Tag: parents

Sunday Column (484)

Easter is over. I don’t really enjoy Easter generally, and this one was just miserable weather wise and being a non-believer, it doesn’t have any meaning for me. Unlike Christmas, which for me marks the end of the year with a new beginning. Besides Easter was far too early this year. And it was raining for the most of it this year. Anyway, it is over and I look forward to summer – if it ever comes. We did have a few great days last week, so fingers crossed this will continue. The car needs a proper wash and the garden some doing too.

Life moved on this week, things come and go, and opportunties come and go. I am a bit fed up but enjoy the moment, the contract work I am doing and the time I can spend with the boys. I had to take a day off this week feeling under the weather, and have a few days off next week to spend with the boys whilst the wife is back at work. Life is in constant change. Let’s see what the next week brings.

One day this week it was nice to be on the train coming home in daylight, after 7 pm. It was actually very nice, as the sun was setting, a beautiful light and a calmness. The train was a bit emptier than usual, as a lot of people were still on Easter holidays I assume. It was one of those nights, where the mood from nature took over, I had little to catch up on and just relaxed. I guess it was almost an enjoyable train journey where I tried out a new app I downloaded, called Subliminal. One can choose different themes of underlying, subliminal, messages like ‘attracting opportunities’ or ‘attracting a male/female’ or ‘being more confident’. The messaging cannot be heard but are within the music and tunes. Really weird, but I was keen on trying it out for a month before subscribing. It reminds me of ‘alpha waves’ I used to listen to in order to concentrate better when I was at uni. Not sure that got me the good degrees, but maybe it helped. Love the idea of subliminal messaging, and tunes to relax and perform better. The ways our brain works, the law of attraction (LOA).

I am reading this book at the moment called ‘Brain Chains’ (BrainChains: Your thinking brain explained in simple terms. Full of practical tools, tips and tricks to improve your efficiency, creativity and … email, social media, lack of sleep and stress) and it is highly fascinating. It looks at how our brain works and how we are able to influence how it works. E.g. the way we structure our day and life, with always checking our phone for emails and messages, the whole information overload, does have an impact on how our brain performs. And some tasks are just not made for our brains either, multitasking is a big no-go. We have less of a disconnected life and less of a relaxed life, we chill out less often. Reading this book, I am trying to consciously change some of my daily routines to ensue my brain capacity is actually increasing rather than decreasing. That goes in line with the above subliminal messaging. We must use science to improve what we are doing and how we are doing things, in a way to constantly better ourselves. I couldn’t sit still for a moment, could I 🙂 And, as you know, I am doing the same with sleep, which again has a huge impact on brain performance.

People can think what they want whether exercise is good if you feel under the weather. On Thursday morning I went for a 7.5K run after going to bed with a hot tottie at 8:30 pm the night before. And I had energy. So much energy and felt so good, almost a spring in my step all day. Of course it wore off during the day and as daily things take over, this is just the way it goes. But spring must be in the air, and running ‘away’ my virus seems to work. Onwards and upwards.

Then my parents came for a ‘second Easter’ if you like. So besides the usual wine shipment they brought sweets and stayed a couple days longer, e.g. they are still here at time of publishing. It is nice to get everyone together and exchange ideas, see the kids spend time with the grandparents and have a good time. Good food, enjoying the moment and making the most of the time we have.

I am a bit sentimental this week, not sure if that’s due to the weather, or just the general mood. It feels we have been stuck in a world for the past 2 months now that could be worth living for, yet isn’t sustainable long run. And the learning from that is amazing, interesting, scary and relevant all together.

Where next?


Sunday Column (447)

The running event is done. My knee is healing. Ibuprofen consumption went up and the sports massage yesterday morning released the tired muscles. I loved the event. I enjoyed feeling my body and feeling totally exhausted for days. On Monday I ‘treated’ myself to a glass of wine. After eight days of not drinking it was nice to have a glass. It didn’t make a difference of having it or not, that felt nice too.

