Tag: contractor

Ballueder Thinks (7) – Summer innit?

It’s hot at time of writing. 27.5 degrees in the car, as I wait for my son to finish his karate lesson. The first ‘real one’, face to face, since March, and parents are no longer allowed to watch. Life has changed. Next time I take the bigger car with the air conditioning. We adopt to the new rules of course, as we all do.

Today, at time of writing, we were supposed to go to Ashford, then Folkestone tomorrow, drive to Germany and celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. The government put Belgium on the list of countries to not stay in and if you come from there, you have to quarantine for 14 days. Surely driving through it would be an exception. But it isn’t. Several calls to the government hotlines got us the same answer and it was: if you touch Belgian soil, even in a car, not stopping, you have to quarantine. Loose your income for 2 weeks. Can’t train for the marathon. WTF. This got changed at the time we rebooked…but hey, you have to make decisions when you do.

So with a heavy heart we postponed our trip to Germany, fearing that France would end up on the list soon too. And it did when we were supposed to be out there, alongside the Netherlands. Why risk it? I haven’t seen my parents for 8 months, yet they can’t postpone their anniversary. The original plan was to go on a cruise, which ultimately got cancelled. And our flights got reimbursed. So that’s good at least.

Cut a long story short, we went to Scotland instead. Staying in the Greater Manchester area over night, driving on the M6 through a lockdown area. No quarantine necessary, despite my arguments on the phone with the government, this isn’t the same use case. There are no restrictions to do be on ‘Manchester soil’. Nevermind. I would argue otherwise, but who am I to criticise the government?

Actually I do. I think they properly f* it up. The UK as it was 19 years ago when I was attracted living here, is no more. The handling of the Corona crisis and the amount of dead people speak for itself. The recession and Q2 GDP contraction figures higher than any other country. I am hugely disappointed with the state of affairs and handling of the situation. Nothing screams ‘Brexit will be a mess’ more than looking at the clowns on the top. Never have I felt more passionate about politics in any country. And looking at A-Level results, both in Scotland and England, I can only say WTF again. Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be a political or blog post ranting, but I guess sometimes it just needs to be said. But what’s the alternative?

Maybe it was naive to think we could leave the country in a pandemic in order to travel. Or it is naive to think we are out of the worst, and that there won’t be a second wave. I don’t know. Looking back at the first half of the year, I have been lucky to have work, as a contractor, and actually uncovering opportunities, regardless of the situation. Things might not be as planned, but who had planned 2020 and actually got what they planned for? Hence, I am actually very grateful for what we have, the health we are in, and the prospects we have. It confirms my decision to go freelance. To be my own boss, and make it happen, without relying on others. This is a huge blessing to be honest, even if it is hard. But why would I want to rely on others to have a job at this stage? I am not saying I am not tempted to join a company full time, but that needs to be the right opportunity. Anyway, not pitching 😉

As anyone at the moment, I just like to have a good life and want this virus to go away. Yet we need to think what life would be like if the virus won’t go away anytime soon, or ever? How will our lives, jobs and situation change? Location won’t be an issue once of a sudden. Barbados, New York, Toronto, London, Singapore – as long as you can work in the time zone of the company you work for, you can live anywhere. It also means that education for your kids and living standards, e.g. activities, are key for location preferences moving forward.

There is something else I read in the Financial Times: a lot of people used the lockdown to clear out rooms, cupboards etc. However, a lot of people also cleared out emotional backlogs. I agree. As a matter of fact we cleared a lot of stuff from the loft and garage at the end of last year, and emotionally I have been on a journey to change and clear things out for about a year. I made huge progress, and recently went through some more hypnotherapy sessions. Contact me if you want to find out more, but I find it super useful to clear out any blockages, and explore what is holding me back. My confidence and self awareness took another step up, and I highly recommend anyone doing it. It’s like clearing out your garage, your mental one.

The main reason me bringing this up is as I have been speaking to more and more people experiencing anxiety. The lockdown and loss of human contact, will result in a huge crisis from a mental health perspective. I am super proud of the companies that have worked with me throughout the lockdown to teach their employees mindfulness in the workplace ; one group in particular has done very well by allowing for a weekly session discussing mindfulness, and any mental health issues. The group coaching sessions are ongoing and helping massively to put the lockdown into perspective, whether that is from a mental health or personal perspective. If you or your company employees are effected, and they likely are, you should consider having similar sessions. I am not saying this to advertise my services, but highlight the importance of doing it. Whether with me or any other mindfulness coach or practitioner. The hungover of mental health after the pandemic will be huge; combat it today! Be proactive, you will thank me later.

Our holidays ended up being fantastic. We had splendid weather in Scotland, and hardly any rain. It was warm, and allowed for me to continue my marathon training. I will update everyone properly once it is all confirmed, but the London Marathon 2020 will be a virtual one, and all donations roll over to the next physical one, which I plan to run in October 2021 or April 2022. I prefer the former, so let’s see what we get. I shall update my Justgiving page as soon as things will be confirmed. Bear with me, not a logistical walk in the park for the London Marathon organisers.

I love being in Scotland. It’s a rough terrain, friendly people, good greasy food and lovely ale. Walking, running, or just enjoying the countryside is fab. We rented a wee flat in Inverness and visited the MIL up North frequently, whilst doing our own family things, like looking at amazing forests, Loch Ness of course, or just shopping in town. Visiting a white sandy beach.
Scotland is a lovely country, and if we knew we could work remotely forever, I would go and buy a wee house in the middle of nowhere. However, we don’t know, and there are question marks around some infrastructure here, but that’s for another time. The idea sounds lovely though.

As you can imagine, running your own business, you still work all week. However, I have been lucky as I wasn’t that much in demand, and people respected me being slow to respond. I actually didn’t do much work at all, and we enjoyed a lot of quality family time, a change of scenery, and just doing nothing. Yes. I managed to just sit there, and do nothing. Not like me, but it is so important to reflect, drain your brain and just sit and think. I enjoyed the time off, the company and making memories with the family.

When you read this we are just back. Time to kick-start my 2nd year as a contractor/freelancer and kicking some ar*. I am ready to make a difference, take on more project work, run a marathon and conquer the “world”. Get rid of the virus, spend more time with the family and balance work and life. A holiday puts so many things into perspective, so does Covid, and there will be more decisions coming our way. That’s certain and that it’s certain that I lost all confidence in trust in this government.

For now, enjoy some time off, disconnect and make memories with your children and loved ones. Time you never get back.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world.
Volker

Sunday Column (489)

The bank holiday weeks are always fully packed. I remember 10 years ago when we worked 40 hours in 4 days to make up for the lost day. Being a freelance consultant this isn’t the case but you loose a day you can charge for work. So I enjoyed it with a fantastic BBQ with friends and the hottest bank holiday weekend since it was introduced in 1978. Does that mean we are on our way to global warming? We spend the Sunday at Brighton Marina sitting in the sun eating South American food. What is not to like? It felt like we were on holidays.

Tuesday I met another very interesting start up. Great to meet so many smart people that are starting to transform our industry. Yes I love what I am doing and the consulting role is actually growing on me. I have so much to give and so much to take care of and so much to help and to introduce to the market….it is fun actually. Does it offer the security I am after or the planning horizon? No, but it offers the flexibility and conversations with interesting and smart people I was missing at some point in my career.

The challenge is, as a consultant, that you always will be a consultant and don’t, at least for now, have shares or build a product which results in a big exit. But is that the ultimate goal? What I mean is that you don’t create anything but just go in and out, not being part of anything. And I still have a few years of wanting to build and create something for myself or others. So I prefer a permanent role for now, and then the consultant, life style choice career, maybe a few NED positions, when I am 5-10 years older. Of course it isn’t all age, but experience. Where are we going to be in a year from now?

Things always happen for a reason. Just imagine you go into any meeting, any conversation and imagine people just trying to help you. There is a conspiracy of people trying to help YOU. It’s one of the oldest tricks in visualisation and personal development and being successful in sales – just replace helping ‘wanting to be sold by you’. I am grateful for the industry friends I have, and the ones that are trying to help me. I am humbled by the help I receive and I know things will work out, they always will. And when I heard of another adtech collapse this week, I decided to pro-actively reach out to a friend there to see what I can do to make his life better. I care. And that’s how I differ from others. I am genuine, genuinely concerned, and don’t talk BS. And I always give it my best to make it work and do a good job. Someone asked me what is my ‘sales’ and I am just really good at building relationships, maintain them and build trust. Because I care.

Anyway. There are two things that stuck with me this week. A good friend of mine said that he appreciated my blogs and that really we are at peak performance when having to make it work. He is right. Also, there was another situation, actually two. One was when I was introduced to a headhunter by three (!) people within one hour for a job that she didn’t contact me for […] and you wonder why only 5% of jobs at my level are found through recruiters.

The other one was when I did something I haven’t done in ages. This week I had a couple of meetings cancelled, and decided to pack up my stuff, put away my headphones and just walked from Holborn to Kings Cross, went into the British Library, had a wander around looking at books and an exhibition. I took time out to take in different input. I then walked to Soho for a meeting. And I enjoyed every minute of London, the Library and Life. You have to cherish those moments because soon enough it will be all work and work and work. When have you last taken an hour to just do something you haven’t done for a while, put your phone and distractions aside and just enjoyed yourself?

Isn’t life fantastic I wonder? No I don’t, I know. I love it. I love life and its challenges. And I love my family and friends. I care. And I start to see that there are more people like me out there that care and help. And that’s good. That’s life and that’s how it should be. I spend the weekend with my boys, as the wife was away, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I made a conscious effort to put my phone aside, to be with them in the moment, take part in their life and being with them. It was fantastic!

Have a great week. Take your time for something you enjoy doing. Take the lunch break and just go for a walk through the park and sit down, smell the roses, and appreciate life.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker