Tag: politics

Ballueder Thinks (9) – Marathon Day

Thanks for stopping by.

At time of reading, if you read this when it is published, I am running around Hassocks, my local village. I committed to fundraise for the RNIB and run the London Marathon. Today is the day, and as you might have your first or second coffee, sitting in the warmth and reading the paper and my blog, I am out there clocking the miles.

RNIB

26.2 miles or 42.2 km.
The training has been intense. Falls, scared knees, early weekend mornings, and almost being hit by cars or motor bikes. And it is getting colder, wetter, windier, and it is dark.
I decided to not do an ultra marathon for now, and the main reason is time. Training for anything takes away a lot of weekend family time, even if you start running at 6 am and you are back by 9sih. You feel knackered afterwards. Half marathons seem to be a good distance, with not being too tired and doing them in about 2 hours. I also want to run more with the local people too, maybe I find someone else who is crazy enough to train for something bigger.

Anyway, I have done it, or hopefully have done it, and thank you for your support. I guess you read on my Instagram feed whether I succeeded.

Please acknowledge my efforts by donating to the RNIB via my page. I am thanking you for it.

Did you know 93% of blind and partially sighted people can see something? And that there are over 200 eye conditions?

Let me fill you into other things that are going on in my life:

At the time I started writing this post, I am a bit down. When I say down, I mean ‘too much going on’, ‘overwhelmed’. I spend the morning sorting things out for one company, admin, processes, operations etc. I enjoy that kind of work, and knew I had a longer lunch break. A lovely sunny day, lunch with the wife in our favourite spot, nap on the beach. Then another longer session for another company, doing similar things….until the early evening hours.

Life isn’t too bad you think, and despite a longer lunch break I still clocked 7 hours of work. Early starts, late finish, longer breaks. The beauty of working for yourself, and having clients that don’t care when you work, as long as the results come in. And they do I might say.

I shouldn’t and I am not complaining, I got work, and I got enough atm. That is great, and I also announced a new partnership recently and will do more work in the consulting space in the near future. But, it is a lot of work whilst juggling family, being home all the time, and of course promoting yourself and running a marathon. People often forget the impact all those things have on your life. Hence, I always suggest to the people I work with to take a step back, reflect and take stock. Reevaluate what you are doing, and how and why you are doing it.

I love making my own decisions, not being bound by company politics, but I do miss the office banter, the connection to a company. Yet over time, that all comes regardless. As a freelancer, however, you can decide how you work, and which projects you prioritise. That depends on pay, urgency of course, commit and family. Flexibility I suppose is key, but also being organised and determined. And I am certainly that.

On a Tim Ferris podcast the other day, someone said that he teaches his children to understand that there is nothing on the other side of fear. Having said that, I got myself a T-Shirt saying, everything is on the other side of fear. It’s probably the same saying from a different angle. You cannot go wrong by conquering fear and going for something. You cannot loose, fear should not hold you back, you have everything to play for. I guess that’s what it is. And, on a recent podcast I recorded, the ladies I interviewed suggested that lockdown made us go back to our roots, and we created life, rather than reacted and tried to thrive too much. The episode goes live in a couple of weeks, so make sure you listen in. We cover resilience and stress management, from various angles and opinions. Definitely worth your time.

My mission over the next 6 months is to work more on personal development projects, or move more into strategy consulting. I just had a few opportunities come past me, for both objectives.. People often ask if I don’t know what I want, and I say I do. I am really good in coaching and enjoy strategy, but also working with people in sales, which is a combination of both: strategy and coaching. Anyway, the future will be interesting, no doubt. Combining those two areas as much as I can is the ideal case scenario. Let’s see….

On the coaching side of things, I want to deliver more workshops on resilience, and meditation, mindfulness and stress management. There are so many ways you can utilise your skills and teach people how to become better. And that’s my mission and vision in life, despite my love for digital marketing. And, having said that, 😂 – I do love the data area I am just working in, and the companies I work for. The future is bright, let’s not fear it!

Now, to finish off, let’s talk about my marathon training. I never felt more ready for the big run today. My fall a couple of weeks ago is almost completely healed. I was shocked when it happened, afraid I couldn’t run the marathon, crying. I am ok with crying, out of shock, pain or whatever. Despite, I finished the run I was on, and almost got run over by a car, not being with it, being shocked a bit I suppose. Your mind changes, the body mind connecting is so key, and observing it, and understanding it, then counteracting it, is key. To resilience, stress management, and in my case survival. It’s a dangerous world out there. This is also why I need a break first before I embark on my next adventure.

