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January 2008

December 2007

2007 - where has it gone!

Time, time, time, the clock keeps ticking away Just finished writing our Business and Strategy Plan for 2008. It feels like only a short while ago I'd done that for 2007 - where has this year gone? Are we really in the last days of this year already?

It seems 2007 has sped away, looking back it's almost a blur. 
On the other hand though I know that so many good things have been cramped in this year: so many encounters, so many discoveries, so many aha moments, so many sighs of happiness and contentment and even successes, it is hard to keep count. But I'll try anyway, because IMHO looking back gives you a new focus or perspective for next year.

January - apparently filled with books, books and more books. I must have written a dozen reviews on marketing and business advice books that month! The sentence that stills stands out for me came from George Silverman's book: "The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing"

Shortening the decision cycle by making the decision easier for the prospect, by focussing on their particular decision roadblocks, bottlenecks, friction points and rough spots.
It’s one of those ideas that is simple, obvious, compelling and almost totally ignored, both in theory and practise”

February - THE most mind-boggling discovery I made this year happened in this month reading (yet) another book: Now Discover your strengths. It totally changed the way I thought about many things, including myself. One of the results of this profound discovery was a new (personal) blog: Stop Start, ponderings on growing and growing pains, as an outlet for my rather confused state of mind ;-)

"Mentally we grow also, sometimes fast, sometimes slow and sometimes we have growing pains. We have grown so fast we've grown out of our comfort zone. So we stop until the overstretched boundaries become our new comfort zone.
Then we start growing again.

We grow with a stop/start effect"

So, thanks once again Kent, for recommending the publications of the Gallup Organisation.

March - Deadlines and success in business stands out for this month, still think those two items are related somehow. It was also the month that a post from Liz stopped me in my tracks and had a proper rethink on a particular attitude I displayed.

"At that moment of realisation I deliberately counted the many blessings this person bestows upon me and I felt ashamed of wanting even more blessings.

Treat blessing with respect, be in awe of them.
Don't "count on" them, just count them and be grateful."

Thanks again Liz - it prevented me from overstepping the boundary.

April - even more deadlines that month. Preparations for and the executing of manning a stand at the largest Business-to-Business exhibition in Kent. Boy, were we busy! Not just of making sure everything was there and on time, but also busy with the focus of our business - trying to leave a legacy (warning, links to the longest post I ever wrote!).

My favourite sentence in this article must be "We are talking about legacies that make life better for those who come after us, not about our own fame or recognition, but about helping others."
If you translate that into a business vision, statement, hedge-hog concept it is that same part where 'making meaning' comes in.

May - the month of Sobcon07 with that unexpected but lovely phone call from both Liz and Kent, the month of tags and memes (I've counted 4!) plus new business focus, creating a mix between self-service restaurant and candle lit diner (eh, for wooden flooring?)

"Imagine one building containing two restaurants: one 'self-service' and one 'candle lit diner'. Both restaurants are served by the same kitchen.

Meaning: same quality products; differently presented, differently served and hence different total price.
At the moment our 'restaurant' has candle lit tables, but the sign outside states: self-service possible."

June - more discoveries through the publications of Gallup Organisation "Go put your strength to work". Revelations even, recognising that those tasks that play to your strengths/talents can make (business) life so much more rewarding in many unexpected ways.

"Because if you don't know as company what your strengths are (hedge-hog concept), and if you don't know how to play to those strengths constantly how on earth can you make clear (brag!) to your customers/clients/patrons/buyers what makes it worth buying from you, staying with you, even tooting your horn as ambassadors?"

Is was also the month that I dared to ask to help a dear friend to reach his own goals - another fine result of finding strength.

July - looking back it feels like it was a steep learning curve in regards of 'teaching' - something I'd never done before really. The result was a new blog for my friend and a new realisation of two-way-traffic. Oh, and a Gold Wheelbarrow award!

"He taught me most I know about running and growing a profitable business and his blog is on 'how to' - it is pretty easy with the right guidance, right tools and the right attitude to implementation - closing the Knowing-Doing Gap in the most simple and effective way.
Richard C can tell you, show you much more about this.
Give him my regards ;-)

August - the month of a quadruple birthday party and when I 'got babies' (blog-babies that is): the launch of our blog workshops - more teaching, more fun, more blogs! And this Kiss2 blog ended up on the W-list: a list of Outstanding Women Bloggers. How about that!

Personal Integrity: why a list - not for equality fighting, but to honour the women 1% outlaws of culture - and I'm with Tully - one of my turtle friends: "make it about brilliant women bloggers who deserve to be recognized. Recognized because they are brilliant and provide value to the blogging community - not because they aren’t men."

September - found I was too busy with growing our business in a proper and sustainable way to write many blogposts. But never too busy to have another 'party' - this time involving my KissBiss Crew

Ton, my ‘sparring’-partner, for willing to ‘go-it-together’
Mike, the real web-wizard.
Lesley, my confidante.
Pete for changing some of my ‘Double Dutch’ phrases into proper English ones.
Richard, friend and mentor. For giving me confidence, but mostly for keeping me sane during difficult times.

October - Kiss2 blog 1 year old! (The blog that ended up in the Top 100 of Business blogs, wow!) The start of the last quarter of our financial year and 'gearing' up the marketing efforts. One of those efforts really made the 'discovery' of January's Shortening the Decision Cycle very clear. Plus Steve Roesler started his amazing series on Creating Change and Smooth Transitions.

"The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination"

November - a truly amazing month business wise. Normally it starts to slow down, but not this time, oh no! Best every month (again, because September had been our best ever Kissawardbutton1month, which then was taken over by October as best ever month!). Also introduced my own K.I.S.S.-awards
And I enrolled in the Teaching Sells course - if only I could find more time for that ;-)

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin

December - what to tell about this month? That the sales kept on coming? That we started fully on the preparations for next year: 5th Anniversary of Wood You Like? (Stay tuned for many more posts on this subject, the cooperation between various great business persons made my life so easy in regards of this!). Still amazed by our ongoing strong business results I made a remark (after landing a large order through only phone and email contact, 1.5 hours work in total for me) that 'earned' me a slap on the wrist:

It's never 1.5 hours of work - you put in far more effort each month promoting your business than most people do in a year!  So you deserve it.  at £15 per hour, say, that has paid for a month's work!!

Richard C

OK, I understand where he's coming from and I stand - happily - corrected. (Who wouldn't with a 66% growth in turnover?)

What I learned most from 2007 (which makes it my contribution to MZM-Group writing Project: blogapalooza too) is that learning, discovering and sharing knowledge/experiences creates such an grateful environment - not just business wise - it really creates a happier, complete and 'richer' life. Almost, or even more than, Givers Gain.

Why do we always reflect, reminisce on things gone by at the end of a year? To me it's taking stock of what I've learned and it gives me a clearer focus for next year - years.

And it is the time to acknowledge those who meant so much to me this year - in any which way:

Kent Blumberg, Liz Strauss, Ann Michael, Steve Roesler, Lesley Perk, Robert Hruzek, Peter Allen and Richard Calderwood. May you all have a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Bring on 2008!

Taking a short break

We're off to The Netherlands tomorrow to meet up with

History - a lunch meeting with one of the finest Directors I ever worked for during those 19 years at Nedalco

Present - diner with Ton's family on Saturday evening, diner with my family on Sunday afternoon/evening.

Future - discussing wood flooring products with our main supplier/manufacturer and taking more (and better) pictuHulstres of their quality wooden furniture for our own new 'division'.

Back on Wednesday late afternoon again.

In the meantime - with thanks to Peter Allen -

a Musical Christmas greeting from me to you

Change IS very interesting

End of September Steve Roesler (specializing in communication training and development with an emphasis on improving systems, relationships, and large-scale change) at All Things Workplace - teaching smart people practical ways to become extraordinary - started a 'short' series on

Making Changes, Leading Changes, and Changing Change

In his first article (published on 25 September 2007) Steve asks the question why change is so very interesting?

"You and I are making, leading, or responding to changes every day. What we really need to know is:

What is the healthiest, most effective way to address the changes in our lives?

So that's the real focus of this series. I'll keep it practical and applicable to life and life in the workplace"

Yesterday Steve published article 27 in the series:  Change, what are your resources? and more will follow shortly.

How can a 'short' series on change last over 3 months and turn into a very interesting, thought provoking journey where the 'change' not only happens in the posts, but frequently in the comment-box too?
Because change is so very interesting! Steve originally planned to publish 6 to 8 articles on the subject, but as said above, thoughts, ideas, opinions in the comment-box changed the series on change.

Changes, process, logic and emotions And, of course, change - changes always happen. Not just in business, but in life too, almost everyday. And how we react, adept to and sometimes even grow from change is what makes life, living and running a business so very interesting. You can't just change the way a business, department, policy works without changing the 'by-standers'. Nor can bystanders change without changing the business, department, policy.

It is an intriguing journey Steve has taken us on and the end isn't near yet (fortunately!) At least two guest-posts will be published this week by Peter Vadja of SpiritHeart about the very issue of how change changes persons and businesses and vice-versa.

Why not join this very interesting journey yourself? It might change you and your business.

(Quite interesting little fact I read on Steve's About page makes it clear why the short series has changed to this 'epic' journey:

"Most of my engagements turn into long-time relationships although they start as a single project.")

Every company is a media company

Brain Clark at Copyblogger made a great conclusion - or is it true statement? - that nowadays with blogs - personal, conversational, business and corporate - every company is a media company.

My thoughts exactly! Since you are your google results - personal or business, how long is it since you 'googled' yourself? - you should use a dynamic, easy accessible and search-engine friendly media tool to promote your company the best and most honest way you can.

Extra bonus with a blog (I prefer to call them 'dynamic websites' - more approachable term for those who still think a blog is a personal diary) is that you have a focusing tool at the same time. Because writing proper and relevant content on a regular basis (weekly, daily if you like) demands you stay focused on your business purpose.

How else can you 'persuade' prospects, readers, clients to buy in to you if not for focus?

Legally taking care of

Two stories in The (Saturday's) Times caught my eye this morning:

In France children are taking their parents to court in order to have them support them longer, even though they've come of age (from 18 years old on, but a lot of twenners are suing and where the oldest suer apparently is 42!)
Get a job!

In India children (from 18 years old on) are being fined and can even receive a jail-sentence when they are found guilty of not taking care of their (elderly) parents.

What' the world coming to? I'm all for sending those litigating French children over to India ;-)

What I learned from.... the World of Sports

Now I really tried to wriggle out of this one, but turtle friend Robert wouldn't let me (dear Robert, turtles don't do sport! really they don't! The Tortoise and the Hare story must have made that clear to you - it was the hare that did the sporty bit, not the tortoise!)

So, here goes, but remember I didn't want to because I'm not sporty, never was really. As a primary school child I was always chosen among the last when teams were selected (and that 'habit' didn't change during secondary school too!), I was more at ease with a book than with ball games, running games or whatever game that involved more arm or leg muscle than head 'muscles'.

Not that I was fat, overweight (always been ahem kind of 'sturdy build') or my legs were too short or something like that (did had/have long and tripping-triggery feet). No, nothing like that. It's just that being sporty is so tiring! Being asthmatic in my younger years didn't help I guess.

Also during school sports days I (and/or the team that selected me) frequently ended up being last in any game.

Paperround Expect that one year. The year when I had a paper-round in the early mornings, delivering the local daily paper to over 200 addresses. Early mornings mean early fresh air and a lot of arm and leg muscle movement. Not just on my little bike (remember, we're talking Dutch here, everything there is done on your bike!), but marching up and down the garden paths with a bundle of papers under my arm, jumping over (low) hedges and gates etc. The perfect outside gym, perfect it turned out for children with asthmatic tendencies.

And you know what's funny? I didn't even notice the improvement in physical health until the training days before the sports day. The same three girls in my gym-class always run the 800 meter race and even during training the rest of us could never keep up with them, until that year. I was running besides them, even running first for a while until it hit me: what's going on here? I'm not supposed to run here, I should be legging way, way behind.

Sportsday I did get selected that year to run the 800 meters and ended in a decent place (don't ask me which place, plain forgotten that. Safe to say it wasn't first, I would definitely remember that!). After the following summer holidays my exam year started and I said goodbye to my paper-round (too much homework with with too many long evenings studying), so no more successes in sports.

So what did I learn from the world of sports? Nothing really, the title should better be changed in:

What I learned from a Paper-Round: being a decent sport!

Turtle_race(note from the editor. Just in: turtles do do sport!
Thanks Robert ;-)

Eco-logic in the Dragons' Den

Dragonsden2007 Still one of my favourite business programs is BBC's Dragons' Den. Budding 'entrepreneurs' looking - sometimes with absolutely no business feeling at all - for private investors to launch or grow their business. And the investors - the Dragons - come from high standing: all successful business persons on their own.

Entering the Dragons' Den is IMHO a feat on its own and the worst (or best) you go away with is some proper business advice.

Yesterday two clever guys entered: JPM Eco-Logistics, Jerry Mantalvanos and Paul Merker wanted £100,000 for 20% of the business. The business is a haulier company, using trucks made from reclaimed materials and driving on 100% bio-diesel. Hence the name Eco-Logisitics.

The new buzz-word: eco-friendly, eco-logic, eco-logistics, it really doesn't matter what the second part is as long as you seem to be doing something to save, sustain or better the environment. Big money!

In the end, after first James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne teamed up offering the £ 100.000 for 45% of the business,  Theo Paphitis and Deborah Meaden put in a lower bit asking for only 40% of the fledgeling business. That offer was happily accepted by the two budding entrepreneurs.

This is what I saw happening:
Theo, a 'retailer' owning a 350 store chain,  didn't see an investment; he saw cheaper freight costs for delivers to and from his 350 stores and the fashionable label he can splash on everything now: Eco-friendly delivered - i.e. increase his prices a bit.

Jerry and Paul didn't see an investor; they saw a new and important, influential client with 350 stores nation wide.
Their own answer to Evan Davies when he asked if they hadn't given away much more than they had in mind (40% versus the original 20%) sealed my opinion:

"No, not really. We had our maximum of course, but as long as Theo would come on board we were willing to give in."

Double eco-logic whammy. Clever!

Related article: Dragons Den - short window for profit?