Tag: contract

Ballueder Thinks (9) – Marathon Day

Thanks for stopping by.

At time of reading, if you read this when it is published, I am running around Hassocks, my local village. I committed to fundraise for the RNIB and run the London Marathon. Today is the day, and as you might have your first or second coffee, sitting in the warmth and reading the paper and my blog, I am out there clocking the miles.

RNIB

26.2 miles or 42.2 km.
The training has been intense. Falls, scared knees, early weekend mornings, and almost being hit by cars or motor bikes. And it is getting colder, wetter, windier, and it is dark.
I decided to not do an ultra marathon for now, and the main reason is time. Training for anything takes away a lot of weekend family time, even if you start running at 6 am and you are back by 9sih. You feel knackered afterwards. Half marathons seem to be a good distance, with not being too tired and doing them in about 2 hours. I also want to run more with the local people too, maybe I find someone else who is crazy enough to train for something bigger.

Anyway, I have done it, or hopefully have done it, and thank you for your support. I guess you read on my Instagram feed whether I succeeded.

Please acknowledge my efforts by donating to the RNIB via my page. I am thanking you for it.

Did you know 93% of blind and partially sighted people can see something? And that there are over 200 eye conditions?

Let me fill you into other things that are going on in my life:

At the time I started writing this post, I am a bit down. When I say down, I mean ‘too much going on’, ‘overwhelmed’. I spend the morning sorting things out for one company, admin, processes, operations etc. I enjoy that kind of work, and knew I had a longer lunch break. A lovely sunny day, lunch with the wife in our favourite spot, nap on the beach. Then another longer session for another company, doing similar things….until the early evening hours.

Life isn’t too bad you think, and despite a longer lunch break I still clocked 7 hours of work. Early starts, late finish, longer breaks. The beauty of working for yourself, and having clients that don’t care when you work, as long as the results come in. And they do I might say.

I shouldn’t and I am not complaining, I got work, and I got enough atm. That is great, and I also announced a new partnership recently and will do more work in the consulting space in the near future. But, it is a lot of work whilst juggling family, being home all the time, and of course promoting yourself and running a marathon. People often forget the impact all those things have on your life. Hence, I always suggest to the people I work with to take a step back, reflect and take stock. Reevaluate what you are doing, and how and why you are doing it.

I love making my own decisions, not being bound by company politics, but I do miss the office banter, the connection to a company. Yet over time, that all comes regardless. As a freelancer, however, you can decide how you work, and which projects you prioritise. That depends on pay, urgency of course, commit and family. Flexibility I suppose is key, but also being organised and determined. And I am certainly that.

On a Tim Ferris podcast the other day, someone said that he teaches his children to understand that there is nothing on the other side of fear. Having said that, I got myself a T-Shirt saying, everything is on the other side of fear. It’s probably the same saying from a different angle. You cannot go wrong by conquering fear and going for something. You cannot loose, fear should not hold you back, you have everything to play for. I guess that’s what it is. And, on a recent podcast I recorded, the ladies I interviewed suggested that lockdown made us go back to our roots, and we created life, rather than reacted and tried to thrive too much. The episode goes live in a couple of weeks, so make sure you listen in. We cover resilience and stress management, from various angles and opinions. Definitely worth your time.

My mission over the next 6 months is to work more on personal development projects, or move more into strategy consulting. I just had a few opportunities come past me, for both objectives.. People often ask if I don’t know what I want, and I say I do. I am really good in coaching and enjoy strategy, but also working with people in sales, which is a combination of both: strategy and coaching. Anyway, the future will be interesting, no doubt. Combining those two areas as much as I can is the ideal case scenario. Let’s see….

On the coaching side of things, I want to deliver more workshops on resilience, and meditation, mindfulness and stress management. There are so many ways you can utilise your skills and teach people how to become better. And that’s my mission and vision in life, despite my love for digital marketing. And, having said that, 😂 – I do love the data area I am just working in, and the companies I work for. The future is bright, let’s not fear it!

