Tag: mental health

Now is the time to reduce stress and increase employee engagement

The clocks have gone back, it’s dark earlier, and the weather is so miserable. On top of these predictable things, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air regarding a possible second lockdown and will it be deal or no deal with the EU? Many of us are worried about the future, and some are getting anxious about what it’ll mean for jobs and careers. Given October is Mental Health Awareness month, now is a good time for these matters to be on the forefront of ALL our minds.

Many people who have been working from home for months experience ‘isolation’, leading to some stress and sense of anxiety. This is a good time to act as a really good employer and to refocus on employee engagement. Afterall when engagement goes down, commitment wanes, innovation drops and inevitably profits stall. Downward spirals are dangerous for business health just as it is for mental health.

In June I posted an article about Mindfulness and Stress reduction, and I have found the article acts as a conversation starter when speaking with business people about mindfulness.

If I hadn’t had a daily practise of mindfulness for over 15 years, I could write these articles with integrity. I feel blessed in that I have learned to overcome anxiety and stress. I have never been gripped by depression, despite being made redundant many times, even though of course these events caused a lot of insecurity, anxiety and stress! For many people, even if they are still employed, what’s happening out there in society and the economy at the moment is probably worse than a normal redundancy (if there is such a thing) because of the heightened sense of uncertainty.

All this means is that now is a good time for employers to show true leadership and refocus on keeping their people engaged, working to take away any unfounded fears they have and helping them to cope with stress more effectively. My life’s motto is ‘if I fall down 7 times, I get up 8’, based on a Japanese proverb. But it isn’t necessarily for everyone as most people need a helping hand to get through difficult times.

I enjoy teaching meditation in companies. It nurtures self-awareness, which is a vital step towards being a more effective employee and a better leader. I help transform organisational cultures by embracing mindfulness in the workplace and looking after each other. I coach leaders to be more emotionally intelligent, and communicate better with their staff.

The Mindful Leader published an article about how stressful work can be. Of course there can be many unexpected and unpleasant things at work as well as what goes on at home and outside work. In these Covid plagued times these two domains are less and less separated. The transition from work to home has become more fluid for some or non-existent for others.

Viktor Frankl, the well-known holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, highlighted that there is a gap between stimulus and how we respond and as a result we have choices and so we can learn to decide how we respond to unpleasant stimuli. The greater our awareness if this, achievable through the practise of mindfulness, the more we can ‘manage’ your way out of stressful situations. This ‘gap’ is what George Mumford, author of The Mindful Athlete, calls being ‘in the zone’ and what others might call the eye of the hurricane or the quiet place in the storm.

I recently finished a 6 months programme with a company where confidence improved with the employees that attended my mindfulness at work course. Stress and anxiety were reduced, and we worked on loads of things that helped the team get through the crisis. Please check out the case study on my website.

As a mindfulness trainer for organisations and coach for individuals I can teach techniques that combat mental health issues. I work with individuals to change mindsets and see the world from a more helpful point of view, enabling them to get unstuck or lead better.

Contact me today for a free consultation on how I can help you to balance your employees’ wellbeing and teach your leaders the right skills to navigate these uncertain times. Or feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Ballueder Thinks (7) – Summer innit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!