The smell of the place ENGLISH VERSION

In the video about ‘the smell of the place’ I tell about the original talk of Professor Ghosal from 1995. During the World Economic Forum in Davos he shared this concept. Although there is a recording of this talk, the quality is poor and the story is difficult to follow.

That’s why I made a transcript of his talk, which is really worth reading. In addition I have developed a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach for a ‘smell-o-meter’, to work with your team, within your organization, on the improving the smell of your place.

 

The biggest transformation of our time: how we see ourselves

The biggest transformation of our time: how we see ourselves

I like challenges. I’m in for the big ones, because “I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast”. This may get you puzzled; don’t worry, you’re not the first. So let me help you: nothing = impossible. It all starts with believing. ‘I have a dream’, and thank god, we all can dream.

Seeing how we are stuck today, in our never-ending focus on performance and perfection, I have a dream that one day we will find ourselves and live life to the fullest, making way for our potential. Not because we have to be our best, but because we are becoming who we are. Which, according to philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, is our purpose in life. And with all I know and feel, I tend to agree.

Stuck huh? Yeah, stuck. Our mental health is on an all-time low. There are different issues. For one it’s our idea of how we are supposed to be. Our idea of normal. Normal has become a very slim concept. Strangely, it’s not so normal to fit the normal brief anymore. We seem to have a diagnose for everyone (OCD, ASS, ADHD to name a few). There even is a mental illness that we call ‘snapchat dysmorphia’, for people who want to look like their perfect snapchat picture – with filters – and who go to a doctor to make this happen. 

In schools we train our children to perform well. You could even argue that we are ‘programming’ our children. Just have a look at this video and you can see what I mean. And we measure the performance to ensure that our kids improve.

The benchmark is the holy grail and tells us what performance we should be looking for. So what happens to our special talents if we all need do ‘the same dance’? The only dance we’ll be able of dancing will be a dance that robots – at some point – will be doing better than us. Did you know that artificial intelligence is going to exceed our human intelligence?

So we could ask ourselves this question: Are we – humans – the failing prototype of what we will improve with artificial intelligence?

I dare say no! Maybe in our current view, being homo sapiens. Literally this means wise man. But being wise – on the long run – is no longer what makes us stand out.

It’s time to rethink our own position. Time for a transformation to become who we are born to be: connected. You, me, us, we are Homo Conexus. We distinguish ourselves by our ability, but also our need, for being connected.

So this is my big project. A lifetime of transformation. To see ourselves in a different light. A light that shines bright and sparkles with our great potential. A light that shines so bright it can embrace us all. If only we can learn to see. Seeing is believing. And we can start seeing in our dreams.

Notes:
1. On 16 April my TED talk at TEDxWassenaar will be about this topic.
2. Dutch readers can read my book ‘De mens van morgen; van homo sapiens naar homo conexus
3. On my website you can find a brief English summary of the book.

New Year’s message for CEO’s

New Year’s message for CEO’s

Dear CEO,

About a year ago I sent you a letter. I was angry and I wanted to let you know. I wanted you to care. To make you understand that your people are the ones that make the difference. For your customers, for your shareholders. In essence for success. I felt the numbness of the employees and wanted to do something to power things up.

We never got to talk about it. You kept on doing your thing, as I kept on doing mine. Although, not quite. Since writing that letter a lot has happened. I started a journey to try to understand what’s going on. To find out how I could make at difference. This also led me to talk about it, to write about it and publish a book.

And.. to realize that change does not come from anger. Anger puts people off, creates a distance. Real change – or rather transformation – comes from being connected. To reach out and find common ground. To accept different points of view. To respect and be open for dialogue.

This year I would like to reach out to you and let you know that I feel that times are changing. There is a different vibe in the air. Maybe it’s because we are entering a new decade. Every decade has its own signature. What if we make these upcoming years to be the decade of connection? Where we allow ourselves to connect with ourselves, with each other and with the whole. Let this be the decade of empowerment of people. Where people can be people, every one of us, unique as we are. 

It’s actually pretty simple if you know what empowerment looks like and during my journey I stumbled upon a magical video that says it all. This is my gift to you. To give you a vision of what connectedness and empowerment looks like. It’s as easy as this. “Je suis donc tu es”.

The 20’s will be the decade of passing each other yellow balls. Of recognizing and refusing to take on the black ones. A decade of connectedness. Of the rise of the Homo Conexus, where we distinguish ourselves by our ability, but also our need for being connected.

Sometimes I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. And yes, this is one of them. I believe we can do this. You, me, all of us. Happy 20’s!!

Warm regards,

Margot van Brakel

Er is niks mis met ongelukkig zijn

Er is niks mis met ongelukkig zijn

Steeds meer erger ik me aan de ‘Happiness’ hype. Er is een eindeloze stroom van boeken en filmpjes over hoe we ‘happy’ kunnen zijn (het voelt bijna als ‘moeten’ zijn). Wat in deze hele beweging over het hoofd wordt gezien, is dat geluk niks is zonder ongeluk. Altijd ‘happy’ zijn bestaat niet. En over dat ongeluk hebben we het niet. De sociale media dragen daaraan bij. We zien vooral alle ‘happy’ momenten, want je deelt niet zomaar je ellende. Terwijl die ellende best heel mooi kan zijn.

Een paar jaar geleden kreeg ik een notitieboekje van een oud-collega. Een ‘mooi’ boekje. En ze vertelde er bij ‘Ik hoop dat een mooi boekje zorgt voor een verzameling mooie ideeën, die je met veel plezier terug leest’. Dat boekje was zo mooi, dat ik er niet in durfde te schrijven. En zo heeft het anderhalf jaar ongebruikt in de kast gelegen. Tot ik twee jaar terug begon met schrijven. In zo’n boekje schrijf je ook niet zomaar. Dat wordt ‘echt’ schrijven. Met een vulpen.

Twee jaar later lees ik in de ochtendzon mijn schrijfsels weer terug. Wat fijn dat ik de tijd heb genomen om dingen op papier te zetten. Met aandacht. Dankbaar ben ik voor de woorden die ik nu terug kan lezen.

En daar staat het: “The Emotional Scale”.

Wat als je emotie ziet als een schaal, waarbij je kijkt naar het vermogen van iemand. Het bereik. Misschien heb je alleen een bereik tussen -2 en +2. Anderen hebben een bereik van -5 tot +5. Net als het stembereik. Sommige mensen hebben een groot bereik, bij anderen is het klein.

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Je kunt je vermogen (bereik) omarmen, of ertegen vechten. Het laatste is zinloos. Je bent wie je bent.

Ik denk dat je jouw eigen bereik op kunt rekken. Dat kost moeite, want het haalt je uit je comfortzone. Als het eenmaal is opgerekt, kun je niet meer terug.

 Je bereik ontkennen, betekent voor een deel ‘verlamd’ zijn. Dat is ook wat bepaalde medicijnen doen. Dus is een groot bereik een last? Is het een beperking; is het een ziekte? Of is het een gave?

Zo staat het er, van begin tot eind. Begin 2018 opgetekend in mijn mooie boekje. Ik heb het er nadien vaak over gehad. Deze scale. Dat inzicht, was een eureka moment. Zo kun je dus ook naar de dingen kijken. In plaats van alles te doen om ‘happy’ te zijn, inzicht krijgen in jouw eigen spectrum, en daar ok mee zijn.

Op onderstaande tekening zie je drie denkbeeldige mensen. Marieke, Jasper en Piet. De emoties van Marieke gaan grofweg tussen -1 en +1, van Jasper tussen -3 en +3. En Piet heeft het grootste bereik, van -5 tot +5. 

The Emotional Scale

Zo is iedereen anders. Mensen met depressieve klachten hebben vaak een groter spectrum. Ze kunnen heel diep gaan, maar ook heel hoog. Dus een groot bereik. Daar is niks mis mee, als je maar weet dat er na een dip ook weer een piek gaat komen. Veel creatieve mensen hebben ook een groot spectrum. Vaak komt uit die dip namelijk veel moois. Een piek is geluk, maar zo zie je, je kunt nooit alleen op een piek zitten, tenzij je bereik zo vlak is dat er geen pieken, en dus ook een dalen zijn. Dat kune je geen geluk noemen.

Wat medicijnen zoals Prozac doen, is het spectrum afvlakken. Dus voor iemand die een groot bereik heeft – zoals Piet – zal hij met het slikken van de medicijnen minder intense emoties hebben. Zijn bereik wordt een stuk kleiner. Precies dat is ook wat mensen, die antidepressiva slikken, zeggen. Dat het voelt alsof je ‘dof’ bent.

Dus in plaats van de dalen, en daarmee de pieken, te temperen, kun je ook mensen helpen met inzicht in hun spectrum. Te omarmen wat hen gegeven is, en te leren dat emoties golfbewegingen zijn, net als de zee. En het vertrouwen te geven dat er steeds nieuwe golven komen. Het hebben van een groot spectrum is wat heftiger. Maar eigenlijk meer een gave, dan een beperking.

En zo weer terug naar happiness. Geluk is niks zonder ongeluk. Terwijl ongeluk misschien ook een verkeerd woord is voor de rijkdom van diepere dalen. 

Urgent message for CEO’s: put your people first, not your customers

Urgent message for CEO’s: put your people first, not your customers

Dear CEO,

I would have preferred to talk with you about this in person. But time is running out. And I felt it’s important to get this message to you rather sooner than later. Talent is being wasted. People are getting hurt and the continuity of your organisation is at stake. That’s why I decided to send you this message.

I acknowledge the huge responsibility you have. Facing the judgement of your shareholders quarter by quarter. And simultaneously ensuring the continuity of the organisation on the long run. Not an easy task.

Putting customers first has been the holy grail. Everything for the customer. Focussing on the needs of your customers while keeping costs to the lowest possible level, to ensure a competitive position.

For the sake of high performance McKinseys and the likes show up to guide the organisation through transformation, to fit – or rather outperform the benchmark. And preferrably speed-up the transformation. Quick fixes that show results to please the shareholders in the next quarter.

People, Planet, Profit…. Yes, the planet has been given a fair share in the responsibility of companies, and for sure profitability. But what are you doing to respect and prosper the power of your people? People are no more than numbers. They are regarded as costs rather than assets.

Do you realize what’s happening? People are being sacrificed for the sake of profitability. The one thing that makes things happen for your customers every day, the workforce, is sadly worn out in the process.

It is not your customers that should be your focus. It’s your people. That is what makes your organisation stand out. The employees that choose to work for your organisation. To serve the customers. Without these people you are nothing.

The snake is biting it’s own tail. You may not know it, but one day you will see. This focus on costs, revenue and cashflow. So wake up, cause time is running out. Talent is walking out the door. And will do so with more speed than you can get new hires in. And the CEO’s that put their people first, those will be the ones people will love working for. And I’ll tell you a secret, if the people love their work, they will put the customer first, and then all will work out.

It’s not too late. You are the one in charge, so you need to step up as a leader.

A leader takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and has the courage to develop that potential. (Brené Brown)

People are not numbers, they are your greatest asset. It is your job to provide a working climate where your people can prosper.

If you don’t have the people, then it’s no use having customers. Cause there will be no one to serve them. So please take a moment to reflect. Start listening to your people. They can tell you what they need to put customers first. They can tell you what they need to step up the game. And show the leaders in your organisation what it means to lead. To empower your people, in stead of suffocating them with ever increasing demands to do more, more, more. It’s not about doing more, it’s about doing the right thing.

Empowered people can lift the world. It’s your job to set the stage for that to happen.

Kind regards,

Margot van Brakel

Sometimes I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. This impossible challenge is one of them. 

Making way for unlocked talent; how the system fails

Making way for unlocked talent; how the system fails

Diversity is key. But not the narrow definition. I have a strong belief that we are overlooking a wide area of unlocked talent. Diversity means embracing people with special talents, instead of putting them on a side track. People with Autism and ADHD, and other ‘differently wired’ people have special talents that are essential for progress in our world. This is where innovation comes from.

How come we like “pirates” , but we neglect the value of this group? This is a strong personal appeal, from rock solid belief, that change – or rather- progress is required. 

We all have a special gift to bring progress, but it’s the system that fails to make way for it.

This video below from NOW THIS says it all. Hear, hear!