Tag: mental health

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

You can’t give up. Ever. A personal look at life.

After an inspirational podcast recording the other day, my guest ask me if I ever thought I’d have a burn-out, given all the stuff I am doing. I wanted to pick that question, because this is a passionate topic of mine. I have always been work focused, enjoyed work and love being busy. I could never imagine not being busy or doing something. It’s an inner drive I have, however …

I am no King, but I like a laugh
I am no King, but I like a laugh

Reflecting on my work life, I have gone through seven redundancies in my career. That’s more redundancies than some people had jobs at my age. But, I haven’t given up. And, I have not had a burn-out or struggle with mental health problems. Given ‘blue Monday’ was last week, I have been reflecting on how lucky I am. Whilst I have to deal with anxiety when I hear the words of ‘restructure’, as it just has this negative association with redundancies, given my history, I believe that is fair enough.

There is something to be said about being able to get up 8 times when you have been knocked down 7 times. What I struggled most with was that people didn’t see the value I added, or if they did, they were bound by politics and ‘that’s the way it has to be done’, e.g. following ‘bullshit rules’. Redundancies are never personal, and once you understood that, it helps you to deal with them.

I am freeing myself from those bullshit rules more and more, in life and work, and focus on doing a great job. Simple. And the jobs I am doing now following a theme and passion of mine.

At the moment, I still maintain a foot in adtech, in an area I absolutely love and adore (data!), and which is changing massively over the next few years with Google’s recent announcement to abolish the 3rd party cookie; additionally, I work with companies that I can help and that can help you! I am excited by both sides, which is why I now work for myself.

I offer Mindfulness Trainings for instance to improve mental health, and to improve resilience and therefore productivity in the workplace. My start-up Moment Pebble is working in a similar area. I have been training Mindfulness for myself since 2006, and I believe that it made me more resilient, and therefore I never had a burn-out or struggled with mental health when taking redundancies or faced the challenges of life. Unfortunately, I know too many people who weren’t that lucky, and I want to help them, and help others to avoid that experience. Does that make sense?

Productivity, resilience, mindfulness – all of those topics have been part of my life for many years, as I have always had a focus on ‘live to work’. I love achieving, whether that is to write a bestselling book, or have a can do attitude at work. I am a doer (manager’s quote) and I get shit done. Simple. That’s who I am and I absolutely love it. Striving, but not over-striving, resulting in not having a burn-out or doing too much. It’s a fine balance, but you can learn it. For many years, I have optimised my approach, refined my productivity (remember I wrote a book on it years ago), and tried to be better, running a more optimised life. And it has paid off, multiple times. The constant improvement, holding yourself accountable. That’s self-coaching, and yes I had help from external coaches and mentors too. Thank you!

And, with me being trained in Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and other techniques, it means that I know when things get too much. I realise that when I am juggling too many balls and have to put one aside before I drop it and it breaks. I know when people around me struggle and I know how to help them. And, I discussed that with my podcast guest too, I never turned down a favour to help people. I never asked for more than I give, and always pay a favour forward. I believe in the greater good and the good things in life, the good people, and that the majority of people are genuinely nice people and are in this life to do a good job and achieve the most for others first, then themselves. This has always been my motto for many years, as I believe as a good manager, you rise with the tide.

Hence, in conclusion, I know where I can add value and whether I can take on more work. Yet one thing is changing, and that goes in line with what I preach: I start to live my life more in a way that family will always (!) come first, and that I work more around family commitments; ‘working to live‘ rather than ‘living to work‘. It’s about choice and balance.

This won’t impact my output or productivity, the opposite is true, it will make me even more efficient; with my 5 am routine I am already doing that, but it’s about balancing life, prioritising, and making sure all parties involved are happy. It’s not about slowing down, it’s about channeling the energy in the right way, applying focus. Maybe what I read in the One Thing finally comes to fruition.

Giving up isn’t an option.
Changing the way you do things is.

The most important thing is to be happy, enjoy what you are doing, put focus and effort into what you are doing, do a good job, and be good to people who surround you. It will always pay off in the long term.

Have a wonderful week.
Reach out for comments or contact me for a chat, I am always happy to help!

Volker

My 2020 plans – what are yours?

I have been debating what 2020 has in stock for me. Of course we don’t know, and we will never be able to live anywhere else than the here and now. But if I had a wish for 2020, I’d like it to continue the way 2019 ended.

As people know, I left what we call a ‘permanent’ job in order to pursue my passion: working on projects I enjoy and where I am in charge, where I can make a positive difference. I found a few of them. One in the data space working with very talented data enthusiasts on exciting projects. This actually is the most enjoyable job in adtech I ever had.

My mindfulness journey lead me to work with another company called Moment Pebble. Their aim is to revolutionise the way we are being more mindful at work and life, reducing stress and becoming more skilful around mindfulness. This goes in line with my latest course I took. I am super excited to scale that business and bring more of the skills around our pebble to the masses, and I will deliver my first Workplace Mindfulness course from early January.

Lastly, I work on a few other projects, such as D:PULSE, a new conference concept for 2020/21 and supporting other companies on their business development efforts. I am happy to be able to split my time between so many talented businesses and people and work in areas I enjoy. This includes new areas too, being a trusted advisor and board member.

I was born to be a consultant, so if someone now asks me, I am a business consultant and trusted advisor. Within the trusted advisory ‘box’ you find executive coaching, my book on productivity principles which sold over 7,000 copies so far, principles for success, my podcast on success and mindfulness practise. It is all coming together, and it becomes an ever bigger toolbox with one aim: to support and help businesses and people to achieve more. Simple. And the real satisfaction I get, is to see people and business thrive on the back of my input.

In the meantime I am blessed for having a healthy and fun family. Anyone with kids around the age of 10 knows that those little people growing up very fast, forming their own character and challenge you. Every single day. It is fun though, isn’t it? I have been able to spend more time with them, more connected time.

So for me personally, for 2020, I want to learn more about health, and go deeper into that topic. Whilst in 2019, thanks for some external influences and people, I had to learn a lot about mental health; 2020 is about my physical health, maybe shedding a few more pounds. It has been over a year since my last marathon, so maybe….just maybe, but then there is food and drink. I have a healthy relationship with alcohol and that won’t change, but drinking less alcohol and eating less meat, becoming a more sustainable ‘element’ of humankind, that’s a goal worth pursuing. And if I learn how to cook some healthy meals, then this is a bonus. It’s an area I still want to be better in. I just love learning new skills.

That’s it for me. 2019 is almost over. 2 weeks of hibernation, editing podcast, preparing some work, good food and wine over Christmas, celebrations and gifting. And dwelling on what’s happening with this country moving forward. A topic we can cover some other time.

If you need help formulating your 2020 goals, need a shift in your direction or just want to have a sounding board, schedule a call on calendly.

Let’s have a chat and see how we can work together in 2020.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Volker

Mental Health, Mindfulness and the Workplace

Since finishing my Mindfulness Trainer course and preparing my first deliveries for January, I often get asked if I can solve Mental Health issues. The answer is ‘no’, as I am not a therapist.

When you get asked what mental health is, I bet you say something like ‘it’s a disease or illness of the mind’. But is it?

For me that sounds really bad. An illness, a disease. Wow. But, you aren’t wrong, and often we put it down to stress, or someone not being able to cope. But mental health, and I need to stress again that I am not a health professional, can be anything from a mood disorder like depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety, personality and psychotic disorder. It can result in eating disorders, trauma related disorders and lead to substance abuse.

I looked that up, admittedly, as I didn’t want to miss out on anything. This is huge. Let’s just take a moment and reflect on the extend of those disorders, and what it means to you and people around you.

I openly admit having had anxiety. Yes, that is very common, but up until a few years ago, people didn’t talk about it. Most of my anxiety came into play when I took redundancies, or when restructures happened in companies where I was involved in. Restructures, in my mind, lead to redundancies. But be reassures, they don’t always do.

But I don’t want to talk about my journey here, as I grew more resilient to anxiety, as I started doing my own thing; I started managing my thoughts through a daily mindfulness practise I established over five years ago or longer even. I started my first meditation course in 2006, and if I hadn’t been involved in mindfulness practise throughout my career, I am not sure I would be sitting where I am today.

What started with an interest in Buddhist philosophy and personal development, turned into a life saver on a few occasions over the years. For that, I want to be thankful.

Hence, as I announced this week, I am joining Moment Pebble to support the start-up idea of bringing micro-moments to the workplace or your personal life for that matter. The idea is to carry a pebble in your pocket, disconnected from your phone or other electronic devices, which reminds you to be mindful.

The concept of carrying a pebble isn’t new. The concept of having one that lights up, that guides you, is. This product is the start of a long term ambition to eradicate stress and associated disorders as mentioned above, from anybody’s life. Studies show that a regular mindfulness practise reduce stress.

So this is a job, but it is also a mission. A vision to help others to cope better with mind challenges they might have, and combat those through mindful moments.

Any support on the journey is appreciated.

A no brainer, why health is so important for all of us

When I interviewed Payal Mehta on my podcast, the owner of Nirmana Life, I became very thoughtful. Years ago, I quit chain smoking and started looking after my health. I understood how and what to eat, and how to lose weight. As a matter of fact, I lost almost 10 kg at one point, a great achievement.

Yet, when it comes to the ‘doctor’ kind of things, it is a bit different. I am not a doctor, I don’t understand all the ins and outs, but I understood what Payal tried to tell us in the podcast, Stories of Success.

We are all living a lot longer, however we all have more chronic illnesses. So whilst our quantity of life goes up, the quality of life might go down. And the challenge we have is that our Western medicine isn’t geared up to treat chronic illnesses, but it is more geared towards dealing with acute illnesses. Chronic illnesses are better treated with traditional medicine and on a preventative basis, as well as holistically looking at your physical, mental and spiritual health.

Whilst of course there are several factors influencing this, and some of those conclusions might be wrong for some people as everyone is different (please note, I am not a doctor or in the medical profession), the overall trend is quite clear. We are damaging our bodies, our minds by overworking, under exercising, not sleeping enough or have enough quality sleep; and we are trying to fix problems with our bodies through quick fixes, or by ignoring our body signals. That is true for physical but also very much so for mental health.

In my opinion, we cannot continue the way we are working and living throughout the 21st century without ruining our bodies, mental health and of course our productivity. Again, this is where the work I do on mindfulness and productivity comes in. An area I am committed to with my latest courses and assignments, projects and ideas. More about that soon, as I just got qualified as a WorkplaceMT Mindfulness at Work Trainer.

How do we stay healthy?

Payal suggests that 90% is down to lifestyle and environmental factors. That is huge. Personally, I exercise enough, but do I eat the right food?

To have a healthy lifestyle, we need to look at the following 5 areas, she suggests:

  • Food: How and what we eat.
  • Movement: How much we move, and what we do to exercise.
  • Sleep: How we sleep and what we do before sleep.
  • Stress: How we manage stress and mental health.
  • Love: Purpose of life and social interaction.

Balancing all this and looking after yourself will result in a successful life.

Are you doing the maths?
Are you on track?

The other principle she explains is Psycho Neuroendo Immunology. It looks at the influence of psychology on your health, e.g. how your thoughts influence your brain and chemistry; this then starts to influences your hormone production and changes in your cellular level; from there are influences on your physical health. Most of the thoughts are on a subconscious level, and research is in its infancy; however, we agree the concept isn’t new, ‘we are who we think’, which is what Buddha said many years ago.

In conclusion, I learned a lot which I already apply to my clients: There is a holistic goal, and that is true for your work, and life, and health is just one small but super important part of it.

Maybe we start focusing more on our health as this will have a positive impact on everything else you do, including your productivity.

Feel free to reach out and discuss a way to look at it holistically.

Stay well,
Volker

What is your agenda 2020? How can Coaching help you?

For those of us that have been around for a while, you might remember the EU member states agreeing on the agenda 2020, looking at principles, priorities and approaches for their youth policy strategy. Now, with the year coming to an end, you should think about what your agenda is for 2020, and how coaching might benefit your strategy.

Agenda 2020

I have been involved in personal development since the early naughties, gaining a Master Practitioner in NLP in 2003 and subsequently dismissing EQ (Emotional Intelligence) as a fad in 2004 during my MBA thesis. I thought both approaches were common sense, being aware of yourself, striving for being better and having a growth mindset. Always giving your best and defining your goals, reviewing them and making plans. This, as I know now, looking back at 15 years working in a corporate career and with technology start ups, isn’t the case. People don’t apply common sense, not every manager is emotional aware, and yes, I have seen printers and fax machines being thrown through the office. It is time to understand what the workplace really needs!

Hence, after coaching teams, executives and advising businesses and boards on strategic positioning and outcomes for over 10 years, I now want to dedicate 100% of my time doing just that. That’s my agenda 2020. Being there to help leaders to achieve more, increase the ROI by developing executives in their career, leadership qualities and helping them to improve the output of their teams.

With the rise of mental health awareness, we are more mindful and aware of both emotions and our mental state. Therefore ‘Emotional Awareness’ starts with you. Whilst you might never be able to 100% control yourself, there are ways to do so most of the time. It all starts with self awareness and spreads out to awareness of others, teams, managers and subordinates. You will soon find that EQ gives you a choice of how to react to situations and how to approach the next steps in your life – whether that is your career or your personal goals.

In the last few years, the term mindfulness comes up more often. Originated somewhere amongst Buddhist meditation, Emotional Intelligence and Yoga, the principles of mindfulness help in the workplace. Science proves that the use of meditation changes your brain in a way that you are more logical thinking, make better decisions and have less of an emotional response. In my opinion, the theories of EQ and Mindfulness are merging to something I like to call the ‘New Mindfulness’.

We are living in times where there is information overload. We don’t get to spend enough time with our families, the work-life or life-life balance is missing, and we are out of sync with ourselves. On the back of that we see an increase in mental health problems, and stress related illnesses. However, there is a cure: new mindfulness can combat all that and more, making you better at deciding what to think.

I recently published my already best selling book Principles for Success, which amongst the principles list mindfulness and EQ. This is based on my podcast, where I interview high performers, CEO and executive coaches, leadership experts, and successful people about what they do differently and how they became successful. My compulsory question is ‘how do you define success’, and the answers are very subjective. But this is the same if I asked you, how your agenda 2020 is looking like?

What is on your agenda for next year? What are your plans, goals and objectives? Which actions are you taking to achieve those? Who holds you accountable for it?

In order to implement mindfulness in organisations, to drive EQ adoption and change the culture in your company, we need to talk about coaching. From the top down, executive coaching, team coaching and goal as well as value alignment. This is not a quick fix but a fundamental company change. And if you prefer, call it leadership skill training, or strategic board advisory, as that is where it starts. But it is worth it. Change Management. The benefits of engagement from your teams are well worth the time and effort you put in.

I often get asked why or if coaching helps. And you can do the google search yourself, but the general consensus is what I see with my clients. The outside in perspective, being able to be a sounding board, and listening deep into what is going on under the surface. A coach asks the right questions and distils the information needed to bring on change. A coach challenges you, and makes you do the work, holding you accountable for your goals, strategy and objectives. We are here to support you on your way, having those difficult discussions that result in you performing better, whether that is at work or at home, your life.

How about gaining back the work-life balance and getting your career back on track? Increasing your self esteem, and gain the confidence that propels you towards your goals. Identify your strengths, so you can play towards them. Build a team that compliments each other, so you can delegate more, and trust them more too. We are here to maximise your potential and bring your team to the next level.

If you are interested in finding out more or would like a no obligation chat, please contact me on volker@ballueder.com

All the best for 2020 and beyond!

d:pulse – the new digital must-attend event in Europe!

You have to admit that flying to Zurich to a conference from London, staying over night, has to be a good conference, right? A conference that adds value to a coach and consultant. So when my friends, Frank and Christian, invited me to join them in Zurich for d:pulse, I was on fire. They have built dmexco, brought the industry together a few times, and just understand the concept of good conferencing, adding value and getting the right people on board.

So there I was, and admittedly, not knowing who Sven Hannawald was, he started the conference talking about burn-out, life-life balance and taking breaks. I thought I was on a personal development conference for a moment, as the multi Olympia winner talked about his struggle with mental health, performance and not being able to take a break. He spoke to what I preach, and that at a digital conference. It reiterated my point about the industry having to come closer together to not overwork people and look after each other. Besides us being a billion dollar industry, we are still a close knit team, and we have to work together to make it a sustainable industry not only from a money perspective, but from a people perspective too.

Throughout the day it was nice to see that brands like Lufthansa or Deutsche Bank embracing new technologies, Discovery mentioning how TV is changing, and I saw attempts to take the execution of technology in-house. Companies start trying things, but also admit that they don’t have the specialists in house. Technology is still a grey area for some, or at least they understand it strategically but not from an execution or operational point of view. No surprise to find a lot of consulting friends in the audience, seeing opportunity to help bigger brands on their journey.

Emotional bonding with brands is key. Whilst Deutsche admitted that in their presentation, a millennial social media company, Visual Statements, showcases emotions and how this impacts social media campaigns. All around data analysis, they test concepts on social which then inform them which products should be produced for brick and mortar stores. Throughout every presentation was a trail of data, data analysis and how they can inform decisions.

Emotions were of course also mentioned by Unruly who have looked at different meanings of gestures and how certain advertising resonates with different countries for many years (see picture). Again, their data plus the ability to change the ads according to audience, deliver a real difference.

I enjoyed the conference. New and old mingled, GenZ, Millennials and people like me ;-), the industry seems to rejuvenate itself, looking at new topics, being more experimental. All captured by the organisers in a fantastic event in Zurich. What is not to like?

And of course, Sir Martin was there. He was relaxed, talked about the industry and about how things will de-consolidate. He also made the point about content that is data driven and digital being the way forward. Take it from a man who knows, and one sentence will stick in my mind. He said, given the US media industry is 20 trillion dollars vs. 3 trillion in the UK, an hour in the US would make him 7 times more effective. I like his thinking!

In case you attended the event, let me know what you think. If you didn’t, make sure you head over to the d:pulse website and register for the next event. This is a conference that will be the must-attend event in years to come.

Thanks!