Amsterdam Business Breakfast

As you might’ve seen on Näpp’s Instagram Stories, Loviisa, the founder of Näpp, and Eline, Näpp’s Brand Manager visited Amsterdam Business Breakfast. Amsterdam Business Breakfast was founded two years ago by Lara Wilkens, a local entrepreneur. It is a monthly English-spoken professional networking event for local and international entrepreneurs. What’s so lovely about it is that it takes place in the morning, over breakfast, rather than in the evening after a full day of work. It is a wonderful and inspirational way to start your day, and although our founder is not a morning person (unlike Brand Manager Eline), the amazing breakfast foods and educational talks are well worth it.

In this blog, we’ll tell you all about our experience at Amsterdam Business Breakfast, and what we got out of it. This one was especially useful to us specifically, because it was all about how to build a community successfully. With Näpp, our main goal is first and foremost to provide kids being raised abroad with a connection to their home-culture.

At the moment, we primarily do this by connecting international families with a babysitter from their own country, who speaks their language and understands their culture. We see the impact this has on kids: they don’t lose the ability to speak their mother-tongue, and can continue to communicate with their friends and family back home. They continue to understand and practice their cultural norms and traditions, while learning about and appreciating the new ones from their host country as well. We love that we can do this through the platform we are creating, but as a goal for 2020 (it’s coming close!), we would love to focus more on the community aspect of our service. In order to do this, we need to understand what a community really is, how it’s built and sustained, and how we can get there. That is why, to set the stage for the year to come, we’d like to share with you what we learned this early November morning at Amsterdam Business Breakfast.

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The sun hadn’t fully risen yet when we had arrived, and we were all in dire need of coffee.

8:30: Walk-In

After an early morning journey from Utrecht to Amsterdam, we (Loviisa and Eline, accompanied by fellow graphic designers, entrepreneurs, and software engineers James Calcinai, Richard Doughty, and Sails IT members Xavier Pardonnet and Geert Konijnendijk) walked into a beautiful canal house right located right at the Keizersgracht. The smell of fresh coffee, pastries, and warm cookies, and the sounds of chatter filled the air. Chairs were lined up in front of a screen that said in big letters: How To Build A Community by Emmy McCarthy, which reminded us again of why we were skipping our A.I. and Creativity class to attend this event. Emmy is one of the founders of Amsterdam Mamas, a large and growing community group in Amsterdam who’s mission it is to be the most trusted and reliable source of information for international parents living in Amsterdam and the surrounding regions. Emmy is an expert in community building – her personal mission is to save the world, one community at a time. So of course we were very curious as to what we could learn from her as aspiring community builders. Before we all took a seat, we enjoyed some pastries and some good chats, and then it was time for the talk to commence. 

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Photo courtesy of Rodolfo, retrieved from the Amsterdam Business Breakfast website. We thoroughly enjoyed some coffee and pastries for breakfast before the talk started. Some of the cookies were made by a starting entrepreneur looking to begin a baking-business, and she was looking for feedback! Her cookies were amazing, she doesn’t have a name for her business yet but we will keep you updated – you can’t miss out on these 😉

9:00: Speaker Emmy McCarthy Presents: How To Build A Community

Emmy started her talk with a quote about what a community is, and what it means. We learned that a community is a self-sustaining group of individuals who share a concern for each other, will take action to actively support each other, and take the knowledge and encouragement they’ve received from their community into the world.

As it turns out, building a community is not easy, but there does seem to be a step-by-step process. Emmy talked us through every step in detail.

The first step is to be in the service of others. Look around the world and the people around you, and work out how you can be of service to them with the skills you have, and where are your beliefs at? It’s probably the thing you’re most scared of trying to do. You always have to make sure you are of service to your community, you are providing a solution to one of their problems.

Secondly, invite the contribution of others. Many people have great ideas and full-throttled passion, but they refuse to invite other people to help them. This can be out of fear of asking for help, or fear that others might run away with their idea. There is no good reason to do it by yourself, and the idea of a community is not to do it all alone. Find the people who think about it the same way you do, and work together. Invite others in. Communities cannot exist with just one person. 

Stay curious. If you’re going to lead something, you need to get over the feeling of being an imposter, or fear of not being able to do it. A way to conquer this fear is to be curious. When you’re curious, you’re never finished. You’re not the expert or the guru, you always need to know more and you’re open to this. This allows you to connect with people who do know, and brings knowledge in. Curiosity kills perfectionism. You can’t be perfect because you’re never finished, and this will allow you to break your own boundaries.

Share generously. We often fear that if you share what you have, someone else will steal it and do it better. Truth is, no one can ever do what you’re doing, the way that you do it. We can’t hold on to people and information out of fear. Let others help, share everything you know, and more needs will be met.

Maintain boundaries. Don’t have leaky boundaries. Instead, take one small step. Make one connection. Make things small enough to make people excited, you don’t want to overwhelm them and get stuck. But, everyone is going to have an opinion, and they will all want to share it with you. To maintain your own health, you need to maintain boundaries. Practice some epic self-care, if you don’t you will burn out. How will you make sure that you will not compromise your own mental and physical health in the service of others? It is very difficult, especially when you deeply believe in what you’re creating. But it is necessary in order to sustain a healthy community. Think about what you and your community need and model it.

Practice exaggerated compassion. Example: a bad day does not equal a bad person. Everyone has a reason to believe what they believe, and everyone has some good in them. You can’t demonize people. It is what we would want others to do for us.

Lead fearlessly. This might be the hardest one. You have to lead without hesitation, and full of confidence you need to step forward and lead. You need to know that you will fail, and you will fail publicly. People will see it and have opinions on it, and these opinions may speak to some of your deepest, worst fears. But you have to do it anyways, and get up the next morning to do it again (but hopefully not fail this time). It is relentless in that respect, but the rewards far outweigh the concerns you might have and the failures you might run into. You are not necessarily born or voted into leadership, you need to call yourself a leader because no one will hand it to you. If you don’t it will hold yourself, your team, and your community back. You have to decide today that you are a leader, and you are in service of your community.

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Photo courtesy of Rodolfo, retrieved from the Amsterdam Business Breakfast website. 

10:30: End of the talk

Emmy ended her inspirational and educational talk with a quote that really spoke to us.

“Never underestimate a small committed group of people, they can change the world.” – Margaret Mead

We could really identify with this quote. We are a tiny team of three, running a platform which now has over 200 members in total. Within a year, we have successfully matched 35 families with their perfect cultural match. This number may seem small, and relatively maybe it is. But it means something and we are so proud of that achievement.

We hope to continue to match families living abroad with a babysitter who can support them and their child in the best way possible and provide a cultural connection.

In this year we really focused on growing our community, and though we will continue to do that, we also want to deploy the skills we learned at this wonderful talk to strengthen our community.

In 2020, you can expect us to fully embrace the concept of community, and pump more of our efforts into strengthening this wonderful group of people we’ve brought together with our platform. We’re excited to bring you along on this journey with us!

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After the talk, we took the opportunity to surround Emmy and ask her all of our questions. During the “Leads and Needs” session, Loviisa briefly pitched Näpp, and we spent some more time networking over coffee. Photo courtesy of Rodolfo, retrieved from the Amsterdam Business Breakfast website.

About Amsterdam Business Breakfast

Are you interested in attending the future Amsterdam Business Breakfasts? Visit the Amsterdam Business Breakfast website for more information and sign up!