Category: Ballueder Partners

Stop Listening To Your Notifications! Productivity Tip 1

How do you manage your time?
Are you living by the reminders on your phone?

Stop this now! Stop Listening to your notifications.

As a series that I published a while back on Linkedin, I wanted to repeat this on my blog to make you aware of the top productivity tips I find fit for our day and age.

One of my key productivity tips is to turn off any notifications and alerts on your desktop, phone or tablet.

Start being in charge of your time and be in control of who you answer to. And when. You must be in control of what’s happening with your most valuable asset: your time. It’s not necessarily about how you manage your time, but how you preserve your time for what’s important in the now.

Watch my productivity tip number 1.

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube.

You can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life.

This is return leads to more success and productivity.


Mobile: +44 (0) 7814 467 965

Mindfulness: Reducing Stress in the Workplace

When I introduce myself as a mindfulness trainer, most people assume that I meditate. That’s correct of course, but for some people meditation is still a bit ‘fluffy’ and the ’stuff that the monks in the orange robes’ do. Mindfulness goes beyond that, and the focus on the workplace is key for my programmes.

I set out to meditate almost 15 years ago. I learned from many mentors that through meditation you would be more balanced, more focused and it helps you become successful. That was my reason really. 15 years later, and I have a 20 minute daily meditation routine. I then add some mindfulness exercises throughout the day, to destress during the day and refocus on the task at hand. Sometimes it is a short mindfulness break, sometimes a deeper going breathing exercise, or the three step breathing space I talk about below.

How do you define mindfulness? It’s about being in the moment and being self aware. Similar to Emotional Intelligence (EQ), it is about self-awareness and awareness of others. Being mindful. For mindfulness, the NHS uses the example of consciously feeling the banister when you are walking up or down the stairs. Being able to take yours surroundings in, non judgementally, just being very mindful. It is to observe your commute or taking a different way to work to change your perspective, that is of course if you are commuting to work at the moment.

In 2019 I did a training to become a Mindfulness at Work trainer through a spin off from the Mindfulness Centre at Oxford University. It was important to me that I get a good scientific based training plus a training that focuses on the workplace. It followed two other mindfulness educations earlier in the year.

One of my recent clients in the legal space achieved great results by feeling less stressed and overwhelmed by the end of the course; their happiness and wellbeing improved by 60%. See the case study of Jameson Legal here. On my website you find another case study too!

As a result we ended up doing more ongoing work, where we looked at productivity improvement and how to incorporate a three step breathing space exercise into a daily routine. A quick reset that takes not longer than 30 seconds or up to 3 minutes.

Download the guided meditation here and try it for yourself.

The improvements we are seeing through our 6 week long courses , and of course we can tailor for shorter or longer or bespoke ones, are the following:

  • Improved employee engagement
  • Less stress
  • Reduction of healthcare costs
  • Less costs for sickness
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved leadership skills

Particularly the latter can have a hugely positive impact on an organisation. Compassionate leadership for instance and being able to communicate with employees better are just one of many positive impacts.

No matter how small or big you are as a company, we find the right programme for you to reduce stress, improve focus, and make your company a better place to work.

To find out more, contact me – I teach mindfulness, but also do individual and group coaching sessions with focus on productivity improvement and mindfulness of course.

My 2020 plans – what are yours?

I have been debating what 2020 has in stock for me. Of course we don’t know, and we will never be able to live anywhere else than the here and now. But if I had a wish for 2020, I’d like it to continue the way 2019 ended.

As people know, I left what we call a ‘permanent’ job in order to pursue my passion: working on projects I enjoy and where I am in charge, where I can make a positive difference. I found a few of them. One in the data space working with very talented data enthusiasts on exciting projects. This actually is the most enjoyable job in adtech I ever had.

My mindfulness journey lead me to work with another company called Moment Pebble. Their aim is to revolutionise the way we are being more mindful at work and life, reducing stress and becoming more skilful around mindfulness. This goes in line with my latest course I took. I am super excited to scale that business and bring more of the skills around our pebble to the masses, and I will deliver my first Workplace Mindfulness course from early January.

Lastly, I work on a few other projects, such as D:PULSE, a new conference concept for 2020/21 and supporting other companies on their business development efforts. I am happy to be able to split my time between so many talented businesses and people and work in areas I enjoy. This includes new areas too, being a trusted advisor and board member.