When I signed up with the RNIB to run the London marathon for them this year, I didn’t know if it was going ahead. I knew it might not but I was determined to run it anyway. Now I run the virtual one, and another one next year or year after. Finally, running the London marathon. I cannot wait. I am in top shape, good form. I enjoy the long distance runs, endurance rather than speed. That’s me. Building up resilience to pain, to niggles, and being in the zone to survive and zoning out. Literally. Who knows why I enjoy that. But I always have done. I used to run 2 hours at University in Aberdeen, slow but for two hours, and I loved it, down the beach. No one measured distances then, or had a smart watch, but I reckon I did a few half marathons then too. In the end it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy yourself.

A few other things happened since I last wrote and I want to mention it, mainly to get help and input on alternative solutions. Evernote got a new update which totally wrecked my confidence in the app and my productivity system. When you cannot trust your trusted system, there is a problem. I am disappointed to see that an app releases such a buggy update and cannot fix things within a couple of weeks. I tried notion but I am not 100% sure that’s the best replacement. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know. One solution could be of course to have notion as one app for projects, and Evernote as an archive. Any ideas are welcome.

Then there was a water leak, just the day before the rain started, and the sun disappeared 🙂 A day without water. Not a big deal you think, yet for me it put things into perspective. I looked up a few stats and a huge amount of people (up to 35% I believe) are without toilet/sanitisation. And we complain if we cannot run the water tap or the dishwasher or washing machine for a day. I could go off on a rant about the privileges we have in the 1st world. Or so called 1st world, seeing what’s going on with Covid and Brexit in this country, you sometimes wonder. Trying to ignore politics has been a difficult task for me.

Watch this video explaining privilege which recently popped up in my newsfeed again:

Just by having a good education, being white and male, you seem to have a head start in life. You seem to be ‘privileged’ not by who you are and what you do, but because of the background you are from. I had a private healthcare appointment too, and this normally goes against my belief. Not that I don’t approve of private healthcare but it puts you in a position to be able to jump the queue. I always had that as a child and only recently went back to private healthcare in the UK. To see a specialist in the NHS for the problem I had would have been 40+ weeks. That’s almost a year. I appreciate Covid isn’t helping, but we cannot go on like this.

I personally believe that this country needs to change. Fundamentally change. Even the world. You cannot have people in power because of their background and education, a birth right. And those of us who are a minority, for whatever reason, are not accepted in society or left out. Just recently I had a longer discussion with an Indian born friend about that, who has lived in the UK, and has been a British citizen for over 20 years. He experienced discrimination. It’s a name, an origin or the colour of your skin. And this is so wrong. I cannot say this often enough, and hope that this will change – globally!

Enough about politics. You get me started on a topic you don’t want me to rant on.

As you finish this post, I am coming closer to the finish line too. Thanks again for your support, for this race, for the RNIB but also for my life, my career, my family.

Whoever you are who is reading this has a connection to me, and if you feel that it is strong enough, reach out and let me know. I love to connect, network, chat, be friends, share a pint, virtually or real.

And please, if you have a fiver to spare, please please donate to the RNIB. Thank you.

Have a wonderful rest weekend and weeks ahead. If you are interested in receiving a short newsletter on a monthly basis, please subscribe to it here. I share updates and great article on leadership and personal development.

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

Ballueder Thinks (6) – is it 2021 yet?

Hello again.

This post was started a few weeks ago, as I am reflecting on the first half +1 month of the year. Is it 2021 yet?

Whilst I am not someone who wishes time away, this has been an awful year so far.

I joked with the boys the other day, imagine you go to sleep and wake up, and it is 2021. The world is back to normal and Covid19 never happened. Now, discussing this with other people, there were those thoughts of sleeping pods, where you go in and time travel to the future. Why not?

We still don’t know if the virus was man-made, escaped a laboratory or if it was deliberately released. There are numerous accusations from the US to China, from UK to Russia, and the more I look at it, the more bored I get. Is this virus the result of a modern war fare, a new nuclear bomb, paired with ‘virus’ hacker attacks. Is that showcasing how world war 3 might look like? I am not sure, no one knows, and certainly I won’t. And if anyone in politics is reading this, I just want it to go away and have a more liberated life again. And I don’t give a toss about all those conspiracy theories quite frankly.

What came out of it for me? What did I learn?

I found work wasn’t too disruptive. But I am in working in a digital native industry, a lot of video conferencing and phone calls were the norm before the outbreak. Less face to face meetings are not too bad, and less of a commute too. That means, that we might see a decentralisation of the UK and other countries, as more people move to the country side? That would be good in terms of balancing house prices and all.

It was of course disruptive to my job. I managed, just, but a lot of people were out of their jobs, furloughed, or are still looking for their next adventure. Luckily I am a self starter – falling down 7 times, getting up 8 times – and I have pushed and pushed and hopefully will announce more contract work shortly. Do I still consider full time work? Yes, I wouldn’t not consider any options at the moment, but maybe that’s for another time. I also work on some other exciting ideas. So stay tuned, as always, there is never a dull moment in the Ballueder World.

Getting my hair done the other week was great. My first massage post lockdown was amazing. There are things I missed, and I am very grateful for having them back. And next week I am getting reflexology. My egg deliveries every two weeks are back, and enough delivery slots from Tesco.

But are we out of lockdown yet?

At time of writing, the PM announced that there will be less easing of restrictions, as the virus is spiking. Of course, look at the beaches and pubs, what do you expect? Why would a country suggest to start wearing face masks from a time in the future, if it is safer, it is safer now. Anyway…

There is a lot of talk about a second wave, and another lockdown. There is talk of changing measures. More face masks, more social distancing, but no restrictions going to the pub….our government, IMO, has failed massively in having a clear and concise strategy. I am more than disappointed with the Torries, and the way they handled the crisis. Again, I don’t like to get involved in politics, but it needs to be said.

When Boris first came to power, I hoped it might be ok, him as a CEO pulling the strings of very competent people. The problem is, the people around him are everything but competent, and Boris is directed by Dom Cummings. It makes me angry to see this country going down the hill, and IMO it will get worse with Brexit next year.

It’s like sitting in a car and driving down the road of 2020. As you start worrying about the wall ahead of you, let’s call it Brexit, the wheels of the car come off thanks to Covid. The driver is not able to control the car, and we are about to crash the car = country into the wall. I am frankly scared of that.

We are now in August. We are more than half way through the year. August is a quiet month, so from a work perspective, not much will happen. People are away, working from home or the garden, taking it a bit easier. I thought people would be working harder to make up from things missed during lockdown, but people are tired. I am tired. We need a break, recharge our batteries to recharge the country. That’s what it is.

I have been busy still, up to now, I revamped Ballueder Partners’ website, worked on my positioning, edited meditation recordings and so on. Never a dull moment. I have recorded videos, scheduled content on social media and written thoughts. I have been busy, and will take some time off soon. Even if it is just a day here and there.

To be honest, I have been taking a little bit of time off already. Here and there, a half day here, a day there. I will take more time off during August, as I am recharging. I already repositioned, and it is a constant change out there, and decision making is happening every day. Leadership, walking the talk, and making things happen are what we do. And opportunities are out there. The more I talk to people, the more opportunities I discover. I cannot sit still and do nothing, and I am always seeking to BeBetter.

That’s what I do I suppose. Or as Vishen from Mindvalley says, try to be better by 1% every single day. Just 1% better. That’s 365% in a year. If you can keep that up, you enter 2021 on a high, ready to conquer ‘your’ world.

There is something else to consider with Covid. And this nicely leads me on to some fundraising efforts.

As you might have seen, I am getting closer to the £2,000 for which I run the marathon distance in October – regardless if the London Marathon is on. If you haven’t donated yet, please do so here:

PLEASE DONATE FOR THE RNIB

I wanted to share some facts people might not be aware of, as we taking our sight for granted. Due to Covid19, and I have heard that from a few people that are blind and had difficult experiences:

  • 66% of blind and partially sighted feel less independent now, compared to before lockdown.
  • 80% said the way they shop for essentials has drastically changed, with the number of blind and partially sighted people who feel confident to go shopping independently, reducing by half.
  • 74% are very or quite concerned about getting access to food and 21% have had to ration food.

I have never been blind, and forbid this will ever happen. But if you think for a moment to socially distance in a shop where you are not sure where things are in the shelf, asking for help….. I’d be terrified. And it seem that this is true for people that are used to not seeing too. It must be hard not to go to work, not being independent enough to go to the shop and get what you want. What about bumping into people? The concern for food is even more worrying.

