About Siebe Van Der Zee
Siebe is President of Vanderzee & Associates, Executive Search & Coaching. He has served as an international management consultant for over 25 years specializing in retained executive search, performance coaching and cross cultural consulting.
His clientele includes business leaders in large multinational corporations as well as medium sized companies covering a wide area of industries including high-tech manufacturing, consumer products and life sciences.
Siebe started his career working for global financial institutions (Citibank and ING Bank) in Europe (London, Amsterdam), Latin America (Montevideo) and the United States (New York). Since 2002, he manages a successful retained executive search firm in Scottsdale, Arizona. The firm is focused on senior level executives (incl. Board of Directors).
For 28 years, Siebe has served as Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Arizona. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Lesson 1: Warm up the engine before accelerating 06m 53s.
Lesson 2: Energy gets you going, integrity keeps you in place 10m 28s.
Lesson 3: Be who you are; don’t try to be a different person to impress someone 14m 05s.
Lesson 4: Don’t stay quiet if you notice something unethical 18m 53s.
Lesson 5: Get over it! Don’t create mental barriers for yourself 24m 35s.
Lesson 6: We all have blind spots 29m 34s.
Lesson 7: In business development, start at the top 34m 11s.
Lesson 8: Bad news can knock you down, resilience will pick you up 36m 27s.
Lesson 9: Don’t accept finishing in second place 40m 11s.
Lesson 10: Empathy is the key element of successful leadership 44m 13s.
Siebe Van Der Zee
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:00:00] Of course I have blind spots and you know, the challenge is they’re blind spots. You don’t know that you have them, you don’t see that you have them. Otherwise. They wouldn’t be called blind spots.
Robert Hossary: [00:00:12] Hello, and welcome to 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn the only podcast on the internet, changing the world lesson by lesson. My name is Robert Hossary and I’m your host on this episode. Today, I am very honored to be interviewing one of our hosts and a wonderful human being. Mr. Siebe Van Der Zee. Siebe is one of our regular hosts. If you listened to this podcast, so we thought it’s important that you get to know us. So let me give you a bit of Siebe’s background, Siebe is the honorary Consul emeritus for the Netherlands Arizona.
In 2017, he was chairman of the economic diplomacy committee for the Arizona Consular Corps. Siebe is president of Van Der Zee and Associates Executive Search and Coaching. He served as an international management consultant 25 years specializing in retaining executive search performance coaching. And cross-cultural.
That makes Siebe very valuable to 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn because all of that knowledge, you know, Siebe started his career working in global financial institutions for Citibank and ING bank in Europe, in Latin America. And in the United States, since 2002, he’s been running a successful retained executive search consultancy in Scottsdale
in Arizona for 28 years, Siebe has served as honorary Consul for the kingdom of the Netherlands in Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in management from the Thunderbird school of global management Siebe, welcome and thank you.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:01:43] Well, thank you, Robert. It’s a lot of fun to be part of it. We know each other, we both have a global background, so looking forward to our conversation.
Robert Hossary: [00:01:51] Normally you say you’ve lived on three continents.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:01:54] In four countries.
Robert Hossary: [00:01:55] In four countries. I was thinking about it. I think I’ve lived in three continents as well. It’s amazing that international background and how much it opens your mind.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:02:06] It really is. And it creates a different perspective, right. But indeed, if you live and work, that’s what I typically use. In a country other than your own, that expands your horizon.
Robert Hossary: [00:02:17] It really, really does. Now listeners, what we’re here to learn today is Siebe’s philosophies for life. He’s 10 lessons that he wants to share with us. Now he may have shared some of those already. However, this is going to be a little more of a deep dive into some of those lessons let’s get started. Let me ask you Siebe in your experience, in, in the breadth of your experience so far, what is the one lesson.
Has been a standout
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:02:45] for you? Ah, yeah, I think without a doubt Robert, the lesson is don’t judge until you understand. And that is something that I think many of us can relate to in what context, right. It has to do with cross-cultural communications. And for me, it’s all about human behavior. In a global perspective, you grow up.
With your family in your country, you have a certain belief system value system. And it’s part of human nature. As I have discovered over years to judge and place a higher stamp on your own behavior, then. People that are different than yourself. And part of the reason that I see that, and I will give you some examples, but part of the reason is also that for many years, over 10 years, we conducted training corporate training and cross-cultural communications.
And part of that was an exercise where we had two abstract cultures. Not US versus Australia or pick a country alpha and beta, and each culture would learn the values of that particular culture in a few minutes. And then we would bring visitors for a few minutes just to experience. And at the end, we would bring everybody in the same room, and we would ask the alphas, what do you think of the beta’s?
And we had to write it down quickly because most of the comments were very negative. They don’t understand this. They don’t know how to do that, et cetera, et cetera. Well, then I went to the betas, and they’ve got just beaten up by the alphas. So, their feedback on the alphas was very negative. Typically, alphas, the majority wanted to remain alpha.
Betas wanted to remain betas, wait a minute. These are people that work together in the same office, but suddenly it’s alpha or beta important was also one element where it was very specifically mentioned, the women in the alpha culture are the property of the men. So, I would go to the women and we’re joking about it.
