Tag: america

Ballueder Thinks (2) – I believe in you

To believe in someone, you have to believe in yourself. That’s my opinion anyway. Did you know, according to Coach George Ravelin who was interviewed on Tim Ferris’ podcast the other day, not many parents tell their children that they believe in them.

The coach, now 82, also talks about ‘staying alive’ was his goal for most of his life, living in America as a black man. Every time he got stopped by the police, he feared for his life. A sad, yet fascinating podcast. It takes me back to my life in Kansas. A year as an exchange student, being pressurised into (soft) drugs, guns, drinking, sex and witnessing racial discrimination. It might sound horrible now, but at the time, I thought that’s what America was like. This is over 25 years ago, and I had a teacher back then, I might add a black teacher, who told me that he believed in me, and that one day I will become someone great. Whilst I still wonder when this might be, I wonder if I am already there. Who knows what ‘great’ really means?
You were a great mentor, Dr. Stone!

I have witnessed racism against me at the time, and against black people. I have witnessed a lot in my life, that I have forgotten, or pushed aside. But I believe in myself. That’s the main thing. And, I am very keen on making sure my kids believe in themselves, and their lives moving forward. When my son had his birthday recently, I wrote exactly that in his card. Hopefully, he will read it over again. And he starts believing in himself.

Whilst this is all 25 years ago, it sometimes comes back to the top of my mind. Just recently I remembered some scenes from that time, and it feels wrong now. No one would blame me, being 15 at the time, to not stand up for things I felt were wrong then, but felt I couldn’t speak out about back then. This is all a very long time ago, but you sometimes wonder what I have learned from all that. A whole lot I’d say, as I am someone who processes things and likes to reflect on things. And, I am willing to learn, to strive and make things better.

What have you done 25 years ago when you look back? It might sound as if I was a total idiot. Actually, I don’t think I was, given the environment I was in. But comparing it to the environment I came from, maybe I was 😉 It’s all good, wounds heal, yet it also gave me a deep inside into the heartland of America, the Mid-West. I learned a whole lot, made some really good friends too, and to this day would like to visit again. And what we Europeans often forget is the size of America. Kansas, where I was, is only about 20,000 km2 smaller than the UK as a whole. Or, to put it into perspective, Kansas is the size of the UK minus Wales. That’s a big country for one member state of a bigger United States, and it would have its own dynamics.

Enough about that, as with everything in life, we live and learn. I recently decided to launch a business with someone else. This is very exciting. And of course I will reveal more as we go along. We are still pretty much in stealth mode. We spoke the other day and had a good chat. Business for us is about TRUST. Trust for me comes back to belief. I believe in him, and he believes in me. We believe in what we do and how we will trust each other. That’s more powerful than a contract I suppose.

There is something else I wanted to write about. Teaching. Now, my dad and uncle both were teachers. Both in Germany, both successful in moving up the teachers’ ranks, and both have had a good life, brining up a family, owning a house etc. It is pretty much a good middle class family job. When I grew up, and most children do, I wanted to become a teacher. I wanted to do what my dad did. Thinking back, I am glad I didn’t become a teacher. Despite Covid19, and teachers going through a tough time, they also have a secure pension and a secure income. However, the income of a teacher will most likely always be lower than the income of someone in the open economy, however that’s not why you become a teacher. It’s because of passion.

I know that now, but back when I finished high school, it was all about the money for me rather than the passion. I wanted to become a CEO, a manager, and that was it. And, to a certain extend, I still love working with people, grown ups, and manage and coach/consult them. Now, you could argue, I am an adult teacher. Not quite, but kind of fulfilled two areas, e.g. being an expert in what I do, and passing that knowledge on to others. I couldn’t be a teacher, that’s for sure. In the UK, teachers are worse off financially than in Germany too, but that is another topic in itself. And me dealing with more than two children at a time isn’t my idea of fun either.

The point I am leading to, is that in life you should follow your passion. Which, to a certain extend, I did. I did it without the right reasoning. In NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), we differentiate between two motivational directions, e.g. moving towards something and moving away from something. In my case, I moved away from teaching for the reason of earning potential and moved towards consulting for the reason of earning more money and having a ‘career’. Coming to a point in my life where I am launching my own business, working with my own clients, I essentially realise I got the best of both worlds. I am teaching, training and helping people to achieve their goals. I guess I arrived at my destination, didn’t I?

