Monday, June 25, 2007

Anthony Robbins: Unleash the Power Within: DAY 4

Last day of the seminar. This day is all about living a healthy life. Anthony Robbins transforms himself into a doctor-teacher who lectures his class on different aspects of the human body, chemically, psychologically, anatomically.Around noon I suddenly realise that the background on the huge screens in the room doesn't match the background behind the stage. I ask the people around me if Anthony Robbins is actually on stage. The hugging, singing, massaging have brought me to sit at the last row (easier to escape) so there is quite a distance between the stage and us. Everybody assures me Anthony is on stage. Indeed I see some people on stage, but not one of them resembles Robbins. I ask one of the volunteers passing by if Robbins is present today. Yes, she says, "in spirit".How does he do that ? They guy is nowhere near the Excel center in London, but he still manages to have the people think he is with them in London.I then realise that we are actually looking at a very professional videotape, the whole morning already. The content of the tape needlessly matches the events in the conference room, and vice-verse. If it wasn't for the not-matching background I wouldn't have realised we were all looking at a tape.The tape switches between images of Robbins on stage somewhere sometime in the past and a guy called "Joseph" who replaces Robbins as physical front man. Joseph is a well groomed trainee, he applies the same techniques to have the audience stand up, shout, yell, cry, hug, massage or simply breath the correct way.

(picture 1: Robbins on screen)(picture 2: substitute Joseph)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Anthony Robbins: Unleash the Power Within, London, DAY 2


A somewhat better day than yesterday. Robbins tells stories and elaborates on several life changing principals. The mass psychosis is still bugging me, but even I get carried away by the showmanship of Robbins. He is a master entertainer and knows perfectly how to build momentum in the room exploiting music, theater techniques and 12.000 hungry soles.

How to build momentum in your life?
Step 1: Put yourself in a PEAK state.
Step 2: What PASSIONATES you ? Choose to work in a field of your passion.
Step 3: Decide, Commit and Resolve! (Unleash your power!)
Step 4: Take immediate, intelligent, consistent and massive ACTION. (Do something immediately, urgency is power)
Step 5: Be S.M.A.R.T. (Choose Strategy, Measure your work, Assess whether it is giving you the emotional reward you wanted, Reinforce what works, Take new action.)

Question from an American Army General:
Why do marines loose their standards as soon as they leave the army ?
People’s lifes are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group.
Meaning: Choose your peer group, choose to work in or live around people with a higher standard than yourself. Only then you will grow. Your family should not be your peer group. Love your family, but choose your peer group.

Robbins on wealth:
If you want to become rich and wealthy (in all sorts of ways, not only financial), you need to become a teamplayer.

Biggest ‘secret’ of today’s session:
Proximity is Power.
Robbins explains using his own carriere as an example. His sessions, books and tapes tend to be bought and followed more by people from the entertainment world than people from the ‘haute finance’. Therefore it was easy to start a new venture in for example the movie or television world. Bringing one of his companies to the stock market however didn’t work out in the beginning because he had no contacts (no proximity) in that world. Only after investing time and money in introducing himself in the world of investment bankers it became easy to play the ‘financial’ game. Who you know is still the name of the game.

Emotional moments, a lot of them based on theatrical gimicks and
(film)music (Chariots of Fire, A Space Odyssee, Simply The Best ...)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Anthonny Robbins Unleash the Power Within Conference, Excel Center London, DAY 1

Took night boot from Ostend (Belgium) to Ramsgate (UK) and drove with my own car to London for Anthony Robbins conference. Took cabin on board, never done before, turned out to be wise decision, slept the full 4 hours on sea. Had to be awake to drive at LEFT side in UK.

Registration process: 1,5 hour waiting. Didn't like little flaws in organization.

Entering conference hall: again 1,5 hour waiting in another hall before doors are opened. Feel like cow amidst cattle. Conference starts too late. Lesson 1 for Anthony Robbins: how to learn to start on time. Off course: the man succeeded in selling 12.000 tickets. That's 12.000 people who have to be 'processed' and 'controlled'. But still, lessons could be learned from any average small town rock concert organizer.

First day of the conference. Mixed feelings. Atmosphere resembles 'networkmarketing' meetings a la NSA, Herbalife, NLP... or contemporary televised US church meetings. Loud music, especially music about winning and winners, 'powerful' images on screens (launch of rockets, -saw the space shuttle lift of at least 20 times-, numerous slam dunks of basketball athletes, ...), chanting on request, "say HA" on request, dance on request, clap in hands on request, "hug neighbour" on request...and 12.000 people who obey. An improvised intervention with a women in the audience turned bad after abrupt question with negative sexual connotation (interupting the woman outloud: "When was the last time you got laid?")(Saw several muslim women leave the conference room). Mass psychology. Absolutely not my cup of tea. I thought at a certain moment amidst 11.999 people in trance "if He would order us now to rob a bank, we would do it". He didn't ask us to rob a bank, he just said we had to walk on fire. And of course... we did.

