Finding your IKIGAI is a future-proof strategy

IKI means “life, alive” and KAI “result, benefit”. As such, the Japanese concept IKIGAI can best be described as a reason for being“. We have been using the concept of Ikigai in our Personal branding and Pitching workshops to help individuals better focus on “why they do what they do“, and help them make smart(er) well-balanced personal and professional choices. In short, there are four ways of looking at what you are doing or could be doing:

– do what you love,
– do what you are good at,
– do what the world needs,
– do what you can be paid for.

Independently from one another, or in pairs, all have advantages and disadvantages. Consider the following examples:
– At first sight, doing what you love, may definitely seem the nicest thing of all, but if you are not really good at it, it will wear you out and the result will never be satisfactory.
– If you do what you love, but nobody is waiting for it, you will not be able to make a living out of it.
– Doing what the world needs, but what you don’t like, will soon become a burden because it is not in your DNA in the first place.
– Doing things you can get paid for, while your passion is elsewhere, will never yield true satisfaction.
– If you do something real good and relevant, but nobody is prepared to pay for it, you are in charity, but not in business.

Hence, a sound combination of all four elements is what people ideally strive after. The more conscious you are of the concept, the easier is it to make better choices.

The link between IKIGAI and a great strategy

Recently, due to the current worldwide pandemic, I discovered an interesting parallel between the concept of IKIGAI and my personal definition of strategy. I realised that the combination of the four elements of IKIGAI are actually present in what I defined as a successful strategy.

So, in other words, is IKIGAI also relevant in business?
Yes, of course: “thinking in terms of IKIGAI” is a good technique to finetune or rethink your purpose in business in the drastically changed reality of 2020.

“Strategy is about being relevantly different
while creating customer value in a sustainable way”

My one-sentence summary of all strategy books I read over time

Combining the four elements of IKIGAI

Doing what you love and you are good at is a prerequisite for being relevantly different

It is very important to start from what you love and what you are good at, and precisely in that order. As such you will be able to find what can be most passionate about. Passion is the prerequisite for success. Also in business.
Now, to do something that is at the same time relevant and different is not easy. That requires a lot of strategic thinking and preparation, and is also why 80% of all market introductions fail.
If you create something that is relevant but not different, you typically end up with having a useful service or product, for which there already is a lot of competition. In other words, you will have created a pure “me too” that will not take a significant market share.
If on the other hand, you create something truly different, but not really relevant, well, guess…, it might be fun to do, but when nobody sees the purpose of it, it will not sell.
But when you discover a better way than the competition to solve an existing problem, or when you are the first to answer a need or to take away an anxiety, then you are relevantly different.

What the world needs and you can get paid for is the essence of creating customer value in a sustainable way

If nobody is waiting for the product or service you offer, you are only losing time and money with your endeavours. People do not buy products or services for the sake of owning them. They buy products and services to solve a specific problem or need. They seek value in what they buy. Both in B2C and in B2B. For example, In B2C, beauty products are not bought to embellish a shelf, but they are used to gain confidence… whereas in B2B machinery or software are of prime importance to reach a shorter time to market, or to ensure a higher turnaround, These are the goals your customers want to obtain through buying your services or products.
And to make it all sustainable, they have to pay for it. Sounds obvious, but this is for example a huge problem for the majority of apps these days: quite a few are relevantly different, and offer true customer value, but we expect to have them for free. Only when people are prepared to pay for your product or service, in a way that you can keep on investing in your company, you can run a healthy growing business.

If you want to find out more about how to think in terms of company ikigai in your industry, or if you want to schedule a brainstorm session, contact us.
We are eager to help make your strategy future-proof.

Welcome to something completely new

We are entering a completely new world, a world that will be different from everything we have seen and experienced so far. Covid-19 has forever changed the world as we knew it. The new times will be exciting and difficult at the same time, because we are lacking experience in how to face and adapt to that changed environment in the first place. Moreover, we are already in the middle of it! Again without experience.  

I am sure that the future will definitely remain exciting because of the many new opportunities we still need to discover and create. But we will have to adapt our mindset to make things happen the new way. And leaving the beaten track also asks a lot of courage and discipline. 

We don’t need an EXIT but an ENTRY STRATEGY

The world today is focussing on exit strategies. The word exit is all over the place. But an exit does not open any perspective… it is just an exit, isn’t it? It is just about leaving what was.
Therefore, could we please stop talking about the EXIT strategy, and rather focus on finding and developing ENTRY strategies that may work?

We are ENTERING a new phase. We will have to organise ourselves differently, we will work differently, and will have to rethink and reinvent most of what we were doing.
To exit only means that we are leaving something old, something that no longer serves the purpose. Hence, the exit it is an uninteresting topic to keep on expanding on.
An ENTRY, on the other hand gives hope and perspective. It means we will do something NEW.
Can we?

At we are now working on brainstorms and workshops for and with our customers on how to adapt their business in a future-proof way. We are developing new strategies to ENTER the business world again, with existing brands that are passionate to survive and thrive under new conditions. 
Find out more? Contact us via the form below or just give us a call ! 

According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.
Megginson, ‘Lessons from Europe for American Business’, Southwestern Social Science Quarterly (1963)

Ten years of Galland & partners – the learnings.

In 2009 we exchanged the corporate safety net for a less secure existence as independent entrepreneurs.
Some said: “Congratulations”
Others said: “Are you crazy or what!?”

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“Mission accomplished”

Our VuWall assignment will be rounded off at the end of this month. We are feeling happy to have contributed to building out a great AV brand worldwide! We will keep on following the AV industry to see this beautiful gem grow further in the years to come. It is nice to know we made VuWall happy !

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“It is not what you think it is”

Marketing is no longer about telling the world how great your products and services are.

Marketing is not what you think it is.
It is more counter-intuitive than you think. 

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” said the legendarey Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt. And actually, we do not even want that hole either !
What we really want is: to hang shelves or frames, and make our home the nicest place on earth. The hole is just a little step in between the product and the experience.

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Assumptions, your hidden but very painful growth killers

One of the most stunning things we encounter when we run workshops about strategy, is the confidence managers usually have with respect to knowing their customers well. When we confront them with questions such as “how do you  know this is exactly what your customers want?”, “how do you know this is the way to go?”,  they answer, almost by design, that they know “because we have been working together for so long”, or “because sales have very good contacts with the customer base” or “because we’ve been around for so long in the industry”, and so on.

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Simplification is not rocket science

Your product or service can be complex or hard to build.
That’s why you have a complex story to start with.
But what people buy from you must make their lives easier.
That’s why you need to listen carefully and simplify your story.

At, we offer a simplification trail to transform your company into a future-proof organisation that is loved by its customers.

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Het DNA van een kampioen

Column zoals verschenen in De Tijd van 26 mei 2015.

“Ann, weet jij nog waar RNA voor staat?” werd me onlangs gevraagd op een investeerdersevenement in Brussel. Zonder verpinken kon ik me de volledige naam van de macromolecule zonder iteraties voor de geest halen: “RiboNucleic Acid of ribonucleïnezuur” zei ik, “op school geleerd, heel lang geleden.”

Maar eigenlijk ben ik meer geïnteresseerd in DNA (desoxyribonucleïnezuur) en dan vooral in de figuurlijke betekenis van het begrip: een unieke set van kenmerken die je maakt tot wie je bent en die je onderscheidt van anderen. Een begrip dat ook steeds meer bedrijven en merken gebruiken om duidelijk te maken waarvoor ze staan.

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Competition: forget about the usual suspects!

When we talk to CEO’s and marketing & sales directors about competition, we often feel they are most worried about their closest competitors. Competitors that do exactly the same stuff as they do. Virtually every company gathers loads of information on direct competitors.

At first sight, there is nothing wrong with that. Following up on what your main competitors do is just fine. But only “just” fine, because it is the Olympic minimum. You will hardly find out more than the things you already knew. In the first place, it will give you a good understanding of what decisions or actions brought other players to the point where they are today. Secondly, it may help you to see your assumptions being confirmed.  In other words, you are looking into data of the past. Whereas the future of your company is… ahead of you. In the future. Exactly.

Stop focussing on the competition you know
Why? Because analyzing the past and analyzing the things you are more or less aware of,  will in no way show you your competitors’ next steps.

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Ann Galland
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