WELCOME TO THE NETHERLANDS; YOU’RE GONNA KINDA LOVE IT HERE!
Dear British, Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh Companies, Employees, Managers and Teams,
Brexit, huh? Yikes. It’s on, then it’s off, then it’s on, then it’s off. Is this a major decision involving the economic fate of a kingdom, a continent, and perhaps the world? Or is it my dog deciding whether or not it wants to go out when it’s raining?
On behalf of the Netherlands, I want to welcome those of you fleeing uncertainty to the stability of our great, tiny, nation. As of last month, like 250 UK companies were talking about coming here. But hey, we’ll take more. Some Dutch people say “vol is vol,” (“full is full”), but I like to remind them that just 15 minutes outside of Amsterdam are grassy cow lands. That ain’t full. That’s more like empty. Even the cows are thinking, “I have moooooooore space than I need. Sony: feel free to mooooooove your headquarters here.”
Before you arrive, I wanted to give you a heads up about a few things you should know about the Dutch. They’re more than just the tall, blond, ice-skaters you see at the Olympics and in Heineken commercials. So get ready for:
- Brutal honesty. They love telling it like it is. Sometimes, even when a Dutch person is trying to give you a compliment, it sounds like an insult. If a Dutch person wants to tell you you look great after losing weight, it will probably sound like, “You used to be so fat!”
- Meetings. You’re the boss and you like an “I say it / they do it” relationship? Not here. Dutch folks like consensus. Everyone gets their say and needs to agree. So boy, do they meet a lot. They will have a meeting to plan a meeting where they will set goals for the next meeting where they will discuss a series of meetings. On the upside, there’s always coffee, and usually a cookie.
- “Half past.” When you guys say “Half 12,” you mean 12:30. A Dutch person means 11:30. Weird, right? And they hate it when you’re late. Especially an hour late.
- Worst lunch in the world. I honestly don’t get it. These people have been world travelers for centuries. They’ve seen how other countries do lunch. But somehow they’re like, “Nee, nee. Just give me a Dutch lunch: two pieces of bread, one thin slice of cheese, and a glass of buttermilk. Lekker!” Yeah. Grown men and women drink milk at lunch. And it’s buttermilk.
And that’s just the tip of the below-sea-level, “that-is-not-possible,” iceberg. Wait until a motorist you cut off shouts at you to “get cancer.” Aw, you’ll always remember the first time.
The good news is, these people are also awesome. They work hard but keep work and life in balance. They bike everywhere so they’re healthy, fit and they haven’t handed the whole place over to cars. They’re curious about the world, tolerant of different cultures, and speak more languages than you’ve heard of. (And no, knowing 75 different London dialects doesn’t count). The whole place is a hub of innovation and tech and startups. Amsterdam is fantastic. Less than a million people? Yes, and you can tell. But it punches well above its weight.
Yes there’s a lot to get used to. But don’t worry, you’ll fit right in. And the weather is about the same as what you’re used to. The only difference is the Dutch complain about it WAY more.
As Director of Creative Content, Pep does it all: He’s a high level event host & facilitator, writer, stand-up comedian, public speaker, coach, and developer of innovative corporate programs. A co-founder of Boom Chicago, Pep’s passion is using comedy to make hard-to-communicate messages land and stick, as featured In his 2012 TED talk, ‘Fight, Flight or Make Your Opponent Laugh.’ Pep hosts events like TEDx Amsterdam, The Next Web Conference, The Nordic Business Forum, and the Spin Awards to rave reviews, and he was nominated for an Emmy for his writing on America’s long-running television show, Saturday Night Live.