Aha! I had an “aha” moment!

I’ve been struggling lately. The pieces haven’t been falling into place. Not like I imagined they might or even into any sort of order.

Bear with me for a paragraph or two, by the end of this post I think all will be clear ūüôā

My struggle has been a loss of faith in myself and what I want to do. Well, not actually what I want to do, rather are there enough people out there like me who want to do what I want to do. Now, that does sound very confusing I know.

The whole business idea is built around showing my Helsinki, not necessarily the same as the official Helsinki version or any of the myriad of other tour operators about.

I think I am as close to rock bottom as I can get in this planning / pre-opening stage.

My aha moment came when I realised that I only need one person to believe in me. ME. While this is painfully self-evident now, last week this concept was clouded in a heap of doubts and negative thoughts. I was doubting the name, the idea, the source of customers. Everything just felt wrong.

I contemplated dumping the study, even though I enjoy it immensely. In the long run there will be benefits.

I contemplated dumping the volunteering, even though I enjoy it immensely. It pays to broaden ones’ horizons on occasion.

I contemplated dumping the book club, even though I enjoy it immensely. Despite the fact that I’ve been unable to read any of the books for the past few months, that one night of good food, good wine, good company does much to restore my spirit.

I contemplated dumping the cycling, even though I enjoy it immensely. Physical exercise and pushing the pain barrier can’t be beaten for getting those cogs turning in new directions. Some of my best ideas have come after a stint in the saddle. Followed by walking the dog ūüėČ

Now that I’ve said aha out loud a few times, even in the shower (which resulted in a mouthful of soapy water – bleugh) I’m set to move forward. I’ve cleared the table (literally and metaphorically) and all of those positive thoughts are about to become actions.

More soon, just watch!

Research, research and still more research (or you never stop learning!)

This week has been most interesting from a research point of view. I found out that the people staffing the office in charge of distributing start-up funding are not nearly as scary as imagined. In fact, quite the opposite. Monday morning saw me sitting in the office of one counsellor who jumped out of her seat three times to confer with her colleague down the hall. Then she swiveled her chair and collected more information from the filing cabinets behind her. She was more than forthcoming about my need to gather papers from my old college (on its way) as well as the taxman (ordered online at 2143, delivery anticipated today or Monday). A nice packet of papers is being built-in preparation for lodgement.

My online endeavours didn’t go so well.¬†That’s not exactly true. I managed to create a short and simple survey. Said survey however suffered¬†from being the free version¬†and thus I wasn’t able to ‘pipe’* the questions accordingly. As I’m not in a financially viable position to upgrade at this point in time, it just means that my next survey needs to be clever. Or I stay away from asking why on yes or no questions!

The best part of this week was hanging out at the Cruise Terminal chatting to the passengers returning to their ships. Earlier I’d been asking my questions early in the morning as people were heading out. Very different responses from the two groups. Those that have had a chance to see Helsinki were much more forthcoming in their opinions than those who were just heading out. I’m going to keep up the research, although the focus will change week on week. Next week I’m going to start asking about public transport (which I must say is VERY good in Helsinki!). Today I’ve ordered some almost free business cards and will be handing them out at the harbour. They will promote¬†the blog, Foursquare¬†¬© and Twitter ¬©, so hopefully I can generate¬†traffic from¬†Helsinki visitors and get some dialogue happening, all the while building the brand!

This morning my mentor and I chatted for an hour and have worked out our next step in the plan of attack. He was disappointed to hear that a couple of my contact attempts had gone unanswered. I’m going to try again via the telephone and see if that gets any response. I have twelve days to tie everything together to a final package. This has gone much slower than I anticipated, although these last two weeks of market research have been invaluable. The product is taking shape!

Yesterday I took the number 16 bus from Herttoniemi, through the city to Hernesaari where the Cruise Terminal is located. I arrived at the bus stop and it appeared that one bus had not arrived as there were a great many disgruntled faces to be seen. I overheard one couple were being advised that they could take a taxi and¬†guessed they were heading for the terminal also. Just to be sure I asked where they headed? ‘Back to the boat, love’ in lovely Australian accents came the answer. ‘So am I!, we can catch the bus together – I’m sure it will be here soon’. Sure enough the bus arrived and we all piled on. P and M sat at the front and I moved to the rear of the bus.

Then, as we were driving through Kulosaari (the next island and suburb along) past the Chinese, Indian and Iraqian embassies I thought to myself that I was wasting an ideal opportunity – at the next stop I moved to the front of the bus and asked if I could sit with them and they could ask any question about Helsinki as we went along. So, my plan to describe the trip for my next Heather’s Helsinki post went down the drain, however we go to talk all about their trip and why they had done somethings and not others. Invaluable. Oh, and we did talk a little about the passing scenery …

If you answered my survey this week: A VERY BIG THANKYOU. I’ll get the responses tabulated and post them in the coming weeks.

* Piping refers to yes / no questions and being directed to the appropriate subset of questions.

Mental breakthrough achieved

Just like that. Sitting in a meeting with my colleagues, and suddenly realising that a) I can leave this job and it doesn’t matter at all. This thought was quickly followed by b) I have some core supporters and c) they believe in me.

Back to the first point. Don’t get me wrong, of course it matters. Just in the BIG scheme of things it’s not important: life will go on, Foreship Oy won’t fall in to a funk and fail just because I’m not doing the job anymore. The job will be done by someone else, in their style. Trust me, this is a huge step for me. In the past, moving on, even when it’s been a promotion (and thus GOOD for me) has brought out some extremely protective behaviour from me. Looking back, I realise that I’ve done a huge disservice to those that followed in my immediate footsteps. While I’m unable to undo those things I’ve done before, I’m ready to move on, confident that I have given my successor everything she needs to do the job (and a little bit more). What she does with that little bit more is her issue, not mine!!! Wow, that feels so good!

Now to my supporters: this merry band grows weekly. The core supporters are presently sleeping on the other side of the wall. The next layer if you will, are spread around the country and around the world. Some are kin, while others are familiar to me from different times and places in my life. I feel there is a third, albeit thin layer forming of contacts who patiently answer my questions and point me in the right direction. They also encourage me to constantly question, look and learn. Without exception, everyone on my team is behind me, in one form or another. Thank you for sticking with me thus far, the ride is about to get a little bumpy. Hold tight!

In closing, if I haven’t made this clear earlier, I’ll say it now: this is the right time for me to do this. Personally, professionally, mentally and physically. Thank you for believing in me.