Preparing a successful exit

“Good morning,” I breathe proudly down the phone. “Who got up at 5:30 this morning?

“I did,” the Mentalist replies self-content. “Did you for a change?”

“That’s right, I did it,” I cheer. “Got up, had a nice long cup of tea and a cig, then a lovely yoga session. Very relaxing me time.”

“I will write a basic brief for your house later,” the Mentalist promises. This spurs me on though as I want to write it myself. My house is very personal after all.

“Tonight I am going to go to that Adobe network event, but I will not go to hockey so I can spend some time with my kids,” I tell him my plans for today. “Is that the right priority, cause I think so. You are amazing.”

“Very good. Do it every day and see the difference in energy that you have,” the Mentalist coaches me. “Yes it is correct. Thank you. So are you.”

“Yes feels good so far,” I beam happy I gave his suggestion a try. “What are you up to today?”

“I am building stick as I have changed the menu,” the Mentalist replies coolly.

“Building sticks?” I ask amused.

“Hey what are the main problems you see in companies and start-ups?” the Mentalist asks out of the blue.

“Like the three little pigs,” I think amused.

“Stock,” the Mentalist corrects me.

“In start-ups it’s a question of marketing and getting clients, it is delivering value and still making a profit,” I think out loud of all the problems I have seen in both small and large corporations.

“Then I am going to take father-in-law to speak to the doctor,” the Mentalist informs me cryptically. “Then back to the kitchen to finish up for tomorrow’s production.”

“In large companies it is that they are too big, too slow and work in silos,” I sum up very high-level. “What’s wrong with her father?”

“Can they change to horizontal management?” the Mentalist encourages me to think in terms of solutions. “We think he might have cancer. So far we have four different opinions.”

“Mmmm not very good,” I am careful what I say about such touchy subjects. “Is he old?”

My little dog is going to be so happy tonight I have chicken bones galore,” the Mentalist says pleased with himself. “Yes.”

“Large corps have difficulty changing to horizontal management. Very touchy things, titles and hierarchy,” I go on not giving up on finding solutions to better management. “Your sausage dog.”

“Yes,” the Mentalist acquiesces.

“I am still looking for a name for him,” I tease him.

“What’s their attitude to IT?” the Mentalist asks again. “He is called Elvis. His nickname is stupid dog.”

“At BNP they are into heavy cost cutting for the moment,” I tell him annoyed. “IT has already been downsized and they are going to half the budget again in 2019.”

“Why?” the Mentalist throws back at me.

“So we are doing digital but with no resources for development,” I point out the contradiction in this management decision. In fact, management often seems so far removed from the business that I wonder how they come to such decisions.

“Economy should be on the upward tick,” the Mentalist goes on.

“Why? Because we are not on target,” I retort annoyed now by management by stupid KPIs instead of getting to the heart of why we really haven’t reached targets. I mean, where these targets reachable in the first place and how were they set? “Haven’t reached objectives. And revenue is lower due to the low interest rates. BNP is not the place to be for the moment. Think it might be time to look out for something new. After all I have been at BNP for almost 4 years now. That is long for a consultant.”

“That’s pretty good,” the Mentalist confirms. “Try Electrabel and affiliates.”

“Electrabel is ancient,” I tell him of the reputation I have picked up on for the large energy company. “They are probably even slower than BNP.”

“Belgacom might be good too,” the Mentalist goes on and I do like this idea. Telecom is an exciting branch to work in. “Good reason to speed them up.”

“We will see what opportunities I find end of year,” I tell him my plan for new project prospection. “Will start looking around November.”

“Ok,” the Mentalist agrees.

“Yes Proximus, or Belfius, or Telenet…,” I sum up the companies I have had an eye on for some time now. “Something like that.”

“Look at the database I sent you,” the Mentalist offers. “You might find opportunity there too.”

“Ah yes, that’s an idea,” I am happy at the prospect of having many options open to me. “But I was just going to check Linkedin and contact some investors and recruiters.”

“Good idea,” the Mentalist replies with a slight tease in his tone. “Gosh you are brilliant.”

“Am I?” I smile back as I have picked up on his mood and want to play back. “Brilliant at adopting your ideas, yes.”

“You have good ones too,” the Mentalist urges me to take credit for some of the good ideas amongst most of the not so brilliant ones. But at least I have ideas.

“Sometimes,” I smile modestly.

“How is Wim?” the Mentalist asks me.

“Good,” I answer in good humour. “A little worried about the house. Especially that we are getting no visits.”

“We will change that tonight,” the Mentalist pushes me to action. “I still can’t get your blog. Why not? I don’t even get notifications from Google about you anymore. Did you delete me?”

“Ah no…,” I am not too sure what he means and suddenly worried people aren’t reading me. “You don’t have the URL or you just can’t access the site?”

“Both,” the Mentalist replies.

“Strange, but to be honest you aren’t missing much,” I tell him tongue in cheek. “Just our conversations and you know what those are about.”

“I see,” the Mentalist let’s me know he gets the picture. “Ok.”

“This is it,” I send him the link to “Boring though.”

“Looks cool,” the Mentalist confirms good receipt of the link to my blog.

“Thanks,” I smile as I check the statistics to my blog and notice that there are only 2 people currently active. “Haha, are you in Ukraine or in Belgium?”

“Belgium,” the Mentalist retorts without hesitation.

“No,” I retort in disbelief. “Really?”

“I have been watching you for a week now,” the Mentalist knows how to get my goat.

“And you haven’t invited me for coffee?” I know exactly how to get him back for that. “I am offended. Well you’ll be bored watching me. Nothing happening.”

“Yes indeed,” the Mentalist smiles. “I am still in the Crimea.”

“I am either studying or working on my computer, or else out for sports with kids,” I tell him what he would have seen had he been lurking. “Is that Ukraine?”

“Hope to come back in December,” the Mentalist answers.

“Yes!” I cheer happy at that perspective.

“It’s Russia now,” the Mentalist informs me on worldly happenings which I just don’t grasp.

“Ah well either you are on my blog in Ukraine or not at all,” I point out that I can see who is reading me, or at least where they are from. “I check my stats you know.”

“I see,” the Mentalist remembers that that is in fact my job and speciality: digital analytics. Understanding what happens on a website and why. “They still consider it Ukraine.”

“Mmm,” I give voice to my gut feelings. “Or that’s where your IP or server is located. I consider it close enough.”

“I think they can forget that idea,” the Mentalist is suddenly excited again by geo-political topics. “Russia will never give it back. People want to be Russian. Ukraine was very corrupt.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if a rich sheikh was reading my blog, really liked it and then bought my house? But that’s not going to happen,” I go on wishful thinking. “You know I really don’t understand anything of the Russia, Ukraine or Crimea dispute. I mean who has it been stolen from and who should get it back? Surely it’s the people s country. Is anybody suffering? Because it has this label instead of that?”

“I was part of Ukraine 3 years ago,” the Mentalist attempts to explain the situation to me again. “No, Russia took it over without asking. Now it’s Russian by referendum. The people voted to change.”

“Like Brexit,” I am still trying to make sense of this. But even Brexit is the biggest mess I have seen in recent years.

“Yes,” the Mentalist confirms. “But things are expensive here compared to other surrounding countries. Sanctions make it hard. Even still Ukraine will never get it back.”

“Good,” I answer as that is the only thing I manage to conclude from the explanation I have been given.

A quote from Nick Kokonas comes to mind : “I just look at some things and go, ‘Why is that? Why does it work that way?’ Oftentimes, the people most entrenched in a system have no idea why.”




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