Tag: life balance

The times they are a-changing

Bob Dylan wrote this song and published an album with that title many years ago, ‘The times they are a—changing’.

As many of you, if not all of you, we as a family spent a lot of time evaluating things during Covid. From what we could do to the house, increase and change living space, to extensions. Are we living in the right area, will Brexit affect us, and what is the way forward? How and where do we want to spend the next 10 years of our lives. These questions and more went through most people’s heads during the pandemic.

My wife and I did the same. Given she is from Scotland, and that’s where we met many years ago, in Aberdeen, and I am from Germany, there could be two obvious choices.

To a cut a long story short, we made up our minds. Edinburgh it is. Back home for the wife, free universities, and a possibility to join the European Union (if ever so small). A city called ‘Athens of the North’ (although some say Paris), not much bigger than Brighton, on the coast with some amazing outdoor activities, lochs to explore and mountains to climb. We are all excited, although it took the boys a few days to get over the initial shock but they took it very well. And of course, we are close to the mother in law too. Germany just doesn’t seem to be a possibility for any of us to move to.

My biggest question was around ‘can I continue my career’, and it turns out that my current contract is very happy for me to move. Given the changes in the way we are working and companies being more open to remote working, and I am confident they will not change, location is less of an issue in the future. As a matter of fact, it hadn’t mattered whether I was working from just North of Brighton or Land’s End for the past year. Whilst I believe that I need access to the next job’s HQ, it might just be enough to do so every couple of weeks. If you look at our US friends, they work remotely for many years. And it works. My biggest fear was to not be close to London. All I am changing though is the access from 90 minutes door to door on a train, to a plane (maybe 2 hours all in) or early train (4 hours) – and the certainty that this will be less often. So I am sold, besides there are some very interesting start-ups and companies in Edinburgh too!

Plus, and I look forward to that, there is the chance to stay a few nights in London as I did in other European cities. This always allows for nice dinners, activities and enjoying a city properly. Something I haven’t been able to do in our current location as late night trains weren’t reliable.

Now the search begins. Which area to move to? Which house? Temporary accommodation? Schools, school intake? It is going to be a stressful time. With the lockdown easing, I cannot wait to spend some evenings back in the Scottish pubs, sample the local ale. Even for me, after many years in London and the South, it is a homecoming. I cannot wait.

And we have settled on an area for now, South Queensferry, and plans are firming up.

Will it all be better?
Will the grass be greener?

No, of course not. And to be honest, house prices are not too much different to where we live now. However, there will be some things that are better, some things that are worse. As always. Anywhere you go. At least we still got the same super markets, take-aways and language, so it will be very similar 😉

What I am looking forward to?

It’s the independence from London. A new beginning, new networking, and the access to a city with a culture that resonates with me. London got a bit too big and too far away from where we lived. As a close friend of mine said when we moved out here, it’s a long way out. And it is, particularly with a unreliable train service. I felt I didn’t have access to London as much as I would have liked. For the past 12 months I have been sitting in a room in front of a camera. This room could have been anywhere, but soon will be within throwing distance of mountains, outdoor, and the sea. We can pop up to my MIL for tea, see family and make new friends. The boys will have access to excellent and free education.

And I can’t wait to see an opera. Silly, because I don’t even like operas. But I could, if that makes sense. And then take a taxi home. Living quality just moved up a notch.

Our house in Hassocks is on the market, and the journey has begun. Come and buy, Hassocks is one of the 10 most sought after areas in the country!

We cleared out years of stuff, despite having done that already a year ago. It’s the ‘second round’ where you go a step further in terms of what you keep. We made cash on eBay and local selling sites. It’s liberating, and soothing to be honest. I find that anyway. It’s that time when you evaluate what’s important.

Anyway, here we go. Wish us luck. It might be quite a journey until we settle into our new place and got it the way we want. Time will tell they say, and we are confident we made the right decision.

And that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

See you around!
Volker

Sunday Column (463)

Good evening. Sunday night and as usual a busy week for me. To start out with a summary, my Monday was super busy. Working from home to get an air ventilation system installed that pumps dry air into our house in order to reduce condensation and therefore the build up of mould around the windows. We don’t have a huge problem with that so the unit we got should solve it and I am excited to slowly but surely finalise the house and get it into the ‘perfect’ state. So far it is working fantastically. I know it sounds like a daunting task but over the years you want to know what’s going on in your house and make sure the systems are running smoothly and the heating is working, the lights, etc. – guess it is my German efficiency and I just want to keep it in good repair I suppose. Sad life but as I enter middle age, the house is becoming a priority 🙂

I also added some new features to our spare bedroom in order to display my Lego model I build and also to declutter my desk, anticipating I might work from home more often again. Then I don’t want to anticipate too much, as I am still not sure what I will or want to be doing next. My last official day was on Friday, so 10 months, two jobs (running operations and Germany), and some great people and experience. I worked my butt off, flew to Germany every week and I feel like I accomplished something for the company. Some people said to me that this isn’t fair, however it is a job, and life in business isn’t always fair, is it? I never thought about it, as my thoughts are about the future, about what I will focus on moving forward. No point of looking back, I cannot change the past.

