Tag: Decisions

Ballueder Thinks (12) – A year in lockdown?

Hello world!

I haven’t written a lot recently. I love writing, and I love sharing, but the honest truth is, there isn’t much to share. Whilst I write regularly on mindfulness over at Scentered and in my monthly newsletter (SUBSCRIBE HERE), there isn’t much else to share or think about.

Lockdown hair cut

Yet, I thought I’d give it a try. Let’s see what comes to my mind. In all honesty, there are a few thoughts I had which unfortunately I couldn’t share at this point in time. Teaser, I know, but I will share them as soon as they are ready. In the meantime, I wanted to update you on a few things.

Family: Ever since the boys are coming of age, grow up and I am around them so much at the moment, I seem to really understand what family actually means. I see the influence we as parents and carers have on them, and how much they need our support to grow up. But, I also see how much they support us through difficult times, as their horizon is different to ours. Whilst this sounds so super obvious, I cannot stress this enough. Over the past 12 years, since I first became a dad, I learned so much about ‘being a dad’, and ‘what is expected’ and where to put your priorities. It has been, and still is I suppose, a process. And no one ever prepares you for becoming a dad. Let’s say it didn’t come as natural to me as it seemed to have done for others.

Someone mentioned a cartoon (which unfortunately I couldn’t find) which showed someone time travelling from the future, asking what year it was. ‘What, he said, 2021, you are still in year 1 of lockdown?’
Not encouraging, but given the current UK announcement that we might get out of it mid March, this would pretty much make it a year. A year without going to London, with business moving online. A reason I started focusing on work that I can do location independent, as the appeal of London, the appeal of living somewhere for jobs, has just worn off. I am free to go wherever I want to, wherever family is. That’s where home is. The other day I got myself a bottle of Lagavulin and said to my wife it smells of home. She asked where it is. I still owe her the answer.

When you are in lockdown, at least for me, you evaluate everything you do and have, possess I might say. So I upgraded my desk with an ergonomic chair, a new 27 inch 4K screen and other bits and pieces. Spending 8+ hours on there, it needs to be super productive, supportive and comfortable, good for my back, shoulders and easy on my eyes. A great investment.

I also invested in an air fryer, I always wanted to try it out. As of lockdown 1.0 I started cooking more, which is also partly due to me becoming vegetarian (see earlier posts). So I cook more, try more and gain confidence in cooking. Whilst I have been exercising a lot on the treadmill, I didn’t enjoy the repetitive workouts on the multi-gym I had for 3 years anymore. So I sold that on eBay and focus on kettlebell exercises again. It helps as I don’t have to go into the cold garage, and we got a lot more space too. So as lockdown continues, we evaluate what we need, don’t need and what we learn.

On that note, I am in the process of finishing my Diploma in counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy. It was a drag, but I enjoyed learning the content, and now being able to apply some of it with my executive and leadership clients. Whether that is in relation to stress prevention and resilience courses, leadership trainings, or as part of me coaching. I recently took on a job coaching outplacements, e.g. helping people finding jobs, which also involves me writing CVs and cover letters. That, and my skills in sales, made me an excellent headhunter, so I am doing some work in that space too. All can be done from any location, no matter how this lockdown turns out to be.

What we learned during lockdown will stay with us our whole life. I don’t necessarily mean the courses, but how we approach life. Are we having a positive outlook, are we ready to tackle loneliness, are we pro-active or not? How do we cope with job loss, quiet periods, home-schooling, our partners and family? Which decisions do we make towards finances, home improvements, cars? Do we go for walks, exercise or push our limits? Do we watch Netflix and don’t exercise, stuffing our face with take aways?

Lockdown hasn’t been easy for anyone. I am hopeful we are on our way out, and that by Easter we are free to travel within the UK again. It must be happening, and I am confident it will. I have a few more projects I want to finish before my birthday that I cannot do myself. And, I don’t want a 2nd birthday in lockdown 😉 So let’s hope!

What are my asks?