Now, to finish off, let’s talk about my marathon training. I never felt more ready for the big run today. My fall a couple of weeks ago is almost completely healed. I was shocked when it happened, afraid I couldn’t run the marathon, crying. I am ok with crying, out of shock, pain or whatever. Despite, I finished the run I was on, and almost got run over by a car, not being with it, being shocked a bit I suppose. Your mind changes, the body mind connecting is so key, and observing it, and understanding it, then counteracting it, is key. To resilience, stress management, and in my case survival. It’s a dangerous world out there. This is also why I need a break first before I embark on my next adventure.

When I signed up with the RNIB to run the London marathon for them this year, I didn’t know if it was going ahead. I knew it might not but I was determined to run it anyway. Now I run the virtual one, and another one next year or year after. Finally, running the London marathon. I cannot wait. I am in top shape, good form. I enjoy the long distance runs, endurance rather than speed. That’s me. Building up resilience to pain, to niggles, and being in the zone to survive and zoning out. Literally. Who knows why I enjoy that. But I always have done. I used to run 2 hours at University in Aberdeen, slow but for two hours, and I loved it, down the beach. No one measured distances then, or had a smart watch, but I reckon I did a few half marathons then too. In the end it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy yourself.

A few other things happened since I last wrote and I want to mention it, mainly to get help and input on alternative solutions. Evernote got a new update which totally wrecked my confidence in the app and my productivity system. When you cannot trust your trusted system, there is a problem. I am disappointed to see that an app releases such a buggy update and cannot fix things within a couple of weeks. I tried notion but I am not 100% sure that’s the best replacement. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know. One solution could be of course to have notion as one app for projects, and Evernote as an archive. Any ideas are welcome.

Then there was a water leak, just the day before the rain started, and the sun disappeared 🙂 A day without water. Not a big deal you think, yet for me it put things into perspective. I looked up a few stats and a huge amount of people (up to 35% I believe) are without toilet/sanitisation. And we complain if we cannot run the water tap or the dishwasher or washing machine for a day. I could go off on a rant about the privileges we have in the 1st world. Or so called 1st world, seeing what’s going on with Covid and Brexit in this country, you sometimes wonder. Trying to ignore politics has been a difficult task for me.

Watch this video explaining privilege which recently popped up in my newsfeed again:

Just by having a good education, being white and male, you seem to have a head start in life. You seem to be ‘privileged’ not by who you are and what you do, but because of the background you are from. I had a private healthcare appointment too, and this normally goes against my belief. Not that I don’t approve of private healthcare but it puts you in a position to be able to jump the queue. I always had that as a child and only recently went back to private healthcare in the UK. To see a specialist in the NHS for the problem I had would have been 40+ weeks. That’s almost a year. I appreciate Covid isn’t helping, but we cannot go on like this.

I personally believe that this country needs to change. Fundamentally change. Even the world. You cannot have people in power because of their background and education, a birth right. And those of us who are a minority, for whatever reason, are not accepted in society or left out. Just recently I had a longer discussion with an Indian born friend about that, who has lived in the UK, and has been a British citizen for over 20 years. He experienced discrimination. It’s a name, an origin or the colour of your skin. And this is so wrong. I cannot say this often enough, and hope that this will change – globally!

Enough about politics. You get me started on a topic you don’t want me to rant on.

As you finish this post, I am coming closer to the finish line too. Thanks again for your support, for this race, for the RNIB but also for my life, my career, my family.

Whoever you are who is reading this has a connection to me, and if you feel that it is strong enough, reach out and let me know. I love to connect, network, chat, be friends, share a pint, virtually or real.

And please, if you have a fiver to spare, please please donate to the RNIB. Thank you.

Have a wonderful rest weekend and weeks ahead. If you are interested in receiving a short newsletter on a monthly basis, please subscribe to it here. I share updates and great article on leadership and personal development.

Living in a new world – Days at home (53)

53 days. That makes it….almost 8 weeks. Monday we go into week 9 of lockdown. However, I get the feeling that business is picking up again this week. Why?

Simple, people are returning to work. The ‘wfh’ worked realise that this is the new normal, and that over time they will return to the office at least for part of their week.

Garden Centres are opening across the country:

It feels like spring is in the air, as people start acting ‘normal’ again and come out and meet others – if at distance. Now all I need is more work coming through. But it all looks promising and hopefully this is the sign of a quick recovery.

How are the kids?

Good, with the anticipation of going back to school in 2 weeks time (older one) and needing more support (younger one), we are trying hard to make it as best as possible. Changes from Monday have helped us getting through the week.

It has been a busy week, a good week, an odd week at times.

Let’s start looking forward, let’s make it happen and let’s stay safe.

Best wishes for the weekend,
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (23)

Another day. Wowsers was I busy yesterday. The boys are still off school, so they enjoy the downtime and the slack of playing lots of computer games. That’s ok too. And today – so far so good. Got some stuff done, including finishing an online course on Project Management. Hurray.

What am I busy with?

I am launching an online course for personal development based on my first productivity book I published in 2013, and re-published in 2017. It’s called #BeBetter and aligns your values to your purpose and success in life. I hope to be able to help hundreds of people to become better in what they do, improving their productivity and life along the way. So watch this space!

Then, I am still contracting until end of next week. With few days left, I am at least trying to get on top of things, do a proper hand-over and make sure the work I have done so far, can be carried on after I leave. So if you know of anyone needing a safe pair of hands, please let me know. I’d love to take on another contract, but also consider a full-time position in the industry, or a new industry. Why not, let’s get more experience and some change.

Anyway, let’s talk lock-down. We have been lucky and secured a delivery slot most weeks. We got plenty of food, plan another BBQ later, and enjoy long country walks. We watch Lord of the Rings, enjoy a game of Trivial Pursuit and wine deliveries get to us too. I get some reading done, and even managed journalling a lot over the weekend. Life is good, given the circumstances of course.

What are we afraid of?

Probably what everyone is afraid of:
– When does it end?
– Can we get it again?
– Will we get immunity?
– Will we see our loved ones again soon?
– Will we live in lock-down until this time next year?

… It’s uncertainty. It’s not fear, but maybe fear of a change in society, riots, unrest etc. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to it, and the virus will mutate and not attack humans anymore. Yet, will there be another virus coming soon?

Anyway, maybe enough for the day 😉

What does the new normal look like? That’s another question we are trying to answer.

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!

Sunday Column (498)

Often, when I am asking for feedback about my blog post, the answer is ‘it’s the same, it’s ok’. What I would really like to hear is ‘it’s great, it is inspiring’. But I guess I am not inspiring to the readers that I ask 🙁 However, please provide me feedback on what you would like to see and read on here. I feel like it is a weekly summary, with some thought-excursion based on my weekly experience, and then some. It is less topical, more personal. And the blog definitely provides myself with an opportunity to digest my experience. Also, I hope it provides you with a snippet of personal entertainment 🙂

So this week, as usual recently, I started a new contract, the one that leads to my new full time position. That makes it interesting, as essentially I am getting my introduction over the forthcoming weeks, then start fully later on. It’s a good way of doing it, because you get all the administrative things out of the way, and can focus on the task in hand the moment you start fully. In the meantime I went to Dusseldorf again, a slightly shorter trip which seemed convenient because of the football game, but actually was because we planned the week differently and it didn’t make sense to hang around all day. However, it was nice to see England from the comfort of my home with my boys.

And what a fantastic result for England. Not like Germany, England made it all the way to the semi finals. A shame they didn’t win against Croatia, but hey, it is what it is. It’s a young team, a team that in 2 years at the Euros or in 4 years at the next World Cup stand a much bigger chance to win. We will bring it home eventually. They brought it home to the nation, a nation crazy about football, and it made us all get a bit closer together, living the same dream. Of course, as expected, France then won the World Cup and all the money I bet on the individual games came back to me, as I put a bet on France very early on. I don’t normally bet but the Grand National or the Euro or World Cup.

Anyway, what else is going on in the country? Besides the Trump visit which I just ignore to be honest, Brexit looks like a disaster. I hope it will stay like that, e.g. the Brexit turns into a soft version of what everyone voted for, resulting in us staying in the custom union, the economy not being hit as hard, and yet carve out some rights as a non EU member state. But what a mess, no question about it. It is troublesome to see the government falling apart, no leadership and no progress. Shambles. Boris Johnson being gone can’t be a bad thing, but I am sure he comes back on the scene sooner or later.

