Tag: summer

Ballueder Thinks (7) – Summer innit?

It’s hot at time of writing. 27.5 degrees in the car, as I wait for my son to finish his karate lesson. The first ‘real one’, face to face, since March, and parents are no longer allowed to watch. Life has changed. Next time I take the bigger car with the air conditioning. We adopt to the new rules of course, as we all do.

Today, at time of writing, we were supposed to go to Ashford, then Folkestone tomorrow, drive to Germany and celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. The government put Belgium on the list of countries to not stay in and if you come from there, you have to quarantine for 14 days. Surely driving through it would be an exception. But it isn’t. Several calls to the government hotlines got us the same answer and it was: if you touch Belgian soil, even in a car, not stopping, you have to quarantine. Loose your income for 2 weeks. Can’t train for the marathon. WTF. This got changed at the time we rebooked…but hey, you have to make decisions when you do.

So with a heavy heart we postponed our trip to Germany, fearing that France would end up on the list soon too. And it did when we were supposed to be out there, alongside the Netherlands. Why risk it? I haven’t seen my parents for 8 months, yet they can’t postpone their anniversary. The original plan was to go on a cruise, which ultimately got cancelled. And our flights got reimbursed. So that’s good at least.

Cut a long story short, we went to Scotland instead. Staying in the Greater Manchester area over night, driving on the M6 through a lockdown area. No quarantine necessary, despite my arguments on the phone with the government, this isn’t the same use case. There are no restrictions to do be on ‘Manchester soil’. Nevermind. I would argue otherwise, but who am I to criticise the government?

Actually I do. I think they properly f* it up. The UK as it was 19 years ago when I was attracted living here, is no more. The handling of the Corona crisis and the amount of dead people speak for itself. The recession and Q2 GDP contraction figures higher than any other country. I am hugely disappointed with the state of affairs and handling of the situation. Nothing screams ‘Brexit will be a mess’ more than looking at the clowns on the top. Never have I felt more passionate about politics in any country. And looking at A-Level results, both in Scotland and England, I can only say WTF again. Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be a political or blog post ranting, but I guess sometimes it just needs to be said. But what’s the alternative?

Maybe it was naive to think we could leave the country in a pandemic in order to travel. Or it is naive to think we are out of the worst, and that there won’t be a second wave. I don’t know. Looking back at the first half of the year, I have been lucky to have work, as a contractor, and actually uncovering opportunities, regardless of the situation. Things might not be as planned, but who had planned 2020 and actually got what they planned for? Hence, I am actually very grateful for what we have, the health we are in, and the prospects we have. It confirms my decision to go freelance. To be my own boss, and make it happen, without relying on others. This is a huge blessing to be honest, even if it is hard. But why would I want to rely on others to have a job at this stage? I am not saying I am not tempted to join a company full time, but that needs to be the right opportunity. Anyway, not pitching 😉

As anyone at the moment, I just like to have a good life and want this virus to go away. Yet we need to think what life would be like if the virus won’t go away anytime soon, or ever? How will our lives, jobs and situation change? Location won’t be an issue once of a sudden. Barbados, New York, Toronto, London, Singapore – as long as you can work in the time zone of the company you work for, you can live anywhere. It also means that education for your kids and living standards, e.g. activities, are key for location preferences moving forward.

There is something else I read in the Financial Times: a lot of people used the lockdown to clear out rooms, cupboards etc. However, a lot of people also cleared out emotional backlogs. I agree. As a matter of fact we cleared a lot of stuff from the loft and garage at the end of last year, and emotionally I have been on a journey to change and clear things out for about a year. I made huge progress, and recently went through some more hypnotherapy sessions. Contact me if you want to find out more, but I find it super useful to clear out any blockages, and explore what is holding me back. My confidence and self awareness took another step up, and I highly recommend anyone doing it. It’s like clearing out your garage, your mental one.

The main reason me bringing this up is as I have been speaking to more and more people experiencing anxiety. The lockdown and loss of human contact, will result in a huge crisis from a mental health perspective. I am super proud of the companies that have worked with me throughout the lockdown to teach their employees mindfulness in the workplace ; one group in particular has done very well by allowing for a weekly session discussing mindfulness, and any mental health issues. The group coaching sessions are ongoing and helping massively to put the lockdown into perspective, whether that is from a mental health or personal perspective. If you or your company employees are effected, and they likely are, you should consider having similar sessions. I am not saying this to advertise my services, but highlight the importance of doing it. Whether with me or any other mindfulness coach or practitioner. The hungover of mental health after the pandemic will be huge; combat it today! Be proactive, you will thank me later.

Our holidays ended up being fantastic. We had splendid weather in Scotland, and hardly any rain. It was warm, and allowed for me to continue my marathon training. I will update everyone properly once it is all confirmed, but the London Marathon 2020 will be a virtual one, and all donations roll over to the next physical one, which I plan to run in October 2021 or April 2022. I prefer the former, so let’s see what we get. I shall update my Justgiving page as soon as things will be confirmed. Bear with me, not a logistical walk in the park for the London Marathon organisers.

I love being in Scotland. It’s a rough terrain, friendly people, good greasy food and lovely ale. Walking, running, or just enjoying the countryside is fab. We rented a wee flat in Inverness and visited the MIL up North frequently, whilst doing our own family things, like looking at amazing forests, Loch Ness of course, or just shopping in town. Visiting a white sandy beach.
Scotland is a lovely country, and if we knew we could work remotely forever, I would go and buy a wee house in the middle of nowhere. However, we don’t know, and there are question marks around some infrastructure here, but that’s for another time. The idea sounds lovely though.

As you can imagine, running your own business, you still work all week. However, I have been lucky as I wasn’t that much in demand, and people respected me being slow to respond. I actually didn’t do much work at all, and we enjoyed a lot of quality family time, a change of scenery, and just doing nothing. Yes. I managed to just sit there, and do nothing. Not like me, but it is so important to reflect, drain your brain and just sit and think. I enjoyed the time off, the company and making memories with the family.

When you read this we are just back. Time to kick-start my 2nd year as a contractor/freelancer and kicking some ar*. I am ready to make a difference, take on more project work, run a marathon and conquer the “world”. Get rid of the virus, spend more time with the family and balance work and life. A holiday puts so many things into perspective, so does Covid, and there will be more decisions coming our way. That’s certain and that it’s certain that I lost all confidence in trust in this government.

For now, enjoy some time off, disconnect and make memories with your children and loved ones. Time you never get back.

Love and kindness from my little corner of the world.
Volker

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 (326)

A funny, kind of weird week that was. On Saturday last week I was very active in the morning and treated myself to a nice afternoon nap before friends came over for a BBQ. Finally we had the weather, yet I woke up feeling cold and not right. Of course we soldiered on, yet on Sunday I woke up with a temperature. I ultimately postponed my trip to Berlin from the Monday early red eye to Monday afternoon, had delays etc. – to cut a long story short, I felt fit enough on Monday and alright on Tuesday.

After a great conference we went for plenty of beers on Tuesday from which I awoke with a rash, small popped blood vessels on Wednesday morning. Not even feeling hangover at all. Whilst most would say it is a hangover and I am a lightweight (and I am a lightweight), my body definitely had some allergic reaction. I had that previously with beer, so I assume the virus, beer, and maybe some hay fever, all came together to cause this. I felt dizzy on and off, but not bad enough to not go running in Wednesday after coming back home nor on Thursday. I hope coming this Monday things will be back to normal. Yet odd. And today I even got a blizzard of headaches…really odd.

I don’t want to bore you with my health problems, and thank god I am as healthy as I am, but it did give me a scare. Whilst part of my adrenalin flow was surely booze related, there was something that was more an allergic shock. The former I know. The latter scared me a bit. Oh and did I mention some trapped nerves….But it is all good now I think. Getting there anyway.

Life dials you funny cards sometimes. I had a rash on my hands as a boy and went through trillions of test. Cat allergy, cobalt (metal) and all sorts of allergies were found. Boom, the day they tried to get a piece of skin cut out to test it, the rash disappeared. Coincidence? Stress? There are thoughts regarding this too. Maybe some other time.

Going back to the fatherland was a pleasure, the conference was in Berlin. Life is good, sunny, friendly and Berlin is very cosmopolitan. The cultural impact it has on me is amazing, the impact its history has too. I met some great leaders in our space and amazing people. And, I enjoyed my stay but the above of course.

Berlin

I am glad that for the next two weeks I will not be travelling. I will be able to get back to my exercise routine, healthy eating routine and seeing some clients locally, seeing the kids for breakfast. There is not a more precious moment as when you are away for a couple of days, and you go into your four year old bedroom and pull his blanket up whilst he is asleep. He wakes up ever so slightly and gives you that deeply loving smile, turns around and is back to sleep in a second. True bliss.

These precious moments are the key. The key to motivation. To keep going. To think and visualise his smile when speaking to a boring person…..to escape any situation. Escapism. We all need that. Those days being disconnected. A day off or an activity alone. Taking 5 minutes away from what has been a busy day.

So in closing we are waiting for a quote to do the rest of the work upstairs, had some builders around for inspection and settled the suitcase story. Amazon pushed the seller to reimburse the money and I ended up buying one in a shop. About £70 cheaper. Win/win and I finally can put that to rest too. We even got some ice cream on Brighton beach today. Life’s too short not to.

Enjoy your moments and have a fantastic week.
Volker

Sunday Column (178)

The Olympics have arrived. I cannot believe it has been four years coming for London to plan this event. At work we still haven’t figured out whether people will work from home, more flexible or not at all. Will the tubes run, how full will public transport be….I guess we find out tomorrow.

20120727-191710.jpgMy wife reminded me on Friday that we said, when London was announced to host the 2012 Olympics, that we won’t be living in London anymore by the time they’d be happening. I guess we were somewhat right.

But London, as a Olympic town, has a fantastic USP (Unique Selling Point). In last week’s FT magazine, it was suggested that only in London you get a true melting pot of nations. I never thought about it but it probably is correct. No ghettos, lots of accents, skin colours and mixed races. Our kids are, our office has above 60% international employees and I haven’t had a take away from the chipper lately. Latter might be due to the fact that my wife doesn’t like fish but you get my point I am sure. London is multicultural at it’s best. We are loving it.

The weather. Would you believe it? High twenties, even above thirty degrees in July in London. I am glad my new commuter train actually has an air conditioning. So will our new office which we plan to move into by the end of next month.

Life couldn’t get much better. I get the evening sun in the garden despite it being a North facing garden. The universe is good to me. I better be good to the universe too.

This week I started another habit. You know when you say older people are stuck in their way, I am doing exactly that. Trying out the best routine and habit to get stuck in. And one, besides the weight lifting, is going to bed at 10 pm in order to get 7 hours sleep. Being an owl and enjoying to stay up all night, I am also a lark enjoying the early morning for both my sports but also for thinking and working.

So yes, the more I read about the energy household, the more I think I need to have 7 hours of sleep, probably cutting it down to 6 in the future. Even this week I realised that I seem more awake after 6 than 7 hours of sleep. You probably noticed that I have been posting info on cancer and cancer research. Luckily I don’t know anyone who has cancer but this is still a disease we haven’t mastered. Prevention is still the best medicine for it. And enough sleep and exercise is just one factor of it.

I like studying topics outside my work expertise to broaden my horizon. Cancer is one, personal development the other. Intellectual stimulation. And a lot of those learning can be applied to my daily life, killing two birds with one stone really.

You know how I keep saying I am so thankful and happy. I am. Seriously, I am in a stage of my life where I like to just enjoy what I have. Just to carry on. And enjoy. That is great. There are challenges ahead, more to learn, more to gain, more growth and all. And not that I don’t look left or right. But for now I just like to live and work, come home on a Friday, kick back a few glasses of red grape juice and enjoy where I am. The here and now. Now. Nowhere else. You never know how long you can hold on to those good times.

20120727-191018.jpgThinking back to the week I made a lot of progress at work. I have a bunch of really good people working for me. We are making loads of progress on all ends and I am confident to hit the targets I set myself, and the ones that were set for me. On the other hand we have some bad rumours circulating from people that left the company. It bugs me but I am trying to ignore it. This industry is very small. Anyway, only the one who knows knows. Onwards and upwards, still lots to come. Ignore those jealous unthankful people.

The weekend I spend with the family. I had a lot of catching up to do with the boys. I miss them, during the week but guess this is another thing I just need to accept.

Our old neighbours came to visit and we spend a nice day visiting some windmills in the South downs. You probably saw the pictures. It is great to see that we keep in touch with our good friends. I would love to have them as neighbours again. Having said that our new neighbours are lovely too. We have been lucky. The universe is good to us.

That is it really. Another week, and the Olympics are upon of us.

Let’s be excited, let’s take on the challenge.

Best,
Volker

Not a bad day

For early June the weather on the island has been good. We went to Hayes, Kent, today. A nice, typical High Street. A gastro pub not allowing kids under 5.

Do I slowly feel homely in England. Or are we just spoiled by the weather, luring us into false expectations. Ask me again in November, when we have ice and snow, and the whole transport system breaks down.

Until then, enjoy!
Volker

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Sunday Column (112)

Another week has gone, and Easter is here. What a fantastic weather we have been enjoying in London over the last week. Summer, sunshine, degrees in their 20ties. Great! It lifts the mood but almost puts a damper on when sweating away in the office.

Btw office: we have now finalised most of the equipment we need in the office and moved in 99.9%. We still need to do some smaller things, but overall the office is ready to use with white boards, board room, video conferencing and all. Looking back to when I first launched the company in the UK last year, renting a desk in a basement office with a laptop, we came a long way. Onwards and upwards, our 2nd anniversary was this month.

So I am happy. Work is great, good lunches with great people, fantastic meetings with intelligent people and good strategic conversations with smart guys. On top of that I am developing some new ideas from books about energy households, innovation and business structures to work on some cb consulting ideas 🙂

On the other hand, I am annoyed at an SEO company that seems to rip of my friend, charging her money for not doing the job right, making use of her ignorance. It really pisses me off, as my understanding of running any business is of going the extra mile, delivering value for money and delivering results. And if companies don’t do that, don’t deliver on promises, and make use of people’s ignorance, then this is wrong and unsustainable. Rant over.

As you have seen in my earlier blog post about London this week I got the chance to be on top of Tower Bridge. A fantastic networking event organised by Improve Digital. Those are the moments when I absolutely love London, enjoy the company and fall in love with this city over again.

Of course, going back to work in overheated and over crowed train carriages the next day puts me back down to earth. It isn’t all as nice as it could be, and my wife and I have ongoing discussions what to do next, where to go and what might be best for our family. Don’t worry, nothing will change any time soon, but thoughts are brewing 😉

In the meantime we enjoyed a socialable Easter weekend. We had our neighbours over for dinner on Thursday, friends on Saturday for a BBQ and went to Winchester today after we had to cancel that trip the other week. Only visited a good friend and his young family and didn’t stop to see everyone we know down there but will do so again this year.

We are content, happy, and we love seeing the kids changing and growing up each day. Colin loves the garden, the sand (sand box to arrive soon), and watering the flowers.

Life is good.
Happy Easter.

Love and happiness from Beckenham,
Volker & co