Tag: Personal

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!


Chasing Daylight

I am touched. I don’t remember reading any book in 2 days, small or big, but the book “Chasing Daylight” by Eugene O’Kelly. If I say I loved the book, I don’t do it justice.

Eugene, ex CEO of KPMG, working 90 hour weeks, was diagnosed with cancer. His brain tumour gave him 100 days to live. 100 days for closure.

Why I loved reading this book is for various reasons. Firstly, I would love to have his job. I am passionate as he was about working for the company I work for, and I would love to have the position and responsibility to do what he did. Representing his company worldwide, taking care of major clients and working on strategic relationships with clients and within the organisation. I am passionate about business and loyal. I connect with Eugene on that level.

Secondly, this man has family. Two kids, a nice house, a wife “to dream of” – a partner in life, a pillar, a friend. I connect here too. I have family and a wife that gives me the support I need.

Thirdly, from a pure productivity point of view, I love what comes out of this book. Eugene, who surely must have read a lot of time management and productivity books, started organising his remaining days to find closure with friends and himself.

To summarise “his findings” he started to realise that maybe he should have worked less, or more balanced. More around his family, e.g. taking more time to enjoy events that were important to his family, like graduation days or sports days. He suggested that most organisations wouldn’t mind and most people understand that family is very important. However, most people measure the effectiveness in the workplace by time spend in the workplace and not productivity, e.g. what you actually work and accomplish over time.

He also suggested that he should have taken more breaks, more time out to reflect in order to make him more effective at work. Once he flew all the way to Sydney (from New York), to board a plane from Sydney to Melbourne, to sell his company into a big bank. He then flew back. He did that as this was the only possible time for him to meet that person. That is dedication, commitment and passion for his job. I would do the same.

Living in the now, almost becoming a very popular thing of people in my circle of friends at the moment, is something he realised was very important. He started meditating (more regularly) after being diagnosed to calm his mind, finding greater consciousness and to enjoy the NOW more intensely. He said that too many people were not willing to accept that the past cannot be changed and the future is not written yet. Only the now can be influenced by our actions. Only the now is something we can (to some extend) control.
He was lucky. He said it and other people have. He wasn’t taken from his family through a tragic accident. He had 100 days to say good bye.

I asked myself, what would I do? Then I stopped asking myself that question now, because I am healthy, grateful to be alive and having such a fantastic family and a great circle of friends. But I started a todo list of “people I want to close”. There are some friends out there, who I haven’t heard from years, and I believe it is time to write them a card or letter to let them know I love them.
I grew up finding it awkward to tell people I loved them, and it won’t be easy for me to say that to some people. But I will find the right words to find closure. Now. Not when it is too late or I run out of time.

I don’t want to think I didn’t spend enough time with my family. Whilst I can only influence my work life to a certain extent, I will make a conscious effort to be there for the family, and to enjoy every moment I have with them. Actually this is one of my resolutions for 2011. As I said to my wife the other day, looking at pictures of our 19 months old son, I hardly remember some of the time when he was so very little. And, this time never comes back.

I write this post just before the imminent arrival of son number 2. Eugene, in his book, said that he realised when his daughter was born, that some day he had to say good bye to her. It might not sound like the greatest revelation on earth. My dad mentioned a few years ago that when his last parent died that he now is the oldest of the family. Given natural circumstances he is next to go.
It is not about living life to the full, e.g. drinking and partying until you die. It is about living the moment, enjoying the moment, and making the most of the limited time we all have. It is about giving the attention to things that really matter, and to have sufficient breaks from it too. There is nothing wrong with having a passion for a job, or working long hours, if you can accommodate them around your family life.

Why are you doing that job? To feed the family. Is that so? I do my job to feed the family but foremost I love it. Like a hobby. Other people like skiing, I like working. I am blessed by spending most of my day doing what I enjoy a lot in life. But, and if I don’t take anything else from the book, I now also want to enjoy more intensely what is the greatest joy of my life: spending time with my friend, partner, and wife Jenny and my two sons. As when I have to say good bye, hoping I have the chance, the most precious thing they will remember is the time we spend together. The experience we went through. That is what make life worth living, doesn’t it?
It’s probably for another time, but years ago I had a conversation with a good friend (who should be on my list) about children. He said “Volker, if you don’t have kids, what are you living for”. Another friend recently said “You cannot control kids and you have to be lucky to have such a good relationship with them as my mum and I have. I don’t think I’d get my ROI.”

Whilst I understand the latter, I don’t agree. It is of course very difficult to logically make a decision to have kids. Your costs increase for both shopping and time. You have less time for yourself etc. etc. Some people might call that selfish. But, and I only understand that now, having kids, my first friend was right. Only kids give you back what you invest; only they make life worth living for. No matter, how they turn out one day. And of course, my boys will be the best and I will have the best relationship with time in the world. Wouldn’t I? I already achieved my ROI after 19 months. For both!

Chasing daylight – something we cannot influence is the time we have left. So let’s live the remainder more intense, more passionate and more loving than ever before.

And, time allowing, maybe I find the greater consciousness through meditation soon too. Time allowing of course.
Thanks Eugene for putting consciousness, time management, effectiveness and spirituality all into one book. Putting life back into life, isn’t it?

Have a great day.

Sunday Column (29)


I have to admit a few things.

a) I do wear a moustache 🙂 But it is for charity, Everyman – I will post a link soon so you can sponsor me. tache

b) I got so fed up of my old alarm clock, or new alarm clock, that I replaced it this weekend. Not that the new one is much better in regards to functionality or wake-up sound, but still better than the other. So job done … hopefully anyway.

On Monday/Tuesday I was still down with the man flu. No sympathy but it was much better on Wednesday. However, I needed to travel with work up North on Tuesday and it was interesting to see some other parts of the country.

Wednesday I met some old work colleagues. They do some great design work, so if you need a designer, please let me know. I am more than happy to put you in touch. Also, Friday I met another blast from the past – an ex colleague I worked with in Dubai about 3 years ago. It is interesting to see how things have moved on and changed. However, people stay the same and it is good to stay in touch!

I have a few thoughts about my blog here too. Once I finalised them, I let you know. I think I will reduce my activity here. I did already on Twitter, just because I have less time at the moment. Being a proud dad and working on a career is just enough at the moment.

On Saturday I had a nice massage and found out about my leg, e.g. why my knee hurts and my foot and my hip and….yes, it is just my age 😉 So I am planning to see an osteopath soon to get my muscles and ligaments sorted. Nothing to worry about however.

Saturday night was nice to have some friends around for drinks. My wife called it an “adult evening without the kids”. It was very enjoyable!

I spent a lot of time with the boy this weekend and tried to work as little as possible. It is really nice to have some time with him and see how much he is developing.

So a very well round up week.
Have a great week, enjoy the autumn weather…looks like we need to put the heating on soon.

Evening Thoughts

I am once again on my way from York to London on the train. The Internet connection is slow. I believe it is double the modem speed we were used to a few years ago, but nowadays we are much more used to a short download/loading time.

It was another day of meetings in our head office in York, the World Language Hub. It was a good day, good news, good decisions and a well worthwhile day. I am not sure if my boss reads this blog, I believe a few colleagues do now and then, but I have to say….if (and of course only if) things develop the way they should, then my choice to join this industry was right.

Whilst I have been working in the industry for over 2 years now, being on the other side (e.g. I moved from the exihibition business to the service provider side) was definitely the right one. So, it is good to sit here today and have my “evening thoughts” and think “I am happy, right choice”. And I am happy!

Maybe I am hard to please, therefore moan a lot, e.g. about the weather, my job, life etc, but deep down, I am very happy with what I have. You, who have followed this blog, it has come a long way to almost a diary with very personal views.

My Buddhist approach to life, see www.balamadana.com, with its blog, paired with my constant drive to improve my work, life and work life and its work life balance, has come a long way too. I trust in myself and my mentors that in a few years time I am going to refer back to this blog entry and say, “these are the days when I just started being who I set out to become”.

If it ever comes true, we shall see.

Enjoy your night, I try to reach out to you whereever you are.

Love and Kindness,

Re-cap or why I am so quiet – please forgive me.

What has happened? Volker? You still there??

Yes, I am still there. What should I say. I moved house, do DIY (if the wife lets me) 🙂 and been busy at work. Speaking at SES Hamburg next week, visiting an event in London, moving offices. Then up to our HQ in York, another wedding, some work for my coaching business and so on.

It has been busy and apologies for canceling private appointments, not watching or being interested in the Euro2008 and being almost vanished from Earth. Please forgive me to have so much me time!

However, it will all be better soon. We will send you all an invite (one at a time) to share some lovely German sausages from our BBQ in the garden soon. As promised, we will not leave you out.

Also, I promise to write more frequently again.

Speak soon.

You know where to find me.

what makes us happy

what does make us happy – i was wondering tonight when i got an email from a dear friend, that no matter how stressed we seem, how wonderful work can be, how awful life could be…if you are touched by a friend, his/her story, his/her love – that really takes the pressure off and you feel happy.

if you have a good friend, a boy/girl friend, a partner/wife/husband, children, pets and they “touch” you, e.g they hug you or send you their love, that is what makes you happy. they send you positive energy.

real love, the purpose of life, not money or material goods make us happy!

It is the inner peace and the strengths that comes from within that makes you happy and perform. The love that radiates from your heart or your friends’ hearts into yours. That is what makes you happy and in return ready to perform the tasks you need to do.

Thank you for touching me tonight.

your friend!

Monday Morning Thoughts

What a weekend. First ever my wife knew in advance that she was not working. So we both enjoyed a good bottle of vino on Friday, another really good one on Saturday and good food all weekend. Really relaxing weekend. I went to the gym too!

However, thanks to our noisy neighbours downstairs who were supposed to (be) move(d) out this month, we did not get as much rest as we were hoping for. I left at 5.45 this morning and sit on a train to York, HQ of the company I work for.

So I am now sitting on the train. I did finish a part of my essay last night and realized that it is alsmost an essay itself. With close to 2,000 words I might just publish it on its own. I keep you posted.

On Saturday we found out that the chain for our house is complete – ergo we might be moving as early as June. That is much quicker than we had ever imagined. We try not to get over excited but also we try to make plans on furniture. Disagreements, however, overall Jenny and I have similar tastes.

Latter is a good practise of patience. Something I desperately need and want to learn. In a Buddhist / spiritual sense as well as  in a work sense. Often I have this feeling that things need to be complete before I actually started them. Since this is not possible, I am learning to more categorize and prioritise things. That way I am practising patience too.

Have a good week.

another week – personal recap


7 am on a Saturday morning and Ballueder just can’t sleep. I came home last night and instead of going to the gym I had a nice pizza, too much wine and was knocked out on the couch not later than 10 pm I think. Made it to bed around 11 and woke up at 7.

What has happened in my personal life the last few weeks/months? As you know I started my new job in December, just realising that it has been 4 months. The first job I truly enjoy. It not only challenges me, but I also take on responsibilities and work in my most favourite industry.

Then, Jen gave up her job and now started her new one back in London. She loves it so far too and we even go to work together in the mornings. And, she had her first real “Friday night”, e.g. she never was off at weekends before on a regular basis. Welcome to the real world. So that is all good.

What else? I sold my bench, my cooker and about to sell my computer desk. Things must go before we move. We move? Yes, we put in an offer for a house and I hope my current landlady does not read that. Looks like the paperwork should be coming through shortly and we should be able to close the chain this coming week with survey and solicitor work going ahead. We also looked for furniture and discovered that we both have similar taste. Och well, at least I do not mind my wife’s expensive furniture taste ,-) We shall see where we have to compromise. Just mentioning the word IKEA drives her mad. Sorry honey ,-)  So moving date will be sometime June/July we hope.

Personal life: as far as there is one. I went back to the gym. Weights during lunch and cardio at the weekend. Is it going well – to be honest not really! I just have too much on and feel too tired. Then again I cannot sleep. I will need to work more on meditation and spiritual practises in order to gain more energy and start using my little spare time more efficiently. E.g. I still need to catch up on a few books I want to integrate in my essay and work with O and M on some ideas for my essay too. Who knows what is going to happen.

Friends – they are there and we had a great Easter. Jenny made a fab roast and I was very impressed. We will be at a wedding in 2 weeks time to catch up with friends from all over the country, so that will be great just to see everyone and go shopping in Glasgow. The latter one is worthwhile the trip, and of course the wedding!

Homepage: yes, we got a new one. www.ballueder.co.uk is now officially registered and does replace ballueder.de

That is about all.

Plans for the weekend: sleeping if I can. Gym of course. Ironing. Fondue and a great CabSav (£25), paperwork for the house.