A no-nonsense tip for success, or the power of asking

Knock and the door will be opened.

Knock and the door will be opened.

Like in the popular cartoons, this morningI felt an invisible lamp being lit over my head;  the so-called “a-ha” moment, and I want to share my insight with you.

As usual, it happened when I was injecting my morning dose of inspiration on BBC.com Capital into my brains. “The Three Secrets of Getting What You Want”- the clickbait headline already foreboded a mix of ultimate reading pleasure and a promise of tangible outcomes (read: subsequent actions).

I’m not going to criticize or summarize the article. Rather, I’ll focus on the  single point that rang a bell to me. Asking as a prerequisite for getting what you  dream about. And this is when I realized the only gross obstacle pulls me back and halts my progress toward the goals: I suck at asking because I’m too proud, sometimes lazy, and other times just foolish, and even when I ask the time spent on the decision-making drains the energy that could have been spent more efficiently on my goals.

“Ask and it shall be given to you”, the famous Bible quote swirled into my mind (which is rare given my not being a keen Christian or an overly religious person) which started conflicting with another thought-provoking quote by my favorite Mikhail Bulgakov: “You should never ask anyone for anything. Never- and especially from those who are more powerful than yourself.” (NB: Woland’s advice to Margarita).

Sorry, my favorite Bulgakov, author of immortal “Master and Margarita”. With all my love and respect to your masterpiece, these words are not up-to-date anymore. The life realities haves changed. Life speeds have so much accelerated that one can’t have the luxury of sitting back and waiting when those “who are more powerful” to notice your merits (for instance, to give you the deserved raise or recognition at work).

And my recent life experience has come to prove that. Of course, it took me months to take the step of asking to later find out it’s not at all humiliating and tough, especially when you’re sure you deserve what you ask for.  The result? I got what I wanted (even if it was a short-term fix), and I’m not sure if I would if I hadn’t asked.

A conclusion? Besides your personal strategies and tactics (share, please, if you do anything specific and out-of-box to reach your goals), the overused “visualization” and already cliche “positive thinking” strategies, just ask for the particular thing you want to have for your longer-term goals, and 90 times out 100 you will be rewarded. After all, rejection is better than regret.

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Discovering Amsterdam: Dos and Don’ts for first-time travelers

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The “I AMsterdam” sight and Rijskmuseum

I intentionally omit the Days 2, 3,4 and skip to conclusions as I’m going to devote a separate entry to the Ent-Ex Amsterdam – that’s what I’ve been doing over these days!

After overcoming some fears  which kept me awake at night at the pre-vacation period, immersing in some culture on Day 1 and improving my entrepreneurial skills within the days to come, I was freely navigating in Amsterdam discovering the whole charm of the city and trying to live rather than be a tourist here.

So, what  I think you should or shouldn’t do in the Dutch capital? Let’s start with Dont’s.

  1. Don’t take photos of the GIRLS. The Red Light District Girls. Yes, some of them are stunning but it’s not allowed to capture the beauty with your camera.
Must-see but must-not-photo place, Red Light District

Must-see but must-not-photo place, Red Light District

2. Don’t have high  expectations to the local cuisine. “If you’re going to Belgium next, then save your appetite till then- here you’re not going to satisfy your gourmet tastes unless you’re going to a really posh restaurant (which you won’t, of course:)”, I was constantly told when I asked about a nice local restaurant to savor local food. Just like that: simple pancakes, fried potatoes and herring (which is a must-taste, though!) that’s what I managed to spot.

3. Don’t have the hope for even the slightest hint for steady weather. Even in summer. Even when there don’t seem to be any clouds in the sky. The unpredictability of Dutch weather is almost legendary. That holds true to Belgium, too. So, be prepared for sudden weather metamorphoses – and always keep your raincoat or umbrella in the backpack.

Rain in Amsterdam

Rain in Amsterdam

4. Don’t go to the local Dutch pubs! Especially if you’re claustrophobic and allergic to pop. Go for a classy, hip club (flocked in the city center, by the famous Bulldog coffeshop). The quality of music and service is higher here.

Amsterdam nightlife

Amsterdam nightlife

5.  Don’t fight with a bicyclist if you’re about to be hit by him/her. There is an unwritten rule in Holland: the bicyclist is always right. Even if he/she is wrong 🙂

6. Don’t buy water in the supermarket: the Dutch are proud to have the cleanest water in Europe, so you can just drink from the tap.

7. Especially if you’re from the warmer part of the world, don’t take beachwear or tiny shorts or sleeveless t-shirts (unless you’re hardy enough): even in summer, you just won’t need them here. Pack light- meaning pack warmer things.

And, what you should DO in Amsterdam?

  1. Do stroll around Museum Plein every evening, read a book lying on the grass at Vondel Park or just have a beer at the Dam Square. (Warning: high concentration of tourist traps here as on almost all the “historical centers”).
Museum Plein

Museum Plein

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2. Do try the national herring – fast food- which is not a junk food surprisingly, and is (thank God) the only dish in the cuisine that I liked.

This is how Dutch raw herring is eaten

This is how Dutch raw herring is eaten

3. Do take a boat trip. Well, some people may consider it a splurge, what if you don’t take it on your vacation when else are you going to pamper yourself? It costs around 10-20 Euros, comes with an audio guide and unrivalled views of the city.

Amsterdam boat trip

Amsterdam boat trip

4. Do take Thalys train at least once if you’re going to other cities after Amsterdam. A bit pricey but very comfortable journey is guaranteed. With free Wi Fi and magnificent views of windmills, of course.

New windmills in Netherlands

New windmills in Netherlands

5. Do try the local beer. For me personally it was a bit heavy, but it has a unique flavor and smell different from, for instance, Belgian ones (which I love a lot!). So, swap your Heineken (which is Dutch as well, by the way) with local beers made in the Amsterdam Brewery.

Amsterdam beer is a must-taste

Amsterdam beer is a must-taste

6. Do take trams. I absolutely love this transport (some time ago we used to have them in Yerevan as well). Cozy, clean and quite fast, they work on a 5-6minute basis. Just get a transport pass in your hotel and voila- enjoy the ride!

N5 tram- fast and cozy

N5 tram- fast and cozy

7.  And, of course, if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or just feel like developing your entrepreneurship skills for your job, visit Ent-Ex Amsterdam next year. As promised, I’m going to write about the programme in the next blogpost.

5 insights on what to start this spring

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Goodbye winter, welcome spring!

Okay, I admit we all become sluggish and lazy in winter, and even the promise of having a body like Apollo/Venus can’t make us leave our coaches for the gym or even cinema. But I have good news (in case you’re still hibernating and missed it): the spring has come! Perhaps, some of you have a well-though-out “to-do list (or “to-Not-do list”) for spring, yet others are still clueless about how to add some color to their lives this spring. In both cases, replace your favorite “I’ll start it in spring” with “I’ll do it today” and consider one of these options:

  1. Gym/ pool/yoga/capoeira classes

Don’t be panic-stricken by the thought that summer is 3 months away and you’re still far from Adriana Lima (and, in general, don’t panic, “This too shall pass”:)). Instead of obsessing over your imperfections as an imminent result of winter pig-outs, just stick to healthy lifestyle: balanced eating, “green day” – meaning only vegetables and fruit- once a week,+ physical activity minimum twice a week. If you top the list of the laziest geeks, then at least do this short 10-minute workout in front of your favorite soap opera.

  1. Cultural events

Spring is time to not only physical but also spiritual and mental “workout”. Check out your local events and pick one closer to your heart. Or, rather, try something new – like a museum or gallery if you’re more of a music fan, or ballet if you have never seen it live. Sometimes, changing such small patterns gravitates fundamental changes in life.

  1. Reconnect with “the lost” friend

All of us have that friend who is always on our mind but we’re always too busy/exhausted/ annoyed/ in love to squeeze time for him/her. You chat occasionally on Facebook recalling the fun you had together and still…fail to put her/him on your priority list. As you regained physical and mental shape (if you follow the above-mentioned tips, of courseJ), it’s time to make the move and schedule an offline meeting with that pleasant but interrupted connection.

  1. Plan ahead your summer fun

It’s a life-tested technique: whenever you feel bogged down or listless, plan (or at least, imagine) your next (summer mostly, and autumn- in some cases) destination. It’s my only remedy against apathy, to be honest: I go to BBC Travel, read a travel blog or watch a video about faraway countries,  and then visualize myself in one destination at a time. Even the thought of upcoming travel propels me to tackle the routine more effectively, and I’m sure it will work for you, too.

  1. And finally, plan to be more spontaneous. This may sound a paradox, but arrange to leave some room for spontaneity that may come your way. I should confess I’m a control freak most of time and I get overly annoyed if something pops out of my agenda. But then I remind myself that all the wonderful things that happened to me when I least expected them. So I sometimes I cancel a class, make an impromptu call to a friend or dig in the nearest bookstore in search an insightful book, or just stroll aimlessly observing the city life and passers-by.

P.S. The beauty of life is in inventing ”variations” on main ” theme” of your routine. Fill it with more music, more spontaneity and action, do not  follow these insights if you have something more exciting in your mind- just savor the promising warmth of spring and all year round!