Let’s stick with that thought for a moment. What if, based on what was mentioned above, I am already great and where I should be in life, then the next few years will be key to proving that what I am doing is successful. As you know, based on my podcast, success is defined by your own individual perception of success. So it could be money, or building something, or proving something.

For me, the next few years are about building a business that I can take with me, no matter where in the world I live, and which I can operate remotely too. This way I want to be Covid19 safe, and add value to anyone globally. I want to help people achieve their dreams and tell more people that I believe in them, and that they can achieve their dream. Things will always fall into place, no matter what.

And whilst I fear Covid19’s impact on the economy as much as the upcoming recession (or the recession that’s here already), and Brexit, and whatever else might come, e.g. a 2nd wave of Covid19 or another virus or global warming – for me it comes back to believing that anything is possible. I believe, despite fear and anxiety of the future, that we as humans will survive. We will find a way off this planet before we destroy it, or we find a way of not destroying it; and I find a way of making my business grow during a downturn. And, in the end, I want to look back in years to come and be proud of what I have achieved.

But I don’t want to be alone on the journey. I want to have enough time for my family, help them to believe in themselves. I want my friends, mates, coaching clients and consultant clients to believe in me, and them to believe in themselves. I want to help and give people confidence in what they do, and support them on the way. If I can achieve that, and make the world a better place in my circle of influence, I achieve success.

Now that’s something to live for.

And every time I think about that, there are people that come to my mind, people I met in Kansas, people I met in London and elsewhere on my way, that do not get it. People that tried to f* you over, that couldn’t be trusted, that treated you like sh*, and didn’t care. People I sometimes think about with compassion, sometimes with anger to be honest, how they could treat me, and a lot of other people, in a certain way. I don’t wish them bad or anything. I am not an evil person, just the opposite, I hope they find peace in what they do. And more often than not they were obsessed by either a wrong ideology or greed. Latter, mainly in the business sense.

My whole life I have and will always try to treat people with the utmost respect. Without prejudice. I hope that Covid19 will help people to see the human aspect more. With all the video calls, we look into living rooms, meet business’ contacts children and dogs. We are getting closer to each other, trying to help each other. That can only be a good thing.

I am a strong believer in Karma. That anything bad you do in life is coming back to you eventually. I also believe that anything good you do in life is coming back to you. The circle of energy, proven in my mechanics class back at university, the forces in any system need to be equalised for the system to be stable. Simple math really.

We are who we are. I am who I am, and you are like you are. Konrad Lorenz, who I read as a teenager, wrote a book called ‘I am here, where are you’ and ‘the so called evil’. I am here, who are you? How can I help you to achieve more? How can I help you to be more successful? How can we avoid evil? I enjoy helping and do that via my coaching. I love helping others to grow and do that via consulting. That’s what I do.

Yes, I could do with more business, but I am confident that once Covid19 goes, and we go back to a more normal business life, that things will continue to flourish. Where would humans be without optimism and belief?

It is key now to not give up. I know a lot of people who are looking for a job, or looking for others to help them. Let me know, I am happy to help you. I don’t have all the answers, but I have all the belief to move forward. Today I am positive.

And when I say today, then this means that some days are dark. Like for anyone at the moment, we have more time to think. Someone I know and lives in the USA, was debating whether to return to the UK. In our times, we have to make decisions where we want to live. How our outer circumstances define our living standards. Happiness, which is the topic of a podcast in a couple of weeks, is key. We, as humans, will always seek happiness. We think that by going somewhere else we are happier, and yet we might find out it’s not the case.

As many in these difficult times, we think a lot. One day this, the other day that. Stay or go. Whatever you are thinking about, you will notice that it changes all the time. And the reason is simple, we cannot plan at the moment. We think that by changing things we will be in a better place. That might or might not be the case, and our thoughts are a bit clouded.

The best thing is to sit down, and take stock. Write down what you enjoy/don’t enjoy, and what is important to you. Look into the future, taking into consideration that you cannot determine the future, and that it is likely to change too. Change is constant. Nothing is set in stone. You can only live in the now.

Then evaluate, talk things through with a person you trust, and wait until Covid19 has passed. Make a decision then, with a clear mind, a mind that can start planning a bit more. Don’t rush into anything that you might regret or didn’t think through, having less information and parameters due to the situation we are in. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make decisions.

At the end of the day we always need to move forward, whatever that means in your situation, and however big or small that step might be.

In the end, you have to believe in yourself and make sure you believe in others.

I believe in you!

Sunday Column (468)

This week’s post is written on a keyboard I still need to come to terms with: My new MacBook Pro. Since Southern Rail reimbursed me my travel card, I could justify the hefty price tag to get a new laptop. It sounds crazy but the MacBook or the MacBook Air just don’t have enough power to really justify any investment past 1K. So the MacBook Pro, without the fancy touch bar, seems like the only reasonable machine out there if you want to buy an Apple. And I am overall quite happy with it. The keyboard, as said, needs getting used to, the touchpad too but you already know it is better than the old one on the Air, and definitely is similar to the external one; and last but not least, the display is amazing. Particularly compared to the Air. However, as friends warned me, connecting it to my 10 year old Dell screen, just doesn’t cut it. It feels like the Dell is fading, and I prefer to do the main work on the Retina display. Maybe there is another investment coming soon.

First world problems I suppose. On that note, Arnold Schwarzenegger was very outspoken this week about climate change and someone in a podcast said that we are the first generation that actually has enough data to make an informed decision. And, we cannot ignore the fact the world is changing. Minus degrees, snow, it being cold and the fire is on, cosy nights with wine. The next day T-shirt weather and rain, it being around 10 degrees. No, this isn’t normal, and I don’t need to be a meteorologist to figure that one out. What to do? I am still thinking of how I can contribute to the greater good moving forward.

A friend of mine had a website a few years ago about connecting dots. And Steve Jobs is most famous for saying you connect those dots looking back, even if looking forward we can’t see it yet. And it is Anthony Robbins who said that the brain is wired to avoid fear, because that’s how it was millions of years ago. There is history and if we look back, we cannot predict the future – still. But with climate change we can say: it is real!

I figured, sometimes in life we just need to sit still and listen. We need to connect with friends and family, new people and get input. And based on the input we get, we redefine our lives. We all do that, all the time. However, doing it consciously, and deliberately reviewing your life’s purpose, is something else. That’s what I have been doing over the last few weeks, since I took redundancy. I am open about it, because I am wired to talk, to write, to share thoughts. I am not wired to be a great motivational speaker on a stage, as my background is very scientifically grounded. Of course, one doesn’t exclude the other. What I am trying to say is that what I like to produce is profound, which is why I was successful in my sales career: no BS. Ever. Win/Win. Always. And the input this week was as good as last week, maybe a complete different directions. That’s what I call a growth mindset, and I am keen on not doing anything for a few days over Christmas.

This feels like a year end post already. Despite being a bit put off by ‘my’ digital industry, I cannot stay away. Having been at a few Christmas drinks this week, it is so great to see people from the industry I have known for years. That is fun and continues next week, with even more and closer friends. The industry is part of me, and I am part of it. I love technology, and particularly technology pushing boundaries and being in a position to improve the ecosystem and deficicies. My tasks got bigger from selling ads to influencing the way we see the ecosystem and how we approach it. Things are changing. I am changing. And some of the tech I have been speaking about over the past few weeks has been amazing.

I am also deep into personal development and change. Not only in theory with my book about productivity and articles on growth mindsets that I write and that resonate well, but also the application of this on a daily basis. Being one of the few that never struggle with their workloads and emails for instance. It’s about getting things done and putting out more than others at higher quality. But at the same time looking at your balance and work culture for your team. This is difficult when we look at value creation versus hours worked. Quantity vs. Quality. Another discussion this week.

So I have been thinking on how to best combine the two things. In the New Year I will make a few personal announcements. I plan to launch a few things that are more personal development related, that fuel my passion and hopefully your interest in the personal development space. And the main thought for me: focusing on Europe, rather than the US. There is a lot of good influence coming from the US, but I believe we need more focus on what’s happening in our world. Things we can apply to what’s in front of us. There is a lot of great stuff coming from the US and I love those motivational gurus and ideas, but the market is so different to Europe, to the UK. Size and scale are only a small part of it, culture is another.

On the other hand I will continue to focus on changing the world, changing the ecosystem we are living in from a digital and technology perspective. Helping others to understand what’s happening and how to be back in control. Being able to change the world, maybe, and even if it is a little bit at a time.

As Christmas is around the corner things are slowing down. Decision making is almost coming to a stand still. I have taken more online courses and made first decisions. I will disclose at the appropriate times but two projects are secured. Both are, so far, unfunded, e.g. freelance without pay. That is ok though, as there are thoughts behind it. I keep you posted. You, my friends, will be the first to know about my new endeavours and ideas. No, they aren’t related to climate change but there is no reason they won’t be moving forward. One just doesn’t know, do you?