I was born to be a consultant, so if someone now asks me, I am a business consultant and trusted advisor. Within the trusted advisory ‘box’ you find executive coaching, my book on productivity principles which sold over 7,000 copies so far, principles for success, my podcast on success and mindfulness practise. It is all coming together, and it becomes an ever bigger toolbox with one aim: to support and help businesses and people to achieve more. Simple. And the real satisfaction I get, is to see people and business thrive on the back of my input.

In the meantime I am blessed for having a healthy and fun family. Anyone with kids around the age of 10 knows that those little people growing up very fast, forming their own character and challenge you. Every single day. It is fun though, isn’t it? I have been able to spend more time with them, more connected time.

So for me personally, for 2020, I want to learn more about health, and go deeper into that topic. Whilst in 2019, thanks for some external influences and people, I had to learn a lot about mental health; 2020 is about my physical health, maybe shedding a few more pounds. It has been over a year since my last marathon, so maybe….just maybe, but then there is food and drink. I have a healthy relationship with alcohol and that won’t change, but drinking less alcohol and eating less meat, becoming a more sustainable ‘element’ of humankind, that’s a goal worth pursuing. And if I learn how to cook some healthy meals, then this is a bonus. It’s an area I still want to be better in. I just love learning new skills.

That’s it for me. 2019 is almost over. 2 weeks of hibernation, editing podcast, preparing some work, good food and wine over Christmas, celebrations and gifting. And dwelling on what’s happening with this country moving forward. A topic we can cover some other time.

If you need help formulating your 2020 goals, need a shift in your direction or just want to have a sounding board, schedule a call on calendly.

Let’s have a chat and see how we can work together in 2020.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Volker

Mental Health, Mindfulness and the Workplace

Since finishing my Mindfulness Trainer course and preparing my first deliveries for January, I often get asked if I can solve Mental Health issues. The answer is ‘no’, as I am not a therapist.

When you get asked what mental health is, I bet you say something like ‘it’s a disease or illness of the mind’. But is it?

For me that sounds really bad. An illness, a disease. Wow. But, you aren’t wrong, and often we put it down to stress, or someone not being able to cope. But mental health, and I need to stress again that I am not a health professional, can be anything from a mood disorder like depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety, personality and psychotic disorder. It can result in eating disorders, trauma related disorders and lead to substance abuse.

I looked that up, admittedly, as I didn’t want to miss out on anything. This is huge. Let’s just take a moment and reflect on the extend of those disorders, and what it means to you and people around you.

I openly admit having had anxiety. Yes, that is very common, but up until a few years ago, people didn’t talk about it. Most of my anxiety came into play when I took redundancies, or when restructures happened in companies where I was involved in. Restructures, in my mind, lead to redundancies. But be reassures, they don’t always do.

But I don’t want to talk about my journey here, as I grew more resilient to anxiety, as I started doing my own thing; I started managing my thoughts through a daily mindfulness practise I established over five years ago or longer even. I started my first meditation course in 2006, and if I hadn’t been involved in mindfulness practise throughout my career, I am not sure I would be sitting where I am today.

What started with an interest in Buddhist philosophy and personal development, turned into a life saver on a few occasions over the years. For that, I want to be thankful.

Hence, as I announced this week, I am joining Moment Pebble to support the start-up idea of bringing micro-moments to the workplace or your personal life for that matter. The idea is to carry a pebble in your pocket, disconnected from your phone or other electronic devices, which reminds you to be mindful.

The concept of carrying a pebble isn’t new. The concept of having one that lights up, that guides you, is. This product is the start of a long term ambition to eradicate stress and associated disorders as mentioned above, from anybody’s life. Studies show that a regular mindfulness practise reduce stress.

So this is a job, but it is also a mission. A vision to help others to cope better with mind challenges they might have, and combat those through mindful moments.

Any support on the journey is appreciated.

A no brainer, why health is so important for all of us

When I interviewed Payal Mehta on my podcast, the owner of Nirmana Life, I became very thoughtful. Years ago, I quit chain smoking and started looking after my health. I understood how and what to eat, and how to lose weight. As a matter of fact, I lost almost 10 kg at one point, a great achievement.

Yet, when it comes to the ‘doctor’ kind of things, it is a bit different. I am not a doctor, I don’t understand all the ins and outs, but I understood what Payal tried to tell us in the podcast, Stories of Success.

We are all living a lot longer, however we all have more chronic illnesses. So whilst our quantity of life goes up, the quality of life might go down. And the challenge we have is that our Western medicine isn’t geared up to treat chronic illnesses, but it is more geared towards dealing with acute illnesses. Chronic illnesses are better treated with traditional medicine and on a preventative basis, as well as holistically looking at your physical, mental and spiritual health.

