Tag: cancer

Ballueder Thinks (10) – October Update

I am finishing this post as I unwind for the night. A busy day ‘in the office’, lots of zoom calls…but a good day, as most days are at the moment.

When I started writing this post, it was a week after my marathon. My columns here become more of a diary which I publish on an irregular basis. I hope you continue to enjoy them. Please reach out to me and let me know, so I can use your feedback to improve.

That in itself is an important point, if you don’t seek feedback, you never improve. I guess that’s why my coaching clients come to me, they want to be coached from an ‘outside-in’ perspective, someone giving them feedback and suggesting how to better themselves. It’s great to be able to do that, as I really enjoy doing it too. Reach out to me for a free consultation on how I could help you to achieve more in life.

In terms of my running, I recovered from my injury from the marathon and I am slowly going back to training again. For now, I decided I will take it easy for a month, focusing on weight loss, muscle gain and maintaining my fitness level. This means a split half marathon on Mondays, and a further 10K later in the week. That’s plenty to maintain the level for now. I never felt so fit before. Interesting enough, I noticed that I cannot cope with alcohol that well anymore. Even the ‘normal’ amount gives me a slight hungover the next day. Whether that is down to the theory that muscles which are well trained soak up any fluid in order to hydrate, and therefore cause havoc with alcohol, or if it is age, I do not know 🙄 So my beloved wine needs to be a weekend thing for me to continue to perform at my peak during the week. That is a good problem to have IMO.

What keeps me up at night is productivity and performance. You might think that’s a bit geeky but I have two interesting projects which both need high performance from me, for the little hours I have. The balance when working as a consultant. I hopefully add a couple more projects by the time I finished this post, and also add more coaching clients. As a matter of fact I added a voluntary role in the mindfulness space to the portfolio; more info and announcements next time, when things are officially formalised.

I also got approached for full time roles recently and have engaged in a few conversations. However, I am still not sure. But never say never. There is loads going on, and I shared 10 open positions on LinkedIn the other day that randomly appeared in my newsfeed. To be honest, I am very curious how I split my time in the months to come. All I can say is that I truly enjoy what I am doing and the people I am working with.

Things are moving, and are in constant change. Change is good. My podcasts are well received and I enjoy interviewing guests from a variety of topics. Watch the space for some really interesting, mind opening conversations I recorded.

That leads me to another topic. As a family we have been putting our thinking hats on too. From whiteboard sessions around the kitchen table to discussions how we want to live, and what is important to us. As some ideas and plans are shattered, other opportunities are opening up. Again, I am not sure how it all pans out in the months to come, but I am sure we will be fine. As a family we grow stronger, the boys are getting older and things are happening. And that is the most important thing. It showed massively when the youngest had to quarantine due to a Covid case in his school bubble recently. I am sure we see more of that to come, and I am worried about a second lock down tbh. Sometimes I fear the virus will never go away, so we just have to accept it and live with it.

Anyway, given the circumstances,

I am happy.
I am grateful.
And I am immensely positive.

I couldn’t wish for anything else atm. We have always been ambitious and positive thinking. This means we are ready to take on whichever challenge life throws at us, and I am confident we master it. And the boys are growing up with that attitude and learning from us to become more resilient.

This all goes in line with a lot of patience, resilience, and communication with a 9 and 11 year old, who of course see life from a different angle than ourselves. Life is challenging to be explained to some, and making decisions is what we have to do as parents and carers, and we hope we make the right ones. You cannot always please everyone which means, sometimes things just have to be done.

There is of course a negative side effect to what I do: I am working too much. I just love to. Whilst I am contracted by days/hours/projects, I often end up clocking a lot more hours and neglect the family or myself. The other week I realised I hadn’t left the house for 3 days! I made up for it with a session in the pub, and that felt really good! Just the other day I coached someone on work life balance, and how to separate life and work when working from home; from physical distancing to breaking up the day, carving time out for lunch, school runs etc. Don’t forget, we are all in it together, and a small change can go a long way. It’s like the discussion around wearing face masks. They don’t protect yourself, but protect others. And for that reason, unless you are selfish, just wear one. A small price to pay if you ask me.

