FISH!Y Ever After at KLM

October 15, 2008. Uhm… yeah? And?

When my colleagues call dates out of the blue like that, my body usually responds like this: my relaxed face pulls away and a grin appears. This is my non-verbal expression to express: “It’s nothing personal. Just give me a minute and I’ll get it!”

I have trouble with dates. Most of the time, they are one dimensional lines on a piece of paper, existing of numbers and letters. All my senses struggle to give any sort of depth and feeling to this string of abstract data.

So why start this piece with a date? Because on the 15th of October in 2008, I saw fish flying. And years later, I would experience their magic again.


A pleasant side effect of Seattle is that it’s the home turf of an plane manufacturer. When my employer extended its fleet with a new type of plane, I travelled to ‘The Emerald City’. What a fancy name for a city that’s known for its drizzle! Because of the weather, of course.

Yet, somewhere in Seattle there’s a place where it’s always dry: Pike Place Market. Pike Place Market is a public market alongside the waterfront of Elliot Bay. Pike Place opened its doors on August 17, 1907, which makes it the oldest farmers market in the US. It’s also the birthplace of the FISH! philosophy.

“Pike Place Market would absolutely be worth a visit!” With her southern accent, the stewardess on board my flight made me venture across town to visit this market on my first day. And there I was, alone, in front of an entrance that looked from the outside as an old, dilapidated hall. Was I in the right spot?

Inside, I saw merchants sleepily recommending their sweets, dairy, woodcarvings and dried flowers. “Is this it?” I thought to myself. Suddenly, there was an uproar at the end of the hall: sound, movement, energy!

I made the choice to follow my gut and approach the sound. This choice turned out to be invaluable! I was introduced John Yokoyama’s men. Their fish flew around my ears. Energy crackled. I saw first hand how they established a connection with their audience, their customers. What an experience! “One sockeye flying to Amsterdam!”

I was alone that day, but after visiting Pike Place, I never felt alone in Seattle anymore. “May please be part of such a team?” I wished. The wish would come true, eventually.


A few years later, Pike Place’s FISH! philosophy crossed my path again. It was during the unbelievably humorous, creative, open and unique two-day FISH! Facilitator certification program. And where else but in the infamous FISH! Playground at Performance Solutions. It was as if I were back in Seattle!

FISH! philosophy is about energy, passion and fun. In management teams, on the work floor, in customer experience and in everyday life. It’s essence, connecting and engaging, is brought to life through four pillars:

  1. Play: When you spend so much time of the day working, you better have fun while doing it! Through spontaneity and creativity, FISH! magically conjures a smile on your face!
  2. Make Their Day: Do something special for a client or colleague. They won’t be quick to forget it!
  3. Be There: Focus on the moment, your colleague or your task, and you won’t let important chances slip through your fingers
  4. Choose Your Attitude: Be positive, (wo)man! Nobody but you can make that choice. Every day again

FISH Valentine KLM


Since February 2015, I’m a FISH! Facilitator at KLM. I’m living my professional life FISH!y ever after! The FISH! energizers which I’ve done until now, have landed with a big bang.

During the energizers, people were open: “When’s the last time you did something for the first time?” To many, this had been (TOO) long ago. Wow, what an eye opener! Many of us started the next day at work by doing something we’d never done before.

FISH! Energizer

That day, our office was became the home of a close community full of colorful initiatives. Our ultimate ‘corporate dresser’ with a strong preference for black, showed up in an outfit full of color. Including flaming red stilettos! And our assistant wore a name tag saying ‘Guppy’. This was her FISH!y way of connecting with her customers. Do you have any idea how many questions and spontaneous conversations you will fire up wearing such a title on your revers?

Real power is inside of you. FISH! is an excellent catalyst to bring this out. The four pillars of FISH! combined with a healthy dose of authenticity and passion make FISH! to what it is to me: a bottomless source of inspiration to be me. I’ll be a cheerio in a bowl of fruit loops!

When fish fly, magic happens!

Are you ready to bring more passion, fun and energy to the work place? Become a FISH! Facilitator on June 22 & 23 and learn to make magic happen!

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