My asks are for you to stay
Mentally sound, learn to meditate, appreciate the moment and get out and get some fresh air, socialise online and stay in touch with friends
Physically sound – exercise or at least walk, keep fit and eat healthy
Thinking positively – there is always a silver lining, no matter how off the situation looks

If you have any challenges you cannot cope with, and you know me, give me a ring. My (virtual) door is always open to help, to support. That’s why I like recruitment, I can actually make a positive difference to people’s life. That’s why I enjoy coaching. Whilst my consulting is getting really busy, I want to continue doing those two things. Helping has always been important for me.

Stay safe, this too shall pass.

Have a wonderful day. Greetings from my little corner of the world.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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.

Sunday Column (520)

The end (of the columns) is near. It’s Christmas soon. The days are short, it’s getting colder and the booze is flowing, like any pre Christmas period really. Life is busy and life is good. If I look back a year or two, life has changed for the better. The last two Christmas I was without a job but never without an opportunity. Those moments of change, when you make decisions, that’s when your life is formed. That’s when you become who you were set out to be, consciously or unconsciously.

Today is column 520. Actually it is more like 512 as I missed a few counts a couple of years back. Never mind. It doesn’t matter. I am glad though that I numbered them, rather than having had to count them now and then. 10 years is a long time, but more about that next week.

This week, as a bit of a summary, was almost the pre Xmas rush already. A lot of folk are off next week, so I anticipate this being a quieter week. I got plans, from 2019 planning to recapping, to organising, to tidying. The usual year end stuff you never finish as you are busy with so many other things that come in ad hoc.

I managed to fit in a trip to Stafford this week. One of our offices in the North, and I love a good trip to the North. It reminded me when I was going to York almost weekly for 2 years working for an agency up there. The early morning starts, the cold air, the hot coffee, then the endless train journey with the beautiful view. I love the English country side and I love those trips. I would miss them; same as Scotland, where we booked our summer holidays. It sounds awful but with Brexit, I do not know what our decision has to be, clearly there is no decision on Brexit before Christmas.

Opinions vary from ‘Brexit with or without a deal’ will lead to a recession and then we will get out of it stronger….to ‘Brexit will be a mess and within 10 years we vote to be back in the European Union’. It all sums up for me that no one really knows, and more importantly, this is a mess and no one wants it really. No point of worrying about it, what meant to be meant to be. It was my mantra for a couple of years and I continue to believe in it. It’s the moment of decisions your destiny is formed.

As I stare out the train window early in the morning, the sun is just coming up over the trees, my mind drifts for a moment. I am thankful and grateful for what I have and what I have achieved. I love and adore my two little men who are growing up so quickly. I enjoy living where I am. I enjoy my job and the people I work with. There is not much I am asking for, yet the uncertainty of the country is making me think. Let’s hope that’s over soon, and we can concentrate on the important things in life, like the NHS, education for our children and life in general.

The winter is getting to me, don’t you think 😉

Have a great week.
Volker

Sunday Column (515)

Hello. I got about seven regular Sunday Columns left. That means Christmas is not far away. I managed two early Christmas presents for my boys, one is a trip to Manchester in order to see Man City play; the other one is a basketball hoop. Latter is also an early present for myself, but that aside. I can’t stop myself supporting the boy’s ambition to play sports, be healthy and exercise. How could I?

Today it has been 100 years since the end of World War One. It is hard to believe. My grandparents would be over 100 years old now and the world has moved on. Thinking about it, I introduced my youngest to some ‘oldies’ music from the 60ies and 70ies, another (Vietnam) war generation only 50 years ago. He wasn’t too keen. It reminds you to appreciate the peaceful times we live in. Despite mid term elections in the US and Brexit. A year from now, the world is a different place.

On that note, I read an article on the BBC about the decline in fertility rate. It is scary that we might not have an overpopulation problem but a problem of not too many kids to sustain our ever growing older people base. We are all going to live longer and no one there to follow us, meaning we need to work longer potentially. Our generation will see a lot of change.

For myself, post marathon, I just felt hungry this week. A bit out of place, not having anything to strive for. I was surprised how little I felt in terms of ‘weakness’ after the marathon. My knee felt fine from Tuesday already and all worries about that are gone. Some niggles around an insect bite I got during the run, and still some stiff legs. Nothing a massage, a stretch and a short run on the treadmill couldn’t cure.

The feeling after a marathon is interesting. You are in a hype bubble for a while, then it sinks in. It’s a super high and then a huge come down. It’s a phenomenon called the ‘marathon blues’, I read up a lot on it, and it isn’t nice to be honest. You spent three months or longer working towards something and then it’s done. It’s over. I can see the addiction to do more and more. It reminded me a bit of smoking cigarettes, you get this super high, then the low down, so you have another, and another. It is addictive for sure.

I find, at least for myself, that once it sunk in, it is almost as if it wasn’t there. But then it lingers around, that feeling of achievement. Not that I run around smiling, but it is that feeling of ‘yes, I have done it’. It definitely gives me energy, and wants me to run another one. So we shall see.

I was warned. The challenge is really to have the time and commit or sacrifice precious family time to running. That’s the hardest bit. The fitness and the mental strength builds up as you go along. I haven’t really decided yet, the next few weeks are quiet in terms of running, so plenty of time to think about it. But I might have just caught the running bug 🙂 (not that I didn’t run before anyway). Who knows. Maybe time to channel my time and focus to other projects, like basketball or building car models again. Who knows, nothing has been decided.

But those moments are decision moments. When running the marathon I was thinking of situations in my life where I went out of my comfort zone. The navy came to mind, now over 20 years ago. Night marches. Going beyond your limits. And compared to others, my training wasn’t that hard. And university, when being in the fraternity and fencing with sharp blades. Those moments of discomfort and going beyond the usual are moments that define you. They never go away. The wall as I call it, the next wall is there to come.

As I started writing this I am on an earlier train. If you don’t exercise in the morning and your body is used to a 5 am start, there is only that much you can do. My new breakfast routine takes 5 minutes (a nutrition shake), so I will be at work early. There is always something to do and sort. It was occupational therapy this week, work and food, and from next week things will change again. Time to go back to the gym, do more runs and decide on the next wall.

Don’t worry, there are still things on my bucket list. And maybe some of them have less impact on my knees. Maybe I need to learn a new skill. Maybe something to involve the kids. I believe I am through the blues. The weekend was great, getting on top of loads of work this week and being able to have a nice meal out with the wife. For our anniversary, to celebrate life.

I dreamed I had the chance to go up in a rocket to see the ISS (International Space Station) and paid a lot of money for it. And when it was about to take off, I wasn’t sure if I should go. What’s the worst that can happen to you out there? You never come back, you die. But you won’t. You will be fine, and things will always work out. If someone offers you a ride in a rocket, take it. Fear is a good thing.

I felt that last weekend, I went into that rocket, despite fear, and I came back. Yes, it was a hard come down, but now it is time to find the next rocket ride. Some training at basecamp and up to the next stars.

I almost don’t want to quit this post, but it’s time to let go. Literally. 7 more weeks.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

Sunday Column (496)

I don’t believe it’s the 1st of July already. Half ways point. The days are getting shorter and we are closer to Christmas now. The weather is spoiling us.

This has been a very busy week. Admittedly, I started out with a day off on Monday. Funny how when you not contract for a day, you take the day off. But isn’t it a mental thing to mentally shut down and off? We, the wife and I, went down to the beach, got a bit sun burned and enjoyed an ice cream. I am storing energy, producing some great content around my podcast and getting ready for what lies ahead of me.

The days in the office were busy this week. I love the company I am contracting with at the moment, and love the product offering they have. My main role is in Germany, so Thursday and Friday I spend in Munich, next week Duesseldorf and then Hamburg. It is good to be able to help and to reconnect with friends across Germany. Life is good, busy, or as Darren Hardy says ‘we strive on stress’. To a certain extend I agree, we are by default used to flight/fight responses, to exciting situations and to stress. Yet, I am not actually stressed, which is nice also 🙂

Also, this week I decided on what to do next. Where is my career taking me. I decided to join a service unit of a big agency group to position their product within Europe. Sounds not very clear? I know, I will fill in more details on LinkedIn and personally over the next few weeks and after I start in mid August. Things falling into place and I am relieved that things are moving forward too.

But I have to say, and I am not sure who all is reading this, that the decision was and wasn’t easy. I was humbled by the offers I received and it came down to two companies in the end, out of four (who would have believed that back in February), that I thought were a perfect match. It wasn’t easy to make that call to say no. Naturally one wants to say yes to all the good fits. The way I described it to a close friend this week: you have to make a decision, it isn’t personal, it is business at the end of the day. So I made the decision, however difficult and yet easy it might have been.

I can only repeat my thankfulness for everyone who helped me on the journey. The beginning of the year has been rather dark, yet people are generous, pick you up and maybe it was always GDPR that slowed things down, who knows. We will never know and it doesn’t matter. I learned from it. I learned about consulting, see below, and I learned about believing and patience, and that over time things will always work out.

I have been enjoying the freelancing, consulting and contracting world. I enjoyed helping and making a difference in a short period of time. And I continue that for another four weeks. But at this stage in my life I prefer a pay cheque at the end of the month. A pension scheme. That might change again in the future but for now, that’s what I would like. And I am delighted to join people I have known for a long time and I trust and I look forward to learning from them, working with them, making things happen. Yes, I am excited!

So, as the Germans would say, “Ende gut, alles gut”. All’s well that ends well (Shakespeare). I always knew it was, and I never doubted it yet there were a handful of days that challenged even me. Some nights you wake up worrying. But the future will always be better than the past, and things will always work out and be ok. Trust in you. Trust in the universe aligning things to help you.

On the note of Germany. The football team was playing awful from the start in this World Cup and frankly I prefer the way Columbia or England are playing. Funny that both of my favourite teams are now facing each other in the play offs. Then I don’t know much about football. What I do understand is that there is something missing in the German team: support, comraderie, team spirit. I can see and judge that. And as I said a few times this week, the guys out there on the field are all top players, it’s the team that makes the difference. The team spirit I shall say. As in any job or sport. Anyway, let’s hope the World Cup is progressing nicely for England, they would deserve a good ending.

With that in mind, Ende gut, alles gut.
Volker

Sunday Column (465)

This week had a busy start, and a busy finish to be honest. I am starting to write on Monday night, which is late for me. No trains, no commute at the moment, still trying to figure out what I am going to do next. Strategizing life, guess that is one of my fortes, as I love strategizing. Taking a proposition to market. Turning around a market and making sure everyone is on board. People management. Process management. Allround talent for management. Team and individual coaching.

Hmm, what should I do?

I know my skills are there, and I also know – and speaking to a lot of industry friends lately – that my programmatic skills are there and they seem to be rare. Those paired with commercial acumen. Operations plus commercial. Running companies, managing big teams. I have never taken redundancy by being fired for being shit. It sometimes feels like that but I am not taking it personal, I had to let people go this year too. There is no guarantee and no stability anymore from what it looks like in the industry, which suggests to me that self-employment is the way forward. Essentially it is the same risk but with a higher reward. Plus I will be able to manage my own time. And I will be good in what I am doing, I am not worried about it. But there is fear to overcome, it is a big step being used to a senior exec salary, pension payment, and a life style. Having to pay a mortgage, putting kids through school and education and so on. Whilst I rummage about what I am going to do next, I think the there are a few full time positions still to consider. Why not being more focused, more directive and selective, and in the meantime embark on the self employed journey. Yes, this sounds like a plan!

I am open. Why wouldn’t I be? If you read that, you either are an industry friend, we met sometime ago or met randomly, or you are interested in reading my columns.
Then you might feel like you know me. So if you are reading that, from my perspective you are a friend, and with friends I am happy to share my feelings, my thoughts, my ideas. Because everyone has similar thoughts and feelings. I know I am not alone and no one is. Maybe you are in a similar situation – feel free to reach out and we grab a coffee. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks to my friends who so far helped me on the way. Giving thanks for the opportunity I have had and that will be there to come. All beginnings are hard, but there is so much help out there, I am ever so grateful for. Thank you. Thank you.

I could tell you what I did this week and particularly on Monday, I did two school runs and had dinner with my boys. I don’t remember being home for tea time for a long time and it was good to spend that much time with the boys. I am really enjoying that. I feel like I am actually part of their lives rather than rushing to another plane or meeting. Those moments are very important for me, and I enjoy that time. I didn’t have much of that this year. Now it is all about balancing my time with the kids with a future employment. I want to be more with the kids, whilst also knowing it won’t always be feasible. Balancing this is scary and challenging but if I don’t try, I won’t succeed by default. So I must try and I have the time and finances to try it for a while. Things will work out in the end. They always will, one way or another.

So let’s look forward. Let’s conquer the fear and get over it. Christmas, quiet time, is around the corner. Time to reflect. Then there will be a new year, 2018. We still don’t have flying cars, and we yet have to invent teleporting, but recent videos of robots doing back flips and mini drones killing people based on facial recognition scares me. Having worked with AI (artificial intelligence), it shows what’s possible, what humans can do. It is about opportunity without fear, trusting that technology will be used in a good way, for good causes. I guess the future will tell.

Here is to the future. And to better blog posts, but that depends on the input.
Let next week be the week that takes me a step forward.

Have a successful, peaceful and great week ahead.

Volker

Sunday Column (420)

Ok. I have some time on my hands, don’t I. Actually I don’t have as much as I would like, and I got a lot busier than anticipated. That’s a positive thing, things are happening. So what do you do if you have some waiting time in London? People just went back to work properly this week being busy, so I had a few meetings in town, but then a few got cancelled last minute. Then I got some additional ones in. The train strike took me to London Blackfriars and this can be a bit inconvenient given most digital businesses’ location in London. Cut a long story short, I managed to walk a bit in London. Yes: W-a-l-k, take things in, smelling the roses. It was fantastic.

Yes, I absolutely loved it. Not only did I manage to burn some calories and make some phone calls, I also managed to just wander around London. I was thinking for a moment to stop all the time and take some pictures, but I found this would distort my idea of experiencing London. I almost went into the National Art Gallery. When did you last have time to just wander through the streets of London, look up the buildings and take in all the architecture. Did you know that from Farringdon you can see the Shard with St. Paul’s Cathedral in between?

What else did I spot? Lots of people smoking and vaping, more than I anticipated. Hipster cafes where I stopped and rested, starting to write this post. A Ferrari mountain bike. Old writing and signs on buildings just on the main streets. New buildings and building sites. Builders looking bored, some being very busy. A few new building sites I hadn’t noticed, some nice facades, a new hidden Neros off Jermyn Street. And I went with the flow, just chilling out and enjoying myself, looking at the world to go by and take it all in.

How much more time do I have to enjoy some down time? When is it getting serious again to go back to work? When would I have to, when would I want to get back to the grindstone? I tell you all next week (teaser).

I learned about priority this week. I was focusing on two important things this week, and those were my only priorities, but only one at a time. This was important. I tried to blend out any thoughts that would interfere with my priority at the time. Mind games, voices in your head, external influences, ideas. Like meditating with your mind fully switched on. I think it worked well. Being in full control of your mind and thinking really helps.

Then there is another topic I am giving priority and I am looking into at the moment: My 40th. Yes, it is coming closer and I cannot deny it or make it go away. It is coming closer day by day. It will either be a party or a mini holiday – the prices seem similar. We are evaluating. I let you know what we decide, not if it is a party though 😉 Anyway.

There is one theme on Linkedin and Facebook since the beginning of the year: Make the most out of 2017. Celebrate life. I am not sure if that mood is connected to the, as it seems, high amount of celebrity deaths last year, or whether it is a general mood to get on with life and make the most of it? Maybe it has been like that every year, but I didn’t notice it that much. This year I do. As if we, as people, are anticipating the world to end in 2017. I hope not. I have so many more plans, and ideas and want to see so many more places. Yes, maybe I should start doing that soon. I don’t want to run out of time. I must trust that there will be a life beyond 2017, despite all uncertainty in the world.

Life seems to be a bit like evaluating things, making decisions, living with it. Jobs. Life. Parties. The way you bring up your kids. We had tantrums this week which brought back memories of having a toddler. Do you let them cry or use reasoning? I tried both, and the former worked in the end, falling asleep being exhausted. Will they learn from it? Probably not. Just another phase, until in a while that phase stops and another one starts. The oldest becomes more of an adult now, and you sometimes wonder how grown up they seem. Wowsers.

Life is moving so fast, and we are evaluating. We make decisions and we move on. The flow. Go with the flow, don’t get stressed about it and feel at ease. In the end things will work out, and you must believe in the end. Have trust. Things never stop. You must trust things will be ok, because they always will be. Don’t let others pressure you into a situation you don’t enjoy and don’t let others make you feel a certain way. It all works out in the end. Trust in it going to happen!

If the video below doesn’t show, please see this Joe Biden article.

But then there was one last thing I noticed this week. Whether it was Obama’s speech, his wife’s speech or Joe Biden: some great leaders and people you look up to that, in public and in very powerful positions, admit to something amazing: Emotions and feelings. It is not about crying but about bringing emotions back into what I would call ‘corporate and public life’. Ever since I have read and written my MBA thesis on Emotional Intelligence (EQ), I believe that the human aspects, emotions, feelings and the sharing of values is sometimes more important than red tape. Humanity prevails. I am moved by what happened in 2016. I have shed more tears and shared more emotions than ever before. Maybe that is why, as mentioned above, people are increasingly coming out with making 2017 the best year ever and to go for it. To show their appreciation, feelings and true emotions. Let’s do it. Let’s share more love and make 2017 happen!

I have a great feeling about it.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world.

Best,
Volker

Sunday Column (400)

400 Sunday Columns. Wow. That’s 400 weeks, just about….seven and a half years. Well done me!

dont ever give up

Holidays. Yes, we spent a week in Centre Parks, Elveden Forest, last week. It was great. I have always been a bit sceptical of holiday parks. Yet I was very positively surprised. Given you can book a week, we had essentially four full days of fun, activities and (family) togetherness. And not too far to drive either. Maybe when the boys are older we consider a bigger accommodation or we might stay longer, but a mid week break with lots of activities was just right given their age. A run in the forest most mornings, some wine at night, take aways, good (?) and too much food, swimming, going down a cyclone (check out cyclone video: https://youtu.be/yggVvOid7TI, it scared Colin and me. Both of us luckily did not know what we got ourselves into), lots of water plays, hot tubs, wave pool etc. Then bowling, owls, play parks, cycling, pony riding, adventure golf and the list goes on. Fun. Utterly enjoyed a week off and away. Spending quality time with the family.

centre parks

For many years I have not been a big fan of holidays to be honest. I am quite content sitting at home doing nothing. I did that this year already whilst the wife had the boys in Scotland. And as the boys are getting older it is nice to go out and do things. Even though they fell to bed totally exhausted most nights. But that is how it should be. Wireless throughout helped to stay connected, yet I tried to stay away from social media as much as I could. However, being able to follow the news was nice or not so nice given the earthquake in Italy. I pray for my friends and families who hopefully are fine. I start to enjoy going away and experience things with the family and find new relaxation in doing so. It is nice and great to see the kids engaging in new environments and exploring new things. I believe it is good for them, and me, and the wife of course too. Centre Parks even offers baby sitters so we had a date night too. Result! Only things that lets it down is the quality of food eating out. Yet the spa visit whilst the kids joined a Pirates’ party was amazing. We even consider rebooking for next year already 🙂 Maybe a different park though.

Above are the highlights of the week. I am mentally preparing for a new challenge, a new start of my career. If I say start, it is more of a new beginning. Already, I feel like this is the right move and things will be great. They will be different but I can make a positive change and move my career in the right direction. And, it will be a lot of fun, and hard work. Latter is what I enjoy a lot, so it is all good I think. Given tomorrow’s bank holiday, I look forward to a new start on Tuesday.

