Tag: running

Ballueder Thinks (10) – October Update

I am finishing this post as I unwind for the night. A busy day ‘in the office’, lots of zoom calls…but a good day, as most days are at the moment.

When I started writing this post, it was a week after my marathon. My columns here become more of a diary which I publish on an irregular basis. I hope you continue to enjoy them. Please reach out to me and let me know, so I can use your feedback to improve.

That in itself is an important point, if you don’t seek feedback, you never improve. I guess that’s why my coaching clients come to me, they want to be coached from an ‘outside-in’ perspective, someone giving them feedback and suggesting how to better themselves. It’s great to be able to do that, as I really enjoy doing it too. Reach out to me for a free consultation on how I could help you to achieve more in life.

In terms of my running, I recovered from my injury from the marathon and I am slowly going back to training again. For now, I decided I will take it easy for a month, focusing on weight loss, muscle gain and maintaining my fitness level. This means a split half marathon on Mondays, and a further 10K later in the week. That’s plenty to maintain the level for now. I never felt so fit before. Interesting enough, I noticed that I cannot cope with alcohol that well anymore. Even the ‘normal’ amount gives me a slight hungover the next day. Whether that is down to the theory that muscles which are well trained soak up any fluid in order to hydrate, and therefore cause havoc with alcohol, or if it is age, I do not know 🙄 So my beloved wine needs to be a weekend thing for me to continue to perform at my peak during the week. That is a good problem to have IMO.

What keeps me up at night is productivity and performance. You might think that’s a bit geeky but I have two interesting projects which both need high performance from me, for the little hours I have. The balance when working as a consultant. I hopefully add a couple more projects by the time I finished this post, and also add more coaching clients. As a matter of fact I added a voluntary role in the mindfulness space to the portfolio; more info and announcements next time, when things are officially formalised.

I also got approached for full time roles recently and have engaged in a few conversations. However, I am still not sure. But never say never. There is loads going on, and I shared 10 open positions on LinkedIn the other day that randomly appeared in my newsfeed. To be honest, I am very curious how I split my time in the months to come. All I can say is that I truly enjoy what I am doing and the people I am working with.

Things are moving, and are in constant change. Change is good. My podcasts are well received and I enjoy interviewing guests from a variety of topics. Watch the space for some really interesting, mind opening conversations I recorded.

That leads me to another topic. As a family we have been putting our thinking hats on too. From whiteboard sessions around the kitchen table to discussions how we want to live, and what is important to us. As some ideas and plans are shattered, other opportunities are opening up. Again, I am not sure how it all pans out in the months to come, but I am sure we will be fine. As a family we grow stronger, the boys are getting older and things are happening. And that is the most important thing. It showed massively when the youngest had to quarantine due to a Covid case in his school bubble recently. I am sure we see more of that to come, and I am worried about a second lock down tbh. Sometimes I fear the virus will never go away, so we just have to accept it and live with it.

Anyway, given the circumstances,

I am happy.
I am grateful.
And I am immensely positive.

I couldn’t wish for anything else atm. We have always been ambitious and positive thinking. This means we are ready to take on whichever challenge life throws at us, and I am confident we master it. And the boys are growing up with that attitude and learning from us to become more resilient.

This all goes in line with a lot of patience, resilience, and communication with a 9 and 11 year old, who of course see life from a different angle than ourselves. Life is challenging to be explained to some, and making decisions is what we have to do as parents and carers, and we hope we make the right ones. You cannot always please everyone which means, sometimes things just have to be done.

There is of course a negative side effect to what I do: I am working too much. I just love to. Whilst I am contracted by days/hours/projects, I often end up clocking a lot more hours and neglect the family or myself. The other week I realised I hadn’t left the house for 3 days! I made up for it with a session in the pub, and that felt really good! Just the other day I coached someone on work life balance, and how to separate life and work when working from home; from physical distancing to breaking up the day, carving time out for lunch, school runs etc. Don’t forget, we are all in it together, and a small change can go a long way. It’s like the discussion around wearing face masks. They don’t protect yourself, but protect others. And for that reason, unless you are selfish, just wear one. A small price to pay if you ask me.

Whilst we didn’t go out for a few days, we got some life admin done. It’s nice to feel to be on top of things, cuddling up with the boys, spending proper family time together. The fire was on, nice food was cooked and you are creating that home family atmosphere. Isn’t that brilliant? As mentioned above, we are still learning to become the ‘perfect family’ (define that how you want), but open communication and support for each other is key. How do we stop daddy from shouting? How can I trust you more? How can I get you to listen more?

It’s a bit like a board meeting. The application of leadership and management to small independent family organisations 🙂 I can see a book coming soon. As a matter of fact, a discussion last week sparked my interest to write a book called ‘what I learned now and would pass on to my younger self if he was listening’. But it’s true, I remember a friend of mine doing a whiteboard session with his parents a few years ago. It works, and visualisation and communication are key to any team you are working with.

Since I last published a post, there have been a few things happening. I got a new veggie cook book by Jamie Oliver which I love; I ordered the new iPhone (2 years upgrade cycle) and it will arrive soon. It is crazy to think how far technology has come, when I compare that with my first HTC smart phone running on Windows back in 2006. The connectivity or even the camera compared to my first digital camera at university. I am a bit technology geek, and I cannot wait for the machine to arrive. The pictures are soon available in RAW format, not that it means much to me, but this will be a breakthrough for professional photographers. In line with that, we are consuming more, and I got myself convinced to add Netflix to the mix. So between Apple TV, Prime and Netflix, we now have 3 subscription services. I am monitoring this closely, as I don’t really like to pay for many. We also pay a subscription for FreeTV which I happily get rid of. However, that’s just a hidden tax really.

Now, on the weekend of the 17th, I heard the sad news that my old manager and mentor, Andy, passed away. He was fighting cancer since 2016 when he collapsed in the office. I will re-publish a podcast I recorded with him at the end of 2019, in memory and in warning, somewhat, that we cannot escape death. Andy had cancer, an evil one, and we openly talked about it. He made peace with himself, and was ready to go – as ready as one can be. He leaves a lot of friends, a fantastic family and a legacy of a life behind. He influenced my life over the years, and those many others. It sometimes feels as if the good guys go to early. One just doesn’t know how much time is left on the clock. You must make the most of it. Life can be cut short.

On that note, if you knew Andy, please contribute to his chosen charity Garden House Hospice, mentioning his name. I will miss you and our chats.

No matter how many people die, it isn’t getting easier. The closer you are to them, the more memories you shared, the more it affects you. This year I lost two loved ones already. Many people died of Covid of course. It’s not the year to sit and wait. It’s those experiences that make us more determined, to spend more time with our family, to make more things happen, to work harder, yet make every moment count with your loved ones.

Andy and I shared a ton of memories, attending events across Europe, where we spend long days and nights, having lots of fun. We shared good and bad moments, and he will be truly missed. I loved working with him, and loved taking advice from him. Rest in peace.

I think this is a good time to end this column.
Covid, Brexit, life in general – there is so much uncertainty. As I am learning to embrace fear more and more, it doesn’t make it easier. I sometimes think I need a year off, maybe 2021, to reflect and do what I want to do. Lottery win my way please 😉

Give your loved ones a hug tonight. Reflect on what you have, and be grateful. Life can change in a heartbeat, so cherish the precious moments.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world!
Volker

Sunday Column (510)

I wanted to publish a different post this week. As you can imagine I have a lot of thoughts and love writing to comprehend them, to work through new input I am getting from podcasts, work and life in general. That’s one of my things. My creative outlet. So there are always a few posts in the pipeline. But then a few things happened which made me think, and I wanted to share those thoughts.

After last weekend’s 20 mile run, I wanted to run 22 miles on Friday. However, I came down with the man flu, aka as a common cold, and therefore didn’t run. I guess I am ready to go the marathon distance already, but will have to do a 22 mile run before the event. Hopefully I am better by next weekend to tackle that one.
And, we are lucky with the dry weather. The crystal clear air, filled with cobwebs and mist, that slowly burns away by a low standing sun. It’s mystical almost. One of my most favourite times of the year, and I was told that San Francisco is like that all year around. Wouldn’t that be nice?

In Germany we celebrated the reunification, it must have been 29 years since the wall came down. We plan a trip to Germany again soon. I want to show the boys the fatherland, introduce them to Berlin, some history. I couldn’t imagine to ever go back and live there but I want to at least experience it. So as a matter of fact, I am looking forward to it. Hope the boys and the family will like it too.

A podcast I recorded with a German living in Los Angeles this week, brought up the topic of greater German (or any nation’s) collective unconscious. Allegedly it takes 7 generations (or 140 years) for it to clear. So Germans still look at the Great Depression and two worldwars in their collective unconscious. That would explain some of the stereotypes and values I see in myself as well, like a need for security, cautious, not wanting to make mistakes, and being the good person. Interesting isn’t it? Or it is over-interpretation? It’s difficult for me to compare that to any other nation of course. The inheritance of a nation or even family, I remember studying family constellations at university, is a highly sensitive yet fascinating topic. Watch out for the podcast with Conni when it goes live, I really enjoyed that conversation.

Life goes in cycles, and there is only one certainty. This week I learned that an industry friend died at the age of 49. When I attended the industry trade shows recently, I saw him and we had a chat. This week I also caught up with a mentor who had health problems when I was working for him. It was good to see he is better for now. Those moments are when you pause for a second, take a deep breath in, and breathe out. I don’t know about the exact circumstances, but I know that in our small industry I know a few people, and we are close. We look after each other, and it is always with great sadness to hear someone passing away or being ill. It affects me. One reflects on priorities, the focus we discussed a few weeks back. One thinks about their own lifestyle, health choices and how long one might have back on the clock. And then it’s business as usual, isn’t it?

So a bit of a melancholic week almost. Taking a flight on a Saturday missing a family weekend isn’t nice but to see a bit of the world prior to a conference makes up for it. Monsoon season though 🙁 A weekend to myself, 10 hours of uninterrupted time on a plane. To relax, reflect, write, read and sleep. What’s not to like?

I will tell you all about it next week. For now, have a great week, enjoy the autumn and stay well.

Volker

Sunday Column (509)

What a great week, wasn’t it? Sunny, yet cold mornings. Proper autumn with lovely sun sets. Nothing else to ask for. I felt I made a huge leap at work, and my marathon prep is going well. I left the house early Saturday before dawn, had some lights on, and came back about 3 hours later. 20 miles done, some walking though. This was tough. I call this success, or achieving means goals, goals that mean something towards an end goal. That’s a new thing I learned this week. The end goal is the achievement of running a marathon, the means goal is to hit 20 miles. As satisfying as it is, it is bl* hard.

But let me have a rant at cinemas, or showing my pure ignorance that I don’t understand the value it brings to me. I work in advertising and I love it. But when I go to the movies, I hate the ads prior to the movies. You cannot skip them, and I always wonder how relevant they are. First of all, you almost always rush to the movies, get there just in time, and your boys want sweets. When you finally settle in your seats, you spend up to 30 minutes watching adverts. Those additional 30 minutes are ‘make or break’ whether you have to have a toilet break with a 7 year old throughout the movies. Again, no chance to pause it either.

If you think of someone going to the movies with their children, maybe a Halifax mortgage ad is fine. I don’t think it is too relevant for the kids, but I can understand the thinking of showing it for the parents. Seeing babies and follow on milk for Aptamil, maybe justified as you have some mothers there. They could have another child at home, as the Incredibles age range is far too old for follow on milk. Maybe someone has a huge age gap. In my opinion not the right audience at all. Most kids in the movies would be around 5-7, so yes they could have smaller siblings, but relevancy isn’t that high I don’t think. Worse even was Qatar airways. Nice ad, fun to watch, but no relevancy for children. Maybe for adults? Same as Comparethemarket, kind of being funny with the meerkats, the kids laughed, but just because I am a parent, insurance isn’t really relevant.

Of course you cannot target products at kids, and the restrictions and all, but on the other hand, come on, some ads are just not relevant whatsoever. Why not show family holidays or Nintendo game stations or something like that. And why show a short movie in front of the main movie. An irritated 7 year old blaring into your ear that we sit in the wrong movie. I started considering that possibility.

Now to the economics. For my two kids and myself I paid £30 for the tickets and another £15 for drinks and snacks. Sitting through 30 minutes of awful ads that I cannot skip to then see a pre-movie and having to have a toilet break wasn’t the best experience. The movie was ace though 🙂 So do the experience outweigh the costs? In my opinion not at all.

I just cannot see how cinema is surviving. The appeal is getting smaller. The dreaded arriving in time race, overpriced snacks and then irrelevant ads you cannot skip and toilet breaks without pausing the movie. The bigger screen and sound is the only argument but with home hifi system and decent TV sizes, it just doesn’t cut the mustard. For me anyway. For £45 I rent up to 6 or buy 3 movies for the kids which they enjoys multiple times at home. Peace of mind there.

Rant over. I guess I enjoy cinema again when I can go there to escape. From home, the kids and watch a nice movie with the wife. As if that happens often. Is there a future in cinema, what do you think?

I finish writing this during my youngest karate grading. That was the most important bit of my weekend. Another money making machine but here I see the value for money. And really, I am just annoyed I never founded a karate school or similar. In the end, he passed. Proud daddy.

Until next week,
Volker

Sunday Column (505)

You know, this week saw the beginning of season 2 of my podcast. I really enjoyed recording loads of material over the summer, meeting interesting, successful people and recording their stories. However, I also know that I probably end up having less time doing that moving forward. So this season is similar to season 1 maybe a bit more topical and next year I am planning to potentially shift the podcast a bit into a longer form concept. Let’s see how it goes.

I must say this weekend was fantastic. Life is about creating memories. I managed a 25K run, and it was fun, pleasing somewhat. It was weird, running through fog, cold patches as the sun came up, then warm muggy patches in the woods. I love where I live and whilst discussing Brexit a lot this week, I don’t want to leave. I am sure things will work out. Will I end up running a race after all? Maybe, I still haven’t made a final decision yet.

Then the little one and I enjoyed a fabulous football game in Brighton. It makes for a whole afternoon just to get there and back. And what fun we had. Who would have guessed that I enjoyed football that much, after I had never been to a game until 2 years ago. And now, we got the premier league at our door steps, why wouldn’t we go?

I wrote it before, life is about focus. So when the family disappeared for 10 days and I had some spare time, e.g. a long bank holiday weekend, I decided to crank out lots of content for my podcast and blog (watch this space over the next few weeks). Also, I started clearing out some old stuff. Every now and then I go through old folders, picture albums and decide whether I keep them or not. So this time, a lot more went in the bin than I had anticipated but it is good to discard pictures from 25 years ago, just keeping a few of good friends or special occassions. Clearing your mind, your house and letting go of things is important. As the only thing we can do is live in the now, and be present in the moment. That’s where we create memories, we don’t need pictures of them or post them on social media.

I also wanted to thank you for the positive feedback about my more topical blog posts, including the one around success which includes my podcast. Are we obsessed with success, or am I?

Maybe. And how are we defining it? When joining my fraternity in Germany many years ago, I transitioned into a ‘career driven personal development’ person, developing a sense of ‘always give your best performance to achieve the most possible results’. And of course there are limits for everyone, discussing this recently with a fraternity brother of mine, a mentor for over 20 years, there is always a new boundary to push and a new angle to develop on your personal approach, in order to push yourself further. This could be in a job or outside work, most things are mind games. My running training for instance. You can always improve a bit more. You compete with yourself not others.

I discussed that with an executive coach this week too, trying to find the best approach to get some professional help to push things a bit more. The last couple of years I have invested a lot in self finding, career development and have been battered by redundancies due to industry change. Life is a constant change.
I seem to have this urge to constantly better myself. I know a few people that do not understand that, but I love a great challenge. I strive of the learning I get from new exposure, people and concepts.

So to conclude, as I get deeper into my work and get busier learning new skills and apply my experience, the further I develop and apply focus. Hence my podcast concept will probably change come 2019; as I keep closing chapters, discard of the past in a physical and/or mental sense, I open new doors and opportunities. Exciting times.

As one door opens, another one closes. Or the other way around, as one door closes, another one opens. Similar things, aren’t they. And yet they can be seen differently.
Life is a constant change and I am learning to embrace it, enjoy it and think less about it. But I will be more present in the moment, the now.

Have a good week,
Volker

Sunday Column (504)

There have been a few topics on my mind this week. My wife, including kids, went to visit the MIL and left me alone for the bank holiday weekend. That is fair enough, as I usually organise a cracking weekend with the lads. However, this time around, people are busy, non committal and are still on holidays themselves. Hence the appetite wasn’t there. I ended up working a lot on my podcasts and some content I will publish over the forthcoming weeks and did some training to improve my long distance running.

What I wanted to note was the bachelor life. Similar to above’s reason, I wasn’t out every night, just instead binge watched Amazon’s Bosch every night, and enjoyed good food, great sleep and my own routine. I noticed that dishwashers aren’t made for single households and that shopping delivery seems almost useless given the amount I need. My drinking went right back, as drinking on your own just isn’t the same anymore. I would even go as far as I was lonely. But of course I wasn’t, having had calls from my son, the above podcast recordings, three cats etc., I was busier than I was hoping for to be honest. No complains though.

It’s just different when no one is around, despite the cats. However, it is also a great time for reflection and doing what ever the f* you want, including sleeping in and napping whenever it suits you 🙂 But it is only ever enjoyable knowing the family comes back.

When we went on holidays this year, my wife offered our house to a family to stay. Their renovation overran and they couldn’t stay in their place. Also, they had guests arriving from afar, which didn’t allow for any rescheduling. We didn’t know the family that well, maybe the odd exchange on a kid’s party, and went with trust and gut feeling and let them stay. I remember speaking to my dad about it and he said, that there should be nothing to worry about. Of course one imagines what someone staying at your house could do, but honestly, the majority of people are good. The ones staying in our house were great actually.

Where am I leading with that? The family staying in our house of course lived differently to us. And this is not criticism but pure reflection. Things broke which is normal wear and tear, and things got moved. Things that broke got replaced, and misplaced things got moved back. No big deal. And whilst I might look too much into it, for me it was realising that actually it does not matter where you put your plates and glasses. Or whether someone does things differently. Because in the end of the day everyone does their own thing, their own routine. Similar to when you are home alone, you don’t run the dishwasher that often, fill up the fridge or empty the bin. Or whatever it is.

I enjoyed both. The experience of being solo again and the experience of someone staying at our place. I actually consider the latter again, but only if I find similar great guests again 🙂 We were very lucky and hope to stay in touch and maybe even become friends down the line. Who knows. After all we literally lived in each other’s beds 😉

Expanding your horizon they say, and we did that, and going with your gut, and we did that too. And doing a weekend what you want to do without being considerate to others at all, I did that too 🙂

Enjoy the week ahead and the bank holiday tomorrow, another day off 😉

Volker

Sunday Column (498)

Often, when I am asking for feedback about my blog post, the answer is ‘it’s the same, it’s ok’. What I would really like to hear is ‘it’s great, it is inspiring’. But I guess I am not inspiring to the readers that I ask 🙁 However, please provide me feedback on what you would like to see and read on here. I feel like it is a weekly summary, with some thought-excursion based on my weekly experience, and then some. It is less topical, more personal. And the blog definitely provides myself with an opportunity to digest my experience. Also, I hope it provides you with a snippet of personal entertainment 🙂

So this week, as usual recently, I started a new contract, the one that leads to my new full time position. That makes it interesting, as essentially I am getting my introduction over the forthcoming weeks, then start fully later on. It’s a good way of doing it, because you get all the administrative things out of the way, and can focus on the task in hand the moment you start fully. In the meantime I went to Dusseldorf again, a slightly shorter trip which seemed convenient because of the football game, but actually was because we planned the week differently and it didn’t make sense to hang around all day. However, it was nice to see England from the comfort of my home with my boys.

And what a fantastic result for England. Not like Germany, England made it all the way to the semi finals. A shame they didn’t win against Croatia, but hey, it is what it is. It’s a young team, a team that in 2 years at the Euros or in 4 years at the next World Cup stand a much bigger chance to win. We will bring it home eventually. They brought it home to the nation, a nation crazy about football, and it made us all get a bit closer together, living the same dream. Of course, as expected, France then won the World Cup and all the money I bet on the individual games came back to me, as I put a bet on France very early on. I don’t normally bet but the Grand National or the Euro or World Cup.

Anyway, what else is going on in the country? Besides the Trump visit which I just ignore to be honest, Brexit looks like a disaster. I hope it will stay like that, e.g. the Brexit turns into a soft version of what everyone voted for, resulting in us staying in the custom union, the economy not being hit as hard, and yet carve out some rights as a non EU member state. But what a mess, no question about it. It is troublesome to see the government falling apart, no leadership and no progress. Shambles. Boris Johnson being gone can’t be a bad thing, but I am sure he comes back on the scene sooner or later.

Of course travelling makes you tired, yet running in Dusseldorf early morning felt a lot easier than in London. I am wondering if that’s the milder temperature or if that’s anything else? I feel like having a virus recently but besides a sore throat there are not many other symptoms. Is it hayfever that’s worse in the UK? I don’t know. I just hope it will go away soon. But I don’t want to bore you with my ailings. Just the opposite. I tried for another 15K on Saturday but had to stop and finished a 10K instead. Too warm, too tired.

The week concluded with another amazing thing: a street meet in our cul-de-sac. I started collecting some emails a while back and put the idea forward for a BBQ, some games and get together for our street. It was a great success and turn out, and we all came together, chatting, meeting each other and got a bit closer. Isn’t that what life is all about.

So a nice week, productive, thoughtful, and maybe a bit inspiring? Let me know and hope to see you again next week.

Best wishes,
Volker

Sunday Column (453)

Welcome back. Yes, another very quick week passed. Last weekend was actually the hottest August bank holiday I remember. We were spoiled and spend most of the weekend at the beach – a variety of beaches to be precise – and enjoyed the BBQ weather. I love a sunny Bank Holiday in August! Didn’t I write about it being autumn already in last week’s blog? I guess it is getting colder in the evenings, the sun is lower on the horizon, and we nicely move into the Indian Summer. If it wasn’t getting colder, this could be my most favourite time of the year. It is I suppose. It almost seems as if the summer in England shifted to June/July and end of August/September. Maybe that’s the way forward and we plan our holidays accordingly next year. Rain July/August. Take notes.

This week was short. On Monday I managed a 10 mile/16 km run. I was struggling to be honest. Whether that was the elevation or the weather, I just don’t feel that fit at the moment. Similar on another run later in the week. With my diet on the go I eat slightly less than I should, but my multigym arrives next week. So full steam ahead to loose a few kilos which I will notice when I go to another running event. No decisions as of yet. With busy weekends ahead, I don’t see myself doing another 16 km for a while. Maybe I rest my ambitions until I know whether I was accepted on the London Marathon and once I have done some more strength training. I guess 15-25 km per week is enough to keep fit.

Whilst running I love listening to podcasts. Usually at 2x speed, I get through a few. One was about ‘when do you know when to quit’. And I believe it was Seth Godin who described things not going well as either being a dead end or a slump. So you need to evaluate quickly if it is a temporary slump you get out of again or if it is a dead end. That’s true for business or private life. For the dead end, there is no escape: quit. Even the most persistent sales person won’t be able to make a difference to a product that is a dead end. He also suggested that most ideas have been taken to market before. They have been tried and tested in one form or another. Learn from industry peers, understand the market, get an understanding of what is happening. Then re-evaluate before making a final decision.

The business and life advice I am getting through podcasts is immense. I almost believe it is too much at times. Physically I cannot read or listen to more advice, and everytime I think I heard it all or listened to all podcasts, read all the development books, there is a new spin, a new angle to a similar story. And I love reading about different spins of the same thing. Because essentially, most personal development theories are similar. So is mine. I actually noticed that some of my book #BeBetter looks at similar theories as the Energy Project: it is about bringing your life systems into balance. And this summarises most theories, yet every bit looks as a slightly different way of doing so, with a different emphasis on what’s most important, depending on your slightly different approach to work and life. And some focus on one area only and go a lot deeper. Fascinating – I find anyway 😉

On Tuesday something interesting happened. Instead of my usual breakfast I had a protein shake for breakfast. This is part of my exercise and weight loss routine. Accidentally, as a few other things were going on at the same time, I ended up forgetting to have my daily double espresso. At work we don’t have the greatest of coffees, so I decided to wait and see. By the time I got home my headache was that bad, that I needed a coffee. Unbelievable. It is interesting to see how dependent you can get on caffeine, yet an article I read this week suggested that three coffees a day really prolong your life. So I should be good 😉 As my mentor Darren Hardy says, every now and then you should give yourself a break from something, just to make sure you are still in control. I am. I decide what I do. I am in charge.

Travels went well this week. Another couple of days in Germany, supporting the team and meeting some important people, catching up and strategising. The hotel was noisy, sleep poor and I am struggling to come to terms with the quality that Hilton offers vs. my recent experiences. It must be very hard for a brand to represent values and standards and enforce them across a variety of businesses on a global basis. I suppose it is part of my job to ensure exactly that on a B2B level. Not always easy, yet my team is excellent, I have to say. The team at the Hilton in Hamburg seems to be not so well trained, particularly to the Hilton I stayed in in Düsseldorf, and the difference is mind blowing.

More disturbance happened when two appointments that got confirmed got moved last minute, then moved again and I got different confirmation from different people. Again, people in client services. Very frustrating and in line with the service level I mentioned above. I guess it all turned out ok in the end, and it always will, but time is passing quickly and there is so much to do and so much to sort. Time flies, literally. I am struggling sometimes to focus on the right things and channel my energy to the right things. There were some aggrevations this week where I clearly wasn’t in charge of my energy, and then I have had a few situation where I decided how I felt about where to channel my energy to. Balancing my energy system and being on top of the feelings is not always easy, rather hard at times. Keeping my zen and adjusting, learning. But I am managing better as I get deeper into meditation and balanced life, mind and better sleep 🙂

On that note, I had a relaxing weekend. Travel makes you tired.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

Sunday Column (449)

Oh yes. No Monday morning 5 am taxi pick up and a delayed flight after a bad breakfast to Hamburg. No, this Monday it was the normal 7:29 train service to London. No travel abroad and lots of catching up with my UK team. This was fun! I even squeezed a civilised dinner in with our American visitor, and made it home before 10 pm. Great result and great way to start the week. After having spend the last few days trying to cure the man flu, having my parents to visit, and sorting my infected toe, this was nice. Actually, I had a really nice, productive, day. 
The train home was quiet. My inbox also, given it is slowly getting to the quieter weeks of the year. This is nice, as I can focus on some not so urgent but equally important work tasks as well as catching up on some BBC iPlayer videos whilst writing my blog. Having the super sized screen, the iPad does allow for multi tasking, even if your brain doesn’t. Reading a book about the flow of things and how you best utilise your brain to be happy – the flow. I will update you on it as I read along.

The week stayed calm, or did it? Whilst the emails coming in are fewer than usual, the amount of work associated with each seem to go up. In other words, I was booked out back to back the remainder of the week, with requests coming in, needing a lot of my attention. But, and I said it before, I love what I am doing and I am GSD (getting shit done). However, coming home Tuesday night, after having had a few pints instead of coffee, I ended up with a Chinese and more wine. The weekend seemed to have started early this week, trying to cramp it all in. Despite all that, I was back to my first 10K on Wednesday morning at 5 am. Yes, that felt good. The first longer run since the Spitfire event. The first after my toe infection and the first after the man flu which slowly disappeared this week. I am getting back on it. I even fitted in a first weight session on Thursday. Winning it back. One morning at a time. Life is all about the daily routine.

Given the boys are off school and I hear about all their fun activities, I feel like I should be off too. During breakfast, the eldest sits with his huge fluffy teddy bear in the living room reading. The other one sits closer to me, colouring in. I have a rushed bite to eat, a quick kiss to say good bye, and off I go. Back long after they have been to bed. I sometimes wonder what a life would be like where you are home for 6 pm or 7 pm every night. I wouldn’t gain much time I don’t think. Being on the train from 7-8 gives me my hour of work, fun, chill out and declutter my brain time, something I don’t have to do at home. Yes, I miss bath time, but as they get older I see more of them in the evenings. The life and life balance we choose. The choices we make, to live close to London but not in London. To live close to the sea but not by the sea. The choices of houses, schools etc. I feel I made the right choices. However, as a friend of mine said this week over lunch, with Brexit and the current state of affairs, the government is harming it’s own country. Will Britain be strong enough to sustain a healthy economy in the long run. I believe, so I believe things will work out. And if not? I do not know, but maybe we move the family in a few years. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

All of that influences our happiness. Our balances, our systems. I wrote about that in my book. It is up to us to define what we would like to do and achieve. What goals are we working towards to, or do we just go with the flow? Which values do we have and what is important to us? Where would or wouldn’t we compromise. I haven’t read a fiction book for many years. I like to spend my time constantly improving myself. I enjoy that. And that is my flow I suppose. My daily flow of things, my busy weeks balanced by chilled out weekends, shared activities with the family. The discussion around success vs. achievement. Being busy vs. productiveness. One doesn’t mean the other, and each of us has to find their own definition of it. Focus goes where energy flows. Focus on the things you want to achieve, that drive you on, your purpose. Remove noise and time wasters from the equation of your inputs, eliminate news and social media input. Strive for being better every single day.
As I prepare for some time off, rushing through things I know I won’t finish this week, and thinking the world will not end if I don’t, I reflect. Shutting down the brain and trying to relax. Letting go and recharge the batteries. The world will be the same but busier after the summer months, leading into Q4 and Christmas. What will it be like? What does the journey ahead look like? 

Trusting in the power of the universe and that things will always work out, I put my head to rest. I had another almost scare this weekend, a worry that comes with age. All is good though. Thank you. 

Time to reflect, recalibrate and learn from experience. 
Have a great week,

Volker

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!
Volker

My #spitfirescramble 2017 review

Wow – it has been a day since the Spitfire Scramble. My first ever running event. I was told by my experienced runners and team mates, that there is no such thing as a race. It is an event. You do it for yourself, the team, but not to race but to enjoy. And, a bit surprisingly, I did. As you might remember from my last post, one of my biggest challenges was the camping, believe it or not. The camping itself I really enjoyed. I loved the camaraderie. Maybe it was because I had little to organise, no tents to put up myself or take down myself – I tried to help more or less successfully, and the whole cooking and meals were organised by a fantastic and very experienced team. I was welcomed into the arms of a functioning group of people who have done those events before. Thanks once again!

But how were my laps? What happened?
So I finally got to go out around 4.30 in the afternoon. Adrenaline kicked in big time. I was off to a far too fast start, raced around the track and it took me until mile 4 out of 6 to find my pace. Once I did, I finished in a reasonable time of around 46 minutes for the just under 6 mile course. Far too quickly to sustain it I thought. And I walked a bit in between due to getting side stitches, being off too quickly.

