Wednesday 21 November 2012

Pursuit of happiness - what formula makes us happy

I came across a video on and this slide particularly interested me during the Ted talk. The researcher outlined the formula for happiness and I thought I would share it.

As we already knew it isn't about money and financial reward!

It seems the greatest level of happiness is achieved when your skills are highest and challenge is highest and you find yourself in the "flow".

But unfortunately, according to the researcher giving the talk, the majority of people find themselves in the apathy section, low skills and low challenge in the bottom left hand corner.

On the other hand when people do find themselves in the "flow" they become so ecstatic and they are so passionate about that thing they are doing, they forget time, hunger and even pain. Their focus shuts out all other senses and feelings. It seems then that "flow" maybe it is not a place you want to be 100% of the time, down time is needed.

The "flow" is also what top professional sporters talk about when they are performing at their best. Being in the flow is a place you need to be to perform to your highest level. According to athletes it gives them the feeling of floating - that despite the challenge that is thrown at them, their skill level is so high that they will over come any of these challenges.

This formula has helped me figure out what makes me tick and what direction I should take at times, I hope you find it useful too.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Selling NRC Next Subscriptions with students on the streets [Sales + Accountmanagement HVA MIC course]

The past few weeks have been challenging but so much fun!:)

Last week I wasn’t standing in a lecture theatre [or even recording a virtual eClass] lecturing students about what is sales is [or worse still citing definitions of sales]. I was out on the streets of Amsterdam showing, coaching [with Pepperminds], motivating and helping my media marketing students actually sell NRC Next subscriptions.

Why has it been a challenging few weeks? Learning by doing is still in its infancy even at Applied Science Universities [HBO] and you know what happens when you go against the status quo and do something innovative and different! It isn’t an easy ride to say the least. Actually doing real assignments for real companies is one of the 5 ways I outlined in a new strategy canvas for the HVA to create a win/win situation for the HVA and its stakeholders [students being one of them and the business world being the other]. Plus solving the age old issue of marketers and sales people clashing, will be easier when tackled earlier rather than later, while marketers are being educated.

Why was it on the flip side so much fun? Normally you experience students in a classroom or in one-on-one coaching moments [they are very different in both these situations/ locations!] Now I got to see the students in action! That was loads of fun. Once the students were busy on the streets having conversions with people walking by, they moved from a mental state of “I really don’t want to be doing this” to “Wow I am getting good at this, I really want to make another sale today”. I was really proud of them!! Not only did they learn loads, they also sold 350 subscriptions to very satisfied customers. Gosh if only I could experience that more often, it would make being a part-time teacher even more rewarding.

Well I had more great news for my media students this week. The new account management assignment selling advertising space for the paper Z!Krant [The Big Issue of Holland] via an eBay auction, is the ultimate answer to the most common complaints from students about their study and assignments. Not another assignment about the biggest publisher of magazines in Holland!…. “I would prefer to sell for a charity rather than a commercial organization!”… “Selling face-to-face is so 2008, we should be selling via social media!” … “We should be doing projects that are innovative and refreshing!

I wonder if this week is going to be as challenging and/or as fun as last week??? Surprise me!!

Sunday 1 July 2012

Olympic Athletes Hub - Thanks from Seb Coe

This week I stumbled across an announcement  in SportNext magazine about the launch of the social media platform for the Olympics 2012 - The Olympics Hub.

When I contacted Sir Sebastian Coe back in 2010 about investing in my sports networking site www.esporters dot com - he thanked me "for my suggestion" - it seems it has taken them over 2 years to launched this site. Back in January 2010 Seb Coe wrote that "we are currently in the process of building this and plan to launch in 2010".

From what I can see from playing around, "The Olympics Hub" is just a amalgamation of the tweets and FB updates from Olympians. If you are rising talent [not quite made its] you are not allowed. Equally no non Olympic sports are allowed to register and can not be found on the site search [i.e. squash]. The biggest stars get the biggest exposure, creating a virtuous circle.

My site was aimed at achieving more than just a summary of what is already being said by the top stars [who already have loads of publicity]. It was a way for talent / up-coming athletes to profile themselves and develop fans and a support network round them to help them achieve their sporting goals.

Although my site www.esporters dot com is no longer live, it is great to have a signed letter from the great man himself - Sebastian Coe. However I wish he had listened more carefully to my "suggestion" as he could have achieved so much more with a site which had more legacy value by helping "talent" create a support nework/fans and not just get the current stars more exposure during the Olympics, which lacks legacy.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

It's not every day you get to pitch your business idea ...