Whilst of course there are several factors influencing this, and some of those conclusions might be wrong for some people as everyone is different (please note, I am not a doctor or in the medical profession), the overall trend is quite clear. We are damaging our bodies, our minds by overworking, under exercising, not sleeping enough or have enough quality sleep; and we are trying to fix problems with our bodies through quick fixes, or by ignoring our body signals. That is true for physical but also very much so for mental health.

In my opinion, we cannot continue the way we are working and living throughout the 21st century without ruining our bodies, mental health and of course our productivity. Again, this is where the work I do on mindfulness and productivity comes in. An area I am committed to with my latest courses and assignments, projects and ideas. More about that soon, as I just got qualified as a WorkplaceMT Mindfulness at Work Trainer.

How do we stay healthy?

Payal suggests that 90% is down to lifestyle and environmental factors. That is huge. Personally, I exercise enough, but do I eat the right food?

To have a healthy lifestyle, we need to look at the following 5 areas, she suggests:

  • Food: How and what we eat.
  • Movement: How much we move, and what we do to exercise.
  • Sleep: How we sleep and what we do before sleep.
  • Stress: How we manage stress and mental health.
  • Love: Purpose of life and social interaction.

Balancing all this and looking after yourself will result in a successful life.

Are you doing the maths?
Are you on track?

The other principle she explains is Psycho Neuroendo Immunology. It looks at the influence of psychology on your health, e.g. how your thoughts influence your brain and chemistry; this then starts to influences your hormone production and changes in your cellular level; from there are influences on your physical health. Most of the thoughts are on a subconscious level, and research is in its infancy; however, we agree the concept isn’t new, ‘we are who we think’, which is what Buddha said many years ago.

In conclusion, I learned a lot which I already apply to my clients: There is a holistic goal, and that is true for your work, and life, and health is just one small but super important part of it.

Maybe we start focusing more on our health as this will have a positive impact on everything else you do, including your productivity.

Feel free to reach out and discuss a way to look at it holistically.

Stay well,
Volker

How you can shift your mindset to win!

As I am sitting here just watching Eliud Kipchoge breaking the 2 hour barrier for running a marathon, I am looking back at history and what mankind can achieve when they put their mind to it. It is amazing, isn’t it. When are we landing on Mars?

It is also what gets me up in the morning. The drive to help people achieve the goals they want. Coaching, advising, helping others. That’s my passion.

What is it I am doing? I advice executives and boards on their company, personal life and coach them to change teams, staff and themselves to be better and more productive. That is what I do. For Q4 I still have 3 individual or about 2 company places available. Now is the time to reach out and hatch plans for 2020. The results I have seen with clients so far are amazing. Get in touch on www.ballueder.com.

I also teach mindfulness, meditation and help companies to embrace a better way of working. It’s change management, mindset change. Just like breaking a 2 hour barrier on the marathon. That’s something I have been passionate about for many years, being able to work flexible, take breaks, and bring life and fun back to work. After all we spend most of our time there, don’t we.

This week I edited a podcast which makes me think. My former manager Andy and I had a chat about his life. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour after collapsing in the office in 2016. I remember that day very vividly, and 3 years on, two operations and a virus infection later, he speaks to me about life, and what it means to be successful. The episode goes live later in the year, yet you can just imagine how is outlook on life and death, his goals and objectives, have changed. A fascinating conversation, and I am grateful for him sharing his experience so openly.

I am grateful for being healthy, for being fit. Andy thought he was. And as we close the podcast he is saying that what he worries most about, are the others, and the changes like climate change, bring with them. I guess he is more than right. We, as humans, have managed to drive this planet against the wall. We will be spending lots of the money we made in the first place from destroying the planet, trying to rescue it. Will we survive?

I suppose we will, in one way or another. That’s the nature of our species. That’s where we continuously push boundaries. Humans are fighters. It is a mindset thing! We might be smaller in numbers, maybe living under a dome, under the sea or on another planet. Who knows. Some of us will be alive to witness it, some might not. But we will survive.

From a mindfulness perspective, the here and now is what we should experience and focus on. Only here and now can we influence our life, what we eat, what we do, how we keep fit and how we save the environment. The massive action towards our goals has to be taken now. And here.

Don’t put things off!

Take your action today. Let’s have a chat how I can help you with your mindset, your goals and objectives and how we can break your barrier!

What is your agenda 2020? How can Coaching help you?

For those of us that have been around for a while, you might remember the EU member states agreeing on the agenda 2020, looking at principles, priorities and approaches for their youth policy strategy. Now, with the year coming to an end, you should think about what your agenda is for 2020, and how coaching might benefit your strategy.

Agenda 2020

I have been involved in personal development since the early naughties, gaining a Master Practitioner in NLP in 2003 and subsequently dismissing EQ (Emotional Intelligence) as a fad in 2004 during my MBA thesis. I thought both approaches were common sense, being aware of yourself, striving for being better and having a growth mindset. Always giving your best and defining your goals, reviewing them and making plans. This, as I know now, looking back at 15 years working in a corporate career and with technology start ups, isn’t the case. People don’t apply common sense, not every manager is emotional aware, and yes, I have seen printers and fax machines being thrown through the office. It is time to understand what the workplace really needs!

Hence, after coaching teams, executives and advising businesses and boards on strategic positioning and outcomes for over 10 years, I now want to dedicate 100% of my time doing just that. That’s my agenda 2020. Being there to help leaders to achieve more, increase the ROI by developing executives in their career, leadership qualities and helping them to improve the output of their teams.

With the rise of mental health awareness, we are more mindful and aware of both emotions and our mental state. Therefore ‘Emotional Awareness’ starts with you. Whilst you might never be able to 100% control yourself, there are ways to do so most of the time. It all starts with self awareness and spreads out to awareness of others, teams, managers and subordinates. You will soon find that EQ gives you a choice of how to react to situations and how to approach the next steps in your life – whether that is your career or your personal goals.

In the last few years, the term mindfulness comes up more often. Originated somewhere amongst Buddhist meditation, Emotional Intelligence and Yoga, the principles of mindfulness help in the workplace. Science proves that the use of meditation changes your brain in a way that you are more logical thinking, make better decisions and have less of an emotional response. In my opinion, the theories of EQ and Mindfulness are merging to something I like to call the ‘New Mindfulness’.

We are living in times where there is information overload. We don’t get to spend enough time with our families, the work-life or life-life balance is missing, and we are out of sync with ourselves. On the back of that we see an increase in mental health problems, and stress related illnesses. However, there is a cure: new mindfulness can combat all that and more, making you better at deciding what to think.

I recently published my already best selling book Principles for Success, which amongst the principles list mindfulness and EQ. This is based on my podcast, where I interview high performers, CEO and executive coaches, leadership experts, and successful people about what they do differently and how they became successful. My compulsory question is ‘how do you define success’, and the answers are very subjective. But this is the same if I asked you, how your agenda 2020 is looking like?

What is on your agenda for next year? What are your plans, goals and objectives? Which actions are you taking to achieve those? Who holds you accountable for it?

In order to implement mindfulness in organisations, to drive EQ adoption and change the culture in your company, we need to talk about coaching. From the top down, executive coaching, team coaching and goal as well as value alignment. This is not a quick fix but a fundamental company change. And if you prefer, call it leadership skill training, or strategic board advisory, as that is where it starts. But it is worth it. Change Management. The benefits of engagement from your teams are well worth the time and effort you put in.

I often get asked why or if coaching helps. And you can do the google search yourself, but the general consensus is what I see with my clients. The outside in perspective, being able to be a sounding board, and listening deep into what is going on under the surface. A coach asks the right questions and distils the information needed to bring on change. A coach challenges you, and makes you do the work, holding you accountable for your goals, strategy and objectives. We are here to support you on your way, having those difficult discussions that result in you performing better, whether that is at work or at home, your life.

How about gaining back the work-life balance and getting your career back on track? Increasing your self esteem, and gain the confidence that propels you towards your goals. Identify your strengths, so you can play towards them. Build a team that compliments each other, so you can delegate more, and trust them more too. We are here to maximise your potential and bring your team to the next level.

If you are interested in finding out more or would like a no obligation chat, please contact me on volker@ballueder.com

All the best for 2020 and beyond!

Back to School

This week is back to school. If not a lot earlier, most people return to work this week. Particularly in the UK, with people enjoying splendid weather over the bank holiday weekend (just over a week ago), some took the additional week off. Why not.

I have been on it since early August, working on content for my blog, my LinkedIn Videos and launch of my executive and productivity coaching business. I have been lucky to see a trend that companies are interested in mindfulness trainings and how they can create a culture within an organisation that looks after their employees. As I continue with a top end training course later in the year, I started teaching meditation and mindfulness, incorporating emotional intelligence (EQ), working towards productivity. It all seems to come together.

This week is back to school for the kids too. That means childcare is sorted for most of the day, and life returns to some kind of routine. It also means that you see less of your children. Unfortunately, that’s how life is.

Those who follow me closely know that I currently split my time between a part-time job and launching my own business. That is splitting my time between security and flexibility. It is hard work, but I have a great team I am working with at my contract and enjoy both challenges. Best of both worlds really.

Also, this week we are back to my podcasts. On Thursday I launch season 3 of my podcast Stories of Success. It has been so much fun, that after 40 episodes I continue to interview high achievers and personal development people who give us their opinion on success. I have a few really interesting episodes recorded already, so make sure you tune in on any of your favourite outlets (including Spotify!)

As of next week, I am launching my 2nd book, Principles for Success. I will share more info about the book in the forthcoming weeks and give you a taster of what it is all about. It is an exciting journey to write a book and you will find out more on an article I wrote over on LinkedIn.

Despite my busy schedule I still have a couple of coaching slots available for Q4. So don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know if you are interested. Or, if you are part of a business, let me come in and I share my thoughts on how to create a more productive workplace.

Here is to Q4!

Productivity Book Promotion #BeBetter

As an executive and productivity coach, it isn’t very uncommon to have a book published on productivity. This was my first ever book and my next book on Success Principles will be published later this year.

Given we are all back after a long summer, a great long bank holiday weekend, it might just be the right time to kick-start your productivity habits.

I have developed a 7 pillar framework which looks at

– Defining what success actually means
– Looking at your values and purpose
– Defining the here and now and status quo
– What do you want to achieve?
– Define your stepping stones.
– Plan your actions, as a plan is no good without actions
– #BeBetter

There is a lot more in the book, about trusted systems, healthy bodies, and spirits; it covers habits and routines, productivity tools and more.

Let me know if you like the ideas or want to have a chat about the book or how this could be applied to your executives and teams.

Best thing. The book is FREE to download from AMAZON this week! Promotion is on until Thursday.

d:pulse – the new digital must-attend event in Europe!

You have to admit that flying to Zurich to a conference from London, staying over night, has to be a good conference, right? A conference that adds value to a coach and consultant. So when my friends, Frank and Christian, invited me to join them in Zurich for d:pulse, I was on fire. They have built dmexco, brought the industry together a few times, and just understand the concept of good conferencing, adding value and getting the right people on board.

So there I was, and admittedly, not knowing who Sven Hannawald was, he started the conference talking about burn-out, life-life balance and taking breaks. I thought I was on a personal development conference for a moment, as the multi Olympia winner talked about his struggle with mental health, performance and not being able to take a break. He spoke to what I preach, and that at a digital conference. It reiterated my point about the industry having to come closer together to not overwork people and look after each other. Besides us being a billion dollar industry, we are still a close knit team, and we have to work together to make it a sustainable industry not only from a money perspective, but from a people perspective too.

Throughout the day it was nice to see that brands like Lufthansa or Deutsche Bank embracing new technologies, Discovery mentioning how TV is changing, and I saw attempts to take the execution of technology in-house. Companies start trying things, but also admit that they don’t have the specialists in house. Technology is still a grey area for some, or at least they understand it strategically but not from an execution or operational point of view. No surprise to find a lot of consulting friends in the audience, seeing opportunity to help bigger brands on their journey.

Emotional bonding with brands is key. Whilst Deutsche admitted that in their presentation, a millennial social media company, Visual Statements, showcases emotions and how this impacts social media campaigns. All around data analysis, they test concepts on social which then inform them which products should be produced for brick and mortar stores. Throughout every presentation was a trail of data, data analysis and how they can inform decisions.

Emotions were of course also mentioned by Unruly who have looked at different meanings of gestures and how certain advertising resonates with different countries for many years (see picture). Again, their data plus the ability to change the ads according to audience, deliver a real difference.

I enjoyed the conference. New and old mingled, GenZ, Millennials and people like me ;-), the industry seems to rejuvenate itself, looking at new topics, being more experimental. All captured by the organisers in a fantastic event in Zurich. What is not to like?

And of course, Sir Martin was there. He was relaxed, talked about the industry and about how things will de-consolidate. He also made the point about content that is data driven and digital being the way forward. Take it from a man who knows, and one sentence will stick in my mind. He said, given the US media industry is 20 trillion dollars vs. 3 trillion in the UK, an hour in the US would make him 7 times more effective. I like his thinking!

In case you attended the event, let me know what you think. If you didn’t, make sure you head over to the d:pulse website and register for the next event. This is a conference that will be the must-attend event in years to come.

Thanks!