Thoughts, travels and inspiration

Tag: luxembourg

Four reasons parenthood can make you a better leader

Father and son
Father and son by MarcelaHernouxPhotography

Who has never met somebody at work and say a couple of years after, he or she was a real father / mother for me… I grew up so much during my tenure during this role. He taught me so much.. She cared so much about me and our team…

Leadership is defined by the New Oxford Dictionary of English as: ‘the action of leading a group of people or an organisation’. However the range of actions included in this definition remains vague and left to the appreciation of many.

In this article, based on my recent experience as a father, I would like to offer you four reasons parenthood can inspire you to become a better leader.

1- Develop a clear vision of what to become as a family

As a family, we are all different and unique but we are also one living together good and bad moments. From birth we will all experiment happy and difficult moments where our family is the very first place we can search out for strength and comfort.

However, for this to work, an ambiance of acceptance and encouragement has to be put in place. Trust is key to travel together in this lifelong journey and parents must be the captain in charge of sailing everyday the boat to the right direction.

As parents, we must make sure our children grow in a certain structure that will make them ready to live in society while offering them the tools to think independently and make the right decisions.

We have to build a vision of what we want to become together and develop it with the support of all family members. We have to find what unites us and not divides us permanently.

In a business the role of the leader is to create the right culture for its talents to thrive and reach their objectives both professional but also personal to retain them over time.

The goal is to lead to a common objective where both businesses and talents will be better off. As parenthood, vision is what unites people together, make them stick and grow unanimously.

Photo by Askar Abayev from Pexels

2- Define the values that power you as a unit

Values are what allow us to take the toughest decisions of our lives. They are defined as the moral principles and beliefs or accepted standards of a person or social group like a family or a business.

While the vision of what we want to become as a family is the ideal we want to work for, the values are the guiding principles through how we want to achieve that.

We are all different as individuals and we value different things unevenly. However, when we face tough decisions, we need to find common ground to respond the right way.

For some, it will be based on religion, others on rules that have always been in place in the family. Above all, we all need to get the same rules to respond in the right way, learn and grow..

For corporate leaders, this is just the same. People come from different cultures, background, religions and have different priorities in life. The role of the leader is to define and convey over time the set of rules that will be used to grow the business overtime.

How to do it ? Jack Welch, the ex-CEO of GE developed a specific matrix called the Performance / Values Matrix. It clearly states that culture fit should always be preferred to performance fit to develop a business in the long-term.

Performance Value matrix from Jack Welsh as explained by AVA

From quality, to honesty or care, some are just examples that I value and carry on through my activities while hiring or joining new businesses. Think about what yours are and hire and retain only people that fit yours. You will save many hours wondering if you made the right decisions in your career..

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

3- Deliver results through basic but powerful metrics

Numbers people, I have good news for you. Parenthood is also a lot about numbers. From numbers of baby’s bottles to give or the average volume a baby needs to drink from Mommy’s breast, to counting how much the little darling pees or poops to make sure everything is normal, there are a lot of metrics to keep in mind.

Sounds familiar ? Our way of working was to log everything to measure the progress days after days and months after months. The result? The capacity to anticipate baby being hungry at 4am, more comfort for him and longer(ish) nights of sleep for us.. Sounds regimental? People and businesses always go further, quicker and easier with systems in place. For more tips, ask your paediatrician 🙂

In business, many will have recognised the basics of a business plan and a forecast.. Look at the big picture, break it down in small steps, know the activities you have to do every day, measure them and act upon them. Fail fast, learn fast and grow quickly! In summary, be agile !!

Anybody can do a basic form of log tracking and bring more success to the growth phase of a newborn little darling or company. Take the time to review your market position per activity (the SWOT), think about micro / macro economics affecting your business (PESTEL / PORTER). Make sure to know what is your unicity or superiority in the market. Then, you’ll be ready for success.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

4- Prioritise what is important for growth

If parenthood can be described as something wonderful, it is also sometimes overwhelming, with the schedule of the new arrival added to the obligations of the house. From shopping to going out for a meal with the better-half or friends, everything becomes different and priorities must be reshuffled.

Like in business, parents’ days start early and finish late with sometimes (especially at the beginning) very little time to rest at night. Knowing and acting on what is truly important or or urgent becomes key.

For Eisenhower, we can assign tasks to four different categories depending on their importance and their urgency. Most importantly, if we should tackle first the important / urgent, we should focus most of our time in the important / not urgent to build a system for success.

The Eisenhower time matrix adapted from Business Savvy Mama

For parents to leaders, it is our duty to prioritise invaluable things and organise our days to make sure we tackle all roles in life. Nobody can do it for us and leaving the world running our priorities is a poor choice that will have one day or another an impact on our health and our career or lives over time.

The Wheel of Life as proposed by leading coach Tony Robbins can be a great place to start. Have a look at what matters to you in life, assess where you are today and set up the right development plan for growth in areas that matter to you and your happiness.

Photo by Elina Fairytale from Pexels

Parenthood and leadership a human growth accelerator

Parenthood is a unique experience making you live all types of feelings on a daily basis. It also teaches you key values like patience, care and dedication. It places you in a way bigger spectrum than where you thought you were before. If forces you to understand how to make life better for you and your family everyday.

Leadership is a similar experience at the head of an organisation. From defining the vision to creating the right team to deliver the expected results, it challenges you on a daily basis to manage people like a family. It makes you take difficult decisions with the right values to grow and for everybody’s best interest.

Parenthood teaches you so much on how to become a better leader. But realistically, we should all become more leaders’ of our own lives. And to those wondering, isn’t great leadership also the perfect learning opportunity to become amazing parents ?

Feeling like in the same boat and want to share your experience, leave us a comment below or drop us an email at contact(at)guillaumehernoux(dot)com. Parents, leaders, followers, tell us what you think and let’s have a chat !

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

Four pillars to make your business digital

Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

For many years, businesses have been driven by people who always searched for ways to improve their efficiency and their success with their customers.

From the use of rustic tools to shape things in prehistory, to automated machinery more recently, people and then companies have become more efficient at creating products and value to their customers.

The 21st century isn’t any different of the previous ones and recent events like the Covid 19 pandemic are only accelerating current trends, the main one being digitalisation.

Digitalisation defines digital transformation for a business. It is the process of using digital tools to acquire, manage, automate and simplify manually done tasks to increase efficiency.

Many studies have been done on its main benefits over time. On average, digitalising a business brings a revenue increase of 25%, cost savings of 20%, productivity, easiness to achieve projects and happiness at work.

With Luxfactory, I make digitalisation easy for our customers so they can achieve maximum efficiency, bringing optimum performance and results with the least number of inputs.

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Businesses are stronger when they build their processes and operations on strong foundations. Today, we are sharing our vision on the 4 pillars of digitalisation for a business:

1.    Human capital leadership is all about hiring, managing, promoting and supporting people in all situations. Talents are the core and the face of a business. Their achievements bring ultimate success to companies. Digital solutions can help make them better, happier and more productive. Tools such as talent management platforms or employee surveys tools can facilitate this process. 

2.    Digital customer relationships for an easier way of acquiring new customers who have shifted their purchasing habits to online with the pandemic. Know their preferences, serve them in an even, more professional manner and make them loyal to your brand for the foreseeable future. CRMs are usually the key for success as they provide a 360° view of customer relationships.

3.    Analytical financial performance: numbers are made to help make the best decisions for businesses and must be available on-demand. Billing, invoicing, accounting reports, etc should be accessible instantly to help determine the best path to follow for your business. Finances should be more dynamic, adaptable, analytical and not static, to offer your business more flexibility in management. Invoicing, payroll, accounting tools are the core of this pillar with all-in-one solutions often proposed. 

4.    Sustainable asset management for companies’ infrastructure, security, remote access and environmental footprint. All access to a business must be monitored to make sure the team gets the safest and cleanest environment to operate a carbon-neutral business that does good to their community and the planet. Asset management solutions can be deployed here easily as well as user authentication platforms to make your infrastructure more secure. Antivirus, firewalls and GDPR basic rules should also become the basis for companies to operate safely.

The four pillars for companies’ digitalisation success

The Luxembourgish Government has understood the importance of having more digitalised companies to serve their customers by creating through Luxinnovation, its national innovation agency, a range of digitalisation programmes.  

With 16 years of expertise in consulting services, Luxfactory has teamed up with Luxinnovation to offer you the Fit4Digital and Fit4Digital Packages programmes.

Luxfactory is offering to Luxembourgish SMEs the opportunity to get a creative assessment of their processes and systems to measure their efficiency and resilience for growth.

The recommendations from the report allow companies to avail of financial support going:

  • Up to 20% on investments (hardware, software)
  • Up to 50% on consulting services.

