In leadership training, we talk about “Flow” as an important state for getting high-results and being motivated. Here is an example of Flow from my own life. As you read it, see if you can spot the key ingredients required to get me in this state of Flow..
In 2002 I was living in Brussels. I didn’t have any kids and I was “away from home”. One day, I was thinking about how I could better share my life with people in England. At the time, Facebook probably existed in the US, but it wasn’t part of our daily life like it is today. I wanted to let people know what I was up to, share stories and pictures and have more contact with them. One Saturday afternoon at 2pm, I decided to make a website.
Not having a clue about how to make websites, I went to Google and typed in “How to make a website”. I found the site htmlgoodies.com and discovered a set of lessons on how to code a site. I opened up lesson 1:
- Open notepad
- Type <html>
- Write what you want to see on your page
- (I wrote “Welcome to my webpage)
- Type </html>
- Open internet explorer and open your “document”
What I saw was a blank “internet page” with “Welcome to my webpage” in the top-left corner, font times new roman, size 10. I quietly smiled to myself and moved onto lesson 2, which was about how to make a link. I made a new notepad document with the HREF code for a link and linked it to my first page with the text “Click here”. When I opened my new page, I saw a blue link in the top-left saying “Click here”. I did. It opened my first page. I was very excited.
I went on through the lessons: How to change background colour, adjust font, add tables, put in pictures, make frames, add a form for email contact, add buttons… Each time, I slowly learnt something new and watched my pages come to life.
I carried on working non-stop from 2pm to 4.30am the next day. I only stopped a couple of times to go the toilet and I had a “dinner” in less than 10 minutes at my desk. By the time I finished, I had my first working website, uploaded via FTP and shared by email with my family. It had a kind of diary in it, some pictures and I had plans to add more later with my new skillset.
This is a perfect example of flow for me: I got the best results I could get, I was happy and time flew by.
According to positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, this positive state of flow is what everyone wants in life. It is a state of motivation where we feel good and get the best results. If we are under stimulated, we get bored (and bad results) and if things are too much for us, its stressful (with bad results). Flow is the key.
To get in flow, you need:
- A clear goal that has a sense of purpose to you
- Feedback from the world – you need to be able to see your progress (like I did with my internet pages)
- The possibility to concentrate fully on your work (no kids!)
- A balance between the challenge you have and your own competences/resources (note: most people like to be stretched a little)
- The possibility of growth
If you are thinking about how to motivate your people at work, there are lots of practical ideas of what you can do to create or maintain flow. My training participants have been coming up with many ideas. You can see some on this padlet wall and this other wall. Its not difficult to do and the impact on employee results and happiness is enormous.
So, go: Get your people in flow!
Thanks for reading!
Passion and purpose. Everything you need to get started with motivation. Right?
Many HR professionals and leaders seem convinced today that the key to motivating workers is to unlock and release their passion. But will it work?
At the ASTD2013 ICE this year, I heard from 4 people about this topic and my first impression was one of inspiration (again) and awe (again) at how right they were, how amazing their stories were and how cool the results they got were. But today, no longer under the influence of conference-buzz, I’m not so sure. MAYBE only one of their stories is relevant…
Person number 1: Sir Ken Robinson told us that people need to find their “element”. The “element” is the true passion each person has that is the driving spirit of intrinsic motivation. Find it and work is no longer work – it’s joy for which you are paid. Sound great!
Persons number 2 and 3 Jon and Owen from “The Passing Zone”, confirmed Sir Ken’s speech: If you really love it and want it, just do it and great things will follow. They told me that it might be tough, but that you shouldn’t worry about going for it.
But how is this relevant for leaders and the HR folk who want to motivate people? I worry that it is not. Is it possible to use the idea of passion and purpose to motivate people in an organisation? Or is it a dream that will create lots of buzz, but ultimately go nowhere?
Maybe if we back-track a little and define motivation, it may help. Two possibilities come to mind:
- Verb “to motivate” = to give someone a reason or motive to act
- Noun “motivation” = something you have that drives you to act
Thinking of the verb, we could imagine that HR and leaders will need to find the ways in which they can push or pull people working towards awesomeness. In the past, they may have focused more on carrots and sticks, but today the tendency is to talk about unlocking passion and purpose. But how exactly are they planning on doing this? My passion is surfing … Good luck putting that to work!
Thinking of the noun, motivation is something you have (or don’t have). It’s not something you will give to me. If I am not passionate about accounting, you can’t make me passionate about it. And if you aren’t interested in my music passion in your company, we are in trouble…
So here is the problem as I see it: Passion and purpose is what motivates people and the best results come from finding it and unlocking it. HR and leaders need to release this passion. But you can’t give it to someone. So what do you do?
I see two approaches:
Person number 4 at the ASTD conference was Rick Lozano, who told us that one day his manager asked him: “What are you passionate about?” Rick replied “I like developing courses” and his manager said: “That’s not what I mean. I mean “passionate”…” Rick hesitatingly replied “music” and his manager instructed him to find ways to bring THAT to work.
This first approach is an example of a manager (leader, HR..) using the concept of passion to motivate someone and get better results. I love the story and seeing how Rick has integrated music into his work as a trainer is very inspiring. I just don’t believe that those kind of stories are so evident or possible in every job. If a call-centre agent loves stripping (I met one!) she can’t put THAT to work. And how can the average banker bring his love of circus, golf or fishing to work?
The second approach is, in my mind, the only real workable solution and probably the one intended by Sir Ken Robinson: Schooling for and spotting passion and recruiting passion for your company.
What would this mean? Firstly, it means that at school, we need to create environments that allow each individual amazing little human being to figure out what they love. Robinson spoke about this in his famous TED speech. To achieve this, we will need to let go of our wish to produce standardised “good” students who pass all the same tests to all the same standards.
Then we will have to help people who have found their passion to put it to work. We will need to help people to navigate the vast myriad of existing and future possibilities in order to find the place to add value to the world via their work.
And companies will need to do a better job of recruiting the right people for the right jobs. They would not recruit for knowledge and skills and spend their time trying to motivate people to be passionate. They need to look for the people who have the right passion and drive already and (if necessary) develop the missing knowledge and skills later .. ..whilst just trying not to screw up the natural motivation that is already there.
In my opinion, if everyone were doing what she really loved and doing it well the world would indeed be a better place. We need to help people find that passion before they look for work, then recruit to get the right people in the right jobs. The rest will follow all by itself…
Are you feeling passionate at work?
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…
If you believe the experts, Gamification is a good way to motivate participants towards new knowledge, skills and attitude, increasing engagement and effectiveness. I wrote about this during ASTD2012. Read here…
In preparation for my Kluwer talk on the topic of Gamification (Meet + Greet, October 4th) I decided to test some simple game mechanics at home. This post provides guidelines for Gamification, explained via this short lunchtime experience…
First, don’t gamify things for no reason. At my dinner table I have trouble getting my girls to eat “everything”. Today, upon presenting the stoemp with broccoli and salmon, the reaction was unanimous: “I don’t like that!” ..so I wanted to motivate them into a different attitude and behaviour.
Secondly: Clarify concrete objectives or expected outcomes. Easy! I wanted them all to eat at least 3/4s of the entire plate, evenly spread between stoemp and salmon.
Third: Consider who is going to play and choose the right motivators. My eldest girl likes to win. She needs “conflict” gaming elements that allow her to do better than other people. My other two daughters respond better to game elements that allow for self-expression. Personally, I wanted to see some collaboration between them all..
Create your game
The objective of the game was clear: Clear your plate before the time runs out (my eldest interpreted this as “beat your sisters as well”).
Design the game structure and how to play. I created a game whereby “rolling a dice” would tell you which part of your “food-man” you could eat. First, each player was allowed to turn their plate of food into a “food-man” consisting of 4 legs, a body and a head. This element of self-expression created much amusement!
If you got a leg picture, but had no legs left on your plate, you couldn’t eat. Otherwise, you had to eat what the lucky-dip said!
Throughout the game there were 2 feedback elements that kept motivation up: Social comparisons and time feedback.
If you finished your plate in the allotted time you won. This meant that everyone could win, making it a “self-competition” game rather than “conflict-based”.
Personally I didn’t design much for the collaboration aspect, but I was surprised: At one point, my 7yr old lucky-dipped a leg, but with no legs left on her own plate, she ate some of her little sister’s salmon for her!
If you have designed your game well, then you will be easily able to measure results. This experiment resulted in all plates 100% clean in a record time with no moaning from any children. Awesome!!
I am experimenting with games for training and learning that implement these simple ideas.
Imagine what you could do to:
- Motivate employees to
reduce paper usage
- Encourage posting on internal social-media based knowledge sharing platforms
- Cut company costs
- Create Intercultural connections in a multinational corporate environment
…all your need is some simple game mechanics and a little creativity!
Today is day 7 without Coca-Cola in my life.
Its tough! After years and years of more than 1litre a day of the brown stuff, I’ve stopped. Since I don’t drink coffee, this makes me caffeine free for 7 days. And significantly lower in sugar too.
I tried this before and failed. You can read my other blog-post about it here (PERSONAL goalsetting). This week, I’m confident I’ve got the key (touch wood) and I realise that’s its the same as when I quit smoking… You’ve got to WANT it!
When I first “tried” to stop smoking (last century) I was20 years old. I had been smoking for 8 years already and thought it was bad. I thought “I must stop” and I “tried”. For a day or two I managed not to smoke, but it was hell. I wanted a cigarette so badly.
That failing experience was repeated a couple of times over the coming years, in differing degrees of “success” and hellishness.
But one day (a Sunday) at the age of 26 something different happened: By habit, I went to get a cigarette and suddenly realised “I don’t want this crap in my life”. And I really didn’t. I had suddenly understood. As Charlie Sheen says: “I blinked and cured my brain”. I haven’t smoked since and stopping was the most easy natural thing I’ve ever done.
Trying to stop drinking Coca-Cola has been the same in the past. I’ve told myself “I should” and “its bad” and despite several good runs of not drinking it, I always wanted it, craved it. I was fighting against another stronger motivation (for Coke). I failed and like alcoholics, I suppose, falling off the wagon was worse than before I got on it…
Last Monday at 6.29am I suddenly realised: “I don’t want Coke”. I thought I did. My body thinks it does. But I don’t. There’s no should, or must, or “you’re going to die if….” ….I just get it. And its easy. (OK, my body hates it, but its easIER).
Why am I telling this story? I think the same is probably true for any goal. As Dan Pink says, real motivation has to be intrinsic, with a sense of autonomy. Carrots (“buy yourself an iPOD with the money you save”) and sticks (“…or you’ll become diabetic”) might get some things done, but motivation gets everything done. I am motivated, all by myself …and it works.
If I compare this to the learning world…. I see that when people “get it” (the need to improve, that something else could be better) learning is easy. They just “do it”. I help them, but its easy. But when “my manager sent me” or “I ought to get better” or “I need a promotion” or “its part of my development plan” learning is a lot more painful.
In short: You’ve got to want it.
Thanks for reading.
(If you want to have a list of Coca-Cola-cold-turkey-symptons, mail me)
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In a previous post, I listed the initiatives that training participants came up with for creating and maintaining more FLOW in the organisation. This post follows-up with 24 more ideas in 5 concrete FLOW areas …
To get more FLOW, be sure everyone has a clear mission
- Take the time to translate core company objectives/mission into each person’s function, especially when dealing with change or restructuring
- As an individual, ask questions regularly to better understand how you align to the company vision/mission/values
…people need quality feedback if they are going to get in FLOW
- Recognise and share success stories within the organisation
- Talk about personal FLOW with own managers in status-updates or other regular meetings
- Ask for regular feedback on your work
Teamwork and communication can help to build “self-worth” and success
- Implement (or at least discuss) a “code of conduct” with colleagues that respects individuals’ FLOW needs
- Ask for help from colleagues when you are out of FLOW
- Inform your colleagues about your “high-energy” moments so that a) they know that that’s a good time for you to be working on most-important tasks; b) they will respect your need for concentration at those times
- Avoid “indirect communications” – phone-calls and instant messaging in faster and more effective than email (but… see the part on “concentration”)
- Learn how to say (and hear!) “NO” to (from) colleagues
- Have time-keepers in meetings in order to help people stick to their personal priorities
Boost concentration at key moments
- Turn-off email pop-ups .. or better still: CHoose when to read them
- Close the door
- Find a “quiet room”
- Use ear plugs 🙂
- Designate a room for conf-calls, rather than letting everyone on the floor follow the call !
