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Julie Beusmans is the founder of Freshbulb, an Human Centred Innovation training and facilitation company that believes that anybody can unleash their creativity. After over 12 years of Marketing and Research experience in the Corporate world, she identified the strong need for creative injections in the business world. Through training in Design Thinking & in Creative Mindsets or by facilitating cross functional teams from a variety of industries, she guides individuals to unleash their creativity and help their companies to come up with purposeful, desirable, unique and viable solutions.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a few projects with Corporate companies, whom I will help in finding new ways to to tackle their business challenges. Headaches that they have been struggling with for too long. We are guiding them firstly in finding new ways of defining the problem, which is often already a huge breakthrough in itself, and is all about uncovering the unarticulated needs of their customer or stakeholder. This problem reframing will allow them to come up with many new ideas.
Separately I am working on a project where we facilitate training in Design Thinking for teachers in secondary school, a great experience both ways! I am very happy to have signed a contract with CreativeExperience, as their Corporate trainer for Human Centred Innovation.
Meantime, I am still further negotiating, networking and exploring potential partnerships and new business. And back to study: Positive Psychology. All very exciting!
You recently left the corporate world into the startup world – how different has it been for you during this transition?
Different like night and day. I worked long hours in the corporate world, too long if you ask me. And even though I am working long hours again, it is a totally different way of working now. I following my personal mission, a purposeful mission, by helping people to grow their creative confidence and eventually lead a more fulfilling life. This drives me! Since I have only started the company recently, all the results still come from me only. Every minute spent is well worth it, every minute not spent, nothing is happening…
Even though I still put in long hours, currently they are flexible. With 2 little children this is a significant advantage. Whenever they need me I can arrange to be there fore them immediately.
At moments that I do not have energy, or do not feel creative, I do not force myself to continue sitting behind my laptop and try to be productive. I make sure that I do what is needed to re-energise: go for a run, yoga, meditate or meet a friend to brainstorm or chat. This is increasing my productivity exponentially. I wish that Corporate Companies would see the benefit of offering this flexibility to their employees, instead of watching over the hours that they are present and “working”.
Why did you make the transition?
It was not a conscious decision. I left Philips, because I needed a new challenges, and wanted to explore new territory, preferable outside of the Consumer Electronics industry. At that moment I was not thinking of setting up my own business, my intent was to go for the next MNC, marketing.
It was because of my “forced sabbatical”, being suddenly pregnant, that I started to do the things which I actually like doing. After a while only I realised that I was doing all kinds of projects that didn’t necessarily have to do with marketing, but that actually go back to my roots: Human Centred Innovation. It was during my holiday in the Netherlands, that I realised that I had been doing this all along, even internally with the companies I worked for: facilitating workshops and training for people to find new ways of understanding the problem and coming up with unique ideas.
Even though people had been telling me for a longer time, that I should continue doing these kind of innovation projects, it took me some time to realise that this is indeed my drive.
Have you faced any challenges along the way, if so what have they been?
The challenges I faced were the ones I expected on beforehand: starting your own company forces you to do things that are not necessarily supported by your signature strengths. Because of that they will take extra time, like administrative processes and building a website. On the other hand, I always stimulate people to try out new things, because it will widen their creative thinking, go into the uncomfortable. And so it does for me!
Time management becomes more and more important as work for ourselves and our own startup and being a mother, how do you manage your time? Any key tips? What are your favourite tools for productivity and getting stuff done?
I make sure that I spread my meetings over the week, not all in one day. This has a few advantages:
1. Having a meeting or conversation with a person, at least once day, will increase one’s productivity. Even if I have a deadline and tend to spend all day behind my desk, 1 meeting will boost my productivity.
2. By spreading the meetings, that leaves room for me every day to work on tasks and projects for a few hours in a row. It is an effective alternation.
A friend of mine advised me to start the day with a detailed agenda, from hour to hour. I thank her for that. I am a strategic person, but sometimes it lacks detail. Not only do I create daily agenda’s, I start my Monday with the weekly agenda. Then everyday I check the progress and create my daily agenda. From hour to hour.
In order to stick to the agenda, focus and presence is key. For example, when working on a specific task, then email and phone are turned off. Mindfulness is THE solution for me to stay focused. I have started a Mindfulness training last summer and learned so much as it comes to focus and presence. Without it I would be lost and distracted. I always thought mindfulness was a completely separated movement from business and work. Now only I understand the importance of this mindful lifestyle.
What’s one book that has changed your life?
It started with The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, both of which I read about 7 years back. These authors helped me to further open my eyes to the world and myself. This is when I started question more deeply if all my believes were actually true to my identity, or if they were conditioned. Why I was doing what I was doing and what was my purpose in life at that time.
Can you recommend one blog that you read religiously?
I read so many, depending on my mood as well. One that inspires me frequently is Tim Brown’s, IDEO’s CEO. Even though it is very IDEO minded, I like the variety of topics that he brings up and his down to earth way of writing.