Posts Tagged ‘dutch’


“if it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much”

Tuesday 14 December, 2010

I attended this talk U.S.-DUTCH RELATIONS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE given by Fay Hartog Levin, US Ambassador to Holland, & Renee Jones-Bos, Dutch Ambassador to the US, & organized by the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs.  Ms. Levin kicked off by noting that the Dutch still have enduring feelings for Americans because of our kindness following World War II.  The Netherlands is actively engaged in preventing future wars through its work in NATO, the EU, etc.  The Dutch fight poverty as the largest donors per capita.  They combat terrorism by sharing data.  They work together with us on alternative energy.  NATO is the most successful alliance ever, but needs to be strengthened & adapted to 21st century security challenges.

Ms. Jones-Bos took over from there by stating geography leads to destiny & gave us a history lesson.  Holland is located on the delta of 3 rivers, which led to a rich history of trading, as indicated now by 60% of their GDP coming from international trade & investment.  The Dutch still hold territories in the Caribbean.  Their economy is the 6th largest in the world & have more bikes than people (17M).  Amsterdam is a top 10 financial center & the Netherlands is the 2nd largest agricultural exporter.   They are the 3rd largest investor in & 7th largest trader with the US.  750 US companies have their headquarters in the Netherlands.  International market forces have led the Dutch maritime industry to convert to cruise ships & dredges, while the textile industry has transitioned to make high-tech sails.  Europe is still 1 of America’s most important partners with $1B crossing the Atlantic in trade every day, but we must enlarge our level playing field to other places.   Focusing on the economy is the most important task right now, & we need to fight protectionism in congress.


  • the Netherlands is 1 of the most multicultural societies because of its historical liberal asylum policies, which they assumed were temporary, but have turned out to be permanent.  1M Muslims from Turkey & Morocco now reside in Holland.  The problem is they don’t speak Dutch, & therefore can’t participate in society like everyone else.  Politicians have been caught up in a populist wave creating stricter immigration policies, job skills training, etc.
  • the recent G20 summit stabilized the downturn in the crisis, so now we are turning our attention back to real issues.  The US & Europe are developing financial standards & staying aligned.  But it’s harder to change mature economies, especially while others are rising.
  • Europe still works closely with the US, but feels a bit like a former girlfriend or spurned lover, losing out to “new girls” around the globe.  It’s difficult for countries with big GDP’s because it’s difficult to achieve fast growth.
  • The Dutch educational system directs students to make choices earlier than Americans, which puts them in less of a hurry because they feel more free & there is less incentive to get out of school.  The US has the most variation, the best & the worst, while the Dutch system is more even.

To explain the title:  when I lived in Germany years ago, the European Cup came to Muenchen (where I lived) & the Dutch played in the final against the Russians.  Wherever we went around the OlympiaStadion that day, all of the Dutch had dreadlocks on their heads & were wearing orange t-shirts which read, “If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much!”  There is some truth to that.


dutch support the olympics

Tuesday 20 January, 2009

The Dutch-Chicago Business Exchange & Netherlands America Foundation hosted an event featuring Michael Murnane of Chicago 2016.  If you’ve seen many of these presentations to drum up local support for the movement, (which is an important variable in the International Olympic Committee(IOC)’s evaluation of all the competitive bids), there wasn’t much that was new.  but a few new nuggets.  The Chicago 2016 bid’s biggest obstacle is that Chicago is not well known to the IOC.  Many foreigners still think of Chicago as a flyover zone between the coasts, the city of Al Capone, or just a conglomeration of industrial smokestacks.  Chicago 2016 has grown to have 50 full-time staff in addition to 40-50 contributing on a pro bono basis.  They already count 10,000 volunteers, & if Chicago wins, we’ll need 4 times that.  The composition of the number of IOC voting members breaks down like so:
North America-(US & Canada)-4
Latin America-14
Asia Pacific-19
Western Europe-37
Eastern Europe-10
Middle East-8

Strengths of the bid are that Chicago represents 188 of 205 ancestries, 20 of which have 25,000+ residents represented by 10,000 ethnic organizations.  The bid book is due 12 Feb. & 4 IOC committee members led by a Moroccan woman will be in Chicago 2-8 April as the 1st stop on their tour of the candidate cities.  Register here can support the bid.

Q&A-Chicago 2016 does not have a ministry of sport like the administrations of other bidders, so it is 100% self-financed by donations.  The only expense to be incurred by the city will be for security, etc.  Their thinking is what’s implemented for 2016 has to make sense in 2017 as well.  Since their goals are:  1. win the bid  2. contribute to the Olympic movement 3. contribute to Chicago, that approach makes sense.  The Olympics cannot rehabilitate the CTA-there will be an overlay to the CTA during the games, but otherwise there is little Chicago 2016 can do to help.  Cricket, baseball, & softball may be demonstration sports for the 2016 Olympics, but those decisions won’t be made until the host city is chosen.  Building relationships with IOC members & the election & support of Barack Obama will help win votes.