- Take the time to set priorities well … and stick to them
- Install home-working possibilities for high-importance/high-concentration task moments
- Organise office space by function
Find your balance between challenge and skills
- Use job-rotation schemes to avoid bore-out
- Create a strengths-matrix so that people know where to turn for help on specific topics
- Hire more people (to avoid burn-out)
- Decrease workload – outsource what is possible, even within your own organisation; drop useless activities/chores
- Identify people who are bored and give them more of the work of people who are overloaded
Thanks for reading!
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“AS A TRAINER, DO YOU HAVE TO PLAN EVERYTHING IN ADVANCE? HOW MUCH ROOM CAN BE LEFT FOR IMPROVISATION?”
* You can can find Pascal on Twitter
This is what I replied (although I won’t quote all the previous comments here…)
I focus not on content or on “key messages” but on “desired learning outcomes”
That way, I can:
- Avoid being the expert who comes with things to impart on the non-experts, but rather a facilitator of learning. Someone who helps the others discover things for themselves…
- Keep myself concentrated on the end-goal, when we go off in different directions
My particular definition of learning : Acquisition and Implementation of Required Competences
- Competence is defined as knowledge, skills and attitude
- Since people acquire competences in different ways, we need to be open to facilitating learning in whichever way is suitable for the participants. Partly, this means being able to detect that style/need before training and partly during training. This will always require flexibility.
- I think the need to improvise will be more necessary with regard to dealing with attitude and skill learning, than with knowledge. Knowledge sharing can be planned much more precisely (although we will of course need to leave open moments for verification and Q/A).
As we move into the creative GEN-Y 21st century, participants will accept less and less that we come with a script for training
See this short film of a recent young training participant David Smeets (“what is important is that it is not led by a table of contents, but by our needs ….. …and that the trainer is not just an expert”)
- People will try to create their own “learnscape” where they can get what they need in the way that suits them.
- If this is in training, then (according to @angler) we will need to modify our approach training to include “features that make hanging out on social sites compelling” (commenting, rating, profiles, tagging, rich media). You can see more on this on my Prezi “Social Media Social Trainer” here http://prezi.com/ie93jvqgupta/social-media-social-trainer – note that the Epsilon session on 14th FEB 2012 (French) will be on this topic.
Then there is the question of leadership styles ….
If you believe in situational leadership, you know you need to adapt your style based on the development level of people. In training, this is applicable in the following way:
- If participants are motivated, but non-able and non-knowledgeable, you will need to direct them (meaning more prepared content).
- If they can be coached, you can simply come with a learning objective and get them to figure things out themselves, with your help asking the right questions and supplying a rich learning environment where they have resources and time available
- Maybe you can even delegate learning 100% – just give them 8 hours and a mission!
And Motivation 3.0 has an impact on training as well…
Regarding DRIVE, if you buy into @DanielPinks ideas on Motivation in the 21st Century (see famous RSA animation on the subject http://www.youtube.com/user/dansteerchannel#p/f/12/u6XAPnuFjJc ) then motivation = autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Apply this to training and you need to give participants:
- A clear mission
- The chance to figure things out for themselves
- The possibility of improvement (meaning, time, tools and good feedback process)
Finally, don’t forget: Qui dit apprentissage, ne dit pas forcement formation (meme si c’était le question de depart ici).
