Who are your trusted (business) people?

Fried oysters @ Katanashi An.

Do you trust your hair always to the same hairdresser? How many years you have had your current bank account? Or insurance package? Do you buy your groceries online or from the nearest corner shop? How many times you have asked for new tenders from aircon maintenance companies, telcom operators etc.? Take a minute, how many service/ product providers and business partners are your trusted ones, year after year?

I realized to have quite many trusted service providers, partners, when I moved from Finland to Singapore nearly three years ago. I had had the same hairdresser almost 20 years, the same dentist since mid-90’s, the same masseuse at least 18 years, also the same physiotherapist from 90’s… I had negotiated my mortgage a couple times between years 2001-2013 and changed the bank last time 2008 (still the same). When working on B2B I had excellent help from the department store to buy easily my suits and business clothes, otherwise I mainly bought my clothes online (mail order).

We were (I and my spouse) in Finland eight days in the beginning of this summer. I devoted almost the whole day just to visit my dentist. A horrific surprise to be informed my dear dentist had retired!! Ohmy. The new dentist seemed to be nice fellow, and I thought okay, I’m here, let’s give a try. I shouldn’t, truly. Long story short, but I have faced too many problems with my teeth since my teen-years. When I was 17 years old, I faced malpractice: the dentist conducted root canal treatment for two teeth, even though nothing infected, teeth were intact. This malpractice has followed me years, and during my university years I finally met the “proper” dentist, who diagnosed my real problem (night-time bite). Since then he has been, well was my dentist. Back to the new dentist’s chair. He checked my dental equipment, some x-rays etc. Standard procedure. The result, the one of those maltreated teeth was infected, the root of the problem lying somewhere back in my teens. Treatment: to remove the tooth. I was terrified, of course. But said yes, okay. I am not going to face another root canal treatment for already dead tooth, so let’s take it off. Easier decided than done. I sat in the chair mouth open over two hours, the result some of the pieces of tooth still inside my gum. And I was directed to the specialist, dental surgeon. Bleeding, hurting, numb, annoyed. Next morning a new drive from our cottage to the town, again new specialist to meet. He got the pieces out in five minutes, my problem hopefully eternally vanished.

But next time having holiday in Finland I will not book an appointment with the dentist, who replaced my dear, but retired one…  Any lessons learned? Is it good to have years, decades even, the same, trusted person to treat you, to have business with, to buy services from? Sure, I say yes. I just need to find after 20 years or so new service providers for teeth, muscles, hair, to fill my wardrobe .., because it is just impossible to manage all these from Singapore, and more over just too expensive to fly to Finland to have massage or haircut.

To the businesses it is not nice to know, how volatile we consumers are, but as a sole proprietor I also think that, whenever I truly can build the bridge of trust, consistence, the bond with my customers, they probably could become loyal as myself I am to my service providers. It is only a very thin sample, and not at all objective, but somehow I assume to be quite a standard consumer, when regarding big picture of common life issues: banking, health care, electricity, groceries, shoes.

FTHe Intan, some of so lovely hand amde shoes.
Embroidered shoes @ Intan.

So what features make someone, something to be trusted?

 

For me, the most obvious is the trust. It means listening, understanding, engaging, saying no sometimes, being consistent time after time. For instance anything to do with my physical body and especially, if there is need to touch me, it really takes time before that bridge is built. (I acknowledged that being middle-aged Finnish I am different from the most of the globe’s population.) So it is huge, when you can find the trusted person, who provides exactly what you need, what you want, and even has subtle way offer you more. I found an excellent masseuse years ago, happily also the physiotherapist, who could read my muscles plus listened to my own opinions (and understood the creative exercises/ treatments I conducted). Banking is of course based on mutual trust, and not too pushy offerings – my bank knows all  my financial information from salary to my depths; information you rarely share with your friends, family, spouse.

