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The School of Life


I believe I developed the ability to listen to others a few years ago - decades after I learned how to talk... I never used to think of me going on and on about myself as harmful. Until I got bored of always knowing the upcoming story including its ending. I decided to open a mental door and actively listen to the non-Markus part of our planet's population, developing an interest in the lives, personalities, and stories of other people.

As a confident premature listener, I immediately became rather dogmatic about it. I soon expected the same of my friends and family. (You know those people who just quit smoking or recently became vegans? They won't stop bugging you about it; they are like evangelists. Well, that was me with my 'listening lessons...') After some of my friends literally hit me and urged me to talk again, I knew I was ready to take the next step: Roadmap.

Soon, listening to (and not judging) each other became a key company value at Roadmap. It was probably the best decision we could have made. Listening and being listened to can lead to great results: people connect with each other and an environment arises in which they feel safe and at home. Once this happens, people will surprise you beyond imagination (in a positive way, that is). And you know what? They did.

Since we believed that 'talking about listening' would not be effective, we decided to work with The school of Life to help our team develop these (and other) skills. The School of Life program was started by philosopher Alain de Botton, who starts from the idea that everybody is crazy. Consequently, we can be too. The more natural (or, weirder) you act, the better you make others feel about their own madness. A comforting reason to bring your full self to the company, don't you think?

Last week, Roadmap presented its first customer event 'at home.' Together with corporate travel masterminds, we enjoyed a tour and dinner at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. After wandering amongst Rembrandt and Vermeer's masterpieces, we went on a culinary trip, enjoying the Dutch cuisine. Dutch cuisine? Yes, Dutch cuisine. Now, Dutch cooking bears great resemblance to Dutch people: we get along with a lot of cultures, adapt very easily, and blend it into 'hutspot' (potpie) or 'bitterballen.' Who doesn't love it?

We had the opportunity to bring nine of our employees along. To see my co-workers mingle with our customers was amazing. It made me realize that they are becoming a truly admirable team. They all felt safe enough to stand there, completely being themselves. They shared stories. They listened to our guests. They ensured it was an evening to never forget. And we didn't even talk about work...

Want to know more about The School of Life and the way in which Roadmap tries to create employee and traveler happiness? Stay tuned for my next update. And thank you for hearing me out!