American expat Mike Miello created his own adventure that would eventually create more value for himself and for others.
Mike’s story in a nutshell:
In 2005, I signed a contract to play professional baseball in Milan, Italy the following year. Unfortunately getting residency prevented it from happening and so I couldn’t play. Still, I wanted to come to Europe and since I knew a little French, I decided to go to France and study. I eventually got a couple master degrees in business and politics in France and Switzerland while taking on side jobs as a web admin/ developer. In 2009, I came to Amsterdam Netherlands and have been her ever since. First few years I was an international business developer Dutch tech companies establish business abroad, primarily to the USA. In 2012, I decided to establish my own company, Webodew. Passionate about the web, I now help business owners find their voice online and provide them with tools to move their online business to a higher performing level.
Biggest start up / expat challenge:
Just getting away from the negativiy, the naysayers.
Going through the initial startup period, this is where you see your true supporters.
Entrepreneurship is not an easy thing to commit to. Many people I know say they always wanted to be their own boss but then come up with “one of the million reasons” they can’t. I think the web has termed these people as “wantrapreneurs”. When I started, some people within my group gave me the feeling like they wanted me to fail so that they could justify their own actions of not trying. And so when I would go to parties, I would hear a lot of negative comments. “Ohhh you must be struggling to do xyz” “You probably can’t do xyz now since you have no financial guarantee for your futures”. What would your girlfriend think if you couldn’t….
I heard a fair share of these comments and I definitely thought about them. Am I making the right decision? Is there too much risk? A lot of reflection and too much hesitation.
Eventually I just started blocking this kind of attitude and focused more on associating myself with people who share a common interest and self-drive. I wanted to see if creating my own adventure would create more value for myself and others. And I discovered that there are a lot of people with a similar mindset who work toward this in unique ways. This became fuel for me!
Who are your cheerleaders?:
Family and friends help a lot. But I’d have to say that my mentors and clients give me crazy energy juice! I now have weekly mastermind that pump me up to think of next actions. And clients are helping me to get my service out. They know that business helps me improve my offering which I can then provide more value for them.
What are your words of Wisdom?:
Failing costs the amount of time it takes to get the balls to fail in the first place. I said this to one of my Dutch friends. He then printed it on a Dutch ceramic tile and so I guess it stuck with him. Maybe it’s a keeper 🙂
If I compare my Dutch clients versus my experiences in other countries, I do feel that there is a more cautious approach in doing business. Funding for projects, hiring new personal, .etc come on incremental levels where you have to truly convince that the expected value is achievable without much risk. And once you can demonstrate this, then there is more openness to speed up the growth path.
I also find that putting personal images in presentations is not a common thing here. During my first presentation to a company, I used pictures of myself. I thought it was a normal thing to do but a few people came up to me and told me they would never do such a thing. It was so American to show my face 🙂
I laughed and said, “I’m an American boy” and started playing my ringtone haha! http://youtu.be/Ic5vxw3eijY?t=37s
I’d say fall in love with failing. I realized that failing is the quickest way to validating an idea, product or service. The quicker failures allow me to pivot my course of action toward a product or service that sticks with clients.
Working practices and benefits in your adopted country: I’d say putting extra emphasis on customer service. Among the expats, we tend to compare customer service in The Netherlands versus our motherlands. And we do find that putting extra care and effort seems to be different from the norm here. And so for me, it just really highlighted the importance to serve people exceptionally well. One thing I’ve learned in The Netherlands is being more straightforward in conversations. I emphasize getting to the point and making things happen more efficiently.
Where you find inspiration from: business mentors and mastermind groups. I came across a few people through Youtube and blogs that I really admire. I reached out, we eventually became friends and now we work together. Also playing sports I found a couple people that can provide great insight to my way of working.
Working practices and benefits in the Netherlands:
From my experience, it’s not uncommon to be at a restaurant and talk about customer service being not-so-great. Not very personal, not going over the top, which are some service elements I grew up with in the States. For me, I find this as a way to distinguish myself on the local market. The LOUD American who emphasizes quality care. I believe providing exceptional value and support is what creates long-lasting relationships. That’s what I’m in the biz for.
Where you find inspiration from:
Business mentors and mastermind groups.
How you stay motivated:
My desire to have my own business and to contribute to society. I like the freedom to explore any idea whenever, even at 4am! I like being able to be flexible with the type of work I’m doing. I like being able to assemble a team to get work done. I like interacting with people, learning from them, and then implementing my own ideas that could help them or others.
There’s a lot of space to contribute. There’s a lot of space to think big….and actually apply it because I have the final say on what’s possible.
Watch Mike’s video interview with Heidi Mulligan Walker, co author of Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs: