OnBrand ’19: Uncover the future of branding

OnBrand positions itself as the leading branding conference for marketing and creative professionals in Europe. As a group of digital creatives based in Amsterdam, we definitely couldn’t miss out on meeting like-minded professionals who also want to learn about the latest in branding.

Every company wants to be unique. They want to stand out, make a change, be the lead competitor in their market and give their clients a brand that they can identify with. That’s why each year a lot of companies and individuals attend OnBrand. This way they can stay up to date with all the relevant topics and trends revolved around branding and be inspired by other creatives who are also passionate about their work.

After a long day filled with inspiring talks, delicious food and lots of socialization, we got to think about our biggest takeaways from the event. Some of them were mind opening and helped us put our branding into perspective. We hope they can do the same for you.

1

“Volatility breeds short-term reaction and not long-term brand building.”

Mike Flynn, Strategy Director Design Bridge

With this quote, Design Bridge wanted to make clear that we’re living in the fast pace age. Our ecosystems are rising and categories are blurring. Knowledge is at the edge of our fingertips, everything we want to know is just one simple search away. Because of this, markets are becoming more competitive, making it harder for companies to create sustainable success in this environment. The reason for this is that we’re all so busy being focused on trends (that oftentimes only give us a few clicks and nothing more) that we lose sight of what is important, our brand. It’s a hard thing to do, especially when you want a quick return on your investment, but we have to focus on creating valuable and distinctive content that will still having meaning and relevance for our company and consumers for years to come. In our team, we make sure that all the content we create reflects our brand’s story and purpose; this way we know that we’re not just following trends (that may not even suit our brand) but creating valuable content.

At the end of the day, interaction trumps. Consumers want an experience, not just a logo. So, create an idea that has higher meaning and never stop evolving your brand. This is what’s going to build your brand.

2

“We need to identify types of personalities and not personas.”

Kristopher Smith, Managing Director AnalogFolk

We’ve heard it all before. When selling a service or product it is recommended to make a persona out of the data you have acquired about your (potential) consumers. We admit it, we’re also guilty of doing this. The truth is that a persona has no actual understanding of an individual’s behavioral needs and problems. These are the needs and problems that can be solved with our products and/or services. These are the customer frictions that we can turn into opportunities for magic. That’s why we must find who needs us and not just who we are supposed to serve. What AnalogFolk means with this is that we need to analyze data and behavior to see who we actually need to focus on and what they want from us. We have to connect the dots between data signals and our business problem, and we have to understand our audience’s motivations and behaviors. We must use mindsets to position our creatives for success and we need to create ideas that serve our audience. In short, we have to connect, humanize and create. Personally, we couldn’t agree more. This talk opened up our perspective on traditional marketing, teaching us that we need to use data to challenge the status quo.

3

"You must confront the truth in order to affect the change."

Amanda Fève, Chief Strategy Officer Anomaly

While discussing lies brands (still) tell us alongside an all-female panel, Amanda Fève said that we must confront the truth in order to affect the change. These women intensely talked about how brands nowadays often still use a lot of stereotyping in advertisements because it’s what they have always done, and they are not fond of change. Change is way too much effort. Stereotypes are easy, people instantly get them, especially if it’s something they have seen multiple times before. But the world isn’t binary. We must always offer proper representation for everyone; this is especially important in the world we’re living in now. Working with a multicultural team with different backgrounds, Ngrane completely understands that each person is unique and doesn’t want to be categorized into a box. It’s important for each person to feel like they are being heard and properly represented. Oftentimes, in both advertisements and on the work floor, this still isn’t the case. It isn’t because we as companies are not aware of these stereotypical behaviors in our daily life, it’s because even when we are confronted with them, we don’t do anything. We must confront the truth, accept it and take actions to change things where change is overdue. Brands must stop being conventional and stop focusing on what used to be. Our world is continuously changing, and our brands need to be part of the change if we want to stay relevant. We must stop looking back, left and right and focus on going forward. We do want to point out that not all stereotypes are necessarily negative, the negativity often lies in how they are implemented. When using a certain stereotype in advertising we must always ask ourselves first if this is coming at somebody’s expense or perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

4

"To be part of culture, you need to be in conversation."

Tim van der Wiel, Founder and Creative Director GoSpooky

The life of a marketer has become a lot harder in the last few years. This is because there is an excessive amount of ways to advertise something nowadays. Marketers always strive to get as much exposure and actions from one advertisement as possible. The problem here is that sometimes we have little to no progress on the channels we’re already using. That’s why it’s important for companies to continuously analyze the market so that they can be the first to find the best upcoming place to get exposure and eventually their return on investment. Possibilities here are to try out different channels, switching up your content or simply just focusing on a different target group. As companies we must try to walk other avenues, we got to try something different and new. Who knows? This new path might just give us the publicity we need. All publicity is good publicity, it is exposure, a way for people to get to know us and talk about our brand. Any bit of exposure can have an impact on how people know and perceive your brand. Just like Tim van der Wiel stated: it starts with a conversation and before you know it, it becomes a brand that people identify with, it becomes part of their culture.

5

 “We need to invest in cultural and emotional innovation like we invest in product and brand innovation.”

Stephen Gates, Head Design Evangelist InVision

Let’s start by saying that no team in the world is perfect. The same goes for companies. In fact, according to Stephen Gates, every company in the world is dysfunctional. Whoever you think is doing it right, whoever you want to work for that seems like they got it figured out, they don’t. The thing is either they hide it better than you do or they’re more transparent about their problems. Every company has problems. It’s how they deal with it, how transparent they are with it, that makes the difference. This means that even though no team is perfect, we still have to strive to get the best teamwork. This is because the experience you’re putting out reflects the way your internal teams are working together. Your work is your truth. Sometimes this is hard because every creative, every leader, feels like they’re doing/getting it wrong. The reality is that whenever you’re a creative you have things like your education, your childhood, your career and insecurities that make you different and unique. Society teaches us that we are not good enough when we are not like everybody else. This is ridiculous because the people who we admire and think are the best, they took that insecurity and made that difference their unique strength. As individuals in a team, we must bring these unique strengths together to create sustainable work that is up to standards and that will have value for years to come.


What I learnt from remote working abroad for a week

Remote working abroad… waking up with the beach stretched out in front of you, meeting and mingling with other creatives and blending work with a love for travel. Yep, that’s pretty much the crowning glory of freelance life. Because, what is more flexible thanto pack up your bags and say “Later peeps, I’m working in Bali for a month.

After travelling around Sri Lanka, I spent one week of remote working to test the tropical waters for myself. Here’s my experience and a few tips on how to make it the best experience for yourself.

What is remote working?

First things first, what is remote work? Remote working basically means a “new” type of work that goes beyond the traditional walls of office space. It means working from anywhere and still keeping that hustle going. This way of working is not necessarily reserved for only freelancers or entrepreneurs. Nowadays, employees often get a day to work at home or elsewhere. It can be a day or a month or it can be your entire year but it can also be a workcation, aka. where holiday meets work. 

Vacation Mode vs. Work Mode

It sounds pretty dreamy, working from a topical place or a new city but don’t forget that it’s also a challenge. Staying disciplined and actually getting work done won’t just magically happen without a lot of effort and self-discipline. We’re wired in a way that being in a tropical setting or even just a brand new city means one thing and one thing only: Vacaaaay. So when all of a sudden you realise “wait a sec I was supposed to be doing work,” it just goes against every fibre of your body to start working.

Look, I love the beach. So working behind my laptop with an ocean view feels like the holy grail of office goals. But turns out, the waves calling my name wasn’t great for concentration. Luckily as a freelancer, I go through all the ups and downs of self-discipline. It’s something I know how to overcome. If didn’t have this experience, I probably would have been floating in the sea all day. By challenging yourself abroad you’re also practising for back home. This will be useful to create more discipline in your day-to-day work schedule.

I’d say to give yourself some time to get into the rhythm – don’t go straight into an intense work mode immediately – give it time, get used to the place. After just two days of working I figured out I don’t function at all with the heat around noon, so I worked in the early morning hours, went to yoga, chilled at the beach and worked after lunch time when it cooled down. If you have a short time like me, it’s a little trickier to find out what works best for you, but the important thing is to keep trying different things or different spots to work at even in a co-working space. After 3 days I knew exactly what time I was most productive, where my favourite spot to work was at what time of the day and when.

Digital Nomad Office Goals

An ideal workspace or homespun office really depends on the person. You have the freedom to design your own remote working holiday. Whatever it is you need to stay motivated and inspired, it’s up to you to make that happen. The internet is overflowing with information so it’s easy to do lots of research before you leave. 

If you’re up for a remote working abroad, you don’t have to fly halfway across the world. For the Europeans reading this, there are places like Porto or Barcelona with great co-working/living places to check out. Or if you want to travel a bit further and prefer the hustle of a big city rather than relaxed beach vibes, head out to New York or Medellin. The point is to get out of your comfort zone, discover a new place, find new inspiration and just enjoy the freedom you have to work from anywhere you want. If you can escape the 9 to 5 office routine, why not?

When you’ve chosen the country or countries you’d like to go to, the next choice to make is where you’d like to work and live from. The options for a digital nomad abroad are endless. You can find co-working spaces that are also co-living spaces like Verse or Hubud. At these places, your holiday becomes a home, which becomes an office – and that is an experience in itself. You can also choose to book yourself into an Airbnb, hotel or guest house near a good co-working space. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of a co-working space and take a step back from the hustle somewhere else. 

Co-working spaces take away all the hassle of a remote working trip. Here you’re guaranteed good wifi,  desks or comfy chairs to work from, other digital nomads and good coffee. But these millennial hubs aren’t your only option. A charming Airbnb or hotel room with good wifi, a desk and anything else you’ll need to get work done will also do. Having a place catered to your needs as a remote worker is great and meeting new like-minded people even better. But a little peace and quiet at your own home-away-from-home can do wonders for your work as well.

Remember, it's still a holiday (sort of)

The point is not to drench yourself in guilt every time you relax a little. Don’t forget the vacation part of workcation. Free time is not only beneficial for your work progress, but it’s also necessary. Both your wellbeing and work will be better off. I did heaps of reading, journaling, yoga and just lying on the beach doing absolutely nothing. I’d suggest to really find something else you can do when you’re there. You could learn how to surf, go to cooking classes or just schedule in some time to explore the city and local food.

Moments like having dinner at a local place or just relaxing, often make room for great ideas. As a copywriter, sentences or phrases for clients will come up when the pressure dials down. Just make sure you have notebook handy and go out and chill. We don’t get enough chances to really be by ourselves and relax back home. So grab the chance when you can. 

If you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur or if your employer gives you the opportunity to work elsewhere, I don’t see any reason why not to try out some remote working. Have a little googling around, ask your community and figure out what you need to get lots of work done abroad. Remember, you decide the terms of your remote working trip. That’s the best part.

I’ve added a few of the best co-working and co-living spaces for you to check out yourself:

https://nomad.life/

https://www.swissescape.co/

https://restation.co/

https://hubud.org/

You can also check out https://nomadlist.com/. Pieter Levels, an Amsterdam Entrepreneur, has set up a list of the best cities to live and work remotely in. It scores cities on things like internet, safety and fun.

For freelancing pros and cons check out Toptal’s ultimate freelancing guide
Read more: Ultimate Freelancing Guide


Ngrane, Radicand Economics & e-Conomics partner to offer full-service digital platform solutions

Ngrane is partnering up! We’re happy to announce a team of creators and thinkers who will provide you with full-service digital platform solutions.

We’re always looking for new opportunities to grow as a business and community. So when we got together with Paul de Bijl (Radicand Economics) and Nicolai van Gorp (e-Conomics) to discuss a new partnership, we were more than just a little excited.

Meet our new partners

Paul de Bijl and Nicolai van Gorp are seasoned consultants with an expertise in the economics of competition and strategy. They have advised governments and businesses on how to respond to the changing competitive landscape resulting from digitalisation. They also provide executive training at Nyenrode Business University on digital business models and strategy. For a number of clients, Paul and Nicolai organised Digital Business Model workshops. These are one-day workshops to guide businesses in translating a first idea for a digital platform to a concrete and strategically sound business and revenue model. Recent clients include Heijmans, PharmAccess and Nyenrode Business University.

The option to go full-service

Our skills in the realisation of digital platforms now meet those of Paul and Nicolai in designing business models and strategies to fully utilize network effects and other unique features of digital platforms that determine success. This way, we are able to offer an integrated, full-service approach to platform design and realisation. We support the customer’s digital transformation by converting ideas into finding actionable insights to creating a business model and accompanying prototypes, digital products and solutions.

Platforms, revolutionizing industries

Today, every industry is or will be shaken up by digital platforms.

The core function of a platform is to facilitate interactions among and between groups of users by means of an infrastructure and a set of rules. This principle can be applied in every industry to address a wide variety of market frictions. Once the number of users has passed a critical mass, network effects will drive the platform’s growth exponentially and completely change existing bargaining positions along the value chain. Many companies already have become dependent on platforms as a way to reach their customers, other companies have become entirely obsolete as platforms facilitate their suppliers to bypass them and interact directly with end-users. Labour markets are overturned, as well as finance, logistics, real estate, tourism, et cetera, and more will follow.

