Posts Tagged wife

Sunday Column (492)

Another week, another month. It’s June already. I could hardly stay awake on Tuesday. I feel the weather, it being muggy and hot, and warm, and rainy….how would I cope in places like India or Singapore? I love dry heat in Italy for instance, once you get used to it that is. But this mixed weather, changing, just doesn’t work for me. And, it shows how British I am, opening my blog with the discussion around the weather. Thunderstorm. Downpours. Good for the garden – revealing my true age. This week was all about the weather it seemed.

On the note of gardens. My wife, with a little bit of help from the kids and myself, build a wonderful stone or Zen garden. It is something we wanted to do for a long time and I absolutely love it. The plan is for more things to be embedded there, a space to think, write, meditate. As there is no grass growing under our neighbours tree, it is the perfect space.

Due to half term, I took a day ‘off’ on Thursday so my wife could work. Having had a few calls scheduled, I spend most of the day playing football. I think the boys had a great time, and I even managed to cook pasta for dinner. Most people reading this would laugh, but seriously I am not that great with cooking and all. I didn’t burn the sausages which is a benefit but some of the pancakes were on the darker side, waking the boys to the chime of the smoke alarms 😉 Daddy’s in charge.

It’s those days that make my life. Being able to be with the boys in the now, playing football, discussing serious things like cancer; we played Monopoly and I lost when hitting hotels from my youngest twice in one go. What’s the chances, even with him only having one set of streets? No surprise he was delighted, and some educational pieces around counting, subtracting and how to invest money were on the table too. I think that’s what I enjoy most, satisfying their curiousity about life, about things they want to know.

Maybe I add a few words about the commute this week. I am lucky, see previous posts, but a lot of Thamelink services got cancelled this week. Up to 300 trains a day and the policitians are getting involved. It is a poor state of affairs to be honest, all that talk about things getting better and engineering works, better services and more trains. Yet, as it turns out, if you are reliant to go on Thameslink from Hassocks, you have one cancelled train after another. Appaling – that’s what it is. I remember when we had the strikes, almost 2 years ago now, and things were bad then. When you turn up at work due to no fault of your own. I think that’s pretty bad. Maybe the petition I signed will get politics involved and then, hopefully, get us a new contractor on the line. If they will be better, we shall wait and see.

I think that’s all for this week. I am finalising this in my usual spot, the side of the Karate dojo where my youngest is training whilst I take a few minutes to reflect on my week. Still feeling the overindulgence on the local Indian last night, ending half term on a high.

Have a good one,
Volker

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Sunday Column (480)

It has been an interesting and very intense week. I don’t really know where to start but I had a few experiences this week I’d like to share. As someone pointed out to me this week, my blog is very detailed, yet as I explained, I enjoy writing it and it is my creative outlet. And usually I write on the train or during my son’s karate lesson.

I published another podcast and recorded my first 90 minutes long podcast. If there was a way to earn enough money doing that I would consider that full time, maybe one day. For the time being it is a great hobby. If you haven’t seen or HEARD it, Dominic Joseph speaks about his story, and I believe there are lots of learnings you can take from him. Thanks for being my guest!

The main thing this week was my wife’s laser eye correction. I am quite squeamish, so don’t want to go into detail, and whilst I shouldn’t complain as I don’t have the pain, she couldn’t sleep and it kept me awake too. Just to be sure we don’t have a misunderstanding here, I am not cursing her for it, but having had an 8 am interview on Friday, a 6.23 train and being awake half the night knocked me out on Friday afternoon. How did I cope when we had babies?? I remember going from hospital and night feeds straight into interviews in 2009. Maybe a good omen?!

At time of writing she is getting better. And that’s the main thing, and I caught up on some sleep too. It feels a bit like Dusk till Dawn at home, as all the shutters are closed to avoid sunlight coming in. No, she hasn’t turned into a vampire 😉

On Wednesday I tried a new massage therapist. Mine had to cancel and since the meeting didn’t get re-arranged, I figured it was time to try someone else to keep my muscles entertained. I am believer that change is good and that you need to change things on a regular basis to keep yourself or your body from being complacent. For someone who doesn’t get massages on a regular basis this might sound silly and odd, but the massage I got was a mixture of massage and physio which my body responded very well to. If you need a recommendation, I am happy to refer you to her.

Recruitment or job search was another topic of course and I know some people read this hoping for some news. So do I 🙁 I got some new leads, had interviews, managed to schedule some really good interviews for next week, awaiting some more, and of course got some rejections too. It is difficult to balance chasing without annoying the recruiters, so any job that comes direct is so much easier to manage. I feel things are moving forward and definitely I found one job I would love to do. Fingers crossed. Any of my recruiters reading this, let me know if I annoy you, yet most say call me whenever you want….some say every four weeks, others just don’t answer or bother. The industry is an odd one, but hey, I also made some friends in the process. Having this extra layer in between allows you access to the bigger jobs. But on the other hand, it comes with less control. So finding the balance with the middle man can be hard sometimes. Anyhow. I have some interesting discussions at the moment, and I am so curious where I end up in a few weeks time. Or I hope it is weeks and not months anyway. I keep you posted.

Oh, and after some contemplating and meetings, I have now decided to take on another advisory role. I heard headhunters saying I am too young to do that. Other would question whether I am too old to work for a 20 something entrepreneur? Neither is true. I quite happily work for a young entrepreneur and have done so in the past, as that is how the industry rolls. At the same time, I am not too young for advisory roles, yet depends which start up and what area. I have, and that wasn’t intentionally, found one where I am curious to learn more about the topic (it is about blockchain and crypto currency) and at the same time can add value with my experience. It happens to be run by a very smart and young entrepreneur too. I announce it formerly once the paperwork is signed.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that a job search has an impact on one’s mood, and one’s surrounding. My kids keep asking when I go back to work and luckily I got some contract work which keeps me sane. I want the right job (fingers crossed), not any job, and I am keen on keeping it that way. Patience is getting less, but on the other hand I need to keep on going, filling the pipe until things are sorted. And of course they will. The next job should be 3-5 years ideally, so better make it a good one and I am keen on staying somewhere longer to make a proper impact.

Now, coming to another experience I wanted to share. My youngest is wearing contact lenses for a couple of weeks now. They shape his eyes over night and he takes them out in the morning. On the one hand they stop him from having to wear glasses and on the other hand it stops his eyes from getting worse. Fingers crossed that will be the case. I am so heartbroken seeing my seven year old putting contacts in, his struggle when he is tired. I am so very proud of him doing that whilst myself I am too squeamish to even consider it. See above, the eye problems run in the family (that’s my wife’s line btw, just saying 😉 ) and I am glad we have the possibilities to make things better moving forward. It all will be good in the end. But it is a struggle to make things better sometime and putting this on children early is balancing pushing and understanding. Not easy to be a parent sometime.

I have been networking this week too, and my Instagram followers would have noticed, I have a new drink of choice: an Old Fashioned. A drink that lasts longer than a pint and taste nice and is still ‘cool’ after the Mad Men era. Having said that, depending who you are speaking to, Mad Men is a thing of the past. The right comment given it was IWD this week (International Women’s Day). This could be another post in itself, I think it is great that the world wakes up to equality, but as I have said here and elsewhere before, I am still buffled that people would treat others differently based on gender, or race, or age, … Anyway, we as a global society are on the way to improve things.

With that hope and wish, my wife being on the mend, and a roast dinner in the oven, I hope you had a great weekend too.

All the best for the week ahead.

Volker

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Sunday Column (475)

I am pumped. Oh yes, my 2nd interview went live on the podcast and I have recorded 4 more this week. I am on fire. I am ready to ignite the space of success and already identified patterns of success. If you haven’t listened to any of my podcasts yet, head over to my website Stories of Success and register for updates.
It is so much fun and I am learning so much from speaking to successful people. I’d love to start writing a book and talk to people about it already but I want to do more interviews and understand the deeper meaning of ‘success’ before I consider anything else on the topic. I shall keep you posted and I hope you enjoy the podcasts; please let me know of any feedback and share my podcast, rate it and most of all, enjoy!

This week I interviewed four people for my podcast, and they were all different. All different good. Tell me who you think I should interview? Who do you think has an opinion on success and how it plans out? Which person inspires you?

Also this week I had a few interviews for jobs. One was outside the industry and it was different, as you don’t have the common ground. There was no chat about header bidding and supply path optimisation, name dropping or the common frustration of the state of the adtech industry. Yet GDPR affects us all. Again, and independent of the outcome, it was a great learning and a fantastic opportunity to meet a senior leader.
Other interviews were somewhat easier, as they were within the industry. Yet each interview comes with its own challenges. No matter what you prepare, there is a question you didn’t prepare, or you have to be careful how to phrase it. It is a full time job to prepare for them, do research and get feedback from current clients and industry peers. Again, great learning no matter the outcome, and as always I keep you posted. One thing to add is that when you get really nervous you starting to care – what I mean is that there are some interviews I just go in and have a chat, but the more nervous I get, the more I know it is the right step and I want the job. Does that make sense?

That covers two topics I spend a lot of time on: my podcast and my interviews. All in the name of finding a job, positioning and learning. The other time I spend is mainly with the family. As I get busier, I do less school runs, yet had the boys all Thursday afternoon, e.g. had to pick them up from school, take them to tennis etc. That is hard work, and doing it once in a while makes you really appreciate what my wife is doing every week. With her being at work more often now too, it is nice to be able to help and work around her schedule. If money was no objective, I could imagine doing that for a while, but the reason one goes stir crazy is not only because of ‘not having a job’, it is that feeling of ‘not adding value’ and ‘not contributing’. And that is not only true for myself but for the wife not working regularly either. Focus and balance is key, similar to when you are back at work. I cannot wait to go back to the next challenge in order to apply a lot of the learning from the past few years to it. And the learning from talking to very smart people on my podcast. Fingers crossed.

I am reflecting on the week before I send this off. Honestly, I believe things will change once I am back in full time work. Less over engineering, more living in the moment and going and investing things that matter to me. To be able to create an income with or without an employer in the future, the ability to survive and just make it work regardless of the state of the industry. There is a plan I am working on…

With those thoughts, I hope you have a great week ahead. In the spirit of my podcast, what is the one thing, the item on your priority A list, that you will tackle this week. Which frog are you going to swallow first?

Good luck,
Volker

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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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