I want to support the RNIB for all of the above reasons!
The RNIB does such a fantastic job supporting those people. And I am committed to support the RNIB to support those in need.

That’s why I went for a gruelling run on Saturday morning; I went early to be fair, avoiding the above 20 degrees. I didn’t feel it and yet went longer than anticipated.

PLEASE DONATE FOR THE RNIB

And if the London Marathon gets postponed, I will run the marathon distance that weekend of the 3rd and 4th of October, and will try to raise even more money for next year. So please give generously.

They deserve it so badly. But I do need your help.

There is so much going on in my life, in anybody’s life. I spoke to someone earlier, that it’s been a weird year, obviously, and that we are all in the same boat. We will get through this and finish 2020 on a high. We must.

We also said that mental health is key for us to bounce back. Anxiety, Depression and other mental health issues would have flourished during Covid and lockdown, and this is scary to think. But the stats from the RNIB are probably true for a lot of other groups too.

Keep it positive, and keep the positive energy going. I am a firm believer that you fall down and get up again. Fall down 7 times, get up 8 times. My life’s motto. We will be alright in the end, and if we aren’t alright, isn’t ’ the end. Giving up is not an option.

That’s why I continue to work on my projects. My podcast is returning in September with a new logo. We are in season 4 and I start recording from next week. I am excited about the guests we lined up so far. People that can help you to make the most of the situation you are in. Coaches, Consultants, Health experts. I have them lined up and will keep you posted.

I am pumped. I am worried, but I am more pumped than worried. Because we, as a nation, as humankind will survive and get through this. Like I get through my marathon running and we will make things happen. Always.

With those words it’s time to stop.

Have a great August everyone,
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (50)

I promised some thoughts on our PM’s message. I am two ways about it. Given I am not a healthcare professional, it is hard to believe we might not go back to a ‘normal’ lifestyle until 4th of July, America’s independence day. Just saying.

But hey, what needs to be done, needs to be done. Most of us won’t go on holidays this summer, so work will hopefully pick up quickly from August. An article I shared this morning, from the FT, suggest it might be a quick return for the economy. Let’s hope so.

I am hopeful, however, that things will return quickly and enthusiastic about the new normal. It means more working from home, and potentially more opportunities but delivered differently – if that makes any sense. And, of course, I feel for hospitality and pubs, and the general public (which includes me) that cannot be in the pub when the sun is out – what happened to the Great British Summer? Safety, and protecting lives has to take priority. And that’s the right decision, no doubt.

Enough about politics. More rules in our household.

Similar to most parents I spoke to, kids are using the time in between studies, or should I say in between video games, to play video games. There isn’t enough home schooling material and more time is spent on devices. Unless you have a home schooling parent, but in our case my wife is back at work more often, and I am busy. Hence, I had to come up with a new structure of the work/school day to limit video gaming and make sure the overall aim of schooling and learning wouldn’t be cut too short. Let’s see how this goes.
It is very challenging to juggle it all, but we get through that. The oldest might be back to school as early as in 3 weeks time. Fingers crossed.

Below are a few impressions. We keep up our daily walks, enjoy the South Downs National Park, and good company. We are happy, which means a lot, and we are confident, which means a lot too. Life is good, given the circumstances, and we will get through this. Together!

Sunday Column (434)

Easter is over. We spend a lovely week in Germany where we met with lots of family and friends. We chilled, I really came down and relaxed. It was amazing. I was hoping to catch up on emails on the night before I went back to work but just was too involved in the family and too tired. That’s a good sign I think as I really detached from work. Result. And the boys were tired that night. A pizza, some wine and an early night for us, just after the boys hit the hay 😉 Travelling is exhaustive. I also picked up a bit of a tan, so I was told anyway.

Germany, my fatherland, but only one of two nationalities I hold. My relationship has changed a bit. It is a country in which I speak English with my family, feel less connected to and less understood. A nice and beautiful country where the standards of living seem higher than in other countries. But if you pull back the curtain, things are the same everywhere. Where is my home country now? Where do I feel home? I have had numerous discussions, and home is where your heart is. My heart, without a shadow of a doubt, is with my family. My boys. That’s where home is. Will it change again in the future? We shall see.