There is little else happening in my world at the moment. I am exploring options for diagrams for my new book, e.g. to outsource the drawings. Then there is still a lot of editing to be done which I hope to get done by end of year before publishing it next year – maybe. Time is the main challenge, as I have a few projects on the go at the moment. The other one is to see which or if I can get myself a toy for my 40th birthday next year. When I say toy I am thinking Porsche, Jaguar, Alpha Romeo, Audi….but to be honest I am not sure how much I have to spend and how much I want to spend for something I do not need, but I do want. Not sure if my common sense prevails over my appetite to own and enjoy. A fine balance to strike, and still a lot of money to earn, which then puts things into perspective I suppose. Maybe we postpone to my 45th….

digital agency

What is life all about? Fun, family and memories? Ownership and wealth? Creation and making a difference? I don’t think life is as black and white and I also think it is a combination of above. As a Buddhist it is definitely not about ownership, but about fun and enjoyment. Little attachment, lots of fun, as far as I am concerned. If you realise that, you can own too. Maybe a loop hole but there is no reason to not owning nice things as long as you are not attached to them and they are the only thing you care about. Health is sitting on top of all of this, and you cannot buy health. And if health isn’t great, you end up cutting your life short, excluding most of the above, no? It helps to drill on that every now and then and put life into perspective. And value one’s holidays. To allow the odd indulgence and enjoy life – not excessively but consciously, not knowing when it will end. Yet we must assume it won’t end anytime soon, else we will not be able to enjoy it as much. And this week we enjoyed ourselves a lot!

I hope to look back on life in a few years time or hopefully many years from now and I might even look at my blog and read this – and I’d like to think that most of my decisions and thoughts were right. And that we made the right choices for our little men and pushed them into a happy, content life! It is a balance what you say to them, what you explain to them and how. They suck up your explanations like a sponge and don’t question it at all. Dangerous sometimes.

To finish….I had a dream a while back. I was breaking into a bank and was with two friends. One of which I remember. And we stole some gold bars or tried to anyway, and got caught. Instead of going to jail we were told that we will find out in a few weeks time what would happen. So we went home. Whilst on holidays the dream came back to me. This time being anxious that I haven’t heard and they hadn’t been in touch. I was hoping work wouldn’t find out about me having broken into a bank and trying to steal gold. No, I didn’t think of nor executed breaking into a bank. But maybe that dream tells me something. About waiting for the gold to come to you and not chasing it? Of being patient and seeing the gold in front of you rather than stealing it? Or maybe it was about letting go of ownership and chasing the dream with a friend? Maybe it was just a weird dream. Any ideas?

Have a great bank holiday. Spend it with the people you love and cherish. Share your love and gold and avoid short cuts. Life is good and you should appreciate it when it is there. Don’t live the future dream, enjoy the now.

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

Sunday Column (299)

It is the 1st of December tomorrow. Who would have guessed this year passes so quickly? I remember last year deciding whether or not to stay in my then main job. Sometimes things don’t work out and this year, the question is not about whether to stay but how quickly to grow. Times have changed, and I am a much happier person. I made the right decision.

Making decisions doesn’t always mean making the right decision. What I mean by that is that sometimes you have to make a wrong decision, which then guides you to your destination. Decision making is key. Whether this is regarding the upbringing of your children, how you spend your money, which job to go for or which sales leads to pursue. As long as you keep making decisions you are moving forward. And latter is key for personal development. Any decision will carry some weight for your final destination, so essentially the only wrong decision is to not make any at all.

Any decision we make, however small, moves you in a direction. I made a decision this week I cannot announce yet. I also made a decision regarding my fitness level – with a lot of people giving up drinking in January, I should do the same and step up my fitness level once again. With two 10K this week, a session of squash and a MTB ride today … yes, I feel very fit at the moment.

fitness

What else is happening? The dog seems to settle in better, we had a couple dry beds this week, we walk her more and would love to do more with her but have to hold back whilst she is a puppy. The kids are wary of the dog and we work on their relationship – it is challenging to teach children how to behave around dogs and a dog how to behave around kids. It is a good challenge though as you can already see how they benefit from looking after Rosie, helping us and taking responsibility. I am glad we made the decision to have the dog.

Then there was Light Up Hassocks – the yearly get together for the village to share a drink, some lights in the dark and switch on the Christmas lights. It is fun and a good opportunity to catch up with everyone. My parents were over from Germany for that – they and the kids had a great evening.

A few times this week I was lying in bed thinking that I am a very happy man. It seems like I am on top of things, life is coming together and things are moving in the right direction. This is a good feeling. The kids are growing up, and with every week they are further developed, asking further questions and you can help them finding their direction and making their own decisions.

