A little help

A couple of people have contacted me; both of whom are Americans in the US that would like to move overseas and are exploring their options. I completely understand why someone would seek advice before making the decision to move here like we did. And while I went though the Dutch American Friendship Treaty process, I still feel like have a lot to learn about running a business here. Like I’m the one that should be seeking advice, not dispensing it right now. This is not to say I want to shirk any responsibility – I’m actually happy to help, and it shows that there is a need for information. So whatever I find I’ll pass along.

Today, we attended Expatica’s i am not a tourist event in Amsterdam, which was enjoyable and informative. Top takeaways:

1. Sinead Hewson’s “10 things I learnt when I started my business in the Netherlands” was very helpful. She mentions how many of the Chamber of Commerce events are also in English, mentioned a networking group called the Women’s Business Initiative International, and discussed how doing business with the Dutch was different from doing business in her home country, Ireland. She said that she initially struggled because people in Ireland were supportive of her business idea and gave her reassurances and affirmation, and Dutch people seemed standoffish in comparison – a little bit more, “yeah, and?” It took her awhile to realize that the difference was cultural. Additionally, learning even a little Dutch goes a long way with winning people over and gaining their respect.

2. Another informative seminar was how to use social media to adapt to living in a different country. Renee Veldman discussed how difficult assimilation to the Netherlands was for her initially, and how she was able to get adjusted to her new home by blogging, Twitter, etc. She now teaches workshops, works for Expatica, and writes in her blog: Dutch Australian

3. DutchNews.nl provides Dutch news in English and give more of a “back story” for political processes for people who don’t have much knowledge of how the Dutch political process works. I’m excited about this, because I have badgered Manon about how certain processes work, but she doesn’t always know the answer (she’s spent almost all of her adult life in the US). Now I can be a current events geek/political junkie in two countries. I’d also like to know more about the European take on economics, as I’m in the American pundits’ echo chamber of “The EU needs to spend more money”. This way, I’m given the Dutch perspective, not just America and Britain’s take on it.

4. And the best find of all: Taco Gallery. This is a cooking workshop for anyone who wants to learn how to make authentic Mexican (!!!) food. One of the business owners said that when everyone is eating, often the Americans won’t even speak because of the sheer bliss of eating good Mexican food for the first time in months or even years. They can be found at http://www.meetup.com/Mexican-Cooking

Another fun way to glean information about starting a company is Alex Blumberg’s podcast Startup. Blumberg, formerly a producer for NPR’s Planet Money, begins the series with his idea to start a podcasting network. The podcast documents what it’s like to witness a new company being formed; a business that may or may not be successful a couple of years from now. Blumberg is not an entrepreneur by nature, and certain aspects, like asking for money, are initially very difficult for him. However, his “unfair advantages” are formidable; through Planet Money he already has contacts to some of the most sought after venture capitalists in the US, as well as a loyal fan base. It’s a fantasy, but it gets me thinking, and Blumberg is an engrossing storyteller.

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