And I said, well, do you remember that comments would be like, well, these are nice guys. They’re not going to do anything. We’ll, you know, we’ll change them. And I became on purpose a little bit more serious, but wait a minute, how can you say that? You are the property of the man. It was for many people; I think a life-changing experience.
And it also kind of made that point, how we, people put stamps on other people, other behavior, and we think we are the best and they don’t get it. I can give lots more examples, but perhaps in our discussion about 10 Lessons, some of these will probably come to the surface, that’s a
Robert Hossary: [00:05:19] exercise.
It is. I have been exposed to something like that, but that one is pretty powerful
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:05:24] exercise. It really worked in you know, multiple industries at different levels. It was not just, let’s say executive level. We worked a lot in the hospitality industry and people that were interacting with foreign visitors.
And it was very important to understand. We all know, or at least you, and I know that when you go to England, where I used to live, they drive on the left side of the
Robert Hossary: [00:05:47] road. I still drive on the left side of the road. Thank you.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:05:52] And I remember in London, I said, you know, initially I’m not going to drive around.
Well, I got lost and I was circling through Trafalgar Square, and I said, okay, now I understand when I lived in south America in Montevideo, Uruguay wonderful country, it was the custom, it is the custom that dinner is served at 9:00 PM. Well, I got a little hungry around six or seven o’clock and initially for several months I was in a hotel, but then I realized that actually after nine o’clock the population in, in Montevideo and in Carrasco, they came out in the streets.
It was very friendly, very social, and yes, many of them take a siesta. I had to adjust. It was not for me to say, wait a minute. Change to six o’clock with your dinner.
Robert Hossary: [00:06:37] Once again, save a very powerful don’t judge until you understand. Very, very good. All right, well, let’s get to your list. This is Seba van disease, 10 lessons.
It took him 50 years to learn. So Siebe, lesson number one, which is. Interesting way of putting it warm up the engine before accelerating.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:06:56] I’m thinking here, in terms of communicating with people and to start maybe with an example, I interview candidates to recruit them for positions. And when they talk to me for that interview, they want to come across as strong, as powerful as possible, which is great, but I really need to understand who they are as individuals.
And I’ve noticed every single time when I start a conversation. A general kind of conversation about how are things going? You know, if you’re living in a, in a, in a situation with very cold climate, how are things going with that? Or if you’re dealing with a heat wave, et cetera, but make it a little bit more personal and warm that relationship up because many people, not all many people, when they feel comfortable, they will open up and you get to understand that person.
And I think that’s helpful for someone going through an interview. But it is just as helpful for someone who is conducting the interview on both sides. You can learn from one another. So warm up the engine before you asked the tough questions.
Robert Hossary: [00:07:59] I understand your point is you need to establish the relationship early.
You need to establish a long-term relationship or to establish a long-term relationship. You need to warm that engine up. You can’t go straight in and say, Hey, buy from me. Hey, you need to do this. You need. Engender that trust. Is that correct? Is that what I’m hearing from you?
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:08:21] Yes, and I think it applies to other situations as well.
Of course, when you interact with people now, there are quick interactions. You’re, you’re going to a bank to do some, some administrative work. It doesn’t mean you’re going to have a long conversation with the, with the teller over there and figure out, you know, what’s going on with them. But in general, and I think of my experience.
At the consulate for many, many years. And in some cases, it was of course, focused on economic relationships and you’re dealing with officials. In some cases, it was dealing with individuals that were in some type of trouble. And in order to. People, it really helps me to understand what their situation is.
So, it gets borderline to empathy, but it doesn’t have to be a situation that there is something wrong, but it’s just a matter that it just feels more comfortable for me. I must admit. If I feel at ease more than likely the other person feels at ease and vice versa, if that other person is comfortable with my conversation with them, that helps me to really get through it.
And there are some other lessons later on that are connected to that.
Robert Hossary: [00:09:30] Well, I’m sure there are, but I can also see how this is connected to your greatest lesson, which is don’t judge, until you understand you’re wanting to understand the situation, to put yourself into that same sphere that the person you’re interacting with.
Yeah. This is a technique used by salespeople all over the world, which is reciprocity. If I want to deescalate. A situation or if I want to encourage you, I match your speed. I match your style. Now that’s on a surface basis. You’re talking about going even deeper than that and truly understanding.
So warm the engine up, don’t just make the sound. If you warm the engine up, the vehicle is better. performing.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:10:12] It feels comfortable. And it also shows of course, respect for the individual.
Robert Hossary: [00:10:17] That’s a big thing that a lot of people are forgetting. That’s a, that’s a great, lesson Siebe that’s a great lesson. Well, let’s move on lesson number two, energy gets you going. Integrity keeps you in place.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:10:28] Yeah, boy, lots of examples are spinning through my mind, but to start with the energy part, I want to refer to Jack Welch, Jack Welch, former CEO at general electric management guru. In one of his books, he talked about when you hire management staff, you have to look at what he called the four E’s.
Energy energize edge. Every person has an edge and execute. You have to be able to demonstrate quantifiable results. That energy is something that I was trained to listen for and energy in my definition, does it mean talking fast, talking loud, gibberish all over the place. But when I listen to people, I hear a certain drive, a certain passion.