Made by a certified consultant, the recommendations are impartially provided, tailored to your needs and will allow you to work with your current IT suppliers to get the best digital solutions in the market to continue to develop your business.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. I will be delighted to help 😀

Five reasons to volunteer in 2020

Photo by Marcela Hernoux Photography

Last December I had the opportunity to be part of one of the biggest self-development event TEDx in Luxembourg City. Most people are familiar with the TEDx model of conferences: ideas worth sharing being delivered in 10 – 12 minute talks, made available to the public online, so that more people can have access to them.

From the importance of sharing knowledge to engaging ourselves for a cause, the TEDx conferences offer a possibility for everyone to grow not only as individuals, but also as a society. It’s meant to inspire, stimulate and motivate attendees, stirring up new and thought-provoking ideas and concepts.

This made me think of the act of volunteering: offering my time and services for free and not expecting payment in exchange. I realised throughout the process that the experience has given me so much that my time was actually paid, not in a pecuniary form, though.

Volunteering has numerous benefits and I would like to encourage you to think about it in 2020. Here is a modest list of 5 of these benefits that I felt were my paycheck.

1- Volunteering gives a sense of purpose

In a world going faster and faster, we sometimes feel stuck in a routine, doing the same actions again and again.

After long hours at the office, on the phone or on a road to meet clients, picking up the kids at school or enjoying a bit of free time with one or two beloved activities, we develop the “Sunday evening feeling” that the next week is another one before another break or holidays.

Volunteering offers a tremendous opportunity to be part of something bigger than us and to give our best for something that can change the life of many. It allows us to nourish our values and to transform us into an instrument of goodness, without the mechanised feeling of routine tasks.

With strong values of quality, respect and freedom, volunteering with TEDx offers me the opportunity to reflect on topics that can be interesting to develop my values and share them with the people around me.

It allows me to be part of a bigger group of bright minds that give their best to share knowledge with others.

2- Volunteering helps to develop deeper relationships with people

Volunteering is usually a privileged moment to meet a lot of people in a different context detached from the routine.

Listening to an older person who is retired and feeling lonely, giving a hand to a part of the community who is in need or offering some free time to teach a passion to kids or disadvantaged people is a fantastic opportunity to connect with others and build a strong relationship with them.

Offering my management skills to TEDx enabled me to meet people I sometimes work with in other contexts and develop a unique collaboration without any other interest than serving a cause I dearly care about. The interaction becomes more spontaneous and genuine, and the environment is more friendly and less competitive.

3- Volunteering is good for your career

Volunteering is also good for your career. As we all know, careers can be pretty linear with the same type of activities done with different companies at different levels of complexity over time.

Doing another type of activity, sometimes completely different in a volunteering role can turn into a chance of doing something different we like or haven’t had the opportunity to try before.

Once experienced, the volunteering activity can become a vector of experimentation and even change if successful, bringing a huge opportunity to target better things and even a career switch into a more appreciated position or sector.

Volunteering at TEDx offers me the opportunity to connect better with the crowd and the public and be in contact with events. It is a great platform for my passion for sharing knowledge and helping people, as well as assessment of practices and activities I would like to develop in the future.

4- Volunteering is good for the community

We are all part of a community of people working to make our lives better. Some having done this throughout their lives and others starting now, growing up to adulthood and getting their place in this community.

Through volunteering we can give back to those who are making our home or welcoming cities a good and safe place to grow as individuals, professionals and families. It allows us to provide a service and give something we know how to do well for the benefit of the society.

Participating at the TEDx adventure in Luxembourg City is for me a way of offering the Luxembourgish community something of value for having welcomed us so well from the time we arrived last year.

It gives me the opportunity to bring knowledge, care and thoughts to a country and city we love and want to see growing and thriving in the next coming years.

5- Volunteering is good for yourself

Finally, we are all here for a reason and the best way to be is to give in order to exist and grow. Volunteering is sharing, caring and growing for ourselves too, and it is extremely useful to do so.

It allows us to transform ourselves through our passions and see the immediate results with the people we are volunteering with and the others we offer our services.

The feeling and the emotions brought by the TEDx Luxembourg City Women event in December were absolutely astonishing. It was impressive to see people connecting as one and offering a unique moment of knowledge and passion to the crowd.

It was one of the moments where I felt the most at home in Luxembourg and I have build many friendships and connections around the event.

Photo by Marcela Hernoux Photography

To wrap up, volunteering is good for a lot of reasons and the ones I listed here were the ones that resonated the most with me. This doesn’t mean you won’t find others, maybe even more relevant for your personal view and needs. I believe everyone should volunteer even if it is once in their life time. You can be surprised to learn that it is as much about yourself as it is about the others you help.

Let me know your thoughts about it. Are you volunteering? Are you thinking about doing something like this? What does it make you feel? Please connect and share your opinion. I would be delighted to hear more about you and know how volunteering makes you feel 🙂

5 reasons to discover Luxembourg now!

Abbaye de Neumünster, Luxembourg Grund

Summer has passed so quickly and it’s a pleasure to welcome you back after the holidays with some more pictures of my travels around Europe.

A business opportunity brought us to Luxembourg and we have been able to enjoy a fantastic summer surrounded by new landscapes that I wanted to show everyone. So here are 5 reasons to visit Luxembourg and maybe surprise yourself!

1- Summer is nice and sunny

Luxembourg is not a year-round warm country, but its continental climate offers a good choice for summer weather while being really reasonnable regarding its European neighbors.

This Summer most of the days were around 25 degrees with nights around 15 mainly due to the forests surrounding its capital and main towns. Temperatures feel really comfortable, bringing enjoyment to outdoors activities. Even on cloudy days, a good walk is always pleasant.

Luxembourg can be easily accessed by road, train or plane and its national airline Luxair, is well known for its quality and punctuality. And it is always good to remember, from the 1st of March 2020, all public transport will be totally free in Luxembourg.

2- Its capital is either buzzling or peaceful and cosy

Luxembourg city has very different neighborhoods, either very international and busy around the main station (Gare) or the business area of Kirchberg or more quiet and very close to the nature, like the Grund. It’s a city of contrasts.

The heart of the city is the Ville Basse, the lower level of the city. It’s a scenic and picturesque area, with plenty of green areas and preserved buildings and structures from medieval times, such as the Bock Casemates, a group of tunnels and galleries build in 1644 during the Spanish domination to serve as defensive passages.

The welcoming Abbaye of Neumünster (in the Grund, ville basse) is one of our favorite places in the city and is a great place to unwind and walk during the long summer evenings.

Some great restaurants offering international cuisine are also located in the area of Clausen (ville basse) and are to be discovered.

The Ville Haute, higher level of the city, is where all the buzz happens. From the historical city centre with its squares (place Guillaume and place D’Armes) and the Palais Grand-Ducal, to Kirchberg, business area of the city with great options of entertainment (MUDAM – Modern Art Museum, and the Philharmonie).

3- Its community is vibrant with exciting activities

Luxembourg is a small country where most of the international communities are represented to offer a unique and amazing opportunity to meet the world.

The Schueberfouer, yearly funfair happening early September is an amazing opportunity to celebrate the town and its diverse community around the ferris wheel and its numerous attractions. It also counts with a great deal of typical food such as the Gromperekichelcher (Luxembourgish potato fritters), and stands selling souveniers and interesting objects.

Located on the Place du Glacis, its attractions offer amazing photos like the one below.

4- Its landscapes are breathtaking

Leaving the city to the North of the country, numerous castles can be visited like the one of Bourscheid pictured below.

The beautiful region around Esch-sur-Sûre offers to the visitors gourmet cuisine and tremendous views on the river Sûre and the forests surrounding it.

5- Its towns are full of colours and history

Leaving the region of La Sûre, it’s worth driving East to the Mullerthal, its beautiful waterfalls, its long trails into the woods and the town of Echternach.

Located at the border of Germany and home a very well known festivals and religious processions, it’s for sure a very well spent Sunday in one of the most traditional towns in Luxembourg.

Those pictures are only a few taken over the summer of beautiful Luxembourg. Other locations worth visiting are Vianden and the iconic castle, or Remich and its vineyards close to the Moselle river.

Different websites are also easily accessible for more ideas and information like Visit Luxembourg, Luxembourg City Tourist Office or the official website of the City of Luxembourg.

And you, have you already visited Luxembourg? Are you planning to do so? Let me know your thoughts and happy to help you create your journey around Luxembourg.

Did you like the pictures? All credit goes to my better half Marcela Hernoux. You can check her work on www.marcelahernouxphotography.com

© 2022 Guillaume Hernoux

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