I’ve already commented on what I think of Chicago’s bid a number of times.  Just search on this blog for those comments.


Dutch entrepreneurs in Chicago

Wednesday 16 April, 2008

The Netherland America Foundation-Dutch Chicago Business Exchange hosted an event featuring a couple of Dutch entrepreneurs who founded businesses in Chicago. Dirk Meuzelaar of Bitfactory & Marcel Birkhoff of Hyva made presentations on their impressions of founding a business here from a Dutch point of view.  Marcel’s presentation is included here: naf-presentation Noteworthy in addition to his presentation:  Marcel started Hyva-US from his apartment in Chicago, pilfering wireless internet access from a neighbor (who still doesn’t know about it), & selling telescopic cylinders off of his pick-up truck.

The presentation was attended mostly by students, from both Erasmus University-Rotterdam School of Management, the Netherlands as well as the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. The Dutch presentation is included here: ppt_presentations_bb What’s interesting here is the differentiation between the Americans as “masculine”-assertive, competitive, ambition, wealth & material possessions; & the Dutch as “feminine”-placing more value on relationships, & quality of life.  This is reflected in resumes/CV’s in that Americans focus on achievement-oriented comparisons in education & grades while the Dutch highlight extra-curricular activities.  In business, another reflection is Americans are perceived as overselling, as the Dutch are thought to undersell.  I agree, but resumes/cv’s worldwide are changing to become more American, & Americans would do well to temper their enthusiasm when selling to foreigners.


“The business of jazz” with the Dutch

Saturday 26 January, 2008

This event took place the evening of 15 January, 2008 @ the Fine Arts Building. It was sponsored by the Netherlands Consulate General, The Netherland-America Foundation-Chicago Chapter, Dutch Chicago Business Exchange & Piano Forte Foundation  As a lover of jazz I was interested to learn about the business side of a struggling musical segment.

The format was a panel discussion, moderated by Neill Tesser, local music journalist and broadcaster. The panel consisted of

Michiel Borstlap, pianist and composer (Netherlands)

-Lauren Deutsch, Executive Director of the Jazz Institute of Chicago

-Michael Frank, CEO Earwig Music (record label)

T.S. Galloway, trombonist, composer and musical director

Mike Reed, drummer and presenter

Here’s the promotional blurb: “What do Jazz & Business have in common? If you really think about it… EVERYTHING. The challenges confronting the Jazz musician and the Business community are surprisingly similar. In a panel discussion we would like to highlight the challenges the Jazz business as a whole faces and how they are being addressed. What better to hear it directly from Artists, Club owners, and Record companies? Representatives from Chicago and the Netherlands will freely discuss the challenges and opportunities!”

Borstlap started by suggesting that listeners should pay to hear jazz & that subsidies were not necessarily a good thing. That didn’t seem to be the way it’s working in Chicago. He has been successful in getting sponsors for CD’s, tours, etc. Deutsch trumpeted the Jazz Institute of Chicago’s role in bringing jazz to new listeners, including youth, which is needed if jazz is going to survive. Frank brought up the issue of the lack of coverage of jazz & blues in the media as opposed to more popular genres such as rock & hip-hop. I think the most valuable contributions were made by Galloway, who well-described the tensions between the artistic/creative drive to make new music vs. the need to make money doing it. I also found Galloway’s opinion valuable as 1 who has lived for years in both the US & abroad (in the Netherlands), so he’s 1 of the few able to make well-informed opinions on the differences between American & others’ support for jazz. As 1 of the organizers of the successful Pitchfork & Umbrella music festivals, Reed was lauded as an example to follow for the future of jazz, by using his combination of old & new technologies to bring out new music cost effectively.

I enjoyed this event immensely, but grew frustrated with Tesser’s lead in the conversation. No mention was made of who’s profitable in the supply/value chain, how the money flows, & who takes how much of their slice of the pie. The business model for distributing music is changing rapidly & little discussion was made of how those changes are affecting the distribution of jazz music. Jazz musicians have to be even more clever in their business dealings, but in different ways than in the past. Even though I love jazz, I would have preferred a little more business analysis & a little less “where is jazz today?” It appeared as if this event was being filmed for television, but I haven’t seen/heard when or where.

The panel discussion was followed by a performance of one of Europe’s most successful Jazz musicians, pianist Michiel Borstlap with his trio, which was great. I can hear why Michiel gets the accolades he does. He plays well both up- & down-tempo & has a couple of great cohorts who know how & when to exert themselves. Check out his link above to get a taste of his music, (& see his sponsors for this CD).