Written in the scars

February 2, 2013

In life, we all make mistakes. We misread, misunderstand or underestimate texts, people and situations. Most of us keep making the same mistakes. I have had my share as well. They have created a number of scars, both mentally, emotionally and physically. I even created a personal quote for it:

“My life is written in the scars” 
– Bert Verdonck –

Some are visible; others are mere shadows of what truly happened. Each one has its own personal story. Some fresh as the day they happened, some faded by time or the lack of attention. Some are told with pride and reiterate the pain that makes us aware once more of the origin of that particular scar. Others are painstakingly avoided and only muttered under protest to admit our stupidity, stubbornness or sloppiness.

Some scars have changed my life. Like the one on my back did. When I was in my teens, an oval mole (melanocytic nevus) on my back began to grow. Luckily, it was noticed in time. The dermatologist was pleased that we came in time too because the mole was digging (like moles do ;-)) and growing inside me, not only on the outside. The longer we waited, the deeper it went. When they took it out, it was already more than 6 cm deep. Unfortunately, it was right between my shoulder blades, which is a place that is devilishly difficult to keep still.

I find it terribly hard to sit still 😉 So, it was a challenge to do so…for more than 6 months. Long story short, skin transplantation was needed to cover up the “hole” so it could heal from both sides (up and down).

Now, why do I tell you this? Well, this surgery not only kept me from doing sports for a full year, it also made sure I always protected myself from the sun. That part of my skin used to be unusually sensitive to the sun, so I put super protection on it, but also on the rest of my body. Not pleasant at the time, but I look at it now, especially at how it has created awareness about skin cancer in me. At a young age, I became aware and adapted my behaviour because of this. I do admit, not what I wanted at the time, but so valuable in retrospect. Not just for me, also for those around me! What else did it teach me? That a lot of people instantly draw their own conclusions. Even before they have  asked me about it, they assume the worst…

It has happened to me on numerous occasions that people would not dare to ask at first, but only after a while and for some, only when they have gained enough courage (by consuming alcohol or by other question-provoking means 😉 ):

“Have you been shot (in the back)?”

Depending on who they are, where we are and what the atmosphere is like, I would engage in a cliffhanging story of how I was shot. At some point, of course, I would tell them the truth. However, I never thought of the skin cancer awareness before. Now I do, and therefor, I wrote this article. Enough people have lost the battle against (skin) cancer. Next time anyone asks, I will tell the full story about the awareness. So thank you, dear scar, for teaching me a lesson (or two).

What are the stories behind your scars? Are you too scar(r)ed to share? I am curious what you have learned from them.

Enjoy Every Day,
Bert Verdonck


Growth

January 1, 2013

“Growth” is the word of 2013 for me. Every year I choose one. Last year’s was “Pure”. No, not just the chocolate 😉
I was also looking at connecting with pure people. Also finding ways of purifying our environment. Examples are buying a new lower emission car, a high-performance, low- energy consuming boiler, filtering our drinking water and numerous small steps in further reducing our impact or footprint here on earth.

“Pure” brought me to more transparency, open minded and inspirational talks with partners, customers and on a personal level, a higher detoxication and fitness level of my body. I also got ill for the first time in a long time, also allowing me to cleanse even more.

As you probably know, I also participated in a medical research programme (where I had to eat pure chocolate on a daily basis!) about the influence of flavonoids in pure chocolate on our health. Of course, I will never know if I were in the actual test group or the control group, but it had a positive effect on my conscience about health. If you don’t feel well, you can’t live or play full out!

On the business side, I started a new company, Really LinkedIn, in the UK with Mike Clark, also a pure person. We purely focus on helping clients with our “Really LinkedIn” products and services. We want them to be successful with finding new customers, partners, employees or whatever kind of people they are looking for. Pure results! A really symbolic way of wrapping up 2012 for me was working for one of our customers: Pure, fundraisers with integrity. By the way, they have created 500K of new business in a couple of weeks, thanks to our LinkedIn course. Yes, their official testimonial is on its way 😉

Did you know I was a speaker at a TEDx event? Check out my 9-minute session at TEDxGhent, purely about lifehacking:

Let’s look ahead at 2013 now! “Growth” is the word that appeals to me, both on a personal and on a professional level. The first level for me is about growing more by learning more, talking to inspirational speakers (yes, I have made another top 10 list, remember this one?), growing my network, reading at least 1 book a month and investing in a least 5 courses for personal growth. Remember Jim Rohn’s quote: “You become the average of the five people you spend most time with.”
So choose wisely 😉

Another important element is growing my contribution again. I feel like last year was lower than average on giving back to community and contributing to charities. Time for action! I want to pick up the pace by creating a team of great go-givers to setup a foundation to systematically starting to contribute to other charities. Raising awareness, creating pure happiness and giving people a chance that otherwise would not happen; in short making a true difference is our focus.

On the business level I want to grow our business, not only in the Benelux and the UK, but also more internationally. I am happy to serve our first global clients. On top of that, we are expanding our team and portfolio of services as well.

So, what is your keyword for 2013? Did you choose one yet?
Let’s hear it!

Wishing you all the best!

To your success,

Bert

PS: Yes, this year I commit to writing more blogs too! So stay tuned 😉


How to REALLY use LinkedIn

December 4, 2011

LinkedIn is the largest professional (online) network in the world. The majority has 3 questions: “What’s in it for me?”, “I have a profile, now what?” and “How to get more results without spending a lot of time?”

Probably the best way to answer these questions is the book How to REALLY use LinkedIn“! Together with Jan Vermeiren, I wrote the second edition of this international bestseller.

"How to REALLY use LinkedIn" International BestsellerWith this book you will learn:

• 10 powerful ways to find new customers, employees or a new job
• 42 tips to make your profile stand out
• 11 strategies to apply LinkedIn at an organizational level
• 31 answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs)
• 30 lesser-known functions and opportunities
• Plus 53 new pages, including extra tips and timesaving tools

Discover also the free “Video & Tools Library”! It has a vast collection of how-to-videos and extra tools, including several Genius Shortcuts.

“How to REALLY use LinkedIn” is available in English, Dutch, French and Spanish. For more info check out www.how-to-really-use-linkedin.com

What most people don’t know (yet), is that Jan and I decided to

give away

1 million books

for FREE!

Why?

To actively stimulate the economy! Too many people are looking for new customers, new employees or a new job. They are hardly using LinkedIn, because they don’t know the platform well enough!

At the same time, we are raising 1 million dollar for charity! Check out our website www.how-to-really-use-linkedin.com for more info. And remember to download the book for FREE as well! (English and Dutch versions!)

To your success!


Waking Up

August 31, 2011

The feeling of “waking up” is probably one of the most under-appreciated moments in our lives. Why? Because in those moments of waking up, you feel most likely still (a bit) sleepy and you have trouble opening your eyes. It’s like we are a child again and just find out that another day has begun. Sometimes this innocence is shattered by an unexpected move, like falling out of your bed or your partner loudly getting up next to you. That’s not what I am talking about! 😉

This morning I had a special “waking up” process. I am sailing on a 51 feet sailing yacht in Greece and we anchored the harbor of Symi. I slept outside, like I often do on these trips. I also have my earplugs and my eyeshades on (those you get on long distance flights) ). So, imagine sleeping like a baby on deck. Suddenly, I feel a warm energy touching my body, almost caressing and slowly making me aware of what’s happening (no,it’s not what you think it is 😉 ). Since I don’t hear and don’t see yet, I have no clue of what’s happening. It is the sunbeams! What a feeling…like magic!

So, I am really happy for receiving this gift. It made me realize that waking up is in most cases a process that passes us by. We are probably unaware of it. Looking back to it, I am still sitting here with a big smile on my face. Also, thinking that I should pay more attention to the waking up ritual. Why? Well, if you can get a fresh start with a potion of happiness, then the rest of your day probably will unfold itself like this as well. Just be aware of those first couple of minutes while waking up and you know exactly what I am talking about!

Now, what does all of this has to do with you? Do you have a clear view on where you want to go in life? Do you actually have a plan to achieve your life goals? Or are you still dreaming about your legacy? And I hope you do have dreams! Now, the question is have you waken up yet? Do you feel the sunbeams? Do you have this wonderful feeling that another day has arrived? And you can build the next step towards your dreams?

Just let this feeling sink into you. Be aware of this special moment and enjoy your day!

I know I will 🙂


Crossing Streets

August 13, 2011

As a young boy I was told to look out for traffic before crossing the street. Some obvious rules where learned (e.g. look left & right). It worked pretty well for me (I was never run over :-)). Now, so many years later, when visiting Vietnam, this all changes! The first piece of advice we got upon arriving was : “Do you know how to cross the street?”

What? Do you think I am stupid? Where do you think I am coming from? I’ve been crossing streets all my life! But that was not what the question intended. If you look at the streets here in Hanoi for example. And let me show you just a couple of seconds of how crossing a street works here with this little clip (can you find the pedestrians?):

Did you notice the cop crossing too?

Now, here are 5 simple rules to cross the streets in Hanoi (or in some other big Asian cities):

1. Always Look Left & Right: preferably multiple times. You must be alert and aware of the traffic around you. They not always follow the same rules as in our western world. Although it looks pretty obvious, it is a must, for your own safety. Even if it’s a one-way street!

2. Go Slow: this way the traffic around you can guestimate what your next moves are and how to avoid you.

3. Don’t Run: if you run, you become unpredictable and you increase the chances of getting hit.

4. Don’ Stop: if you stop, you become an obstacle. As long as you keep on moving the traffic flows around you.

5. Don’t Go Back: it’s very bad to go back. If you panic, keep on going slowly. Going back is NOT done.

I would like to add my own tip:

6. Follow a local who’s crossing the street. Walk his walk. Copy what they are doing and you should be safe. Of course, choose wisely! 😉

PS: If you want more (severe) traffic shots : Traffic Hanoi, Crossing Hanoi and Crazy Traffic.


20 years in love

July 30, 2011

Can you believe it? I am in love for more than 20 years! Tonia and I are officially together for 20 years!

I know that very few people meet their soulmate or even a significant other during their lifetime. I guess I am just lucky (although I don’t believe in luck) 😉

Many people often ask us what the secrets are of our long-lasting relationship?

It is rather difficult to come up with an exhaustive list that will make any relationship work. Remember that we are not experts in this matter, we are only experienced 🙂

But if I have to come up with some elements, then here they are:

  • Acceptance : accept who you are and especially who the other person is. Accept his/her beauty and his/her “faults”. Don’t try to fix him/her!
  • Trust : if there is no trust, there is no relationship! Give each other enough freedom too. It’s OK to do things apart from each other.
  • Openness : be open-minded and listen to what the other person is telling you. No kidding, really listen. You can always answer (or judge) later on.
  • Being there : if you are not there, you miss the most beautiful moments together. You might grow apart!
  • Grow together : inspire each other to grow. Create space to develop yourself and the other person too. Learn from each other.
  • Honesty : be honest to each other and talk, communicate as much as possible. And please listen! Didn’t I tell you that already 😉
  • Magic : create some magic in your relationship. Keep the romance going. We have one evening during the week that we call “date night”.  We take turns to discover new places together, doing something new, eating out, walking or just talking. Where is the magic in your relationship?
  • Fun : create time to do fun things together! Tonia is my best friend. We laugh a lot, no we are laughing every day! If you can’t have fun together, why are you still together?

Like I said, these are only some points that are making a difference to our lives. And we are glad to share them with you!

Enjoy and have a great life (together)!

Bert & Tonia

P.S.: It might also help to say : I ♥ YOU  to each other (regularly)!


Triple Truth

February 24, 2011

“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”

– Buddha –

I love this quote. It instantly became one of my favorite ones! It is so true too. As I already explained in Be Generous, a generous heart is what most people are lacking. A lot of us are coming from a place of scarcity instead of abundance. By being generous we not only are happy to give, we actually help others as well. On top of that, they might pass it on too! If you help a family by financing a child’s education, you are helping the whole family. Why? When that child graduates and gets a better paid job, it can take care of the family too. This is a way out of their poverty.

Kind speech is a talent that most of us should develop. When you talk to others, find kind things to say about them. How often do we give a compliment? Hardly ever, right? See what happens if you start handing out compliments (that are meant of course)!

A life of service and compassion is also one of my personal raisons d’être. Helping others, being of service, listening to their needs and giving a hand where possible are all forms of this. Sometimes it does not take much to take a step that means the world to others. So, what’s keeping you from doing it yourself? I invite you to start today. What can you do to contribute? Even if it’s a small thing, you are still making a difference!

Thank you for stepping up!


Forge new habits!

January 25, 2011

Do you also find it difficult to create a new habit? Is it a challenge to stay disciplined? Of course, you are motivated, but we are living in a hectic world and you (sometimes) forget about your great New Year’s intentions?

I used to be like this. Not any more! I found a Genius Shortcut to solve it the easy way : Habitforge.com

It takes 21 days to forge a habit. Some say it takes 30 days or more. Others say change happens in a heartbeat. Anyway, it takes quite some discipline to keep up and to stick to your plan.

How does Habitforge.com help you? What do you need to do?

Step 1 : You enroll and share a goal or desire. If you could do one thing every day that would change your life for the better, what would it be?

Step 2 : Habitforge will send you a daily email. They’ll ask you if you were successful the day before at doing that one thing. From within the email, just click “yes” or “no” and Habitforge will do the rest.

