought, I’d like to see her again. For whatever reasons she didn’t come back to the club until February the following year. The rest is history. No, the culture clash wasn’t easy, but there was such a strong attraction that we even made it despite living apart in the first year we met: London and Wellington, New Zealand. When she came back, we got engaged, bought a house, had kids and lived (and continue to do so hopefully) …. happily ever after I suppose. She is an amazing woman. Very patient as you can imagine and very good with the kids. A supporting pillar without which I couldn’t have coped in life so far and I never want to miss her moving forward. I haven’t met a kinder, more caring person and 10 years on I love her more than ever before. Here is to the next 10! Thank you love!

Oh, and what I think the secret to a good marriage is? Fight regularly, make up regularly, and marry someone with a different mindset but same values. The latter is maybe the 80% that counts, as if your values don’t align, how do you bring up your kids or decide on anything?

On Friday, and thanks to Imodium 🙁 , we went out for a nice meal at Le Gavroche and also stayed the night in London, coming back home after a lovely breakfast. The experience at Le Gavroche was amazing. Besides a superior service and food to die for, the experience was worth the visit itself. The restaurant is run like clockwork. The staff are super trained and don’t miss the tiniest thing. Friendly, chatty and non pretentious. It makes it the best (posh) restaurant I have ever been to, and I would come back to this relaxed atmosphere anytime again. The flavours and composition of food were amazing and in a way you only get in a French cuisine. Thank you to my wife for wanting to go there. What a splendid night.

It is nice to just take a day to connect again, to only worry about ourselves, not the kids and knowing the kids are in good hands (MIL). It was really nice! After the week I had, it was good to just chill, and we even got some shopping in.

What’s next for me? As most people know there are changes coming up. And, there are still so many projects I’d like to do: like writing another book, doing the plastic model I haven’t started yet, spending more time with the kids making up for the travel, and doing the school runs to help the wife. And there are other projects lurking, so we shall see. The dots always connect looking backwards.

In other news, we saw some great skies in Europe this week, a red sun caused by hurricane Ophelia carrying Sahara sand. It was a bit gloomy on Monday and my youngest got really scared. Just as he got excited about Halloween. Poor him 🙁 It is so interesting to watch how we (us humans) react to the change of light and associate it with danger and the end of the world. Deep down we are very much connected with our blue planet and everything happening on it. We don’t call it Mother Earth for no reason. I would have loved to be on a plane this week – I know this contradicts what I said above – as someone was describing how beautiful it was to watch the phenomenon from up there. Maybe ironic that I didn’t travel this week.

So a proper mixed week. Feeling ill most of the week, sorting some stressful things out, worrying a lot about things, and trying to balance that with normal life. But what is normal these days. It isn’t easy sometimes. Life isn’t just straight forward, that would be too nice, wouldn’t it? Or boring, really. But guess that’s what it is. I had to cancel a lunch with a friend and I hate doing that, because a) I still didn’t feel right and b) I had a clash with work.

Life isn’t always fair, but we must make the most out of it. We need to sit back, relax, take a deep breath and be grateful for what we have, and what we have achieved. We have to look out for the ones that need our help and the ones we can help on the way. I am a firm believer that if you help others, then others will help you. And everything in life happens for a reason. You attract goodness in your life by giving goodness to others, you are attracting good things. Closing the loop.

In that sense, have a good week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (374)

I start writing this post half way through the week. After a work do, I left in time to catch a train. London traffic resulted in me getting a later train than anticipated, yet it could have been the Uber driver as well. 20 minutes from Wardour Street to Victoria at 8 pm seems a bit off but never mind. Another 60 minutes to get home, changing trains. Two hours door to door. A long journey that adds to a busy day. I am not the only one though, most colleagues live in the suburbs so it seems.

But what you awaits at home, and the reason we moved, is well worth it. An affordable home in the country side, off street parking, free schools, no flight noise but only 30 minutes drive from Gatwick, 10 minutes to the sea, lots of outdoor activities….. And that’s the reason I don’t mind and if there are Christmas parties or longer evening events, I can always stay in town.

Anyway it was a great busy week, lots of good meetings and chats. Yet any week seems to be busy at the moment and my schedule is filled up to the end of June. I love it though. Whenever we have visitors in London from our Central European or US offices, things get really busy. One always tries to cramp as much as one can into one into any available time slots. We are getting a lot done. Onward and upwards, the next few weeks there are a few trips and exciting discussions planned. Full steam ahead!

buzzing

On the train home I started watching an Icelandic drama aired on the BBC, Trapped, which goes a bit in line with the weather here. It got a lot colder again and a bit unpleasant. You get the odd sunny day which gives you the false idea of spring. So sitting on a train at night and watching a drama which is taking place in a snow storm makes you feel extra cold. Luckily the trains are warm, and it is almost a comfort feeling of watching TV whilst looking outside the window, into the dark cold countryside.

The biggest highlight this week and the thing I am most proud of however is my wife. She not only had her birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY), no she ran her first half marathon. A great achievement for someone who only started running regularly just over a year ago. She caught the running bug! She raised a lot of money, made a lot of friends and generally got a lot fitter – so well done for doing that. An amazing achievement and we are mighty proud of you!!!

It goes to show that anyone with the right attitude, planning and stamina as well as motivation can achieve their set goals. Being a CHAMPION was the theme of my article on Linkedin this week. My wife is amazing! The most amazing woman I have ever met.

Those moments make you reflect a bit. About purpose in life and self fulfilment, putting yourself into perspective. Since I have been to the Natural History Museum, getting my 23andme DNA results and watching a few evolution documentaries, it has been playing on my mind to grasp the complexity of mankind. If you were to take a snapshot of a tube escalator at a busy time in London for instance, you would get a mix of races, cultures, DNAs, attitudes, intellects and illnesses. Heritage would be different for most, origin too.

Those thoughts I find mind blowing. You couldn’t even try to map the complexity. Would you do it based on origin, race, colour, culture? Those multi complex scenarios are great. It just shows the complexity of life in general. We all carry our own little ideas, heritage and life’s little secrets. But maybe this is a philosophical approach for another time.

The moments we stop to smell the roses and take it all in. The moment we think about everydays’ little events. And we think what our purpose will be. How we achieve fulfilment. I am thinking a lot about how I can contribute more to mankind. The people who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act (Einstein). I shall keep thinking.

As so often, I am sitting on the train again. This time going to work. I had a great night sleep, six solid hours, done a 10K run this morning and there is still a lot of energy left for me to get through this day. Because I am buzzing. I am on duty.

Life is good.

Best wishes,
Volker

Einstein

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Sunday Column (362)

This week saw the start of the Syrian war, the time when Britain decided to attack the terrorism in Syria. I am not very political but I remember, as a teenager, to listen to the 6 am news one morning, that the US announced to go into war with Iraq. It must be 20+ years ago. I am still not sure if the world is a safer or better place since. I cannot make those decisions and will just accept things as they are. However, as of discussion with a fellow father, what are we leaving for our kids to be sorted. Essentially we have been at war with terrorism for more than 20 years, right? It is a different war to the world wars. That’s for sure. But isn’t war war?

Another of my lowlights this week was an early morning start. Not because it was early but more because it was early out of the door. And surprisingly to me, when you catch a 6.13 am train from Haywards Heath it is ram packed. That’s a 5.53 am from Hassocks btw. Crazy. No way you can work or get anything done. So I started writing this blog post on my phone 🙁 I am getting too used to be able to get a good hour of work done on the commute each way.

What followed that day was awesome. A really well attended panel discussion, 8 am breakfast meeting, delivered by a few people on the convergence of social and TV. Digital and TV. And it is coming together. Finally. We are far from connecting the dots but we are getting there. I am excited for next year. As the industry evolves, so does the attribution, the connection of the silos and the cross device connection. And we are in the middle of it. Amazing.

tidsoptimist

Then my wife called me a Tidsoptimist this week. What’s that? Oh someone thinking they have more time than they do. And because of that they are late for things. Time, as it seems to me, expands. But it doesn’t. It is the same for everyone. It all started when I worked for a company that made meetings with agencies. I arrived in time and realised that 9 out of 10 meetings started 10-15 minutes late. So I started being 10-15 minutes late, to make my work flow more efficient. In London you can always blame the tube.

Having said that, even when moving closer to my clients, I was still late, as there was always something to finish off taking only a minute. And none of my clients mind, as it seemed to be the norm. I have gotten better again now, as the meetings become more senior. After all, I am still trying to leave a positive impression 🙂 So nothing to be proud of, just I get a lot more done really.

On another note I published another article on productivity. Whilst writing my next book chapters I realise that being productive is actually not that difficult. I also realised there had been one advice I got in 1997 that is still true today: only plan 70% of your time. As soon as you step over that red line something will be left undone. This is because you are having to account for the unexpected. For the unknown. The incoming pitch, the email from your neighbour to help or the information about something you need to action on.

Days sometimes don’t feel busy but turn out to be quite manic. And also over the summer I had little time to breathe and think. Sounds mad but if you don’t have time to think, things will be missed. So give yourself time to think, to breathe, stare out of the window and come up with some cool ideas.

We also managed to get all out Christmas presents ordered. The tree is up and cards sent. We went to Winchester to see a friend and his family. Christmas is all about the children. I totally enjoy looking at last year’s Christmas pictures, and the ones before, to see the glow in the kids’ eyes when we put up the tree. The future, the love, the activities, anything we do, is about the children. And then there is Syria.

It is a bit of a damper for Christmas. However, we decided to give some money to a charity supporting a child that got cancer and the hospital he is in for which they collect money or unused toys to give to the kids for Christmas. Isn’t that nice. Nice to give. Nice to be able to make other kids’ Christmas as special as our own.

No, life for me isn’t about myself. My job is for myself, and my goals. But the greater things in life, they are about the children. And they are who really matter in life. Everything else is just not as important. No matter what it might be at the moment. If you are with your kids, the only thing that matters is them. If you are with clients and something happens to your family, everyone understands if you had to cancel a meeting. It is everybody’s first priority. It took me a few years to learn that too.

We had a blessed and great week overall. Despite some lowlights. We also had plenty of Christmas lights and sparkle!

We are truly grateful.

Love to you all,
Volker

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Sunday Column (336)

Today to the day I left from Dusseldorf, Germany, to go to the USA for a year as an exchange student. I was 16 I believe, so 1993. 22 years ago. Life passes very quickly! On the way back I remember smoking and drinking whilst being stuck on the run way in Chicago, sitting in the last row of a Lufthansa jumbo. Those were the days.

smoking in an airplane

On Tuesday, 18th of August, I will have another anniversary. On that day, 14 years ago, I left from Dusseldorf to Aberdeen, via London, to move to the UK to finish my university degree. I never returned to Germany permanently and met the love of my life just before I finished my studies. Our anniversary is later this year 😉

Isn’t life amazing. You never know what you get. You step on a plane, you go places, and you it might change your life forever. For the better, hopefully not for the worse.

Anyway, let’s not be sentimental. What has happened is the past. History really.

The highlight of the week was actually very personal. My wife managed, thanks to the MIL (mother in law) babysitting, to come into London and go out for a meal with me. It threw me a bit out of my comfort zone, not having had the wife out in London for a good while, 3 odd years or so. Wow. And there she was, looking stunning as ever, to go to dinner with me and drinks pre dinner and post dinner of course 😉 The full programme. We loved it. A great night out. Genuinely enjoyed it.

The second highlight happened on Monday this week when the carpet layer came. We now got underlay in each room, a good carpet, and a new feel to the house. It is fantastic. We are very proud of the achievements we have made with the new home office/guest room being my new ‘hobby’ really – my wife painted the walls, but I will decorate them with quotes from Steve Jobs, Buddha and also ‘installed’ a fairy door. Yes, a bit of fun, a grass carpet, vibrant colours, a bean bag, desks to work on and soon a Sonos system to complement the room. A second family room, a home office too. Creative, funky, productive. Whiteboard, soon flip-chart, bouncy ball, height adjustable desk, plants and meditation cushion.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you will see a lot more pictures. I am happy. I now need to make sure the family will enjoy the room as much as I do 😉

Other highlights this week include…
– I picked up my new passport from the embassy, so now got another 10 years until I go through that procedure again. By then I am almost 50 🙁
– My parents have been married for 45 years. Congratulations!
– We got logs delivered and I finally stacked them properly into my new shed, hopefully with another load to come soon. I am getting all domestic and prepare for the cold winter to come….or more autumn evenings like these. And yes, we had the fire on this week already!

Having the MIL around is great. As mentioned, not only could my wife come to London, we also had a lie in, lots of help and someone who enjoys and does a great job entertaining the kids. We got invited out to a new Indian restaurant, and got a chance to buy a picture frame without kids annoying you. Not that we mind, but sometimes it is nice to get some one-on-one time back.

In the meantime work is busy, steady but not mad. That’s good. With people coming back from holidays next week and week after, it will get busier in the lead up to dmexco, our biggest trade show of the industry. I am excited! Q4 will be mad but good.

That’s all for this week really.

Enjoy the best of the British summer,
Volker 😉

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Sunday Column (324)

My wife made me very proud last weekend. She managed to walk 26.2 miles, the Moonwalk, a marathon, during the night, no sleep. That is a fantastic achievement. She has been training very hard for the past few months and she really deserves an applause of finishing and raising money for charity. Well done!

For myself I feel a bit under the weather. The changing weather, no one believes it’s actually summer, some virus and a lot of work don’t help me getting back into my routine. Another bank holiday this weekend, a day trip to Milan just don’t get you into the swing of things. Anyway, I am not complaining, just the opposite. I have probably never been happier in any job nor in life in general. That is a good sign I suppose.

The shed is finished and the camping equipment is here. Now we need to test it of course. A lot of returns and exchanges via Amazon partners made me realise how much stuff gets actually sent by partners and not Amazon itself. Rude customer service with awful English and offers to take a discount to avoid returns, shine a bad light on Amazon. They tried their best to calm me down and enforce their T&C and customer service standards on their partners, but with little success. For me, having had a few negative experiences, it is clear that anything that is not shipped by Amazon will be avoided unless it is a low value item that I keep regardless whether I am happy with it.

Life

We should really return to the brick and mortar stores, look at things, maybe pay a bit more for less hassle. I am learning. Still. Maybe eCommerce isn’t the holy grail after all? I think it is but why bother with the hassle of trying to be charged £24 for a return of a suitcase to Germany that was bought on Amazon.co.uk. In the UK I can ship it for £6 or get free return on the Samsonite website which is only marginally more expensive. I learned. And I let Amazon know. That’s all I can say. Still waiting for the refund, and Amazon telling the seller off. You haven’t heard the end of it yet….

Milan was a nice trip as always. A bit short. Flight in at 6 am, back for 7 pm, three meetings, a few calls. Wow. I actually enjoy those days but they feel you a bit knackered the next day. I wonder why 🙂 Next week I do Amsterdam, train to Eindhoven, back to Amsterdam, flight home. Yet I also got a few days off too. Might just be what I need.

The time with the boys is precious. I managed to work from home two days this week. Whilst I spent most of the time in my study, I managed bath time once and breakfast 4 days this week. That is good. The neighbours complain about the noise in the garden after we got a trampoline but I think they are just picky as the kids can see over the fence 😉 Never mind, we moved it for the peace of the neighbourhood.

Life is wonderful. Let’s hope the weather continues to improve and we have an awesome summer. Half term next week, and hopefully some more quality time with the boys. The first BBQ is done yet we haven’t tested the tent yet. Maybe tonight….maybe next weekend.

Last but not least a good friend died this week. A family friend. It came very unexpected, so the news was even more shocking than it normally would have been. May you rest in peace, you enriched many lives, not only ours!

Have a good week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (295)

It is November. Time keeps flying and only another 6 weeks to Christmas. Wow. I just had a week off with the family. Nothing was planned but staying at home at half term, taking care of the puppy, spending time with the kids.

Having a puppy is great yet hard work. Potty training, entertaining, particularly if you cannot take it for walks yet. Chewing on anything, playing with the boys’ toys and generally just wanting to be entertained. A 3 year old too forceful, and a 5 year old too shy with it. We made a lot of progress and in less than 2 weeks time we can take her for walks. I cannot wait.

What I enjoyed most about the time off? Getting on top of things like putting away the firewood for the winter. Cooking. Sleeping. Running. Sitting in the living room, putting the fire on at 4pm, having a glass of wine, chilling out, trying take aways… Not everyday though 😉 Doing some minor DIY things. As mentioned, thanks to the dog we couldn’t really go anywhere for long.

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We managed to clear the loft out a big. Old toys, cloths and baby stuff. Something I was looking forward to for a long time. It feels like we made the cut, we moved on. We don’t have babies anymore. We have two boys that are growing up. Now we got a puppy. With 8 months they should be ‘grown ups’. So from mid next year I can say that I have a 4, 6 and 1 year old child. That’ll be nice 😉 And the cat. Yet it has to be seen if Hänsel will hang around. And the wife is talking about dog number two already…let’s see what is there to come.

In the meantime I focus on the NOW. The very moment I enjoy spending with the boys and the family. Building Lego, going swimming, polishing the car or tidying away the firewood. Whatever it is and whatever we can do as a team. It is nice to create shared experiences. Things they will remember for years to come.

And in a subtle way you teach them about life. That the old toys from the loft going to people that have no toys. That cannot afford toys. And that there are people that don’t have hot water or warm houses in the winter. Those little things we keep forgetting and we must remind ourselves and our children about. Every year, coming to Christmas, I reflect on where we are and what we can do for others. And I do want my kids to be involved. In school they teach them Africa doesn’t have any money. But it isn’t only Africa, it can be in your own country too. We too often forget.

But don’t let me get too sentimental. After all we still got six weeks till Christmas. And then another year will commence. I got the feeling 2015 will be a year full of positive changes. I can’t put my finger down yet but anticipate that whilst a lot of things change, for better or for worse, we will see a very positive outcome from it, even if this is still years away for us to realise.

I also managed a great MTB ride and a few runs. So trying to stay active.

Have a great November,
Volker

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Sunday Column (241)

wedding2007 Today is our wedding anniversary. Six years ago we got married on a lovely sunny autumn day. As we said then, someone was watching us, making sure we had the most amazing day in our lives. And we did. Topped maybe by birthdays, that’s the kids’ ones I am talking about, or Christmas for the wee ones. We are moving into the 7th year, the critical one, as based on statistics, this is the year most couples get divorced. They say if you manage year 7, you manage for life. It is a myth, however research suggest the longer the marriage lasts, the less likely a divorce becomes. I am not worried. Actually we know each other for 10 years soon!

A quick search online reveals a few articles writing about the 7th year, but what have I learned? Surely I am not going to discuss my marriage in public, but thinking back over the years, one learns a lot. And in all honesty, I still learn. The love for each other gets shared with the kids, the attention for each other gets divided with the kids, the overall life is changing from 2 to however big your family might grow. This makes life richer. One needs to compromise, make up, remember birthdays and like today anniversaries. Show appreciation for each other’s contribution to the life together. Lastly commitment. No marriage, relationship or anything in life has only sunny sides. Commit to whatever happens, even if you are the one having to take a step back. My personal tip: if your wife has a good taste, and assumingly she would saying yes to you, leave her to decide all those things you don’t really mind too much: paint colours, furniture, toilet design etc., but make sure to support decisions and have an input, because you don’t want to come across as if you don’t care. And you don’t not care 🙂

But enough about marriages and married life. It is a decision you make, stick to it and get on with it. In good and bad times. Talk. Talk a lot, communicate and speak about things. That’s important.

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Last week I was travelling again. I chaired my second conference, AdMonsters Ops, in Germany, Munich. I tried to meet some business partners and friends whilst I was out there. It was a great trip and good conference. Not only did I renew some existing companies’ contacts and industry friends, I also managed to meet a very close friend I haven’t seen for (too) many years. Both very driven individuals, we are pursuing the same dream, in different ways. And, we both believe this dream is the “valid” one. So far away, yet so similar thoughts and motivations. I believe this trip might have been life changing but you never know. Making connections, connecting the dots.

