2 years C.inc and my most valuable lessons

It has been a while, since I wrote. Not that I stopped writing entirely, but as I was busy working and writing for my clients I somehow found it difficult to find themes to write for myself. 

But.. this week on March the 22nd to be precise, it has been 2 years ago since I the founding of my own company. Giving birth to C.inc. 
I am unsure if I feel it is ‘just’ two years or ‘already’. 
On one hand it feels like I’ve been doing this forever, but on the other hand it also just feels like only yesterday I started doing it for myself. 

So this calls for a celebration. 
Has it all been fun and sunshine? Not really but it has been such an incredible learning curve. 

Lesson I
Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups. When you decide to venture into business as a freelancer, a lot of people will say; I that is so cool I am going to hire you for a project later. The truth is that rarely happens and all the really cool jobs come from those you least expect it. (See lesson 3 also.) 

Another important thing is payments, but I’ll leave the details on that one up to you. I will tell yo this: I have become a lot stricter when it comes to my payment terms. ;-) 

Lesson II
Dare to say ‘no’ once in a while. As a freelancer the world is your playground and you will float on wave of opportunities. Because of the uncertainty that goes with your freelance status, you tend to say yes to opportunity that comes along. But if you were truly honest to yourself, a lot of the times those jobs don’t pay as well as the effort you need to invest into them or the brand or client does not fit your DNA. 
And despite all these warning signs from your gut warnings you agree to doing the job. Don’t, trust your gut! It is (almost) always right. 

Lesson III
Be trustworthy
The world is too small and you always, always run into people in your business more than once. Even after you’ve known people for what feels like an eternity, they can turn into a new client or a partner. It happened to me more than once in the last two years. My phone rang and just like that I had a new assignment coming from someone I’ve worked with years ago. 

Lesson IV
Enjoy the ride. Make sure to make fun along the way. As much as possible. Because the energy you get from enjoying what you do and doing what you enjoy is priceless. 

I could not have done it without the support of my family, friends and a couple of specific people in the last two year. One is my mirror and has been my most loyal supporter for over a decade. I love you and I would move mountains for you. I am proud of who you’ve become and thankful you are still a part of my life. And then to the one who reads my soul, the one that talks me back on track when I lose faith through limitless love, the one for coffees, the one that I can just sit with without saying a word, and the one that is my lifeline and brings joy. I could go on and on about you, but you all know who you are. And I am grateful that I can call you my friends, you’ve supported and criticized me, offered a shoulder to cry on and shared your positive energy with me. I’ve got nothing but love for you. 

On to the next 2 years!

29573312_1772527006146576_669570145784681075_n.jpg

Braintrusting

You know that feeling? You are surfing on waves of opportunities. One new assignment after another is coming your way and you never ever had to think about long-term plans.

And then suddenly you know that only opportunities are not enough, because you want more. You have to visualize and plan your future. What makes you tick? And what is the difference between you al the others who are doing what you are doing? Who are you as a brand? The last couple of months I’ve been working with several artists, brands and companies to find an answer to that question. And that has been an interesting journey. The funny discussions, the competition between the teams and the outcome, the braintrust is for everyone a truly inspiring process.

 

What is the braintrust?

We create a complete day with fun and very useful exercises to come up with your brand ID, long term objectives and at the end with a SWOT we create a couple of strategic questions that we have to solve and answer to make sure we meet these long term objectives.

It take some time and you have to clear you agenda for at least a day, but it is totally worth it. Do you want a braintrust for yourself, your team or company? Or you want to know what a braintrust can do for you?

Drop me an e-mail; Chantal@c-incorporated.com

Onderweg

Voor de verandering eens in het Nederlands. Inmiddels ben ik bijna een jaar onderweg met C.Inc en nooit had ik gedacht dat ik zo zou genieten van het zelfstandig zijn. 

Natuurlijk voelt het soms onzeker, willen veel mensen je expertise gebruiken, zonder daarvoor te willen betalen en loop ik tegen teleurstellingen aan wanneer iets niet door gaat. 

Al dat alles weegt niet op tegen de positieve energie, de toffe projecten, de inspirerende momenten aan een willekeurige lunchtafel wanneer ik weer eens aan het office crashen ben en de nieuwe of vernieuwde ontmoetingen met nieuwe en oude bekenden. 

Regelmatig heb ik mijzelf de vraag gesteld: “Wie ben ik?" Wat blijft er van mij over wanneer ik geen groot/bekend bedrijf en functietitel achter mijn naam heb staan…. Inmiddels weet ik wat mijn kracht is, en daar kan ik altijd op terugvallen. Net zoals ik altijd kan terugvallen op een aantal mensen in mijn leven waar ik altijd terecht kan voor; een luisterend oor, inspiratie, opbouwende kritiek of een woord van steun. Jullie weten wie jullie zijn.; oneindige dank en liefde daarvoor. 

 Afgelopen vrijdag vroeg ik tijdens een vrijdagmiddag sessie in mijn Clubhuis aan Niels; Waar ga jij je oprichten komend jaar? En uiteraard kreeg ik die vraag terug. Er kwam één woord in mij op; Focus.