It is not helpful to ask whether your company could be replaced by a platform or if it becomes too dependent on it. Think in terms of possibilities. Think especially about frictions in the market in which you are active that can be reduced. Can you come up with a platform to address a friction? Can this save costs for you? Can this save costs for others? If so, be the first to set up this platform so that you not only realise those cost savings for yourself but also benefit from the cost savings by others. A nice extra is that if your current business becomes obsolete in the future, it is probably because of your own platform and not that of another.

How will it work

Our alliance provides our customers with the possibility to go from idea to a business model, to a working prototype in a 1-2 week design sprint. After this, ideas can be tested to create a validated digital platform. The partnership will offer customers the ability to innovate fast and answer critical business questions early that result in saving time and costs and reducing risk.

In addition to the Ngrane partnering and branding, Radicand Economics and e-Conomics will remain active in economic consulting under their own brand names.


We read 'Crucial Conversations' and this is what we learned

We read 'Crucial Conversations' and this is what we learned

Many defining moments in life are shaped by the way we engage in important conversations. Whether it’s personal or work-related, when it comes down to a tough conversation that needs to be had – the kind where emotions run high and opinions greatly vary – listening and speaking up at the right time can be crucial. And much like art, having a proper and meaningful dialogue takes practice.

As a team, we recently read Crucial Conversations – a book that offers insights and tools needed for talking when the stakes are high. It sure stirred up some interesting discussions within the team. Here are five takeaways we want to share.

Safety First

When stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong, it’s important that everyone involved feels safe. If people feel safe, they will open up and talk freely. If they don’t, you know you’re in a crucial situation and will need to change your approach to get out of it. That means learning to look within, since you’re the only one you can control in a dialogue, but also looking for signs of fear with the other. If people start to fight or flight, by forcing their views, staying silent or by changing the topic, you know you need to bring the conversation back to safety.

Change your story

People create their own stories behind an event or experience and because they don’t talk about it, they tend to react based on (their story or) their version of things. It’s always easier to turn others into villains when they say or do something you don’t like. Most of the time it’s not their intent to make you feel bad. When you react and treat your conversational partner like they have done bad by you, you’re most likely to get even further away from your initial goal. Change the story you tell yourself and take charge of your emotions, so your feelings won’t drive your actions during a conversation.

Facts, facts, facts

What really struck with us and helped us a lot is quite simple but often overlooked: to always mention the facts. Facts are the most persuasive argument but often it’s clouded by emotions. Take the time to straighten out the facts and keep the dialogue on track. That way a calm and collected crucial conversation is ensured.

Sarcasm much?

Another interesting insight was use of sarcasm, something we are definitely not unfamiliar with. Though often meant as wit, sarcasm is basically criticism disguised as humor. It made a lot of sense to us once we understood how sarcasm is a type of masking, which is when we understate or selectively show our true opinions. Being more aware of this now we often see how people are not communicating effectively, because they are not in dialogue. So, tone down the sarcasm and focus on creating an environment where everyone feels safe to speak. Creating awareness around the use and effects of sarcasm, among other things, was a great first step for us to take.

Learn to look and stay curious

When talking about the book, its contents and the several examples given, we realized how much crucial conversations are the solid foundation of our lives, work and relationships and even affect our health and how we feel. We encounter crucial interactions every day so effective communication during those moments cannot be overlooked. There’s not one big lesson to take from this book, since your personal style of communication has a lot to do with what you have to work on to communicate efficiently. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that learning to look at what happens around you and staying curious towards others helps to establish a safe environment for people to talk. Not an easy skill to master, but one that can make a big difference in so many areas in work and life if you ask us.


What is Machine Learning? Going beyond the buzzwords.

What is Machine Learning? Going beyond the buzzwords.

Machine Learning is the new Linear regression. But what is machine learning and how can it help fuel success in your business? We talk to Jacqueline to find out a little more about Machine Learning.

Hey Jacqueline, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

After finishing my masters in Econometrics, I started working as a consultant at PWC. After a while, I missed the university and decided to do a PhD in a slightly different field to broaden my horizon. My focus was on evolutionary algorithms, an optimization technique inspired by natural evolution. I happened to apply it to robotics but this technique is more general than that. In my free time, I work out (tennis and fitness) and I love to do all different kind of courses such as cooking, wine, photography, guitar, diving, etc.

So, let’s get straight to it, what is machine learning?

Machine learning techniques all have the same goal: to be able to explain patterns in data and predict them if necessary. Recommender systems such as booking.com and bol.com, for example, try to derive from data which hotel or product they can best recommend in order to increase the chances of loyal customers and further purchases. Chatbots create relevant answers and suggestions by categorizing the text that is provided by the subject.

What about Artificial intelligence, how is this different from machine learning?

Chabot’s try to categorize the text that is provided by different subjects so that they can provide a relevant answer. Artificial intelligence is when these machine learning systems can make useful recommendations, or even have what feels like a genuine conversation.

Should every business be using machine learning techniques?

Well, that depends on the end goal of the business. The fact that an organisation has data does not necessarily mean that machine learning techniques will contribute something. Often, visualising the data will help to improve business operations. Simply because data provides us with insights into the current state of affairs. A dashboard with visualisations or a simple data analysis is the only thing that is needed for this. So, this may not be machine learning but it can often be a huge boost and helping hand for business operations.

So, what is then the role of a data scientist?

It starts with collecting the available data and carefully checking and visualizing it. In interactive sessions with the client, questions will arise and potentially other sources for data that can be taken to the next steps. This is, therefore, data visualisation and the “scientist” in data scientist is not really present. That is why often, the role is also called Data Analyst.

When a business wants to explain certain measurement data (when is a marketing campaign successful?) and as the next step wants to predict (How many new customers will this campaign lead to?) We can make use of machine learning techniques (then the role will revolve more around data science).

How do existing machine learning techniques differ?

The only way to answer this question is if we dive a little deeper into how machine learning works. If you already have a good understanding of neural networks, then you’ll know already that linear regression is the same as a neural network without hidden layers (and no activation function). We can conclude that regression is a machine learning technique. But new techniques within machine learning such as deep learning and random forest work a little different than the more traditional models.

The more traditional regression models assume statistical qualities of the underlying data. This allows certain statements to be made about the final significance of the coefficients and therefore the correctness of the model. The model is ultimately easy to understand, but a lot of work (not to mention time) is required to meet these characteristics.

New techniques such as random forest do place importance on the different variables but more on the power of prediction the final tool could hold. For this reason, a lot of training will take place on a training set and tests will be done with a test set of data that the model has not seen already. Contrary to a more understandable model with regression, random forest creates a more complicated model that isn’t easily understandable. The benefit of this is that these techniques can be implemented very quickly through all the available open source libraries.

Working with a data scientist

If this interview has sparked your interest in what machine learning can do for your business, we’d advise you to work with a freelance data scientist who can do a quick scan. The data scientist can apply a few techniques to existing data so in the end that it’s clear what value the data department can add to your organisation.


Ngrane 2018 Highlights

Ngrane 2018 Highlights

Oh, what a year

From Fusion Friday’s to #MotivationMonday’s back at it with exciting projects and positive attitudes. From a simmering Summer BBQ to the End of the year party. From opening our doors to new people to the soft launch of our dream project. It’s safe to say 2018 was a good year. Throwback with us to one of our best years yet.


The BBQ of all BBQ’s

Ah, the summer, wasn’t it sweet? Looking back into 2018 has gotten us craving those laidback summer vibes and our Summer BBQ was the perfect way to celebrate our favourite season. The weather was good (30 degrees, hello, come back!), the water guns were loaded, the BBQ was on till the sun went down and we… well, we had an incredibly memorable day with our friends, family, partners and work relations.

Letting the good times roll

At Ngrane, we mean business, but we’re not afraid of a little fun. Ok fine, a whole lot of fun. One of our favourite highlights of 2018 would be all the great experiences we had bonding as a team and, more importantly, a community. We danced the night away and sipped on mojitos at our Latin Party and had a blast at our many Fusion Fridays (besides our normal Friday’s of course). We became our most zen selves at yoga sessions with Emily and learnt more about Crucial Conversations at our weekly book club. Besides that, we went to great events like The Next Web and joined a class at The School Of Life. We could go on forever, but all in all our year was overflowing with good times.

Growing the community. New faces, new friends

Last year we really had the pleasure of seeing our community grow, with new faces and more importantly, new friends. Both with people who have joined us to strengthen the core crew and joined us on a project basis, we appreciate each and every one of you!

By new faces, we also would like to share the new partnerships we made with great companies that were 100% aligned with our vision.

YFK  /  DASHMOTE  /  DevMob  /  Youwe  /  PROFOUND Projects / Yve Ent. / Liesl / X+Y

Sharing knowledge and learning from our interns

2018 was the year of many things, but you could say it was the year of interns. Not just one, not two but five interns this year working on bringing our platform ForteFor to life. We had Rutger who researched UX and design, crafting user stories and personas, looking into what exactly it is freelancers are looking for and crave in their work and life. Mark focused on gamification and how to make sure that the freelancers on our platform keep their profile up to date in a fun way. Which is important to keep the platform running by creating matches between companies and freelancers. The three wise men, aka Hugo, Jeffrey and Youseff, were busy building the architecture of the platform. They learnt on the job about API’s to connect the platform with other platforms as well as integrating different platforms.

Launching Fortefor

At Ngrane we’ve been thinking more and more about redefining the work experience and following your heart as a freelancer. To bring those thoughts and ideas to life we thought of ForteFor, an online platform that fosters a community of freelancers and helps them to pave their own way. We finished the MVP of the platofrm so that the basics are done, people can create profiles and search for projects. Our internal launch was a success in which we received plenty of feedback to keep working on the platform. 2019 is all about the year of perfecting this platform and to keep working on how can exude our philosophy in each and every aspect of what we do. Learn more about ForteFor on our website: and of course, share your feedback, we love hearing from our community.

www.fortefor.com

Doing what we love

Doing what you love is one of our highest priorities, and last year we were lucky to have many partnerships and projects with amazing brands that gave us the room to foster our skills, work as a team as well as thrive alone. From creating social media strategies and content management for the FutureBrands part of PepsiCo to crafting a one-stop travel platform for DolfijnGO. We’re also happy to have worked as a full-service team doing everything from photography to copywriting and website development for the rebranding of First Consulting. These projects are just a few examples of the amazing work we have done and deep-rooted relationships we have created. Have a look at our case study’s for more information on the projects we have done.

Looking ahead

2018 you’ve been great, but we’re ready to make 2019 even better. Bring on the good times, the smiling faces, the great clients and most importantly; the awesome projects that will get us excited to get out of bed in the morning. Let’s do this.


Three inspiring takeaways from The Next Web

Photo credit: Dan Taylor

Every year, tech-enthusiasts flock to Amsterdam for one of the most popular conferences in the industry: The Next Web. We of course, couldn’t miss this either and quickly got our tickets to join in on the fun. It was three days jam-packed with inspiring talks, heaps of mingling fun and we even got to meet our heroes. Jongky, David and Jeffrey share what inspired them from their favourite talk.

Besides going for our yearly inspirational fix, we had a story to tell ourselves as well. We’ve created ForteFor, a platform for freelancers to find projects they’ll love. Geared up in logo tees, we connected with other freelancers at the conference and pitched our idea to pretty much anyone we could find.

Want to know more about Fortefor? Check out the website.

Jason Silva – Futurist & Filmmaker

(yes, also that guy from Brain Games)

“Forget robots, in the future, we could become technology”

Technology is rapidly changing, opening possibilities of the future. Humans are linear thinkers while technology is exponential, to stretch our imagination of the future we need to align our mindset to technology. We need to become exponential thinkers and technology will help us transcend our biological nature. We are becoming programmable, we are code (DNA) and have authorship over our owns species. As Jason puts it, “the future of us is ours to dream.”

Rich Pierson – Co-founder & CEO Headspace

“Take care of your Mind”

As a day to day struggle, the mind is mostly at the top of our list. Headspace’s goal is to prevent this, with meditation made simple. Increasing (com)passion while decreasing aggression with a free mindfulness app and a few minutes of your day. As long as you’re present in the moment, meditation is a skill to become mindful and the same goes for activities such as running. The presentation was full of insights and tips but we particularly like this one: don’t get rid of the things that you don’t like, get closer and form a different relationship to it.

Susan Lindner – Founder & CEO, Emerging Media

“Inspire employees with a higher purpose”

In our modern world, disengagement is often hard to avoid. Leaders can retain top talents by connecting them to a higher purpose that goes beyond the 9-5 framework. Engaging them with an authentic story that they can get behind and become ambassadors of. Patagonia is a fantastic example, giving employees the opportunity to support environmental work. Cisco gave employees a voice by letting them takeover of the brand’s own snapchat account, within 6 months there was a 400% increase in snapchat followers.


Our favourite WeWork spots

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

We work, we hustle and we make great things happen – but sometimes we simply lose a little bit of our concentration. Thoughts drift off into dinner options (order thai or make your go-to pasta?), we’re talking more to our neighbours than typing that important email or we can’t stop checking the latest Instagram stories. When this happens, there’s only one thing left to do. Switch things up.
Luckily, we’re in the stylish haven of WeWork, which lets us bring new life into our workflow, without even leaving the building. Here are a few of our favourite spots.