Here in Singapore I needed to push the envelope. I have found good hairdresser near to my home. We share only a few common words, but after a few of times he started to trust me, and even more to trust himself to take care of very odd hair type, we have managed well indeed. I was also lucky to find excellent GP (she knows me, and my spouse, so we have a family doc), I have the trusted neurologist too to help me to manage my muscle conditions. And after one mistake, we found suitable banking services. We have changed our grocery shopping habits: mainly online (three different e-stores), but we also do shopping on several physical stores (here are plenty of them!). And positively something very different from our Finland life: we visit nowadays a couple of corner restaurants, where the staff know us and greet us friendly, with smile and take a moment to chat with us. Brilliant, never knew, how extremely important it can be.

In our supposedly very digital world I bet that many of us still prefer human contact, specifically the same human bond year after decade.

 

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Learning in mid-age: a crisis or just merely fun?

Studying and learning new is like project management. Last autumn I decided I need a certification of Project Management to enhance my options to find a new job. My process started at first to analyze, which organization (meaning either PMI or IPMA). The result more often PMI certification was asked here in Singapore. Probably different from Europe in general? After that I still wanted to compare the two organizations, and finally selected PMI. And then there was decision to be made: which certification and program I want to choose. I ended up to start the studies with PMP (Project Management Professional). Since September 2015 I have passed 27 e-courses, applied to get certified (demands e-courses, a lot of PM work). What I noticed that my process was exactly from project management textbook: first initiating, then planning, executing, there has been a lot of monitoring and controlling, and now I am waiting for the closure.

I had a backflash with certification test due to PMI is renewing its material on PMP-program and particularly the core: textbook. The release is in April, but the organization has already renewed the test. Not so matching, but need to wait for a while now to have a chance to download renewed textbook. It seems that quite a lot of content is changed. Of course, there are a many delays, obstacles during the project, and what to do. Re-analyze, find a workaround, re-plan, deny the event etc.

My workaround is to study something else meanwhile, with given time-out. I started a new program provided by Coursera. It is said that current workers and students need to learn eternally new. Maybe so, but even though I have a degree on Marketing, I found very intriguing to start a new specialization program of Digital Marketing. Globe is changing, so must I. Sort of funny, but my steps were exactly same than finding out, which PM-certification to take. Now of course there were so (too) much alternatives, but my criteria were quite simple. Not too costly, online courses available in my time, known institution, something to be linked in practice, maybe to get global network. But still I walked the same path from initiating to executing. I am monitored and controlled, which is good, it is keeping me more or less on the track (timetable). My first module is passed, so partial closing also experienced, final closure somewhere there over the rainbow, but heading there.

Last year I also started to bake traditional sourdough bread plus rye bread. So my thought is that do I process my new things always similarly, like a proper project manager. And after not so profound analysis I realized that well, yes, most of what I do and especially what I start is usually had some project management shower. For instance my baking. I wanted to have my own bread starters (I have blogged about the experience earlier). My first intention was to start with sourdough starter reasoning (I don’t know why) that is has to be easier, simpler than rye flour starter. I studied and compared and tried many times before succeeding. My trials and errors and lessons learned with sourdough starter helped me to create simple and living rye starter (many trials though). One lesson I learned is that ingredients differ from country to country or at least flours vary from Finnish ones I was used to. But since I have had time to experience, and it has been my own personal project, I have enjoyed a lot of every phase. Baking is of course another phase! All breads have been eatable, some tastier than others, but I am glad I have kept going on with my starters (they are still alive!) and baking.

Of course not all my activities follow the path of project management processes, but for me realizing this actually helped me with my studies as well. Some of the new things I have started and learned have been discontinued – quite probably the majority, but it is also have along some continuities, like reading (since I was about 10 years old), baking – I have had different waves and phase, but since I was 13-14 years old, and now the latest learning: my starters.

20160328_204413.jpgMy newest learned craftsmanship, I learned last October, how to knit socks by watching YouTube video. Socks are not beautiful, but  at least they are hand-made.