Tag: covid19

Ballueder Thinks (11) – Merry Christmas, the year in review

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year 2021!

2020 – most of us would love to wipe this year out. Forget about it. It is weird to think that a year ago, most of us could have guessed what was coming. However, the Western world was ignorant about the new ‘flu’ that was going on in China, and slowly spread across its borders. In hindsight, a friend of mine mentioned that he saw his work colleagues from China hardly making it on or off the plane in London – he knew it was coming. Why didn’t we act sooner?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so in hindsight I want to reflect on what was my 2020. A year that brought change, challenges but also a year that wasn’t too bad for us on a whole. We are truly grateful and hope that 2021 will be even better. There are good things that happened. Small things, like being able to book a barber’s appointment, or spending more time with the family, less of a commute, discovering the country side or just how grateful one should be.

My 2020 thoughts were all about healthier living and building my own business. I said it then and say it now, I am more of a consultant, working on different projects and that’s what I enjoy. In 2021 you will see my positioning change more towards Strategy and Leadership Consultant. I will still continue the same I have before, but my focus will shift towards a more teaching and skill based training approach which incorporates elements of my leadership research, mindfulness, counselling and coaching skills. I am brining the best of my abilities together, to build training programmes for leaders, middle management and individuals to become better in what they do.

But enough about work. I want to provide a personal review of this year, looking at each month, providing some thoughts on what I felt was important. And as I have been writing it, I noticed I got events muddled up, but that’s ok. It’s how I see it from and end of year perspective. And if you are sitting down with a tipple, you might not even notice it 😉

What I do know is that in January, I became a vegetarian. I tried vegan but without eggs and cheese, life wasn’t quite right. I also enjoy knowing this is good for the environment, and I stuck to it most of the year, with the exception of the odd piece of chicken and prawns. I would say I am 95% vegetarian, without wanting to beat myself up for eating a small piece of meat now and then. This resulted in me learning how to cook proper veggie meals, particularly whilst training for my marathon. Overall, my carbon footprint from food would have gone down massively. So that’s a good think I believe.

Thanks again for all your support this year. Without you, my friends, listeners, readers and mentors this would have been a harder year than it was. Let’s hope 2021 will be a new, amazing year!

Best wishes,
Volker

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January – I started the year knowing that my contract might be up for renewal. Things weren’t moving as expected, yet a new product with one of our partners kept us busy. So it was a bit ‘business as usual’, a lot of working from home, as gloomy January. It was miserable in my memory anyway. I just kept on working, and I was waiting to see what the year would bring. Two jobs, one paid, one for sweat equity, awaiting 2020 to shed some light on what was there to come. I also went on a retreat in Germany, which I truly enjoyed. That was my last travel for a long time, who would have guessed.

February – Mid February, just after my wife had a second wave of her ‘illness’, I got it. A day of fever, the kids off school for a day, and this ongoing cough. My throat was so sore, it kept me awake at night. When the first wave was over, the cough persisted, and the second part of the illness left me a bit breathless, as if I had smoked a few joints. People moved away from me on the train when I was coughing. As people became more knowledgable about this ‘virus’, I realised that my sense of smell and taste slowly recovered. I am certain I had the Coronavirus, but at the time, I didn’t have a clue. Maybe I should have, and I probably should have worn a mask.

Also, I had my first hypnotherapy session, I would have another one later in the year, dealing with some childhood issues. It’s fascinating what you can do with the mind, and it made me even more interested in studying hypnotherapy at some point.

March – I stayed home from mid March. Meetings were moved online, and people didn’t want to meet. Events we planned were cancelled. I received notice on my contract and was looking for a new one, yet no one wanted to commit to anything. A look around the globe gave us some warning, but little time to prepare for what was called a lockdown. The kids went off school, home schooling was a joke, and juggling a contract, finding new work and home schooling wasn’t happening at all. It all felt very surreal. We spent time going for long walks in the countryside, walks down the beach and kept ourselves sane. I am so proud of my boys, and wife, for coping so well this year. It was a hard time, yet we managed. We had outside space, running water, a toilet and enough food. We were the lucky ones, and I reminded myself daily of this.

April just became more of it. Any breaks we planned weren’t happening, ground hog day. Hustling for work, activating your network, speaking to people about work, reducing your outgoings. Yet I picked up some mindfulness training courses, and helped a couple of companies through the lockdown. For us digital folk it was easy to get used to the ‘new normal’, the video conferencing, remote working etc. I had my most creative time, and came up with new business ideas, yet nothing of those materialised in the end. But I learned a hell of a lot!

We moved from grocery delivery to click and collect; I ran half marathons on the treadmill to keep me sane. This month wasn’t the best, I want to be honest. And it ended with my birthday, a first birthday in lockdown.

But, we were alive. We had food on the table. We did better than a lot of people in this world, again being very grateful for what we have.

May became the month of hope. We slowly came out of lockdown, and thought we managed to put most of the virus behind us. Little did we know. Some people returned to their offices, or were planning to. Other companies decided to work from home indefinitely. Things changed, opinions of right or wrong, and what to do and not to do split the nation. I started cooking more for myself, making sure I get the right vegetarian fuel to sustain myself. I learned all about veggie BBQs too, sampling every veggie sausage on the planet. My conclusion: the Richmond veggie sausages are the nicest and of course the Beyond Meat burger.

June was when things slowly normalised. We still had a long way to go, but it was as if there was a new horizon. I picked up a new contract which helped immensely, and continued to have discussions what the best way forward was for me. Even for a mindfulness practitioner, the mind f* is real. No one could help you to determine what is right and what is wrong. What should you focus on, what not. It became a time for me to look inwards, looking what is important to me, the family and how we can best make it through those difficult times. Luckily, our kids went back to school until the summer break, but a lot of people were struggling.

On a sad side, my grandmother passed away age 99, 3 months before her 100th birthday. She had a blessed life, and I sometimes think it was good for her not to understand this Covid-19 thing.

Oma Erika

July was the month it became real. For many years I fancied a tattoo. I never did it, and when lockdown hit, I decided to go for it. And when I was allowed to, I did it. My first ever tattoo. Amazing 🙂 I never looked back, and the buzz you get from getting one is so amazing. I spare you more details, but this is epic. Why didn’t I go for it in 1996 when I wanted to???

I also finished off a contract which in total lasted a year. To make my business operations easier, I decided to move all my work related stuff to www.balluederpartners.com to separate work and life emails. I don’t want to lie, it was a quiet time from a work perspective, so I had a lot of time to position myself, the company and make plans. And plans I had plenty, some which crystallised and others that didn’t.

As a family we fancied the idea of a hot tub. So we tested a few of them, but ended up with a blow up one later in the year, as we are planning to make some changes to the house and all. I guess 2020 was about making your home as comfortable as possible, knowing you would spend a lot of time in it. We still haven’t decided what to do next, but hey, there needs to be some excitement in 2021 😉

August was a month I wanted to take off. Summer holidays. The plan was to go to Germany but the government decided 2 days before our departure that if you drive through Belgium, you had to quarantine on return. Instead we drove to Scotland for a great week and stayed in Preston on the way. Not sure if the latter was safer than driving through Belgium, but given France was added to the list in the meantime, we could have not escaped the quarantine. Covid made re-booking things and changing bookings a lot more flexible. It was a also a month we started clearing out a lot of stuff. Sometimes you just need a proper clear out. Towards the end of the year I rediscovered eBay, selling my old Apple Watch (I went all Garmin in 2020) and my humidor. It never occurred to me how much money you can make by selling some of the stuff.

September brought on some unexpected positive changes. I picked up a contract which went from strength to strength since. A position I really enjoy and I hope will be a long term engagement. The kids went back to school, which was great. Don’t get me wrong, great for a) education but b) after home schooling and a long summer break with no childcare or appetite and options for holidays, it was good to see them back at school with their friends. They need the social interaction.

It was then that I saw a few doctors, for palpitations, stress related hearing issues etc. What aspired then was that I was stressed from everything that was going on which was 2020, but also the marathon. My body was knackered from the training. Since increasing my distance above 25K I had had the above problems which all disappeared after the marathon. The good things was that the NHS was great in getting tests done, and reassuring me that I was fit as a fiddle. Two doctors independently suggested to me that I should change to decaffeinated coffee. Which I did, and I have not looked back since. I discovered a variety of coffees since September that are really nice and decaf. Here we go with a healthier life in 2020.

Also I started my podcasts again. Season 4. There have been some amazing episodes since, yet I plan to take a longer break next year to revisit the show and look what’s on the horizon next. New projects etc. But not yet, we finish season 4 next summer, I already recorded episodes up to March and they are good and educational! It’s a fun journey, but I think I need to reflect on a few years first, to then fine tune it for a relaunch in 2022. We shall see.

We also had trouble with our Skoda. However, we got it all fixed in the end, but lost a bit of trust with the garage. It’s always worrying if a part breaks after they had the car for a check up. And then, once of a sudden, it gets really expensive. With the new regulations coming in for petrol and diesel cars, I am thinking we are waiting until electric cars are mainstream to get a new motor. The current one will do for a few more years, and the money we wanted to spend on a fancy new car this year is better spend elsewhere.

October was the month where things fell into place a bit. We got more of a routine. The new iphone came out and I was quite excited to upgrade on my usual 2 year cycle. I also finished the London virtual marathon in aid for the RNIB, and I got a space for the 2021 marathon in London. Fingers crossed we can run it in London and I won’t have problems again. 3rd time lucky, but recovery was quick and smooth.

Since we couldn’t go away for half term, we spend a long weekend visiting Dover Castle and staying in the pre-booked Premier Inn for our planned Germany trip. A change of scenery was great, and we had lots of fun as a family, creating memories. Positive memories in 2020. We tried really hard this year to make it as positively memorable as possible for the kids – and ourselves of course.

I also joined a charity to help them as a volunteer, which hopefully leads to a trustee position in the new year. This is another focus for me moving forward. Giving back and helping others with my experience. Ideally, I want to join companies as a non-executive director next year, helping them to understand digital transformation, marketing and sales as well as positioning.

November saw me finishing up a smaller contract but also discussions around new opportunities. The good thing about consultancy is that if you loose one contract, you normally have another one still. The bad thing is that you still need to find new ones all the time 😉 It’s about networking, knowing people, connecting to people.

Lockdown 2.0 saw some personal plans shattered, yet schools continued, and really it was just miserable due to the darker days, daylight saving, rain and all. And, you couldn’t plan anything. So having a hottub, and enough food, log fires, wine, and cheese fondue boosted our morale. I am not sure how often we said that we are grateful for everything we have. The kids seem to suffer too.

I also attended my first funeral, losing one of my mentors to Cancer.

Also, Apple released the M1 chips in their new MacBooks. Unfortunately, when I got my MacBook 3 years ago, I thought 8 GB of RAM would be enough. Working as a consultant, having different programmes, millions of browser windows, and two external screens to power, 16 GB are a must. So it was a nice coincidence to combine the upgrade of RAM with the upgrade of a new processor. I was astonished how much of a difference it made.

December was another month where we came out of a lockdown. So the mood was more positive. As I got into artwork this year, this was the time to add more, and finally I was allowed to do it. Finally something to look forward to. I also completed the first half of a diploma in counselling and learned a ton about inner conflicts. This year has really been about learning, about looking forward, looking inward, and making it work. Particularly the latter, you come up with so many ways to spin a positive story, to keep the kids entertained, to make it through this year. Helping others, helping yourself, and supporting each other.

We made it in the end. We are still alive. I will have 2 weeks off which are desperately needed. New ideas for 2021. New hopes. New plans. And on top of that, we are so grateful for what we have. I don’t know how often I cried this year, but more often, and more often for good reasons.

A quote I read was ‘maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.

This sums up 2020 a bit for me. I looked inwards a lot, and I discovered a lot in there too.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas. As you might read in my newsletter, I am not religious. So however you want to spend this Christian based holiday, spend it with your loved ones, and enjoy some quiet time.

Maybe look back at 2020, see how much you have learned and what you can be grateful for, and make some plans for 2021.

For me Christmas is about time off, nice wine, cheese, food and log fires. Time with the family and sharing the love. No excesses this year. We want to be humble.

If there is ever anything I can help you with, don’t ever hesitate to reach out.

Have a great 2021.

Love and Kindness, Volker

Ballueder Thinks (8) – September 2020

Sorry, I haven’t written for a while. To be honest, writing for me is to get things off my chest, process things. With my marathon training I get a lot of thinking done whilst running. 3.5 hours this weekend. So there is less to process in writing, unless your life is super complex. I keep thinking (literally) that running long distance, or do any kind of form of exercise, it is a bit like therapy. It is very much recommended to exercise for a good mental health and work life balance after all.

But I feel lucky, my life isn’t too complex to be honest. I recently took on more work and should have enough work to see me through to the end of the year. Hopefully beyond. From there, I want to grow my practise for coaching and personal development more. I am working on concepts for change management, organisational change management and productivity seminars and workshops around holistic approaches to better yourself and your company. It’s no secret that this is what I am really passionate about, and I see a window of opportunity to make this a main profession through 2021. We shall see.