Whilst we didn’t go out for a few days, we got some life admin done. It’s nice to feel to be on top of things, cuddling up with the boys, spending proper family time together. The fire was on, nice food was cooked and you are creating that home family atmosphere. Isn’t that brilliant? As mentioned above, we are still learning to become the ‘perfect family’ (define that how you want), but open communication and support for each other is key. How do we stop daddy from shouting? How can I trust you more? How can I get you to listen more?

It’s a bit like a board meeting. The application of leadership and management to small independent family organisations 🙂 I can see a book coming soon. As a matter of fact, a discussion last week sparked my interest to write a book called ‘what I learned now and would pass on to my younger self if he was listening’. But it’s true, I remember a friend of mine doing a whiteboard session with his parents a few years ago. It works, and visualisation and communication are key to any team you are working with.

Since I last published a post, there have been a few things happening. I got a new veggie cook book by Jamie Oliver which I love; I ordered the new iPhone (2 years upgrade cycle) and it will arrive soon. It is crazy to think how far technology has come, when I compare that with my first HTC smart phone running on Windows back in 2006. The connectivity or even the camera compared to my first digital camera at university. I am a bit technology geek, and I cannot wait for the machine to arrive. The pictures are soon available in RAW format, not that it means much to me, but this will be a breakthrough for professional photographers. In line with that, we are consuming more, and I got myself convinced to add Netflix to the mix. So between Apple TV, Prime and Netflix, we now have 3 subscription services. I am monitoring this closely, as I don’t really like to pay for many. We also pay a subscription for FreeTV which I happily get rid of. However, that’s just a hidden tax really.

Now, on the weekend of the 17th, I heard the sad news that my old manager and mentor, Andy, passed away. He was fighting cancer since 2016 when he collapsed in the office. I will re-publish a podcast I recorded with him at the end of 2019, in memory and in warning, somewhat, that we cannot escape death. Andy had cancer, an evil one, and we openly talked about it. He made peace with himself, and was ready to go – as ready as one can be. He leaves a lot of friends, a fantastic family and a legacy of a life behind. He influenced my life over the years, and those many others. It sometimes feels as if the good guys go to early. One just doesn’t know how much time is left on the clock. You must make the most of it. Life can be cut short.

On that note, if you knew Andy, please contribute to his chosen charity Garden House Hospice, mentioning his name. I will miss you and our chats.

No matter how many people die, it isn’t getting easier. The closer you are to them, the more memories you shared, the more it affects you. This year I lost two loved ones already. Many people died of Covid of course. It’s not the year to sit and wait. It’s those experiences that make us more determined, to spend more time with our family, to make more things happen, to work harder, yet make every moment count with your loved ones.

Andy and I shared a ton of memories, attending events across Europe, where we spend long days and nights, having lots of fun. We shared good and bad moments, and he will be truly missed. I loved working with him, and loved taking advice from him. Rest in peace.

I think this is a good time to end this column.
Covid, Brexit, life in general – there is so much uncertainty. As I am learning to embrace fear more and more, it doesn’t make it easier. I sometimes think I need a year off, maybe 2021, to reflect and do what I want to do. Lottery win my way please 😉

Give your loved ones a hug tonight. Reflect on what you have, and be grateful. Life can change in a heartbeat, so cherish the precious moments.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world!
Volker

Sunday Column (418)

Happy New Year. Hope this year turns out to be what you are wishing for. I have been waiting for this year to happen since I was a small boy. Yes, I am turning 40 this year, and it was always going to be a mile stone for me. Oh dear, you cannot stop time, and why would you want to? It has been a great journey so far, and I just continue to enjoy the ride whilst it lasts. I believe it was Tim Ferris who put a thought in my mind the other day: if you live to 90, that means you have about 2,600 (52*50) weekends left – or he used other examples of less occurring events. Time doesn’t stop and we all have the same hours in the day. Make the most of it. Work, live, be happy and make others happy. And that’s the key for 2017 for me I suppose.

