Tag: stress

Ballueder Thinks (11) – Merry Christmas, the year in review

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year 2021!

2020 – most of us would love to wipe this year out. Forget about it. It is weird to think that a year ago, most of us could have guessed what was coming. However, the Western world was ignorant about the new ‘flu’ that was going on in China, and slowly spread across its borders. In hindsight, a friend of mine mentioned that he saw his work colleagues from China hardly making it on or off the plane in London – he knew it was coming. Why didn’t we act sooner?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so in hindsight I want to reflect on what was my 2020. A year that brought change, challenges but also a year that wasn’t too bad for us on a whole. We are truly grateful and hope that 2021 will be even better. There are good things that happened. Small things, like being able to book a barber’s appointment, or spending more time with the family, less of a commute, discovering the country side or just how grateful one should be.

My 2020 thoughts were all about healthier living and building my own business. I said it then and say it now, I am more of a consultant, working on different projects and that’s what I enjoy. In 2021 you will see my positioning change more towards Strategy and Leadership Consultant. I will still continue the same I have before, but my focus will shift towards a more teaching and skill based training approach which incorporates elements of my leadership research, mindfulness, counselling and coaching skills. I am brining the best of my abilities together, to build training programmes for leaders, middle management and individuals to become better in what they do.

But enough about work. I want to provide a personal review of this year, looking at each month, providing some thoughts on what I felt was important. And as I have been writing it, I noticed I got events muddled up, but that’s ok. It’s how I see it from and end of year perspective. And if you are sitting down with a tipple, you might not even notice it 😉

What I do know is that in January, I became a vegetarian. I tried vegan but without eggs and cheese, life wasn’t quite right. I also enjoy knowing this is good for the environment, and I stuck to it most of the year, with the exception of the odd piece of chicken and prawns. I would say I am 95% vegetarian, without wanting to beat myself up for eating a small piece of meat now and then. This resulted in me learning how to cook proper veggie meals, particularly whilst training for my marathon. Overall, my carbon footprint from food would have gone down massively. So that’s a good think I believe.

Thanks again for all your support this year. Without you, my friends, listeners, readers and mentors this would have been a harder year than it was. Let’s hope 2021 will be a new, amazing year!

Best wishes,
Volker

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January – I started the year knowing that my contract might be up for renewal. Things weren’t moving as expected, yet a new product with one of our partners kept us busy. So it was a bit ‘business as usual’, a lot of working from home, as gloomy January. It was miserable in my memory anyway. I just kept on working, and I was waiting to see what the year would bring. Two jobs, one paid, one for sweat equity, awaiting 2020 to shed some light on what was there to come. I also went on a retreat in Germany, which I truly enjoyed. That was my last travel for a long time, who would have guessed.

February – Mid February, just after my wife had a second wave of her ‘illness’, I got it. A day of fever, the kids off school for a day, and this ongoing cough. My throat was so sore, it kept me awake at night. When the first wave was over, the cough persisted, and the second part of the illness left me a bit breathless, as if I had smoked a few joints. People moved away from me on the train when I was coughing. As people became more knowledgable about this ‘virus’, I realised that my sense of smell and taste slowly recovered. I am certain I had the Coronavirus, but at the time, I didn’t have a clue. Maybe I should have, and I probably should have worn a mask.

Also, I had my first hypnotherapy session, I would have another one later in the year, dealing with some childhood issues. It’s fascinating what you can do with the mind, and it made me even more interested in studying hypnotherapy at some point.

March – I stayed home from mid March. Meetings were moved online, and people didn’t want to meet. Events we planned were cancelled. I received notice on my contract and was looking for a new one, yet no one wanted to commit to anything. A look around the globe gave us some warning, but little time to prepare for what was called a lockdown. The kids went off school, home schooling was a joke, and juggling a contract, finding new work and home schooling wasn’t happening at all. It all felt very surreal. We spent time going for long walks in the countryside, walks down the beach and kept ourselves sane. I am so proud of my boys, and wife, for coping so well this year. It was a hard time, yet we managed. We had outside space, running water, a toilet and enough food. We were the lucky ones, and I reminded myself daily of this.

April just became more of it. Any breaks we planned weren’t happening, ground hog day. Hustling for work, activating your network, speaking to people about work, reducing your outgoings. Yet I picked up some mindfulness training courses, and helped a couple of companies through the lockdown. For us digital folk it was easy to get used to the ‘new normal’, the video conferencing, remote working etc. I had my most creative time, and came up with new business ideas, yet nothing of those materialised in the end. But I learned a hell of a lot!

We moved from grocery delivery to click and collect; I ran half marathons on the treadmill to keep me sane. This month wasn’t the best, I want to be honest. And it ended with my birthday, a first birthday in lockdown.

But, we were alive. We had food on the table. We did better than a lot of people in this world, again being very grateful for what we have.

May became the month of hope. We slowly came out of lockdown, and thought we managed to put most of the virus behind us. Little did we know. Some people returned to their offices, or were planning to. Other companies decided to work from home indefinitely. Things changed, opinions of right or wrong, and what to do and not to do split the nation. I started cooking more for myself, making sure I get the right vegetarian fuel to sustain myself. I learned all about veggie BBQs too, sampling every veggie sausage on the planet. My conclusion: the Richmond veggie sausages are the nicest and of course the Beyond Meat burger.

June was when things slowly normalised. We still had a long way to go, but it was as if there was a new horizon. I picked up a new contract which helped immensely, and continued to have discussions what the best way forward was for me. Even for a mindfulness practitioner, the mind f* is real. No one could help you to determine what is right and what is wrong. What should you focus on, what not. It became a time for me to look inwards, looking what is important to me, the family and how we can best make it through those difficult times. Luckily, our kids went back to school until the summer break, but a lot of people were struggling.

On a sad side, my grandmother passed away age 99, 3 months before her 100th birthday. She had a blessed life, and I sometimes think it was good for her not to understand this Covid-19 thing.

Oma Erika

July was the month it became real. For many years I fancied a tattoo. I never did it, and when lockdown hit, I decided to go for it. And when I was allowed to, I did it. My first ever tattoo. Amazing 🙂 I never looked back, and the buzz you get from getting one is so amazing. I spare you more details, but this is epic. Why didn’t I go for it in 1996 when I wanted to???

I also finished off a contract which in total lasted a year. To make my business operations easier, I decided to move all my work related stuff to www.balluederpartners.com to separate work and life emails. I don’t want to lie, it was a quiet time from a work perspective, so I had a lot of time to position myself, the company and make plans. And plans I had plenty, some which crystallised and others that didn’t.

As a family we fancied the idea of a hot tub. So we tested a few of them, but ended up with a blow up one later in the year, as we are planning to make some changes to the house and all. I guess 2020 was about making your home as comfortable as possible, knowing you would spend a lot of time in it. We still haven’t decided what to do next, but hey, there needs to be some excitement in 2021 😉

August was a month I wanted to take off. Summer holidays. The plan was to go to Germany but the government decided 2 days before our departure that if you drive through Belgium, you had to quarantine on return. Instead we drove to Scotland for a great week and stayed in Preston on the way. Not sure if the latter was safer than driving through Belgium, but given France was added to the list in the meantime, we could have not escaped the quarantine. Covid made re-booking things and changing bookings a lot more flexible. It was a also a month we started clearing out a lot of stuff. Sometimes you just need a proper clear out. Towards the end of the year I rediscovered eBay, selling my old Apple Watch (I went all Garmin in 2020) and my humidor. It never occurred to me how much money you can make by selling some of the stuff.

September brought on some unexpected positive changes. I picked up a contract which went from strength to strength since. A position I really enjoy and I hope will be a long term engagement. The kids went back to school, which was great. Don’t get me wrong, great for a) education but b) after home schooling and a long summer break with no childcare or appetite and options for holidays, it was good to see them back at school with their friends. They need the social interaction.

It was then that I saw a few doctors, for palpitations, stress related hearing issues etc. What aspired then was that I was stressed from everything that was going on which was 2020, but also the marathon. My body was knackered from the training. Since increasing my distance above 25K I had had the above problems which all disappeared after the marathon. The good things was that the NHS was great in getting tests done, and reassuring me that I was fit as a fiddle. Two doctors independently suggested to me that I should change to decaffeinated coffee. Which I did, and I have not looked back since. I discovered a variety of coffees since September that are really nice and decaf. Here we go with a healthier life in 2020.

Also I started my podcasts again. Season 4. There have been some amazing episodes since, yet I plan to take a longer break next year to revisit the show and look what’s on the horizon next. New projects etc. But not yet, we finish season 4 next summer, I already recorded episodes up to March and they are good and educational! It’s a fun journey, but I think I need to reflect on a few years first, to then fine tune it for a relaunch in 2022. We shall see.

We also had trouble with our Skoda. However, we got it all fixed in the end, but lost a bit of trust with the garage. It’s always worrying if a part breaks after they had the car for a check up. And then, once of a sudden, it gets really expensive. With the new regulations coming in for petrol and diesel cars, I am thinking we are waiting until electric cars are mainstream to get a new motor. The current one will do for a few more years, and the money we wanted to spend on a fancy new car this year is better spend elsewhere.

October was the month where things fell into place a bit. We got more of a routine. The new iphone came out and I was quite excited to upgrade on my usual 2 year cycle. I also finished the London virtual marathon in aid for the RNIB, and I got a space for the 2021 marathon in London. Fingers crossed we can run it in London and I won’t have problems again. 3rd time lucky, but recovery was quick and smooth.

Since we couldn’t go away for half term, we spend a long weekend visiting Dover Castle and staying in the pre-booked Premier Inn for our planned Germany trip. A change of scenery was great, and we had lots of fun as a family, creating memories. Positive memories in 2020. We tried really hard this year to make it as positively memorable as possible for the kids – and ourselves of course.

I also joined a charity to help them as a volunteer, which hopefully leads to a trustee position in the new year. This is another focus for me moving forward. Giving back and helping others with my experience. Ideally, I want to join companies as a non-executive director next year, helping them to understand digital transformation, marketing and sales as well as positioning.

November saw me finishing up a smaller contract but also discussions around new opportunities. The good thing about consultancy is that if you loose one contract, you normally have another one still. The bad thing is that you still need to find new ones all the time 😉 It’s about networking, knowing people, connecting to people.

Lockdown 2.0 saw some personal plans shattered, yet schools continued, and really it was just miserable due to the darker days, daylight saving, rain and all. And, you couldn’t plan anything. So having a hottub, and enough food, log fires, wine, and cheese fondue boosted our morale. I am not sure how often we said that we are grateful for everything we have. The kids seem to suffer too.

I also attended my first funeral, losing one of my mentors to Cancer.

Also, Apple released the M1 chips in their new MacBooks. Unfortunately, when I got my MacBook 3 years ago, I thought 8 GB of RAM would be enough. Working as a consultant, having different programmes, millions of browser windows, and two external screens to power, 16 GB are a must. So it was a nice coincidence to combine the upgrade of RAM with the upgrade of a new processor. I was astonished how much of a difference it made.

December was another month where we came out of a lockdown. So the mood was more positive. As I got into artwork this year, this was the time to add more, and finally I was allowed to do it. Finally something to look forward to. I also completed the first half of a diploma in counselling and learned a ton about inner conflicts. This year has really been about learning, about looking forward, looking inward, and making it work. Particularly the latter, you come up with so many ways to spin a positive story, to keep the kids entertained, to make it through this year. Helping others, helping yourself, and supporting each other.

We made it in the end. We are still alive. I will have 2 weeks off which are desperately needed. New ideas for 2021. New hopes. New plans. And on top of that, we are so grateful for what we have. I don’t know how often I cried this year, but more often, and more often for good reasons.

A quote I read was ‘maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.

This sums up 2020 a bit for me. I looked inwards a lot, and I discovered a lot in there too.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas. As you might read in my newsletter, I am not religious. So however you want to spend this Christian based holiday, spend it with your loved ones, and enjoy some quiet time.

Maybe look back at 2020, see how much you have learned and what you can be grateful for, and make some plans for 2021.

For me Christmas is about time off, nice wine, cheese, food and log fires. Time with the family and sharing the love. No excesses this year. We want to be humble.

If there is ever anything I can help you with, don’t ever hesitate to reach out.

Have a great 2021.

Love and Kindness, Volker

Now is the time to reduce stress and increase employee engagement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballueder Thinks (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.

Habits and Routines – Productivity Tip 5

How to you de-stress? How do you keep fit?

Not only during the lockdown, just generally, you have to ask yourself if having that glass of wine or beer at night to destress is the right thing? What about a healthy routine of exercise of body and mind to make sure you stay sane and healthy?

Make sure to build a routine into your day that allows for plenty of exercise, down time and mindfulness. Whether that’s a solid morning routine or small breaks spread throughout the day. Whatever works for you and your circumstances. I love my 5 am routine, and a nap if schedule allows throughout the day. Regular breaks are important, and don’t forget the earlier tip of not scheduling more than 70% of your available time.

Develop your routines and habits to have a more balanced and productive life.

If you are interested in more tips around productivity, head over to my playlist on YouTube to discover them all.

If you like what you see, you can also check out my personal development course which helps you to align your inner values to your goals and purpose in life. This in return will lead to more success and productivity.

Living in a new world – Days at home (57)

A day blends into another. Last minute changes to campaigns, learning about WordPress, getting on with a job, finishing a project.

Life doesn’t stop. It never does and always goes on. A bit like a treadmill.
I am just preparing for my 3rd half marathon of the lockdown and managed 15K yesterday.
We managed to get our walk done last night and met a very friendly sheep, or lamb to be precise. Life is good in those moments.

I wonder what happens post pandemic. Articles by McKinsey and the FT, and the article in the Independent I quoted yesterday, give me hope that things return to a new normal quickly, and that we rebound quickly from the crisis. Germany seems to be.

I hope this happens soon, and that maybe we can carry on a bit longer to follow our dreams, to live the life we wanted to be living. Then again one seeks security, new opportunities and a balance of the lot. What I am alluding to is, indeed, the new normal. The drive to succeed, to overcome, to make it happen. And, the willingness to take risks and to start all over again. Exciting and scary at the same time.

I worry about mental health. It is mental health awareness week.
I published content this week on Linkedin which shows the impact of Covid19 on mental health. We are ok, and I hope the boys will be ok. One doesn’t know but I am confident. Yet, we know of people who are more affected. And it is nice to know that I can help, and that I do help, and that mindfulness helps with stress reduction. My stress coaching course I finished today gives me another string to my bow. Stress reduction, anxiety coping and burnout prevention. My generation never talked about it, whilst the Millennial and younger generation does. And it is good that they do.

Speaking to a company the other day, they argued that the reason for them to offer unlimited holidays is that you can take time off when you need it. No one wants you to burn out. I absolutely loved that; no one told me before, when I was close to a burnout a few years ago, that they would actually care about me (from a corporate POV). It’s usually about working hard and playing hard…but it is so re-assuring to see companies changing.

Enough about mental health thoughts for the day.

It’s only Tuesday, but I had some time to share my thoughts.

Stay safe.
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (52)

Hey, how are we all doing?

It seems, given recent discussions, that the world is slowly returning to the new normal. April was a write off, and we are now going back to new normal, a normal of working from home, schools and services resuming, if slowly.

What are we missing, and what am I up to?

Actually, let me share a video I shared earlier on this week on social media and earlier today on FB/IG. It’s an update about me, but also about my most recent podcast.

My podcast focuses a lot around stress management and prevention, as well as burnout prevention. Why?

It’s simple, so many of us are stressed. What does the future hold? What is going to happen? Stress becomes anxiety, becomes depression, leading to burnout. It’s not conclusive, but it might happen. I don’t want that to happen to anyone, and so far have avoided it for myself. Having said that, I publish a podcast soon which actually defines burnout in a way where I identified I was a few years ago. It’s time to talk openly about it, hence I was very pleased to welcome Sean Betts on the podcast to talk about his experience. Let’s remove the stigma.

As you can see it also talks about my personal development course #BeBetter. It is designed to identify your values and underlying drivers, your purpose and goals, for you to achieve success and become better, to achieve your dreams, to improve your productivity.

Maybe something you or someone who has been furloughed might benefit from?
We should all do those exercises and #BeBetter and understand ourselves. That’s what it is designed for.

Enough of a self promotion. But I just come out of a discussion with my agency to promote the course and see the uptake on it. Great stuff, keeping me busy 😉

Have a good one and speak tomorrow.

Best,
Volker

Living in a new world – Days at home (51)

Wednesday already. This week is passing quickly. That’s good, right?

I watched ‘A Hidden Life’ last night, a 3 hour movie. I don’t normally like long movies, but it was a very good, very intense movie, which I also recommend to anyone given the time you have on your hands 😉 That’s of course if you do.

I managed to sign up for another coaching course which helps me coaching stress and burn out prevention. A topic I am interested in, and you hear a lot on my podcastpodcast recently.

The boys had a good day today actually. They seem to engage well, and the mood is great. Just something (good) in the air, not sure, but things seem to lighten up. Fingers crossed.

I kind of love some good music videos. This one was shared in a popular sales newsletter by Revcelerate (Thanks Phil!) and I thought I re-share it. Times like these, ey?

I am sure I have more pictures again tomorrow. We have been on our daily walks in the country side and things seem more normal. All good I suppose, and things are moving, aren’t they.

Yet, there is a lot to sort out still.

But we will get there. Of course we will.
Never ever give up!

Stay safe!

Living in a new world – Days at home (45)

Yes, it is Friday – sort of!

We are back on Monday 😉

I had a busy week. I am good at keeping myself busy, but besides the launch of my online coaching courseonline coaching course, I have been designing banners, making marketing plans, learning things and having great conversations. However, I did manage a few 5 pm finishes, and enjoyed the sunshine, some walks and socials.

I put one podcastpodcast live this week where we talk anxiety, depression and burnout. I recorded another one with an amazing woman from Germany about stress and burnout. It’s a hot topic, for the wrong reasons unfortunately, but a topic I am a) interested in and b) want more people to talk about.

The boys have been better. The lockdown has an impact on them, and I hope we get more freedom from next week. Fingers crossed.
Kudos to my wife for being just super awesome! She isn’t a bread baking person (that’s down to me), but she is great in engaging and entertaining the boys individually, helping with the home work etc. Super proud (of course!).

We also got a shelf delivered we ordered early February – things just take longer atm. Pictures to follow.

So not much new stuff, just turning over one page at a time, plugging away at things.

Enjoy, as much as you can, a great bank holiday weekend. Speak Monday.

Over and out,
Volker

You can’t give up. Ever. A personal look at life.

After an inspirational podcast recording the other day, my guest ask me if I ever thought I’d have a burn-out, given all the stuff I am doing. I wanted to pick that question, because this is a passionate topic of mine. I have always been work focused, enjoyed work and love being busy. I could never imagine not being busy or doing something. It’s an inner drive I have, however …

I am no King, but I like a laugh
I am no King, but I like a laugh

Reflecting on my work life, I have gone through seven redundancies in my career. That’s more redundancies than some people had jobs at my age. But, I haven’t given up. And, I have not had a burn-out or struggle with mental health problems. Given ‘blue Monday’ was last week, I have been reflecting on how lucky I am. Whilst I have to deal with anxiety when I hear the words of ‘restructure’, as it just has this negative association with redundancies, given my history, I believe that is fair enough.

There is something to be said about being able to get up 8 times when you have been knocked down 7 times. What I struggled most with was that people didn’t see the value I added, or if they did, they were bound by politics and ‘that’s the way it has to be done’, e.g. following ‘bullshit rules’. Redundancies are never personal, and once you understood that, it helps you to deal with them.

I am freeing myself from those bullshit rules more and more, in life and work, and focus on doing a great job. Simple. And the jobs I am doing now following a theme and passion of mine.

At the moment, I still maintain a foot in adtech, in an area I absolutely love and adore (data!), and which is changing massively over the next few years with Google’s recent announcement to abolish the 3rd party cookie; additionally, I work with companies that I can help and that can help you! I am excited by both sides, which is why I now work for myself.

I offer Mindfulness Trainings for instance to improve mental health, and to improve resilience and therefore productivity in the workplace. My start-up Moment Pebble is working in a similar area. I have been training Mindfulness for myself since 2006, and I believe that it made me more resilient, and therefore I never had a burn-out or struggled with mental health when taking redundancies or faced the challenges of life. Unfortunately, I know too many people who weren’t that lucky, and I want to help them, and help others to avoid that experience. Does that make sense?

Productivity, resilience, mindfulness – all of those topics have been part of my life for many years, as I have always had a focus on ‘live to work’. I love achieving, whether that is to write a bestselling book, or have a can do attitude at work. I am a doer (manager’s quote) and I get shit done. Simple. That’s who I am and I absolutely love it. Striving, but not over-striving, resulting in not having a burn-out or doing too much. It’s a fine balance, but you can learn it. For many years, I have optimised my approach, refined my productivity (remember I wrote a book on it years ago), and tried to be better, running a more optimised life. And it has paid off, multiple times. The constant improvement, holding yourself accountable. That’s self-coaching, and yes I had help from external coaches and mentors too. Thank you!

And, with me being trained in Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and other techniques, it means that I know when things get too much. I realise that when I am juggling too many balls and have to put one aside before I drop it and it breaks. I know when people around me struggle and I know how to help them. And, I discussed that with my podcast guest too, I never turned down a favour to help people. I never asked for more than I give, and always pay a favour forward. I believe in the greater good and the good things in life, the good people, and that the majority of people are genuinely nice people and are in this life to do a good job and achieve the most for others first, then themselves. This has always been my motto for many years, as I believe as a good manager, you rise with the tide.

Hence, in conclusion, I know where I can add value and whether I can take on more work. Yet one thing is changing, and that goes in line with what I preach: I start to live my life more in a way that family will always (!) come first, and that I work more around family commitments; ‘working to live‘ rather than ‘living to work‘. It’s about choice and balance.

This won’t impact my output or productivity, the opposite is true, it will make me even more efficient; with my 5 am routine I am already doing that, but it’s about balancing life, prioritising, and making sure all parties involved are happy. It’s not about slowing down, it’s about channeling the energy in the right way, applying focus. Maybe what I read in the One Thing finally comes to fruition.

Giving up isn’t an option.
Changing the way you do things is.

The most important thing is to be happy, enjoy what you are doing, put focus and effort into what you are doing, do a good job, and be good to people who surround you. It will always pay off in the long term.

Have a wonderful week.
Reach out for comments or contact me for a chat, I am always happy to help!

Volker

Thursday Flash (23)

Flash….

No way you living in the Moment – as a Buddhist this is tricky. We should focus on the present moment but our brains are wired to focus on the future. Even more important to train your brain daily via meditation.

Five ways to keep stress at check. It is all about connecting with what matter. Good friends, nature, the outside and disconnect from technology and disturbance. Taking a break from the constant pressure reallly.

The next programmatic revolution. A more industry focused article on why what’s possible with programmatic these days and how it is best used. Like it!