Whilst this of course sounds complex, personally I find it less complex than my life has been. With the kids being back at school, I get more productive, and manage to get more done in less time. We are returning to a new normal, with a new outlook in and on life. The endless discussion whether we return to an office or not. I mentioned it in my video update this week, I am not working for any company that has an office, but I am open to go to London (or elsewhere) to meet prospects or clients. The flexible approach works in my opinion.

This also means that demand for office space is decimated, demand for sandwich places too, and transport is less busy, which also means less revenue for train companies. All of that will result in changes how we live and travel. How? I am not too sure yet myself, but the first impact has been seen with the travel industry on its knees. I am curious how the future pans out. I am positive, always the optimist, that humans will survive and find a way to succeed. It will also be tough, no question about that.

Newsletter

If you haven’t signed up to my newsletter yet, please do so. I am writing there too, yet less content of my own but sharing content around ‘leadership’ and ‘personal development’. The feedback from my first newsletter has been overwhelmingly positive, and I thank all subscribers for the confidence and support. You can sign up and find the latest issues here.

Having said that, my consulting experience in the digital sector is still very rewarding. I love technology. I just do. I am still getting excited by data in the programmatic and media buying world. And, how this will all change over the next couple of years. I also learned to say ‘no’ to assignments, despite having the time, as the roles weren’t suited for me. As always, I am learning a lot and making huge progress. I like that.

On the note of learning, my interview for my 2nd podcast of season 4, which goes live at the end of September, covers the topic of learning as part of a discussion around ‘body-mind-connection’. It triggered me to look more into the different philosophies of learning and perception of the world, and how we can define things differently depending on our point of view. I also ordered a few books on neuroscience, as I want to study more of the scientific background that leads to high performance achievement in leadership, as I start signing up more leaders to help them get unstuck, and enhancing their emotional intelligence.

With the marathon training it is a bit like coaching someone to build resilience. Whether that is through mindfulness or being able to work on the stimulus-response gap. If you don’t know what that means, you should join one of my seminars or courses on mindfulness and resilience. But what I teach helps you to get unstuck, to see the world from a different view, and to look at things differently. Abandoning the autopilot (that’s about 80% of your doing) and live in the moment, being in the moment. All that for free (the meditation is, not my coaching 😉 ). I will launch more around this programme in the forthcoming weeks, once the marathon is out of the way. Feel free to reach out for a complimentary coaching session in the meantime.

On the topic of marathon. I never felt more fit and more ready to go for the big race. It’s only my second one, but having done a few longer runs, a half marathon in under 2 hours (first time since 2016), and generally I am feeling up for it. It helps me to look at the event in a very positive way. I am ready to take on the challenge, and I trained hard to get here. So please please support me by donating to the RNIB for whom I am doing that.

RNIB

I will run this marathon and then another one next year or year after. Given my current mindset I might just go for an ultra early next year too, but that won’t be decided until after the marathon, as the alternative is around some weight training and shedding some weight instead. We shall see, as always never a dull moment in the Ballueder world, and new goals to be achieved. Whatever I do, the more money I can raise for the RNIB, the better. They are a great charity and helped so many people!

That’s all for this time. I titled the post September as I fear this becomes more of a monthly blog post, in line with a 3-weekly podcast and monthly newsletter. That’s how I remove ‘complexity’. As you would have noticed, I love creating content, sharing things that add value and help you to #bebetter and improve your life. That’s my mission in life, to help others, and to help you live a better life.

We are only here once, aren’t we. Let’s make the most of it, and live life to the fullest, responsibly and holistically, in unison with our values and purpose.

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

Ballueder Thinks (6) – is it 2021 yet?

Hello again.

This post was started a few weeks ago, as I am reflecting on the first half +1 month of the year. Is it 2021 yet?

Whilst I am not someone who wishes time away, this has been an awful year so far.

I joked with the boys the other day, imagine you go to sleep and wake up, and it is 2021. The world is back to normal and Covid19 never happened. Now, discussing this with other people, there were those thoughts of sleeping pods, where you go in and time travel to the future. Why not?

We still don’t know if the virus was man-made, escaped a laboratory or if it was deliberately released. There are numerous accusations from the US to China, from UK to Russia, and the more I look at it, the more bored I get. Is this virus the result of a modern war fare, a new nuclear bomb, paired with ‘virus’ hacker attacks. Is that showcasing how world war 3 might look like? I am not sure, no one knows, and certainly I won’t. And if anyone in politics is reading this, I just want it to go away and have a more liberated life again. And I don’t give a toss about all those conspiracy theories quite frankly.

What came out of it for me? What did I learn?

I found work wasn’t too disruptive. But I am in working in a digital native industry, a lot of video conferencing and phone calls were the norm before the outbreak. Less face to face meetings are not too bad, and less of a commute too. That means, that we might see a decentralisation of the UK and other countries, as more people move to the country side? That would be good in terms of balancing house prices and all.

It was of course disruptive to my job. I managed, just, but a lot of people were out of their jobs, furloughed, or are still looking for their next adventure. Luckily I am a self starter – falling down 7 times, getting up 8 times – and I have pushed and pushed and hopefully will announce more contract work shortly. Do I still consider full time work? Yes, I wouldn’t not consider any options at the moment, but maybe that’s for another time. I also work on some other exciting ideas. So stay tuned, as always, there is never a dull moment in the Ballueder World.

Getting my hair done the other week was great. My first massage post lockdown was amazing. There are things I missed, and I am very grateful for having them back. And next week I am getting reflexology. My egg deliveries every two weeks are back, and enough delivery slots from Tesco.

But are we out of lockdown yet?

At time of writing, the PM announced that there will be less easing of restrictions, as the virus is spiking. Of course, look at the beaches and pubs, what do you expect? Why would a country suggest to start wearing face masks from a time in the future, if it is safer, it is safer now. Anyway…

There is a lot of talk about a second wave, and another lockdown. There is talk of changing measures. More face masks, more social distancing, but no restrictions going to the pub….our government, IMO, has failed massively in having a clear and concise strategy. I am more than disappointed with the Torries, and the way they handled the crisis. Again, I don’t like to get involved in politics, but it needs to be said.

When Boris first came to power, I hoped it might be ok, him as a CEO pulling the strings of very competent people. The problem is, the people around him are everything but competent, and Boris is directed by Dom Cummings. It makes me angry to see this country going down the hill, and IMO it will get worse with Brexit next year.

It’s like sitting in a car and driving down the road of 2020. As you start worrying about the wall ahead of you, let’s call it Brexit, the wheels of the car come off thanks to Covid. The driver is not able to control the car, and we are about to crash the car = country into the wall. I am frankly scared of that.

We are now in August. We are more than half way through the year. August is a quiet month, so from a work perspective, not much will happen. People are away, working from home or the garden, taking it a bit easier. I thought people would be working harder to make up from things missed during lockdown, but people are tired. I am tired. We need a break, recharge our batteries to recharge the country. That’s what it is.

I have been busy still, up to now, I revamped Ballueder Partners’ website, worked on my positioning, edited meditation recordings and so on. Never a dull moment. I have recorded videos, scheduled content on social media and written thoughts. I have been busy, and will take some time off soon. Even if it is just a day here and there.

To be honest, I have been taking a little bit of time off already. Here and there, a half day here, a day there. I will take more time off during August, as I am recharging. I already repositioned, and it is a constant change out there, and decision making is happening every day. Leadership, walking the talk, and making things happen are what we do. And opportunities are out there. The more I talk to people, the more opportunities I discover. I cannot sit still and do nothing, and I am always seeking to BeBetter.

That’s what I do I suppose. Or as Vishen from Mindvalley says, try to be better by 1% every single day. Just 1% better. That’s 365% in a year. If you can keep that up, you enter 2021 on a high, ready to conquer ‘your’ world.

There is something else to consider with Covid. And this nicely leads me on to some fundraising efforts.

As you might have seen, I am getting closer to the £2,000 for which I run the marathon distance in October – regardless if the London Marathon is on. If you haven’t donated yet, please do so here:

PLEASE DONATE FOR THE RNIB

I wanted to share some facts people might not be aware of, as we taking our sight for granted. Due to Covid19, and I have heard that from a few people that are blind and had difficult experiences:

  • 66% of blind and partially sighted feel less independent now, compared to before lockdown.
  • 80% said the way they shop for essentials has drastically changed, with the number of blind and partially sighted people who feel confident to go shopping independently, reducing by half.
  • 74% are very or quite concerned about getting access to food and 21% have had to ration food.

I have never been blind, and forbid this will ever happen. But if you think for a moment to socially distance in a shop where you are not sure where things are in the shelf, asking for help….. I’d be terrified. And it seem that this is true for people that are used to not seeing too. It must be hard not to go to work, not being independent enough to go to the shop and get what you want. What about bumping into people? The concern for food is even more worrying.

