The need of a development plan (and what it has to do with tulips)

Last year around this time, I got to visit two of the greatest names when it comes to Customer Experience. Disney and Zappos. I traveled to California to learn all about CX magic at Disney Institute. In Las Vegas I got a tour at Zappos where I interviewed leaders at their fun property. Many of the learnings I shared in my blogs and I even published an e-zine on my insights at Zappos. But why did I do that? Why did I choose these two companies as my Go-To-Learning-Place for 2019? It’s all about development. Let me share my vision with you in this blog.

Buy my flowers!

But first I want to share with you that tulips are my favorite flowers. Nice to know, right? Or not? But hang on, it has to do with the story ?. The picture you see is taken at the local flower market in Utrecht. Every Saturday you can buy all kinds of flowers and plants on this market. It is a very bright and happy place to visit, even when it rains. The colors, the smells, the people and especially the salesmen and women behind their flower stands make me smile. They get it when it comes to selling their goods. They look at you, recommend their flowers and try to lure you into their domain.

What could happen – and they understand sales really well, so it probably will happen – is that they seduce you to buy some flowers. Not just the flowers you planned to buy. But more and different ones. Which will cost you more money than you had planned to spend and they will take up more room in your house. Colorful, yes! But maybe not what you went out for.

Stick to the plan

The same might happen with development. You go out there, see all kinds of education and inspiration, but what to decide? When you go online you might get lost in a maze of development options. To learn new skills, get inspiration, be a better entrepreneur, learn all CX, be a better you. I know many people that get seduced to follow webinars, free events and buy education as a result. Sometimes for the good. Often maybe not for what they planned to do. Is that bad? No, but think of all the time and money that is wasted. So when I go out to get tulips, I get tulips. And maybe one extra bunch of flowers to give away. But I stick to my plan.

The big picture

That is where my big picture in development comes in. Every year I determine in what area I want to develop myself. Two examples to show you how I do it. In 2018 I wanted to learn more about comedy, about being funny on stage or when delivering my Masterclass. To learn what my trade was, when it came to this art. I went to a standup comedy weekend in Brighton with Jill Edwards, had a day course with Jeremy Nichols and watched tons of comedians. On stage as well as on Netflix. A big learning experience that resulted in finding out that I am more of an improv comedian, than a standup comedian. But it was such a good learning ride.

Personal and business development

2019 was all about learning more on CX. Really deep diving into my own profession and learning from the best. The reason I went to Disney and Zappos. And why I hosted the International CX awards and why I was a judge. Because we were also writing our book about CX, I needed to focus on my profession. An extra touch was that both Disney and Zappos focus on change from a cultural lens. Very handy with regard to our Employee Experience Game and the Masterclass CX Culture I am developing. This investment in me was not only an inspirational one, but also a business smart decision!

The plan for 2020

This year will be all about growing my facilitation and audience interaction skills. I want to find my own interaction games (I already have some fun ones, but I think I can be better). Not only in a small setting like our CX Masterclass with 16 participants, but also with audiences of thousands. I like people in my audience to be really involved. So, I have work to do. I will visit the Global Speaker Summit in Namibia in February to learn from the world’s greatest speakers and I will join the annual PSA Australia event in Adelaide to get some Down Under magic. In April I have booked myself a seat in a two-day Masterclass to be a better Master of Ceremony (dagvoorzitter for the Dutchies). I don’t fancy becoming an all-round MC, but at customer events, I love the role. Because I can add some Nienke Bloem and CX magic to the day.

Your theme for this year

So, what to learn from all this? The big picture. My question to you is, what is your theme for the year? Do you like my way of bringing focus to personal development? Or do you have other ways, that I can learn from? Please share, because there are far more ways when it comes to development, and there is no good or bad. Oh well, actually there is a bad one. That is doing nothing. Staying still. Not investing in yourself. So, when you are at the flower market, I hope you’ll be seduced to buy some flowers. I will get myself some tulips.


** Nienke Bloem is expert in Customer Experience (CCXP), both as Trusted Advisor, Keynote Speaker and co-founder of The Customer Experience Game and The Employee Experience Game. Do you want to read her blogs or learn more about her? Visit her website or subscribe to her monthly CX Greetz. **


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