Just finishing the week, we went to the Brighton game on Saturday. I wanted to go back for over a year, when I first took the boys to a football match. And my first one too. So this time my wife joined and we had a great family time. My youngest missed out on his best friend’s birthday party in favour of the game. Creating those experiences are fun, and then it doesn’t matter whether you win or loose. To be there, engage fully, and being part of something, that is key and much more valuable than winning or losing.

Have a great Christmas. Wind down, give your loved ones a hug and make sure you stay warm and safe.

All the best,
Volker

Thursday Flash (6)

Flash!

My most loved articles this week, send to you from sunny California.

And since we are in the land of positivity, I wanted to share an article about positivity and culture in the office. How to make positivity go viral in your office! Let us celebrate success and help each other, be friendly and get on with it. I have to say, my job is very positive with some good vibes in the office. We got it covered (hence we have been voted as good place to work a few times before 🙂 ).

Another read I enjoyed is about Storytelling. As sales you want to show perceived value. And from a product and development perspective you want to package things up. On the agency side you want to tell the client’s story. I have been reading and debating storytelling with people a lot over the last few months. Hope you enjoy it too.

Last, but certainly not least, I love reading Mark Ritson’s comments. This one is about Live Streaming. You can agree or disagree with his view but his view is worth a read. On anything related to marketing in my opinion.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s edition. Have a great week and see you next Thursday!

And if you enjoyed it, please forward and share with your friends and colleagues.

Volker

Sunday Column (232)

This was an eventful week. Where to start?

Let’s have a look into the past first.

10 years ago I did my Master Practitioner in NLP. Writing about it this week I realised how time has flown past. Crazy to think that I was about to embark on my MBA and just finished my engineering degree despite the fact I never really liked engineering as such.

20 years ago this week I moved to Kansas, USA, to a small farm town, to a big farm, and learned a lot about life in the forthcoming 10 months. I guess that is where I got the appetite to leave Germany, explore the world and live a ‘wild life’. Did it ever happen?

Life has changed over the years. I have changed. For my Rotary Club I need to prepare a presentation about my professional and personal life. What to add? What has been important? I might just share it with you here.

I could get philosophical now. My wife and family of course are important and have changed my life all over again. And I am still learning to be a good dad and family guy. But I want to speak about something else.

IMG_1826

No, not the teddy on the picture. This week we had a rough night with R waking up asking for his shoes. I wonder what he was dreaming about? C was sick. And that before an ever so important interview. Never mind. We grin and bear it. My espresso consumption has skyrocketed since May.

This week I launched my book. A long time in the making, several attempts over the past few years, I finally sat down and put my thoughts on Productivity of Life together. A holistic view on how I think life could be a bit better, more organised, more enjoyable and ultimately more successful for everyone. It is a scary thought to put your brain’s content out there thinking someone might want to read it. What if people don’t like it? What if they think it is useless?

Confidence! I have enough experience in the field and put a lot of effort into this book. Lots of references to further deepen your knowledge. I am sure you must like it! 🙂 Seriously, a book is one of those life achievements, a lot of learning and a result where I hope I can help people with.

Have I achieved it all now? The house, the family, the book? Far from it. I am only taking off in life. Every time I stop and reflect on where I am in life I think of the next leap. I am eager, ready to roll up my sleeves, get on with what I need to do and work on myself and my career, not forgetting my family!

I just mentioned to the boys this morning that would like to take them to India, the Taj Mahal, and to Lhasa, Tibet. Whilst I started crossing things off my list of things to do in life, I suppose I only just started.

Life life balance. There is enough for everyone in the world, they say. A nice analogy I heard this week, similar to “follow your heart” or “true beauty comes from within”, was that whatever you reflect on the outside doesn’t have to be your inside. For me that means you might be shiny on the outside but inside you still need to work on some issues. Who you trying to impress? Do what you like on the inside, be who you are, reflect it on the outside, be happier and impress that way. Is that clear to you? I am still thinking about it, but like this personal development thought.

Now to some future news. I accepted a job offer on Friday. Naturally I am very excited. I am starting next week. More to come next week.

So we had a good week. We had friends to visit and tried another place in the South Downs for walking and lunch, and we met with friends at a National Trust venue. We haven’t met them for 2 years. Time flies. But life is good. That is the main thing.