Of course travelling makes you tired, yet running in Dusseldorf early morning felt a lot easier than in London. I am wondering if that’s the milder temperature or if that’s anything else? I feel like having a virus recently but besides a sore throat there are not many other symptoms. Is it hayfever that’s worse in the UK? I don’t know. I just hope it will go away soon. But I don’t want to bore you with my ailings. Just the opposite. I tried for another 15K on Saturday but had to stop and finished a 10K instead. Too warm, too tired.

The week concluded with another amazing thing: a street meet in our cul-de-sac. I started collecting some emails a while back and put the idea forward for a BBQ, some games and get together for our street. It was a great success and turn out, and we all came together, chatting, meeting each other and got a bit closer. Isn’t that what life is all about.

So a nice week, productive, thoughtful, and maybe a bit inspiring? Let me know and hope to see you again next week.

Best wishes,
Volker

Sunday Column (491)

Monday morning. All change. No, no new job but new train times. After lots of engineering works and the opening of London Bridge for Thameslink Services from Brighton, we got a lot of changes on the train times across the main line from Brighton to London Victoria. Allegedly this means only Gatwick Express services will go from Hassocks to London Victoria during peak time. That means Wi-fi on the trains but also that trains won’t stop at Clapham Junction anymore, and less direct services to East Croydon. A pain for a few people. Luckily I am not affected but I totally feel for my fellow commuters.

Let’s look back at last weekend for a bit. The Royal Wedding, Harry and Meghan, watched by billions. I am not sure what I found more noteworthy, the relaxed atmosphere of the wedding, that he married an American or that she came from an ethnical minority background, and that particularly black people were well represented at the wedding. Isn’t that a great sign that the world is coming together? The US-UK bond, the Royals accepting things they would have not accepted 50 years ago. Halleluja as my old physics teacher in the US, ‘Dr. Stone’, would have said. He would have been as good as the reverent speaking about Love and Fire.

On the note of fire. The Grenfell inquiry began this week. Videos of people telling their stories and getting their burned belongings back were shown on the BBC news site. I am still devastated to hear about it and don’t think this should have happened in 21st century Britain, or anywhere really. Cheap quality build on the back of greed and shortcuts, leading to loss of life. Maybe it isn’t that black and white but I am still angry as to how this could have happened. Let’s hope justice will be served.

Talking about inequality. This week, sparked by me finding 20 pence thinking I should give it to a homeless person, I was told about a problem homeless females face: they cannot afford sanitary products. What? I never thought about it and I was disgusted to hear that those products are not widely available for free, similar to condoms. A quick calculation. About 4m people in the UK live in poverty, that means if 40m people in the UK were to give 10 pence (!) a month, we could probably easily pay for sanitary products for the female population that cannot afford it. Is that thinking to easy? I am disgusted that in a first world country we still have these problems, and maybe I should get into politics.

Donate today to your local food bank! Exactly, it is as easy to buying some sanitary products and donate them where you would normally donate food.

You know when I say life is constantly changing. I cannot wait any longer to put things off, so I decided to start on one of my greatest bucket list items: another book. My working title is ‘Halftime’ and it is the story of my life. It might not be interesting for you but I hope it might be interesting for some. And by the time I finished writing up my 40+ years, 10 years of blogs and thoughts in two smaller books (150 pages each) of memories, I might be closer to 50. I always thought I start writing once I have been in a new job for a while but it felt right to pull the trigger this week. I am excited.

That sums up a nice week. I started another contract with a lovely start up which I hope I can help massively, even if I only do a few days for them. Things are moving in the right direction and blimey, it looks like we are already in June next week. Time flies but it seems to be ok. A podcast about sleep made me think of sleeping arrangements and productivity again. I just cannot stop improving my life and mastering what is there. A sunny bank holiday weekend, the Championship finals, a hangover from the dad’s night out and another grading for my youngest to receive the orange belt. Plodding along as they say. Plodding along.

Hope all is well with yours,
Volker

Sunday Column (479)

6.52 – Monday – my train is leaving my local station to get to Victoria for an 8.30 meetings. It is minus degrees, and bitterly cold. As I am waiting for the train I reflect a bit and realise that I should have taken a woolen hat and some gloves. But no, I never really think about this. As most of my readers know I am an early bird. I lost over 10kg a few years ago and ever since had to bake in exercise into my daily routine. The only way it works for me, given I have a 90 minute door-to-door commute, is at 5 am routine in the morning. So despite people asking me if I am mad, I am not, I am just scheduling things so they work. 5 am wake up, about 45-60 minute exercise, 15 minutes meditation, getting ready, breakfast and out of the door by 7ish. Simple, isn’t it?

Having done some research recently into my sleep pattern, I realise that I have been waking up earlier than 5 am. What happens is, as my body must have got used to getting up between 4.45 and 5.15 every morning for the last 6 years, that the sleep cycles, the 90 minutes cycles, kind of start messing up my sleep. So what I noticed recently, going to bed around 9:30 pm, that I wake up at 3.30/3.45 fully awake. This suggests a theory I have been following by someone who only sleeps about 6 hours (4*90 minutes cycle) and gets up at 3.30 am, yet goes to bed at 9 pm. The theory is that if you get 4 good sleep cycles, that is all you need, rather than 4.5 cycles which leaves you actually more tired. Or you go for 5 of course, e.g. 7.5 hours sleep, about 8 hours in bed. You could argue if I go to bed at 9 pm, I should get 7.5 hours, getting up at 5, but it seems not work like that for me. So I shall continue to experiment, and maybe go to bed around 11 pm. The challenge is that I do not want to compromise on sleep and definitely don’t want to run around like a zombie. Just planning 8 hours for sleep seems a big ask on my time I find, that’s ⅓ of the day. But if I get 4 full cycles, e.g. 6 hours, and wake at 5 am, then 11 pm seems to be the right time to go to bed.

What do you think? Are you an early bird? What works for you? Please reach out to me and let me know. If you read that and have done some studies, please let me know, I am curious on how to master this.

Now the #uksnow – panic set in from Monday yet most trains were running as normal on Tuesday. I was impressed. And pleased. Good to see that the system works and that enough preparation didn’t kill the infrastructure. Well done Southern and Thameslink. I wore my old Navy boots to town, yet changed into more formal shoes once I got there 😉 It is a shame that the UK seems to normally collapse under an inch of snow, the more I was delighted to see it didn’t. And the boys loved it, they haven’t seen proper snow for a while. Personally, I love the cold weather. A few weeks of bitterly cold weather, snow and chaos sometimes doesn’t hurt. But then again…..it is easier without, isn’t it?

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I decided to stay at home. Weather was ok-ish on most days, but deteriorated on Friday. So I postponed a meeting I had to go in for on Friday but thought it’s better than getting stuck on a train half way home. A Skype call worked just as well, and after all, the trains were running fine. I actually enjoyed the cold snap and having the fire on most days, getting cosy and drinking wine, and maybe taking it a bit easier, was actually rather nice. Cheese boards. Oh yes, I love a good night in. I have a busy week ahead next week. Fingers crossed I will be getting closer to making progress towards finding a job. I keep saying that every week, but I feel like things must come to an end before Easter. Fingers crossed, I keep you posted as always.

So not a hugely eventful week but with the snow and all, that’s what happened. For a few this was the perfect excuse to not do any work on Friday at all. It is wonderful for the kids and only ever happens every 5-10 years. So not a big deal but disruptive. It slows down a lot and given it was MWC this week in Barcelona, half the industry was out of the country anyway. Easter is getting closer with 3 weeks to go, so let’s see how things plan out. I definitely enjoy being out there doing some contract work, being busy and having a purpose. It helps not going stir crazy.

Additionally I booked a few new podcast guests in, and almost filled the schedule until the end of the year. I finally got some women committed and also started having some guests that are not in the adtech industry. We are moving in the right direction and I enjoy listening to my guests, discussing the Stories of Success.

Apologies for a rather diary like column. My focus at the moment is on the job hunting, the contract job and juggling a few things on the family side. Life never stops.

Have an amazing week ahead,
Volker