This is the personal blog of David Dekel elaborating on his daily life as an interim manager in Amsterdam and on his role as the CEO of Endeavour Enterprises N.V. The idea is to illuminate managerial aspects and challenges with a fresh view at daily events, blended with criticism, a little cynicism and some humor.
An old Chinese saying claims that even the longest voyage starts with a simple step forward. Let’s just hope this is a step in the right direction.
Enjoy the ride.
It is not every day that one can see a full 15 meters seaworthy yacht on a plain just among banks and lawyers’ firms. In March 2015 it is made possible thanks to a Dutch artist Leonard van Munster.
Fortuna Yacht Ams
Munster wanted to place a dual meaning boat on its side in order to symbolize the current trouble times we live in. Fortuna was the Roman goddess of chance, the deity responsible for both good fortune and bad.
Leonard van Munster has this to say about the symbolism of Fortuna: “A ship on its side represents both a ship that cannot continue its voyage and a ship that might one day sail again. It conjures up thoughts of pursuing your dreams, discovering the wide world, embracing new challenges. It’s like the Surinamese saying: mi kanto ma mi de ete. It means I’ve capsized but I’m still here. In other words, I have known setbacks but I’m not about to give up. It’s a powerful expression of willpower and the determination to fight. Despite everything, you are still alive and able to achieve your dreams.”
It was years ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday.
Nadia, my ex and I were invited to a secret wedding in New York. Secret due to the fact that some people get married prior getting parents’ endorsement. Long story.
Five days in NYC, company apartment in the middle of Manhattan and one wedding. Who needs more?
We bought tickets for KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines and found ourselves boarding a Northwest flight, MD11. On boarding, the purser has suddenly asked us if we were working for airlines. I wasn’t anymore, but Nadia was a flight attendant at Transavia Airlines at the time.
At door closing, that purser came down the aisle and asked if were to follow him as he had seats at the front. I asked Nadia if she minded and of course she didn’t, knowing this is the airlines code for upgrading.
The purser passed the front coach seats, didn’t even slow down at the Business class and aimed straight for the first two seats on Red Tails Northwest’s first class. On a transatlantic flight, this is one hell of a treat. Needless to say it was an amazing flight. Buying a first class ticket is one thing but when you get it for no reason, it somehow feels much better. Pampered at 30,000 ft. we felt on top of the world by all means.
I believe it was about eight hours’ flight and we were served the finest food and beverages. The crew was genuinely friendly and everyone wanted to know the story about the secret wedding, which was about to become not secret at all I suspected. I remember reading one of John Grisham’s novels and Nadia experimenting with all the champagnes they had onboard. “Bubbles class” as Nadia would coin the phrase, staring at the glass in her hand.
To top it up, upon landing, we were informed that there was a bomb threat on the gate we were taxing to, so we had to wait another hour onboard. Out of 200 passengers, two at the front row, could not care less. For all we cared at the time, they could make another round around the airport.
Five amazing days in the Big Apple, one wedding, lots of parties and one lonely thought at the back of the mind: How the hell do we do that again… you see, if you fly coach and being upgraded on the way back it is just perfect. However, what do you do if you fly first class and need to go back in coach? That is something that kept waiting to be resolved.
And that is how we boarded the flight back. With no useful idea on how to hint the crew there was a legacy involved. Our favorite purser was not there, but to our surprise, most of the familiar crew, was. They were happy to see us.
Right after takeoff, one of the crew came and apologized for not having a single seat on any other class to upgrade us. As a token of their apology, they gave us a superb bottle of wine.
We were genuinely amazed. This crew was so nice to us on both flight legs and made our time abroad so much nicer, even magical. At times when airlines were cutting expenses and no frills flight carriers dominating, it was refreshing to experience true interest in us as people and enjoy the luxury and hospitality.
At the time, I had no idea if that crew followed any NWA policy or actually bend the rules, but I do know this: they made our trip and we remember them.
They say that a happy customer shares his experience with five people whereas an unhappy one tells twenty people. I told this story to many more and spoke highly of NWA in every occasion and Nadia did the same. I am a little late with writing about it, as Northwest Airlines (NWA) merged with Delta Airlines couple of years ago, formulating the world’s largest carrier. You may see a Red Tail aircraft with tail logo of NWA, a mirage, only in museums, but not flying, unfortunately.
Looking at all the YouTube movies about NWA’s legacy, I know it was a unique company that managed to motivate their people to meet or exceed passenger’s’ expectations and not only as a mission statement but on a daily basis at work.
Writing this blog post, I looked at some videos NWA employees made. What was just a feeling up there is clearly visible on the YouTube movie I posted here. It was the human factor that made the difference at NWA.
These lines are written with gratitude to that Northwest Airlines crew that is undoubtedly keeping flying up there. And if under the heavy blue color, a red tail still exists somewhere, then we know that the spirit is still up there.
Many words have been written about the quality of service in the Netherlands and many more about banks and their attitude.
You’d think that in the middle of a global recession caused by banks and the financial industry themselves, banks would be more careful or customer oriented. Our experience proves the opposite.
We have just found that our corporate bank account at the ING bank is blocked for few days. There is no option to process payments and direct debits are bouncing back.
It took the bank about 15 minutes and two attempts before they found out they actually blocked our account. The reason was that they have sent us a form about possible changes in the account beneficiaries and did not receive any answer.
They said they have sent it twice and even placed two cents in our bank account with a threat to block the account if they are not contacted.
After 11 years of working with that bank, we are amazed by the easy finger on the trigger demonstrated. The bank did not even consider calling the company, emailing or doing any other action such as sending a registered letter. The post is being delivered by several private contractors and cannot be trusted as before and our banking system is exported directly to an accounting system that takes a while before it understands threats of blockade.
It seems that the bank does not really care for its customers and acts in customers’ accounts as if they belonged to the bank.
Our bank account is blocked by the ING bank
Blocking a corporate account meaning stopping business transactions and basically stopping business activity. Someone at the ING bank thinks they have the right to do that any time they need to fill in information that they actually already have.
They do that because they can. The customer is helpless against the bank and the bank abuses that fact.
We have contacted the ING bank on their Facebook page and the answer we received is that they need the form filled in in order to release the account. In other words, the account is held hostage until the ING gets the information they need.
We decided not to give up. We are not filling the form; we are closing the account and searching for a new bank. A bank with a little more respect to its clients. Our current goal is to release the blockade on our account.
There are two Hiltons in Prague, Czech Republic; this review is about Hilton Prague hotel, NOT Hilton Prague Old Town.
Check in and out
Very polite check in done by Emanuel who made sure all my preferences and requirements were met. Five minutes after entering my room I got a call from Emanuel verifying my room was to my satisfaction and asking if I needed anything else. I find that gesture very appealing.
There are two executive level floors at the hotel, 7th and 8th. As a Gold member I was upgraded to the 7th floor.
A business trip to Bucharest brought me again to Hilton Athenee Palace, my favorite hotel in the city.
Check in and out at Hilton Bucharest
Checked in by Lucian and Ioana, that were polite and helpful. It was a very nice welcome back to the hotel.
We all quickly realized that the suite I ordered was still occupied. A wedding that took place the evening before, made sure the newly wedded couple had no chance to meet the 12:00 deadline of checkout. It is Sunday noon and I am not on a hurry, although I am offered an equivalent suite, I tell the receptionist that I don’t mind waiting until they get organized upstairs. After all, people don’t get married every day.
The front office people ask me if I don’t mind waiting for an hour at the executive lounge. I don’t. It happens to be my favorite spot at Hilton hotels. About an hour later, Ioana comes to the lounge to hand me my room key card, ask me to sign the C.I. Form and kindly asked me to present an ID and CC later on at the check in desk.
Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya hotel is conveniently located couple of kilometers from the Kremlin and next to the metro station Kazanskiy Vokzal and Leningradskiy Railway station and about 25 KM from Sheremetyevo International Airport
This is a perfect connection to the Aeroexpress train to Sharmetyevo airport. Three tram stops away.
Hilton Moscow hotel at night
Check in & checkout at Hilton Moscow
Fast polite and practical. Early check in at 08:30 in the morning was possible upon early request. In order to guarantee such service you mostly need to book or your chances. In my case, my room was waiting just for me.
Late checkout with no extra payment for gold members is possible until 16:00 after which 50% of your room daily rate would be charged.
I have landed at Schiphol Amsterdam airport a while ago onboard KLM / Air France Bowing only to discover that my new suitcase was seriously damaged. Expecting the usual hour delay in order to make the necessary complain, I headed to the KLM service desk.
KLM Airfrance service desk at Shiphol Amsterdam
At the desk I realized about 15 Poole waiting to report their lost or damaged luggage, so before taking my place at the queue, I approached the ground stewardess to be sure this is what I needed to do. The stewardess confirmed there has to be a report filed for the event but directed me to the business and first class next office although I flew coach.
I was assisted almost immediately and the next stewardess that was already informed and have stated that my suitcase was of a new model and they did not have such thing yet.
A last minute and unexpected travel to Paris led me into the Hilton Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace.
Location Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace
Location is somewhat problematic since the hotel is located outside Paris just next to Versailles palace, Chateau de Versailles.
There is a direct train from St. Lazaer to a station located 15 minutes’ walk from the hotel. If you are looking for a centrally located hotel, this one would not be your first choice. The problem is not so much the distance which is about 35 min ride from St. Lazar, it is mostly the connection between a tram, train and the bus (two, to be exact) or taxi you would need to reach the hotel.
The Hilton Budapest is not located in the city centrum. In fact it is located on the high hill on the other side of the Danube the part of the city used to be called Buda. Looking across the river uphill from Pest, the Hilton Budapest is located next to the castle you see on top.
This Hilton should not be confused with Hilton West End located on the Pest side.
Two issues are actually canceling this minor Fact out:
The Hilton Budapest has a special taxi that gets you downhill and across the river to the Four Seasons hotel area for a price roughly equal to 2 euros.
The other issue is that the area of the Hilton has some good restaurants and bars and the huge Mammoth shopping mall is located 10 minutes’ walk from the hotel. One thing one should keep in mind, that going downhill to the shopping mall area is one thing. Climbing by foot that sharp angle uphill, especially after a full Hungarian dinner, is by far easier said than done.
We had a discussion today at SES London (Search engine optimization yearly conference for online strategies) concerning buying links or paying for links.
If you are a SEO / SEM professional, you have considered that option more than once and as we say, no one is holy…
Google by the way, strictly forbidden that.
Patrick Altoft, Director of Search, Branded3 had a presentation today on the subject and here is his suggestion for buying links from a link provider:
Never ever do that! The reason is that Google is probably aware and familiar with the sites the link seller offer and already categorised them. In fact, a link from a Google marked suspicious site could really damage a target website. There are knowing stories of webmasters begging link sellers to remove bad links.
Despite the temptation, it is highly recommended NOT to use the service of all these Asian or local firms offering you hundreds of links.
Having said that, I just thought that the links sellers should seriously consider the following revenue model:
Sometimes, the higher the expectations, the greater the disappointment.
Forget about iPhone 5, for the time being at least. What was expected to be the iPhone 5 unveiling became just an iPhone 4S announcement.
Despite the speculations and the hopes, there would be only few minor changes an the next iPhone that is rightly though called iPhone 4S.
To majority of technology and apple admirers, this is probably the disappointment of the year. Which by the way, we have a recommendation of new spelling to the word disappointment: Di(4s)sappointment.
Our major question, despite the obvious is: how Apple being aware of the high expectations, has let that happen.
While people politely cheered in the audience, Apple’s share price plunged 3 per cent.
That official iPhone 4s release probably looked great when they did it, but now, facing the disappointment, it looks much less appealing. However, here it is anyway.
As iphone 5 is about to be announced, many people are trying to make guesses concerning its design and features.
The following youtube video that present a new iphone 5 concept gained more than 20 million views in less than three weeks.