On the way out to Germany I was caught in the trouble at Gatwick airport. A power cut put the South Terminal into a bit of a turmoil. With less than 2 hours delay we departed and I stayed calm. Age, meditation and exercise seems to keep my mind from going mental. At least for now lol. I was a bit more uneasy when the flight home got delayed but I got home at a reasonable time on Friday night. Tired, exhausted, yet full of motivation, contacts and good plans.

Munich, on the other hand, made me feel almost a little homesick. Quality build houses and products, quality food, good life style, yet in a cosmopolitan environment. If I ever considered a move back to Germany, it would be Munich. But I love my little Hassocks. The definition of Hassocks, where we live, was pointed out to me this week: it is the plural of has·sock (Noun):
– A thick, firmly padded cushion, esp. a footstool.
– A firm clump of grass in marshy or boggy ground.

So I can now choose whether I live in a piece of mud or foam. Maybe a soft spot where you can let go, with the feeling of just sinking in?

Flying home I had more thoughts about life. Nothing like having 2 hours of me time. Disconnected. A bit melancholic, thoughtful, yet with unstoppable energy to succeed. Life, both private and professionally, is at a pivotal point. About to accelerate. I love where I am. I love what I am doing. And I am determined to make it work!

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Have a fantastic week. When you get a chance, take a minute to reflect on your happiness, your love and life. Hug your children and tell them, that whatever you do is to create a better life for them. When you work abroad you do that to provide for them, because you love them. If you don’t see them during the week, tell them that is for you to make sure they have enough food, because you love them. And, if they are old enough, make sure they understand that you don’t (want to) feel guilty not seeing them. But by you knowing that they love you, you feel better and they understand that you are away because of them. Life is that way. Either part of you has the same motivation, all you do in life is because you love your children. Because that’s the purpose in life, isn’t it? To make it work. To fight for it.

I better stop before I get more philosophical 😉

Have a great week,
Volker

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Ode to Jenny (or most mothers for that reason)

I wanted to write this post for a while, but focussed too much on the whole rant about customer service. Got a lot of bollocking for it too. Hey, that is just the way I am. Sorry if I bored you. But, working from home last week, triggered me to write another blog post, saying thank you to my wife, or for that reason to most mothers.

Of course I knew before having Colin that bringing up a child is hard work. And, in all fairness, Mr. Ballueder didn’t offer a good “customer service” when Colin was born. I was overwhelmed with what was going on in my life (just made redundant and going for interviews) – but more so overwhelmed with the sitution of “I am now responsible for this little package”. It took me a long time, probably very common for a lot of men, to adopt to the situation, coming to terms with it, getting involved and being the father the mother always wanted me to be.

Now enough about me, my wife Jenny is the one that put up with the child. It almost sounds negative, but from the days of pregnancy she was suffering. She was sick on her way to work in the tube, couldn’t sleep, was worried about my job, the future and from day 1 of Colin being here she was the one taking most of the burden. And, she did a fantastic job.

I think, and that is what most mothers say, only a mother feels like a mother does. Only she has the 9 months bonding with the child prior to seeing and holding it. She worries about it the moment it comes out (if not before). And she cares the moment it comes out. For her it comes natural doing all those things she has never done before.

Now, coming back, my wife is 7 months pregnant and has our lovely almost 18 months old toddler at home. He is a bundle of energy and joy. And whilst working from home I so realised how great my wife is and why she is so exhausted when I come home from work. The energy a mother has must come from the joy a child brings. From the pure fascination and drive to care for it. From the bond and love. That is why women are stronger than men, having more endurance. I admire that.

And, despite the snow, she didn’t get (or only eventually) tired of taking Colin to play groups, the crèche or just for a walk. Women are, and being a bloke I hate to admit it, the stronger gender. I wouldn’t be able to be pregnant, entertain a toddler and listen to my husband moan at the same time. Only a woman comes up with endless energy and drive to care for a child, entertain a child, nurse a child and the endless love for a child.

There is still a lot to learn for me. 18 months on, and I still haven’t learned in full how unimportant some things are in perspective to Colin. And in perspective to my wife.

I love you.
Volker

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