Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas coming randomly from my experiences

Posts Tagged ‘work

Listen to your inner voice

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Steve Jobs, who listened to his inner voice.

In his famous speech at the Stanford university, Steve Jobs said “Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” I was remembering this sentence during a informal meeting of entrepreneurs organized by a partner.

I am used to attend some informal entrepreneurs meetings. These cessions are the opportunity to make new contacts, to expand our network, but also to hear about experiences, interesting professional ways. By sharing our respective experiences, we can note interesting things, learn about some useful solutions or advice, but also put an end to some believes.

I am always amazed by people who decides one day to take a completely different professional way. In the last cession I attended, there were two men who decided to change of professional goals, one moving from chemistry to sales of ICT hardware, and another, moving from manual activities to a training and coaching activity. Each of them explained in which circumstances they took their decisions, and by listening to their stories, I can learn or confirm a few things.

The common start point in such decision process was a dissatisfaction element. One of the guy was not satisfied about the job he was doing, and wanted to have more recognition, to look for something more interesting. The other was blamed by his boss, telling him that he will never be a good sales guy. He decided to show himself he was able to be one’s. In both cases, people want to have a better image of themselves, and are maybe noticing that there are not anymore at the right place, or never were at the right place. Suddenly, there is a shock, a flashing light in your head, meaning that you want something else. This shock brings the motivation to initiate that change process.

Such shock, such flashing light is not the only element contributing to decide to change of professional direction. It is also an effect of a long and gradual change process. Through our work, through different professional experiences, we are expanding our knowledge, acquiring competences, and sometimes, talents are emerging, a wealth you acquired day after day. The fact that you are looking for something else and that you make an assessment of your competences, make that you suddenly realized what are your competences and what new ideas you could concretize.

Of course, such transitions are not always easy, and one of the attendees, as many entrepreneurs I met, confirm such difficulties. But to launch a idea, a new business is always a challenge. The most important thing is to be focused on your goal and to persevere to reach it. It doesn’t guarantee that you will reach the success, but failure is not a fatality. By having the courage to launch a project, you will learn a lot of things, you will learn from other people you will meet. Even if you fail, don’t think that you will have to restart again. You will only take a new start, with more experience, with more knowledge. Have also the humility to share your failure experiences with other people. You will gain in credibility and break some believes that business is an easy thing. By sharing your failure experience, you will learn something to somebody else, and you will probably receive some advice from somebody else too.

To start a new business, to become an entrepreneur is always a difficult challenge. But with courages, motivation and hard work, by adapting your strategy, by meeting and working with other people, you can maximize the chance to reach your goal. But motivation can only be there if you are convinced by what you are doing, and if you have the talent to do it. Listen to your inner voice.


Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 9, 2012 at 23:08

Work, an activity as another?

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Demonstration In France against retirement legal age measures.

Since a few days, we can assist to strike movement in France, protesting to the increase of the legal age of retirement. This question is a concern for many states and it seems that the measure taken by the governments are not welcome everywhere.

I was a bit surprised by some interviewed people, and more particularly by some students protesting against the measures taken by the french government. What surprises me is that somebody who has not yet start to work, is already concerned by the retirement. Strange life perspective. I often hear people talking about the retirement and expecting it as soon as possible. Probably some of them will regret to see that the retirement age will be there fast and will regret to already reach it.

It is allowable to think about your future, and about the revenue you will earn when you will be retired, but is retirement a goal, the goal of your life, or is it the solution to a problem? Here is the question. If people are already talking about retirement, it is because they are not really happy with their job.

As I am used to say, work should be considered as another activity, as a hobby. The main reason to do a job is because you like it. Of course, it is not always easy to find the job matching with your expectation, particularly in crisis time. But it seems to me that at the beginning, work is considered as a constraint and not as an activity where you can find interest and which could be a resource of personal development and of blooming. Of course, there are jobs which are not offering potential of blooming, but which for people are needed. This view of the job as a constraint has probably a cultural and historical origin. During the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the work conditions were very hard, and are still hard today for some specific jobs. It is obvious that in this case, it is difficult to find a way of blooming in such hard job. With such conditions of work, work was and is still considered as a constraint, something we have to do in order to earn money. But does it mean that we can not bring more value or respect to the people doing these jobs? In a previous posting, I was relaying a article about a car factory plant in Germany, where the production chain and the time work were adapted for the seniors blue collars, giving them the possibility to work in better conditions. These adaptations contributed to the workers wellness. The wellness improvement is probably a key element of motivation.

Comparing to the industrial revolution time, the work conditions are changed, some jobs are less painful than compared to this time. But does it mean that the work environment is always beautiful?

Recently, in a forum, there was a comment from a french journalist, Véronique Anger-de-Friberg, related to the increase of legal retirement age in France, and the wave of protests against that measure. She is saying that if the work was contributing to the blooming of the major part of french people, the retirement at 62 years would not be an issue. In this posting, she clearly underlines the fact that if people want to be retired as soon as possible, it is because there are not happy at all on their job. If by the past, some physical jobs were difficult because done in hard conditions, we are assisting since many years to psychological pressures in other jobs. We assisted few month ago to a wave of suicides in some companies, like France Telecom. When such things happens, it is obvious that something goes wrong, and it is not giving hopeful professional perspectives for the young generations.

I would say that there is two key in that issue. First is to do or try to do the job you really want to do. As said Confucius, “Do a work you like and you will not have to work during all your life”. Ideally, we would have to like our job, as we like to swim, to read a book, to travel. And even if we are facing difficulties, as we can face in different sides of our life, we have to see them not as problems, but as opportunities of self-development.The second condition is to offer a blooming environment to the people, giving them the wish to do their job. Here are the opportunities for talented managers to boost the motivation of their collaborators, and to give them the feeling to be part of a project, of a company. With such conditions, you would consider your work as another activity you like to do.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

October 19, 2010 at 21:14

Act as an actor for your career and for the community.

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Actor of your own career and of the community

Recently, I read an article about the lack of doctors in Belgium. In Belgium there is a numerus closus in the universities for medicine studies. Only a limited number of graduated doctors can exercise the profession. This could explain the lack of doctors Belgium has to face. But Jacques de Toeuf, doctor and former president of ABSym (Association belge des syndicats médicaux) has not the same opinion about the problem. Based on statistics, he mentions that there are enough graduated doctors in Belgium compared to the number of beds in hospitals, but the problem is that some of then does not want to work in hospital, does not want to ensure permanencies during the week end, taking care more about quality of their own life instead of the quality of life of patients. And Jacques de Toeuf is wondering if these people, only visiting three of four patients per day, are still able after a couple of year to diagnose deceases, if they still have the competence to do their job correctly. As he mentions, medicine is not the same as to sale “tupperwares”. You do not do it when you want.

By reading this, there are two questions to be asked. What are the values we dedicate to work? Work is, most of the time, considered as a constraint. Some people are doing a job because “they have to work to earn money”, waiting the week end, the end of the month to receive the cheque, the holidays, the retirement, ..the death? In a previous posting, I already talk about the importance to choose the job you want to do, the job you are convinced by. If you are convinced by what you are doing, life will be much more exciting, and you will be able to give the best of what you can do. The motivation is an essential condition to stay on the top of competences. In a fast moving environment, you have to maintain and improve your skills everyday, it takes time, but this time has to be considered as an investment, a essential condition to ensure you a sustainable career. If you do not improve your skills, your knowledge, you will come shortly to incompetence, and the chance to find another job will be thin.This is why to do the job of your dream is so important, and is probably the only good reason to do it. As said Confusius: “Do the work you like to do and you will never have to work during your life”.

What I mentioned before is related to the private sphere. But there is another important question and value, needed to be considered, it is your function in the community. Each of us, through the job we are doing, we have a mission, we have to contribute to the community. If you are responsible for customer service in a company, you will take care that everybody could benefit of a good service. If you are a doctor, you will do what you can do in order to save your patients. We have to consider we are playing a role for the community, and this implies the notions of responsibility, respect and commitment. A doctor has the obligation to do all what he can do to save a life. If he has a conscience, he is aware about his duties, and will not try to escape to it. I am used to say that there are constraints in each job. You are free to choose the job you want to do, but remember that the only existing freedom is the one to choose your constraints.

Commitment to act for the community is a value having to be part of our professional choice. Commitment means to have respect for the others. This means that we have to play as an actor for the community, but we have to be first the actor of our own life, our own career. It is only if you try to build a project for yourself that you will contribute to build projects for the other, with efficiency and concrete results. By doing the job you like to do, your working hours are an investment and not a loss of time, and as each investment, you will have a return on it. If you are a doctor, and if you take care about your patients, then they will recognize your talents, and will probably recommend you to other people. Be an actor of your career, of your life and for the community.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 22, 2010 at 20:26

Pension and retirement: finally the paradise?

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During the month of February, the Belgian government published the “green book”, including conclusions about the payment of retirement pension, the challenge for the coming years. The conclusions were not a surprise, but only what everybody already knew, conclusions already done by economists and demographers. The government and some political people begin to admit that if people want to get a decent pension later, they have to save money. The problem of pension payment is due to the pyramid of ages. Indeed, the percentage of retired people is increasing. It means that the weight of pension costs on shoulders of active people will be more important.

An announced conclusion of the study was that people should work 3 years more than the average. It does not mean that the legal pension age would not be 65 years but 68 years. We have to know that in Belgium, only one person over ten who are between 55 and 60 years old is still working. We are one of the European countries where the activity rate of this generation is the lowest.  How to explain such fact? In Belgium the tax level on work is very high. For somebody who spent few years or his full career in the same company, the lay off indemnities are very high. Of course, each employee agrees to have the maximum of indemnities, but should not be better to have less indemnity but to work for a longer time?

In Belgium as in every country, there were several restructuring processes in large companies, creating social disasters. It is always a painful hardship, where people are wondering how they will pay the bills at the end of the month. Most of them, who were more than fifty five years old, were retired anticipatively. By hearing some politicians, I have the feeling they were considering this as a gift, the fact that people who were wrongfully fired, merit to be retired anticipatively. Does it mean that everybody is necessarily happy to stop working when he is fifty five years old? Does it not mean that you are considered as too old, and then useless? Some studies showed that people who were retired anticipatively, by their own or by force, have a lower quality of live after few years. So to be retired anticipatively is not precisely a gift.

It is of course more difficult for people with lower qualifications to find a job when they have a certain age. But on the other side, with such view I explained before, the qualities and knowledge acquired by experience are not valued at all. In a previous posting, I was talking about the employability, meaning that each worker needs to gain in knowledge and expertise in order to move with the environment changes, to acquire tools and develop capabilities in order to face new challenges. The combination of experience and trainings provides added value and know how for each worker and as consequence for the company too.

It has to be remembered that the education is also important, that everybody needs to have enough chances to start in the active life. There is a lot improvement to be done on that level, when we are noting that in a city like Brussels, capital of Europe, there is around 20 percent of workless people, and for young people who are between 15 and 24 years old count around 35 percent of workless people.

Work is a right, and the government should take initiative in order to give chances to everybody to get dignity to have a job, by empowering the education, by promoting entrepreneurship, by encouraging social and economical initiatives. Work is the way to ensure independence to everybody. It is only on this base that we can maintain a sustainable social system.

Work is a right, and should be more considered as this and not as a constraint. It is a constraint if you do not like what you do, or if you are not considered for what you are doing. Confucius said: “Choose a work you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Picture source:

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

February 24, 2010 at 21:31

Statistics, the best way to lie.

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Unemployed people

This week, listening to the news of the French Belgian radio (RTBF), I heard a new about a pessimistic forecast about the unemployment in Belgium for 2010. Following a study led by Philippe Defeyt, economist and member of the board of directors of the IDR – Institut pour un développement durable (Sustainable development institute), the unemployment rate in Belgium should reach a historical level in 2010 compare to 1970, with a rate of 14,6% of the working population, representing a number of 750.000 unemployed people.

The IDR analyzed few macroeconomics variables from 1970 until now. If the number of jobs increased of 17% compared to 1970, the total number of working hours done by this working power is lower compare to the number in 1970 (less 5% in 2010 compare to 1970). During 31 years, the working population increased of 1,3 million of people, but the available jobs increased only of 650.000 units, it means only the mid of what should be necessary to give a job to everybody.

These are few elements included in the study. But what was amazing, is the reaction of the minister of employment, Joëlle Milquet about the figures related to the unemployment forecast. She told that these figures were totally overestimated, giving a worse picture of the situation. Really ?

Here is the question about the definition of an unemployed people. Following the minister of employment, the definition of unemployed people includes the workless people looking for a new job. It means that the unemployed people who are 58 -60 years but not looking for a job because considered as too old, are not taken into account.  Following Philippe Defeyt, the two categories are included in the statistics, as they are facing the same problems when they are looking to their bank account at the end of the month.

It is a bit difficult to understand why a category of unemployed people are not taken into account by the statistics of the government, when such government includes political parties defending social values, and when they are claiming to develop social politics to decrease the poverty. Belgian is one of the countries where the rate of unemployed 50-60 years old people is the lowest. It is totally senseless to ignore such people from official statistics.

By reading this, I remember my studies, where one of my professor of statistics defining statistics as ‘the Best way to lie”.

Institut pour un développement durable –

 (Picture source :×300.jpg)

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 6, 2010 at 23:27

Posted in Economy

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The good time to stop working ?

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Stop to work ? When ?

Since few times, some governments in Europe are debating about the legal age to be retired. As the age pyramid begins to be old, governments are facing the problem of pension payments. To face such problem, one of the proposed solutions is to increase the legal age of retirement. But most of the trade unions do not agree with such measure, arguing that people merits to take rest after a forty years professional career.

Does anybody want to stop to work at the same age? The answer to that question is different for each person. There is a relation with the kind of job you are doing, the condition of work and the satisfaction you had from your professional career, and maybe also with your personal goals. People who worked during many years in a manufactory, achieving hard and difficult tasks, will be probably happy to be retired when sixty five years old, in order to take good time for hobbies, for family. It should not be exact to say that everybody is doing the job of his dreams. For some people, the work is felt as a necessity in order to earn money, for the others, work is a blooming source. For this last category, it is sometime difficult to stop working.

Few time ago, I had the opportunity to meet a person, who worked during his career for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. When he was sixty two years old, the company he was working for, wanted to stop the collaboration and made a proposal of retirement. He refused such plan. He told me at that time, he was still enjoying his job, was still full of energy and projects, and as it was not yet the legal age to be retired, he did not agree to stop to work. Finally, the company decided to fire him.

After a period of outplacement, this person thought to found his consultancy company, providing services based on his competences. You have to know that he has a wide culture, he is fascinated by China, and he is speaking seven different languages. After some training in accounting and legal matters, he finally created his own company, giving advices and helping companies to develop business with Asian countries. The most amazing thing is that the last company where he was employed and who fired him, is working now with him as a consultant. By doing this, he demonstrates that even if you are sixty years old, it does not mean that you are not able to work and to develop potential. At that stage, you are not considering your job as a constraint, but as a hobby, as something you like to do. As already mentioned in other postings, the most important thing is to have a goal, to have always a project. This is a motivation and life balance source. The person I am talking about, realized a successful career conversion, and is often invited by professional associations as lecturer, to tell about this conversion.

My opinion about this, is that we have to let the opportunity of choice to the people, if they want to stop to work or not. I remember the father of a friend who worked as Human Resources director in few companies. He was a very appreciated manager, demonstrating huge talents as negotiator. The last years of his career, he decided to decrease progressively his working time. He said: “When you have the career I had, with huge responsibilities and heavy agenda, and when you like what you are doing, you can not stop your career the day after. “

Personally, I can say when I will stop to work. It does not mean that I will work always on a full time basis. But as far as you will find the energy and the motivation, the interest to be part of a project, as far as you will get satisfaction about realizations and as far as you are healthy, why should you stop to do something you like to do ?

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 23, 2009 at 18:09