My next round, just about 3 and a bit hours later, still light, was better paced, no walking, and I came in at a similar time. Interesting enough this round I found hardest of all the ones I did. Mentally and physically. I noticed my head playing tricks on me, my legs being really tired, and you work yourself into a pace and just run. I then managed to sleep about an hour before setting off at midnight again.

This time it was dark. With a head torch and a flash light, some glow sticks put down by the organisers, I made my way around the course. Mentally not as hard, as you concentrate on not falling over. Some drunk teenagers on one part of the route made it interesting and with the runners field spread wide apart, it was lonely at times. But it was fun, enjoyable. Then my left hip and ITB started to seize up a bit and my knee started to hurt. Not pleasant at all, I came in just around 53 minutes. Still happy enough.

Now, so far I enjoyed it. Really loved it. The third lap seemed easier than the second and mentally I was in a good shape. My left hand site would relax again, wouldn’t it? I saw one of the on site massage therapists and he taped my knee, stretched my glutes and said that my left upper leg muscles were just far too tight. He tried loosing them, suggested others had exactly the same problem. I figured with his help and the following 2.5 hours of sleep I should be fine. I didn’t get a great rest, and woke up in pain a couple of times. When it was time to get up I meditated first. My head was in a very good place, and despite the exhaustion I think my brain was more relaxed than I have seen it in a long time. I was ready. I didn’t even feel tired.

With doubts I made it out into the early morning, around 5. Luckily it was warm, and the little rain we encountered throughout the day was neglectable. But as soon as I set off I knew this time, the leg won’t last. I managed to run around 3 miles without stopping too often, ran with the pain and continued. It felt to me that if I get to the half way point, I make it through to the end. It reminded me of my long night walks and trainings when I was at the navy over 20 years ago. I felt strong, and I felt mentally in a very strong place. I loved the fresh air, the views across London, the lights of the early morning. It was my 5 am time, my usually running time.

But then the pain set in more and I had to start walking a bit more. From there on it was running a bit, longer stretches of walking, running. I spoke to some solo runners who only functioned on ibuprofen. Was I willing to do that? Does that make sense? For what? But I was determined to finish in a good-ish time to not let the team down. I am not going to fail in this lap, even though I knew this lap might well be my last one. Whilst in a combination of walking and running I got up the last hill, I had to be careful to go downhill. My knee pain alternated between the pain I knew and other ligaments wanting to join the party. It wasn’t nice. I finished in just over an hour and that was me done.

My first event. My first wall. I was looking forward to doing that for a long time. Whilst some team members went on to do a 5th and 6th lap, I couldn’t. I am very proud of their achievements. I was afraid of damaging my knee.

So what is the post mortem? Was I not prepared enough? I felt very well, my fitness felt great, mentally I was ready. Maybe I should have stretched more? Maybe more massages in preparation? Or is my body which isn’t used to running longer distances? Should I train a few half marathons or do a marathon before attempting an event like that again?

You can hear from my voice, that I am already thinking about the next event. The next wall in my life. Will it be this event in a year’s time, or something similar. I love the endurance challenges, but maybe I need a different preparation? No, not maybe, I have to work on strength and distance. More focus. I wondered what the point of solo running for this event was and why people end up walking. Some people explained it to me, that this is all about the mental and physical challenge and not about winning, but about having a platform to compete against your natural limits. Solo running. Solo walking. This sounds appealing… or does it?

Whatever my wall will be for next year, I think preparation needs to be better planned. Last year, before I pulled out, I was fitter. I weighted 3 kg less which can make a difference, and I was better prepared. But you don’t know until the day of the race. The day of the event I mean. It made me understand my wife better and her drive to do another marathon. And it made me acknowledge the effort and preparation that goes into a marathon. And maybe I just need to do that. A better preparation, a more planned approach. A marathon? As I keep preaching about, a habit, routine or system, based on the event you are doing. And maybe this comes with experience, yet the main part is to prepare your body for it. Systematically.

My thanks goes to my team mates. The ones that kept up my spirit. The ones that guided me to and from the event track. The ones that cheered for me, and put up with my mood and my dead brain the next day. The one that was awake driving home whilst my body just shut down. Thank you, and maybe, just maybe I see you again next year.

And my knee? I think it will be ok. With some more taping, some TLC, some cooling, lots of Ibuprofen, a sports massage and some rest. I am certain there was no long term damage done. So yes, I am sure I will be ok. My calfs, my abdominal muscles, my brain and all other parts of my body will comply. They always do 🙂

Thank you team!