The future is more unknown than ever. A new general election was called. It won’t reverse Brexit but gives us a chance to change governments. I personally believe it will strengthen Theresa May’s position, catapult Corbyn out of the Labour lead. Then we reshuffle, have Brexit and a new election in 2022 or so. We shall see. We will master whatever is ahead of us. Politics. Oh, maybe Corbyn is underestimated and will make it. Wouldn’t that be fascinating?!

A note on driving in Germany or generally about driving. The speed, 120 miles/200 km per hour is fast. Yet it seems to work without too many accidents. People fill safety gaps I am leaving to the car in front of me, making it dangerous to drive. Yet still we survived but somewhat it doesn’t make sense. Maybe a good thing. But I enjoyed the freedom of driving as fast as I could. As of May the European governments will share a database of all drivers to prosecute beyond boundaries – something that hasn’t been done yet. Having said that, I think I would have had a few tickets. Fingers crossed I won’t 🙂

I also brought back some nice wine from Germany. Tax on alcohol is a lot lower, making it feasible to buy Australian wine or French wine at half the price compared to the UK. Also, just going shopping, taking me back to my childhood with a filled wallet, being able to buy all those sweets and crisps I enjoyed as a kid. Senses, particularly smell and taste, take me back to my childhood. Some things will never change. Just tasting the cherry lollipop I bought for the boys took me back to the doctor’s surgery where I got one after every visit. Strange, no?

In other news, there is a new Star Wars trailer which got my kids all excited. And me. They seem to be a lot more involved than me and understand more details of the movie and the personal relations of the characters than I do. Maybe I don’t concentrate hard enough? Or I am distracted, fall asleep or am less engaged. Great to see them identifying themselves with these stories which I think are brilliant material for thoughts on the future.

But I don’t want to get too sentimental. Life is great at the moment. It is changing, constantly, and busy and challenging. Just the way we want it.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world.

Volker

Sunday Column (393)

winning

Alright. This week was a weird one. The Brexit seems forgotten. The people that put us in the dilemma have resigned and left a mess behind. Great leadership to start something awful and then bail out. No surprise I always hated politics. I can be quite good at it though. However, in a work context, I don’t enjoy too much of it, but guess it is almost unavoidable. Change of strategy and politics lead to unwanted results sometime. It is what it is.

Networking is speciality of mine. I managed to add another 20 odd contacts to my LinkedIn profile, almost at 6,000 contacts now. Changing some settings and social distribution got me more attention. I enjoy playing around with social media, as a whole, and experience the uplift of attention. ‘Not a place without you knowing someone’, said my sales director the other day. He is right. And the majority of contacts are personal, not just added on LinkedIn for no reason. It gives me reach and one of my articles on LinkedIn got picked up by a Canadian publisher recently. Result.

I caught up with a few industry friends this week. Redundancies, he said, was common place in our industry. So many mergers, acquisitions, the best people get made redundant. Totally normal and one shouldn’t worry about it. Just in Cannes I managed to catch up with someone who has been made redundant four times. It used to be seen as failure, and probably still is, if you work in a different industry. In ours it doesn’t. Redundancy isn’t the same as being fired. So it’s all good, isn’t it?

winds-of-change

Why I am writing about it – because people I know have been affected. One speaks in the industry and discusses. I have done a lot of networking, lunches and meetings this week and it was one of many topic that came up. Our industry is a mess, sometimes, and is changing again. If 6 years ago I did one thing, I could do the same thing over again. Equally successful or better. We are coming full circle, it is fun. Yet when companies get sold, one duplicates talent, and within a year changes happen. That’s totally normal and we just come to accept it.

People I am selling to trust me. I have integrity. I am known. It is nice to see the influence I have and the change I can facilitate. However, most importantly I can help others to find a job, to have a career and moving to a better place. I am in no denial that this is my call. Yet, I have not figured out a way yet how to monetise it. Maybe I need to. In the meantime I try to help whoever I can and hope the favour is returned when I am in need.

As with other plans, I am working on some own ideas. Listening to a few podcast I am certain to be able to get my own business off the ground, or at least generate a passive income. Watch that space. Remember what I said last week, I am winning. It will happen.

Life is good I suppose. We are healthy. The kids are happy. I am writing this as we are crossing, once again, the viaduct before Haywards Heath. The landscape is touched by the evening sun, green and beautiful. What is there not to like.

viaduct

My life got awfully complex over the past few years and I wonder if it will ever feel normal or if it will always stay that hectic. I dunno. However, I do know that happiness, and my children, are a lot more important to me than anything ever was. And that’s what it is to protect. That is what to live for. Everything else has to take a back seat sometimes.

Like this weekend. Whilst my wife was off again, a well deserved break, we had another fantastic weekend together. I notice the stress getting to me and me being on edge. We managed Friday night with a take away pizza and I put two exhausted boys to bed early. Saturday we played by ear and had a nice day down the beach – Lancing – and Daddy fell asleep as soon as we got home. In the meantime we stopped by the garage and got a peek at the new motor we can collect later this week. Exciting times.

I think it is a success if we go through a day without having the TV on. Without parking the kids in front of a box. They played outside, won against me in football, played in the sand and ‘gravel’ from the patio extension. Diggers, monster trucks and stunt cars. They loved it and their imagination lead to cars being hid in the new bushes. Why not? That is what childhood is all about.

They were tired again. And we managed to have a chilled out weekend. They are at a great age to just get on with things. They make life worth living. Yet, I will be glad when the wifey is back home again. Maybe I am off next weekend in return 😉

Have a fantastic week with your loved ones. Remember why you do what you are doing. Remember you are winning.

Be well,
Volker

Sunday Column (322)

Exciting times. At time of publishing I will be networking with the international digital industry. In no other place than Rome. I haven’t been to Rome for a long time, yet probably don’t get a chance to see much either. Let’s see. Of course I report back next week.

Despite my hatred about the commute, the train had been on time once this week, I also enjoy the community of commuters. The chap that confirms the train is stopping at our station despite the wrong on-train announcements. The guys in the morning for the daily chit chat. Yet, the moment we get on the train it is “each to their own”. We get on with our things. Sleep. Reading. Writing blogs. Internet banking. Emails. Whatever is on the list that day.

A lot of ladies put their make up on and I am still debating whether I mind it or not. I suppose I am not too bothered, yet I wonder what people would say if I shaved on the train. Surely that wouldn’t be acceptable.

I get a lot of reading done on the train, yet this week was all about recovering. I had my first Kettlebell class which was more exhausting than I thought. Now I am trying to fit in a Kettlebell routine into my exercise plan, as I now have the garage free of stuff. My den. Yet my new shed is still not finished, so the overall project would have taken two weeks longer than anticipated. A bit annoying. Great craftsmanship yet no delivery on time.

As you know I have very high standards when it comes to customer service. And again, I was surprised twice this week. The first time that my insurance didn’t kick a fuss or made it extra difficult to repair my phone. So I got an exchange and will pay my excess, and the cheque arrived already too. Wow!

However, Apple of course wasn’t a problem. Their online chat was great helping me when I ran into problems restoring the phone. It is all set now, I hope anyway. Yet Vodafone once again managed to piss me off!

I contacted them on the 24th of April for a “copy of my contract”. They said they send a pdf which they didn’t. I called again on Saturday and they explained it takes 24 hours. Monday they told me I should email them, however it was on my file but delayed due to the weekend. The email team got back to me asking for security details and never got back to me after that. My tweets to VodafoneUK_Help rang through, then again another email and 10 days later I had my proof. WTF?? Seriously, that is rubbish.

Then two days later a call centre agent tries to upsell me on Vodafone. Sorry, but sort your sh* out and call me (I am sure you have my number) and apologise first, then offer me a deal and make sure I am not leaving you guys when my contract is up. And it is up very soon! I then, upon request, emailed them again with that story. Give me some free stuff and make me happy I said. Let’s see what they answer.

Why I am still getting annoyed at them? Because I am helpless and in no position to actually change their behaviour, yet I am dependent on what they tell me and how they treat me. And they can treat me however they like, can’t they? Maybe I should contact Watchdog or some kind of website or TV programme and really go after bad customer service. Whilst not trying to overlay my high standards on every thing, as otherwise I would get too frustrated, I do expect more respect from a brand like Vodafone. Guess not.

Another bad example of customer service
Another bad example of their customer “service”

Also this week I booked some time off. Plan is to go camping. Putting all those little things in the Amazon basket that we might not need, camping gadgets, is exciting. Will I enjoy it? Yes, I think so. It will get me out of my comfort zone and as long as the boys love it, I am sure I will. I just hope the dog is ‘out of’ season by then.

A catch up with a good friend and a great networking night left me a wee bit ropey on Thursday. A good night though. Some proper high level networking which is great. Being a bit tipsy definitely helps to chat, connect, and ‘speed date’.