Having a few drinks with the crew, reading the leaving cards and looking at a fantastic leaving present (a nice bottle of whiskey), I cannot resist to say thank you. The team has been fantastic, a great time at Rocket Fuel, a great culture and fantastic people. Thank you. You have been fantastic. It is a small industry and paths will cross again. If I am not misinterpreting the notes, I had a positive impact on most of my staff. For that I am truly greatful. Not often can you look back and think you made an impact on someone’s life or people’s life for the better. Gave them some thoughts, some advice or just helped them to get perspective. And as always, I am happy to continue this and be there as an advisor or mentor moving forward. Don’t hesitate to reach out. My mobile is the same and most of us are now connected on various channels. Thank you once again.

Coincidental with me having my last week at work, my wife had 4 shifts to work. That meant school / child minder runs every day with the boys. Great times and thinking about it, I really enjoy waking them up in the morning and having that one on one time with them. We adding more of that individual time too, so moving forward I plan to take the youngest to Karate on a Saturday morning. Not long I will find something with the oldest too. I think that’s super important to build the bond and trust with the main priority in my life (see article on LinkedIn too).

Then I attended an industry event this week. Wow. I am impressed. Or not. I know I have been in programmatic coming up 10 years, but really, the amount of “non existing knowledge” is crazy (and no this is not lack of knowledge from the host or speakers!). Lotame invited for an amazing industry event which really show cased what needs to be done on the data side of things. However, the comments coming from the audience and some of the panel members set me back years. I had an interview earlier that day asking me about how many industry relationships I have and how many people I know, and how much I know about certain tech providers. Maybe it is stating the obvious, but if I need to speak to any industry tech or need my way into any agency, I find a way. Yet even the best relationships won’t get you a deal. I am sales by trade and I know people. People know me, this is surely not a criteria to employ or not to employ me. I have so much more to offer: leadership, management skills, processes, fun, industry knowledge, connections above and beyond and knowledge how to sell technology. Oh yes, I do listen to customer needs and if I don’t know I only sell once the integration or product team actually gave their go ahead. Sales pitch over 😉

Anyway, in the process of networking and knowing people, now that I don’t really manage people at Rocket Fuel anymore, I add them on Facebook. It seems to be a nicer way to connect and be part of people’s life, rather than the ‘professional’ LinkedIn. Latter is becoming cluttered with similar posts to Facebook and is moving into that direction. I wonder where we end up in years to come, if Snapchat can close the age gap and become an important platform, or if a newcomer will enter the market. Who knows. As with most things in the industry, you cannot predict the future or the outcome.

As the week comes to a close I reflect. It has been a good week. A good 10 months. Life is good, and I am healthy and happy. The house is better and I can put my last 10 months aside to focus on my next … 10 years maybe. The future is key and it is going to happen. I might not know how yet but it will and we will be alright. We always will be. Believe.

Things happen for a reason.

Have a great week,
Volker

Sunday Column (181)

I am not sure where to start this week. We had a fantastic weekend last week and I spend some happy hours with my friends. I wish that those times don’t ever come to an end. Then my MIL arrived with her boyfriend. Colin and Rohan were over the moon. It is happiness all around and I cannot say how much I appreciate to be in the middle of it. Those days just passed very quickly. I have been flat out at work. Busy. I am getting to this point where I am stressed to an extend I don’t enjoy it. I know it is only temporary, as there are a few projects finishing, new ones starting and some need revisiting. Give me another three weeks and things are back to normal. I enjoy what I do though. And I booked a week off to unwind a bit before Q3 and Q4 hit us. Bring it on. I am ready. And don’t misunderstand: I don’t mind being busy or working at lot. But sometimes things are getting a bit over the top. For everyone. I guess with me moving house, and the kids settling in and being off school, we still have to find our own routine. So once life is more in balance, things will be good. I guess doing my back in doesn’t help 🙂 I got a few things done in the house, decided on the heating work needing to be carried out. Also we got a present to get the downstairs loo done. We are lucky, fortunate to get so much support. The house is still taking a lot of energy….at least I thought that until I spoke to a business partner who owns a 20 bedroom 18xx property. I guess I am lucky 🙂 Actually I do think I am lucky. I have a fantastic family, the almost perfect family home in an almost perfect village with a perfect distance to work. I have a life life balance, understand a lot about the topics I am interested in, like personal development and coaching. I couldn’t ask for more. You know I have been suffering from this muscle I pulled. Actually it was more of a nerve thing. I should have listened to the back rub lady on Monday, iced it and focus on ibuprofen. Instead I had more sleepless night and ended up going to a chiropractor who put my joints back into place, taught me how to sit correctly and which exercises I should do for my back. He also sorted out my leg length difference. Wow. Fast pace! I still have an inflammation that need to be tackled. But I am confident I am getting there. Anyway, a good weekend finished. Good friends’ time. My wife let me go loose to chill out a bit which I needed. Now time to focus. Next week is going to be exhaustive one again. Have a good one, Volker

Sunday Column (181)

I am not sure where to start this week. We had a fantastic weekend last week and I spend some happy hours with my friends. I wish that those times don’t ever come to an end. Then my MIL arrived with her boyfriend. Colin and Rohan were over the moon. It is happiness all around and I cannot say how much I appreciate to be in the middle of it.

Those days just passed very quickly. I have been flat out at work. Busy. I am getting to this point where I am stressed to an extend I don’t enjoy it. I know it is only temporary, as there are a few projects finishing, new ones starting and some need revisiting. Give me another three weeks and things are back to normal. I enjoy what I do though. And I booked a week off to unwind a bit before Q3 and Q4 hit us. Bring it on. I am ready.

And don’t misunderstand: I don’t mind being busy or working at lot. But sometimes things are getting a bit over the top. For everyone. I guess with me moving house, and the kids settling in and being off school, we still have to find our own routine. So once life is more in balance, things will be good. I guess doing my back in doesn’t help 🙂

I got a few things done in the house, decided on the heating work needing to be carried out. Also we got a present to get the downstairs loo done. We are lucky, fortunate to get so much support. The house is still taking a lot of energy….at least I thought that until I spoke to a business partner who owns a 20 bedroom 18xx property. I guess I am lucky 🙂

Actually I do think I am lucky. I have a fantastic family, the almost perfect family home in an almost perfect village with a perfect distance to work. I have a life life balance, understand a lot about the topics I am interested in, like personal development and coaching. I couldn’t ask for more.

You know I have been suffering from this muscle I pulled. Actually it was more of a nerve thing. I should have listened to the back rub lady on Monday, iced it and focus on ibuprofen. Instead I had more sleepless night and ended up going to a chiropractor who put my joints back into place, taught me how to sit correctly and which exercises I should do for my back. He also sorted out my leg length difference. Wow. Fast pace!

I still have an inflammation that need to be tackled. But I am confident I am getting there.

Anyway, a good weekend finished. Good friends’ time. My wife let me go loose to chill out a bit which I needed. Now time to focus. Next week is going to be exhaustive one again.

Have a good one,
Volker

Sunday Column (61)

Now, I have been thinking a lot this week. And, I think I am coming closer to the questions of what is important in life or not. The big life question 🙂

Maybe this is too tough of a topic to start out my Sunday Column, but this is what comes to my mind first. I had some feedback on my blog lately and some say “I am too honest”, others wish me luck with “life-life balance”. Then others I speak to suggest I should be more positive.

Hang on a minute: my life is perfectly fine. I have a great job, a great life outside work, I am happily married, have a great son, and I am happy to share things, being honest – however, that is not what I mean, and most probably not what my “fans” mean. But what is it?

Being German, efficient and direct, I of course say things the way they are and the way I see them. That means I openly suggest what I honestly think. By doing that, I come across as being negative. But I am not! I am far from negative! 🙂 And, most people who know me well, know that I am probably one of the most positive people they know.

I am very positive, full of energy and very happy with what I have, own and have achieved. I am happy in the situation I am and the life I fulfil.

I strongly believe that I worry about the same things as our neighbours (or people in general), have the same problems most people have, and I am confident that I shouldn’t worry more than anyone else. But instead of not speaking about it, or glamorising my situation, I am just open about it. Direct. German. My apologies.

But a friend of mine said so nicely, I wouldn’t be Volker without always digging deeper and going beyond of what is there. I don’t just see something, mention it and get on with it. I want to know more, and I question things until I find the answer. Again, I guess this is my German heritage, and I don’t think it is a bad thing at all.

Maybe that is why I feel like I am getting closer to the answer what my life is all about. And it is all good, positive and full of joy. Surely, I speak about it more in the near future, so stay tuned.

After this heavy intro let me fill in what else I have been up to this week.
My back is increasingly getting better with lots of exercise, Tai Chi, and “deep heat”. Colin got his first bruise and discovers his world new every day. That means he can now grab things, eats cat-food and hangs on to plants and anything he grabs, e.g. books, or loose table cloths. As a result he hurts himself a quite a bit. Bless him.

On Saturday I went on a stag night to Brighton. But, as it is, what happens on a stag, stays on a stag. It was a good day/night.

So today I am just chilling, curing my headache and enjoying the lovely weather.

Have a great week ahead.
the big V