Dutch gas company being user-friendly

This brochure on gas safety has a “scratch-and-sniff’ spot to teach people about what gas smells like. Great idea: very simple and, what is important, easy to understand by people whose mother tongue is not Dutch (the message about the free helpline number is provided in several languages).

P.S. You can also “sniff” it online!


Leave a comment

Filed under Dutch Experiences, Marketing, Sustainability

Ukraine & Poland hosts to EURO 2012!

UPAnother proof that miracles happen: Ukraine and Poland just won the right to host the UEFA Euro Cup in 2012! The bid was considered an outsider compared to Italy a.k.a the football nation. However, with impressive promotion campaign and lots of fingers crossed (or fists held, as we say in Ukraine), we did it!!! I’m proud that my native city Donetsk will also be host to one of the games. And I’m especially happy that this comes at a time when Ukraine needs something positive to unite around…

Hopefully the event will also help improve the infrastructure and bring in tourists, investors, and other important people such events are supposed to bring! Although of course this will come to cities which already are much better off than the rest of Ukraine (Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, the capital Kyiv and L’viv) – but let’s hope for the “spillover effects).  In any case, I’m excited!

See you in Ukraine in 2012!

Links:  UEFA website, Official Ukraine-Poland Bid website , watch the bid promo video on YouTube

Leave a comment

Filed under Ukraine

Small changes, big changes

Yesterday I got back after a surprise visit to Ukraine for Easter. On our way home from the airport, my brother asked me what it was I noticed about Ukraine that was different from Holland… It seemed like a strange question, because I’d been to Holland and back home many times before, so all the big differences had already been discussed! However, it got me thinking not only at that moment, but throughout my whole trip…

Here are a couple of things I noticed:

* More diverse ring tones on cell phones. I was changing flights and spent seven hours sitting at Kyiv airport waiting for the connection. Most of the people in the waiting area were businessmen (and women) aged 35ish and up. So you wouldn’t expect the latest “My baby, I’m your love” kind of pop song as their ring tone. Well, if you hadn’t expected that, you’d be surprised. The whole Ukrainian and world MTV Top100 list was there! So yes, not just teenagers, but serious business people spend their time downloading these tunes from the internet, or exchanging them with each other! I wonder why our economics is underperforming! 😉 Anyway, it sparked a discussion in the family as to why this was. In the end we agreed that because the fact of OWNING a mobile phone was no more a differentiator and a way to show status, and still relatively few people could afford having a car, people were trying to show their status with WHAT KIND of mobile phone they had – which includes the quality of pictures, sounds, tunes, etc. I wonder what the research says about the reasons of this phenomenon (if it has been done at all). 

* Increased size and diversity of health warnings on cigarette packages. Finally Ukrainian legislation on this issue is catching up with the global practice. It used to be a standard “smoking is hazardous to your health” text on the bottom of the pack. Now it is big, around 40% of the pack, and the warnings name all diseases you didn’t know existed. This gave rise to jokes like this one:
A man asks a cigarette seller: “Could you please exchange this impotence pack I have for the lung disease one? I’m going on a romantic date!”.  

* Ukraine still has the best-tasting veggies. Ever!

It’s interesting to see change happen so fast – in sharp contrast with Holland and Europe in general. Coming back home after 3 months only, I saw new shops opened, new laws adopted, not to mention big changes in politics – but I’m not going into that now! The dynamism is exciting, but the big ups come in a bundle with very, very big downs. Just like everything else in life.


Filed under Ukraine

Do schools kill creativity?

This blog is turning into a video blog thanks to TED and YouTube! This time the talk is on whether schools kill creativity, and the answer suggested by the author seems to be yes…

This made me think again about the Problem-Based Learning system at Maastricht University… I like how it makes you think instead of memorize, and how it lets you make your own mistakes. Although far from perfect, it is a step in the right direction.

Also, the question asked by Ken Robinson goes beyond the title of this video – it is about the relevance of what we learn at schools… As well as things we don’t learn… I learned more from the trainings by the U.S. exchange programme (on cultural sensitivity, intercultural communications etc.) and by AIESEC (on time management, sales effectiveness etc.) than from many fully fledged courses at Uni… I just wish everyone was taught some of these vital skills at school…


Filed under Education, Inspiration

“Everything was better back when everything was worse”

Recently I got hooked up on the TED Talks – a series of lectures on a range of topics (going beyond the Technology, Entertainment, and Design subjects suggested by the name of the conference). To me, this is what Internet IS (ok, should be!) about – disseminating knowledge that would otherwise be available to the privileged few. I am posting one of my favorite talks below, but there are so many more intriguing, inspiring topics to explore!

 This one is by Barry Schwartz, a Sociology professor who also wrote a book about “The Paradox of Choice”. He argues that the abundance of choice created in modern industrial societies is not making us better off. On the contrary, it is actually having a negative impact on our lives!

The video is 20 minutes, and I highly recommend you make time to watch it…

Some memorable thoughts from the video: 

  • “Opportunity costs substract from the satisfaction of what we choose, even when what we choose is terrific”
  • “The secret to happiness is low expectations”
  • And the conclusion is this: “There’s no question that some choice is better than none. But it doesn’t follow from that that more choice is better than some choice”.  

It is especially interesting to watch as a (future) marketeer. It is the idea of “choice confusion” which has been raised in the academia, articulated clearly and convincingly. But it is also relevant to someone interested in politics and sustainable development: Barry argues that a global redistribution of wealth would not only help the poor countries, but also the so-called developed world!

And finally, it is a good watch for anyone interested in living a happy balanced life in these crazy times…


Filed under Inspiration, Marketing, Sustainability, Technology

Ukraine promo video

I saw the video in Kyiv Boryspil airport a while ago, and now found it online thanks to volodja.

It’s quite an inspiring video, although to me most scences look like they could be filmed in any Eastern European country… It’s also very general – kind of geared towards toursits and investors and politicians at once – I wonder if that was the idea? In any case, it’s a nice effort in promoting the country.

Leave a comment

Filed under PR, Ukraine

“Professional” vs. “personal” blogging

I’ve been keeping a personal blog for almost 2 years now, since I left home to go to the Netherlands. There was no deep idea behind creating it, just the practical advantage of informing all my friends and family about the first impressions, or room search, or cultural adaptation progress, instead of writing separate mails of similar content to everyone. This has worked quite well, although I found myself still writing individual mails with comments/elaborations on the posts. Still, it’s nice to go back in time to see what I first thought when I tried a “kroket” or went to a typical Dutch birthday party!

However, as I got more involved in the blogging world, I found myself willing to make posts like “look at this cool video” or “I read this article today, and I disagree”. However, that would probably bore most of my friends who are not into technology, blogging, investment, politics, or whatever else it is I might find interesting. Such discussions would be more appropriate for classmates or colleagues. So gradually I came to the idea of making another blog just for professional or related discussions. Some kind of forum – personal, yet without the “yesterday’s party pictures” details… A treasure box for all things interesting. The kind you probably had as a kid: this old box that has your dad’s broken lighter, your mom’s old watch, and this pretty magazine clipping you made. This blog for me will be such a treasure box – and I’ll be happy to hear about your treasures, too!

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging