I read almost 52 books a year. That may sound ambitious, but it feels very normal to me. It helps me evolve, advance and achieve the things that I want. I read as long as I can remember. My life is all about learning and explore new things.
The following quotes are an ode to my love of learning and exploring. Besides that, it’s to encourage you to embrace your curiosity when it hits. Here are my top 5 quotes:
1. “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” – Albert Einstein
2. “The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.”
3. “To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.” – James Joyce
4. “One of the secrets to staying young is to always do things you don’t know how to do, to keep learning.” – Ruth Reichl
5. “Curiosity is a delicate little plant which, aside from stimulation, is mainly in need of freedom.”
These were the ones that I liked the most. Use the comment section down below to let me know how you feed your curiosity and what you do to explore and to learn about the things you really like. I’m happy to hear about that!
Short stories are powerful reads. The great thing about them is that they’re so easy to digest, and there’s always a moral at the end of the story. Whether they’re true stories or not is another thing, as many of them are legends supposedly hundreds of years old. However, the stories that I’m talking about in this series are so powerful and inspirational that many of them really do get you thinking.
Short Stories Series
I’ve been reading plenty of short stories in the past couple of weeks and found the lessons behind them truly wonderful. There’s always a moral to learn at the end of each story. So I’ve decided to write out this article highlighting one of my favorite short stories I came across. Next to the subheading I’ve put what for me the story’s lesson is all about. If you like these kind of short stories I can come up with more each month. You can find all of them in this section. For now, enjoy the Loan Shark story.
The loan shark
In a small Italian town, hundreds of years ago, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a loan-shark. The loan-shark was a very old, unattractive looking guy that just so happened to fancy the business owner’s daughter. He decided to offer the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him. However, the catch was that we would only wipe out the debt if he could marry the businessman’s daughter.
Needless to say, this proposal was met with a look of disgust. The loan-shark said that he would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black. The daughter would then have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, the debt would be wiped, but the loan-shark would then marry her. If it was white, the debt would also be wiped, but the daughter wouldn’t have to marry the loan-shark.
Standing on a pebble-strewn path in the businessman’s garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles. Whilst he was picking them up, the daughter noticed that he’d picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag. He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one.
The daughter naturally had three choices as to what she could have done:
Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag.
Take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan-shark for cheating.
Pick a pebble from the bag fully well knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father’s freedom.
She drew out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it ‘accidentally’ dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles. She said to the loan-shark:
Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.
The pebble left in the bag is obviously black, and seeing as the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white, and clear her father’s debt.
Out of the box
The message behind this short story is obviously the one that promotes thinking out of the box. Though situations can sometimes be overcome through out of the box thinking, and not give in to the only options you think you have to pick from.
If you’re into blogging, you may have your favourite bloggers. I do! Entrepreneur Richard Branson is one of them. In one of his interviews he is asked to give us advice on how to make the most of an online audience and turn your blog into a business. I would like to go through his advices with you. Hang on with me.
The most important step when building a business around your blog, Richard says, “[…] is to look at whether the products and services you’re considering fit with the brand that you have built up. For example, if the image that you’re conveying through your site is one of sophistication and luxury, the items you sell should reflect that as well.”
In this way you create the consistency that the brand needs to become successful.
Richard acknowledges that bloggers have a unique advantage over others trying to launch a business: “You know who your customers are, and your customers already know and trust you.”
Richard adds: “Often people are drawn to blogs because of a feeling of intimacy or community; it may be that they’d be interested in purchasing items that you find interesting, as a way of further taking part in that experience.” “As a blogger, you have a direct line to your customers, and you should use this connection to help make the best decisions for the community you have created.”
Another advantage that Richard identifies bloggers have over other entrepreneurs is that they can communicate with customers in ways that “normal businesses” don’t. They are able to adapt to a dialogue with their readers to figure out what’s really in their minds. He recommends to just ask readers whether they’d be interest in buying some of the products or services that you’re thinking about.
But, Richard also warns for the dark side of blogging. He says: “The relationship between a successful blogger and her readers tends to be a two-way street, and you need to avoid alienating them when you monetise your blog.”
Never loose the dialogue, intimacy or a sense of community
“Take a careful look at what differentiates you from your competition. Often people are drawn to blogs because of a feeling of intimacy or community; it may be that they’d be interested in purchasing items that you find interesting, as a way of further taking part in that experience.”
He adds: “Think about why your readers come to you, and not another blogger. “[…] you need to make sure that what you’re offering is truly unique. Your readers and followers should see those goods or services as different from everyone else’s.”
Make your readers your first priority as you pursue this idea, and you’ll turn your brand into a business.”
I hope Richard Branson’s advices help you along your own (blog) journey. Reach out for me if you want to share your ideas. That’s something I enjoy.
Short stories are powerful reads. The great thing about them is that they’re very easy to digest, and there’s always something to learn from. Whether they’re true stories or not is another thing, as many of them are legends supposedly hundreds of years old. However, the stories that I’m talking about in this series (you can find more over here) are so powerful and inspirational that many of them really do get you thinking.
I’ve decided to write out this article highlighting one of my favorite short stories I came across. Next to the subheading I’ve put what for me the story’s lesson is all about. For now, enjoy the Elephant Rope Story.
The Elephant Rope Story
When a gentleman was passing an elephant camp, he suddenly stopped surprised by the fact that these elephants weren’t being kept in cages or held by the use of chains.
All that was holding them back from escaping the camp, was a small rope tied to their front leg. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they didn’t. As the man gazed upon the elephants, he was completely confused as to why the elephants didn’t just use their strength to break the rope and escape the camp. They could easily have done so, but instead, they didn’t try to at all.
Curious and wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape. The trainer replied:
“when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The only reason that the elephants weren’t breaking free and escaping from the camp was that over time they adopted the belief that it just wasn’t possible. The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?
Failure is part of learning. More precisely, failure is part of success: we should never give up the struggle in life. No matter how much the world tries to hold you back, always continue with the belief that what you want to achieve is possible. Believing you can become successful is the most important step in actually achieving it. You may also like this blog that I wrote about my idea of what success is all about: Being successful while being yourself.
More short stories
I’ve been reading plenty of short stories in the past couple of weeks and found the lessons behind them truly wonderful. There’s always a moral to learn at the end of each story. If you like these kind of short stories I can come up with more each month. You can find all of them in this section.
Every now and then we need to challenge ourselves a bit in order to create an open mind. We all have our own perceptions and opinions and – often subconscious – biases about things. It’s important to keep this in mind if we want to keep improving ourselves and engage in conversations that can change the world for the better too.
Here are 10 quotes that have really helped me to challenge my perceptions, become more accepting and broaden my horizons.
7. “Every single event in life is an opportunity to choose love over fear.” – Oprah Winfrey
8. “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.” – Maya Angelou
9. “Your right to speak comes with the duty to listen” – Amit Kalantri
10. “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” – Mark Twain
I hope these quotes have left you with the importance of being more open-minded. Tell me, what are your favorite quotes and how do you try to challenge your thoughts, opinions and perceptions? Leave a comment down below!
Marketing is often simplified by saying that it’s only done without integrity. This week I read an article about Louis Theroux in which he claims that marketing is an “unacknowledged art form”. Louis mentioned that he sees much in marketing “to enjoy” and is intrigued by the balance of “seduction and sales”. I couldn’t agree more on that I think. Let me explain you why.
In the world of bringing ideas into life, there’s one conception that’s reducing marketing as an unacknowledged art form. It’s the conception that it would only be something that’s striving for sales, leads and money.
Because of that, marketing is often considered as unauthentic, shady and dishonest. Look for example at the campaign that promoted the Duracell Ultra Advanced and the Duracell Ultra Power. To promote these batteries Duracell came up with the slogan: “Lasts Even Longer”.Unfortunately in 2012 Duracell, Inc & Gamble Company got sued by customers claiming that the companies were delivering deceptive marketing and misleading facts. Although the batteries were more expensive than regular ones, they did not provide longer life.
All in all it’s a good example of a brand (un)intentionally lying about his own motives. I think if you’re seducing people with a false promise or you’re seducing people to buy something by popping up all the time or using agressive methods to grab attention, then you place the importance of earning money over the importance of creating value.
Duracell Ultra Advanced and Duracell Ultra Power
Yet there’s also another side to marketing. As Theroux put it: “There’s an aspect of marketing that I do find interesting that hinges on that combination of seduction and sales, which I don’t think is antagonistic in itself. There’s much about marketing to enjoy.” This other side of marketing is what Seth Godin calls Marketing The Right Way. It’s marketing based on understanding human behaviour and putting relationship-building first. This kind of marketing is about meaningfully connect with people who want it. It’s the kind of marketing where seduction and sales partner each other equally.
Although Louis Theroux has never made marketing a priority to his career as a documentary maker, Louis admits that there are similarities between what broadcasters do and what advertisers do.
Their focus may not be as different as it seems. Because if marketing is done the right way, both try to build close relationships with their audience, whether they are viewers or consumers.
WHAT ADVERTISERS SEEK FOR
Look for example what advertisers seek for. If you’re an advertiser longing to promote an artist in music business, you seek for people who listen to a certain type of music and like to experience that with their like-minded friends.
If you’re an advertiser longing to promote a coffee brand through banners online, you seek for people who like to drink coffee and are present in certain areas of the web.
The famous words of Seth Godin about Marketing the Right Way are more than true: “people like this, do things like this.” To get people excited about the stuff that you are making, you have to reach out for people who act in accordance to a certain internal narrative.
Understanding those narratives is needed to make a meaningful connection.
WHAT BROADCASTERS SEEK FOR
At the Festival of Marketing last October, Louis talked about what he thinks is required for great marketing. Louis mentions that creating compelling narratives is in the heart of great marketing. Those narratives are needed to build a close connection with the audience, he says. Stories are about finding something in common. He says: “It’s the case of finding something [in common] and a lot of that resides in getting in touch with your own desire. We are, as banal as it may sound, not so very different from each other. And the more we get separated from one another in society, the more refreshing and redemptive it is when we find small connections. […] “I like to try and do that with my programmes. I like to try and find stories that are full of angst and darkness but at the same time find light and connection, and it’s that tension and release.”
I publish my own articles because I would like to get in touch with likeminded people. That’s the reason why I write.
To me there is no bigger joy than writing about ideas that are worth spreading, sharing personal lessons that may be useful for you or sharing quotes that may broaden your perspective on things.
All of this I do because I’ve the idea that it is gonna bring more joy, meaning and wisdom to your life. My intention with writing those articles is to make it easier for you to live a life that’s full from the inside out.
As a result, this information may give you the same aha moments and realisations that it has given me.
… And so?!
And so what does it take to make marketing an acknowledged art form?
If marketing is done the right way, there is no big difference between the focus of an advertiser, an artist, a copywriter or whatever kind of job you’re in.
Your focus lies on serving your audience in the first place. By understanding them, by knowing what’s in their minds and by fully getting what they wish for.
What would be a step forward is if more brands and people would show by example that marketing is more than just selling stuff. In fact, if marketing becomes synonymous with creating value. If marketing becomes synonymous for creating things and services that enrich one’s life.
Women seem to care a lot about beauty. It is fascinating to have a look at what is being done to look good. Whoever looks at women’s history must conclude that this has never been different, but how we think about things like beauty and what we do to achieve this has changed quite a bit throughout history. Discover Under the Loupe Magazine to find out about the women who preceded us and what kept them busy.
Under the Loupe is an exploration of women’s history. What occupied them? What did they think back then about beauty, what were their experiences and what was made to achieve that beauty. Learning from the past is important. It helps us understand why we live the way we live and why we are the way we are. But such an exploration also enables us to learn from the mistakes of our predecessors, so that we can do better in the present.
Powerful, nostalgic memories can help us cope with change in our lives, give us comfort, and build our sense of identity. Emotions from our past are powerful things, and lag behind in our internal reward system. They can be used to push us in the right direction.
Knowing our history and culture also helps us women to build a sense of pride and belonging.Let them know where they come from – and who preceded them.I think it’s important to have that sense of pride and belonging cause it can make you feel connected with the past and feel part of a group of likeminded women and empower you.
Lotus feet and other questionable inventions
The lotus-foot phenomenon from China is perhaps the best-known example of a beauty ideal where women in particular go very far (in their pain) to achieve it. With the study of special beauty rituals, painful cosmetic procedures and dubious inventions, it seems that there is nothing but the conclusion that one has a lot left for a good appearance and that there is an enormous pursuit of beauty.
With Under The Loupe Magazine we let you get lost in all that (funny) nonsense. The magazine thus demonstrates, on the basis of all kinds of inventions, rituals and beauty ideals from the present and past, the continuous process of striving for beauty. As a result, the magazine shows the funny, absurd and sometimes painful side of the obsession with the body.
Go check it out 🙂
Met veel plezier zal er elke week een nieuwe snapshot op @undertheloupe_worden geplaatst. Ben je benieuwd hoe het magazine zich gaat ontwikkelen?
You know, running a business sounds really cool. And it is: I often find myself smiling to random people at the streets, just because I was thinking about all the great things that happen to me. But on the other hand, there is much that I still have to learn and practice.
We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others sometimes.
In this funny book: How to be Miserable, 40 strategies you already use, Randy Paterson writes how comparing yourself with others is one of the things that makes peoples lives miserable. Not only in your personal life, but in your professional life as well.
Especially in today’s world has comparing yourself with others never been easier. Whether it’s your neighbour or your competitor: social media makes everyone super visible.
And with that visibility comes comparison. Thoughts like: what are the things that this person has which I don’t have? Am I good enough? and: Can I be like her? Let me explain to you why these thoughts are of no use for the most of us.
It’s because these thoughts are judgements. Judgements that you make about yourself and about others. You may classify a person “pretty” and “successful’, but yourself as “indecisive” and “ugly”. Which is no matter how you look at it, of course, very subjective.
You know, judgements can be either positive and negative and they can be quite in your way of becoming fully present.
In the book Nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg I came across this poem written by Ruth Bebermeyer. The way she explains labels stuck with me ever since:
I’ve never seen a lazy man; I’ve seen a man who never ran while I watched him, and I’ve seen a man who sometimes slept between lunch and dinner, and who’d stay at home upon a rainy day, but he was not a lazy man. Before you call me crazy, think, was he a lazy man or did he just do things we label “lazy”?
I’ve never seen a stupid kid; I’ve seen a kid who sometimes did things I didn’t understand or things in ways I hadn’t planned; I’ve seen a kid who hadn’t seen the same places where I had been, but he was not a stupid kid. Before you call him stupid, think, was he a stupid kid or did he just know different things than you did?
I’ve looked as hard as I can look but never ever seen a cook; I saw a person who combined ingredients on which we dined, A person who turned on the heat and watched the stove that cook the meat –
I saw those things but not a cook. Tell me when you’re looking, is it a cook you see or is it someone doing things that we call cooking?
What some of us call lazy some call tired or easy-going, what some of us call stupid some just call a different knowing, so I’ve come to the conclusion, it will save us all confusion if we don’t mix up what we can see with what is our opinion. Because you may, I want to say also; I know that’s only my opinion.
What distracted me from the real doing
The reason why these labels are not serving you is because things become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For a long time, I considered myself as a “bad entrepreneur” and I indeed started to live by that.
That is to say that to respond to this label that I had stuck on myself, I completely started to focus on improving myself. I kept reading and reading about entrepreneurship – from setting up businesses to people’s visions about leadership – I felt like I had to compensate my introvert character that didn’t like to stand out from the crowd at networking parties. It just didn’t feel decent.
So in other words: having an extravert character and enough knowledge of business were both part of how I thought a good entrepreneur should look like.
Both I didn’t have. All of these thoughts distracted me from the real doing.
Broadening my perspective
So as time went on, I spent some time with people and read some other books (mostly self-help) that helped me realize the limiting believe of that mantra.
I remember that I became fully aware of the believe that although I was longing for it, there would never come a moment in which I would be satisfied of all the knowledge that I had gained.
Moreover, I had also to admit that if I had a good look around me, there were ofcourse enough examples of introverted entrepreneurs who weren’t shouting from the rooftops to promote their businesses. Take for example serial-entrepreneur Richard Branson, who is a self-called introvert. He wrote this blog about being an introvert in business: Even introverts can become great entrepreneurs.
I came to realize that I needed to change my perspective on things.
Maybe that label of me being a bad entrepreneur was created by me or my environment. I’m not sure, but it was implanted in my brain and it affected my way of thinking and operating. Labeling others changes the way you perceive them and therefore don’t let them be who they really are. The same as with labeling yourself. Because in fact: a person is not defined by his outer looks, nor his amount of money or knowledge. We are all human, with basic needs, living through unique abilities.
Seeing that unique abilities in others and yourself, that is what I would call a growth mindset. It enables you to think: well I may not have this, but I do have that. And being an imperfect person makes me proud because I know where I came from. Learning that to see in others as well can give you the opportunity to eventually really focus on no-one but yourself, while having the attitude of learning from others. Just to improve yourself.
Let’s see how I am now… A couple of years further I own this website and turned it into a real brand. And I absolutely LOVE it!
Learning from your opposite in business
That is why I like the following TedTalk so much from a business point of view. It’s called: What nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola.
Melinda Gates talks about the strategies that Coca-cola used to become the valuable brand that she is today. The strongest brand out there, to be precise. Those strategies can benefit nonprofits as well, to save lives and make the world a better place.
Consequently, it wouldn’t be constructive to stick the label “too commercial” on a company like Coca-Cola. It would give nonprofits the permission to say: “well, that’s not our cup of tea. We don’t have to look at that because we are not like them”.
Wouldn’t it be a growth mindset to say: “we want to learn from the unique abilities that this company has and incorporate these into the mission of what we want to accomplish in the world”. The same as with people.
Whether we’re talking about people or companies. Having a focus on the things that you can learn from your opposite in order to improve your life or the company’s life, can be incredibly useful. That’s what a growth mindset has to offer you.
Think about what this growth mindset can do for you and your life. Maybe there’s something that you can change for the better.
For now, you may have become interested in the Tedtalk about Coca-Cola and Non-profits. I’m notgonna give you any spoilers, so just dive into this thoughtful talk.
I think the great thing about technology is that it can make the impossible possible in many ways. For me, the creation of the Nima Sensor is a great example of that.
The founders of this portable device started off with a clear mission. Due to their own struggle with food allergies and gluten intolerance, Scott Sundvor en Shireen Yates started to think about a way to make it much easier for people with allergies to live their healthiest selves.
After the mission statement settled, both developed a clear vision for the business: what about a device that gives people the power te really know what’s in their food?
The founders envisioned someting completely new to the world. It became a sensor that allows consumers with allergies to quickly test for proteins they want to avoid, before they start eating. Basically you scan your food and just wait for the display to give you the answer.
Since I’ve been struggling with allergies all my life, I know how exciting it is to go to a restaurant without any worry. Just scan your food and wait for the smiley to come… can you imagine? How great is that?! I’m truly obsessed with this tech invention; I have to say! There is a peanut-version coming up and hopefully there will be a sensor for detecting nuts in future. Leave a comment down below to let me know what kind of allergy you have!
And even though the vision behind the invention sounds really great and very innovative, you may find it hard to believe that this tech piece actually works. But it does, since it meets every European standard.
I price Yireen Yates and Scott Sundvor for their audacity. In Time Yireen let us know that what she envisioned was labeled as practically unfeasible. Due to her tenacity, imagination and perseverance, she worked her way out and found a connection with valuable people like scientists and tech specialists to make her way to the top.
What you see happening in the world is that this audacity is available to more and more organizations as technology shifts from “could it be done?” to: “do we have the guts?”. You only need some great ideas and some brave people to conquer the world.
Go check it out. Big opportunity for all allergic people!