Najiba Abdellaoui, Communication Consultant for TNT Express, winner of the Dutch Poetry Slam Championship 2008, was responsible for the communication concerning the new sustainable headquarters of TNT Express: the relocation and the new way of working.
How do you go from inspiration to creation?
I believe that when you’re in a position to change something, that’s what you should do. That’s the way I was brought up. You don’t just live your life for yourself. When I’m able to help work on a good idea, I start working on it immediately. My motto is: “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” (Victor Hugo). My attitude to life brings me to different places, which is fun, but sometimes I think that one life is not enough for me. As a writer, I believe that ideas come to you. There is something almost spiritual about it. If you don’t do something with it, someone somewhere else will. Likewise, as a communication consultant, I am always busy telling stories, messages that others can spread in the organization. Language is a very strong tool. Language enables you to make reality tangible. I think this is the difference between people with lots of good ideas and people who can transform their ideas into something tangible by simply seizing the moment and doing it right away. Instead of thinking “what do I have to offer; it’s probably been done a hundred times before.”
What do sustainability and entrepreneurship mean for your generation?
An idea isn’t significant until it touches other people. In my opinion, sustainability is about enriching ideas. Gathering people around you and letting go of the feeling that something is ‘yours’ alone. Sometimes the value of an idea is not in having it implemented, but in the fact that your idea inspires someone else to come up with an idea that is then implemented. You see this movement happening online in crowdsourcing: enriching and constantly adding. This leads to new projects that go beyond you as a person; it becomes sustainable. Our generation knows that ideas are not yours alone. You gather bits and bytes together and look for people to go with them. You share your idea and, when the time is ripe, it’s going to happen. The emerging Hub structure fits in well with this concept. Entrepreneurship goes both ways: top-down and bottom-up. Top-down encouragement takes place by providing tools and time. For example, Google gives its employees 1 day a week to generate new ideas. And bottom-up: if you really believe in your idea, you’ll make sure – even after working hours – that it materializes. You’ll have your elevator pitch ready. Any excuse means that your idea wasn’t strong enough.
Do you have any tips for the emerging generation and their organizations?
As a Young Professional, you enter the establishment. As a trainee, you’re still given a little slack and are expected to be full of bright ideas and eager to learn. You arrive in a place where often everything has been tried a hundred times before, so why would people take on your ideas? But if you think that you have a good idea, what happened in the past doesn’t matter. We live in a rapidly moving society in which reality is constantly changing. Evidently the time wasn’t right yet. Join in with the innovative spirits and remain open to feedback and co-creation. What I want to say to organizations that struggle to captivate and hold onto new talent is: disarm your fear. It is often the fear of new things and innovation, and that is precisely where the younger generation can help. Know why you want to change and constantly ask yourself to which extent you’ll go along with the new, and why. Creative minds are very important to the business community. They question the established agreements we have made in this world. And because we now live in a society in which so much is possible and acceptable, I see many people in my generation in search of their added value. When, as an organization, you enable your young professionals to demonstrate their talents and value, you contribute to sustainability.
Hasti van Vliet-Biglari, Program Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)