Darren Hardy is talking about looking back, to take stock and move forward into the new year. I do. I naturally do and enjoy looking back. For me, from a professional point of view, 2016 was a great experience and learning. I finished a job this summer after 2.5 years. It was a successful one, 3 company names, one acquisition and a lot of evangelisation. I enjoyed that, deeper discussions around data and more channel sales, an interesting product. Then my first consulting project. Privately, I enjoyed it too. The boys are growing up, some great family holidays, lots of improvement in the house and I sometimes even sit there and go ‘what next‘. What will 2017 bring.

I have dreams and hopes. I have plans. I want to achieve more. I am far from done with my life or ambitions. Coming of age, I am entering the most existing times of my career, the second 10ish years. Time to put the pedal down and change the world. A job and idea at a time. I am excited about my career, yet it needs to fit in with my life, e.g. the kids’ and wife’s ambition. We work it out. We always have done, we always will. You must trust in the future, in life moving forward and the great universe to assemble to make it work for you. And things in life come at the right time, they come to you for a reason, and things happen for a reason. I am a strong believer of that and have a lot of faith. Many moons from now we will be looking back at life and paths we took, just to realise what we learned. That is taking stock. I do that yearly. And I examine a lot, and question and accept a lot.

We must choose and win. We cannot stop and smell the roses all the time, yet never forget to do it regularly. No one said life is easy. It certainly isn’t. But it isn’t that difficult either if you are organised and willing to give. Coming of age I notice the changes I have been through and changes of which I know others went through too. Life is similar for most of us, some are open about it, some are not. And whilst you keep meeting the same characters, you also find new mentors, new guidance and gain new input and understanding. Life is funny like that. But I am a big believer of embracing it. I am keen on challenging myself in 2017, publish my next book on productivity, and also start writing on my next book idea. I cannot stop thinking and improving and working. I love what I do.

So as this year is coming to an end, I came to a hold a bit. The last week I was standing still. All my energy was put towards the family, some reading and meeting friends. Wow. No emails, no work, no powerpoint, no strategy discussions. Just going with the flow. Looking back and realising how lucky we are. How others haven’t been that lucky. Some who lost their fight with cancer, some who won their fight. Life and death are so close together and, besides the celebrity deaths across the UK and Germany, there were some personal losses too. I used my downtime to refocus a bit and decide on what 2017 and beyond should look like. Let’s hope for it to be good and long lasting dreams.

Come Tuesday life is back. I got meetings lined up, things to explore, and hopefully decisions to make.

For you and yours, all the best for 2017. May your dreams and wishes come through.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

Sunday Column (189)

Where to start this week. The good things first. I was in Milan for work and it was fantastic. Seeing an industry crying out for RTB (real time bidding), asking for monetization for inventory and technology is fantastic. I had fantastic meetings with both Influential Italian industry leaders and international visitors to the the show. Watch out, Italy is coming!

On that note: I love Italians. My sister in law is Italian, but also their life style. The honking when traffic stops in its tracks, the old woman wanting something, the noise and buzz in the streets. This country and its people are about living. Life is important. Culture and family is important. A great attitude to life paired with a good Southern European attitude. La dolce vita.

When flying over to Milan I was astonished about something. There were plane spotters on the flight. We hadn’t even landed when they took their binoculars out to spot and note down planes. I have seen them at airports before, or the other species, train spotters, at London Bridge. For some reason I cannot understand their motivation. Whilst as a child of seven or eight I noted down car license plates, as an adult I hardly keep up with my day to day life, would love more time with the family or read more. I personally think chasing something you cannot collect physically is just a bit odd. Bird watching I can understand, seeing something alive and moving, understanding nature. But plane numbers, train numbers, not sure. Each to their own though.

As I get older I might take on more odd hobbies too, you never know. I saw those retired guys down in Hassocks with their steam engines, or the elder running the Jack & Jill windmills. For now I find it odd enough to wash and polish my car at weekends and being all middle class, middle age. Oh dear.

Just to keep you posted on a few things. Lufhansa, after engaging with me on twitter, decided to apologise and give me 150 Euros to spend in their world shop. Nice, and much appreciated. If that had happened sooner it would have been better, but hey, I am not complaining. I am still cross (middle age, right?) but happy they are making the effort to make me happy. Now I need to decide what to buy 😉 it wasn’t money I was after but the apology and that is what I appreciate most. Of course, I don’t mind a wee pressie 😉

To the bad things. I wrote about that last week and now it starts to haunt me. Cancer. A good industry friend from Italy was diagnosed with Leukaemia. He is recovering well but only a few months ago we enjoyed la dolce vita over diner and drinks. One of my best friend’s dad got diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but it came back now and he is having a major operation next week. We can beat cancer if we notice it early enough. We can try to cure it but we NEED to prevent it. In a discussion this week I was reminded that there is enough medicine out there to cure most diseases like Malaria but they are unequally distributed. And pharmaceutical companies still want to make a profit. Is that right?

20121012-075358.jpg But I am not sure if I can judge that as black and white as it sounds but in the greater scale of things we need to make sure that we look after ourselves.

Hence I am doing the research I am doing into nutrition, what to eat and how to live healthy. To my, rather positive, surprise Britain is a country that ranks well in the table of cancer rates. Number 22. Germany is number 16, Italy 18, Spain and France in the early 30ies. I didn’t expect that. USA, NZ and Australia are worse. I need to research if there are specific cancer per country, like pancreas in the USA or skin cancer in Australia. But as a British nation we are doing well. Better than Germany to my surprise. Does that have to do with diet or attitude? I believe the latter plays a major part in illnesses in general. How you approach it, how you deal with it, and whether society talks about it. We Brits, as I might allow calling myself after 11 years, are eating a lot of wrong food (deep fried Mars bars as an example) but also drink a lot – but I believe we worry less, have a good time and frankly don’t give a shit about lots of things. It’s going to be ok.

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Of course that is not the case for everything but what I am trying to get at is that we are a lot healthier than we think we are. A few other notes. As of next week I will intrude a fast day a week. Mondays from now on I will not eat or very little. The idea is that if you eat consistently across the day, your cells grow and grow and grow. Whilst if you ideally fast for two days a week, your cells stop multiplying and use your body’s energy to survive. That keeps the body on track. For the interested reader google for articles on “intermittent fasting”. Of course you are supposed to loose weight too. I started putting on weight again as I still haven’t been able to go running again. First my back which after last week’s treatment seems almost worse again, put my exercise regime on hold for four weeks. Once I was back on it, the evil man flu strikes from which I am still suffering. I hope to be back on track soon. Fingers crossed. I actually need exercise, it balances me.

At the weekend we had good friends over for cheese fondue and the odd glass of wine and whisky. I love being a host. A kilogram of cheese between four of us, good wine and good times. Good chats. And another muddy but fantastic walk in the South Downs.

And quality time with my boys. They missed me this week when I was away. I try to ignore it but it isn’t easy.

Nothing like a good life, isn’t it?
La dolce vita.

Have a great week,
Volker

Sunday Column (188)

A whole week in London, in the office, at home. Doesn’t happen too often, so I made the most of it. I caught up with some clients, some old friends, the team, industry peers and so on.

A few lunches, too many coffees. Also I managed to see the kids one night, and I managed to see my dentist in Beckenham too. Fingers crossed this was the last visit, a pain to get to, however a good dentist.

I was thinking this week. About the present, about the future. You know how we, my wife and I, made the decision to stay and live in the UK in order to be close to family. And, that we decided not to be too far away in case family becomes older and needs help. But thinking this week what C and R might become one day, I predicted that C will be an engineer, doing a job which he likes and stays in Europe. R on the other hand might be more academic moving to the USA or even Asia. Funny thoughts. No pressure, no idea where this is coming from. Globalisation. We cannot stop it and the world gets smaller each year. 24 hours and you are at the other end of the world.

That is fine isn’t it? Even living close to our parents, we miss out on the “we pop around Sunday for tea” sessions families have that live in close proximity. I never experienced that. We visited my grandparents once or twice a month. They might have stayed with us for a week. Same now for our boys. But I am sure it won’t be the same for our grand kids. Anyway, still a long time away. So these were some thoughts this week.

