The things that inspire me at Vlerick: The guest speakers who have a proven lesson to teach

Wednesday, 26 February 2014, 11:23 | Category : Masters
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Post by Melissa Soto

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver

Since the beginnings of our Master in Marketing, there have been several inspiring speakers. Some are core professors and others visit us to share their own experiences: their successes, their failures and how they did to get back in the game… But most importantly, they tell us about the lessons they learned. Each time there’s a guest speaker, it’s to tell his or her story. But what none of them know, is that by doing so, they have instilled a certain belief in all of us. A belief to chase after our dreams, because they can turn into reality if we want it bad enough. A belief that we can face each and every challenge, as long as we follow our own hearts. A belief that our passions will guide us to where we want to be. Those stories have been more like life lessons to us this year. Or at least, that is how I feel about them.

For example, few weeks ago we had no less than three speakers to cover the topic of Interactive Marketing. Each one had a different perspective: starting with the power of word-of-mouth and how you can generate impactful conversations with current and potential customers, over to how to create loyalty by combining offline service with online campaigns, and ending with mobile strategies and the plenty of recent innovations in that field. Each one of them shared with us their personal stories, their life experience and with that, some really interesting cases they’ve worked on.

1. Steven Van Belleghem, author of Conversation Manager & Conversation Company. Started his career as a researcher at Vlerick. Today he is a writer, speaker and he runs his own company: B-Conversational.

2. Polle de Maagt, began as a trendwatcher in a recognized Belgian agency and then moved to other two important advertising and market research firms. Now he is living the entrepreneur life with his recent venture: The Ministry of World Domination.

3. Dado Van Peteghem, started his career as a consultant in a global market research and consulting firm. Today he is a managing partner at a Belgian company and co-founder of a pretty successful social media online tool.

The most inspiring thing about these speakers is that they all started out just like us: young professionals, eager to learn and wanting to reach for the stars. They all found their own path to follow; though I’m sure they’re not at all near the end of it. But besides having that desire to succeed – and then actually making it happen too – is not the only thing about them that inspires us, and definitely inspires me, to be great. There are a couple of key elements that add the necessary touch to go from simply narrating to actually move something inside other people:

  • They are unafraid to make mistakes and they are honest about it when they do.
  • They are humble about their own achievements and they highlight their learnings from their failures.
  • They are proud of who they are, which includes flaws, strengths and even some quirks. For instance, Steven is very well known for wearing his blue sweater to the point that when he gets a call to deliver a speech or a lecture, he is often requested to bring the famous sweater along with him.
  • They work hard and they play hard. They know that, to get where you want to go, it often takes several sleepless nights. You have to go after your dreams and you mustn’t be afraid to go the extra mile. It was not easy for any of them, but it was totally worth it.

Steven Van Belleghem - M3 Interactive Marketing
So I guess I just want to say… They are real people. Their lives are not just about business and making money. It’s about achieving their dreams, following their passions. They weren’t afraid to challenge themselves and they never let a boundary stop them. Instead, they tackled every hurdle as it came their way, all the while enjoying the ride. That is what makes their stories so much more than just a lesson. Because they know what they’re talking about – they lived through it – and that is why their guest lectures are more like life lessons. And certainly amazing examples to try and emulate. I’m for sure ready to start reaching for the stars. Are you?

Question: Who are those speakers who have inspired you the most with their stories?

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