Hey, and that was another week. As normal, the usual working hours cramped into less working days.

Last but not least Cameron won the election. Not a bad result, given all other leaders resigned. He seems to be our best choice currently, so let’s carry on for another 5 years and see.

Have a great week.
Volker

Sunday Column (211)

I am starting this post whilst sitting in bed. 8 pm on Wednesday. No, I am not ill but tired. Last night I had a good night out with a friend who I haven’t seen for a long time, came home for half 10 and thanks to an ill boy and another unsettled boy, I spent half the night awake. I was so shattered I worked from home on Wednesday. I am lucky I can do that, although I recently found out there is a legislative for it too, e.g. giving employees time for family and family matters. Anyhow, whilst writing I just took R into our bed, with temperature and a cough he wouldn’t settle by himself. Three sentences on and he is more or less asleep. Bliss.

Our weeks have been like that lately, I had the man flu, the kids are ill, musical beds….the joys of family. On Monday I was so tired I couldn’t even sleep. Needless to say I have done no exercise, no healthy eating, and haven’t had my weekly fast day either.
But I love the boys and I am glad I can be with them. Support the wife and when I am away from home I miss them. C is so sweet saying things like “I take your car down to the garden centre and buy blue flowers” or “mummy I like this bike, I must tell daddy to get it for my birthday”. This is so sweet, I get lots of attention and cuddles. However, if they just would sleep or let me sleep 🙁

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As always I am not too bothered. Anything that doesn’t kill us makes us harder. That is what the motivational quotes keep saying too. I have the feeling that a lot of people don’t understand me as they either don’t have kids or seem to ignore it more. I am just a bit touchy feeling, cry at sad movies and like people to understand. Even as a manager I am very open, as sales very honest. Trust, openness and integrity is key to my personality as well as my way of doing business. I think that is good. I am trying to make an effort to listen, understand and constantly improve myself. I am a winner…..at least I like to think so 😉 Nevertheless I am only at the beginning of a long journey.

Anyway. Swiftly moving on 🙂

Another big revelation was the government’s budget this week. More cuts. I normally don’t follow politics very closely but boy am I mad. They cut child benefits, they start cutting more stuff and the BBC’s calculator suggests I will be £1,700 worse off this year, making it almost 8K I have to earn more to have the same amount of money I had 2 years ago (this takes all cuts into consideration). No, my base salary hasn’t gone up by 8K and in a recession commission doesn’t seem to flow as frequently either. I don’t even want to mention inflation. Of course it is all my fault, but hey, this is crazy. I might compensate with commission working in sales, other people don’t. Any more cuts and I go crazy. Really, someone needs to stop those guys. And not as if the economy has gotten any better! Rant over!

2015. That’s the year of the next general election. Labour I say. Torries seem to stay in power for 5 years, ruin everything, then Labour got 15 years to turn it around again, and to improve it. Same pattern, different generation. 12 years in the UK taught me a lot. And then everyone (including myself in 2010) get fed up of Labour. Want Torries. Then….you know history. Isn’t that all crazy? I contacted the council to get residential parking in our street. Their response was that Hassocks is on the list of towns to review and they will be dealing with it but cannot give me a time line. Contact your local MP they suggest. I will.

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What else could I rant about 😉 Nothing, lots of positive things happened this week. I work closely with an app development team to save my sanity. What I mean is that I abandon my work phone and moved everything back to my private iPhone. However, an app called divide helps me separating work and life by opening up a system in a system, a screen with an interface for my work email, calendar etc. The app is a bit buggy, so I constantly provide the guys feedback. Actually loving it 🙂 a bit geeky, I know.

We got a motion sensor on the front door light. It annoys me coming home at night and the wife forgot to put the light on, or us forgetting to turn it off at night. So another job done. Then the landscape gardener came to get the patio laid but comes back post Easter to finalise it. Another big job done. The washing line will be up, and hopefully my man flu completely disappears in order for me to go back running. I am missing it.

It is a bit of a bug bear to have this cold for almost three weeks now. No running. No test ride for my bike. The kids are worse. No sleep. Means I am in this vicious circle with no sleep I can’t get healthy, can’t get fit, build up my immune system to have less colds. The boys seem to get better at he weekend but again are far from “normal”. Fingers crossed we will be all fit for Easter.

What an eventful week. Tired I am. Exhausted. Very tired. But happy. Content.

Have a good week,
Volker