18.12.2013 -18.12.2016! It seems incredible that my baby Wow Now is turns three years old today!
Three years since I walked in the KvK as individual and I came out as a registered business owner! Almost (!) comparable to when – also this month but six years ago – I entered the hospital as a pregnant woman and came out as a mother of a gorgeous little boy! An entirely new world of opportunities and responsibilities!
After 12 years of employed life (for great companies like Forrester Research, Adobe at Stream/now Convergys, and Philips), and after having become mother of two amazing boys in less than 18 months (end 2010 & mid 2012), it was time to pursue working conditions that better matched my new life while still pursuing my dream since my time at Forrester:to become a company advisor and to help multiple companies accelerate their journey towards delivering exceptional customer experiences & contributing to more happiness in the world!
So today it was time for a little reflection…
Where have these three years gone? What are my biggest learnings?
Here are my past three years of client work, Wow Now development, personal growth and motherhood life, and the small connections between people, events, and dots which you can only make sense of later…
2013: the year of “incubation” and “just do it”!
In 2013 I started contemplating the idea of starting for myself, I agreed to leave Philips, and followed an outplacement course at LHH.
I had plenty of informational conversations within Philips, within my network (especially with Adam Dorrell and Kathy van De Laar) and with my ex-colleagues (especially Gilles Domartini, Donald Res, Sarah De Mul). In fact, the name “Wow Now” was born during a conversation with ex-colleagues Paul Terry and Reineke Reitsma on November 14th in the Forrester office, as we spoke about the importance of Customer Experience (the Wow) and Mindfulness (the Now). On November 18th, I started writing my business plan and my first mission and vision, I registered my domain, and on December 18th I went to the KvK to register my business.
On the personal growth front, I followed the NonViolent Communication courses by Yoram Mosenzon and by Cara Crisler and an eight-week mindfulness course. I also attended a week intensive Dutch course at Regina Coeli in Vought and in November took the NT2 staatsexamen and passed it!
Main learning of 2013: you don’t need to have it all figured out, in order to get started. Just start and the fog will disappear as you move forward
2014: the year of “beginnings”
2014 was the start-up year. I was lucky to have a major client assignment since day one (thanks to Adam Dorrell, CustomerGauge, word of mouth), so I worked the entire year on getting my client “Embed NPS Program” (which later became “NPS as driver for change” & “NPS to CEXP Journey” Programs) started across 8 countries in Europe plus US.
In the “spare” time I got to work on Wow Now brand development with iGina: mission, values, why/what/how, logo & website, trying to choose among taglines such as “Customer Happiness Engine”, “Happy Customers. Happy Business” or “Making your customers say…”
I was part of local networking groups such as “Amsterdam Business Mamas” and “Locally Yours”, through which I met most of my suppliers and collaborators. I also became a member of PWN (Professional Women’s Network) and as benefit of being self-employed the CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association), something I had wanted to do ever since my ex-colleague Bruce Temkin started it in 2010 and, I could now without having to ask authorisations to anyone but myself. Back then I was probably the only member in the Netherlands.
On the personal growth front, I continued following the NonViolent Communication courses by Yoram Mosenzon I had started in 2013.
Though I haven’t written much about it, other than in the blog post “Marshall Rosenberg most inspiring quotes for customer experience professionals”, I promise you I’ll write more posts about the learning and applications to CX NVC courses have enabled (hint: it influenced our Empathy Training in Tirana and our Customer Insight Framework!
I also attended the “Redefining Fear” and “Uniquely You” workshops by Amber Rahim (thanks to Nathalie Hennequin!) which became very significant for me later!
On the motherhood front, both my kids were still going to the crèche and I stayed at home one day a week. In 2014 we went to kid’s musical classes (playing all sort of instruments and singing Dutch songs) and to “messy play” classes (having them getting messy with all sort of different sensory activities in someone else house!)
Main learning 2014: after knowledge & experience, the next key ingredient is your network! It gets you started, it keeps you going, it brings you places you wouldn’t get on your own (surely not that fast)
2015: the year of “validation” (and certifications!)
Which better validation than having your client renew the engagement with you and start to see results of the work done together, with top management getting involved and engaged in the NPS Change Program, and NPS scores having raised of 20 to 40 points across multiple countries and touchpoints within months of completing our dedicated “Data to Insights to Actions to Results” country programs?
The hours of training and coaching of each NPS country leader in 2014 also started to pay off, and my client required less time from me (even if next to the NPS Program, we began a supplementary program about “Customer Service” improvements) and I could focus more on Wow Now, also taking on an additional client project and starting some networking activities which enabled much of what followed in 2016.
2015 has also been the year of certifications to get my knowledge validated & certified: I attended Sampson Lee’s two-day worldwide class and got the Global CEM Certification (about which I have written more here), NPS & NPS2 certification by Satmetrix (also participating in their EU event about which I have written here) ,and I signed up for the CCXP exam from CXPA to be taken in 2016.
On the personal growth front, it was the year of “Fierce Courage” and “Creativity”: I joined the “Fierce Courage” program by Amber Rahim Coaching (who later became my regular business coach) and I joined Eleonora Spagnuolo’s Creativity Project and have been doing plenty of Intuitive Painting (I made more than 12 paintings in a year and I’m still producing them even if we have run out of walls to hang them). You can find my learnings in this blog post.
Eleonora Spagnuolo also did a little makeover of my website and my logo. Wow Now tagline went from 3 options to two: “Customer Driven Growth” and “Happiness Driven Growth” (my favorite as it’s not just about the customers but also the employees, though I kept the first one too)
I also started writing more blog posts and sharing out analysis & frameworks that I have developed. That was a big, daring step for me (so very grateful for my business coach Amber to have supported me in this from day one), and I was pleased with the positive reactions I got, even including a mention from NPS co-developer Rob Markey.
Also I joined a fantastic Master Mind Group (together with Eleonora Spagnuolo, Lana Yelenev, Rita Thomassen and Ozlem Cevik, and thanks to Emmy McCarthy workshop at Amsterdam Business Mamas) to bounce off ideas, leverage each other capabilities and being stretched outside of my comfort zone. My very first mini-product development with “Gumroad Small Product Lab” and the launch in 18 days of my first ebook (even if imperfect, incomplete ) is one of the many results enabled by this team. An update of that e-book will follow in 2017!
On the motherhood front: my oldest one started school with the biggest changes this brought, especially being still on a different schedule than my youngest at crèche. Our “mamadag” activity for 2015 was…guess what? Intuitive Painting, as Eleonora Spagnuolo also run a special kids course.
Main learning 2015: after your network, the next key element is the people you surround yourself with: support groups (like a Master Mind Group), professional coach, clients, suppliers, and business partners. Finding the best matches is a fine work of art. And at times it just requires us to follow our intuition and remember that everyone crosses our way for a specific teaching to give us.
2016: the year of “partnership”
Still advising my first client on both NPS and Customer Service and taking on additional clients through my network, I got my first client coming through just from reading my website content.
This year appreciation from my client came in many forms: they renewed again & assigned me additional projects; gave me great validation early this year when their CEO got Bain&Co. into the boardroom only to confirm that our program “ticked all the boxes”. Most of all, in our recent “NPS to CEXP” Leaders & CS directors Summits, they showed how much every project is starting from the customer & shared how much they now feel and see the “customer” included in every conversation & business decision!
In March, I joined the first CXPA EU exchange in London and passed my CCXP exam becoming #322 worldwide certified and #2 in the Netherlands! Together with three great partners (Kathy van De Laar of Early Bridge, Danny Peters of Conexperience, Marjolein Dubbeldam of Verint), we started preparations to begin a local network. In June, we launched CXPA local network in the Netherlands with a great networking event, connecting local CX experts and inspiring some of them to pursue the CCXP certification. One of these experts was Nienke Bloem, and as soon as she got her certification in August, we partnered to develop & bring a CX Masterclass to the market to empower more people to validate and extend their CX knowledge and become CCXP. We ran our first class in November with 12 amazing CX Professionals and it was a fantastic success.
Partnerships with other CXPA members Kathy & Danny also enabled additional projects like the CJM certification Danny will bring to market in 2017, and the Empathy training Kathy & I delivered at my client contact center in Tirana.
Finally, 2016 was also the year of my first public talk. Starting directly with a bang: a TEDx talk “Happiness-Driven-Growth: a new model of business which is life-enriching“, followed by a speech at Hello Customer breakfast session (of which you can see a video here thanks to Italian filmmaker Alessandro Felici of Cardboardsuitcase) and by an inspiration session at Simyo, next to a recognised public speaker such as Christian Kromme.
Such talks and steps were supported by Tara Phillips of Cause & Affect Speeches coaching and empowered by the continuous support of Amber Rahim Coaching and by the personal growth courses I followed this year:
- Storytelling for change course by Acumen
- Daring Brave Semester by Brené Brown
- “The Los Angeles Method” Acting Classes by Theodora Voutsa (which I had first met in 2015 during a PWN event)
On the motherhood front: my oldest one started swimming lessons (which became our weekly activity for this year) and half way the year my youngest one started school, allowing us to get back to a more regular and consistent schedule for all. I spend two afternoons a week with my kids (Tuesday and Wednesday) and compensate for the hours either in the evening or at weekends.
Main learning 2016: Dare to be you. Dare to ask. Dare to partner up. Dare to show up and be seen.
Looking forward to 2017…
All in all, totally happy and fulfilled about my choice three years ago to start Wow Now. I am on a mission to bring more happiness into the world through Wow Now and fulfilling my purpose of learning-connecting-growing-contributing to happiness every day! Now looking forward to what 2017 and the 4th year of Wow Now will bring!
What about you? Do part of my story resonate with your path and growth? Do you recognise the learning?
Share it with us in the comments below.