Monthly Archives: December 2012

A few of my favourite posts for today’s new visitors

If you’ve just read Juana Lloren’s “Inside L+D” emailing to the ASTD Learning and Development Community, thank you for clicking on my name.

Wondering why she says I’m a “just a really good writer” (me too!)? Or interested to see a little more about from that wide variety of L+D posts? Have a look around or subscribe via the menu on the right.

In this short post, I’ve collected some of the more popular resources I think might be interesting to new visitors… Some of my favourites too.

 

L+D general resources

 

Social Media for Learning

 

Gamification

 

Prezi, presentation and communication skills

 

(Self) Leadership Resources

 

Thanks for reading!

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37 easy Twitter tips for new users to get started

So, you’ve been on Twitter but you’re not sure of the best way to proceed. You thought about buying “The Twitter Book” but don’t have 20 euros to spend before Christmas/the end of the world/your next paycheque (choose appropriate). You can’t seem to find the free downloadable introduction to “Twitter Power” by Joel Comm.

Never mind.. just read on and follow these instructions for a great start to using Twitter. If you have questions, Tweet Me!

 

Choose a good Twitter handle

Take a little bit of time to choose your Twitter name (“handle”) well. Although you can change how your actual real name looks on your profile, you won’t be able to change your handle. Chances are your actual real name doesn’t exist anymore, so what can you do?

  • Beware the addition of cheap numbers after your name. Who wants to be @johnSmith6875? If you can find a creative way to use numbers, go for it…
  • If you are on Twitter to sell a product or service on Twitter, use your Twitter handle to reinforce your brand(name) – example @babybrussels
  • If you are tweeting for or from your place of employment, be careful to not badly use their name in your Twitter handle
  • Creative name creation is great. I use @BoyTurnsTurtle for non work-related tweeting and nobody said you actually have to use real words
  • Be careful with other wierd characters – you may want to communicate your Twitter handle orally, so don’t use odd characters – I think my own handle @dan_steer is about as non-letter/number as you might want to go
  • Make sure it is not too long. Twitter is limited to 140 characters and if you want people to “mention” you, you don’t want your long Twitter handle eating into their tweets – this will only annoy them

 

Take the time to make your profile good and complete

Along with your tweets, your bio is one of the first things people will see. Spend a moment on this…

  • Write something about yourself in the bio and make sure to Be FAB to Be Heard
  • Be consistent with other platforms – my original Twitter Bio is in line with my professional slogan: “I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating infinite learning opportunities”.
  • Include a URL to your website, LinkedIn profile, book etc..
  • If you are working on something specific or mid/long-term, you can consider having your bio as a kind-of static tweet. At the moment, mine is about the conference I will speak at in May 2013 – this will not change for a month or so

Background, colours etc..

 

Use your Twitter photo

  • Not having a photo/logo just looks sad – don’t be the guy with the wierd default Twitter egg. Fix it.
  • If you use a personal photo, make sure we can actually see you. People like faces. But you can still do something a little different like I did.
  • If you have a product or company logo that can look good as a Twitter logo, go for it
  • Be consistent with other branding

 

Create 1 or 2 first tweets before you do any more

Its a chicken and egg thing: Should you start tweeting first or start following first? If you tweet first, no-one is following you, so its pointless. But the first reaction of many people you follow will be to look at your profile to see who you are and what you share. If there is nothing there they might not find you interesting and not follow. So, write 1 or 2 tweets before you follow people.

  • Its OK to write something that announces your arrival on Twitter, but please don’t write the classic “So, this is Twitter. What is all the fuss about?” – its getting old…
  • Include something useful in your first tweet that sets the scene – this could be a link to your own website or could already be a resource that is on-brand or related to your own area of expertise

 

…then start following people

Twitter offers you a bunch of ideas of who to follow. Personally, I think you should follow in the following order:

  • Start with people who are on-brand with regard to your own interests (personal or professional) – in my case, this would be learning people
  • Add only the famous people that won’t make you look stupid or bad. Sometimes your new visitors will look to see who you follow, in need of inspiration of a final push to follow you. Hopefully they won’t see porn-stars, random Justin Beibers or other odd people.
  • By all means let Twitter use your contacts list to invite people to follow you, but think first if this is just going to be more spam in their inbox or if they are actually going to be interested in your tweets. Filter your list to include only the right people.
  • Follow people who follow you?? There are lots of thought on this topic. Should you follow everyone or not? Personally, I have switched between “follow everyone who follows me” and “only follow people who tweet interesting things” without having ever decided. To meditate on…

 

What should I tweet?

The first answer to this question will always be “Whatever interests your (potential) followers” but to add a little weight to that I advise you to read points 5, 6 and 7 of my “9 must-remember guidelines to succeed with social media marketing”:

Personally, I try to offer as many relevant resources as possible via my Twitter account, mixing in my own ideas (like this blog) with those of others. I like to mention people and I try to make every tweet work as a stand-alone tweet when possible. Every now and again, I slip away from reference sharing to social or personal commentary, but this is quite rare.

 

Technically, HOW do I tweet?

If you like what you just read, the only thing now is to know how to ACTUALLY do it. Here’s a few simple ideas to get started with:

  • If you see something interesting elsewhere on the internet, tweet it – example
  • If you see something interesting on Twitter, retweet it – just click the button ..or “quote tweet” and use the letters RT if you want to add something to it yourself, like I did here
  • Mention people with @ + their Twitter handle
    • …you might “cc” them, just to say “hey, this is interesting” like here
    • ..you could say “I got this (on Twitter) via @name” like here
    • ..or if you included them in your own work, why not state it, like here
    • ..or maybe ask someone a specific question, like here
    • ..and thank people for retweeting/sharing your tweets/work, like here
  • If replying to tweets, remember that your followers won’t see “the full picture” without extra effort – when I look at the Twitter streams of people who regularly have bits of conversation with people on Twitter, I get annoyed to not understand anything and my first impression is never “Here is someone who is useful for me to follow”.
  • Favourite things you want to look at later, or to show you “like” the tweet
  • Use a hashtag # to show that your tweet relates to a specific topic. As a general rule, place this at the end of your tweet, like here… unless you use the hashtagged word as part of your tweet sentence, like here.

 

Have fun!

 

Thanks for reading!

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Turn horrible text driven PowerPoint slides into awesome big bold visual messages

During Presentation Skills training, we learn all about the 4 pillars of an effective presentation: Message, Structure, Content and Style. In content and style, we also look at how visual supports are used to support and message and speech: What would be the minimum effective dose when it comes to discussing a certain topic? Is a chart a better way of showing growth than a table? Should I add some images to my PowerPoint? And what kind of visual style should I use?

In my other post “9 PowerPoint Essentials for Real Business People”, I listed some very simple pointers for fixing PowerPoint slides. In this post, I develop one PPT slide example to show how we can turn bad text-driven slides into awesome big bold visual messages…

 

First, let’s look at the original slide in question:

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This slide comes from a PPT deck in support of a presentation explaining how a particular bandage is better than another. One of the primary reasons is because this bandage doesn’t hurt when being taken off an abrasion-injury…

 

What’s wrong with this slide?

If you appreciate the 9 PPT Guidelines then its clear:

  • There’s too much text
  • The title is bad
  • The colour contrast is not effective
  • Its not very visual

 

Let’s see what we can do. First, to get to the minimum effective dose of text, take out anything that doesn’t have power (that’s why they call it PowerPoint, after all!):

  • Look for what words carry the structural and content “weight”
  • Take out useless prepositions (if, by, and, of…) and articles (a, the, an…)

 

You might end up with something like this…

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That’s already a lot better!

 

One the ideas I like a lot about PowerPoint is Vinod Kholsa’s 5 second rule – if you can’t tell what a slide is about in 5 seconds, then its not good enough. A good next step to helping solve that is to add a message-driven title that actually says something. Try this:

 

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..now, in the context of the greater presentation, we know immediately what this slide is about. What next?

 

Personally, I think a better colour contrast on PowerPoint slides makes a big difference to how physically easy it is to look at something and how aesthetically pleasing it can be. Keep the following in mind:

  • Contrast is important to create good easy readability: Be sure to have light on dark or vice-versa
  • Your eye will focus on whatever is brightest. This means that a bright white background is going to get all your attention… that is tiring and leads to headache. Better to have a dark background…
  • …but if you do that, bear in mind that your printing costs will be higher. Consider having a dark-background for the wall and a white background for the handout.

 

Here is the new improved contrast version:

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…immediately much better. Of course, don’t forget to customise your colours to suit the company branding, or your marketing guys will be really unhappy !

 

OK – its getting better. We are close to the minimum (maybe…) but its not very visual. A visual slide will work much better for the majority of people.