I want to support the RNIB for all of the above reasons!
The RNIB does such a fantastic job supporting those people. And I am committed to support the RNIB to support those in need.

That’s why I went for a gruelling run on Saturday morning; I went early to be fair, avoiding the above 20 degrees. I didn’t feel it and yet went longer than anticipated.

PLEASE DONATE FOR THE RNIB

And if the London Marathon gets postponed, I will run the marathon distance that weekend of the 3rd and 4th of October, and will try to raise even more money for next year. So please give generously.

They deserve it so badly. But I do need your help.

There is so much going on in my life, in anybody’s life. I spoke to someone earlier, that it’s been a weird year, obviously, and that we are all in the same boat. We will get through this and finish 2020 on a high. We must.

We also said that mental health is key for us to bounce back. Anxiety, Depression and other mental health issues would have flourished during Covid and lockdown, and this is scary to think. But the stats from the RNIB are probably true for a lot of other groups too.

Keep it positive, and keep the positive energy going. I am a firm believer that you fall down and get up again. Fall down 7 times, get up 8 times. My life’s motto. We will be alright in the end, and if we aren’t alright, isn’t ’ the end. Giving up is not an option.

That’s why I continue to work on my projects. My podcast is returning in September with a new logo. We are in season 4 and I start recording from next week. I am excited about the guests we lined up so far. People that can help you to make the most of the situation you are in. Coaches, Consultants, Health experts. I have them lined up and will keep you posted.

I am pumped. I am worried, but I am more pumped than worried. Because we, as a nation, as humankind will survive and get through this. Like I get through my marathon running and we will make things happen. Always.

With those words it’s time to stop.

Have a great August everyone,
Volker

Winning

Ballueder Thinks (5) – Marathon and Stamina

It has been another couple of weeks since my last column. Quite frankly, I have been super busy doing things. However, the hassle and bustle hasn’t really equated into the progress I was hoping for, which is why I am always looking for new opportunities. Things are slow, decision making takes time, and building things needs stamina. To be honest, it is like running a marathon, life isn’t a sprint.

Marathon

However, things are looking good, and I am not complaining. Covid19 has slowed businesses down, everything takes longer, but it all should come good in the end. Stay positive. One dream has been parked for now, but parking doesn’t mean abandoning. I don’t want to be too specific, but my brain is buzzing thinking about a few things – as it always is – and I will soon launch a new positioning and website under www.balluederpartners.com – my new home for my business. Never a dull moment in the Ballueder world 😉

Feel free to reach out and let me know what you are up to, and how my strategic and commercial head can help you to position your company, take it to market or scale it. That’s what I do, from hands-on to process, to strategy, to building successful teams. And if you have idea, I am always happy to chat, network and put my ideas forward. Over the past few weeks, I had some interesting networking opportunities, and hopefully these all lead to something. If nothing else, I already helped a few people connect to relevant others. Let’s keep doing that, we are all in it together.

But enough about work, and stamina at work. It would probably benefit me to take a couple of weeks off anyway. Maybe I will …. but I probably won’t 😉

The thing I want to talk more about in this post, is my involvement in the London Marathon. Of course, we know that charities have been hit hard with Covid19, e.g. funding has dried up and events have slowed down or moved online. In short, they need any penny they can get. Hence, when the RNIB, the Royal National Institute for the Blind asked me if I could run the London Marathon in 12 weeks time, I didn’t hesitate. Yes, I want to raise money and I want to run London. Simple.

RNIB

My Justgiving page is set up for £2,500 – I hope to raise a lot more but of course I need your help. I believe a few of my contacts don’t want to donate because they don’t know if the marathon goes ahead. But, and that is my promise, I will run the full distance of a marathon on the weekend of the 3rd/4th of October if we raise £2,000 by the end of August. Hopefully, we fill the pot on the October weekend, and then some more when I run the actual event in 2021. Or, maybe it will happen in October regardless. Nothing is certain at the moment, I know the Toronto marathon went virtual – now there is an idea.

I have always been a networker, and I know a lot of people. In simple maths terms, everyone I know on Linkedin has to donate 25 pence for this to happen. With most of my stronger network connections being able to afford a £5 or £10 donation, and some have been a lot more generous already, we should hit the target easily. And that is discounting people that don’t donate, or don’t donate to this charity etc. And that’s fine too. Yes, this is an analytical approach, and maybe too simplified, but it can be done. We learned during Covid, that if we combine forces, we are a lot stronger!

