In any company, processes are quickly established whether you design them specifically or by pure happenstance. While processes can be great in handling situations, they can often lead to less than ideal outcomes with customers.

I realize that this is highly dependent on both the industry and the type of interaction, but the ability to be flexible within processes is something that ought to be worked on more.

Far too many companies create and design strict processes by their own administrational structure, instead of thinking about the customer. This is most often apparent in support structures. How many times have a company not asked you to “please contact department XYZ instead”?

To me, this is foreign. I can see why such a process has been developed and why it is appealing, but as a company you should really fight it. Why should the customer, who contacted the company be forced to find the right contact? Isn’t this simply the job of the company?

Apparently many companies don’t seem to think so, which is a shame. Because what we also very frequently see, is that new companies to the market become wildly successful just one a very basic premise: They make the customer’s life easier.

Now I ask you, would you really want a competitor to challenge your company based on just the simple thing of a better process to deal with the customer? I didn’t think so.

On Scheduling Meetings

Usually, I have an interest in improving the ways I work. Not necessarily to increase my workload as an effect, but because working smarter and better undoubtedly does no harm.

When talking about productivity, meetings always get a bad rep for being unproductive. I disagree. As long as you have a meeting for the right reason and stick to an agenda, meetings are awesome. Plus, the social aspect is important. It improves relationships.

Looking back at the fall however, I have some important changes to how I will be scheduling meetings going forward that could be summed up in a simple rule:

Work early. Meet late.

This could unfortunately be different depending on you being a morning person or not, but I am convinced that having a free morning (at least until lunch) is good for your productivity. It’s simply when you are the least exhausted and can get into work the easiest.

Afternoons, and late afternoons in particular are when I have the hardest to focus. Scheduling meetings at these times makes the most use of the day, because you will get an added boost through meeting people that likely makes you able to still power through the meeting brilliantly, even though you might not have been productive by yourself.

Cluster Meetings
Additionally, clustering meetings to a given day of the week could also do wonders. I have found that days with client meetings usually means I have a harder time getting back to focus. A solution to that is clustering meetings together so that you have a day when you’re in “meeting mode”, which clearly requires a different mindset than working alone and focusing.

If I can help it, my meetings going forward are going to be increasingly scheduled in the later part of the afternoon, leaving the rest of the day freed up for work and clustered together so that I am able to power through the week efficiently and in the end, freeing up more time to relax!

On The Desire to Learn

If there’s one thing that I am truly proud of, it is my love for learning new things. Yes, I am a nerd and a proud one too. In business and a professional setting, having a genuine desire to learn new things can set you ahead. Why? Because everything gets easier.

There isn’t a job out there that doesn’t involve continuous learning. When you find learning fun you will like to stay on top of your game and do it naturally, instead of forcing yourself into doing it because you realize that it’s important.

I am not saying that this needs to come naturally to you, however, I firmly believe that it is something that does you good. It is also one of the most important things I look at in hiring someone. Your current level and knowledge—whilst fine and all that—is nothing if you’re not willing to learn.

Dare I say that everything in the world keeps advancing in one way or another. Striving to improve, get better and learning is such an important mindset professionally because it shows passion, interest and most important, is a great indicator for great work.

Any day, I would pick someone who knows a little less today over someone who doesn’t show a strong willingness to learn. Do yourself a favor. If you don’t already like to learn new things—try and pick up the habit. Career wise, it is going to be one of the best things you do.

Plus, it’s just too much fun to stop…

On Dressing the Part

Appearances are everything. It might seem overly superficial, but it is true. Even more so, first impressions last and you’d better make a good one.

Part of the appearance is how you dress. I make it a habit of dressing up for business, for several reasons. Firstly, you feel different when you dress up a bit. It is an important little thing to trick your mind into a business mindset and work mode. Secondly, people view you differently and this can make a big difference.

Dress up, and be respected
In my business of consulting and rather high-value work, it is inevitable that you and your business need to match the value and more honestly, the fee that you are charging your clients. That also means that you have to dress up. One of my favorite pieces of clothing is my suit jacket, especially when traveling (it’s so practical!) and as a benefit, it happens to be a good choice when you need to look businessman-like.

As you know I travel quite a bit and have done for the past years. When I go into the lounge at the airport before my flight, I considerably help lowering the mean age in the room. Yes, it is still mostly an older mens club—sadly. A benefit of dressing the part here is that people suddenly (mostly) look past the age and see your function. Businessman. Gold lounge. Frequent traveller. No problem.

Yes, in that sense I like to blend in, but it has also helped me to be able to get access to and talk to people that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to address. Dressing correctly helps give you legitimacy and that is not a bad thing.

Superficial, but necessary
Sure, all this may again seem very superficial, but it is a superficial world that we live in and first impressions last. Thus, I would without hesitation choose to dress up nicely every day. Plus, I rather think it looks better too and am not the one to call a suit uncomfortable.

Year in Review — 2014

This time of the year, I always enjoy looking back at the past year to reflect what I have achieved and what has happened. Not only is it motivational to remind yourself of your successes, but when thinking ahead about the goals for 2015, it is equally good to remind yourself of what hasn’t worked and what you need to try and change.

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