Here’s some basic guidelines for getting visual:

  • Avoid old boring dodgy clipart – we’ve all seen it all before and it doesn’t make you look clever!
  • Don’t draw things yourself unless you want to be “quirky” (like I did here) or you’re a really good artist
  • Don’t opt for the first results you find in Google – chances are everyone else already used that as well
  • Make sure your images are high quality – use the “other sizes” link bottom-right underneath Google thumbnail images to find better quality pictures
  • If you are going to steal copyright (which I know you wouldn’t do…), don’t take the image with a watermark for copyright on it. It just looks lazy.
  • If you are talking about numbers, pimp your table (blog-post to follow), use one of the right 4 chart types (blog post also to follow) or maybe even consider just showing an image which tells the story without reverting to numbers (you can put the numbers in a handout)

 

In this slide, the presenter added in an image that really shows you what he means by abrasions:

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…but he kind of just slapped it on there without thinking. #Fail

 

Where should you put images when there is text on the slide?

Answer = left of the text block. Why? Its simple, because it lines up more nicely to the text block, like here:

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Now, there are exceptions to this rule and the above example is not finished yet, so bear with me…

If you have text which is justified to the right, then of course you could line your image up better on the right. And if you have just a few bullet points that can be creatively placed to line up better, go for it. Click here to see one of my own examples.

 

In the slide above, the image is in the right place, but it is not looking beautiful yet. I think it would be much better to increase the size of the image to match with the size of the text block, like here:

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Personally, I think we’ve come a long way from our original text-driven slide. We have gotten rid of a load of text, we’ve made more contrast and added a message-driven image, which is in the right place. Some people would stop here and depending on your style, that might be the right choice.

 

But personally, in terms of minimum effective dose (within the greater framework of the entire PPT) we can do a lot better.

First, let’s get bold with that image:

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Hurts to look at? It should! That’s the point!

 

..but hang on a minute: The text says that an example of an abrasion is road-rash or something you get from sports + play, that’s its a superficial wound, that it hurts and that its prone to infection. Doesn’t the image already say all that? Wouldn’t the following do just the same?

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For some people, this is too much. For me, it really is the minimum effective dose. For me, its an awesome big bold visual message.

 

The advantages of awesome big bold visual messages are many:

  • It will be understood more quickly by the majority of people
  • It will stick in people’s heads a little bit longer (certainly in THIS example!)
  • It will oblige you to talk around your point instead of reading from the slide
  • People will think you are awesome 🙂

 

Thanks for reading – I hope this helped

Leave a comment

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Make great PowerPoints

Have fun

Happy Christmas 🙂

 

 

9 must-remember guidelines to succeed with social media marketing

In training on professional usage of social media with Kluwer Formations today, I’ve been helping 9 people from different organisations get started with social media. Despite their different levels of experience, different skills and different needs, they all have one thing in common: They want to use social media to market a business, organisation or product – they want to find their clients, communicate with them and reinforce brand loyalty.

In a series of several blogs over the coming weeks, I will be giving tips for anyone getting started with social media for marketing: Lots of references based on different type tools, functionalities and issues. Enjoy!

 

MY FIRST POST = 9 BASICS TO KEEP IN MIND WHATEVER YOU DO TO MARKET VIA SOCIAL NETWORKS

 

1 – Know what you are trying to achieve before you get started

Despite all the hype around social media platforms, they are still only tools. Don’t get on the train unless you’ve got a good reason. And define your reason clearly you get started. Your goals will affect the choices you make in terms of tool and activity. Defining your goal is the first step to creating strategic action.

 

2 – Know where your customers are and meet them there

As I said in my article for the December issue of T+D Magazine for ASTD, if you set up shop in the middle of nowhere and expect your customers will accept a long painful walk into the middle of nowhere, you will soon learn it doesn’t work. Don’t choose your platform for what YOU like to use. Choose what THEY like to use:

  • Which tools are your customers already using?
  • Where are most people most active?
  • What seems to suit your activity best?

