Pondering ”culturalness”

2 Jul

I was pondering on cultural differences recently – particularly in the light of the ongoing ‘brexit negotations’ and the AI bots which developed their own trading language. That negotiating with different countries isn’t only knowing the language.

Having lived in the Netherlands for many years I can tell you that negotiating with the Dutch is, imho, one of the most difficult things. As you never feel like everyone go what they wanted. It is probably a US thing – we go in wiht our list of ideas, wants, desires and tend to openly say ”we want this what do you want for it”. Whereas the Dutch trade. They often have a list of throw-away items they can lose, their main goal and sometimes a hidden one. They can seem amazingly happy at the smallest ”win” and fight ferociously for something you think doesn’t rate.

Culturalness also goes to how people use language. On the other side of the pond several countries speak the same language(s) as this side yet they use it differently. Not just accent, spelling and vocabulary but also different use. So you take different cultural perspectives, rules of negotiation and use of language and we can prouldy announce that in 2017 we still have a tower of Babel! [wonderful Dutch expression loosely translated as Babylonian lost in translation]. Maybe emojis will save us? If the AI bots don’t takeover first…

Back to blogging…

2 Jul

Hello there it’s been a while. I was all taken up with ”less is more” channels and trying to improve profile views with articles on LinkedIn versus blog posts…more fool me because if you send people to your great site/blog you need to keep it up to date. The question is always who is looking for me? How do they find me? AND – what do I want them to see?  So back to personal branding and re-populating the blog/website with some ponderings and musings on (global) marketing. But first the best thing to do – re-use content. So the next few posts will be transferring some linkedin articles over. Bear with me folks!

Observations on cultural differences

13 May

Differences amongst people from different countries? Is that even allowed? Of course if it gives us a way to understand each other better. Language is not the only tool…

On the London City commuter flight recently I was suddenly struck by the ease with which the Dutch travel (for business). Shouldn’t be a surprise, however believe it or not despite having conquered the 7 seas the Dutch are quite a homely people. But if its business then they’re quite happy to plane, train or automobile. The thought of  a commuter marriage is perfectly normal and many people in NL regularly work remote to where they live.

The British are uber-polite and a bit patriarchal (sorry), Americans over-friendly, think out loud and often times lost, the French political and big fans of child-raising by nanny, the Germans quiet and rule followers and the Dutch are straight to the point and willing to travel…generalizations and my own observations. But I find that if we observe we learn. And understanding the cultural context of the other helps to remove barriers.




Late predictions

10 Feb

In 2017 content will still be key. Branded content with validity, making sense. Also we will see more consolidation, particularly of channels. I myself have been guilty of too many channels making content hard to find.

Hopefully we will also see a continuance of authenticity. In people doing what they say and being transparent in their transactions. Because there is no such thing as alternative truth, there is fact and there is fiction. But there is perception and nuance.


Peace on for 2017.

Don’t Compete! Collaborate!

6 Dec

As this is the title of the speech I have submitted to @spark Spring I thought I should blog about it.

I realized that it all came down to a decision – you can compete and maybe even win – but you are always comparing yourself to someone else and setting the game by their standards.

How to discover your inner superwoman? How to feel at ease with things? Don’t. Don’t give up – no don’t stop. But stop living by those rules.

Do the Kobayashi Maru. Write the rules. And my rules are I’m not competing. I collaborate.

I am more than the individual. I am the sum of the parts. It enriches me to be a part of something else and it makes me happy to contribute. So I choose to collaborate.



4 Aug

Apologies but as a (former)member of the advertising community I have to wade into the Cindy Gallop discussion. It is scandalous that women are still paid less than their male counterparts and that the world seeks to legitimize that.
It is ridiculous that women are underrepresented in most boardrooms/governments/management teams. Full stop. It is appalling that excuses are created on both sides to legitimize this. We shouldn’t be trying to compete in a man’s world…the world should be changing to reflect and accommodate over 51% of the population.

And it is and will…because all 3 of my meetings this week were all women! And we got stuff done. And these weren’t little homespun companies I was meeting with.

There is hope!


23 Jun

I’ve posted about networking before – we all keep reading on how to build one, how to maintain one, the importance of one. I was recently at a meetup.com meetup and met some new people and we discussed networking. How blah it was to be at a network event where people basically were only interested in selling you something. Or other meetings where people expect you to lay your network on the table as an item of value. The common theme I heard these lovely people say – and praise be – was that a network is of value to you. That you figure out where, when and how you can help and possibly be helped. But helping first is sometimes the key. Build a network based on how interesting people are and their value will show itself.

Oh and get out there out of your comfort zone and meet new people!

Remember to market internally…

12 Apr

We spend a lot of time working on our external shell – how the world perceives us, our products, our services. We think about our corporate vision, branding, website, letterhead, signature etc. We are very polished in marketing ourselves externally. But how about internally? My friend and former colleague Hank Poot wrote several posts on Linkedin about the engaged employee and the actual loss in profitability by companies by people who ”just do their job”. I say take it one step further  – and people this isn’t news – make sure to market yourself internally. All those great values we write down in value ladders and pyramids, do all of your employees know and embrace them ?  Do we take time to engage them in the process? In understanding what it all means and confirming that they are behind it? Do people understand what a touchstone is and why the values are something we need to test everything against? No is usually the answer, but often and even more sadly, because management and the marketing department didn’t bother to think about selling internally.

Years ago I was at an ad agency expecting a foreign delegation of one of their biggest clients, they meant to request that employees kept in mind that this famous sport shoes brand was visiting the next day, and be sensitive by not wearing their outright competitor’s brands. Turned into a Catherine the Great kind of atmosphere. Why? Aside from the fact that if there is one thing a Dutchman hates being told is that he has to not do something – it’s also because they were not engaged with the brand they worked for. They didn’t know the values/marketing behind it. It was a fun place to work, won some great awards but at the end of the day it was a paycheck.

So market to your internal clients as well…

The joy of publication

22 Mar

I have discovered the ‘joys’ of posts on that super duper business network LinkedIn so have neglecting my semi-professional blog. It’s a typical sign of the times that the latest (read easiest accessible and gives me new followers) medium is where to find us. And to be honest the LinkedIn posts are even easier to create and publish than a blog post. So my next marketing challenge will be how to consolidate my business readers.



What to wear at/to the office

9 Feb

Some many years ago when we got back from school our mothers would shout ”change out of your school clothes” before we would go get covered in mud and tomatoes. Sunday you had to wear itchy nice clothes to go visit the grandparents and only summers were spent in super casual wear. In the market I moved to, especially the advertising industry, many felt that it was old hat to wear ”nice clothes” to the office unless you were a banker or funeral director. In Advertising it seemed that the more underdressed you could be the better. Not stylish, not fashionable, no just practically rolling up to the office in what you had on in bed.  A few years ago I re-posted an article about the dawning realization that what you wear reflects on how people perceive you and your professionalism. After several years abroad, in markets that seemed to take that clothes make the man still seriously, I came back to NL in 2015 and must say pleasantly surprised. Still amazing glaring instances of people who don’t seem to connect how, what, when, where & why but more and more you’re seeing working Amsterdam look like working Amsterdam.

Clothes make the (wo)man. Dress for success, dress for the job you aspire too, dress to impress (not labels but style) and don’t be a slave to trends.