Tag: children

Ballueder Thinks (1) – Covid19 Column


The regular reader knows that for over 10 years I have been writing a Sunday Column. I kind of replaced it with my podcast, now with some videos on Linkedin. But that’s just not the same.

Let’s face it, I do love writing. No question about that. In my strength coaching profile, ‘writing’ was a number one skill. I am not sure if that is due to my academic background, or due to my intellect. And I am not saying that in any arrogant fashion, but I love thinking about the world, and making connections of how things work.

Just this weekend, I listened to a model called ‘disruption mapping’. Any input that clarifies thinking, any model that helps you to simplify trends is great. More about the mapping soon on my podcast in season 4.

Anyhow, after a few weeks pause of writing about my life, I am back on it. I am not promising a regular column. But if there are a lot of things going on in my head, I kind of need to get them out. And I like processing things that are on my mind through writing. Yet, whilst I write a daily gratitude journal for myself, I want to share my thoughts with you in form of a column.

What I am thinking at the moment? Black lives matter. I am actually speechless that in 2020 people are still thinking that there would be any superiority of one race over another. Whether that is white over black, or one belief over another. This is just something totally incomprehensible for me. Again, earlier this weekend I wrote an article about mindfulness and how it might not fit with a ‘male stereotypical picture’ – again it is totally wrong to think about those stigmas. But, of course, we grew up with that. It reminded me of the movie ‘Philadelphia’ where the ‘white collar, old grey haired lawyers’ sit in the sauna cracking jokes about gay people. This used to be acceptable, but in my opinion is now out of fashion. At least in circles I socialise. So let’s hope that this will once and for all put this inequality to rest, and no more lives will be lost. I am disgusted.

I am also thinking of Covid19. For me, having the Aufbruchstimmung, or in English the Spirit of Optimism, I think it is over. We should get back to work, even if it is 99% remote, and that we need to move on, make decisions and get back to work. Maybe I think it is too easy to do. But what stops us from doing so? Some industries, hospitality for instance, will have difficulties, but some other industries should easily be able to work remotely and do business in a remote fashion, powered by Zoom. Btw Zoom, their share price jumped 90% on going public, good on them. But yes, let’s move on.

And what about my job. Oh….there is a lot I can tell you about. There is this fear of a recession and then Brexit and all. But again, we must think positive, stay fearless and move onwards. It is about making decisions and moving forward. I am in the process of launching something new, adding a new contract to my portfolio and continue with coaching and mindfulness trainings. So I am keeping busy. I will of course share some more news in the weeks to come. But I am very excited. With every fear and downturn, there is an opportunity! To my knowledge, this is what crisis means in Chinese.

I couldn’t give up. Falling down 7 times, standing up 8 times. Let me into a secret. As soon as the tattoo shops will open, I am on there to get this tattooed. Silly? Mid-Life crisis? Maybe. Whatever you fancy, just go for it.
Earlier this year I had some transformational therapy to rid myself of some limitations and limiting belief. I couldn’t recommend this more. I have tried a few over the years, this one was great. There is nothing like experimenting with different forms of therapies. Yes, I have to say that my best therapy is meditation, which I practise daily. Without meditation, and without the love of certain people, I don’t think I would have achieved what I have achieved. Life takes turns, my industry has been full of redundancies and change, but I have mastered it. Without mental health issues. But, looking back, and as explored in a recent podcast, I think I have been sailing very closely to the wind. I sometimes think that my meditation is like a sail that helped me to stay on this side of the storm. Hence, I am so passionate to teach people about it.

And then the lockdown. We are all struggling. Juggling home schooling, family, jobs, progression in jobs, interviews, zoom calls, and the earlier evenings which leave more time for drinks. I have been keeping fit, with 3 half marathons so far during lockdown. I do my weight exercises and added more to the regime, hoping to rid myself of the Covid-Stone. A term I coined for the additional weight I have put on. It’s just too easy to snack all day long. With the return of school runs, I am getting more walking time in again, which is good of course. And, personally, I think it’s a good thing that school returned.

Fingers crossed we are out of the worse and Covid19 will disappear, just burn off over the summer. That’s what I am hoping for. And will we learn anything?

What have we forgotten over the past few weeks?