I feel blessed. I cherish the moments with the family and look forward to Christmas, to be there fully in the moment with my two boys and wife, finding some rest hopefully, and some sleep.

Before I finish, I wanted to share this cute conversation with my 5 year old.

“Next week, Colin, I am at a conference”, I said to my oldest. “Is that what you do, daddy?” “No, I sometimes speak at conferences”, “oh yes, I thought that’s what you do, with that funny thing (microphone) in your face.” “But Colin, actually I make sure when you are on mummy’s ipad, that you get the same ad as you see on TV. But I don’t think you understand that yet.” … “That’s easy, TV you just switch on. And adding, daddy, we do that in school. I didn’t know you are adding things?” “See, I just add things to peoples’ lives. I make their life better. Time to sleep….”

Actually, life is simple. Adding and subtracting 🙂

May your week be the same.

Love and Kindness,
Volker

Sunday Column (289)

There have been a few things that went through my head this week. Starting last weekend with the final decision to get a dog on Monday. So coming mid October we are able to pick up “Rosie“. I am excited, ecstatic yet apprehensive. When you wanted something for 30 years, and when you were always told that you cannot have it, and then had your wife saying that it isn’t feasible for years and then the day comes that her and you agree it is a good thing to add a dog to the family – this is a big day. That is a dream come true. But also a reality come true. I can no longer say “I always wanted a dog”, I now will “have a dog”.

To a certain extend, yet with less people talking about how many nappies you have to change and how this will affect your life, it is like having another child. And it is interesting to see how people give you advice. Some are very pragmatic and tell you about their own experience and what they never thought of. That is appreciated. Then there are those people that never had a dog and think they tell you all about it. Those are the annoying ones. And then you get the odd comment that a dog needs walking and you cannot take it in a plane. Those comments I am not sure about; they are either sarcastic or give you reason to doubt those people’s input.

Making the decision to get a dog is not easy. For me it was a childhood dream and also for my kids to grow up with a dog. This is particular true for them being as they are scared and not used to dogs. But foremost this will be a true companion, someone that is loyal, someone to take for a walk, someone wanting to please you and be on your side. And your wife’s side. And your kid’s side. A best friend, play and sports partner.

Enough about it. I am very much looking forward to it.

jobs ppt

The picture on the left got a bit of attention on Linkedin this week. I am not 100% sure why and I notice me using Powerpoint solely because that is what the company uses. But overall, I am normally on the whiteboard, drawing things up and discussing things with clients. That is more fun and it shows I know what I am talking about. Also it is a lot more engaging.

Moving on from there I have been active working last week at dmexco, the biggest online marketing show. So this week I feel a bit under the weather. Not sure if I caught a bug from one of the 30,000 visitors or if two late nights (I don’t remember when I was last still up at 3.30 am), little sleep and a 10K run on Friday contribute to my physical state, but something clearly isn’t right. I felt a bit under the weather, slept a lot but still got up early. My legs just don’t feel like exercising. Maybe I did too much or needed a break, you never know. The travelling and late nights, constant entertaining and talking take their toll. Luckily this only happens once a year. Also, the weather has been very warm and humid for mid September, not something I overly enjoy.

Looking forward to next week I am going to be in Paris, soon Istanbul, Milan and Hamburg, yet probably another few trips to come before the end of the year. Things are at the pivotal point, so the hard work is paying off. I enjoy what I am doing, and the industry is accepting what we are doing. But I don’t want to write too much about my job today.

Everytime I write my blog post, I am looking at the word count in the lower left corner, how it starts adding up. At 400 words I think I better come to an end and by 630, about now, I believe I should come to an end.

I don’t want to bore you with my thoughts too much, despite knowing that most of you enjoy reading it. This is a huge compliment. Speaking of compliments, the biggest one I got this week was from a lady I don’t even know. She said “my dad used to speak a lot about you, I remember your name” – that is nice to hear. I cannot go into further details (not because of the lady) but because of a surprise. I might reveal it in a few weeks time.

Now we visited Rosie again this weekend. It is nice to see Colin bonding and Rohan liking the dog. Also nice to see Rosie myself.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker