Some people have the talent of gathering colors, give meaning to it and create something new and extraordinary. Other people can do it with sounds. Some with words. Robert Daverschot does it with people. By facilitating dialogues and moderating events Robert creates longlasting value in the short amount of time of an occasion. And from now on anyone hosting an event or meeting at Seats2meet Utrecht CS can hire Robert to do it. We interviewed Robert to know more about his work and adventures where it leads him. Spoiler alert: one of them involves the Dalai Lama.
Hi Robert, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve always been curious about people. What makes them tick? What’s their story? My background in hospitality and my passion for travel helped me to meet people from all over the world. It also explains why until today I feel so at home in Amsterdam. In my work as a moderator, presenter and dialogue facilitator during [mostly corporate] events and meetings a lot of these things come together. People talking about what they’re interested in. What makes them go to work every day? To hear that and to build on to that and to find answers on their challenges; that’s what I like about my work.
You used to work with S2M, what was your role here?
I worked for 2.5 years at S2M. From 2006 till 2008. At the time, co-founder Ronald van den Hoff, started with giving presentations to companies about the S2M philosophy, business model and his vision on our society’s shift: from 1.0 to 3.0. I often joined him on these presentation trips and we actually gave quite a few duo presentations as well. I have nice memories on the passionate talks that were often ignited by the presentations we gave.
It also fueled the idea of MINDZ.com. An S2M label that doesn’t exist anymore, but back then it gave an online platform to many of the S2M visitors, from starting entrepreneurs to senior professionals. Out of the digital content I often distilled so-called “round tables” in which we would zoom in on trending topics together with diverse experts and table guests. MINDZ helped S2M not only in a commercial way, but it also helped to underline the company’s philosophy on social capital as a means to create value together.
Did working here helped you on going on as an autonomous professional?
For sure. Being surrounded at S2M by freelancers on a daily basis, already soon made me aware of not only the creativity needed but also present with many of the S2M visitors. Plus working with entrepreneurs Ronald and Marielle [co-founders of S2M], helped me to soon see the importance of creating a vision with everything you do and to develop a commercial mindset from there.
When did you realize you want to become a freelancer?
Over the last 7 years or so I helped many professionals to design and execute events. In such a way that social capital [be it through speakers, audiences or boards of companies] would be exploited to the fullest; It’s one thing to organize a nice event, in terms of decoration, food, and entertainment. It’s a more challenging thing to also create lasting value with an event. What do you want to achieve with an event? How do you unlock valuable thoughts of the many professionals present in your audience? How to go from monologue to dialogue? For that often a single meeting or an event isn’t sufficient. It has to be part of a bigger picture and a concrete communication plan.
With that much experience gathered, having witnessed so many other professional moderators and with my curiosity in people and antenna for hospitality, I thought now is the time. Time to take off my bike’s training wheels. And there I went. One of my first events was moderating the 10th-anniversary event of Seats2meet. The company that I left in 2008 as an employee, hired me back as a freelancer; Such a nice example of how things can go!
You aim to connect people to each other and create great conversations, what are your main tips for people who strug
gle with creating valuable connections?
Be curious. Find common grounds. That can only be reached by approaching somebody with an open mind. And heart. What’s his or her story? Ask questions. It often needs only one coin to drop and from there you can have the most interesting dialogues. On a professional level, a personal level and all the blends possible from there.
Do you have a cool story of your work you would like to share?
In 2013 His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the Rotterdam Erasmus University. I co-hosted the event program, which was about the future of education. In a Q&A session we collected anonymous audience input and as such I could ask His Holiness serious, but also fun questions. Like “What is your favorite childhood memory about your primary school time?”. His answer? With a big smile, he answered: “The holidays!”.
And what are your tips for self-employed entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself cleverly with people that support you in your business journey. If it concerns administration: find somebody with a similar working style as you and ask how he/she does it. As for strategy: talk with entrepreneurs that have been out there already for a few years. As for creativity: talk with artists. Not only do they often have to find clever ways to earn [sufficient] money, they also have a different and refreshing mindset that you can learn from. As for mental support: talk with other freelancers who know what it is to go through all the phases of setting up a business. And through all of that: make it a daily practice to tune in on your gut feeling. Often, for many reasons, we’ve drifted away from that. But hey: it’s still there! Listen carefully. To others. To yourself. To what situations have to tell you.