Focus op de projecten waar ik NU mee bezig ben, nee durven zeggen en dus kwaliteit versus kwantiteit.

Focus op mijzelf omringen met positieve mensen

Focus op dat waar ik het meest gelukkig van word. 

Focus op dat waar ik goed in ben.

Focus op wat C.Inc doet; bedrijven, merken en personen/talenten helpen om hun doelen te bereiken. 

Goodbye or Hello

December is nearly 3 weeks old. Sinterklaas is on is way back to Spain and NYE is getting close.

As long as I remember I don't like this evening. It makes me feel sad and I prefer just to watch bad television, go to bed early and hit the gym on January 1st but that is not really social accepted behavior. 

 When I was younger and went to France every year for a camping vacation to visit my friend JB and I always found a reason to leave a day earlier. That way, in my head, I skipped the last day. Because that last day always made me sad. 

 I guess that is the same feeling I get on New Years Eve celebrations. I have to say goodbye... and I suck in goodbyes.

 The strange thing is... we say goodbye everyday when we say goodbye to yesterday but suddenly on NYE it's a thing, it is mandatory.

 But it is also the time to reflect on another year that gone by, to remember my challenges and triumphs, remember times that I got hurt and got up. 

 

Another chance to do better, not to worry and trust in what will be. So instead of goodbye, I say Hello!

Hello to new adventures, hello to new people and hello to everyone I love and with open arms I embrace the new year.

Hello 2017! 

How I ended up with C.Inc

First things first: I’ll always be 39 and I’ve always had quite unusual jobs. By choice.

The journey of my professional career began when I was a mere twelve years old as I landed my first job as a leek planter. This specific art form requires the utmost focus but even more so a lot of love. Love for leek, mind you. Mine was kind of average. That’s probably why I quickly moved on to my next career challenge. At the age of fifteen I switched from leeks to selling ‘frikandels’ at a camping snackbar. For those who don’t know this phenomenon: frikandels are a typically Dutch fried delicacy Germans like to stuff their faces with.

Although this proved to be a way better match than leek planting, I soon found myself a real job in the wondrous world of grownups. At the age of 18 and freshly graduated from high school I became part of the then newly opened entertainment parc Walibi Flevo where the wonderful Director Internal Sales quickly took me under her wings. Through very hard work and grit, she enabled me to climb my way up to the position of Assistant Manager Internal Sales; responsible for every single income source, except for those coming from admission fees.

After fleeting adventures as a Board Secretary, Training Consultant and Management Assistent I ended up with my first love (career-wise not love-love-wise) after Walibi had been transformed into Six Flags Holland and my boss kindly requested me to come back. I hung around for the five years that followed and it’s safe to say that this truly was the most incredible period of my life. 20-hour workdays. A supervising team with the average age of 20 years and nothing but love. For each other, our team and our work.

The jobs that followed after this life changing chapter were similarly challenging and satisfying. Handling the channel marketing and managing the biggest rebranding in my career at JETIX (which later on became Disney Channel) children's content became the center of my marketing universe. I suddenly found myself managing the extremely popular pop band XYP (in close collaboration with Gary Barlow). Thanks to them and the three top ten hits we’ve landed, 2007 will be etched in memory forever. Soon, more of the coolest kids content followed. The annual ‘Feest van Sinterklaas’ - which left kids (and thus parents) with numerous sleepless nights beforehand (thank you excitement!) another #1 position in the hit charts with ‘Coole Piet’, the launch of Disney Channel and extremely successful properties such as High School Musical in Belgium and the Netherlands marked this fast-paced chapter of my career.

ALDA Events was at the other side of that spectrum in many ways . Uncountable late nights, live events from sundown to sunrise and hundreds of thousands of visitors (versus viewers) tons of live content and only the very best DJs in the world. I’ve been privileged enough to be part of the very first world tour of the youngest #1 DJ ever (I AM Hardwell) and that of Armin van Buuren (5 times #1 DJ of the world and the biggest DJ world tour ever). It goes without saying that combined with the launches of completely sold out editions of Amsterdam Musical Festival and The Flying Dutch these last couple of years have been eminently astonishing and enerving in so, so many ways.

All of my jobs had one important thing in coming though: the responsibility for - and caretaking of a team and it's talent. And it’s simply that one thing I love to do the most. Bundling forces and using talent in order to create the most efficient and best possible team dynamics. The roots of my current business at C.Inc.

Global Citizens

 Picture: Michel Porro

Picture: Michel Porro

I think everybody's digital media timelines exploded last week with politics, black peet, healthcare and refugee issues, but it was also a year ago the attacks in Paris happened. Sensitive topics, but since the subject came up a couple of times last week I decided to write this.

I always try to move around without judgement and borders. I believe, and a lot of friends with me, that we are not just Dutch, American, Kenyan, French or whatever country we are from. We are citizens of the world; global citizens.

I have friends who spend their entire year saving refugees and travelled from Lebanon to Lesbos or vice versa. And I have friends living in Kenya and who wake up and try to make a difference and to save lives every day. 

And even close to home there are so many people who do good things or help others everyday. We move around and look at the world as our dance floor. We travel the world, business and pleasure, and we see ourselves more and more as these global citizens. Holland is where our home is, but more and more we have our home away from home, where we also feel at home, welcome and secure.

Due to digital media our world became much bigger then before and makes it so easy to reach out, to give your opinion or to just commend on things. 

Hard, unfundemental and judgemental.... watching what others might have and we don't.

And that makes people angry... maybe it is time to turn this around. Count your blessings, see everything you do have. What an amazing country we live in and that our possibilities are endless.

Earlier this year at Ibiza I re-read the book of Paul Fentener van Vlissingen (ondernemers zijn ezels) and there he wrote;

Your chances in life completely depend on the place, time and situation you are born in.

We are the lucky ones; let's open our eyes to see that. Let's be real global citizens and live as one!

Talent

You might have missed it, but Amsterdam Dance Event took over Amsterdam last week.

An astonishing 5 days, consisting of 450 events, 2200 artists and 375.000 visitors from all over the world. all with one thing in common; they breathe and live music.

 

All of them were represented; fans, bookers, artists, producers, labels, A&R managers, promoters and event developers, but also all those (bigger) brands in search of new innovative ways to reach their target audience through music.

 

The Amsterdam Dance Events is a place where the biggest names on earth present and showcase their latest work, but even more it is the place where talent gets the opportunity to share that talent with a bigger and broader audience.

For me, that's what makes ADE so special. Talent should always be supported and there's nothing that makes me happier than offering the right platform to that talent.

After all, it exists in so many ways. I honestly believe it would make for a better world if people were less focused on the things they're not good at and focus on their talent(s) instead.

 

Never be afraid of young talented people full of ambition, but embrace and stimulate them in every possible way.

 

Because there's no greater good than teaching by learning.

Thinking of you..


Not too long ago I received a phone call from an old business associate, someone I used to work with at JETIX and had not talked to in at least five years. 
Not for some specific negative reason or because of something particular that happened but simply because our careers went in another direction and we both got caught up in something wonderful called life.
Her question? Whether I was available for a project this week. As in now. 

Here I was, writing this mini-blog from Saudi Arabia and working my ass off on the launch of a family live entertainment show. In Saudi of all places! 

How wonderful can it be that someone thinks of you. In any meaningful way. To simply get a tekst message, what’s app message, an email, FB wink or whatever message from someone explicitly or implicitly saying: ‘I was thinking of you’. I am planning on letting other people know I think about them more often from now on. How else will they know?

Free fallin'


That particular quality of being always aware. Always on. Or is it a curse? Setting your standards as high as possible while being agile and trying not to disappoint anyone at the same time.. But how is that sustainable in any way?

For over 20 years I’ve worked on developing those traits on a daily basis. My first boss, under which I worked at the coolest amusement parc of the Netherlands, has always been supercritical. Towards herself and those around her and there was not a chance on earth I’d ever let her down. I did absolutely everything in my power to live up to every single one of her expectations. At the tender age of 20, this meant negotiation the deals with our supplies. The small ones and the biggest ones. On top of that, I handled at least 500 job interviews a year and wore the huge responsibility of managing 180 employees on a daily basis. My colleagues were as driven and hungry for success as I was and collectively, we did everything we possibly could to live up to the expectations anyone could have of us.

However, it was not all cakes and ale though. 90-hour workweeks, threats, theft, slashed flat tires, it was all part of it. And despite all of those hours of hard work and the blood, sweat and tears that goes with it, it has been the phase in my life in which I’ve learnt and grown the most. It’s the basis of everything I’ve done ever since.

I guess that working for big brands in leading positions in the decades that followed have distinguished who I am in many ways. It’s safe to say I’ve ‘become’ my jobs. I became what I did. So when it was time to spread my wings and start my own business there was this huge fear. A nagging fear. Who would I become without a clear job title and dito framework at a company?

I’ll tell you this. I’ve discovered that the closest feeling that comes to mind after having made such as decision resembles a free fall. The lack of a fixed salary, a solid set of colleagues and a standard office automatically entails the lack of a clear identity deriving from those elements. On the other hand, such a free fall offers a load of new possibilities, insights and the chance to meet the most wonderful new people. I love this phase of my life and I am honestly not sure whether I’d want it any other way anymore. Ever.

That jittery feeling of wanting to get things done as quickly as possible is still there. And yes, I am continuously searching for new ways to meet up to everyone’s expectations (especially those I’ve for myself) and I'm still having trouble saying ‘no’ from time to time, but at least now I am free to live my own dream(s) and foremost: there’s not a day that goes by without meeting new, inspirational and exhilarating new talents. I truly came to believe that free falling is the only way to go when you’re in need of growth. Because as we all know, the magic happens outside of your comfort zone.

Fuck it!

Fuck it!

If there’s one thing I realized it is that if there’s one person that should be held responsible for my very own happiness, it should be me. It’s so easy to blame everything and everyone around you, but in order to things to change, make the change. Create it. Yourself. Just do it (Yes, Nike picked that slogan for a reason)