I am determined. Determined to strengthen my body more systematically and more specifically to last longer in endurance events. Whether that is Spitfire 2018 or anything else, we shall see. This week I started on my training plan. The game is on. I am hooked, the challenge is on. Time to find my next wall.

Given I just turned 40, mid life crisis they say, it is more about finding myself. No, let me correct myself here. I am not finding myself. I am creating myself. This is true in all aspects of life. We are creating our own destiny by making decisions on what we eat and drink, how we bring up our children, what we choose to do. We are in charge and control of our lives. Yes, 40. Maybe it takes that long to realise which potential we have as a human being. Or it is because life becomes more systematic then. The experience kicks in? Whatever it is, life couldn’t be more exciting than this.

Then on Tuesday I was off to a Germany again. Another trip with lots of important meetings. The main one was the announcement of us (my company Rocket Fuel) selling to Sizmek. So I am now part of another company. This is my third merger/acquisition. That is how our industry works and how things turn out. I got flooded with messages what it means to me and at this point in time it is too early to tell. Usually it takes a couple months for things to align, for paperwork to get done. In the meantime we will discuss company structures, company synergies and determine who or what will have to change. Given we are very complimentary, I don’t fear for many jobs. That said, there will always be some churn, as this is what happens. A big event, and I am a bit proud to experience another exit. It is not for me to comment on any of this, so will leave the discussion here.

Life isn’t a constant. As of above, the event and the job, things are fluid. I was discussing this with a friend of mine earlier this week, and I have mentioned it here before. When growing up, as children, we always envisage that life will be similar to our parents’ life. I came from a good upbringing, mum and dad always had enough money, a bit extra and we had a good life, some holidays. Never anything flashy or extraordinary. I need to ask my parents if that was because they didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to. I assume it was a mix of both. Mum was always good in book keeping. And I guess that is what I do with my kids. Yes, I could get them their own iPad, but that feels like the wrong thing to do. They need to learn how to save up for one, and honestly, they are still too young anyway. What I am saying is that they need to learn values. Core values of being able to appreciate things in life.

However, my life is nothing like my parents life I don’t think – my dad had a secure job (teacher) and my job changes every 2 years (that’s on average 😉 ). I live in a high pace, high impact, London, work environment, and commute 1.5 hours each way. Dad drove to work and finished early afternoon. He was around in the afternoons and sometimes worked at night if he had to finish a lot of marking.

There was more stability in life for them. And I sometimes wonder if I am missing that? I cannot say I am not having a stable job or not enough opportunity. Of course, I am saying that my industry is more volatile and at the brink of consolidation (and has been for years). And having said that, I could not imagine to do the same job for the next 30 years. I love the buzz and change, and opportunity. Yet, it just isn’t like in the olden days. Plus we are having an overload of information. Our phones, social media, news. There is so much more noise out there, trying to influence us and taking focus away from what is really important in life: our family, our values and our health. Those are part of life’s system I am describing in my #BeBetter book. The underlying system, the stability, comes from there. And from the belief that things will always work out in the end, happen for a reason. And they do. Believe!

And many years from now, I will look back at my ‘40ies’ and think that life was great. I will have little regrets. Maybe a few but overall I am very happy. The regrets you have are compromises. Those are ok I find. One cannot connect the dots moving forward, but the dots will connect looking backwards. Never forget. Never stop believing.

Have an amazing life, and week!

Sunday Column (378)

A short week one might think. It started off pretty hectic. We moved seats in the office, changed desks and added desks and we also had to deliver Easter eggs. Yup, 1kg of chocolate Easter eggs to our clients. Hand delivered. That was fun.


Then, a friend and mentor had an accident which overshadowed the week a bit. It makes you think where the journey takes you, and why. You start reminiscing on the purpose of life. The familiar reader knows, you realise you should stop more often, and smell the roses. And that’s what I did on Tuesday. A spring festival at school, and a play at the Beavers. My eldest, who is not really enjoying plays too much, had to do three performances in a day. Pushing himself past his comfort zone. Very proud. Quality time.

One cannot but look forward. Not sure this sentence makes sense. We don’t have a choice but to accept what life throws at us. We pick it up. We leave it there. We ignore it, we take it on. We move on. Time is precious and can’t be stopped. So we must continue, like the hamster in the wheel, until we find a way to change….the wheel, the cage or the exercise.

And the same is true for Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels. We cannot stop the wheel. We cannot stop using planes or public transport. We mustn’t be afraid. As I said to a cabbie, whilst delivering above mentioned eggs, my philosophy is that when your time is up your time is up. He said, he had a lot of things still to do, and is far from ready to go. Neither am I. Far from it. But if I have to go, what choice do I have? And if there is an hourglass somewhere with my name on, I hope it has a lot of sand left. Fingers crossed.

Not wanting to go into more details of morbid stuff, but I had a virus that came out end of last week. Not that I am the only one: half the office and half the industry is having some kind of bug. It’s a nasty one, that seems to form different symptoms a day, so you never know if you have a stomach cramp one day or just feeling tired the other. Hence I couldn’t wait for a few days off over Easter. My parents came to visit, the weather is rainy, yet Spring is in town. As a matter of fact, we had a wonderful Friday in Nyman’s Garden. I smelled some roses.

I feel like I am accomplishing something, getting something done, things are moving forward.
I feel like life is moving forward, the wheel is turning.
I feel good.


Yet the virus slowed me down a bit too. I skipped some exercise sessions this week and cut down on a few kilometres running. Now catching up again. I feel pretty fit, so that’s good, with lots of energy to go and I will get things done. I must.

I keep looking forward. We made arrangements for holidays. We are discussing options to see people and I am still dreaming of the new car, which we won’t have for our trips to Scotland or Germany this year. And there might be a school reunion soon. 20 years since I graduated from high school.

In the meantime I enjoy the time off. Tuesday starts with a trip to the fatherland. I will be on the road again in the next couple of weeks. It’s good. Likewise it is good to stop. Reflect and smell my roses. Springs is here, and they are blossoming.

Love, peace and happiness from my corner of the world,

Sunday Column (346)

Starting the week with a day trip, whether to Paris or anywhere really, sets you up for the week. A little bit like a 5am routine for the day, a day trip to Europe is for your week. You feel energised and ready to take on the world. It is that feeling of accomplishment, the feeling of achievement. That’s why I enjoy doing what I am doing. That’s why I enjoy productivity, sales and leadership. Because you know you are the one moving the needle.

Of course, given it was a 15 hour day, it was tiring too 🙂 Yet it was a successful trip, and it is what I enjoy really.

So the rest of the week flew past. No punt intended. I noticed my 12K from the weekend, some early training for my Dawn Wall (see last week for context) exhausted me a bit more than anticipated. However, and this isn’t a moan about the man flu, but there are a few bugs going around. So far I have avoided to be off work or feel bad, but something seems to be lingering around for a few weeks. I am certain it all comes out, literally, given recent stories at school, when we break for half term tomorrow. Yet, with some more nice weather on the way, I am eager to do more training outside. Just difficult at 5 am as it is a bit dark still, so my 7.5K on Thursday on the treadmill was a pleasant ‘walk in the park’. Again, a feeling of achievement to be able to do your run first thing.

Another mile stone this week was our 8 year anniversary. Sometimes hard to believe that you can spend over 10 beautiful years together with as little fights as my wife and I have. Who would have guessed anyone would ever be able to cope with me for such a long period of time 😉 I guess that makes her extra special. My wife is a very special person and we have experienced so much together, ups and downs, yet it has been a wonderful time so far. And I am more than certain there are many more years to come. I love you Jenny.


On that note, one sometimes wonders if there is a higher force that sorts out your partner. We know people come into your life for a reason and people leave it for a reason, I mean not dying but entering your life, you learn/laugh/chat together, then they disappear forever. Some stay and some are your life time partner. Is that all down to chance? Why do some never find a perfect match?

I guess this is a philosophical question, similar to who do you meet at university and where do you find your first job. This can determine your whole career and 50 years ahead. The small things in life, the piece of chance, luck or destiny that shape your life. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Let’s not get sentimental…yet the picture above shows our new family partner. We picked him up on Friday – not really a replacement for Rosie, and it never can be, but my wife always had cats, and the last cat we had to re-home because of the dog. I am sure he will settle in fine, and the kids will love him.

The end of the week marked the start of half term. I was actually off from Friday! The kids needing the time off. So do I to be honest. It has been a long time since my last break with lots of changes since. So just before we really hit Q4 I am taking a week off. My parents arrived with lots of wine, filling up the shelves. Plus it gave us an opportunity, my wife and I, to celebrate mentioned anniversary. They are staying for a few days which gives the kids and us a great chance to spend some quality family time together.

As I grow older family time becomes more important. Not that work becomes less important, it is more that other things take priority. I am still working on my career, probably always will, but being able to see my kid’s harvest festival performance, being there when they need someone to talk to or just reading about the ‘burgling cat’ before going to work. Those precious moments are never there to return.

That is life. And I really loving it. I love to be in the middle of it, falling on my back, like a dog in the mud, and really enjoy life for the reason of love and friendships.

Buddha bless,

Sunday Column (280)

Here is the summary of my last weekend, as promised: We made it. We survived!
Not only did we go up the South Downs to fly a kite, we also went to a Birthday Party, had a picnic in the living room and played in the garden. Mummy can go away again 😉 They did miss mummy though and didn’t enjoy to only have daddy around but it was fine. Daddy enjoyed it.


And of course, we made it as a German team. We won it, the World Cup. Which is, after 24 years, a great effort. I couldn’t get the kids involved too much as the games were past their bedtime. Hopefully in 4 years time, them being 10 and 7, they can get more involved and time zone wise the games should be at a more kid friendly time, Russia being the host.

Also this week we (almost) reached another mile stone. My oldest finished reception. He will still have a couple of days next week but overall the year is done. Wind down. His first year in school is finished, and off into 1st year this autumn. How quickly do they grow up?! Isn’t it fantastic to see them learn, understand the world and make friends, coping with first challenges etc. I really enjoy it!

This weekend my parents came to visit. They brought lots of wine again, just to stock up the cellar 😉 I have reduced my wine/alcohol intake as I have been very focused on getting to the next level re fitness. With this in mind I bought a new bike, a road bike, on eBay. I believe I got a bargain on a Fausto Coppi Lombardia in my size (XXL) and what a beauty it is. Finishing the auction during the world cup final really helped me to get this at a decent price 🙂

I took it for a first spin early Thursday as I had to fix a puncture when it first arrived. Yet some adjustments needed and maybe a couple of new ball bearings. Future rides will show. But I love the need for speed. The riding on a road bike is different to a mountain bike. Different enjoyment. Still the same satisfaction…if not better.


My plan is to not only get fitter in terms of weight loss and muscle gain but also overall by increasing my physical activity by riding mountain bike as well as a road bike, latter also on my stationary bike stand during the winter. Running is still part of the fitness routine as it seems to loosen up my back a bit which gives me trouble during sleeping. However this seems to be improving too.

The only addition I now need is a pool to complete a triathlon from the comfort of my home. Maybe not. Let’s see if I manage a six pack by Christmas or not. The biggest restriction as it seems is time, whilst I believe running on the treadmill and being on the stationary bike, I can train late at night and/or in the morning. Onwards and upwards.

This really concludes a busy week. Yet the holiday season is kicking in and things at work seemed to slow down a bit. But this changed mid week again, and I can’t complain about being really busy again. But also a good time to get on top of a few things, admin and planning the months/quarters ahead.

Exciting times.

Have a fantastic week,

Sunday Column (109)

Another week that passed like crazy. I wonder if I am getting busier or if things just happen quicker. I spoke to a few people lately at the end of the week that didn’t remember what happened on Monday. Same here. I wonder if that is sustainable and healthy, and how the pace of work and life might have got worse. Wednesday for instance I worked from home as Rohan was due another scan (everything is ok!). Now, I still spend until 20.30 on the phone discussing work. Wow.