And it doesn’t mean, again the words specifically, but there is an interest that people have, and that is so important. Now those are the four E’s and over time I added another E by the way, Robert, empathy, I think empathy is important. And we’ll get back to that a little bit later. I also added the I for integrity.
So, in terms of this particular lesson, energy gets you going, integrity keeps you in place integrity. Sometimes I explain it as you have a, a teacup or a coffee cup or a plate porcelain plate, and it cracks, it breaks. You can glue it together, perhaps. And there it is, there’s the cup, but that that crack is visible forever.
And in many situations, I don’t want to say absolute in all cases, but when integrity is missing. That’s going to be a handicap for that individual for a lasting period. And it could be sometimes in the judgment that if you have a resume and someone has over 20, 25 years of experience over 30 years of experience, perhaps they don’t mention the early career. And they started in the 1980s or 1990s. Well, let’s leave that off the resume because they think I’m much younger than what I really am thinking of my old boss. That’s not going to happen. I will figure out. And it is not an age thing, of course, it has to do with their energy and their drive.
But if people bring us the wrong information, it’s almost like a cup with a crack in it. Can we really trust that person? And it is so easy. To be factual. Even if you say experience before 1990 or 2000, summarize it, but don’t leave it out. That’s in a way related to integrity, small example.
Robert Hossary: [00:13:02] It is a small example, but it’s an important one.
It impacts the ability to be respected because once I think I even have an inkling that you’re not truthful or honest with me, that’s it. Yeah. I’m not talking about my, well, I am talking about myself, but in general, in general, once a person feels that you have deceived them or are trying to deceive them or get one over on them, it’s a slight on them.
And as human beings. We will put up defenses and one of the defenses is, you know what? I don’t believe anything that you say to me anymore. So, integrity is incredibly important. Incredibly important. I agree with you there Siebe.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:13:44] In combination with energy, right? Integrity and energy, they go together, and integrity is forever.
Robert Hossary: [00:13:50] It is. Yes, it is. Because as you say that crack will be visible.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:13:55] Yes.
Robert Hossary: [00:13:55] And it will be visible to a lot of people. Don’t fool yourself.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:13:59] Exactly.
Robert Hossary: [00:14:00] Lesson number three, be who you are. Don’t try to be a different person to impress someone.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:14:06] Again I learned a lot from my old boss in executive search and his first name was Chuck and Chuck was very direct in his language.
I, I don’t want to repeat the wording, but can I say no sentence without the F word? He was a very good man. And very, very genuine. And at the same time, his language was very direct, and he showed me when I started working there over 20 years ago, a little cartoon and it’s a little cynical. So, I want to be careful when I say it like this in a podcast, but it showed a veteran recruiter talking to a rookie recruiter.
And the idea was that the veteran said it’s real simple. You have clients and you have candidates. They’re both liars now, again, I don’t go through life like that, please. I don’t right. By being so cynical, but there is something to say as a recruiter in particular, I want to make that clear.
It’s not for every role that we need to have a certain level of suspicion when it comes to our candidates. And when it comes to our clients, not to say that they’re liars, that takes it too far, but it has to fit their needs and their strategy, et cetera, on both sides. For recruiters, we are kind of in the middle of that playing field.
We have to accept the fact that that is happening. We cannot change that. We just have to be aware. And I remember again, my previous boss who with a very quiet voice would say, that’s not going to happen. We keep an eye out on that whole process. And if something goes wrong, As a recruiter, I take responsibility, not the candidate that perhaps at the last moment, when somewhere else we have to smoke that out.
And sometimes you just have to expect that a person is not telling the whole story. What can I say? It doesn’t mean they’re blatant liars or bad people. They may not give you to the whole story. And it happens well.
Robert Hossary: [00:16:02] Okay. So, in the recruiting world, I get it. And I understand why the theater would happen in a job interview. But how does this point work in real life outside of the recruiting field?
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:16:15] That’s a fair question. I think we all have to accept, of course, that we are who we are. That’s not going to change. We are the individuals that we are. Can I apply a Dutch saying, and I’ll mention it in English, just act normal because you’re crazy enough?
So, if you think you’re going to be perfect and you think this come on, that’s why you brought it up before I did. My chances of winning Wimbledon are long gone. And by the way, I never won a tennis match in my life. It’s just that I like tennis and I like Wimbledon, but being realistic about it. And I think that is, that is part of, of course be who you are.
Try not to impress someone, et cetera, et cetera. I think that’s in life. It’s not just in hiring for a job in life except who you are. You can improve, you can go all kinds of directions. I’m not saying that you’re stuck in that, but if you make yourself look more grandiose than what you really are, it’ll come through.
It’ll show that’s the point it’ll show.
Robert Hossary: [00:17:14] I couldn’t agree. More. The aspect of that, is self-awareness and self-love, and it’s really a skill that you need to develop on how to learn, to accept yourself, how to learn to love yourself. Because once you do that, once you accept who you are, how you are, you’re on the road to improvement already at that point, but you also accept the fact that you don’t need to be someone else. You don’t need to have this facade to impress people. If they’re not impressed with who you are, then maybe they shouldn’t be in your circle. If they don’t respect you for who you are, then maybe you don’t want to hang around with people like that.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:17:58] True. I also think that over time, as we all mature in our life, that it becomes something that you want to share with the next generation and when you’re up and coming, you’re ambitious. You’re perhaps even greedy. Hmm. For many of us that are on that, what they sometimes refer to our second mountain, you say, okay, let’s, let’s put it in perspective.