Iphone 5 features
The iphone 5 features presented in this video are a bit too early for their time, but maybe something to aspire to in the next version. Iphone 5 features, whatever they may come up may not be that surprising, I am afraid. It may be slimmer than its predecessors and have one or two new gadgets or features, but no breakthrough is expected.
The new iPhone 5 is speculated to be loaded with new features like video chat on 3g and 4g face recognition and extreme downloading
This iPhone 5 may be equipped with a speedy dual core A5 chip processor and a faster graphic chips that can deliver higher video resolutions (5-9 times better) and amazing “still” images when taking pictures, it will make multi-tasking a lot faster.
We, however, have some minor basic requests, although clearly aware this is too late for iphone5:
A much stronger battery, a bigger screen and solve the damn Flash problem… is that too much to ask?
Endeavour, the space shuttle named after the same Endeavour as our company, is naturally, of great interest for us. Endeavour’s last space voyage started today. The next voyage of the last of the shuttles will be Atlantis’ after which the shuttle space program would be terminated.
Endeavour blasted off on the next-to-last shuttle flight Monday morning under the command of Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The wounded congresswoman watched the launch in private from Kennedy Space Center. As many as 45,000 guests jammed NASA’s launch site. The crowd outside the gates was estimated to be in the tens of thousands, if not more. It was the second launch attempt. Late last month, an electrical problem halted the countdown. Endeavour and its six astronauts will arrive at the International Space Station on Wednesday. They are delivering a $2 billion particle physics experiment. The mission will last 16 days. Only one other shuttle trip remains.
As the tabs war gearing to a new generation, Samsung had recently embarrassing accidents that are the hot issue on few tech blogs.
Samsung has launched few promo movies concerning its new tabs. Unfortunately for the company, two major events clouded the celebration and posed genuine concern.
The first was the company’s claim that the new tab is thinner than its rival, the iPad-2. A second check revealed that the new tab is wider than the ipad-2 two and the statement was wrong.
If this is not enough, a second event, this time on the web, YouTube movie to be exact appears with people commenting on the new Samsung tab. A closer look reveals these enthusiastic reviewers are actually actors.
Every morning the astronauts onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery wakes up to a selected music. Mostly by their friends and families.
Today, Monday, they had a little surprise: NASA broadcasted the music from the unforgettable since fiction movie Star Trek with William Shatner’s voice recorded especially for the last mission of the Discovery.
The discovery is up there making final preparation for its final landing back on Earth. Two more flights are left for the shuttle program: Endeavour in April and Atlantis in May.
This will end a time period of forty years of The Space Shuttle Program.
Six orbiters were built: Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour.
Challenger was lost during takeoff on January 28 1986 and Columbia was lost during reentry on February 1st 2003.
This is not the first time Star Trek and the Shuttle Space Program are crossing each other’s way. The first Shuttle, back in the eighties, was originally named Constitution. A massive post campaign aimed at President Ronald Reagan by the fans of the Star Trek series, changed his mind and the name was changed to Enterprise.
Another chilling reminder to September 11 events. This time a classified movie taken from police helicopter documenting the fall of the two WTC towers. This movie was released last night.
I believe most of us clearly remember the moments depicted in the movie and clearly remember where they were and what they did at the time. Most of us were covering their mouth in shock, looking at the horrific site of the collapsing towers, refusing to believe it.
Apple iPad 2 announced today by Steve Jobs at Apple event.
Jobs appearance was a surprise, but he did in fact make the event. He shared some stats about the iBookstore, which has 2,500 publishers. He also announced that Random House is bringing over 17,000 books to the store.
Then came the announcement. The iPad 2 is faster with the A5 chip and a dual core processor. Apple says it’s up to 2 times faster,a nd up to 9 times faster on graphics. It’s 33% thinner (thinner than the iPhone 4) and only 1.3 pounds compared to 1.5 on the old one. This should make it a little better for reading publications like The Daily – as far as general comfort.
It comes in both black and white. There is a rear and front-facing camera. Battery life is the same as old iPad – 10 hours, over a month of standby.
“We have the same legendary 10 hour battery life… with all this extra stuff in it and dramatically thinner.” And the pricing remains unchanged, starting at $499 for a 16 gigabyte model.