Most Wanted: Colette Beukman
...try not to hide behind being flexible and ‘ok with everything’ – figuring out what you want and like - and taking clear decisions based on that - is a good thing, and makes life easier & more positive for you and people around you.
What’s taking your fancy in the world at the moment? I mean, there’s a lot happening around COVID-19 obviously, but is there anything else you’ve noticed (connected or not)?
I started watching 'Night on Earth' on a lazy stay-at-home lock-down Saturday (you know the drill), and was completely captivated. If you're not familiar: It's a series on Netflix that uses heat and infrared cameras to capture (on camera, luckily) wildlife by night, producing never before seen footage and a bunch of new insights into life on this planet when the sun goes down. The fact that something relatively simple - the further development of technology that is already widely used, opens up a vast universe of knowledge and images, is amazing to me.
And it makes me think of how much there still is to learn. Things we don't understand yet, things we are just at the cusp of. Whether it's capturing how a blind desert-rat hunts at night, or the fact that every once in a while new chambers are uncovered in the pyramids of Giza, or the invention of technology that enables us to see black holes in the universe.
And even more crazy: most of these things left-to-learn, are things we can't even conceive of right now. Think of the social shift that the development of social media has brought about. This technology has really changed how our society operates; from how we experience having drinks with friends to who ends up in the White House. Who could have imagined this 30-odd years ago, before any of this technology existed? What's still to come? Crazy, cool, scary, and inconceivable.
I know you recently moved from Berlin to Amsterdam. That’s always a big choice to make. How do you approach such decisions? Any tips or tricks?
Actually, while I enjoy being in positions of decision-making in the workplace, I often find it way more difficult in my private life. I can have the tendency to hide behind 'being ok with anything' and 'being flexible'. Which is numbing in a way, as you lose perspective of what you actually want and like.
I read an interesting oped (unfortunately in Dutch) the other day about answers to the simple question: “what would you like to drink?”. The author wrote that if you're likely to answer "I don't mind" or "you decide" you probably see yourself as flexible; you probably genuinely feel that you would be happy with anything. The problem is, you've just passed on the burden of decision-making to the other person, who has even less insight in what you actually like or want. The author argued that that's not flexibility, that's laziness.
And I think there's truth in that! There's a Spanish proverb:
"There are no favourable winds for a ship that doesn't know where it's going". Basically, if you don't know where you're going, how can you pick the fruits of being on the right path? More truth.
Retrospectively, I think this analogy was important in taking the leap to move cities. Of course, I would be absolutely thrilled to be in either Amsterdam or Berlin. Just as I would be absolutely thrilled to have either an Augustiner or an IPA. Both are wonderful cities with amazing people, memories, opportunities and prospects.
But, when I thought of where I wanted to go, I just didn’t feel like it would be Berlin in the long-term, no matter how much I absolutely love the city. Knowing at least that that wasn’t the end goal, I felt it was a good time to touch base in Amsterdam, build up a professional network there, and from being back at my base for a while, figure out where I want this boat to head, so I can catch some good winds 😉
So, as far as tips and tricks: try not to hide behind being flexible and ‘ok with everything’ – figuring out what you want and like - and taking clear decisions based on that - is a good thing, and makes life easier & more positive for you and people around you.
(good promo for a decision-making tool, no?)
Yes, I think many can relate to the battle of responsibility between the lens of work versus private life! For potential visitors or movers to Amsterdam, what do you find yourself spending your time doing?
Besides watching Night on Earth and spacing out about it?
Obviously, due to corona, there’s not many shenanigans happening (even in Amsterdam), but I’m enjoying my time at home. I’m one of the incredibly lucky and privileged ones for whom being at home is actually pleasant, so there’s really nothing to complain there. I definitely took up all the basic millennial hobbies though; obsessively tending to my plants, picking up the guitar, making soaps. Luckily no banana bread so far, but who knows..
I moved to Amsterdam to work for a Foundation that aims to reduce childhood mortality through providing access to water, sanitation and hygiene in hard-to-reach, low-access regions of the world. Since the importance of hygiene has suddenly been catapulted into the public eye due to corona, it’s a very interesting time to be working in this sector! The power of prevention that lies in being able to wash your hands is massive, and not having access to these WASH (water, santiation & hygiene) tools is an ongoing threat in many parts of the world, even without a pandemic.
We really enjoyed our brief but (very) interesting talk with Colette! I have to say, Colette's answer to how she approached the choices she faced during her move are very interesting! Beyond the process of a decision is the internal dialogue you are having; "do I have experiences that can help me with this choice?", "What is important to me here?" or "what do I know I don't want?"
For anyone who wishes to learn about the company Colette is doing really inspiring work at, you can visit their website here.
As always, with love & respect,
The Team at ODE ❤️