So please give generously, make me run in October and next year, help me to develop stamina, and help the RNIB to help people. Everyone wins! If there is anything I never want to take for granted, then that’s my eye site. Read the full story here.

I have been running for a while, and I did 3 half marathons during lock down. Hence I am confident to manage the race. Yet there is a lot of stamina still to be build. This week I did another 18K or 1:45 long run. Tempo and Intervall runs. Next week will be more. My legs are hurting at time of writing, and I committed to more running next week. I will not stop if you don’t stop donating! The next 10 weeks will be hard, very hard. I trained for my last marathon during the summer, the heat is gruelling, even at 5 am! I am aiming to improve my time from the last event, and really go for it. What a fool I am 😉 It’s about being able to run the whole distance this time, and finish around the 4:15 mark, possibly quicker if I feel up for it on the day. Please help me.

Winning

If I am known for anything then that’s stamina, discipline and hard work. Patience. I don’t easily give up, I fall down 7 times, I get up 8 times. The tattoo is booked btw, if you remember my earlier column about this. That’s who I am, and I am super disciplined. I get up at 5 am for 5 years, exercise, meditate and get ready for the day. As a matter of fact, it is early morning when I write this column.

Discipline and stamina got me where I am. Yet, things change all the time. Career wise I have been realising that I am drawn back into my first two loves: search/social and sales.

I remember putting a proposal together in 2008 how to launch the social media arm of an agency. Wow, we came a long way. One of my old companies, 4C Insights, just sold this week to Mediaocean. I love that space, and when I look at my career over the past 5 years, I moved from sales into sales management, client services, strategy and back into sales. Actually, I now have the tools and experience of a CRO, which helps companies to put their proposition on the map, whilst also look strategy and execution. Plus, this is a transferable skill across industries. It’s experience that counts!

There was one last thought I had this week. The summer holidays started. So we are back at March, without the home schooling. The wife works, and I am at home, juggling work and kids. But that’s ok. My boys are older. However, one just finished middle school. We were sitting in the park after school yesterday, and I said, that when he finishes the next school, he won’t be interested sitting with his dad in the park. His next 5 years or so will determine who he will become, what he wants to do in life, and who he will rebel against. It’s a big step, and I am ready to take it on. As a mentor, parent, coach – I want to be by his side and guide him. It’s a different world to where we or my parents grew up, change is constant. Sometimes it is difficult for us to change. I know that my parents generation didn’t respond as well to change, as they didn’t expect too much change. Does that make sense? We have a more powerful computer in our pocket than the thing that landed us on the moon. We call them phones.

Change will accelerate. Covid19 is the beginning of the change that will permanently influence how we work, live, and where we set priorities. Hopefully for the better. We might see more evil coming out of it, or it will go away as a warning. Who knows. I am not a philosopher. As a collective, and with a greater conscious, this period in history will change things forever. The way we greet people, meet people, trust people and what we think is important. We will look back at this time in years to come.

I am getting used to change. Mindfulness grounds me in the moment. My weekly groups help me to challenge my thinking. There is so much opportunity to go deeper and become better, as a human, as a father, at things you do. Nothing stands still, and the thing we need is stamina. I say it again, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Building blocks of things to put together to make it to the finish line. And sometimes we need to drift out of our way to reach our goal. But stay focused, with stamina, a positive outlook, hard work, and a marathon running attitude, you will be successful ! Have faith. Trust in yourself!

Have a good Sunday, and if you have a minute, I appreciate any donations for the RNIB. Because you know I am going to run it.

Thanks in advance. Volker

Ballueder Thinks (2) – I believe in you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now that’s something to live for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe in you!

Ballueder Thinks (1) – Covid19 Column

Hello.

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?

Brexit.
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,
Volke

Living in a new world – Days at home (59)

Hey, happy world meditation day. Below my message.

I think more businesses should take on a mindfulness at workmindfulness at work scheme and get taught through me. I am delighted to have more clients signing up and the interest slowly but surely coming through. We must look after our mental health and those of our employees.

In other news, our daily walk was split today. Colin and I had a fantastic walk at 7 am, chatting what father and son chat about. It was great. Nice to have 1-on-1 time with the boys, and reassuring them about the whole Covid19 mess. And that’s what it is, it’s a big mess in terms of schooling, work, income, planning, holidays…..yet we will get through it.

With my daily posts coming to an end this week, and my oldest going back to school, I am curious what happens come June. We will all be ok.

I hope you are ok too, and stay safe.

If you ever need to feel the need to reach out, please do so. I am happy to chat, mindfulness or not, coaching or not, just a chat and a friendly word of advice, or just to listen. I am here to help YOU!

Thanks,
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (57)

A day blends into another. Last minute changes to campaigns, learning about WordPress, getting on with a job, finishing a project.

Life doesn’t stop. It never does and always goes on. A bit like a treadmill.
I am just preparing for my 3rd half marathon of the lockdown and managed 15K yesterday.
We managed to get our walk done last night and met a very friendly sheep, or lamb to be precise. Life is good in those moments.

I wonder what happens post pandemic. Articles by McKinsey and the FT, and the article in the Independent I quoted yesterday, give me hope that things return to a new normal quickly, and that we rebound quickly from the crisis. Germany seems to be.

I hope this happens soon, and that maybe we can carry on a bit longer to follow our dreams, to live the life we wanted to be living. Then again one seeks security, new opportunities and a balance of the lot. What I am alluding to is, indeed, the new normal. The drive to succeed, to overcome, to make it happen. And, the willingness to take risks and to start all over again. Exciting and scary at the same time.

I worry about mental health. It is mental health awareness week.
I published content this week on Linkedin which shows the impact of Covid19 on mental health. We are ok, and I hope the boys will be ok. One doesn’t know but I am confident. Yet, we know of people who are more affected. And it is nice to know that I can help, and that I do help, and that mindfulness helps with stress reduction. My stress coaching course I finished today gives me another string to my bow. Stress reduction, anxiety coping and burnout prevention. My generation never talked about it, whilst the Millennial and younger generation does. And it is good that they do.

Speaking to a company the other day, they argued that the reason for them to offer unlimited holidays is that you can take time off when you need it. No one wants you to burn out. I absolutely loved that; no one told me before, when I was close to a burnout a few years ago, that they would actually care about me (from a corporate POV). It’s usually about working hard and playing hard…but it is so re-assuring to see companies changing.

Enough about mental health thoughts for the day.

It’s only Tuesday, but I had some time to share my thoughts.

Stay safe.
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (56)

Wow. Welcome to week 9. I sometime wonder, if I had known we were in lockdown that long, would have I committed to a daily blog post?

Sure, I love writing. I love sharing. And, I have time most days to just write a few lines. But not always tbh. But thanks for all the positive feedback.

It’s Monday, a new week. We are coming out of lockdown. It feels like spring is in the air, and I need the industry to kick off some new initiatives now, and recruitment to commence.

What’s the plan? To be honest this week seemed quiet until this lunchtime. It’s good stress, I suppose. Things are moving in the right direction, without me getting any work done.

The boys have been good today, and home schooling is going ok. My wife is at work.

But let’s recap on the weekend. We were allowed out. The boys loved it, and Jenny and I loved it. We drove down to Littlehampton Beach, also called ‘Daddy’s Beach’. Sunshine. Feet in the sea. Long chats and walks. It felt like we are free again, yet social distancing from people. I guess that’s the new normal.

Below are a few impressions if you don’t follow me on Instagram.

I hope you are safe, and I hope you managed to get out a bit this weekend. We had a BBQ too, the weather is getting nicer. So let’s hope this is the beginning of the end of Covid19. An article in the IndependentIndependent suggests the virus will be gone soon. Let’s hope this will happen.

Have a great rest day.
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (35)

How was your weekend?

Ours was great for the most part. Something happened on our walk on Saturday though. We came back with VERY strong hayfever symptoms, almost thinking it could be Covid19. You can’t but panic for a minute. Symptoms all disappeared came Sunday, yet a bit of a weird experience. A good night’s sleep and some antihistamines later I suppose.

I only discovered my hayfever a few years ago, interesting enough I had similar symptoms to this weekend. Then I didn’t know it was hayfever, and thought I was hungover. That wasn’t the case then or now. Moving forward I decided that if there is a high pollen forecast, I will always take my tablets. No more of that malarki!

Other than that….a nice BBQ, nice weather, a chilled out Sunday and the aforementioned walk. We played Scrabble, read a lot and just enjoyed ourselves.

‘Die Seele hängen lassen’, is what you say in Germany. To let the soul chill.

Below are a few impressions.

Now back to normal, yet work is quiet atm. Which is fair enough, given the situation.

If you hear of any contract or permanent roles, feel free to reach out. I have capacity!

Thanks all, and have a wonderful day.

Volker