Friday, November 30, 2007

Ben Tiggelaars "MBA in 1 day": Covey's concept of 'greatness' explained by YouTube Video Paul Potts

I attended a conference called "MBA in 1 day". Keynote speaker and inventor of the concept is Ben Tiggelaar, a man from The Netherlands. He claimed to have summorized at least 8 meters of management books, especially the books from contemporary management 'guru's'. The most important elements were brought together then in a conference lasting only 1 day. I will come back about the event in a later post.

At a certain moment Tiggelaar touched the thoughts and findings of management guru Stephen Covey. Based on his book 'The 8th Habit. From effectiveness to Greatness', Tiggelaar tried to explain what 'greatness' is all about.

Covey himself talked about becoming 'great' in the following way:

"To achieve greater heights each person must be challenged to find their voice - their unique personal significance and purposeful meaning - and help others to find theirs. Voice lies at the nexus of talent, passion, need and conscience. When anyone engages in work that taps into their talent and fuels their passion - that rises out of a great need in the world that they feel drawn by conscience to meet - therein lies their voice in life. The 8th Habit is all about how to find your voice and help others to find theirs."

"Once you've found your own voice, the choice to expand your influence, to increase your contribution, is the choice to inspire others to find their voice. Inspire (from the Latin inspirare) means to breathe life into another. As we recognize, respect and create ways for others to give voice to all four parts of their nature--physically, mentally, emotionally/socially, spiritually--latent human genius, creativity, passion, talent and motivation are unleashed. It will be those organizations that reach a critical mass of people and teams expressing their full voice that will achieve next-level breakthrough in productivity, innovation and leadership in the market place and society."

And then Tiggelaar illustrated the above with a video he found on YouTube. It is a videofragment taken from the UK television show 'Britain's Got Talent' where a mobile phone salesman, Paul Potts, baffles the jury and the audience with a stunning performance (look at the faces of the jury!). This man, this Paul Potts, found his voice, literally, on the stage of this show, inspired his audience, inspired the UK, and is now inspiring, via YouTube, the world. I hadn't heard about the video yet, I must have missed the news, already more than 17.000.000 people looked at the fragment on YouTube. If you haven't seen the video yet, enjoy ! (it calls for a new management book, "The business of the Voice" :-).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

To Manage a Message. The 2010 Soccer World Cup. South Africa is NOT safe.

I haven't written about it yet because it felt too personal. But because of football (soccer) last weekend I decided a more personal post wouldn't hurt the Impactroom blog. The thought chain started somewhere last week when Belgium lost from Poland with a smashing o to 2. Poland qualified for the first time in its history for the European Championship. Bear in mind that the coach of Poland is actually a Dutch guy, Mr. Leo Beenhakker. Believe it or not but Mr. Beenhakker is my...neighbor (living across the Dutch border in Belgium, profiting from a friendly tax-on-wealth law in Belgium). But this is not about him. I was looking after some more info about the European Championship when I accidentally read and realized that the 2010 Soccer World Cup will be organized in South Africa. And that brought me to my brother... and this where the story starts...
My brother Jan and family (wife and 2 children, 7 and 6) moved to South Africa 9 months ago. It is a non typical case of emigration in which the husband follows his wife, supporting her carrier in a multinational environment (DuPont). My brother ran a communication lab, Ad! in Belgium, before they left. Because of the fact Addictlabs' prime asset consists of an international database of creative minds and because his clients operate primarily transnational, he managed to keep the business alive, steering the company out of Johannesburg.
A small team of dedicated employees still operate from their exiting warehouse-design like office in Brussels. My brother is a visionary; he is an expert on 'creativity', making him more famous in Australia than in Belgium. Lately he tours the world giving speeches about industry and creativity. My brother is also a man who consistently believes in art, commercial creativity and in the intrinsic good of human mankind. I've read some newsletters about his whereabouts in SA, written by other expats, who ask themselves out loud who this Belgium man is that dares to leave the compounds and visit streets and city parts in Johannesburg where a normal expat wouldn't dare to be seen. In this so called 'dangerous' places my brother looks for and links with the local creative scenes. After 9 months in SA the stories about my brother sounded warm, colorful, exiting and caring. If he had been a priest I could have sworn he was converting SA into a better place single handedly and more importantly without him noticing it himself. Vanity trickles down from this man as oil of a salad. Until 2 weeks ago. In the sanctity of their compound, in their own house, my brother and his family, as well as his mother in law who just happened to be visiting, became victim of a hold up at gun point. 3 young black men broke into their house around midnight, after having tricked the alarm system of the compound and having passed a barbed wire defense barrier. Via the master bedroom they forced their way into the house, brutally waking up parents and children, waving guns, shouting, ordering to cooperate. All grown ups were tied down; hands tied behind their backs with shoe laces while threatened to be shot and killed if they didn't obey. They were ordered to point out all the cash in house as well as to reveal where the vault was hidden (they have no vault, and had very little cash in house). The men, an important detail, didn't carry masks, so my brother, himself an artist by education, knew he would be able to draw their faces as if pictures were taken from them. Robbers not wearing masks are the worst. Or they are professionals knowing upfront nobody will live to reveal their identity after the facts, or they are the worst kind of amateurs, most of the time operating on drugs to overcome their own fears, not realizing their own stupidity, suppressing whatever form of empathy they might know when not on drugs. After one hour of antagonizing fear the men found car keys and remote controls to open the gates of the compound from the inside out. They took all the money they could find, all the electronically equipment they could carry (6.0000 digital pictures on my brothers laptop) they took the Mercedes of my brothers wife and forced them to explain exactly how the remote and security devices worked. They left my brother and his family behind, tied down, in another bedroom that could be locked from the outside. They left the house and the compound with the Mercedes which enabled them to pass the gates of the compound without questions asked. I can assure you that time stood still when my brother called in at a family party we had in Belgium the day after the event. I can imagine that what happened to them comes close to the worst nightmare of expats in countries with a higher security risk. I don't think my brother revealed all details to us, as to protect our parents. Between the lines however I understood there had also been some rough physical contacts, although and thank-god-for-that the women in house were not violated. After the men had left my brother managed to bring his hands in front of him, and cut his ropes with a razor blade. After having freed his family he alarmed the compound. Heavy armed private security officers responded immediately. A wave of sympathy has engulfed his family since then. Security experts told them they have been very lucky.
Ironically my brother's wife is in South Africa with a DuPont team to teach their client, the biggest SA energy company, about the famous security ethics of DuPont. DuPont is known throughout the world for its achievements on the field of safety management, ethics and secure controlled processing environments. DuPont built a commercial model around these achievements and started to export their 'safety' knowledge to other companies and continents.

On a more elevated political level, the impact of this incident is enormous for a country as South Africa. You might laugh with this conclusion, but the circle wherein my brother lives and works is the circle of the pioneering minds and bodies. (Where do creative hotspots invariable pop up? Exactly, the downtown area's of city towns) (What triggers exponential value in property development? Exactly, downtown area's that become populated by free spirits building small companies, re-designing their turf, I would even say 'lofting' their venues, attracting little resto's and bistro's, until real estate prices become unaffordable for this kind of inspirational city developers). In the case of the hold up at my brothers house, and because of his network, thousands of these inspirational people have received 1 message, although not communicated with the purpose to hurt SA, that is not the way these creative minds work, but still, subconsciously the message sent was: South Africa is NOT safe. One sentence struck me when reading an article on the forum, it stated -and this concludes my thought chain- that the South Africa of today is NOT ready to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Friday, November 23, 2007

CEO Wisdom

"First, no one will follow you if you don't treat them with diginity and respect. No one will follow you if they do not trust you; therefore, you must be honest at all times. You must communicate the bad, as well as the good." (Errol B. Davis, Jr, CEO Alliant Energy)

"To have big success, you must have big dreams, and you must be willing to take a chance." (Summer M. Redstone, CEO Viacom)

"There was no single turning point for me in becoming a leader, but a gradual recognition that I could have an influence on the direction of an organization or a project if I stepped forward and took responsibility." (Sharon A. Smith, CEO Girl Scouts of Southeastern Pennsylvania)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

CEO Wisdom

"Hard work, of course, is critical. But you have to balance that with time for your family and friends. One-dimensional people are rarely successful over the long haul." (G. Richard Thoman, President Xerox Corporation)

"Education will prepare you for anything in life, honesty is one of the primary and necessary ingredients, and a sincere love of what you're doing is the fuel that makes it all run." (Summerfield K. Johnston, Jr, CEO Coca Cola Enterprises)

"People follow people who care about what they are doing. You've got to show people you have passion. You've got to be prepared to open up and say, 'I believe this'." (Mark Harris, Country General manager, IBM South Africa)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tom.Peters.Is.Angry. He also just turned 65 last week.

Management Guru Tom Peters came to Antwerp, invited by the Flanders District of Creativity. More than 1.000 managers, most of them men, came to be impressed and entertained by the 65 year old Tom Peters on a Monday evening.

The slides of the presentation are to be found on his website and show the graphical equivalent of a speaker shouting outloud (because he is angry).

Tom Peters had 2 new million dollar messages for his audience:
1. The Future is in hands of Women. Hire them now!
2. The Future is in hands of people over 50. Make them your clients now!

On a less dramatic level Tom Peters gave away his 10 P's on leadership:
- Purpose
- Passion
- Potential
- Presence
- Personal
- Persistence
- Priorities
- People
- Potent
- Positive

Tom Peters' quote on business schools:
Q: What is a business school ?
TP: Putting of reality for another 2 years

Friday, November 09, 2007

Vlerick Business School - The Wall Street Journal Europe - HR Executive Round Table

My first event in the new function at The Wall Street Journal Europe. I inherited the WSJE educational platform which includes the exciting possibility to build strong relationships with top universities and business schools all over Europe. The Wall Street Journal is currently delivered to some 170 universities and business schools across Europe. As part of our Future Leadership Program I hosted a Human Resources Round Table for international MBA and master students at the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, campus Leuven. It was for the first time I experienced the strength of our brand when contacting several companies with the question to participate at the HR Round Table. Finally HR executives from 6 major companies agreed to join the event.

For me it was a step back in the past because I used to study in Leuven and right on the spot where the Vlerick school was recently constructed, was in fact a famous student theater. I remember vividly how I witnessed the introduction of modern dance in Belgium, in that student theater, some 20 years ago.
Today it is a famous building again, but this time because of the Vlerick brand. What I learned from the students was that they questioned the big companies on their work-life/family balance. The 6 speakers agreed that their personal balance was not exemplary for a healthy work-life/family balance. But all companies assured that they had programs in place taking into account the desire of contemporary employees to strive for a healthy mix of work and family time. The extreme difference in amount of holidays between the European and American companies at the table caused a sigh from the international audience.

Another thing I learned from the HR execs was that it was not the Vlerick brand on the student's CV that was going to favour someones candidature (extreme silence in the audience and here and there disbelief), on the contrary, most important factor was and is the student's personality.

From right to left:
Gert Van Mol, standing, for The Wall Street Journal Europe, introducing the speakers
Pierre Devillers, Electrabel-Suez, HR manager Belgium-Luxembourg
Flor Boeckx, Dupont, HR Manager Belgium - The Netherlands
Romain Verdurmen, 3M, HR, Legal Affairs & Facilities Manager
Avinash Chandarana, MCI, Director of Talent and Development
Robin Koopmans, Borealis, HR Area Manager
Philippe De Bock, Telenet NV, HR Talent Management and Recruitment

(Picture: ©Mary Roll, Vlerick)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Milan, Monocle & le Meridien

Milan. Normally I have no problem sleeping in a 3 star hotel. Unless, they shut down the internet at 11PM, while you arrive at 10.30PM. The concierge suggested me to go to an internet cafe around the corner, at the square in front of the central train station. The internet shop has been closed for months as proven by the graffiti covering too many walls, doors and windows (It reminds me of the Broken Windows theory of the criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling). I know now (after having joined a 5 star hotel congress in Rome earlier this week) that the only place were one can find an internet connection at night must be a 5 star hotel. I end up hiding in the deserted lobby of Le Meridien Gallia, strategically seated in a dark corner, half way behind a green leaf lobby plant. At 3 am a night guard asks me to leave the hotel. I had just been able to send my report to my boss and colleagues in Brussels. Mission accomplished. I walk back to my 3 Star hotel to catch a few hours of sleep.

Newsstand on Square before Milan Train Station. The team of Monocle really did a good job in branding their relatively new magazine (see posters around the newsstand, portraying a women reading a newspaper on the cover -not the WSJE unfortunately!!-). I guess Monocle works with country managers to help them grow the business in clearly defined markets (Milan being a fashion centre seems the right place to have a local country manager). As a matter of comparison, The Wall Street Journal Europe abandoned their network of country managers a few years ago in a cost cutting round by then CEO Rien Van Lent.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Self Managing your Game.

An exciting discovery. While walking in the Ardens, visiting the "cailloux de Mousny" ("stones of Mousny"), we stumbled upon a white plastic cylinder. Although the cap of the cylinder indicated at first sight it was a marijuana stash, it turned out to be something completely different. It was a treasure! A real treasure!
In the cylinder we found a diary, an explanatory letter in 4 languages, and a bag of toys.
(pictures line 1 from left to right: "Stones of Mousny, a small local attraction", "content of the treasure", "hidden cylinder between the rocks")
We learned that the treasure was part of a worldwide GPS/Internet-game. Worldwide more than 450.000 "caches" or treasures are hidden. All of them registered at Typically people will look for a treasure on their holidays and check on the site if a cash is hidden on their way (structured by country by postcode). If interested in a "cash" in a certain area, the site will provide the GPS coordinates of the treasure. Armed with a travellers GPS, site-members set out to find the hidden gem where the GPS will lead them. When the treasure is found the dairy is completed and one takes out a toy, to replace it with another toy. Some toys however are more than just toys. Some site-members have bought geocaching branded coins and "traveller bugs".

These coins and bugs are registered on the site and have been given an extra goal in life. We were lucky to find such a collectors coin in our treasure in the Ardens. Imagine the excitement of the children when they realised they could choose the heavy qualitative coin to take out of the treasure. There was a label attached to the beautiful coin. The label stated a reference number and a wish from the founder of the coin. Not living in Europe the founder wrote on the label he had difficulties collecting all Euro coins. Via his geocaching travel bug he hoped that people finding his bug/coin would help him with his collection. He brought his coin in the game in 2005! The coin travelled already more than 3.000 miles.

I didn't know such a marvelous application of Internet and GPS existed. During the weekend we actually met a team looking for the treasure. Normally treasures are well hidden, people not taking part in the game are not supposed to find such a treasure by accident.
(second line pictures from left to right: "teams looking for the treasures leave a pre-designed label in the diary when the treasures are found", "explanatory letter", "last entree in the diary before we found the treasure by accident, indicating a site-member left a much sought after geocoin - or traveller bug in the toybag of the treasure", "the geocoin in the treasure bag".)