And again, you know, I bring it up too much. I’m not going to win Wimbledon. There are lots of other things that I won’t achieve, but wow. I love, you know, be able to share experience. That’s what we’re doing with our podcast. And that has tremendous value hopefully for the people that listen. But definitely it has value for me.
Robert Hossary: [00:18:39] It has value for all of us. We’re all very passionate about this particular project that we’re doing. And we want to share this information. Lesson number four, this seems very deep. So, I’ll, I’ll leave it alone and let you explain it all. Don’t stay. Yeah, it’s a tough one. Lesson number four. Don’t stay quiet if you notice something unethical.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:19:00] It’s a tough one.
I don’t want to say everybody should do what I have done. If I think back in my life, I have done a number of things set things done, things that were against the expectation. And I say it very carefully. If you see something that is wrong. And especially as I said, at a presentation at a university, not so long ago, if you know, if you have your degree.
And you are in a management position in an organization, in a company you have to open up your mouth. When you see something that you perceive as unethical now. Yes. In many discussions I’ve heard, you know, sometimes I could be wrong. I opened my mouth. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand what was going on.
Okay. I messed up. I’ll take that. But if you see something wrong, now I can think of many examples and I, I only want to bring up a few here. Well, one of them perhaps somewhat funny, perhaps after I got my degree from Thunderbird, I was drafted by the Royal Dutch army in the Netherlands I thought I was going to get a job.
And my gosh, I was a young man. I had to serve for 18 months at nine months. Absolutely. The midway, I wrote a letter handwritten by the way, Robert and I sent it to the general. And I explained that I refuse to continue because I was bored.
It took a week before the general called me in and everybody around said, that’s going to cost you. You cannot do that. You’re drafted. Well, okay. I got called in and the general was very direct to me, and he scolded me, and he said, you cannot do that. Who do you think you are? But then he said, I have a lot of respect for you.
The fact that you bring this to our attention. When we draft people, we have to put them to work, and you pointed out something and it was not just me. Many of my friends drafted, they were in the same situation. So, he gave me a different assignment and it worked out to my favor. Again, I have multiple examples.
This is something I’ve done my whole life. And I would not say that I would recommend it to everybody most recently. I just want to mention that one. We had an issue in the state of Arizona at the border where a few years ago it was decided by the us government to separate children from families.
Robert Hossary: [00:21:19] We, the rest of the world knows about that decision.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:21:23] It is always somewhat emotional for me because I’m living. I’m a tall white guy. I’m a foreigner, but I never got pulled over because I speak with an accent. And when this happened and I was active as honorary console representing the country of the Netherlands, I made a comment on Twitter and it was, I think, within the range I used the term disgusting.
It got me into a lot of trouble. And I understand because when you represent a company or a country, that’s, let’s say the uniform that you’re wearing and you gotta be careful. I still felt that it was absolutely justified. And I was willing to give up my position if that would be a major issue, which never became a real issue.
And we have had other issues where we had a well-known sheriff in Arizona who was convicted for racial profiling. And then ultimately, he was pardoned by the former President. I confronted the sheriff multiple times, even to the point, Robert and not to show off, I pulled over a sheriff for speeding on the streets here in Arizona to make the point to the sheriff in a public meeting, that it is important that his office.
Adhere to the laws. And I confronted him several times. I’m going to add one more piece. During the second world war. I was not alive. My grandfather, who I never met for more than two years, he had two young men, boys Jewish hidden in the attic for more than two years. He had a job with a newspaper. He had a family, my mother, my aunt, my uncle, if he was able to do that in those days, who am I to sit here in beautiful Arizona?
And this is happening a few hours away from me now, again, I don’t want to make this too long of a point. I know a lot of politicians here that would disagree with me, but that’s where I think when it comes to ethical issues, and we noticed around the world from so many people who are suffering. It’s just an issue for me, but you have to stand up regardless of the consequences, in my opinion.
But I respect, of course, when people say, Hey, I don’t want to take that risk. That’s not for me to say it is a lesson for myself.
Robert Hossary: [00:23:43] And a very powerful one at that. A lot of what you said is happening, obviously all around the world, our podcast is in over 50 countries and I’m sure every one of those countries has the same types of issues. We, I know we do here in Australia, and we can only do what we can do as individuals. But if everybody, does it Siebe, then we just grow, there was one of our previous guests who said it takes a generation to make a change. And the only way you can do that is to educate the children, educate the children, to be more tolerant, educate the children, to be more ethical.
And then maybe in our next generation, the next generation of leaders we will achieve. What we’re trying to do now, but again, a very powerful point, very deep point. So, lesson number five, this is something that has caused great consternation in the 10 lessons, family. We have arguments over this offline.
So, lesson number five, get over. It don’t create mental barriers for yourself.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:24:43] Yeah, well, first of all, you’re right and I want to put it in the right perspective because I’m not mean any disrespect. It’s not to say, Hey, I don’t care what you’re saying. Get over it. What I’m thinking of this is something within ourselves, right?
It’s our own emotions and we get all caught up in our thoughts and we have expectations. We have our hopes, we have our concerns. We have our desperate moments. If something completely fails and worse than that, if there is perhaps a death in the family, et cetera, horrible things. So, I want to be very careful when I talk about, get over it that I don’t say, Hey, you know, you’re whining.
Don’t talk about that. It has to do with when things get stuck in your own mind, and they become a distraction. That’s the key point. And it happens of course, a lot. When I work with people that are looking for a job and they go through an interview and they do well and they are invited back for a second round and then, wow.
It went well again, the next meeting is going to be with the CEO. And if the CEO, if he, or she says, that’s the right person, you get. And then they hire someone else.
Robert Hossary: [00:25:56] Yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve been, there.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:26:01] And they are no longer available to give you feedback about why you are not longer, the person they have to be according to the law a little bit careful protective about that.
Plus, rightly so, their focus is on that person that they do want to. So why spend time with the person that is no longer a candidate? It sounds rough. Well, I’m sorry. I’m
Robert Hossary: [00:26:22] just going to jump in because it’s the right thing to do. Take the time out. Show them the respect. Thank you for coming in. You didn’t get it for these reasons it’s respect.
And if you don’t have that respect to do that, I don’t want to work for you. I’m sorry. I digress.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:26:38] You give me an opportunity. You give me an opportunity. To actually say, that’s why it makes sense to have retained recruiters involved, because if you would be my candidate and you did not get the job, you and I will continue the conversation you and I will continue to work together.
And if I can help you find another job, I will do that. I will not abandon you, even if you’re no longer the candidate you see, that
Robert Hossary: [00:27:05] will help me get over it. Exactly. But being. Left high and dry. It’s very, very hard. Siebe to get over it.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:27:14] It’s ugly, it’s ugly, and, and yes, and that’s another element in that concept of get over it.
It doesn’t mean turn the switch and you’re fine. Of course not, but what can be done? And every person is different in that regard, what can be done to make that person. Get back on the horse and it may not be yet, you know, to land that next job. There may not be an immediate opportunity there, but mentally we have to be able to get over that if we can.
Again, I want to make definitely the point because otherwise I make the wrong impression that in my consular work, I’ve dealt with a lot of people dealing with major. Human issues. And I would never think in terms of, oh, just get over it never, never, never, never, never. It’s more like in a sporting game, you know, you’re, you’re close to winning the match or the championship and something happens, and you don’t win well, typically next season.
Give it another try.
Robert Hossary: [00:28:11] Exactly. I mean, the point you’re making is not so much get over it. It’s more don’t put barriers up to prevent yourself from succeeding and you do need to get over it.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:28:22] I think Robert as well, that sometimes when I deal with individuals in that job search process, as a coach, I’ve been there so many times, and it doesn’t mean that that helps you, of course not.
But if you know someone who has walked that path multiple times and can give you some suggestions on how to deal with the pain and the frustration, and at the same time to give you some suggestions on how to get back on track, that can be very valuable and that’s why I’m not saying that, of course, that I know everything there is to know this is part of my own experience and helping people in a professional situation with a job, process to get over it.
And it is very, very helpful. And at the same time, I’ve been there as well. Things can go wrong. It can change on a dime. Well listeners,
Robert Hossary: [00:29:13] this is a, an incredibly important point. Take it for what it is. Get over it. Don’t put mental barriers in your own way. It’s a very powerful point if you follow it.
Okay, let’s move on. Lesson number six. We all have blind spots. Yes, everybody.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:29:33] I actually wanted to say yes, every person, Robert, I typically like to point at myself when I work with people in coaching. When I talk about that topic, of course I have blind spots and, you know, the challenge is? They’re are blind spots.
You don’t know that you have them, you don’t see that you have them, otherwise they wouldn’t be called blind spots. Right. So, we all, I think can understand with a few exceptions perhaps, but nobody is perfect. Right? So that’s in there as well. You have to accept that there are blind spots, even if you think that you are whatever.
Perfect. And I had to think of one particular person that I was coaching, and he was described by my client a big corporation, as very bright, exceeding doing really well at a relatively young age, they didn’t want to lose him. And they had high expectations and then the client says, however, he is arrogant.
He doesn’t listen to people. He talks over people and there was an element of perceived discrimination. Older people. He didn’t like so much to work with older people. And when I met with him, I would say, wow, what a great guy and how smart and still in touch with him, I won’t mention his name, brilliant.
And into coaching process. I was able to collect information. It’s not my brain that says, Hey, you need to do this or that. But I collect the information from various sources, and I was able to create a mirror that he was looking. And the thing that I’ll never forget with him, that when we discussed that, he said, oh my gosh, I didn’t know.
I was perceived in this way. This is not the person who I am. This is not what I want to be. And we started to work on a program for him to be more involved. Listen, better. And also engage. I can give details, but to engage the, the group, the older group, that he did not want to deal with, how to engage them, et cetera, et cetera.
And he became indeed as expected, highly successful. We’re still in touch, but that’s something where, when I think of blind spots, we all have them. And many times, we say, that’s not me. I would never say that or do that. Well, apparently you do say that an act that way. Then the beauty in coaching is that let’s address that.
And I’m your coach. I want you to win the Olympic games, or I want you to win the race. I’m not going to go against you. I want to make sure you succeed, but what can we do for you to make the adjustments?
Robert Hossary: [00:32:03] That’s a very popular way today of addressing leadership failures like that is the 360 review. That’s pretty much what you’re talking about here.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:32:13] Yes. And, and also, and I say this jokingly of course, dealing with a Dutch guy, because there is something I believe with Dutch people, we have a tendency to be direct. And even if I’m very impressed by the person that I’m coaching, I’m going to tell him or her exactly what I think.
And in a, as my old boss would say in a lovable way.
Robert Hossary: [00:32:34] Yeah, everything you say is in a lovable way. Siebe.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:32:37] I try.
Robert Hossary: [00:32:37] But back to your point, it, it is clear that if you do not look in the mirror, you do not see what other people see. So, these blind spots, appear, these blind spots are things that, unless you have a trusted advisor or a coach, you’re never going to see them, especially if you have no perception of who you are.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:33:01] There, there could still be a slight danger that when the people you listen to are close friends, family members that want to support you. And if they say, well, you know, they’re complaining about me, that I. Well, that’s not who you are. We know you that’s. So, it, it is, it is sometimes an outside person and that’s why with our coaching, we come in from the outside.
We don’t work at that company, and we try to be very objective and that can be helpful as well. Absolutely again, we all have blind spots.
Robert Hossary: [00:33:34] Well we all do. And many of our guests have advocated your own personal board of directors or your own personal coaches and stuff like that. People who will tell you the truth. I have a lot of those people in my life, including my wife who will not let me get away with anything. So
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:33:53] I’m with you. Believe me.
Robert Hossary: [00:33:57] I do. I do. Okay. Let’s move on before we both get in trouble. Lesson number seven in business development, start at the top. Why?
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:34:07] Well, I think typically because key decision makers are located at the top of the organization and it doesn’t have to be the CEO, but I remember in my.
Training that I received over the years and especially you know, a little bit over 20 years ago when it came to executive search and I started out in executive search, it was like, well, if I can fill a position in a company I’m doing well. And then over time I can work my way up. And my boss, the same boss that I referred to a few times.
That’s not how it works, because if you start with lower-level positions, you are not perceived as capable to handle the more senior level positions. So, he said, start at the top. And even though I had no real prior experience, I had business experience, but no recruiting experience. That’s what I did. And in my first meeting with a client.
It was someone that I knew, and we asked for certain elements of the, of the agreement. He said, oh, we cannot do that. And jokingly, I said, because it was a friend, well, now you can, otherwise we cannot do business. And they did. And I was completely focused on what my boss was telling me. And deliberately, I was not going to say, well, yeah, but, and I think, no, do what he says.
He was successful. And now more than 20 years later, I applied the same rules. And again, I want to make the point because I was, I was thinking about that. It doesn’t mean that if you deal in account management with another company that you have to reach out to the CEO, it could be the head of a department or someone responsible for certain tasks.
But when you start there, if that person feels comfortable with you, chances are that other people in the organization, right. The boss likes you. So, we like you. It’s just part of psychology.
Robert Hossary: [00:35:51] It is. And we’ve had so many episodes. I can’t recall the guest’s name, but one of our guests put it this way. It’s the point you’re making, and he put it this way. Talk to the ventriloquist, not the dummy.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:36:06] Yeah.
Robert Hossary: [00:36:07] Yeah. Look, the lesson is solid. You know, start at the top. It makes a lot of sense. Okay. Let’s move on to lesson number eight. Number eight already. Siebe.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:36:18] Yeah, it’s moving.
Robert Hossary: [00:36:19] Lesson number eight. Bad news can knock you down. Resilience will pick you up. What do you mean by that?
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:36:25] We kind of touched on this to be honest, but I was thinking more here. When earlier we talked about the business situations, get over it, et cetera, et cetera. Here, I’m thinking more of indeed people who are going through a very tough situation right now, you know, we’re still living in the era of COVID, and we all know that.
People families are suffering and that’s not to say, oh, just get over it and you’ll be fine. And this is how you have to get out of it. It takes a long, long time, but I think lessons learned not just my own lessons, but in general, the resilience. Yes. You don’t know anything can happen. It could be a traffic accident and literally it can knock you down, but okay.
You got to figure out perhaps how to get a new car or, or how to rent a car or, or deal with physical recovery, that resilience, and knowing that there is a brighter day ahead. I, I hear from so many people going through very, very difficult situations that there is that spark of hope and hopefully one day, and it may not be the way it used to be.
Again, this is a very sad situation, but there is hope that there will be recovery and that things. To a certain extent normalize. And I think that is so important, but it happens, you know, we touched on it. Of course, when people get fired from a job, I had just recently a conversation with a friend of mine.
It was on a Monday; he was fired on a Friday before. Nice. We were on zoom, looking at each other. And as I have learned, literally learned when people get fired, you have to observe their emotions because many times. We say, ah, I’m fine. You know I’ll find another job. And then when you look at people, you realize perhaps, they’re sweating profusely.
I’ve had that too, but they’re stressed out. And I could tell with my friend that that was very emotional. He had worked for that company for 12 years and he was fired. On that Friday. And again, having that conversation and listening to him and at the same time, you know, having gone through that myself so many times and with other people, obviously I didn’t get fired every day, but dealing with people that go through that there will be a brighter day.
Now, just a few weeks later, Robert, the same person is dealing with three, potentially four new job opportunities. He hasn’t landed the job. We’re not there yet, but you can imagine his mindset. Is very different. I also suggested that he should negotiate a severance package with the company that fired him.
Okay. He got that. So even though things obviously can knock you down, the resilience is the way to the future.
Robert Hossary: [00:39:12] And again, I think this, every lesson links into each other and it links into other guests lessons as well, resilience is so important and that also comes from. A level of self-confidence of assurance that within yourself, it’ll get better.
One of one of our previous guests, Andrew Tyndale said this too, shall pass. Yes. That’s what happens, man, you know, things will pass.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:39:40] That was a great podcast, by the way, I would highly recommend it.
Robert Hossary: [00:39:44] So I agree with resilience is incredibly important, but you can only be resilient with the knowledge.
The things will get better. That it’s not as bad as you make it out to be. All right. Well, let’s move on. Lesson number nine. Don’t accept finishing in second place. Now, so, you know, I’m going to challenge you on this. I will let you explain to me why it’s a big deal, not to accept finishing in second
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:40:11] place.
Yeah. And indeed, we have had the discussion before, and I know not everybody would have the same approach. I look at it that, as long as you are in the game, you want to win. And I put that provision in there because of course, if it’s clear that you didn’t get the job, the company has moved on, then it doesn’t make sense to change your resume and resend it to the same company or, or things like that.
So, it’s not to say endless keep going, but when you are in a job search situation and there could be other examples that you try everything, you can to. Get that job. And depending on the job, I would say, do your research find out as much as possible about the people that you’re going to be interviewing with and perhaps their career history.
And there could be things about the company that you learn that you didn’t know before. That could be. Preparation for an interview. We do mock interviews from time to time, and it really helps people who are not used to interviewing to test themselves out without sitting in front of their perhaps future boss.
So don’t make it look like, well, they’re never going to hire me. That’s not going to happen. You’re in it to win it. And that’s another general term that we can debate. But I think it’s important that as long as you’re in the game, You keep looking at it in, in one game recently in basketball, United States, the championship between Phoenix and Milwaukee, Phoenix won the first two games and the, what are the key players was interviewed on television.
And they said, wow, you’ve won the first two games. It’s going to look good. And he looks very focused, and he says, it’s zero, zero. We haven’t won the game until we win the final game and in a, in a job search process, again, anything unfortunately could go wrong. It doesn’t always go wrong, but until, you know, and that’s, again, jokingly what we tell our clients until you tell us that the candidate is.
Behind the desk doing his or her work. We keep looking for other candidates just in case. So, I think it’s a mindset, but yes, not insanity to say, oh, I just keep going. I’ll just keep going. I’ll just keep going. But if you don’t. Feel that you can win it, then you’re probably won’t win it.
Robert Hossary: [00:42:29] I agree with that sentiment.
And I agree that you need to approach every situation with the mindset of I’m going to do this. I have no problem with that. I would like to challenge you with the terminology of don’t settle for second place, because you aren’t going to win everything. Yes. You have to approach everything as though you’re going to achieve everything.
I see what you’re saying. And I agree with you from a standpoint, you can’t go in and say, well, the going to say no, so I won’t get my hopes up. That’s also the wrong approach. It’s that word? Don’t settle. That is triggering me because I get a little concerned because some people are very literal Siebe.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:43:13] I understand. And you make a good point to Robert and yet, I think of it and look at it and say, look, if you’re trying to achieve something, do whatever you can to make that work. I appreciate what you’re saying. And I, I think I can see for some people, perhaps it could create pressure. If you say, don’t accept finishing in second place, but I go back to that basketball player that says, and he was winning.
So he was, you would say, you know, feeling good. It’s zero. Zero. It works both ways. Don’t think like, Hey, I’m the number one candidate for the job. So, it should be fine. No, be prepared mentally that something could go wrong. Suddenly the red light.
Robert Hossary: [00:43:52] Yeah. Yeah. Well, I say that, well, Siebe we’ve come to the end of your 10 lessons.
So, let’s look at lesson number 10. Empathy is the key element to successful leadership. Now I’m all on board. I agree with you, but I want to hear what you have to say.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:44:10] Empathy is something that I have learned over time. We all realize what empathy is, or at least we hope we do. And then you go through life, you experience things.
And there it is. I also had a very special, unique experience for 28 years as honorary consul and yes, there was a strong economic element to it country of the Netherlands and the great state of Arizona. Wonderful. There were administrative issues. If you needed a passport or a visa, okay, we can help you.
But I also dealt a lot with people in trouble and we’re talking serious trouble murders, suicides, murder, suicide, plane crashes, car crashes, fatal individuals incarcerated one individual 34 years. And it was part of my role to be in that sense, the frontline person representing the Dutch government, dealing with that.
It can happen to people in life, right? That there is a family member that has a horrible accident, and you deal with that. But in my case, I’ve dealt with multiple situations, not necessarily my family, people visiting, perhaps for residents here in Arizona. And that experience, when I look back Robert over 28 years, I can talk about some of the amazing experiences. People that I’ve met. Amazing. I can throw out names, but I won’t for now. But when I really think about, and you know, people ask me, what do you remember the most and what sticks with you? It is really being able to help people and I couldn’t solve their problem, but to be there for them also as honorary, let it be clear, you don’t get paid.
So, I don’t hold my hand out and say, well, let me come to your house and help you with this. It’s an amazing experience. With empathy and it doesn’t make me a special person. It’s just that I’ve had a very unique experience, dealing with a lot of people, dealing with very, very heavy issues. And I’m grateful for that.
And I hope that as we go through life, You gain experience, you have a good things happening, not so good things happening in, in my case, I would say it got somewhat multiplied because of the consular involvement, but then to be able to give back and help people and what we’re doing with our podcasts, right?
The lessons that we have learned. Hopefully can provide guidance to up and coming professionals, other people at whatever age, but that’s part of what I think is so important and empathy. It shows maturity and it shows respect for others. And, you know, I don’t always agree with everybody, right. That’s not the point, but showing respect and definitely when things are tough for that person.
Okay. We have to pay attention to that. We have to respect that, that issue. Person is dealing with that’s. That’s an important lesson for me and hopefully for others as well.
Robert Hossary: [00:47:03] Empathy as the key element to leadership is incredibly important. Sadly, it does take some time to gather that skill set, to, to develop it.
And it’s based on experience. Unfortunately, the more hardships that you are exposed to, the more your empathy muscle gets exercised.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:47:23] That’s it? That’s it? Yeah, of course. We have to realize. This is not necessarily applied by all. There are many thank you. There are many leaders and managers that I can think of.
And more than that I can think of actually that treat people that they are responsible for. In a, I would say horrendous way. Absolutely. Right. So, I don’t want to make it sound like, Hey, we’re all perfect here, but you strive for that. And that is something that’s again, I have been able to learn appreciate, but at the same time, Robert, and I think you’re in the same situation, I’m still learning. Right?
Robert Hossary: [00:48:02] Well we are Siebe, but you make an excellent point. This is something you have learned. A lot of people are you either born empathetic or, you’re not. NO, you learn empathy because you have to experience something to at least have an understanding. Of what other people may be experiencing. Other people might not experience that emotion the same way you experience it.
Absolutely. But you have a reference and you’re able to recognize signs, so yeah, we’re all learning. And empathy is a muscle that needs to be developed over time. Well, see, but that’s our 10 lessons and Lesson number 10 was wonderful. As we do with everybody. And I think this is something that actually you started my friend.
I think you suggested this as a final question. Siebe we’ve heard of the 10 lessons you’ve learned over 50 years. What is the one lesson that perhaps you have unlearned over that? time?
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:49:02] I did think about it quite a bit because I mean, I have nothing really to complain about. Right. But if I think about my career, And somewhat similar to your career, multiple countries, multiple jobs, and how wonderful it is when you have a mentor, a person that looks out for you.
And I recommend that to everybody. I wish I had a mentor and that’s part of my point, and my lesson is don’t rely. Others to become successful. And the reason I make that lesson is because again, nothing to complain about, but I have moved 16 times as far as I can remember, lived in four countries on three continents.
If you live in the same country with the people that know you and you know them great, you have that bond. But if you, in that sense, keep moving around as I did, and you have done, and others have done. Vast majority. Then you do not necessarily have those people that you have that long-term relationship with or in-depth relationship with that says, I know what’s good for you and I’ll make sure five years, 10 years from now, you get to this level, that level.
So, I had to do it by myself. Now. I want to mention strongly my parents position. With my education, they were tremendous help. So, I don’t want to make it sound like, Hey, I had to figure it out when I was a little kid. No, no, no, no. I was, I was in that sense, very privileged, but at a certain point outside of the Netherlands, I had to figure it out and I’ve had many failures, many things that did not work out as I had expected.
And I am grateful for that experience. Again, you learn from it and that’s really how I feel. You have to be prepared, especially when you go to another country or you move around within your country or you start a brand-new job in a different industry, you cannot rely on others to become successful. And that’s, that’s something that I had to learn because I was kind of hoping, expecting that something would happen as a result of what I had done before it didn’t and that’s okay.
Robert Hossary: [00:51:09] And that’s okay. And that is incredibly Sage advice Siebe. That’s a wonderful note to finish up on and see, but thank you very much. And I really appreciate you taking the time out to do this so that our audience gets to know us a little better.
Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:51:25] I enjoyed it Robert, and I really appreciate the work that you’re doing for the podcast and our team. And it’s wonderful to be part of that.
Robert Hossary: [00:51:33] Thank you. Well, on that. You have been listening to 10 Lessons it took me 50 Years to Learn. Our guest today was our very own Siebe Van Der Zee. And this podcast as always is supported by the Professional Development Forum PDF provides podcasts, parties, seminars, webinars, you name it, they’ve got it.
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