I am not complaining, I like what I am doing (Hello Boss 🙂 ) – it is more about the pace of life. I have two more blog post drafts, one about friendship, one about the life cycle and speed of life. It is all about managing the speed of change. And, it gets more difficult. Those who keep up will have a great career and life, the others might not have a great career but possibly a better life.

This weekend my parents came to visit their 4th grand child and I hardly got anything done. My Google Reader is overflowing, my twitter needs looking at and writing the blog post was a challenge. On the other hand I spent quality off line time with my friends from Vietnam, my parents and the family. What is more important?

Living the life, being up to date in both social media, personal blog, work and career or to have some off line time with the family. I believe it is a no brainer that family is most important. However, I couldn’t neglect my job either. I am trying to find a good balance. Given my situation, I am most probably much busier at both ends of the spectrum: work and life. But I enjoy it, it challenges me, and I am learning every day. That in return means that in a few months or years, I might be better to cope with more stress and strain than peers that didn’t have a similar experience.

Now, all I am doing is one feed a night. Other dads do two or three (and some don’t do any). I tried more at the weekend, and I find it difficult to cope (even without having lots of wine). Life is just moving so quickly. Also, coming back to my earlier point, I know of people who quit Facebook to not have the need to keep up to date with it. I was contemplating it but came to the conclusion that I cannot do it. My wife regularly de-installs and re-installs the Facebook app on her iPhone. I know exactly what she is thinking. Working in the industry I wouldn’t want to give it up. But what if after Facebook, Twitter and my blog there is more coming. Yes it is all out of choice but how much can we keep up with?

My dad just mentioned to me last night that for him, being 68, a smart phone or an iPad is nothing he is interested in. That is too much to get used to and if his desktop ever gives up, it will be a small laptop replacing it. For him it is even too much to think he could be connected via mobiles/smart phones all the time.

I sometime envy him. I sometimes look at my grandads diary from the 1930ies when he went on the Walz. That is after an apprenticeship a carpenter goes away from home to work at different projects. He took a bus, sat in the sun, having a beer, doing some work and had a good time. Writing a postcard or a letter home, forgot to send it for days, wondering if mum was worried…..

What would he have thought if today all he had to do is update his Facebook status, send his mum a text or email whilst tweeting about the good old life he had. Don’t get me wrong, he of course had stress and strain, but it was different. Less external I would have thought, more coming from within. I got calls before because I didn’t update my Facebook status for a day. The world has changed……

I leave you with those thoughts and hope you have a great week!


Sunday Column (58)

Tired – and I have said that for years – really sums up this week. Switzerland left us very tired with sleepless nights. We tried catching up this week. My busy work schedule resulted in me getting tired too, e.g. on Thursday at 6pm I was just totally tired.

Good news is that Colin is getting better. He doesn’t have an ear infection but a virus infection that might have looked like an ear infection last weekend. The comment of a doctor in the UK, after seeing the drugs we got in Switzerland, was “where did you get those, you would have never got them in the UK“.

Now, that makes me think. Think about what I have been thinking for a while, having been in London for almost 6 years and the UK for 9 years. Should I stay or should I go? This is a fundamental question, and no question that I would answer within the next year or so.

But let’s look at it realistically:
– Health care: I believe that other countries, including Switzerland & Germany have a better health system
– School system: I could find a good school in the UK but have to pay for it.
– Job: I earn well but pay high prices in London. If I moved away from London, I earn less, pay less, and possibly have fewer career prospectives (not necessarily). But would I consider a life in the UK outside London?
– Weather: After 6 months of rain, snow, constant heating and many bugs, I could imagine living somewhere where the average temperature is around 20 degrees.
– Living standard: housing in Switzerland & Germany and many places are just more solid. Of course some countries re-built their houses after the 2nd world war, whilst Britain still has many 100 year old houses. Still, whilst here they still talk about some energy efficiency, other countries are far more advanced.

Now, this might sound like a moan but it isn’t. It is German honesty. I get accused a lot of being negative, but I am not. Actually I am a very positive person. However, I realistically look at my current living standard, working hours, expectations, surroundings and what would be best for my family too.

There is no doubt I will be in the UK for another 3 years, job wise and some personal reasons, however there will be the point when we need to make a decision. And, that would be when the wee man goes to school.

Would Germany make me happy? I doubt it. I don’t think I want to go back to Germany, and if of any places there, it would have to be Munich – high living standard, work-life balance but also high prices and a big town.

Career wise Hongkong or Singapore could be of interest. I have never been, but living quality seems to be not as good. Then maybe Sydney or New Zealand. Of which both might be too laid back for me, or as a friend said “these countries are not fast enough for you, Volker“. Who knows?

America – there is an idea. But comparing living standards, health and school systems with the UK, I’d rather stay. So maybe Canada, but the weather is just a bit colder than 20 degrees. I think, and that is without consulting my wife, that Sydney, Vancouver, Munich or Wellington seem to be the next possible places to live. But who knows what happens in the next 3 years, ey?

So finally I got a topic I could write about this week. Guess I had time to relax this weekend. My parents were over from Germany and we had a fantastic time. Happy Easter by the way 🙂

We went down to Tonbridge and Tudely to see the Chagall windows. A nice trip for an Easter break. The weather wasn’t fantastic but ok. we had some rain showers. However, it is great to see the grand parents to see their boy and it was good to see my parents. Sometimes they are just too far away.

Have a good rest bank holiday weekend and a good and short week.

Volker & Family

Sunday Column (19)


This week’s column might be a bit shorter. Purely because this week was my first week off since I got made redundant a few weeks ago. I had in total about 20 meetings with recruitment consultants, friends, companies and quite a few interviews amongst them. At the end, I took an offer from a company that will focus on the area I have been working on, heading their Business Development efforts. I will start with them as early as next week and finalised everything early this week. Watch my Linkedin Profile for the update on where I am going if you haven’t already found out 🙂

I am very much looking forward going back to work. Whilst it means to leave the boy at home with the wife and not seeing him as much, I might get away with changing nappies and feeding him during the day. Might mean more night shifts 🙁 Anyways, I love my job, working and my career. So cannot wait to dig my heels in again and get going!

With the decision being made on Monday this week, I didn’t do much the rest of the week. I tried getting a blackberry for my private account but need to wait 2 months in order to get a better deal as my contract runs out then. So I have to be patient. My wife is glad me not checking my emails all the time but I have to say that I am a bit addicted to it.

In the anticipation of the arrival of my parents for the weekend and my mother in law for early next week, we managed to clean and tidy the house. We got so many presents and cards and will send out individual thank you cards over the next weeks. However, we are very grateful for all the generosity we encountered and the love we received on behalf of our boy. It has been truly amazing!

Regarding nappies: we had to buy a 2nd bin for outside. With foxes being around and bin bags not being an option, we are now one of the few houses having two bins. And, that means our take aways we had this week could all go into the bin too 🙂 We have been lazy cooking and lazy doing anything, really taking time with the boy this week. It is our holiday really – just with less sleep.

On Thursday I met a friend I haven’t seen for a while. It was good to catch up with her and thank you for coming all the way to Beckenham in order to meet us. She now lives in Chicago and it has been a while. Time always seems to fly and I would have enjoyed to have her for diner and a few drinks as well, but her time was limited too. I guess I need to fly to Chicago sometime.

Thursday night I went out with my friend from Tai Chi, recovered Friday and my parents arrived just after lunch. They brought nice “Knochenschinken” and white asparagus. A typical German meal I didn’t have for a while. So enjoyed that.

The weekend passed quickly so far. My mother in law arrived on Sunday and we having a BBQ as we speak and I better get back to turn the chicken satay my wife made. We love our family and having them around for cooking, BBQs and days out. We went to see the Downs House of Charles Darwin yesterday. However, I cannot wait to get back in a routine without visitors, a job and I assume my wife is glad to see me out of the house again from next week.

Wish me all the luck, expertise and fun in my new job! I am looking forward to a new challenge!