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Then I got a scare. Not to worry, but as you know I am keen on exploring what to eat to prevent cancer. Lifestyle choices to prevent rather than to cure this disease mankind still hasn’t found a drug for. Now this week I saw a show on TV stating that 1 in 3 will get cancer. That shocked me a bit. Whilst we don’t have a cancer history in my family, there is still a 33% chance of me getting cancer. I used to chain smoke. I enjoy the odd cigar. I love my red wine. Am I at risk? How do I compare to the other 2? If I am ok, will my wife be ok?

There are a few facts I listened to over the last few weeks. One was that there is not enough clean drinking water: more people have access to a mobile phone than fresh/clean drinking water.
Excuse me? I cannot believe that. I easily could provide some clean drinking water from my tap but how can I distribute it? I subscribed to a charity newsletter, as I am determined to take action. I hate to donate £20 and just feel better. I need to do something. Same with cancer. I run (when not sick), I try to eat healthy most days, eat my 5 fruit/vegetables a day, balance my stress level and reduce my alcohol intake as much as I can without beating myself up. I still wait for this day to take more actions. WTF? What is it I am actually waiting for?

You know some people waited all their lives to feel better, get healthier or for something to happen. Nothing is ever going to happen. So I will put an action plan together.

A) reduce bad food intake even further and concentrate on the good, high on free radicals diet. Got a book about nutritions that is aimed at professionals. So hopefully I will learn a lot more about our bodies, adjust, refine and master what I drink and eat.

B) read the next Charitywater and Wateraid newsletter and donate or do something for clean drinking water.

Happier days ahead.

20121007-190742.jpg I need to stick to my guns and make a difference, because I can. Those, Albert Einstein said, who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act. True.

I suppose this is enough heavy thinking for a week. There were so many positive things this week too. Starting at work, it was good to spend a week with the team and drill down on some day to day business. We also managed a great team night out. Really feel privileged to work with some very fine people. There were some negatives too but let’s not focus on that one too much. There always will be.

At home C now really loves (!) going to school. He just runs off without saying good bye. My wife is telling me that they have to put their name tag on a tree when they enter the building. I imagine some kind of magnetic board on the wall or so. And he has to have his name tag on the top of the tree. Where else? He wants to be high up. Be the best. He is a winner, see above. So good to see him being so happy and ambitious.

Also when I polished the car today, I asked him to have a look when I filled up the water for the wipers. He knew about the engine and was all fascinated. Later he wanted to see a car race on TV. Boys will be boys I guess.

R is developing a lot. Not only is he copying his brother, he develops his own wee character. Very cute to watch whilst also being a pain in the bum 😉 I am loving them both so much. When we got new fish this weekend he was watching, pointing at them. So cute!

This concludes yet another week. Autumn arrived. Colder nights, foggy mornings. I love autumn. Reflective times. Good days.

The next three weeks I will be travelling again. Before I know it it is winter.

Brrr 🙂

Stay well.
Volker

TED on cancer

I stumbled on an article about cancer on TED yesterday.

The article reads:

Next, she tested the flip side of the theory: “If tissue architecture and context are part of the message, then tumor cells with abnormal genomes should be capable of becoming ‘normal’” if grown in a healthy micro-environment. She and her students tested that hypothesis with some malignant cells and growing them on a healthy scaffolding. And yes, they were able to revert the malignant phenotype to a normal one. They could even inject the cells into mice, where they didn’t cause tumors, unlike malignant cells, which would cause cancer. This, says Bissell, indicates that there is another way to look at cancer, in which the cancer genes are regulated by the environment around them.

So effectively, if you got cancer and your body is a mess, then cancer will spread. If your body is healthy, the tumour turns to normal tissue again. Of course there is no guarantee.

I remember, years ago, that I read a story of a woman who had cancer, refused any therapy and she healed herself. Just positive thinking, sports and healthy living. Now that makes sense. Only in a healthy body lives a healthy spirit (German saying, so hopefully this is translated correctly).

As I write in this week’s Sunday column: Cancer and Heart Disease are still number one killers in our society, however they are the things you worry least about in your every day life. I keep thinking about that more and more. Hence I started exercising again recently, try to live a healthier life style and start worrying about the things that really matter: being there for my kids is one of them, and that in years to come.

Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t worry about everyday things.

Anyway, just an early morning thought at the weekend.

Best
Volker