A Little About The Way I Think

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1) I spend my time listening and making others feel special rather than telling them how great I am.

2) I understand that relationships are built on trust, and trust takes time to develop.

3) I think that the best way to differentiate is to be honest, caring and hardworking.

4) I usually identify areas of shared interest and create opportunities for everyone to be a winner.

5) I provide encouragement, show concern, listen with interest and instill a strong set of values.

6) I always treat my clients with dignity and respect.



Your Dreams May Not Come True

Image: via standard.co.uk

Image: via standard.co.uk

I think that if your dreams are big enough they will not get completed during your lifetime. For some human beings the song in their heart will die if the situations around them does not work out the way they think it should happen.

Your inner experience should not be determined by what is happening around you. In the very nature of things, life is made in such a way that the outside will never happen 100% the way you want. And it should be that way, as if everything happened 100% your way - where do I go, where does everyone else go? Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it goes my way, sometimes it goes someone else’s way - everything is fine.

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What do you want for yourself could be either blissful or miserable!
Remember fundamentally everyone wants the same thing: Pleasantness within themselves and pleasantness around them. I think what you want for yourself is the highest level of pleasantness 100% clear - the highest level of pleasantness.

· If pleasantness happens in our body we call it health, and if it becomes very pleasant we call it pleasure.

· If our mind becomes pleasant we call it peace, and if it becomes very pleasant we call it joy.

· If our emotions becomes pleasant we call it love, and if it becomes very pleasant we call it compassion.

· If our life energies becomes pleasant we call it bliss, and if it becomes very pleasant we call it ecstasy.

· If our surroundings becomes pleasant we call it success and this is all that we want in our life.

The outside pleasantness is determined by many forces, not just by ourselves. And all of these forces must cooperate to create outside pleasantness, but to create inner pleasantness we do not need anybody’s cooperation, just ourself!
This one thing, if we can make it happen will enhance our dream in such a way that it could not be fulfilled in one lifetime. The fear of suffering is what is making people dream small, think small, work small because if I dream big and it doesn’t happen what will happen to me.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO NOW IF YOU KNEW THAT YOU COULD NOT FAIL?
How would you answer this question? You can share your answer here or you can keep it to yourself, but mostly I hope you do something about it.

The Same Old Cycle

The Same Old Cycle


Love Is A Dirty Word In Business

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For many, love is a dirty word in business. Bringing love into the workplace, it’s platonic, but it’s there. I love these people and I am going to support them doing great work and we are going to do this together. According to Richard Branson, “Customers should not be first, employees should be first because if you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers.”

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Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so!

Having a deep purpose to the why we do things, it’s not just a job, it’s not just a salary. I understand that these things are so important and people get caught up in working for organizations because they have obligations - but there is a choice about picking something that you are passionate about. And then the human connection, recognizing your own humility - I think Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability Ted Talk from 2010 sums it up quite nicely.


Michael Jackson Forever

Photograph: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Photograph: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

With R. Kelly being dropped by his record label, RCA (Sony Music) after the “Surrounding R. Kelly” documentary, Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Men’s Fall-Winter 2019 Fashion Show in Paris was a welcome break from all the controversy surrounding black men.

According to Virgil Abloh, “Michael Jackson was the most important person in innovating men’s wear ever,” therefore, the Louis Vuitton show was presented on a set replicating the Alphabet City backdrop of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video and MJ was again the inspiration for the collection.

The live performance from Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange was amazing and the clothes were a fitting tribute to menswear, even though I have never understood the wearing of sneakers (trainers) and suits, maybe it’s an age thing? Abloh is acutely aware that his young followers can’t afford the clothes he designs for Vuitton, he wants them to aspire to own them. My 13 year old son preferred the Off White show, what do you think?

Photographed by Acielle / STYLE DU MONDE

Photographed by Acielle / STYLE DU MONDE





Demonstrate Value Before Turning Up The Volume

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Happy New Year - 2019
It’s that time of the year when everyone is planning for the new year, and the journey can be scary. As you already know, it’s wise to know in advance how to get where you want to go before you embark on any journey.

Challenging The Status Quo With Lasse Have

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Tell me a little about your education
I am an autodidact and have 30 years of visual drawing experience beginning with T-shirt designs, posters and flyers in High School and that has evolved into what it is today, which spans from basic illustration, over animation, to complex presentation. At the beginning when faced with the question – “Do you know how to do this?” – My answer was always “Yes”, - even though sometimes I had not tried it before. But I quickly learned the necessary skills and I always delivered a solid and trustworthy product. So, learning by doing, was the basis of my commercial success.


What excites you right now?
Vector graphics has been hot for years now, fortunately for me, I was presented to Vector tools very early, and working with vector graphics is still my favourite. My role is to notice new trends and utilize my experience to identify who is capable of buying these solutions, and able to benefit from them. As the majority of my clients are conservative companies, I am very aware that I have to ensure that my solutions fit into my clients existing framework and style.


What are you looking forward to in 2018?
This is a difficult one! (Pause)
Personally, it’s a rebuilding project in my home – the renovation of our loft room.


What’s the best thing that happened to you in 2017?
In our world we are always looking at the next thing, but sometimes it’s nice to reflect on what has happened. Moving into Republikken in January 2017 gave me a new creative push as I was in downtown Vesterbro on a daily basis. Meeting lots of new people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds with drive and ambition, provided me with a new energy that comes with shared office spaces.

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Tell me a little about you and your childhood?
I was born and bred in Nyborg in Fyn. My siblings and I were brought up with conservative parents and raised to be self-sufficient and to follow our dreams, which was kind of natural as both of my parents were self-employed themselves. As a young man, I was in a hurry to get out and explore new things. Right after High School I chose to go into the Navy as part of my National Service, where I worked in the Operations Room and was in charge of the ship computers and radars.

When my National Service ended, I went to Paris and lived there for a memorable year before moving to Bordeaux. I lived there for 5 years where I had a lot of crazy experiences and a variety of jobs, and I quickly learnt the language and embraced the French culture. After a few years in France I was able to live full time from my drawings and freelance jobs.


Who was your favourite superhero?
My very own Mr. Pigsel who is the virtual front figure for the company. He has a split personality as he is also Professor Pigsel, Inspector Pigsel, Doctor Pigsel as well as the superhero Captain Pigsel.

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The whole world is talking about CSR, do you support any charitable causes?
One of my biggest wishes is that we find an alternative to plastic. I recently heard that Lego have announced that its first brick pieces made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugar cane will go on sale later this year. Production has started on the sustainable pieces, which include “botanical elements” like leaves, bushes, and trees. Let’s hope that this is the future for plastic!


What’s the most important thing I should know about you?
I don’t know :).
I enjoy being self-employed and having control of my own destiny, knowing that I have to pay the same insurance as my neighbours’, but being free of the restrictions of employment makes me feel very privileged!

I hate to think of myself as a consumer, even though I know that I am one. I try to avoid shopping centers at all cost. The thought of being a human battery, where “they” drain us of energy and in this case, energy is our attention and money. I guess the worst thing you could say to me is that I am normal.

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What would your professional like look like if it was easy?
It is easy, I am living my own dream – yes, I know that sometimes it can be tough, but I guess we all need obstacles to challenge us and to push us into new areas of growth.

I draw, I’m doing what children love to do and sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure that this is not a dream and I am really living.

Many thanks Lasse. You have been blessed with a natural talent and you have had the courage to make your living from your talent, RESPECT.

If you would you like help with your animations, illustrations or your presentations, please contact Lasse via Pigsel ApS.

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How Dr. Martens' Are Made

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I have advised many brands over the last 13 months about "telling their story" via videos. Here is Steve Bent (Production Manager) at the Dr. Martens Cobbs Lane (Northampton, UK) factory describing their iconic "Made in England" manufacturing process - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO1YAx4QW1I


Luxury Brands Ignoring Influencers is a Risky Business?

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Magazines are losing their power as the exclusive gatekeepers in fashion, as they used to be the brands’ best way to broadcast its message to an audience of potential customers. Now the internet and social media have changed that, and brands have to target small communities online in ways that speak to them.

Tribe Dynamics is a company that identifies influencers and estimates the “earned media value” of their activity around brands, eg. LVMH, as brands move more and more of their advertising spending online. Conor Begley (co-founder and president at Tribe Dynamics), gives an example below about the way influencers are shaping the images of luxury brands.

“I’m showing them a bunch of data on Chanel. The number one influencer for Chanel is a guy named Jeffree Star. For those of you that don’t know Jeffree Star, he has pink hair, he’s tattooed from like head to toe—and his neck too—he will routinely smoke weed in his videos […] We show them this data, and somebody from this luxury brand says, ‘Hey, we know this is really important, but we wouldn’t want Jeffree to be our number-one influencer.’ I talk about inclusivity versus exclusivity and not really controlling the conversation, etc. We go home, we look at the data; he was the number-one influencer for that brand as well, they just didn’t know it.”

Star is a make-up artist and social-media personality with a large following. Shortly after that meeting, Begley said, Star caused a stir by posting a YouTube video in which he cut up a $5,000 Chanel bag with a glowing-hot knife. Chanel doesn’t need to make Star the face of its brand, Begley pointed out, but it would probably be good for the label to create a relationship with him since he’s having an impact on how his many fans perceive Chanel. Gucci, in fact, has done just that and made custom products just for him.

Please note that magazine editors are now often influencer's themselves with their own personal followings separate from the companies they work for 😉.

Read the full Quartzy article here


Jack Ma at World Economic Forum (video)

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"We really need to pay attention to people who are 30 years old, to the next 30 years and to companies that have less than 30 employees. What are you most looking forward to and most scared off in the next 30 years?" Watch the full interview here


A Taste of Paris in Dowtown Copenhagen

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Today, I had the opportunity to interview David Piffre about his journey from the outskirts of Champagne to Bisto de Paris in Copenhagen. David is remembered fondly for his legendary Patisserie on Oehlenschlægersgade in Vesterbro.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule, David. You recently told me that you will be celebrating 31 years as a qualified chef on 1st July. Can you tell me a little about your education and where you have worked?
I was educated in a private cooking school in Champagne, where I learned classic technique, cutting, preparation, identification of the raw ingredients, the organisation of the French kitchen and discipline, all under the critical eye of professional French chefs and cooks. Usually, this education is 4 years but as I was already working in restaurants on weekends and during the holidays, I skipped the basic classes and managed to graduate in 2.5 years.

After graduation, I immediately left to work as a young cook in Luxembourg and then I moved to Amsterdam where I worked as a chef. Afterwards, I had to return to France for my Military Service and I was sent to Germany for 12 months, and I had nothing to do with the kitchen for this period. As I was a good soldier, I was rewarded by getting a job in the Ministry of Defense in Paris, which was a little boring so I only stayed for 6 months before moving to Lausanne. After Switzerland, I moved to Florida and then Barbados, where I met the wonderful creative author, Rosemary Parkinson, whom I helped with her book, "Culinaria - The Caribbean". In Barbados, the ingredients that I was vaguely familiar with were used in a completely different way from what I had been used to and here I learnt about variety and the magic of the Caribbean cuisine.

Author: Rosemary Parkinson

Author: Rosemary Parkinson

I know that you are from Champagne, but can you tell me about what it was like to grow up there?
Champagne is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region’s name. EU law and the laws of most countries reserve the term "Champagne" exclusively for wines that come from this region located about 100 miles (160 km) east of Paris. I was used to having agricultural farmers all around me, and as my father was a builder he was offered the best meat and vegetables in exchange for helping the farmer with their building reparations, as bartering was the currency of choice. You have to remember this was before there were supermarkets in the suburbs or main cities!   

I know that you are the "main man" at the Bistro, so I know that you are here quite often, but what do you do for fun?
It all depends on the season, the time of the year. In the winter time, I do not do anything, it's my hibernation time, I just stay home and relax. Sometimes it's possible for me to travel to a sunny destination, and when I have this opportunity, I usually choose Asia as I have a lot of very good friends in Bangkok. During the spring/summer, I love to bicycle, a trip of 40 or 50km on my city bike, taking it easy, observing, is a wonderful way to spend my day off in the Copenhagen sunshine.

Who was your childhood hero?
Zorro was my idol. He was my idol, the black clothes, the horse, the mask - he was the man. I am still a big fan, today if I can see the series or the movie it still makes me happy and calms me down.

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What is the most exciting thing right now, it could b in your personal or professional life?
My new pizza truck project. My good friend died two and a half years ago and his widow is alone with 7-year-old twins, she cannot manage his food truck business, so she asked me if I would like to help her and of course, I said yes!

What are you most looking forward to in 2018?
I would be really pleased if I can get the empty room next to my apartment, I have been trying to get this additional room for 10 years now. And I hope that this is the year where I get the extra room from the building as I would like to build a new bathroom.

What was the best thing to happen to you in 2017?
There were many good things that happened last year, but I think that my best friend got married. I never ever expected her to get married, so it was a big surprise and am so extremely happy for her. The wedding reception was here at the Bistro de Paris and they had a great party, it was so much fun. The Bistro can be hired for private events, weddings, confirmations, christenings, birthday parties, etc., so please contact us if you are interested.

In your opinion, how can you create and deliver a deeper connection with your customers?
I am not sure we can make a better experience for our clients, when they arrive here they are greeted with eye contact and made to feel genuinely welcome. I am confident that the food we serve to eat and drink is the best value for money experience you can get in Copenhagen. It's fresh, it's home-made, there are no hidden agendas, so it pleases me when the clients say it was a nice evening and they can leave satisfied. Sometimes I even get a hug and I feel really good and this is what breeds confidence. We have recently started a Newsletter to keep our customers updated on the events and offers at the Bistro.

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With regards to Bistro de Paris, how can you continually evolve and grow?
Maybe opening at lunchtime?
When people are not used to going to restaurants on a regular basis, the Bistro is good value for the price and quality. It's simple food, but using the same raw ingredients as in the really expensive restaurants, the presentation may not be as fancy, but it is exactly the same products. 97% of our clients are very happy with the prices, DKK 300 for a 3-course meal and 2 glasses of wine is outstanding value for money.

Many people confuse a "Bistro" with "Gastro" restaurant, a Bisto is a place where you eat quickly, as they say in Danish a "spisested". It's simple, the menu is on a blackboard and we cross it off the menu when it is sold out, just like it is when you travel in France. The walls are painted yellow like a Bistro from the 1950's, 60's, the lamps, the pictures/posters on the wall gives an authentic feel to the place. Quality wines at reasonable prices

What's the most important thing I should know about you?
I am a really honest person that tries to treat people fairly, I do not play tricks or try to deceive. When I like someone I smile and on the other side, when I am in doubt about their intentions I try to leave the situation without creating a fuss.

Bistro de Paris · Vesterbrogade 19 · 1620 Copenhagen V · T: (+45) 33 33 82 22




 

Your Journey to Sustainability

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Dr Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “The time is always right to do what is right”. This week I had a wonderful Q&A with the sustainable jewellery designer, Anna Moltke-Huitfeldt. When Anna asked me a few years ago about what I knew about sustainable gold, I had never heard of the phenomenon and had no idea that sustainable gold existed. What do you know about Fairtrade standards or Fairmined mining certification?

What made you start working in the jewellery business?
When I got divorced then it was all about doing the right thing for my children and in my opinion, it was to put their needs before mine. Now that they are grown up now I have the space to do things for me and focus 100% on my business. I will always be there for my children to ensure that their life is as balanced as possible, after my divorce I sat down and worked out my goals – and one of my goals was to build wide boulevards for my children to walk on and meet like-minded people. I was painting and attended a sculpture class at Holbæk Art High School in 2001, as for many years I wanted to work with my hands. I made a sculpture in wireframes, and I put all sorts of small things inside of it, that I welded together - I made friends with some women who were in a painting class – and when they saw my sculpture, they asked whether I had considered making jewellery? This sparked an interest, and as I had always loved jewellery I attended a workshop in Copenhagen and as soon as I started, I knew this is what I was going to do.

Why did you start your own brand?
I started my own company in 2004, working with both gold and silver as I was looking for transparency. In the beginning, there were so many things that I didn’t know so I was looking for transparency in gemstones and my designs were inspired by the spiral and the eternal movement upwards. The air that makes the form and how if there was no air it would all be a ball and things like that and it was during this process that I found out about sustainability and fair things.

When did you start investigating about fair gold?
It all began in 2008 at an art fair in Berlin, where I had a personal interaction which led me to exhibit at the Basel trade fair. I discovered a magazine with an article about Oxfam America’s No Dirty Gold (NDG) campaign, which sought to raise the human rights and environmental standards of the global mining industry. This led me to the Oro Verde gold mine a community in Colombia. I approached some Danish goldsmiths who were already working with Oro Verde, to see whether we could start buying gold together, they were not interested! So I contacted, Cred Jewellery, who were one of the first to start working with fair gold, and in 2010 I bought one time directly from Colombia.

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How can the consumer know that the gold is fair?
In the past, the “big” mining companies came in with huge excavating tools to dig up and move the soil and when they were finished they just took their tools and left. Leaving and spoilt the landscapes, this stopped the local food farmers from agricultural farming for years. Oro Verde miners return the soil after excavation, which allows the land to replenish and is ready for agricultural farming after 3 years. Oro Verde (Green Gold) was a Colombian initiative working with Afro-Colombian artisanal gold miners in the Chocó bioregion, an area marked by high rates of poverty, social exclusion and a very sensitive ecosystem. Oro Verde has involved about 1,300 miners in the certification system and the premium they earn helps pay for local community development projects and diversification into other livelihood activities.

If you are a licensee from Fair Trade International, you are allowed to stamp your jewellery. You need to have a contract and that is expensive for small companies, as there is both the premium and license contract and this has to be factored into the price of the finished products. Nowadays, the Alliance for Responsible Mining bi-annual fee is US$60 p/annum and for each kilo of gold there is US$4.000 premium added for the miners, so now chemical free mined (ecological) gold is available at an additional US$2.000 per kilo premium.

What is alluvial gold mining?
Alluvial gold mining is the process of extracting gold from these creaks, rivers and streams and is generally considered to be the most environmentally friendly method of gold mining as a result of the reduced environmental impact when compared to underground mining. Using a leaf from a local bush that they crushed and mixed it with water instead of using chemicals to extract the gold.

Where are you nowadays in regards to sustainability?
I have stopped working with Fairtrade gold as my contract expired in 2017 and I chose to work with Fairminded as I wanted to be closer to the people who are close to the miners. I was advised not to quit by Fairtrade, but I did as Fairmined is a smaller organization, as it is important for me to have a personal connection to those who know how the miners are doing, and when I send my regards to the team, the message goes to the whole team.

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How about your business, what are your sales & marketing strategy?
In the beginning, I attend a lot of lifestyle and art fairs and it was before the financial crisis of 2008, so it was easier with everything going up and being sold. After the crisis, everything went down and I focused on developing myself and my brand simultaneously during those difficult times. I’m not so good at marketing as it’s too personal for me – going out to shops is not my strength, as if they do not like my jewellery, I take it personally and get annoyed.
I sell through 2 shops in Copenhagen and a Dutch Fairtrade/Fairmined platform, plus you can find me on UK Jewel Street and ENIITO.com, an online platform for Scandinavian designers. And of course, you can contact me via my own website. Men usually come to buy engagement & wedding rings, I have young clients from early teens all the way through to late 70’s, and I have made products from Christening gifts to Golden Wedding Anniversary pieces. I also make collections where people can choose from, but it’s more important for me to do the right thing than it is to make lots of money.

I can see that your drive is not economic and you will compromise on your values, so where do you see your brand 5 years from now?
I look much further into the future and I expect one of my grandchildren (who are yet to be conceived) to take over my business, as I plan to continue working as long as I can. I anticipate that by the time my future grandchildren are at that stage of life where they can take over the business, they will have a really strong sustainable brand to build upon. I want to remain a small jeweller, I don’t want it to become a big brand, of course, I want to make more money and employ more people, but I like the fact that my business is personal. So when I make things for people, I have the time to speak to them and get to know them, and this helps me to open up a designed universe to the client and help them to create something individual together with all the possibilities that are available and in the best quality.

Photo: Sandra Aaberg

Photo: Sandra Aaberg

"Those who know, do; those who understand, teach." - Aristotle

Do You Know How Your Customers R-A-T-E Your Business?

Ziglar, Inc., via Associated Press

Ziglar, Inc., via Associated Press

The American author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar used the word R-A-T-E as a tool to assess how your customers are going to rate you.

R = Reliability, Recovery & Responsiveness
Customers understand that life is not perfect and mistakes will happen. However, this does not mean that your business is unreliable and frequently breaks its promises. Customers expect good businesses to be reliable and do what you say. On the rare occasions (they expect them to be rare) that you can’t then your customers expect you to make it up to them in another way, recover. How you make it up maybe as simple as an apology or some small compensation payment. They expect you to be responsive – i.e. quick to take action.

A = Assurance
Customers want to feel that their problem is being handled by an expert. Assure them that you know your business by demonstrating you understand their problems and the solution!

T = Tangibles
Your customers have an expectation of your brand and its appearance. From the staff and business setting to all of your on and off-line material. Your customers will judge you by your looks. Therefore part of meeting their expectations means making sure you look your best.

E = Empathy
Empathy is about connecting with your customers at an individual and personal level. Every customer wants to feel HUGged. That is Heard, Understood and Given incredible value. No one wants to feel like just another number or sale. You can HUG your customers by doing simple things like using their name when you address them, remembering specific details about their service needs/specifications that make it easy for them to buy from you. Show your customers that you care for them individually.

By really understanding the answers to these questions you will be able to set your customers’ expectations realistically and honestly. Customers tend to value honesty above everything. Setting expectations do not mean that you then can’t exceed them. It just establishes the baseline within the scope of your offer. For example, Richard Branson (Virgin), who has built an empire based on providing exceptional customer service explains it like this: “The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways. Setting customer expectations at a level that is aligned with consistently deliverable levels of customer service require that your whole staff, from product development to marketing, works in harmony with your brand image.”

Are you interested in having a deeper dive?

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It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It!

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Apple doesn’t sell computers, they sell identity.
There is never a mention of screen resolution, how much memory, how many GB because it doesn’t matter. It’s all about what’s in the box, and you just have to have one! The product has to be good, but Apple doesn’t make the best computers and they do not make the best telephones by any stretch of the imagination, but they sell because people associate an aspirational identity with their products and this desire drives sales through the roof. And this shows that people buy into something that is deeply felt, and that is identity!

iPad Air advertisement featuring a clip of Robin Williams’ voice from “Dead Poet’s Society
 


The Customer Is The Hero And Not The Brand

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I want to encourage you to pay attention to the stories you tell about your brand, as they are the culture of your organisation and as such both create and limit your potential. Many companies position their marketing around benefits and features of their product or service, but how can they make the customer the hero of their story? And why communicating in this way will demonstrate empathy for the customer and is extremely powerful in the long run.

I think that it’s best to focus on strategic outcomes that your clients need, and not talking about yourself, services or offerings as it loses people because it makes you the star of the story and this, in turn, makes the client not the star of their story! We all wake up self-identifying as heroes in our stories, so if I am the hero and meet you at a dinner party and you tell me about yourself, my subconscious mind begins to process you as a hero as well. Sometimes we subconsciously believe that there is a scarcity of resources, so if you are the hero and I am a hero - who’s the best competition begins. In reality, I should be stepping aside as the client is looking for someone to help with their story. It’s OK that another character comes into the story and their purpose is to help the hero win type day. I don’t want to be the hero in your story, I just want your business to succeed and I want to be the character in your story that exists to help the hero win.

In sales, we always want to be the trusted advisor, and you only need two things to be a trusted advisor are trust and advice! And if you don’t have the advice part, then you are not going to be trusted. Every human being has the need for someone to show them the way. A Harvard Professor once told me that I made a great first impression because I showed trust and respect, I was humbled and replied that I was raised to show empathy and authority. In essence I believe that we are saying exactly the same thing.

via Banksy

via Banksy

We are selling solutions to external problems, but customers are buying solutions to internal problems. The story should always be about how the hero is feeling about their external problem, as customers want us to guide them on an internal journey, and they do not only have an external problem. But this external problem is causing them some frustration, unpleasantness and that is what they are trying to resolve. What makes customers buy your products? It’s always a fulfilment of an internal frustration, much more than an external problem. It’s always an internal problem that motivates a buying decision. The only thing that people want are things that make them survive or thrive.

What the customer has to sense is that we have stepped into their story and we care about their pain. We care about their frustrations that they are experiencing and we care about the problems they are facing. Just caring is not enough, we also have to know how to get them out of it:
"I feel your pain, and I know how to get you out of this!" In other words, show that you care and have the competence to get help solve their problem. When you communicate this, you will earn the heart and respect of the customer.

If you want to grow your business, increase your revenue streams and help more customers solve their problems, then I am the guy for you.


An Elite Customer Journey: Q&A With Lisbeth Dalgaard

Dalgaard Supermarket logo

Dalgaard Supermarket logo

Retail and the consumer are evolving, so the smarter we can analyze the data, clues and insights, the better we will be at leaving customers feeling wanted, respected and appreciated at every stage of the interaction. Competition is fierce in the supermarket sector and today I am having a Q&A with Lisbeth Dalgaard from Dalgaard Supermarket (MENY) in Hørsholm, who is doing an exceptional job.

Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I started out studying French in Geneva and then I returned to Denmark with the intention to continue studying languages, but stopped rather quickly and took my education within the insurance business whilst working for an insurance company. After completing my Merkonom in Marketing, I moved into IT industry with IBM Denmark and studied HD whilst at IBM, and was also educated in Business Psychology. I am the Chairperson of DSK, Board & Executive committee member at Danish Chamber of Commerce, Board member KFI, Dansk Handelsblad (media) and Scanseason (seasonal merchandise), plus I also sit on a couple of advisory boards. On the personal front, I am married with 2 grown up sons and am really good at prioritizing my time between personal and professional activities.

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Was your father the founder of Dalgaard Supermarket?
Yes, my father began in Frederiksberg as a grocery store owner in 1954 and then in 1962, he started Dalgaard in Hørsholm, which was in those days a small shop of 80m2. We became Dalgaard Supermarket in 1971 with an 800m2 store and have grown exponentially since then.

My father and I

My father and I

When did you take over from your father?
I started in the supermarket around the year 2000. In the beginning, it was a bit of a trial - neither my father nor I was certain, but after 3 months, I was sure that this was the correct decision. Before I started I discussed with myself about what was going to be the major challenges, e.g. negotiations with the suppliers, but actually, it was the people. The personnel, as it was a completely different culture from what I was used to at IBM. Here when we reached a goal the mentality was not to get excited if the reward was an additional training course. I had to adapt the different culture very quickly otherwise, I would have been out of business very quickly.

At what stage did you become part of the MENY group?
MENY used to be called SuperBest, and we joined the SuperBest Group in 2008. I was on the SuperBest development team trying to develop what we now have as MENY, but at that time many of the group members were not ready. We were very close to introducing a new kind of SuperBest but the majority of the small supermarket owners were against the reform. There were about 25 supermarkets (ca. 70% of the group turnover) that were very keen to reform, but as we have one vote per supermarket, regardless of the size, and the small supermarkets were reluctant to change as they thought that a price-focused supermarket would be best. Already then, there was a trend that either you are very discount focused or very specialized, there was no future in the middle ground, but they wanted to be there. Democracy prevailed and we remained in the “middle segment” for 2 more years, on hindsight, this was for the best as it proved to the small supermarkets that it did not work, and they came back and insisted that we develop what is now MENY.

Do you have a clear set of customers in mind when making decisions?
Not really, if I were to put a label on our customers, it would be “that they are conscious food lovers and foodies.” In the 90’s you categorized customers in blue, yellow, green, whatever, based on gender, income, occupation, etc., nowadays you cannot do that! A good example is a single father who has his children one week and then the next week he is alone and has a date, the buying behaviour in these two weeks for the “single father” is completely different. You cannot judge that by the customer appearance as to their buying power or preferences, it is much more about situation awareness and that is how we train our staff to remain open-minded and curious over for the customers. We focus on quality and personal relationships, as we believe that it is much easier to sell to customers when we have created trust. We are also very particular when we choose the products we put on our shelves.

When focusing on the customer journey throughout your supermarket, how do you create an experience that taps into your customers’ emotions and behaviours?
As human beings, we like to be seen and welcomed and that is something that we have really been training. It is very important that all our employees meet the customers, look into their eyes, smile and welcome them into our supermarket. Subconsciously saying I have seen you and I am here for you, and this something we are training on a continuous basis. Also in the front section of the shop, where the customer is met by the staff in the Post Office, kiosk or bakery who see all of the customers as they enter our store and they can smooth the path for their colleagues further in the shop by just smiling and welcoming them as they begin their journey.

Dalgaard Supermarket is stocked with great products, which are displayed in a warm and welcoming way, your staff are knowledgeable and the real-life shopping experience is still where sales are made. How do you think the online experience will transform the supermarket business in the future? And how will you incorporate digital at Dalgaard Supermarket?
In a way, it already has, if you look at how nemlig.com has been struggling and are showing huge deficits in their balance sheets, year after year. And they have invested over 1 billion DKK into their business, in the beginning, it was because they wanted to master online food sales, but the value of the company today, as they see it themselves is big data. It is the behaviour of the customers because I think that it will take some years to crack the code, if ever, for how to make money on delivering goods to people because it is more expensive. As you have to factor in the cost of the employee selecting the products, which are usually the job of the customer in the shop, and now, you have to pay someone to do that. So it is very difficult to get a break even or profit under these economic conditions.

We at Dalgaard are also building big data but in a personal way. We know that this customer has just come home from a vacation and you ask how was the holiday? You know that this customer has just had a grandchild, how’s your grandson? And that is much more important to people today, as we are very much alone on a day to day basis in front of our PC’s. It’s easy to buy non-food products online, as it’s easy and convenient, but people need people (connectivity). We have customers coming to the store and all they want is a hug (metaphorically) and that is what they get here. We, in our line of business, should focus on the fact that we have a huge advantage in being with people. So we have to create an environment where they like to come, where they meet nice people, where they are excited and surprised, where they can be advised by professionals, where they can taste new products. So I think that we have a future even though there will be a huge competition from the online stores. Many of my customer’s say we buy beer, cleaning products, all the heavy stuff because we can get that delivered to our door, but I want to buy the food myself. I want to smell the tomatoes, I want to feel the avocados, I want to speak to the butcher about how I should prepare this kind of meat, etc.

We are planning to use the digital platforms as an opportunity to be more specific in addressing the customers that today we have “this and that” and “if you come between this time and that time it will be ready”. Order online, and we will start working with “Your Local” and “Too Good To Go” to conquer food waste. It’s also a way to get in touch with customers to let them know that we have ready to eat meals in our store. We are using Facebook a lot and also our website, where we generate a lot of traffic and that is monitored every month to see where the users are going, and recipes are always popular, the weekly offers and then our tasting and our events.

Clockwise: Cheese dept., fish dept., butchers and delicatessen.

Clockwise: Cheese dept., fish dept., butchers and delicatessen.

I can see that you have collaborations with Post Nord, Emmerys and Peter Beier. How often are you hosting in-store events?
We have weekly events/tastings every Thursday, Friday and Saturday plus we have spontaneous tastings throughout the week, and we also have a lot of partners coming in to present, mainly new products. So long as we like it, we are not afraid to give a new producer or agent a chance to present their products in-store. They need to commit to making the introduction of the product in-store for 3 to 4 months because then we are sure that it will be a success both for them and ourselves. If we introduce a product via an introduction price, we will probably sell the product the first time, but we do not know whether they will come back to buy the product again. If they buy after they have tasted the product at full price, this is a proper test, and then we know that they will probably come back, so this is how we introduce new products via tastings.

Then we have special events, typically around wine - where we invite winemakers to DK and then we have a partnership with some of the local restaurants e.g. some in Rungsted Harbour, Kokkedal Slot, Søhuset in Scion (DTU) and then we have a dinner where the chef will incorporate a menu that compliments the wine. We have had flower arrangement courses with our florist and we have also had a cheese and wine travel (5 evenings), where we started out with cheese & wine from Italy, and then from Spain, then to UK, DK and finally the Nordics.

Left: Tasting evening                                    Right: Tasting with Jakob de Neergaard

Left: Tasting evening                                    Right: Tasting with Jakob de Neergaard

At what stage do you share your vision for the future with your staff?
When we are ready! Many of the new ideas we work on together, e.g. launching of new products. When we started out with the “Free Off range” (e.g. lactose-free, gluten-free, etc.) we had to make sure that we understood the concept before we went out to the customers. So we do a lot of training ahead and when we think that we are ready we launch. This one of the things that I learnt whilst at IBM that you have to test things beforehand before you go out to the clients. Then again I am very open to inputs, and my employees are always free to come and have an open and frank conversation.

Are you the go-to person or is it middle managers who the shop floor would approach?
I am on the shop floor mainly on Fridays and Saturdays, but all my employees are aware that I am also a resource of 2 hands and 2 feet, so if they need my help, they just call for it - my door is always open, so just come.

What measurement tools do you use to ensure that your staff act consistently with the stated values?
We don’t have any specific measurement tools, but we use our staff Facebook group, where we nominate each other or just praise - “I have a colleague and he/she did this or that and it was very good”. And we use some of this feedback directly and then once a month we have a morning meeting with the leader group where we speak about the nominees and we acknowledge the best one with a reward. The most important is the peer to peer recognition!

Educated staff members

Educated staff members

Do you have a training program to support your employees? And how do you obtain feedback from them?
We are very open to employees wishes for education, so if an employee comes to me and says they would like to improve their skills in a specific area, I will try to see if we can find a course, person or something that can train that particular skill set. We are planning to have more IT training over the next couple of months. We have had the management group on trips to London together with ZBC (Zealand Business College), as they have access to managers in some of the top retailers in London and we can learn from all types of retail. We are currently planning another trip for September, as it’s important to see something that you haven’t seen before and because of the volume of customers in London, the retailers have to make their ideas work. And these best practices I share with a handful of colleagues who I debate ideas with as they are facing similar successes and difficulties.

What systems do you have in place to measure, reward and reinforce desired behaviours?
When we recognise a member of the team who is doing a really good job of welcoming, smiling and acknowledging the customer, we praise the behaviour in front of their colleagues. And we encourage this member of the staff to take responsibility for spreading the goodwill amongst the team.

What methods do you use in order to connect your employees to the Dalgaard Supermarket vision and mission?
We use our employee Facebook group and we have weekly management meetings, and then the managers have departmental meetings, so we have many opportunities to review and control that we are on track. There are always GOALS, not necessarily economic goals and we visit them every 2 months to see if we are doing the right things or have we decided to grow in an area where the customers are not ready and if so, we stop using the resources there and change direction.

Every week there are special offers available to all MENY customers in Denmark, so there is someone making the decision of what should be discounted this week in Dalgaard Supermarket?
We follow the MENY lead and do not spend a lot of resources on it. We also make our own weekly special offers in our local newspaper, which is much more focused on our customers' wants and needs. Facebook followers are also presented with offers. There is no real contradiction between MENY and Dalgaard Supermarket, our tagline is “The Meal Starts Here” and MENY’s tagline is “We Care For Food”.

Meny v/ Købmand Dalgaard - Kongevejs Centret 6, 2970 Hørsholm

Meny v/ Købmand Dalgaard - Kongevejs Centret 6, 2970 Hørsholm

Does the MENY HQ have systems in place to measure how you deliver on these promises or is that left to the individual supermarket?
Dalgaard Supermarket is run independently, but twice a year MENY run NPS Scorecard and of course, they look at all of the results, but we get our own results and we act on them.

What are you doing to help all your employees to understand their role in delivering on these promises?
When we started out I spoke a lot about the MENY values and Dalgaard Supermarket values and how they actually supported each other. As before we started the MENY brand there were not any corporate values as such, the MENY brand values were good and we could use them.

Many thanks Lisbeth for taking the time for this interview, I am truly grateful. I can conclude that at Dalgaard Supermarket decisions are made through the customers' eyes and this ensures that they have the customers’ best interest in mind. Lisbeth Dalgaard appears to be an empathic leader and she is able to tell the right story and consistently match that story to the way Dalgaard Supermarket delivers the shopping experience. Making every customer visit count is amazing and significantly enhances loyalty, bringing customers together with a sense of community which is also socially powerful. For sure, there are lots of supermarkets that are run by Excel spreadsheet management teams with no thought about the customer, where the owners are just doing the bare minimum to follow the brand manual and only compete on price. Dalgaard Supermarket is by far the best supermarket I have seen in Denmark and hopefully one of many elite examples of business excellence within the supermarket sector.



A Blast From The Past - "Fashion Talks 2013"

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THE BRIEF

The Fashion Talks is a one-day conference about the fashion industry where we want to touch on the difficulties but also the opportunities in the fashion industry nowadays. Different topics will be brought on stage by a wide variety of national and international speakers.

The main idea of the speeches is that these are 'inspirational pitches' about each speakers' speciality. We want to inspire the audience to be more entrepreneurial, more creative and innovative in the way they do business.  

In a way, it is about sharing your vision on how the industry will evolve in the future with a focus on your speciality domain. Every speech preferably has a practical approach (to make it more lively) stated with examples, images and numbers (wherever possible).

We would like you to touch on how to work with and motivate a fashion team; how the creative department, the sales team, the production team etc… can work together and stay motivated.

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PRESS RELEASE (English text)

According to you, can a young independent fashion label keep up with the competition of larger, more established fashion companies and international fashion chains? And what would be the 'key to success'? 

In general, it will always be difficult for a young independent fashion label to keep up with the competition of fashion chains and more established fashion companies for an obvious reason - Economy. The economy of small companies means that they struggle to have the resources to pay for the basic things to keep the company afloat, therefore, choices have to make - Catwalk show or trade fair? Silk or crepe de chine? With no marketing budget, it's hard to compete when speaking about paid media.

The key to success for young independent fashion labels is online via social media. As plagiarism is rife in the fashion industry, social media has established a more level playing field, which has given the young independents an opportunity to make a name for themselves before the more established companies have the opportunity to react. 
 

Which fashion week's gain importance worldwide? E.g. in Asia, and the Middle East – these regions are upcoming in fashion…?

The big four (London, Milan, Paris and New York) will always be at the forefront when speaking about the importance of fashion weeks. Why? Traditionally, this is where the big designers show their couture collections and where the media focus the majority of their attention. Tokyo is the gateway into Asia, but I have never seen the media coverage in the West to make me think that Tokyo should be added to the "big 4". 

With regards to the Middle East, they are consumers rather than trendsetters in my opinion. Perhaps, this will change in the future, but for now, it's all about their buying power.
 

Live @ Fashion Talks 2013


What Qualities Should A Good Mentor Have?

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Getty Images ©

I have been a voluntary mentor at Association Nydansker since 2011, helping numerous highly educated immigrants with networking, resume and job search, which has helped them facilitate a smoother path into the Copenhagen landscape. I am currently taking a break from this role to build up my business, recently a friend asked me about what characteristics a good mentor should have.

In my opinion, mentors should help to fill your knowledge gaps and seek opportunities to help you grow and excel. Good mentors come in all shapes and sizes, where age, gender and race are irrelevant! A mentor is someone with whom you can let down your guard, share your insecurities and ask "stupid" questions without judgement. So here are the qualities which I think a good mentor should have:

1. Teach you how to think, not what to think
2. Guide you to ask better questions
3. Challenge assumptions
4. Dare you to dream big
5. Expect continuous improvement
6. Be a lifelong student
7. Appreciate self-taught mentees
8. Push you harder than you expect

The more you serve others, the more confident you become!