Majority of 12.000 participants prepares to walk bare footed on burning coals.
Although the conference is not my thing, I must admit that the Man (God, the Messiah of superficial psychology) performed exceptionally well. From 13.30 till 23.00 he was on stage shouting, teaching, dancing, ...without break whatsoever. A performance only fit for top athletes.

A private picture of you and God backstage costs 1.500 Pounds.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Motivational course in London

I will go to London tomorrow to follow one of these extra-ordinary motivational courses of Anhony Robbins (picture). Actually I would never have gone there if it wasn't for this blog. Some 8 months ago a Google ad for a free management book appeared on this Impactroom blog. I was interested, changed server (never click on your own ads!), and applied for the free book. Not long after the application I received a friendly call from a company in Cyprus (!). They wished to check my address. Two weeks later I received the book. A few days thereafter I was called again to ask if I had received the book. I couldn't understand the dynamics behind this service. How many thousands of these books were sent around the world ? What was the catch ?? The book appeared to be from Anthony Robbins a name only vaguely familiar to me. The friendly man from Cyprus grew into being a keen salesperson for motivational courses from the author. My initial idea was to propose the Robbins organization to pay for a generic ad on this blog, but I soon discovered the mouse was asking the elephant over for tea. I learned that Accenture regarded Robbins as one of the world's most significant 50 management guru's. One reason why they were not so interested in taking a fixed ad :-) To cut the story short Robbins has been presented to me as the Messiah. Since I have been looking for my own private management God anyway, why not give him a try.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

There is a leader in every manager. There is not a manager in every leader.

Just a thought while being sick at home fighting a virus.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Night Operations in Paris

The Wall Street Journal Europe works with a daughter company of "La Poste", the French Post, for sending copies via international mail to subscribers who live in far away areas, most of the time rural areas where our hand delivery companies can not operate cost-effectively. So it is perfectly possible that a subscriber in the far North of Sweden receives a newspaper copy that was printed in Belgium, transported to Paris, and forwarded to a far away area in Sweden via the International French Postal Services.

The cell responsible for the international press service for La Poste is embedded in a STP warehouse (STP stands for Société de Traitment de Presse). La Poste has 5 gigantic STP warehouses around Paris. More than 1,8 million pieces of mail are processed in these facilities every night (not all of them going outside France). To be able to follow part of the stream of outgoing mail, all blue boxes (see picture) carry an invisible RFID chip. Thanks to the chip La Poste can measure exactly which boxes left the STP centers at what time, on which trucks they were loaded or unloaded, and at what time and at which location they were returned again after having gone through the postal cycle. (It speaks for itself that such a RFID chip would revolutionize the way fathers stand in their households. From the day all household materials carry a RFID chip there will be no escape anymore from what has been perceived as typical female or motherly tasks. The excuse we don't know where to find 'the stuff at home' will cease to exist:-)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Garden Center Rijmenants

More than 1 year ago my son asked for a pond in the garden. Since I had no experience at all in this field we went to a big famous garden center in a nearby village. It is actually more than a garden center, it is a kind of mega superstore for the interior and the exterior. In the pond department we met Luc, a soft spoken man with a great knowledge about introducing a pond in your garden.

(picture: Luc in front of the new fish tanks at 'Rijmenants')

With the information we got from Luc we created a small pond at home. Because the children practice their sports on Saturday almost next door to the garden center, it became a habit to visit the center nearly every week to look for a new plant, fish, book or ornament. We saw Luc regularly, he became our prime 'pond-contact' for all our water oriented problems. We thought of him as a driven employee, loving his job, helping customers whenever wherever he could. Most of the time we met him while he was carrying plants, building stages for products, repairing stuff, or talking to customers. He invariably wears a green fleece or a simple t-shirt with the garden center's logo, as all other employees do.

Two weeks ago I learned one of the most important management lessons of this year. We were again at the Garden center. A new employee was working in the pond department. We had a problem with a filter we bought several months ago. I explained to the new employee a certain 'Luc' had sold me the machine. I asked if Luc could be called to help us ? The employee asked me several questions in order to try to find out which Luc I was talking about because according to him there were no employees with that name. A certain confusion raised during the conversation. "Listen", said the employee, "I don't understand where we are going here. The man you are describing seems to be Luc Rijmenants, the owner of the company, ..."Luc" is certainly not an employee." Then it was time for me to be confused. "We are probably talking about two different Luc's then I guess", I said, "since 'my Luc' didn't strike me as being the owner of this center".

Curious about his role in the Garden Center (it even bears his last name then: "Garden Center Rijmenants") I asked him last week if I had understood correctly he owned the place. "Correct", he said, "(hesitantly) ... I am the owner." Asked about the fact he always wears the same outfit as the other employees, he said: "I don't like to be seen as a tied up boss watching over my employees. I want to be on the floor in the middle of the customers and the other employees. I figure that if I also join my team in processing the 'ordinary' jobs (rack filling, stage building, ...) I am a better motivator than an anonymous boss on top of the pyramid. Plus, I will know than who they really are, what they think and feel. I always hope and think that my way of working on the floor and interacting with the clients serves the other employees better than a paper manual on customer service."

The Garden Center Rijmenants celebrates its 26th birthday in September 2007. Luc runs the business with his wife. They have 26 full time employees and a turnover of around 5 million Euros a year. During the day Luc works in the center, after hours he follows up on the administration.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Children's Procession

I wouldn't want to turn this blog into a tourist site but I can't help pointing out events I see or witness and link them to a more 'managerial' view on life.

This weekend I was invited to a 'children's procession' in the béguinage of the city of Lier, Belgium. It was a walk back in time. The local community from and around the béguinage organizes every year a children's procession to celebrate the virgin Mary, which on its own sets of the festivities of the city's yearly fair. The fair will then last for 1 full month.

Only a few hundred people came to visit the procession, (I counted 4 American tourists, who clearly ended up in the béguinage by accident.) Even I had never heard about this procession while living only 25 km's from this wonderful small town. The event is an event of passion. All efforts are voluntary, although I can imagine the bearers of the catholic shrines are given beer and cheese by the church factory after the event.

With small notes in their hand people of the organizing committee try to create an event-like reality on the spot, by asking children and bearers to take certain positions on the street, to keep each other's hands, throw small colorful pieces of paper on the street with a certain grace, ask mums to accompany little daughters with fear, have spare bearers ready in the procession when shrines become too heavy etc etc... There is no rehearsal for these kind of events. Once the shrines and statutes are out of the church the event is on. Almost all visitors know somebody in the procession which results in a continuous as 'warm' perceived communication between visitors and performers.

It seems impossible to duplicate the undefinable form of cohesion between the groupmembers of the club that bears a shrine and transfer it to a workfloor environment. One shrine for example was carried by 5 members of the "Royal Brave Boat Fishers". The fact that the Club was granted to carry the "Royal" predicate means it is at least 100 years old. How many companies do we know are 100 years old ? What triggers these men to assemble once or twice a week ?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Anna Vinnitskaya Winner

Anna Vinnitskaya from Russia won the Queen Elisabeth Competition 2007 for piano this weekend and I regret I missed her performance on television last week. Her name surfaced regularly in the comments during the competition so I knew she was one of the favourites. I had hoped for a good result for the Belgian candidate, Liebrecht Vanbeckevoort, and indeed he managed to win the 6th prize, which makes him an official 'laureate' of the competition (the first 6 nominees, 'the laureates', are called by position and by name, the second 6 nominees are just called in alphabetical order).

All the finalists are between 21 and 29 years old. They can easily be compared with top athletes. I would love to be able to analyse their personal and interpersonal skills determining why they and no one else were able to reach the finale of one of the most prestigious music competitions in the world. Suppose I have an opening in my team, wouldn't it be wise to look for people with their kind of profile ?

(picture: RTBF)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition

from left to right: the 12 fimalists of this year's piano competition
Mr. Dumont François (France), Mr. Khegay Stanislav (Kazakhstan), Ms. Vinnitskaya Anna (Russia), Queen Fabiola of Belgium, Mr. Rashkovskiy Ilya (Russia), Mr. Piemontesi Francesco (Switzerland), Mademoiselle Mangova Plamena (Bulgaria), Mr. Vanbeckevoort Liebrecht (Belgium), Ms. Lee Miyeon (Korea), Ms. Kawamura Hisako (Japan), Ms. Vacatello Mariangela (Italy), Ms. Lim Hyo-Sun (Korea), Mr. Youn Hong-Chun (Korea) (Picture: Bruno Vessié)

I am not blogging as usual. Blame it to the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium. Every evening this week 2 finalists out of 12 are performing in Brussels. This year it will be the 15th edition devoted to piano. The competition started in 1937 as the Ysaÿe Competition, in 1951 to be renamed after Queen Elisabeth. In the past the Queen Elisabeth Competition organised its competitions in a four-year cycle: Violin, Piano, Singing and a fallow year. I understood they will skip the fallow year in the future, making it work around a three year circle. The Queen Elisabeth Competition is open to musicians who have already completed their training and who are ready to launch their international careers.

I admire young people who are able to meet ultimate goals or perform at exceptionally high levels. There is a clear line between hard work and talent. However there is a more blurry line between being talented and being a genius. Where ends the talent, where starts the genius ?

There are a lot of comparisons to be made between the world of managers and the world of musicians. More about this later on.