 

3 – Know that not everyone uses social media platforms in the same way, to the same extent

The engagement pyramid, as explained by @charleneli in “Open Leadership” shows the 5 different types of social media user. The % of people acting in these ways diminishes as the list advances (watchers are the highest percentage, curators the lowest):

  • Watchers – the majority of people active on social networks are not SO active. They just look at stuff, soaking it all in without saying or “doing” much. You won’t know what they are thinking or how they react. But they are still there and they ARE part of your customer base.
  • Sharers – these people actually put stuff out there themselves. When they see something interesting, they share it. From what they share, you can tell what they like, what they are interested in and what they want more of (or not). Very good intel. And of course, wouldn’t it be great if they shared YOUR stuff?
  • Commenters – the next group will comment on or “like” (rate) what they find on any given platform. They actually given an opinion on what other people share. You can see their reactions and use this information to improve your offer and find out who is interested.
  • Producers – these are people that actually create something themselves. In my opinion, this should be one of YOUR main activities if you are using social media to market. You should write blogs, make videos, take pictures etc… What these people produce is what the others share, comment on and watch. No producers, nothing to look at.
  • Curators – like the curators in a museum, the role of this person is to collect, organise and share different things and put them together in one place for the others to come and find. They make sense of what has been produced, in order to make it easily accessible for the others. A key role in community management and other online activities.

 

4 – (Given point 3…) Be ready for disappointment in the beginning

The vast majority of people on a social network platform do not produce, share or comment/rate. This means that much of the time, what you put out there will not create an obvious reaction. Keep in mind 2 things:

  • It takes time to get reactions. If you have 500 followers on Twitter, you might hear from 50 of them, from time to time, if you’re lucky. If you get 5000 hits on your blog a month, you may only get 5 or 10 comments or likes. The same is true for YouTube videos.
  • ..but that doesn’t mean you are not being read. Believe in the numbers. If you have followers and friends, what you are putting out there is getting seen. If you are confident that your 500 friends and followers are well targeted potential customers, keep sharing and keep producing.

 

5 – Tools differ, but the golden networking triangle remains the same

Whatever you do on social networking tools for marketing purposes, you will need to consider 3 main types of activity, otherwise known as “the golden triangle”. Suggested by Jan Vermeiren in his currently free to download and highly practical book “How to REALLY use LinkedIn”, these 3 activity types will create a kind of snowball effect where the number of people you reach gets bigger, the number of reactions grows and the community continues to flourish over time:

  • Give things away. Share references. Not always your own content, but also other “on-brand” things you find on the web that might be interesting for your customers.
  • Ask for things. This can be a simple answer (a large piece of market research done via a poll), a request for expertise on a given topic or a fully crowd-sourced project development. Ask people to get involved and some of them will.
  • Thank people. From literally saying “thank you” is a start. Liking, commenting or sharing what you have seen is ever better. So is mentioning people. We are all in this together, so be nice to each other.

 

6 – Stay on brand. Always.

Your brand is the image you want to present of yourself, your product or service. Whatever you do on social media platforms, you have to reinforce that image. Think about it beforehand. What kind of style do you want to have? What do you want people to say about you? What do you represent? What are you the expert of? What are you offering? What can people expect from you?

 

7 – Consider a blended approach to what you put out there: 70/20/10

I know a man who tries to sell his products via Twitter. Every tweet says “Buy this or that product of mine”. It drives me crazy. My preferred approach comes from “The Twitter Book” by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein and I think it’s much better way to position yourself and your products and services without being too pushy:

  • 70% of your posting should be sharing other people’s stuff. If you are a hypnotist trying to sell MP3s to help people quit smoking, 70% of your tweets will be sharing resources you have found about smoking, health, fitness, cancer (whatever…), but not actually pushing your product. Your customers will understand you have an opinion on these things and you stay up-to-date and interested in what they are interested in.
  • 20% of your posting can be your own products and services. You have the right to let people know about what you have to offer and they will be interested and believe you, because of the other 70% of your activity.
  • 10% can be a little light playful personal stuff that shows the world you are not just a marketing machine out to get their money. People buy from people and your followers, friends and potential customers want to know about you too. Let them know from time-to-time what you are up to at the weekend, or how that traffic jam drove you crazy. The human touch is nice… And this 10% doesn’t kill what I just said about branding.

 

8 – Cross pollinate your posting and sharing

This doesn’t go against what was said in point 2. But most of the time your customers will be spread across different platforms, so your activity must be as well. If you have posted a blog-post (like this one) on WordPress, tweet it. If you think it’s OK to post on LinkedIn as well (more on in another post) update your status there as well, or put the link in a group you have created. If you find a relevant blog from someone else and your new post could add some value, add it as a comment. If you just added a video to YouTube and your post could be a nice follow up reference, mention it in the comments.

 

9 – If what you have to say is worth saying, saying it twice, three times, four times, five times…

Take a look at your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter homepage. What do you see? Depending on how many people you follow/friend/connect to and how often they update things, the answer will differ. But over time, the same thing happens: Stuff disappears!

On most social network platforms, there is a “half-life” phenomenon which means that what you post disappears from your audience’s timeline exponentially at a certain rate, depending how many people they follow and how often those people are posting things. Concretely, this means that what you post now will be gone from view later. So what must you do?

  • Firstly, think about what time of day you are most likely to be read. Just after lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays is a good time. People aren’t desperately steaming ahead at the start of the week and they aren’t doing highly productive work while their lunch goes down. A good time to be read.
  • Secondly, re-post new things several times over a given period. But don’t forget point 7.

 

That’s it for this post. I will be back with specific tips for LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to put these ideas into practice… Sign up to follow my blog and you won’t miss a thing ! (Look in the right-hand menu bar)

 

 

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Share, like or leave a comment. You know it’s worth it… J

 

Prezi structure is essential …or “Why most Prezi users should be SHOT”)

Prezi is a great tool full of functions, but if you don’t follow good structure guidelines it can all go terribly wrong….

I admit it sounds harsh to say people should be shot, but actually it’s an acronym for what should be done to most Prezi users: They should be Stopped, Helped or Trained. Why? Read on..

As people start adopting Prezi, many of them forget 2 of the 4 pillars of an effective presentation: Message and structure.

What do most people do with Prezi? They see a big wonderful canvas that goes in and out and left and right and up and down and they just start doing EVERYTHING. As a result, I am seeing Prezi presentations that swing in and out and left and right, using random animation effects and terrible pictures that for some reason are rotated 37 degrees to the left. This must stop.

 

In this post, I’ll explain how to apply the fundamental presentation concept of message + structure to a Prezi presentation. If you do what I say, people will be able to follow your Prezi presentation (without sea-sickness) and your main message and its delivery will be reinforced by excellent structure.

(And if you are intrigued about how I phrased that last paragraph, read here why it is important to answer the only 3 questions that count!)

 

First, here is an example of what I want you to do…

Got it? OK, now let’s break it down…

 

Prezi is a 3D canvas (surprise!) consisting of height, width and depth.

Prezi dimensions

 

There are 2 major options for how to present your main message and supporting conclusions. Either do it like a mind-map would (radial principle)…

message and conclusions - example 1

..or, like me, embed your main supporting conclusions IN your main message (which I personally think looks awesome!) :

2a

 

Now let’s talk dimensions… You can move left/right, up/down and in /out in Prezi. Which one’s work best for which reasons?

If you want to avoid sea-sickness and reinforce the natural (diamond) structure of your presentation, then height and width are used to move BETWEEN structural parts of your Prezi and depth is used to add detail WITHIN one part.

(Note: If you’ve taken my option for presenting your supporting conclusions WITHIN the main message statement, you will be obliged to exceptionally use the depth dimension almost immediately to “add detail”.)

using Prezi dimensions well

 

..and finally, what should you do with the possibility of spinning and BIG movement in Prezi? When should you use a big spin, rather than something moving gently left/right or up/down?

Its easy: The bigger the movement, the more the audience will feel like there is a big change happening. So restrict your big spins and large in/out movements to major structural transitions. In this way, you can reinforce your structure just like Dora-the-Explorer would.

For movement between sub-points at the same structural level of detail, make your movements gentle left/right or up/down. (A little rotation is OK, but don’t go overboard).

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If you apply all these simple ideas, your Prezi will make global structural sense and people will be able to follow. Of course, these are only guidelines and you can make exceptions for effect wherever you like.

To see it all in action, have a look at my conference Prezi on how “How to Improve Formal Learning with Social Media “.

 

For more Prezi tips, have a look at:

 

Thanks for reading.

Please share, follow me on Twitter, leave a comment., follow the blog..
..or join me in Prezi training.

 

 

The impact of Dan Steer on your everyday life, by Tim Van Acker

Tim Van Acker followed my Leadership Foundation training at the University of Gent in June last year and apparently I’ve been haunting him ever since 🙂

What follows is a short article Tim wrote to share with other members of my LinkedIn group “Leadership Foundation”, where previous participants and people interested in the topic can share references outside of training. I think some of what you can read here is a great example of getting and staying in Flow – a wonderful story of intrinsic motivation and awesome success, despite drawbacks and a very busy life. As a fellow marathon runner, I know what it takes and Tim has done a great job!

As a side-note, my insurance broker asked me to underline that I can take no responsibility for injuries sustained outside of training with me 🙂 Any further attempts to complete a marathon remain unsanctioned 🙂

 

In June 2011, I followed Dan’s “Leadership Foundation Course” at Ghent University. During one of his classes on prioritizing, Dan stressed out that if something is really important, you just do it. If you don’t do it, it means it isn’t important. This struck me, as I always said to myself “one day, I will run a marathon”. Up to that day, I didn’t run it, it was one of the things on my bucket list, something I wanted to prove to myself but I hadn’t done it yet… Was it really important to me? I didn’t want people to mock me as “the guy that runs a marathon with his mouth but not with his legs”… So, on that very day I made the decision that in 2012 I was going to run a marathon!

 

I had some running experience previously but I never ran further than 15km. In August 2011, I started training 3x a week to run a half marathon. I accomplished this goal in November 2011. It was hard, but I enjoyed the race and achieved my time goal as well. Ok, this was only half the distance I needed to run and winter was coming up which makes training harder… I decided to maintain my level of training throughout winter and spring and use summer to get in shape for the complete marathon.

 

In April 2012, I needed to pick the marathon I was going to run. I felt I needed something big, not a race where only 5 people and 6 horses are watching. So I enrolled for the New York City marathon. This was it, the registration was final, my flights were booked, I had some supporters to join me, now I really had to run the race, no way back… I had my physical condition tested in the University Hospital in Ghent and via a mutual connection, I got in touch with a multiple Belgian marathon champion. My new coach did a test run with me and gave me a schedule for 6 weeks after which I had to do a test over 5km to see how my progress was. We are now August 2012. The schedule consisted of 5 trainings a week: 2 interval training (very fast and exhausting), 1 very long and slow training and 2 recuperation trainings. As I still had my daytime job to do and I’m also involved in a contemporary dance group (for which I have to train 3 evenings a week), I knew I was going to be busy the next couple of months… Some days were quite hectic: getting up at 6h, starting work at 7h, finishing at 18h, going home and eat in a quicky off to dance class, returning home at 22h, suiting up for a run of 1 and ½ hour, taking a shower and going to bed at 1h. But I really wanted this, I wanted to run the marathon, I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, I wanted to be an athlete and I wanted to be able to say “one day, I ran a marathon” instead of “one day, I will run…”.

 

Six weeks later, my coach was happy with my progress and adjusted my training for the next six weeks. He really wanted me to perform at the best of my ability so the training volume increased. In November, I felt ready for it. My physical condition and confidence were peaking, I was going to conquer New York! Until hurricane Sandy arrived… The race was on Sunday 4th of November, we wanted to take a plane on Monday to adjust to the hour difference but Sandy made it impossible to leave… Our flight was rescheduled to Friday. Less recuperation time, but I still felt confident and motivated! We arrived in NY, retrieved my runner’s number… and found out just 15 minutes later that the marathon was cancelled… I have never felt so disappointed as I felt that moment. Three months of training, all for nothing…

 

The next morning I decided that this wasn’t going to stop me: I was going to run a marathon and I was going to run it as soon as possible! The same day, I signed in for the marathon of Valencia which was held 2 weeks later. I contacted my coach and he adjusted my training schedule. Back to the training ground…

 

Two weeks later, after all the training, the disappointment, the new trainings, I was more motivated than ever before. I was going to Valencia and I was going to give it all I’ve got! And so it happened that last Sunday November 18th, I finally did it. I ran the marathon of Valencia in 3h 23min 59sec. I was hoping for a time under 3h 30min and I achieved my goal. During the race, after 32km, I endured a pain I had never witnessed before but I kept going. Pain wasn’t going to stop me, everyone was suffering at that point, I had to succeed. Despite of the pain, I enjoyed the race. The atmosphere was great, especially during the last kilometer. When I entered the “stadium” were the finish line was and I heard the roaring sound of the crowd, my legs felt brand new and I sprinted like reborn to the finish line. I was an experience I will never forget, for that one moment I really felt like an athlete at the Olympics with thousands of people cheering for me. Once I crossed the finish, I was barely able to walk normal and I thought to myself “When did I ever had this stupid idea to run a marathon??!!”. But a couple of hours later, I was thinking “Actually, this was pretty cool, I might do it again one day…”.

 

To conclude, after a course of just one week, Dan Steer controlled my life for almost a year… Thanks Dan, for triggering me to really go for my dreams! I suffered I don’t know how many hours in rain, wind and cold on the road, but I enjoyed every minute of it! And perhaps even more important than finishing the marathon (of which I feel so proud), I now feel like I can accomplish everything I want! It really was an experience I will tell my grandchildren about and I all started one day in a class room at Ghent University with Dan Steer…