This weekend I was a participant in the "Entrepreneurs pressure cooker weekend 2012" at the HVA. It took place in the inspirational new "Studio HVA" in Amsterdam.

It was a full programme of inspirational speeches from entrepreneurs like Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, but mainly brainstorming your own business concept and ideas with colleges and the coaches and the Manager of ACE Martin Haring.

It isn't every day you get to pitch your business idea to a couple of multi-millionairs and serial entrepreneurs. Wow it was nerve racking but so much fun.

I began with three very rough ideas I thought of before the weekend and whittled it down to two on the day and then one that I pitched to the jury:

Idea 3: The Collaboration Games - After talking with some experts it seems this idea was too similar to other offerings and would be difficult to scale.

Idea 2: VC Young Entrepreneurs - As it turns out the idea was not new, there is a plan for this in the "valorisatie" plan in Amsterdam.

Idea 1: OwnBrand for topsportswomen  - This is the idea I pitched [watch video]. I am passionate about building the brands and image of top sports women in the non-mainsteam sports. [Think ... squash ... do you know who the 7 times womens world champion is?] Equally there is a market, it is sellable via a webshop, it achieves a bigger mission than just profit, it is scalable and it is possible within my current network and capabilities, however it does need a bit of initial investment.

Anyway I didn't win the pitch! But I really improved my pitch technique and was very satisfied with my effort. It is incredibly difficult in 1 minute to get across to the jury:

  1. What's in it for you? [Emotion]
  2. What problem can be solved with this solution? [Market potential]
  3. For who is the solution? [Target market]
  4. What is the solution and what does it cost? [Concept & business model]
  5. What I want from you? [call to action]
As part of my role at the University of Applied Sciences I coach students who are starting their own business, during the media entrepreneurs minor. Since my last entrepreneurial endeavor failed, this weekend was my first foray brainstorming my own business ideas again. I had a great time and the coaches at ACE were inspirational and loads of fun [and they can karaoke!].

I just hope my business idea pitch was better than my karaoke performance!?!?

Tuesday 26 June 2012

eLearning Experiments and A New Strategic Canvas For the HVA

eLearning is all the rage now in education. Yesterday I participated in a 4 hour session with other teachers/lecturers from the HVA [University of Applied Sciences] about "Learning Tomorrow". But I think we are missing the point by getting so caught up in technology and ICT.

I have been trialing a few little experiments [the non scientific type] to see what works best with students in terms of eLearning i.e. what makes them more "active" = thinking = learning. These experiments include; creating knowledge clips [10 minute videos with theory], asking students to create videos instead of written reports as assignments, using Facebook to communicate with students, using a Facebook group to start discussions, polling students via FB for exam questions and using online articles instead of books.

I am not seeing the difference! There has not been more participation, but there has been more complaining unfortunately. But certainly not more giving their opinion about a topic or article related to the subject.

Students suggest teachers should get with the programme and use more up-to-date ICT methods. However, when, in one of my innovation classes, I tested my strategy canvas for a new value curve for the University, the majority of students didn't like the idea of not having face-to-face lectures. 

I have noticed that while doing these eLearning experiments, the moment that I get the students thinking the most, is when they are physically taking part in a relevant [subject related] discussion among themselves and with me in class. Remember that Chinese proverb: “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand” ... hmmm a relevant proverb for marketers & teachers alike!

I presented to them the following changes to the HVA, using the creation of a new value curve on a Strategy Canvas [Blue Ocean theory]:

  1. Less physical lectures - more virtual web colleges.
  2. Less physical half days at Uni - replaced by one full intensive day at Uni - with intensive small workshops - with lots of interaction. [Less physical days at school also means students can better combine work/study/own business].
  3. Less exams at end of year - more test moments when the student wants at different moments during the course  [digitally is an option of course].
  4. Less feeling like a number at Uni - more intensive coaching one-on-one face-to-face or via skype video.
  5. Less abstract/virtual assignments - more REAL external assignments with companies [possibly paid -  like the HVA & Pepperminds assignment]

Well the students were very enthusiastic about some of the new value curve, but seriously worried about loosing physical contact. This was reinforced again yesterday when the two students present in the eLearning meeting, suggested that "ICT is all good and well, but there needs to be a balance of physical, face-to-face contact combined with the online stuff".

Yep ... balance. We need to be sure we don't swing like a pendulum to over digitalize our education and loose the all so necessary contact and coaching moments. This balance is in the Strategy Canvas above, and at the same time this new value curve sets HVA apart from its competition [or the average competition] and could create a sustainable competitive advantage.

Monday 4 June 2012

My Mum is sooo cool ... happy birthday for today!

My Mum is soooooo cooooool. 

How many women in their 60's do you know who are building websites themselves? Using dreamweaver I may add, not a free programme like this one [that I use for this blog!].

She is building her second website and getting a real taste for it! She started with a site for her organisation - the "Medway dyslexia Association":  and her latest creation for "British Flora" will be going live shortly. 

When you take a look at the Forrester social technographics data about +55's and their desire to be "creators" online my Mum is pretty unique!! And she is older than that group.

Not only does she build websites but volunteers her time for organisations, committees and causes that she is passionate about ... dyslexia and gardening!! She teaches young children ways of coping with dyslexia and helps them get the best out of themselves - with some going on to University and thriving in creative roles. She should feel very proud of herself.

Above is a picture of my Mum with my nephew - making cakes together. Doesn't she look great for her age! BTW how did she manage to keep that kitchen spotless during that activity!

Mum ... you are the coolest ... HAPPY BIRTHDAY for today. Enjoy yourself and I hope you get spoilt rotten, by Dad in particular.

Love Claire

Friday 25 May 2012

Coaching the MCI Honours Students ... Aram, Thomas, Vivienne and Wessel

For the last 6 months I have had the pleasure of coaching a motivated group of students from the MCI Honours programme within the HVA ... Aram, Thomas, Vivienne and Wessel. Three of which have graduated successfully from Honours, three out of four was the highest graduation rate of all coaching groups - which shows how high the demands were of these young adults.

I am going to follow with interest their career, to see if my predictions about them come true!
Aram: | Thomas: | Vivienne:  | Wessel:

Aram's article in Folia:  Ondernemen Leer Je Elders [page 18]
Wessel's magazine: Like Most Anyone
Thomas's presentation: NextSpeaker
Vivienne's website:

The actual process of coaching them [as well as coaching our media entrepreneurs] has also given me food for though for a potential business! What would be more rewarding than to continue to support their development after they have graduated too?

Anyway, before I give away more clues about my idea ... I have learnt a great deal about coaching students [of all kinds] and coaching those students that are, or have the potential to excel - which links to my definition of excellence ... Excellence it is about attitude and anyone can excel by being driven, daring to take action and just doing it!

Friday 27 April 2012

Sport Management & Entrepreneurship SM&O Summit ... very inspirational

Wednesday afternoon I had the chance to check out the "Sport Management & Entrepreneurship" SM&O Summit at the HVA [University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam] - what an inspiring afternoon.

Initially I was attracted to the summit by the proposition of seeing Reinout Oerlemans founder of Eyeworks speak - due to my interest in sport, marketing and media. Unfortunately he wasn't able to attend for personal reasons ... but the summit certainly didn't disappoint, in fact it was extreemly inspirational.

There were 30 or so Dutch sport entrepreneurs who's passion and drive was incredibly addictive. The title of the summit was "Show me the money" but the real theme running through the conference was "Don't make money the goal": start with your passion and use your a drive to make things better or solve a problem ... that is a kick in itself ... then the money will follow.

My 5 highlights from the day were:
  1. The enthusiasm and professionalism of the students of SM&O faculty ... just listening to their relevant questions they asked of the experts made me very positive about the quality and professionalism of the students that this HVA faculty is developing and producing.
  2. The wisdom of Durk Jan de Bruin founder of with his very sound advice for entrepreneurs around collaboration and the 2 phases of online businesses. His "pizza" story & 100th marathon says something more profound about the man behind the businesses.
  3. The insight from writer and speaker Susanne Piet, who presented her thoughts from her book De Kick ... she made me really think about link between influence, motivation, energy, experience and learning.
  4. The consultatancy cafe with ... Guus van der Meer [Founder of PowerPlate International] with his passion for helping the untrainables [40% of population] and Eelco Berkhout [Partner of cycling @ Sport Entertainment Group] with his passion for supporting talented cyclists and giving them a second chance in the case of drug offenders.
  5. The entertainment value of my good colleague Henri de Weerd who stole the show before the break with his "moon walk".
What an enjoyable and inspiring afternoon. I makes me even more enthusiastic about helping develop and produce more quality graduates. It also got me thinking about exploring some new business ideas of my own. As my last sporting entrepreneurial venture didn't work out as I had hoped, but the learning and experience was a real kick ... I still have that itch to try again!

The only little downer of the summit was the fact that of the 30 entrepreneurs, there was not one female among them! This got me thinking why is this? Some comments from the entrepreneurs themselves maybe provide some answers to this puzzle - "its all about your network", "its about attitude", "emulate a hero", and "sponsors/money follow the eyeballs". This gap remains a huge opportunity for the sports world and in my role as a teacher I believe I can start to address this.

Monday 16 April 2012

My attempt at being a talk show host!

Wow, that was challenging, but so much fun.

Well it wasn't so much a talk show, rather a virtual open day for prospective students at ISMB [International Sports Management and Business] where I teach part-time, sport marketing, sport media, professional development, badminton and squash. In fact it was the very first virtual open day the HVA has ever hosted.

Talk about multitasking during the show ... present, watch for signs from floor manager, pose questions that make sense, make it as natural as a conversation, check for incoming questions from the web interface, listen to the answers of the guests and make sure it fits in 1 hour. All at the same time, without forgetting to smile!

We had 128 people logging on during the show, from, for example China, Argentina, Netherlands, the UK, Bulgaria, and Lithuania.

Thank goodness, the guests [Nick, Claudia, Angelique and Dave] were fantastic and saved me a few times.

Monday 2 April 2012

My Myers-Briggs Type [MBTI] makes even more sense when combined with my personal hedgehog concept

Last week - some students I am coaching, as part of the HVA honours programme - did the MBTI test for the first time. This made me think [way] back to when I did that test a number of times during my late 20's and early 30's.

Regardless of how many times I have taken the test, I always came out as an INTJ. So I was not cheating the test. My type hasn't changed either, because when I was creating my "Hedgehog" concept, my MBTI type was confirmed 100% ... as I am passionate about "improving things".

An INTJ is a mastermind. They have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-rang explanatory perspectives. Independent, individualistic, single-minded, and determined. They trust their vision of possibilities regardless of universal skeptisism. 

INTJ's devise strategy, give structure, establish complex plans and outline sequences of events in reaching distant goals dictated by a strong vision of the organization. They thrive on putting theories to work and are open to any and all ideas that can IMPROVE things.

My dominant function is intuition, which means, I:

  1. Recognize new possibilities
  2. Come up with novel solutions to problems
  3. Delight in focusing on the future
  4. Watch for additional ideas
  5. Tackle new problems with zest
So if you want someone to do significant decision making, combine the big picture and applicable particulars - an INTJ is your [wo]man.

Of course there are implications to being an INTJ, they don't do red tape and bureaucracy very well. INTJ's can't handle inefficiencies well and have difficultly understanding people who can't work independently. It is painful for an INTJ to see problems in the organization and not be permitted to solve them or to contribute to their solution.

Thankfully in my role as a teacher/lecturer, I have also managed to work on the "less positive" side of an INTJ. I have learnt how to give positive feedback and show appreciation to others and show the less cool/rational side of myself. I also see the benefit of repetition and repeating myself, which of course is necessary for learning to take place!

MBTI type is even more interesting when compared with Hedgehog concept.

When I was re-creating my "Hedgehog concept" last week and filling in what I am passionate about and genetically encoded to do - the first thing I wrote down was "improve stuff".

It doesn't matter if what I want to improve is my own creation or someone elses. I like improving my own lessons/lecturers, or improving my own marketing strategy with input from employees, or improving my own marketing theoretical knowledge by going back to school or re-designing a livingroom for a friend. I am my own worst critic, and already know my errors and shortcomings, before anyone has to point them out to me. I have already started working on improving them before I can wallow too long in how something should be better.

In my experience, doing the MBTI test and creating your personal hedgehog concept independently and then looking at overlaps, is a good way to confirm and evaluate the findings of both. But I maybe alone in this observation, as an INTJ, I hunger for constant evaluation and re-evaluation.

Friday 13 January 2012

Always confrontational watching yourself in a video!

This is a video of me giving a micro lesson as part of the assessment for my HBO teaching diploma! Hmmmm too many hand movements, and limited discussion, but otherwise not so bad! The micro lesson is about sales cold calling!

From 5 minutes the lesson is in English, the introduction is in Dutch.