Last but not least, two things to mention. My attempt for Schweinshaxen or pork knuckles didn’t go too well. On the other hand we watches Planes in the movies. That was just great.

Have a great week!

Volker

Sunday Column (81)

81 weeks ago I started my Sunday Column. Ideas, thoughts and general blurb from Volker Ballueder about all sort of things. It developed a bit into a “only column” as I got too busy keeping up to write a daily or bi-weekly post.

Anyway, yesterday was 9/11. Now, as for many people, it is like it was yesterday that I heard about it. Sitting in a friends old Peugeot, he gave me a lift back from my pre-university maths course in Aberdeen, both of us entering the 3rd year, when the music in the radio stopped with the breaking news. I had been in the UK for less than a month. It was raining, cold and grey. And 9-11 had just happened.

If you followed some of the news over the last few weeks, then you wonder. You wonder why a pastor in Florida wants to burn the Koran. Why would he? If he is a man of faith, as his title suggests, then he should be able to forgive. He should be able to foresee the consequences his action might have. Was it all a media stunt?

If I say forgive, then I don’t mean “to not care” but in the Buddhist believe, in my interpretation, you close a chapter, accept the fact and try to make the world a better place. And I believe that is what most Americans have done. If I say “embracing Islam” I don’t necessarily mean that in a literal way, but I believe that more Americans know today what Islam is about compare to 9 years ago. And, if you followed the discussion about the Moshe they want to build close to Ground Zero, then you could clearly argue that this is to honour not only the Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Mormons that died in 9-11 but also the Islamic people that died.

I am not religious, I am a Buddhist. I am not political. At least not more than anyone else. Everyone has a right to have their own believes, values and passions. For some they are wrong in most people’s eyes, e.g. terrorists. Of course. But just because some fundamentalist claim that they did it in the name of their god, doesn’t mean that everyone believing in this god is a terrorist. Come on, a child understands that. A nation as great as America which overcame the discrimination of black people, understanding that they are not 2nd class citizens (sorry Mitch, I am sure you read that), should surely understand to not blame someone because of the colour of the skin, or religious belief, or origin……

Now, enough about 9-11. I am not American, but I feel very strong for them, as I lived in this country. Having lived there, I understand their belief and them being proud of their country. An amazing country, and they should be proud. I never forget buying that T-Shirt in D.C. off a Vietnam Veteran. It had an American flag on it and read “It is an American thing, we should all understand” – relating to the Vietnam war.

In my life in the UK there hasn’t been many developments. I worked a lot last week, and was very exhausted on Friday. I hardly saw the boy which is a shame. My MIL is still here and her boyfriend will come next week. So it will be busy with family and work. My wife is feeling better and the specialist says she is going to be ok for a while, so that my MIL will be leaving the end of next week. She is a great help and we enjoy her being around. However, I also looking forward to having our own life back too.

Now, I enjoyed the weekend, spending lots of time with Colin, not working at all. That was great. My wife and MIL went out on Saturday night so I had a whole Saturday night to work on some stuff I wanted to do for ages.

See you next week.
Volker

Facing the Giants…

I finally watched the whole movie of facing the giants as described in my earlier post. It is a very motivational movie. However, I was surprised that is based around god and the love of god to make it a success.

With having lived in the US for a year a few years ago, I know how important Christianity is in the US and that it helps people to motivate. However, it does not matter which faith you are as long as you believe in something, and someone – yourself.

I am not a great believer in contemporary church but find my spiritual guidance through Buddhism. Latter helps me to stay focus, help others and be motivated in personal life as well as in corporate life.

What wonders me sometimes is that there seems to be this “YES WE CAN” attitude in the USA, the American Dream that just this week was supported by the first ethnic minority president to be in the world. A country that has this approach will always be more confident and be more successful.

In Germany where I grew up and I believe it is similar in most European countries, this attitude is not on the schedule for high school kids. It is more about “this is an American thing” and that is that.

Why are we not taking the positive attitude, the “can do approach” from our big brother and use it to make us more successful, more motivated and more focused in life and work. Without thinking that this is only done “elsewhere”.

I believe we need to incorporate the basic and underlying approach of this attitude in our daily lifes to motivate ourselves and to get where we want to be. No surprise that things like GTD, NLP, Turning Passion into profits are all coming from one country.

In my opinion most of those ideas are based around the basic attitude of reaching out for the stars and making things happen. And to have this vision of reaching things, not to show fear and stay focus. That is not rocket science, is it?