Stephen - Fifth Floor Cocoon Chairs

My all-time favourite spot is in the kitchen area on the 5th, by the window in one of the big green chairs. It’s nice and quiet most of the time, the chairs are extremely comfortable and they feel like a cocoon which is perfect for creating a little “private” area. The chair can also turn so you can glide out of the “private” zone to the kitchen area and catch up with colleagues!

Emily - The Wellness Room

“I wanted a dedicated room for meditation for a long time here at WeWork.”

The community manager Janine and I started talking about it about a year ago and I helped out with brainstorming on the concept for the room a bit. To actually see the end result now is just great. Here hard-working professionals get a chance to unwind and recalibrate. Meditation and Yoga help you clear your head and remember where you left your inner peace. The more you remember where you parked that inner peace, which is a direct result of meditating, the more resilient and energetic you become. Guess who’s better equipped to take on their stressful projects now?

One day being able to close your eyes and reconnect with your inner peace will be as accepted as deserving to have a healthy lunch is nowadays. Whenever you are ready, come give it a try!

Wing - First Floor High Desks

I love working on the first floor, by the large windows overlooking the hallway entrance. It checks all the right boxes to get me into concentration, but most importantly the high desks let me work standing – which key to switching things up during the day. It’s usually very quiet and calm over there. And as a bonus; it’s also one of the only places in the building that doesn’t have music playing.

Nikos - Ground Floor Secret Staircase

My favourite spot in WeWork would have to be the staircase area on ground floor. I love this spot as it gives me the opportunity to work standing up to get into a different mode than you’re sitting. It also has an amazing view of the canals and lovely typical Amsterdam buildings, for a nice dose of inspiration!


The freelancers guide to finding your niche

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

It’s no secret that the freelance scene is getting crowded, and we get why. A lifestyle of working from home, being your own boss and just doing what you love sounds like a dream. Last week we talked to our Graphic Designer Jeffrey Goodett about how he managed to stand out from the crowd, and as promised we’re sharing a few tips on how you can find your own niche as a freelancer.

So, what exactly do we mean with niche? You’ve got writers and you’ve got medical writers, developers and developers who also have a unique eye for design, UX designers who are networking pros and graphic designers who are also kick-ass animators. Your niche as a freelancer is anything that makes you stand out. Your niche can be rooted in a new skill, specialization or knowledge of a specific field, but it can also be found in certain personality traits.

Freelancing requires personal branding (more on that later) and in order to do that you have to figure out, just as you would for a new startup business, what makes you stand out. You want people to know concretely what they can get out of you. The more you specify your skills, the more professional and knowledgeable you will appear to clients. This is not to say you can’t get by being able to do multiple things, but it can help you get ahead of the game.

The Tips & tricks to finding your Niche:

1. Get a sense of the field

There’s no way to know how you stand out if you don’t know what you’re standing out from. LinkedIn is a godsend when it comes to seeing what other freelancers in your field are doing. Have a look at their portfolio and their bio, this can say a lot about the kinds of ways you can stand out and might inspire you as well to find your own unique superpower. Getting a sense of the field also means learning about trends and what companies are looking for. Find freelance requests or job openings on different platforms, Facebook groups and LinkedIn to create a better understanding of what is sought-after.

2. Brainstorm your troubles away

Sometimes pen and paper can go a long way. Without overthinking, brainstorm about what makes you unique. Look for work specific traits but also what defines your personality. Are you super outgoing, analytical or dreamy – think about how that can help to make you unique. Then explore your interests, what inspires you and what gets you out of bed in the morning. Say you love to travel or are obsessed with obscure art-house movies, how can that help you make your mark?

3. Follow the motto: no guts no glory

Getting out of your comfort zone can lead to exciting new opportunities. Take yourself to new places, try new things and meet new people. Don’t sit around hoping that things will fall into place, because even if that might happen sometimes – there’s a good chance it won’t.

Don’t be afraid to fully go for something you’ve always wanted to do like starting a blog, making a short movie or organizing an event. You don’t have to share this with everyone and it doesn’t have to have thousands of people checking it out, as long as you’ve explored new territories. It might get picked up, it’s always good for your portfolio and fantastic to develop your unique self: so there is literally no reason not to go for it!

4. Soak up all the knowledge you can find

Get yourself a few books, listen to podcasts, watch tutorials and read articles that have to do with whatever field you’re in. In the age of internet, the amount of information is simply endless, so bask in the glory of all that is available to you. Getting to know more about your craft, the stories of others and the tips they have for you can inspire you to find your own niche.


As Good as it gets: Jeffrey Goodett on finding his niche

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

As a freelancer, you’ll quickly realize that you’re not alone. Whether you’re coding, writing or designing awesome things, there will be at least ten others that can offer something similar – and that’s just counting that hipster café you sometimes use as a workspace. Besides hustling, and working on client relationships, standing out will be key to your success.

Our go-to guy for all things graphic design, Jeffrey Goodett knows all about standing out. Having earned the motto ‘In Good We Trust’ he has a repertoire of visual freshness, an eye for detail and extensive branding expertise. But most importantly: he has found and taught himself his own special graphic superpower. We talk to Jeff to find out more about how he found his niche and how it strengthened his position as a freelancer.

From visual whizz-kid to full-time freelancer

Jeffrey’s journey into graphic design started when he was in his late teens. Before we were liking things on Facebook or getting lost on Instagram, there was a platform in Holland called Partypeeps2000. Jeff tells us, “It was all about who had the coolest pictures, so people started to experiment with visual effects on photos. I started trying things out, adding things like dragons, lightning bolts and lions – and before I knew it, I was getting request after request.” This got picked up by a few people, and soon he got invited by the local community center to follow a workshop at the graphic design agency Machine. He says, “I truly found my passion here and 14 years later you can still see how much they have influenced my work and style.” A month later, charged with newfound knowledge, he started his course at the graphic design school.

What followed were many years of taking on exciting projects but graphic design became his side-gig rather than the real deal. Two years ago, he met David and Stephen from Ngrane and started working for them. “They were just the push I needed and offered me a place to work in WeWork – I quit my day job when more and more projects started rolling in,” he says.

Getting ahead of the game

When asking him about the level of competition he said, “Sure there’s competition, but in the past, this felt much stronger for me. Now that I’m more seasoned I feel like I’ve gotten ahead of the game.” Turns out that in this level of the game, everyone is doing their own thing, something Jeff truly admires. “For me, it’s less about competition and more about companionship and keeping the craft alive.” He gives the example of a friend Erjee, who also did an internship at Machine and works in a more analogue way, using tangible materials like objects and food to write with, he says “That really keeps me going, seeing others owning their own signature moves.”

Finding your edge

Part of getting to that top level of most-wanted freelancers, is finding and working on your niche. As Jeffrey explains, this isn’t always easy, “I simply enjoyed making beautiful things but more and more companies started to expect a second layer to my skills. For other designers that layer was mostly to do with the technical side of things, like designing a website but also being able to build it. That technical side just wasn’t for me and that made me feel lost, like I couldn’t keep up.” As some sort of fate, Jeff stumbled upon something brand new, something that really turned things around for him. He tells us, “I was working on a video together with a friend/partner in crime and we decided that adding graphics to it would really finish it off. Since I was the graphic designer and he the filmmaker I was basically told to figure it out even though I didn’t have the slightest clue how. Looking back it’s funny how these things just happen.” That was the start for Jeff into what he calls a “snowball effect” to finding his new skill.

When asked about how he taught himself this new skill he says, “I started off with a sincere interest which is key to get the ball rolling. That motivated me to spend my free time looking up tutorials, reading up on the topic and just practicing – instead of spending all night on Netflix.” He explains that in the digital age of information, the amount of information is almost endless. In addition, Jeff uses the resources he has around him, friends and peers that can explain things to him.

Do what you love, do it well

As a freelancer selling your own brand becomes just as much part of the job as the actual work you deliver. Therefore, it is key that you figure out what it is that makes you unique. “People should know exactly what they can get out of you, whether it is a particular style, knowledge of a specific field or a special skill you’ve got up your sleeves,” says Jeffrey. Besides that, he says it’s important to find something that’s relevant and in-demand, in his case video is a booming media for brands online.

Finding your own unique edge can feel a little daunting. But don’t feel discouraged, there are plenty of ways to stand out – whether you’re a social butterfly, skilled with something unique or have in-depth knowledge of a particular field. Stay updated for our post next week on how to find that edge.

As a final tip for now; remember that things take time, don’t expect to stumble upon a newfound skill and learn it in a day. It takes practice, experience and guts to take things a step further. But most importantly as Jeff puts it, “find something you love, something you’re passionate about because that’s what will truly keep you going.”