…you may also see that I didn’t deal with “implementing” learning here, but that’s for another evening 🙂
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Having just completed delivery of a 4-day Leadership Training with @KluwerOpleiding (thanks @MiekWouters for the chance to have a small group :-)) I thought I’d share the email stream that built up from me to participants over the 4-days. Loads of references here…
References DAY 1
- Here you can find a list of leadership competences outlined by previous trainees
- Check out the film from Al Gore’s ex-speech writer Dan Pink on the DRIVE wall
- To see a list of ideas from previous trainees on how to bring FLOW into the organisation, click here and click here to see all their references from the FLOW wall
- If you would like to read my thoughts on P.E.R.S.O.N.A.L goal-setting, check this link
- See what google’s VP for HR says about people management skills
- Remember ROWE?
- For book references, check www.shelfari.com/dansteer/shelf
- 7 Habits
Homework / Preparation DAY 2
- Do the exercise found on this web-page
- Have a look at this webpage (wall) http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/leadership-drive – please add something of your own – a reference, link, comment or idea about DRIVE
- Fix 1 SMART objective concerning your development as a leader
References from DAY 2
- Get some more information here about Albert Mehrabian who told us about words, intonation and everything else
- The problem with 1-way communication
- …and 3 tips if you are obliged to do things 1-way
- I told you that you would care about why I see Citroen Xsara Picasso’s everywhere…. read here to see why
- I found this link for some information on seating politics and room dynamics – I’ll let you judge the quality of info…
- For more information about Sun Tzu follow this link. To read “The Art of War”, follow this link – position is the key to strategy!
- Check out Charlene Li’s book “Open Leadership” which discusses the key issue of giving up control when allowing people more freedom
Homework in preparation for DAY 3
- Think of a problem you have (professional or personal). This will be used in day 3. You will be asked to state your problem and ask for help…
- Think of a difficult communication situation or difficult person you have had to deal with (personal or professional)
Here are the references from training DAY 3
- “Coaching for Performance” by Sir John Whitmore for more info on how and why to use the GROW model
- Check out my blog-post of my favourite SWOT questions (used during reality/options assessment of GROW) and tips on how to use SWOT
- 10 things you can learn from David Brent about performance evaluations
- 2 additional references about performance evaluations
- Meritocratic performance management systems: A short article on how some people feel about it
- Another idea on performance evaluation process: APOP (Annual Piece of Paper)
- Here you can find some info on PAC ego-states
- Book references can always be found on http://www.shelfari.com/dansteer/shelf
- Coaching for Performance
- TA Today
Homework in preparation for DAY 4
- Prepare a 1 minute presentation of yourself – anything is fine, we just need some data to use for a feedback exercise, so no stress!
- Please think about additional topics to cover in group coaching session in the afternoon of Day 4
References DAY 4
- Here you can get a lot more information about Jef Staes and Red-Monkeys
- Read this blog page for notes on what leaders can do to bring change to the organisation
- Read what Dummies has to say about giving feedback
- Read about logical levels – interesting to use in coaching..?
Hope this was interesting
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(Part 2 of the blog-entry “Why I see Citroen Xsara Picasso’s everywhere and why you should care“)
Last week I was travelling to Barcelona. As I boarded the plane, I passed a man 2 rows ahead of me who had just pulled a book out of his bag. The book was called “Presentatie Tecniken” (or possibly something with a correct Dutch title!). This caught my attention.
I got chatting to him in my best tourist Dutch, starting by asking why he had that book. I told him about my job and he told me that he had to give a presentation and was looking for ideas on how to improve.
It turns out that last week there was a big conference in Barcelona for 15,000 Herbalife people. He was attending with his wife.
When I got off the plane I saw Herbalife posters everywhere. In Barcelona, they have revolving publicity posters and 1 in 3 was for Herbalife.
When training the next day, I mentioned “Why I see Citroen Xsara Picasso’s everywhere and why you should care” and asked if anyone had seen the posters at the airport. Everybody had come via the airport except one local person, but only 1 person had seen them! Why? Because the were not interested. Because HerbalLife meant nothing to them. Because the door was not open.
(…except one guy from Russia. A big football fan, he noticed a big poster with Messi on)
Want to know why I like this story? Read “Why I see Citroen Xsara Picasso’s everywhere and why you should care”.
Thanks for reading!
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