Column 1 -
9 March 2020 
in HR

Column 1 - "The Universe was trying to tell me something"


I vividly remember the moment that I felt it in my heart that it was time to change my career journey. I was in London attending the Unleash the
power within event of Tony Robbins. Something that I had on my bucket list for quite a while.
But let’s not jump ahead.

A couple of weeks before I had a ski accident while being on holiday with my girlfriends, which had become a tradition ever since our time in
university. We had a marvelous lunch on the slopes with a little bit too much wine…so I guess I have nobody to blame then myself. I ended up
having my ligaments, kneebands and meniscus thorn, a triple trauma they call it, and ended up in a wheelchair and with croches for a couple of months.
Funny enough, the moment I hit the snow I knew something was really off, but I wasn’t stressed. It was more some kind of realisation that the universe was trying to tell me something and I hadn’t been listening. Slooooooow down! And here you had it, now I had to.

In my role as Global HRD @ HKM I don’t think there has ever been a period that allowed you to breath, there was always something that needed urgent attendance.  Setting the people agenda, opening 100 new stores a year, preparing for an IPO or sale, opening new countries, reorganisations – you name it, let alone the emotions that run high in a
fashion retail business when collections fail or succeed. But too be honest I was mostly driving a very high pace and intensity myself, I really wanted the business to become a much loved brand and the HR department needed lots of love, management and innovation. But lately it had been intense to a point that wasn’t sustainable anymore.
Nevertheless, head down, roll up your sleeves and the Dutch mentality of no wining, kept me going, Until that beautiful day in Austria..

I had planned to go to London to attend Tony Robbins the week after the accident and visit my friends in Australia a couple of weeks later, I hadn’t been back for 5 years and longed to go. But how to deal with travelling alone being in a wheel chair and taking your 7 year old son with you aswell.
At day one of Unleash the power within, the Tony event, we were challenged to walk on hot coals with your bare feet. Something that requires enormous will power. I was in a wheel chair but nevertheless decided to take the challenge on and with assistance walk the coals as well. I had all kinds of fears and mostly was concerned about the pace
that I would be walking the coals with as mine would be much slower then others and surely it would hurt…
Anyway, I did it, I walked the coals and didn’t feel anything. So there it was, the moment of realisation: You can achieve anything! if you put your mind to it, focus and determination.

Knowing this, would I be able to do something that I feared and desired at the same time. Being my own boss. I never thought about it before, I was following the typical HR career path and most likely the next step would be another HR Director position at another company. Would I dare to let go of my job security, deal with my ego, accept financial loss, lose
my work identity and take a plunge in the unknowm….do something totally out of my comfort zone. Start my own business? I guess I did.

Never could I foresee what was ahead of me…

About the author
On a mission to help entrepreneurs, management teams, hr & marketing professionals to create companies we all love. Both customers & (ex) employees. Here to inspire, energise and support personal leadership (team) transformation and share expertise on how to create great customer and employee experiences that boost (online) popularity, create raving fans and beat the competition. In 2016 Anne was the winner of the CHRO Award of the year in the Netherlands. In 2017 she won the German Stevie Award for best HR Director Germany and in 2018, 2019 and 2020 Anne was responsible for Hunkemöller receiving the Top employer certification in both The Netherlands and Germany. ‍She passionately believes that great leaders power great people. Great people power great companies. Great companies deliver a great customer and employee experience. Everybody deserves a great leader and a great place to work!
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