Whilst the topic is slowly coming back to us in the press, let’s keep a close eye on it. I am still not a friend, but we have to live with it I suppose. A friend of mine posted something awful about the background and intention of the Tories behind Brexit, which I a) don’t want to repeat and b) hope it isn’t true. If it was, I would think this country is going down big time. Let’s hope this isn’t the case. We handled Covid19 very badly from a political and preparedness point of view, so if we handle Brexit the same, this is going to be really bad!

Dom Cummings.
Is he still the Chief Advisor to our PM? This is so bad. Sorry, I am speechless to think that he gets away with it. Not having a backbone to step down and admitting that he f* up. That’s what I don’t get with leaders. I learned early in my life to owe up to mistakes and apologise and trying to make it right. It’s a fundamental lesson I teach my children. For me this says it all about our government, prime minister and political situation. I am actually becoming a big fan of Kerr Starmer, the Labour and opposition leader. There is hope! There is always hope.

And what about ocean pollution?
Will we think about recycling still when Covid19 is over? And how to clean our oceans? Or is that all forgotten? Will we, post Covid19, go back to normal and just pollute our planet, take unnecessary flights, treat others with disrespect and carry on? I hope not. There is always hope.

Over the weeks and months to come I want to pick up more regular writing again. I would enjoy hearing from you what you think. I’d like to hear what your opinion is, so feel free to reach out to me by whatever means works for you.

I enjoy writing.
I want to share.
I want to get you to think.

Thanks, and please stay safe,

Sunday Column (360)

Writing this post in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Paris is hard. No, I didn’t know anyone that was directly affected. Yes, I know people who know people. I have clients who were affected. My thoughts are with you all. And I love the fact that people on Social Media show their support. I also love the fact that France still committed to taking on refugees from Syria. Together we stand and fight terrorism. In whichever shape or form.

It is a terrible scenario which leaves me speechless.
A friend on Facebook said he survived Madrid, London and now Paris. I have been in London when the bombs went off here. One never forgets. Let’s hope this won’t happen again.

You don’t know. You cannot give in. I am going to Germany next week. They evacuated a football stadium in Germany, diverted two French planes from New York to Paris, they will cancel more events and evacuate more places. We are at war.

It is a new war. No one is safe and no one should give in. There cannot be a religious motivation to kill anybody. Again, this was widely acknowledged on Facebook. Whoever is after killing others is sick. What has the world come to?


I shared a few posts on Facebook this week. We are dealing with a minority, unfortunately the minority has a high impact on our lives. And I am not getting into a political debate, never have done, and never will. I am not a politician, I hate war, aggression and love peace and friendship. I am probably one of 99% of the world’s population.

And we shall not forget that in other parts of the world terrorism has been killing loads more. In other countries those attacks are part of your day. This is even harder to imagine, of course because it is far away, yet it doesn’t make it better. One video I watched from some Pakistani kids nicely said, that actually they are dealing with the same problems we are dealing with in Europe. They have the same every day problem we are having, and terrorism is just one of them. United we stand!

Let’s hope that we get through this chapter of world history together. Let’s hope we get through it safely for the sake of our children and the children and next generation of the baddies. They deserve it as well, and they deserve to live in a peaceful planet. Or don’t they? What do the children of the terrorist got to do with war? Nothing. Neither do German kids of the war generation have any association with the war either. We will get through it. United!

I am a firm believer that when your time is up your time is up. That’s it. You cannot be scared of dying. And, honestly, you shouldn’t be. It is harder for the people that remain, than for you. You will never know. But let’s not think about it and hope we all come through it together. Let’s try to not think about it and focus on the time we have with our families. This time is precious.

Anyway, the highlights this week: my children! I looooove my kids and my wife too, but she wasn’t there. So we had a men’s weekend. Pizza on Friday night, fun and games and good food and shenanigans all weekend. Despite the younger one recovering from a cold/flu and the older one having one. This time of year, bugs and all. Being able to spend a whole weekend with the boys was fantastic. They are at this stage where I can play with them, discuss things, challenge their minds and brains and their thinking. It is so much fun to just do things. That wasn’t always the case, hence I am super excited. Plus, in times like these, we should put the effort and time in, as this is what we live for!

Of course we were glad, not only me but also the kids, when mum was back, but it was great whilst it lasted 🙂 The opportunity to be able to just spend quality time with your children is something you need to make use of. Building the bond, building trust. And it only gets better over time.

With that high I wish you all a successful and friendly, a peaceful week.


Sunday Column (257)

An exciting week lies behind me. I started my new job with a trip to Eindhoven and a day in Amsterdam, flying back late on Wednesday. The UK was full of storm and rain. I sat on the plane and felt like I arrived: A new challenge to evangelise, position and sell targeting in real time based on TV ads triggering the delivery. A new chapter in the RTB (real time bidding) ecosystem. Connecting broadcast to online ads. Yes, I am very excited!

We came a long way in our industry, and more technology is now enabling us to do more sophisticated things, to make ads more relevant to the users. As I like to tell my stories, four years ago a company that recently filed an IPO still worked off excel sheets. So the rumours anyway. For me this stands as a testament that the industry came a long way, a very long way and is slowly but surely growing up. Pure awesomeness 😉

Another thing I am equally excited about is tomorrow, my son’s third birthday. It feels like no time since he was born. He still doesn’t sleep through but charms himself through everything, cuteness 10/10 we were told. There is going to be lots of fun ahead as he grows older.


Whilst travelling I enjoyed an app called “7 quick fit“, an app allowing you to do strength exercises only using your own body weight, finishing 30 second long stints of push ups, jumping jacks etc. in 7 minutes. Ideal when travelling and yet still exhausting. I enjoyed it and might do it more often, potentially additionally to my gym sessions. We shall see. I also would like to find a sauna routine as (miraculous) I haven’t been ill yet. Both my new boss and colleagues have had the flu, also my wife and kids. But I am in a lot better shape than I was before Christmas. 2014 WILL be my fittest year (ever) yet.

If there was anything to moan about this week it would have to be Easyjet’s flight from Amsterdam to London Gatwick. I couldn’t get speedy boarding, ending up in the back of the plane. The flight then was delayed by 35 minutes and with such a short flight one hardly get anything finished, almost not even the glass of red 😉 Luckily the service was switched on and quick…

Tube strikes. Transport problems. Bad weather. We just cannot control everything, can we? I am working hard to accept the fact to not being able to and not getting annoyed at situations you cannot change. Having had a few days off really helped me to improve my state of mind. With the help of my coach I feel like I achieved everlasting change. That was the aim. 2014 will be awesome and already is!

Is life that simple? Surely not. A friend’s dad passed away this week. Cancer. It reminds me of posts I wrote before that we need to really try and prevent diseases by living healthy, staying active and eating well. But even then there is no guarantee that we will be spared. My thoughts are with his family.

As I famously wrote before, from Buddhism, the suffering stops for the one that leaves us and our pain increases. We are still here and need to cope with the endless suffering.

Let me finish here for this week. I got a day off to celebrate tomorrow and I tell you, I am so looking forward to it!!! The best present is the one from me (no bias), a remote controlled monster truck. It is so much fun to play with it….. :-))

Have a fantastic week.


Sunday Column (250)

Whilst this might not be the last post of the year, I wanted to start reflecting on 2013. I have been off since Friday, and will be back to work on the 6th of January. Now I have time for my family, my parents and mother in law who are staying with us for Christmas, I might get the odd lie in, and I can spoil the boys rotten. Yes, I look forward to Christmas!

Maybe it is my German nature but we got it all planned out. Massage, hair cut, shopping, shopping ordered, shopping and food planned for the holidays. Deliveries to arrive, last presents to be wrapped and slowly winding down for the big day. The day when the kids are so happy and full of joy to get all those new toys. And daddies and granddaddies love it too!

Xmas Tree

Unfortunately there have been some downers put on Christmas. Nothing too much to worry about, but when I entered the year, things looked different. I was, as far as I was concerned, in a secure, well paid job. This ended (un)expectedly due to what I would refer to as “big buys small normal course of business“. Hence it wasn’t that unexpected really, and as they say, things happen for a reason and turn out for the better.

Of course this overshadowed most of the year, put a lot of pressure on us as a family, both financially and emotionally. We got over it, partly at least, and we hope 2014 turns out to be back on track. Less restrictions and maybe more treats from which we currently abstain from. But we don’t know, do we? And, in all fairness, we don’t do too badly. I don’t look back in anger. I drew my conclusions and in the time in between jobs, I had the fantastic opportunity to work with some smart minds from the publisher, agency and broadcasting side. An amazing learning curve. Thanks!

But drawing this year to a close, I look at something more important that I learned. Something I hadn’t realised, had I not been in between jobs. Weekends get a new meaning. Working from home get a new meaning. Being up all night comforting a baby and then winning the pitch the next day – all this gave me more meaning. The learning is that my priorities have clearly changed in favour of my boys, and my family.

When I was in between jobs I didn’t take (but had) the time to take the kids to school daily or relaxed with them, or played with them. I was in survival mood. Normal I suppose, yet not great. When I found a job, I only had a few days before I started. So all hush hush.


But since then, being able to engage with them, becomes so much more important. More important than it ever had been. Now when I work from home or come home early on a Friday, read them the good night story, they love it. Of course it is because they are older and more engaging, but so am I. Because I started to realise that those two boys are the most important thing in my life, and I would do anything for them. Of course I keep forgetting that once and again if they kick me and whinge and don’t eat or want the iPad or mummy or….but hey, that’s exactly it.

Children teach you life all over again, make you question why you have rules and which rules are valid, which ones are important. They make you feel at home, they cuddle, show emotions and are naive when it comes to Santa Claus. I was fortunate enough to watch both boy’s nativity plays this year and it was fantastic. I sat through both of them, beaming from ear to ear. I am fulfilled. I am happy. This is important to me, no matter who calls or sends me an email – they can wait. Prioritising, being able to juggle work and life, is the challenge, particularly with a 3 hour daily commute. Yet thanks to an understanding employer and modern technology this isn’t a problem for me, and it makes me a better employee too.

2013, for me, means I uncovered that family is the important job of all times. That I can finish my emails once they have gone to bed, and that they give me the strength to excel in my job, pitches, show emotions and at the end of the day work so much harder to provide so much better for them. The sooner I achieve my goals, the sooner I can go home and see them. For realising that, I can only thank my old work I suppose. For being able to view the world differently during my time off this year.

Three years ago in a blog post, I quoted Reinhard Mey’s song about the apple tree, quoting Martin Luther: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” The hope that the world exists past us is one of the greatest gifts.

The text from Reinhard Mey’s song in German can be found here but translates something like this:

I don’t know where to start,
I have so many thoughts, my heart is full of joy,
So many feelings inside me at the same time:
Joy, humility, thankfulness.
In mother’s arm, who holds you quietly,
You start looking at this world.
This is your first morning, and I think,
What a present is this child!

If all hope fails,
With you I start all over again.
And we can achieve unachievable things together,
You are the apple tree I plant.

Look around you, you are now part of that world,
Which constantly questions itself,
Where humans destroy their environment,
Where they ignore all warnings.
A place of contradictions, rich and poor,
Full of hardship and indulgence at the same time,
A place of wars, a place of suffering,
Where humans miss nothing else than humanity.

You are a light in an uncertain time,
A way out of the hopelessness,
Like a signal to continue on our way,
To continue with the challenge (of life).
Where doubts are and despair,
that is where a child makes you forget all about it.
In a world which is chasing daylight,
Children are the only hope we have left!

Now what will 2014 bring?

I might just write about that next week, shall I? I have more goals. Last year I wanted to get involved in more charitable work, and next year will see that being increased. I plan to turn a few knobs up a notch. It is going to be a very exciting time.

And, it will be my fittest year ever, as I have lost almost 10 kg this year, despite being sick for the past 8 weeks and not being able to exercise, I have more big plans.

Have a fantastic Christmas, a great time with friends and family.
Give them an extra hug tonight and remind them, that you love them.

Peace with you all.


PS: If you haven’t seen this video yet, it is a nice way of companies giving something back to their customers. In a special way.

Sunday Column (168)

What should I say. An eventful week has passed. Summing up the last weekend, we went to a Christening. It was a Catholic Christening and I still feel a bit awkward to go to Churches. I guess I have been a bit detached from religion if you don’t count Buddhism as one. Anyway, it was a great event, and a nice get together afterwards. I hope, once we move, that we stay in contact with all those fantastic people we met in Beckenham over the last 8 years.

We also got a new neighbour. I didn’t post about it as I didn’t want to be the first one announcing it. A fantastic occurence if you think about it. Whilst having two kids of my onw it is still a miracle thinking a new human being enters this world. I love it and still get a bit sentimental.

Nevertheless our two are more than enough work. Nothing warms my heart more than coming home from work or travel and getting big hugs, kisses and a play about with the boys. I absolutely love and adore them!

I travelled to Milan this week and got a chance to read more of the Joan Baez biography. Page by page I realise what kind of world she used to live in. Segregation, inequality between races and genders. I actually cried a bit when she described her relationship with Dr. King. Those hippies set out to change the world, not to become super rich. Their motivation was “to make a dent” in the universe, nothing else.


Have you thought about the values you are living for? More money, bigger car or bigger house? It doesn’t work like that. It never will. Attachment and greed will ruin our society. Nothing about earning more money, being more successful but at some point you have to stop and think about it. Are a couple hundred more a month worth the additional hassle you have to put in? I guess it depends which level you are talking about but stop and think about it for a moment. Happiness comes from within not out of your wallet.

Making this impact I described above drives me on. Flying to the international offices and making a difference. I enjoy doing that. Having these 19 hours days collapsing at the end of the day with a satisfactory feeling. This is the dent I am making at the moment. On the exact opposite end I enjoy turning everything off during my flight and just relax. That can work wonders too!

Taking these powernaps at 30,000 ft. I love doing that. The 10 minutes after lunch or on the couch on a Saturday afternoon after the boys woke you up at 5:30 again. I guess I am lucky I can do that 🙂

We all followed the Facebook IO on Friday. Isn’t it fascinating that a social media network is worth so much money by the input we all provide. Should we not all have a bit of a share package? After all if we all withdraw our membership Facebook would be worth nothing. Interesting thought, no?

Anyway. Just when I left work on Friday someone stopped me in the street saying “Volker, you remember me? You interviewed me last year.” I didn’t remember him. He thought I was arrogant admitting it and saying he could add me on Linkedin. Crazy. I normally have a good memory but over the last 12 months I met so many people for interviews and business, how could I possibly remember who is who. I guess I was right (arrogant again) to not employ him, as he obviously didn’t make any lasting impression on me.


We spend the weekend on a 3rd birthday party and a school party down in Hassocks. I got some sun and we finished the day with a curry in our local restaurant. We cannot wait to move. Hopefully we finally exchange contracts on Monday. Fingers and toes crossed.

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

Ode to Jenny (or most mothers for that reason)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you.

Sunday Column (87)

Now this week passed quickly again. Mainly of course because I was off on Friday. If you can call it being off, as I sat at home watching the boy whilst sorting out some business, and my wife doing some DIY. I love this kind of sharing arrangement.

It was a good week. Whilst unfortunately some meetings had to be cancelled, one happened in a lovely restaurant in Fitzrovia, the Roka on Charlotte Street. Not only did they serve great Sushi but tender beef, pork, fish etc. One of the most amazing places I have been out to eat for a long time.

You must have read by now what my thoughts are on Colin. There are weeks I cannot get enough cuddles from the wee man, and would love to spend more time with him. But someone has to be the bread winner I guess. What I cannot believe at the moment is that this year has passed so quickly. I mentioned that last week already, but 2 more months to go until Christmas. And in 3 months, we will have to start the process of bringing up a child all over again. I can tell you that I am much more looking forward to it this time! Guess it is because I kind of know what expects me (I think anyway…).

The guy who laid our kitchen floor tiles came back to grout the tiles again. However, just after one day, the grout has holes in it again. The shit quality this person is delivering starts to really annoy me. I should have not paid him. He keeps coming back, apologizing and whilst he genuinely is a nice guy, the work he did – uneven tiles in the kitchen and bad grouting – just stinks. I don’t want to pay someone to do a shit job. So I called him again and maybe he should just do it all over again. He offered, and maybe that is what needs to be done. Whilst I could live with uneven tiles (they are acceptable although they shouldn’t be), I cannot live with grout which I think won’t last. Enough of a rant. He did the grouting again on Friday for the 4th time, and now I hope this is the end of it.

Anyhow, we managed to paint bits and pieces, including 2 walls in the kids’ room, then Jen did the butterfly from the hungry caterpillar book, and the loo door too. I sealed off the window in the kitchen, and tried to fix some doors. Fun all around. A DIY GTD weekend 🙂

Alrighty, have a fantastic week.