Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


How Descartes can help you

leadership Jan 21, 2021

The other day I read an interesting essay in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung about the philosopher René Descartes and the failing ex-president Donald Trump. The essence is that, according to Descartes, we can all form infinite opinions about anything and sometimes take these opinions for the truth, i.e. for facts. 

For some people - like Donald Trump - this correspondence between opinion and facts is 100 percent: from his point of view, there can be no truth other than his own opinion. And since, according to Descartes, the capacity to form opinions is unlimited, we can also create "truths" at will (such as having won the election). I think this explains very elegantly many of his behaviors that are strange to others.

However, this is not about the ex-president, but about parallels to our leadership. For each of us, too, the line between belief and truth blurs at times. Recognizing this can help you deal elegantly with some typical leadership challenges.

Here are...
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Do you use your acceleration lane?

leadership strategy Jan 14, 2021

Do you also get upset about drivers who do not accelerate on the acceleration lane of the highway? It happens from time to time and it is irritating and even dangerous.

Well, the same behavior is exhibited by many leaders when it comes to acceleration in business. By this I mean, of course, picking up full speed at the beginning of the year, but also accelerating strongly when implementing any strategies, launching initiatives, personal development and so on.

From my experience, generating high momentum quickly is one of the most important success factors in life as well as in business.

As success guru Tony Robbins so beautifully puts it, "Make a clear decision, establish the powerful why, and then take MASSIVE action immediately!"

Here are three key barriers that often keep us from accelerating:
  1. Contentment. After all, I keep emphasizing that high satisfaction is not a good condition for outstanding success. Contentment makes you sluggish. Everyone knows this about themselves....
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How to gain momentum quickly in 2021

leadership strategy Jan 14, 2021

The beginning of a new year is an artificially defined milestone we love to take as a trigger for a new start. Energy flows where the focus goes, and in this sense, it is good to have a focus on making this New Year a successful one. 

However, much of the energy and many of our hopes and plans of the early days of the year quickly vanish.

The root cause is that success comes from repetition, perseverance and courage, not from a fierce, yet short fire. 

So the question is: what can we do to kickstart the New Year in a way that makes it a lasting success, in your business and for yourself? Here are 3 answers: 
  1. Define the ONE big goal you MUST achieve within 12 months, both for business and your private life. Be ambitious and specific. Maybe you want to triple your revenue. Or sell your company. Or get married (again). Or relocate to the country of your dreams. Write these goals down.
  2. Define three areas you need to change substantially to achieve this big goal. If you...
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Is your leadership like a kindergarten?

leadership Jan 07, 2021

Recently, I had the pleasure to watch the presentation of a human resources expert. It was about how to motivate employees - even with remote working and other difficulties.

The main part of the presentation was about how to help employees stay motivated and enjoy their work. The message between the lines was this: "People are lost when they work alone at home. So, we have to help them."

What bothers me about this? Well, quite simply: It goes in the completely wrong direction. Instead of strengthening personal responsibility and trusting team members to help themselves completely, well-intentioned advice is given. Instead of asking strong questions, instructions are given.

Unfortunately, I see this again and again from HR people, as well as from line managers: Instead of strengthening people in their independence, they are told what to do.

Do you think that sometimes there is no other way? Well, here are three ideas for giving your team more personal responsibility:
  1. Remove rules....
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Your Compass For 2021

leadership strategy Dec 31, 2020

Have you arrived well in the new year? I hope so!

And what do you do at the beginning of a new year? That's right: you take on a lot of things, of which you only implement a little later. That's not what we want to do here - namely, by focusing on foundations instead of actions.

Here's my suggestion to help you make 2021 an incredibly successful year for your family, your team, your customers and you:
  1. Establish guiding stars. By this I don't mean simply "goals," but your emotional anchor point in the future. I recommend that everyone define a guiding star for the next 12-36 months. What do you long for, in your personal life and in business? What would make you absolutely happy? The guiding star can consist of several different themes. The important thing is that it is emotionally charged. And that it is ambitious. So, go ahead: write and draw!
  2. Determine new ways of thinking. How do you need to think differently to get closer to the guiding star? Yes, that's right: You have to...
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How great was your year? These 10 simple questions provide the answer.

leadership mindset Dec 27, 2020

I think it's a good habit to slow down from time to time and look back on your accomplishments. This season is a perfect time to do that, and I want to provide you with some powerful questions to ask yourself and others. You can also use these questions for discussion among your leadership team. Just replace the "I" with "we" in this case.

Here are the 10 questions:
  1. How did I make life better for somebody (or for our clients)?
  2. Which of my personal goals did I achieve?
  3. What went extremely well?
  4. What went not as well as I had hoped?
  5. What was my greatest personal development?
  6. Who was grateful for me being around/doing my job?
  7. What did I learn that will have a lasting impact on my success?
  8. Which unimportant activities did I stop doing?
  9. Which important activities did I invest more time in?
  10. Whom should I thank for his or her support?

Tip: record the answers to those powerful questions on video. This could be your personal year-end manifesto, no matter if you share it or not!

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Almost over!

leadership strategy Dec 25, 2020

Now, there are only a few days left until the turn of the year. As you get older, you're almost inclined to think "again?" Wasn't the last one just recently?

And what do you do before the turn of the year? That's right: you reflect on the past 12 months. I'd like to do that briefly here, too, by pointing out three of my blog posts that, from my perspective (and from the perspective of my readers), got to the heart of things particularly well.

So here are my three favorites to reread and ponder:

The amazing differences

Most people never look beyond their own beliefs and experiences. Here are three ideas about what you can do for you and your team to counter the danger of mental inbreeding. Read more



Emotion Eats Logic for Breakfast

We make all decisions one hundred percent emotionally. You can use the underlying mechanisms in a positive way for your business and leadership at any time if you want to get people to act. Read more



How courageous are you?...
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Time for more growth

leadership strategy Dec 10, 2020

When does the decline of a company begin? When the focus shifts from opportunities to problems. From attack to defense. From growth to maintaining the status quo.

That's why my latest publication in the Swiss magazine Organizer revolves around the necessary leap in growth. You can request the PDF of the article here (only in German).

It has always been true that those with more success and more influence have a distinct growth mindset and act accordingly. It is a well-known law of nature that what does not grow dies.

However, a good business with loyal customers does not simply disappear from the market. It can even work very profitably for a long time. But my point is this: this strategy is highly risky and is becoming even more so in today's world. If you play the hold game, you are exposed to greater pressure in every respect, from the sales market to the labor market.

And even more important: with low growth, you miss out on huge opportunities.

The good news is that almost...

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Do you want to fit in or stand out?

leadership Dec 10, 2020

Many of us carry a conflict within us; for example, we want to do something exceptional, something great. We all are proud of achievements we worked hard on.

However, many of us fear standing out, being seen as exceptional, as great achievers, as somebody others look up to. 

I repeatedly find it remarkable when I ask the question to workshop participants when crafting a business strategy: “What would you be proud of achieving?” Many argue there would be no reason to be proud of at work. We are “just doing our job” or “others are even better than we” are answers I often hear. 

Sure, I know what speaks to me in these moments is fear. The fear to be exceptional, to be outstanding, to shine in the light. 

Here comes the twist: This fear to be outstanding is a much bigger obstacle to success than the fear of failure. So, it’s worth addressing this issue when you, your team, and your business want to become more successful. 


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How companies waste money

Recently, I accidentally came across the following conversation on one of the social media sites of the travel company Booking.com: A customer credibly complains that she will not be reimbursed – of about $100 - for a cancelled overnight stay. The company's answers revolve solely around formal justifications as to why the amount cannot be refunded.

Important background: In the last years, the customer booked trips of over $10'000 with the company.

I find such cases interesting, because they dramatically show the wrong priorities of the company: instead of systematically increasing the value of a customer and inspiring new bookings, they insist on process conformity. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

And before you say, "something like this could not happen with us," I suggest you look twice. You'd probably be surprised how much business potential with customers is also falling through the cracks at your company.

Here are three typical approaches to plugging...
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