Category Archives: Learn about everything

Time

 Time is such an interesting concept which is mainly driven by kids when you have some. I guess the reverse is true for the kids but I am not sure about that. Yesterday was the last day in school for this year and it is amazing how quickly things change. First you have to worry what to do with them over the summer so they don’t get completely bored and then again don’t drive you completely mad. The best way to do this is usually to split the time with them in case both parents work which is usually the case considering the sky rocketing cost of living and the outragous price tag for Louis Vuitton bags.

This has adavantages and disadvantages. As you usually plan your day around your kids and they are suddenly not around you have a couple of options. The first thing you do is to switch on the alarm as it is so quiet that it starts to get scary. Then you start reading a book you tried to read for months only to find out after a couple of pages that it is super boring. After that you do the unthinkable you switch on the telly in the middle of the day.

After zapping for a couple of minutes and ordering some useful knives on the home shopping channel you are depressed that television is not as fun as it never was. The modern household has the ability to switch to youtube so you look at some tennis, mountainbike, golf, music or whatever videos. If you are lucky the night has dawned and you can either drink a bottle of red wine and hit the bed or you consider to go out.

The only problem how do people go out these days? So you start calling texting some friends who think that you must be drunk (quite likely from the first glasses of wine) or desperate (pretty sure). As your core friends usually shrunk dramatically over the years and mainly consist of couples with kids of the same age you get unlucky and alone.

Now it boils down to the unthinkable question. Do you dress up (or better get rid of your sweatpants you have been wearing all day) and hit the road on your own? When was the last time you did that? To increase the braveness factor you usually top up on wine while you consider or even putting on the nice pair of jeans which perfectly fit you only a couple of pizzas ago. After having finished the bottle and stare at all the unanswered or negatively answered whatsapp messages (even the 45 members of “Cool Soccermoms” could not be convinced) its d-time. You stare at your UBER app and unfortunately the next car is available in 3 minutes (no excuse). Come on do it. Do it once, do it twice. If you never do it you will never find out how it feels to enter a time machine and pretend its 1987. You go to your favourite bar as you hope that at least a couple of your buddies will be there anyway (like in the old days). Even if no one is there you always have the chance to meet new people. Talk to someone face to face and see if it is different that texting with the same old guys.

Embrace the summer it will be the last one for this year!

Early Mornings…

 I recently did a very early morning run at 5:30am as I try to get some more miles in than usual. Although it is not easy to get up that early it has something very magical to it. I ran towards the city and the first people you bump into are the young girls and boys who have been dancing (they came across pretty sober, which has never happened to me at that time at their age) all night and could not afford a taxi and still have not figured out how UBER works (that’s the scary part as I guess there are no people on the street in San Francisco at that time of the day). No other runners and very few cars which makes the air very clear and you can just keep going.
The most interesting part of my run was when I passed a waste burning factory which was lit up brightly and you could feel the warm air coming out of it. The parking lot was full which very much reminded me at a time when I had a very similar summer job. My shift started either at 5am, 1pm or 9pm. The factory had 3 shifts and was working 7 days a week. I actually have no clue what we actually have been producing as my only jobs have been to wipe the floor or move 50kg bags from one place to another. After my shift I was so tired that I slept for hours straight afterwards (which was suboptimal as I usually was not tired during the night and went out to get drunk and got back to work verry tired). I was 16 years old and it was the first time I made serious money. I mean really big bucks.The job was so bad and unhealthy that they paid up a lot. None of my co-workers had any school eduaction so there was very little philosophical discussions going on and I could not get them interested in Latin or French.

Most of the discussions with them circled around sex and alcohol. I just loved it. After I smuggled in some bottles of wine I started to become friends with my colleagues. They encouraged me to start full time as my reading skills would get me on the fast lane in no time. I was tempted. Seriously. I even had the discussion at home which did not go down too well but then again my parents did not finish high school so it was hard for them to dig out the benefits of higher education. After 6 weeks I went back to school and miracously finished it including my university degree. When I passed by today I wondered what would have happened if I would have stayed. Would I have seen almost the whole world like I did? For sure not. Would I have friends all over the place? I guess not. Would I have been less happy? This no one will ever know. I am reading Seneca at the moment, which also was not a big hero in the factory and would like to finish with a quote from him:

It is not the man who has too little who is poor, but the one who hankers after more.

Keep on running!

Token


I recently listened to a podcast from Malcolm Gladwell called “The Lady Vanishes”. Gladwell produced a series of podcasts together with the the publisher Slate which in my opinion will change the landscape and maybe the businessmodel of podcasting. For those of you who do not know the books of Malcolm Gladwell I highly recommend you to read them (his mother does too).

I listen to about 3-4 hours of podcasts per week so I consider myself a bit of an expert in this field but I have to admit that I was blown away. Like all his books the quality of it is outstanding. He is also fortunate that his voice also sounds great and Panoply (panoply.fm) put a lot of effort into the production. The key to it is of course still the content.

Gladwell tackles the issues women are still facing today by going back to the late 19th century and taking a close look at a female painter and her efforts to break into the male dominated Royal Academy of Arts. He then draws the conclusion that societies today have not changed dramatically by proving how Australia elected a female prime minister (Julia Gillard) only to be even more sexiest as it was already proven anyway how open everyone is (this is called Moral Self-Licensing). She served as a token. Like many female boardmembers do. The idea is that if you have a woman there you can keep your behaviour as you already proved that you support the cause. If everything goes according to plan Hillary Clinton will become the first female US president. Not because she is necessarily the best for the job but because she ticks a lot of boxes. I live in Austria, I basically do not care who serves as president there for the next 4-8 years. Will she be another token or will she be able to change society? Only the future will tell.

If you look to Germany where you have a female prime minister for more than 10 years I am not sure how much better the situation for the women is but you probably never had a more respected female politician in the history. Interestingly enough as soon as she got a softer (female?) touch towards intergration the public opinion about her changed in a split second. Can you only be successfull as a female leader if you resemble male beaviour? I do not think so but it looks that way.

Let’s all show a bit more respect towards each other and appreciate the successes and help out when we fail. Don’t forget to listen to Malcolm Galdwell’s podcast at: www.revisionisthistory.com

Habit Formation – Don’t crack under pressure!

 Whatever you try to achieve on a permanent basis you wont be able to do unless you do it regularly. The best example is weightloss. Whenever you try to lose some extra pounds which you build up over years you wont lose them on a permanet basis by 3 crash diets a year. You have to change for good by whatever works for you.

When you try to finish a marathon in less than 4 hours, you wont make it by running 5 times before the event. You need to practice for a long time. For a period of time that it feels bad if you do not run at your scheduled time. It feels as if you broke your routine as if you did not follow your habit.
How do you form a habit. Some people say whatever you do 30 times in a row makes it one. My honest answer is, I have no idea. You can also not run for 30 days in a row but I guess if you run 30 times in 2 months you will start missing it. Good habits also help to break bad ones. If you try to run every other day you might not drink the 10th beer and stop at 9 (just kidding, one can also run after 10 beers, just a bit slower).

A months ago I downloaded an app called habit list. It is outragously expensive at 4 EUR (equivalent of 1 beer, so if you drink 9 instead of 10 you could buy it but in the world of free it is a lot…) and was amazed how well it works.You just put in the habit you would like to form and it reminds you to do your stuff, show you stats and a few other things. It is super simple and even tech idiots like me are able to use it. After one months I am quite confident that I have formed 1 routine which I basically do automatically. I admit it is a stupid and simple one but I force myself to have a cold shower every day for at least 30 seconds. People who know me are aware that I don’t like water, swimming and I really hate cold water. But if you do it for a long period of time you actually start missing it, when you don’t get your wake up splash.

Other things are more complicated and I think will take more time but the most important thing to do is not to crack under pressure and keep on doing it. When you have a bad time do not give up, just restart, it is worth it otherwise you would not wanted it in the first place. My next goal is to run every 2-3 days. For a months it worked but I would not call it a habit yet but I achieved a performance improvement of 20% during that time. I know that the next 20% are much tougher, but I wont crack. At least I hope…

You cannot be serious

How often do you have the feeling, that you just made a complete idiot of yourself and how often do you forget about that within 15 minutes. I can assure you, that I have that feeling quite often (although I rarely take stupid pictures like that). In a world where everything has to be cool and slick I think it is very important not take oneself too serious. Our society became very much about extend and pretend instead of just admitting, I have no clue what you are talking about, just enlighten me.

Most of us would never admit not to understand certain things instead of asking the right question: I have no idea what this is all about about, please explain. This holds true not only in your job but also in your daily life. You don’t want too look stupid infront of your kids, your partner or your dog (ok maybe you should not look stupid infront of your dog as this really is embarrasing).
Although it might sound like an oxymoron (you can also admit that you have no idea what that means) but this is very often a sign of lack of selfconfidence. People who are not scared about not knowing certain things have enough confidence to admit that. Just make a fool about yourself. In many meetings I experienced the relief when someone admits not to understand what everyone is talking about as very often a lot of other people also have no clue what is going on. Instead of making a fool of himself, that person looks like a hero as he helped to enlighten everyone else.

Encourage your family, your coworkers, your neighbours to do the same. If you do not understand what is being talked about, just admit it. Make a fool of yourself (for a short time) to help yourself on the long run. Without being the smart kid in the room your selfconfidence will grow as everyone will envy you for your courage. So go out there and try not bee too serious.

If you like what I am writing, please do not hesitate to share it or comment or just like it.

Seneca und painting


This weekend I decided to make use of the weather and paint whatever I can find in my garden. As this a pain in the neck I usually only do it every other year and sometimes I pay someone for doing it (After about 5 hours into it I wished I would have had a helping hand also this year).

The reason for painting all by myself had a couple of reasons. First I think it is stupid to pay someone to paint my garden while I go for a run or do some body workout. After labouring for about 10 hours I feel as exhausted as if I would have run a marathon and I have done something good. If you do your work properly you will never find anyone who will do it as good as you will do it because in the back of your mind you know, you do it for yourself (the other guy does it for the money and has to do it everyday). The other thing which is of importance is the appreciation of work like that. You get paid a fraction of all that white collar jobs and your back will be ruined after 10 years. The last one which I did was to listen to an audiobook which I bought to celebrate the occassion.

Which other book than “The Tao of Seneca” is better when you paint your terrace. The podcaster Tim Ferris, which I highly recommend you to subscribe, produced the audio book as he could not find Seneca’s letter anywhere. After listening to it for about 6 hours I do understand why something which was written more than 2000 years still has  its validity. Without wanting to dive into too much detail I will only bore you with 1 quote: “Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power”.

Now  go out, paint stuff and listen to the Seneca dude…

Be grateful for the small things


At work they used to call me the elephant hunter. I could never be bothered with the small recurring deals, I rather worked for months for one kill which not only made the same profit but much more importantly made you famous. The older you get the more difficult it is to kill the big ones. There are fewer out there and you have more patience to grinding it out the older you get and achieve the same result.

Whenever I feel bad about something I usually go for a run or a walk (depending how fat I am) and just let go. I am in the fortunate position that I currently live in a part of Vienna which gets me right in the woods after 5 minutes on a street with no cars. Whenever you have a set back in your life you should start being grateful for smaller things and not whining about missing out on the one big thing. During my run today I started smiling after a couple of minutes when I found a path which I have never walked on although I live in the same hood for more than 15 years and I was grateful for it. Even if your life seems to be the same old grind day in and day out I can assure you that you can discover small things you have not been aware of before and you should be grateful for.

If you are not a nature guy try a new coffeeplace you have not known about. Don’t do the same routine every day. Break out from it. Even if it only means to run your normal round counterclockwise. If the weather is as miserable as it was in the past, stop complaining about. Put some good shoes on and a proper jacket and take a brisk walk in the rain and storm. For kids rain or cold is not bad weather as long as we tell them so. If you take your kids out in the rain as often as ouy can, they will not differentiate between good or bad, they will just say it is hot or cold or wet. I did take a couple walks in the rain recently and although you feel stupid at the beginning you feel outstanding when you come home. You can be sure the park will be empty, the air is clean, it wont be cold as long as you walk fast enough. Be grateful for the ability to walk in the rain. Even if it is only for 20 minutes, it is worth it. If you have been running in the rain and you liked it, you will love to run the sun.

Go out and be grateful for small things and let others know. Life is too short to be a miserable old fart.