Step 3 : Succeed for 21 days in a row. Do that one thing you’ve committed to doing. Skip a day before succeeding for 21 days straight, and Habitforge will start you back at day one (oh yes!). Succeed for 21 days in a row, and you can enter monitoring mode. But by that point the action should seem second nature, right?

Did I mention Habitforge is FREE?

Wishing you all the best with changing you life for the better and forge a new habit that makes you happy!


Be Generous

January 1, 2011

“Generosity during life is a very different thing from generosity in the hour of death; one proceeds from genuine liberality and benevolence, the other from pride or fear.”

– Horace Mann –

What is generosity? Wikipedia has it right : “Generosity is the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need.” This is completely in line with what we teach at Networking Coach with the first fundamental principle of Networking : the Networking Attitude also known as “Give and Receive“. To me it is in essence a sincere desire to make others’ lives easier or more pleasant.

Why would you want to be generous? “There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life — happiness, freedom, and peace of mind — are always attained by giving them to someone else.”

– Peyton Conway March –

It is a fact that generous people are happier in life. They feel that their life is more meaningful and they appreciate it more. Being a generous person will help you feel better about yourself and the world around you.

Now, what does it take to Be Generous? In fact, very little. Here are 5 steps on how to become more generous :

  1. Start with being generous to yourself. By doing that you are able to be open to and respond to the needs of others. Because most of us, do not actually start with themselves, here is my personal tip : start this week, undertake one pleasurable activity for yourself and one equally pleasurable activity that will benefit another person.
  2. Continue to give, even if it is small stuff. Remember : It’s all about the small stuff! Give things away that cost you little or nothing. Have you recently walked around? Did you notice how few people actually smile? What is the effect of giving a smile to someone? Right! Here is something else I do : when drinking something in a bar and I am about to leave, I also pay for another table of people I don’t know. Of course, I don’t tell them and just leave. You see, it’s not about me giving it, it’s about them receiving it. How much does it cost? On average about 10 euro (13 $). That’s all it takes to make people happy! 🙂
  3. Grow into “being” generous. As you are consciously generous to others, it will get easier and easier. Soon the time will come when you are automatically generous. A pleasant side effect is that others will be more generous to you. You will experience that “what goes around, comes around.” A simple approach is to reflect on what you have in your current life. What do you really need? What did you spend money on that you do not need (anymore)? Start giving it away to others who really need it. Or sell it and give the money to charity. Have you heard about “Random Acts of Kindness“?
  4. Give it forward. Being generous is also contagious, so if you show generosity towards one person then that person might show generosity towards somebody else. If you have not seen it yet : Pay it forward. Watch it and think how you can help generosity forward.
  5. Change the world. One step at a time. One person can change the world! Are you that person? A great example is Bärli von Toggenburg. With his Colour the World Foundation he made a big impression on me. With his 9300 km solo-bicycle expedition from New Delhi (India) to Switzerland he raised 180,000 euro (240K $) for leprosy-sufferers in India and Cambodia. You surely remember the Star Thrower (Read this short version). Bärli made a big difference for those leprosy-sufferers! Are you willing to step up too?

Yes, I am committed to step up and be more generous! In 2011 another big step forward in being generous will be achieved! A very promising program will be launched : The Generous Networker. Stay tuned and participate too! Now that you know what my next steps are, what are yours? How generous will you be? What will you do to be generous in 2011? Are you a person that will change the world? Let me know if you need any help, ok?


Upside Down?

December 26, 2010

If the world were upside down, what would it look like? Ever wondered what would happen if you start to write “upside down”?

˙˙˙uǝǝɹɔs ǝɥʇ pǝuɹnʇ ɹo pɐǝɥ ɹnoʎ uo ƃuıpuɐʇs ɹǝɥʇıǝ ǝɹɐ noʎ ‘sıɥʇ pɐǝɹ uɐɔ noʎ ɟı”

Isn’t that great? I like it!

Screenshot Typeupsidedown.com websiteNow, how did I do it? Well, there is a Genius Shortcut for writing upside down. Typeupsidedown.com

Typeupsidedown.com is an easy website with 2 textboxes. You fill out the first one with your message. Simultaneously it will create your text upside down in the second box. Now you can easily copy and paste the upside down text to other applications and have fun with it!

What can you use it for? Fun! Ok, I admit, I haven’t found a serious application for it yet. I use it to update my LinkedIn-status, Twitter or on Facebook. I even put it in my LinkedIn Profile and  I sure some people will want to know more about it 🙂

Have fun too, always,

Bert