Essentials of Happiness

May 12, 2011

The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
– Allan K. Chalmers –

Pretty obvious, right? How come so few people actually do it then? Right! Most people have something to do, but do they love what they are doing? Are you doing what you love to do? If you don’t know the answer, chances are that you don’t. If you do, are you sure? You see, most people think they love what they are doing, but are actually pretending it or are rather feeling stuck in their everyday life. And they fail to admit it. But that’s not you, right?

So, tell me what do you hope for? World Peace, a clean environment, winning the lottery and traveling the world to spend all you money? Mmm, I see. Most people keep on dreaming and take no action towards their dreams and hopes. So, what action are you taking? Are you willing to share? Let’s hear it!

And of course, you are wondering what the deal is for me, right?
Well, I love what I do : create, connect & contribute. Starting our newest program : Generous Networkers (in Dutch) really fits in nicely.  On top of that I also love to give presentations, workshops and trainings on networking, LinkedIn and of course Genius Shortcuts!

I love Tonia, my wife and soulmate. And of course, my family and friends too!

I hope for improving this world and creating more happiness. And I take consistently action to make this happening. I know, I’ll do it my way…somebody else’s famous quote 🙂

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 :

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 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?

It’s fab to fail!

December 23, 2010

It’s fabulous to fail! Yes, that’s right: It’s fab to fail!

Why? The more you fail, the more likely you are to succeed!

For most people, failure is considered a (very) negative thing. As with fear, many people get paralyzed by failure. By avoiding failure, we end up limiting our success. Just to be clear: We need to focus on trying to succeed, not trying to fail!

You see, instead of handling failure poorly, we should handle it in a better way: it’s a learning opportunity! Be happy with yourself for trying…Why did you fail? What lessons can you learn from it? What can you do to make sure you avoid failure again?

For me, failure is bad, if indeed we don’t learn from it. If we don’t change anything and fail again (and again) the next time.

I sometimes look at failure as a test. “I thought I had a great strategy, but apparently it wasn’t the case.” I will get up (again), learn and tap into my creativity to unlock new approaches and better strategies. To overcome failure, something must change, so you start to analyze, examine and scrutinize. You adapt and grow!

Another common reaction to failure is this one: “If I don’t succeed perfectly the first time I try, I have failed.” Nobody will try out something new and do it perfectly the first time! Remember how long it took to learn how to ride a bike or drive a car? Right! As an ex-perfectionist, I also advise you to avoid perfection! One way of doing that is to let go of the outcome. Easier said than done, I agree. Still, there is a way: Create a better set of rules for yourself. “As long as I learn from what I am doing wrong, I am succeeding” or If I give it my best shot, regardless of the outcome, I succeed!”

If you keep in mind what happens in the movies, you will also agree that sometimes heroes are not as successful as they appear. Every hero is successful at the first try. NOT! They often fail (more than once!). What they do differently is they keep pushing forward. They learn from their mistakes and adapt. They sometimes fail spectacularly, but yet they push further and they ultimately get what they want. It can happen to you too! Only if you are willing to learn from your mistakes! So, it’s fab to fail, because you will discover new insights and you are about to have a breakthrough. You are in the process of growing and another step closer to what you want!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

– Thomas Edison –

My final question is: Look back at your last failure. What did you learn from it? Thanks for sharing!

Winners never give up!

December 6, 2010

It is easy to quit! Some say that “Loosers are winners who quit”.

Some people just need a small excuse to give up. Sometimes you come across people who are very close to achieving their goal. Even when the finish line is in sight and looks hardly attainable, they refuse to give up.

In this video, you will see Holland Reynolds, a 16 year-old cross-country runner in California, collapse just a couple of feet away from the finish line at the state cross country championship. She finished the race by crawling past the finish line. Impressive!

She did not win the race, but she won! How? Despite complete exhaustion, Holland Reynolds pushed herself to honor her coach (diagnosed with incurable Lou Gehrig’s disease) and advance her team. She not only completed the race, overcoming her cramps, but thanks to her effort the team won the national championship!

Willingness to Look Foolish

December 1, 2010

Everytime you are on stage or before an audience, several fears sneak up on you. One of them is the fear of “looking like a fool”. The last thing you want to do, whatever it takes, is to look like a fool, right?

Chances are that it will never happen to you! However, if you want to increase the chance of success, I suggest you create a willingness to look foolish. Why? Well, if you are willing to look silly, the fear won’t have a strong impact on you any more. The fear will dry up. And you know what? In case it really happens, you probably will laugh with it, rather than to try to hide it or  to minimize it. By facing our fears, you might be able to solve them!

Let’s take it from another point of view. Can you think about an opportunity that you have missed out, because you were afraid of looking foolish? Perhaps you did not ask for the appropriate advice or you did not approach that big potential client, because you might look silly? Let me ask you another question: To whom do you care about looking silly? What most people are answering me is that they are afraid of looking foolish to people they don’t know (yet)! I get that. I used to be like that too ( and sometimes I still am).  So what you are actually saying is that we don’t do the things we want or we don’t fulfill our dreams because we are afraid of what people whom we don’t know might think!  Wow! They don’t know us, but they are ruling our lives…

You know what? They probably don’t think you are foolish at all! So, why let them take control? Instead think about all the joy and knowledge you are bringing with your message. Of course, you could also remember not to take life so seriously! That’s what I do 🙂

Time is Limited

November 18, 2010

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

– Steve Jobs –

Too many people are living someone else’s life. Over and over again I meet people in my coaching practice who are stuck. They are stuck because it became impossible to keep up with the rat-race. Burnout or worse! Most of them come to the conclusion that they are actually fulfilling someone else’s dreams. What happened? They took over dreams and wishes of someone else and made them there own. They thought they needed a bigger car, a nicer house, a boat, etc. Now they need to face the fact that they don’t like their job. They lost their family (or nearly) because they are never there for them. They have a significant amount loaned and probably no idea how to keep paying for them, besides working even more.

Why did this happen? I am surprised at the number of people who have no clue about what they want with their life. They have no clear goals or dreams. So, they copy the ones from others, thinking it will be ok. Only to wake up a number of years later in an unsustainable situation. Is this you?

Time to wake up! So, I invite you think about your life. Are your living the life of your dreams? Are you having fun every day? What needs to be done to achieve that? Right, make up your mind first! Start with a list today. Give your own dreams a chance and write them down. Share them with your family and friends. Share them with your network. You might be surprised who could help you achieve them…

1 Month

November 12, 2010

If you had only 1 month to go, what would you do? If you were diagnosed with a lethal disease, how would you react? What is on your bucket list (wish list of things to do before you “kick the bucket“)? Or don’t you have one yet?

I must say, I already lost a number of friends. Everytime it has made a big impression on me! Although I also admit the effect is only temporarily, I reflect on this topic frequently. I created my proper bucket list. By the way, did you see the movie: the Bucket List with Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman? If you would only watch 1 movie for the rest of the year, let it be this one!

Whenever a friend died I tried to contemplate and make something good out of it. Believe me, it is hard to do! But one of the things that emerged everytime is my commitment to ask myself an important question regularly: What would I be doing today if I only had 1 month to live? What if I only had 1 day? Imagine today is the last day of your life? What would you do?

I do not want to sound negative. My goal is to make you think and reflect on your life as well. Too often people die and we are left with a feeling that there was still so much that we needed to say. We postponed it for a later time and now it’s too late! Guilt, remorse and sorrow are emotions that pop up then.

So, let’s get back to what you would do if your last month starts today. What would you do?

Here is my personal Top 10 list, if I had only 30 days to live:

  1. Spend 24/7 with Tonia (my wife)
  2. Have a big family dinner
  3. Throw a party, bbq or dinnerparty with my friends
  4. Visit specific places in India, Australia & New Zealand
  5. Go on diving trip to the Maledives
  6. Sailing cruise around Fiji
  7. Meet Robin Sharma again to thank him for his inspiration
  8. Skydiving
  9. Publish another book (on how to “Create, Connect & Contribute”)
  10. Give a speech for an audience of 10,000 people

Let me know what’s on your list, ok? And by the way, you don’t need to wait for your last 30 days to do the things on your bucket list. I know I won’t!

Not Afraid

August 13, 2010

I‘m not afraid to take a stand
Everybody come take my hand
We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just let you know that, you’re not alone
Holla if you feel that you’ve been down the same road

– Eminem, Not Afraid –

We all have our fears. Some more than others. What are you afraid of? Me, I used to be afraid to stand up and talk before an audience. Not any more. Not even before unknown audiences or in other countries. Not even if something goes wrong, like a computer crash, no internet, heat, cold, no  mic…A couple of months ago I even took over a session of a friend, who got sick on stage. I stood up, walked up and continued his session. I had no clue what he had prepared, so I had to improvise and managed it very well. Without fear or nerves.

What happened? Like many keynote speakers I learned to get rid of my fear. How did I do this? Instead of running away from my fears, which is what most people do, I decided to face my fears! Every opportunity I got, I stood up, first hesitating, of course, then with more and more confidence.

Why? I tricked myself…Of course, I started with telling (practical) jokes to friends (small audiences), asking questions during seminars or trainings I attended as a participant. It takes courage to stand up and ask your question. And it better be a good question, right? So, I started with small exercises, then moved on to introduce speakers on stage. And at one point in time I was asked to give a session to a professional audience. I was an undercover student (clients didn’t know I was still a student) and there I suddenly had to give someone else’s presentation. Nervous at first, I surprisingly felt rather comfortable, because I knew the topic very well (As an expert, it doesn’t matter which questions they ask…bring it on!). And then I used a trick: I told myself I was playing a game. How well can you pretend to be a good speaker? Would anyone notice that I am just a student? So, I played this game and WON! No one ever knew! So, if you are uncertain, see if this trick could also work for you…You got game? 🙂

By the way, if you are prepared well, you also know who will be in your audience. Did you adapt your speech to them? Are you using examples they understand? How well will you interact with them or fulfill their expectations? Interesting to know these answers before you get on stage! Did you ask?

Also, learning from peers helps tremendously too. As Eminem sings…you are not alone. Every speaker, trainer or coach went through it as well ( or still is!), so by exchanging experiences you can help each other. Focus on the positive things first. What is he/she doing right? Might be hard at first, but even the worst keynotes still have value to learn from. Can you discover what it is? Share your thoughts. If you receive feedback from others, first take it in, before your defense goes up. Don’t take yourself so seriously! Listen to what others are saying. Reflect on it. Are they right? Why (not)? Then decide if you change . Just postpone your judgement and act later…

One final thing. Be kind to yourself! Remember: Everyone has to learn. Every time you faced your fears and overcome them, reward yourself. It can be as simple as taking in the applause the audience gives you. It can be enjoying the compliments some people give you. It can be you, giving yourself a high five or big smile. You just won the game : You – Fear : 1 – 0!  🙂

So, wrapping up, here are a couple of tips if you are afraid of public speaking:

  1. know your subject (you are the expert because you are on stage, not them)
  2. know your audience (who is there? what do they expect?)
  3. be prepared and show up early
  4. take any opportunity to speak, even if it is by asking questions from the audience first
  5. ask feedback, from the audience, but also from peers
  6. go to other keynote speakers and learn from them
  7. Trust yourself and reward yourself everytime by enjoying the applause. You earned it!

Elevator Pitch

July 28, 2010

Since I won the PSA Holland “Elevator Pitch” contest, I am receiving a lot of questions about tips for a great Elevator Pitch. Some called it an Elevator Story, Sticky Story or Pushy Pitch.

So, here are some tips of how I sometimes start the conversation:

1. When people ask me where I am from:

I am from the land of Chocolate and I live in the city of Diamonds.

Then I wait a couple of seconds while they are thinking. Most people get it right and start smiling, especially women 🙂

Oh, for those who don’t know : Antwerp, Belgium

OK, I admit, sometimes they say Switzerland as well, but the diamonds are pretty convincing…

Anyway, what I am saying is : start with something different, original or funny. If you can make people smile and/or teasing them with the first thing(s) you say, you are already halfway!

When I was in New Zealand, I often told people I am from “Old Zealand”. Then I saw them thinking again and so I grabbed their attention…

So, what can you do with your location? Have fun!

2. When people ask me what I do:

I make people happy!

The first thing people do is either smile, show interest and ask me how, because they could use some happiness…or they just want to know more details. Their attention becomes interest! That’s exactly where I want them to be.

I am hacking away frustrations in people’s lives…I am a lifehacker

When I use this sentence, I also make a gesture of really hacking away stuff from their shoulders or backs. Some people are rather visually oriented and it helps them. Most people have never heard of the word “lifehacker” and find it ‘creative’ or ‘refreshing’. Of course, some think about negative stuff when they hear ‘hacker’ and they do ask. So the next bit positions it well:

Most people are looking for the easy way or the shortcuts, right? That’s exactly what I do : Genius Shortcuts! Examples are learning people how to write a 100 mails in 1 hour or if you are looking for a perfect picture in your presentation : how to scan 200 images in less than 20 seconds? You see, challenging stuff at first, but by using Genius Shortcuts you’ll see how easy it really is.

I share my Genius Shortcuts through keynotes, workshops and coaching.

Now it is time to really explain what it is that I do. I start with bringing in my own flavour of lifehacking (and for those negative people moving away from that negative feeling): Genius Shortcuts. Since I already gave them several pieces of info that might be new to them I share examples immediately after. It makes it more tangible. Now they get a clear understanding what it is that I do. Of course, I adapt the examples to their context!

I also advise you to give at least 2 examples, just in case 1 is not relevant for them (exceptions do exist 🙂 ).

Finally, I tell them how I add value and how I share it…through keynotes, etc. Now they know how they can hire me, right?

So, what exactly is it that you do?

3. Satisfy their needs

Isn’t it frustrating for a xyz (fill in their occupation) like you to loose so much time on abc (an activity they find frustrating)?

Think about one of your big frustrations that consumes a lot of your energy. Now, how would you feel if you got rid of it?

Imagine how it would feel if you have 2 hours extra every day?

These are just example sentences, which I am using depending on how well I already know the other person(s). Now, I get them thinking and feeling how it would be when they hire me. Definitely fueling their desire and showing them that I can deliver (or really hack away their frustrations). Yes, one of my signature workshops guarantees that I save people 2 hours/day! Yes, I do have references 🙂

Which needs do you satisfy? Use them in your Elevator Pitch!

4. Call to action

Hold on to that feeling and …

any sales person can tell you that this is important. Ever wondered why you have to sit in a car when they sell it to you? Or why they give you the product in your hand while they sell it? Exactly, so you can experience how it really feels…how real it all is. I do the same. If people feel how it would be without this particular frustration, how their lives would look like, they will get in a good (great?) mood. that’s exactly where I want them, right?

come and talk to me afterwards and I’ll share some free Genius Shortcuts with you, so you can actually be happier!

when I am on stage giving my Elevator Pitch. People who got triggered come and see me afterwards. Sometimes the response is a bit overwhelming 🙂

enroll for my free ecourse at my website and start enjoying some free Genius Shortcuts, so you can actually be happier!

If it is in a 1-to-1 conversation, I am handing out my businesscard and show them where my website is. By giving away added value to them, I am already solving some of their frustrations. And a lot of people actually sign up for this free ecourse…

If there is more time I could invite them to read my blog, where I have written a number of articles on lifehacks and Genius Shortcuts. Or I even tell them about open workshops. Occasionally ( I am not a hardseller) I might ask them if they would be interested in an inhouse training or keynote and what the next steps would look like.

You probably get it by now. My Elevator Pitch has different moments where the other person can/will be triggered and will ask for more details. The more they ask, the more I can give. I am convinced it is also paramount to give them some added value right away. This means that in most cases I will share one (or more) of my Genius Shortcuts on the spot (or when they come and see me afterwards).

Note: Most (marketing/sales)people are familiar with the AIDA-model (no, not the Opera 🙂 ) and will have recognized it. In step 1 I aroused Attention. In step 2 I really got their Interest. During step 3 I give enough info to go to their Desire and finally in step 4, if they really want a taste of Genius Shortcuts, they are called for Action. Needless to say that it often works like a charm. I invite you to develop your own story! And share it with us…

Final tip: Avoid too many technical terms! People will not understand you or it might take you too much time to explain it. Search for easy-to-understand synonyms.