Human Performance Technology: the study and ethical practice of improving productivity in organizations by designing and developing effective interventions that are result-oriented, comprehensive and systemic. (Handbook of Human Performance Technology, James A. Pershing)
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What can we learn from “SOS Piet”?

Posted: November 26th, 2009 | Author: Patrick Smits | Filed under: Business Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

SOS Piet

Since a couple of years we have a cooking program on the Belgian TV called “SOS Piet”. Its success is unseen. Piet Huysentruyt, a former chef and owner of a Michelin star restaurant quit his kitchen and went on the road with a little cooking survival kit and a camera crew to help the Belgian TV audience to cook. He also wrote three cooking books which are top selling books in here in Belgium. What are the secrets of his success and why does the concept sell? SOS Piet applies some fundamentals of the successful sale. What are they?



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Put yourself at level with you audience

SOS Piet literally left is kitchen, all his rewards and status signs. This is, as far as I know the first cooking program in the world where a well regarded Michelin Star chef gets in his car and comes to your kitchen. By doing so, he becomes as the expert very accessible and at level with his audience. It will cost you absolutely nothing to have Piet over, you only need to mail him with a real cooking problem and get selected. He is open to anyone and puts himself at level of his customers.

Listen to your audience

Since many years cooking programs are very popular. You can not count how many chefs have their program telling how they do things. SOS Piet reversed the roles. He let you cook in your kitchen. He only observes listens, tastes and sees what goes wrong. Listening is all about the story of the other, noting about your story. And most importantly, Piet does not comment on your problem, he only changes some details in the way you do tings.

Speak their language

In one of the shows the lady is Spanish and speaks a mix of English and Flemish. SOS Piet adapted his language using his best English mixed with some Flemish. The chemistry was not only going in the pan but also in the Kitchen. By copying the same language and wording of your counterpart, you create a connection. The other party feels immediately at level and is motivated to talk.

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Think and go in little logical steps that really help

SOS Piet gives “Tips and Tricks”. No more, no less. At the start of a sales training, I ask the participants about their expectations. And I always get the request for Tips and Tricks. Why? It easier to remember little tricks that work rather than having to remember great theories and complex models. We only want that one trick that does it all. SOS Piet gives us this “Wonder Trick”. It is the trick that sticks and will makes a world of a difference. His audience feels helped. Change and success comes in small steps.

Everyone 15 minutes famous

What happens when someone you know in your town comes on television? You will be watching. The whole town will be watching. Is it not more fun to peep into your neighbour’s kitchen? And that person will be the talk of the day. When Andy Warhol said that in the future everybody will be 15 minutes famous, it sounded unrealistic. Coming on TV was only for celebrities. Now you just send a mail to SOS Piet and chances are big that you end up in his cooking show and become the talk of the day. We all want to feel important and need attention.

Back to basics

Every cookbook should start with “how to cook an egg”. It sounds boring but it is essential. If you are not able to cook a potato properly, why would you bother to make “Gratin Dauphinois”? Often when, I coach experienced Sales, I see them make errors against the basics. Bad habits or good habits never learned? In sales, minimum of skills are required. When those are absent, it is no use to invest in advanced sales training programs.

“What did we learn?”

Every activity can be a learning opportunity. We only have to process our learning. This is reflecting on what we did and what was important to remember and repeat or to do different in the future. The most easy and basic way of processing this learning is by asking: “What did we learn?” This question became SOS Piet’s trade mark. I recognise successful sales agents only by their learning attitude. For them every sales call is a learning opportunity and they actively process their learning again and again. Selling is a continuous learning event. Not one sales call is the same.

And have Fun

When SOS Piet is around, everybody has fun. Last, he was invited on the “De Laatste Show” which is a late evening talk show on the Belgian TV. Piet sat on the bench with Sting and Dennis Rodman and made everybody laugh and joke. There is some saying that “if you can’t tell it on a fun way, it is not the truth”. We are naturally attracted to fun. Laughing is one of the best stress relievers and it relaxes us. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Here are some questions that could help you with your success.

How do you put yourself at level with your customer?

How long do you really listen to the story of your customer?

How much do you use the “exact” wording of your customer?

How do you help your customer with small practical advice?

How do you make your customer feel important?

How well do you practice the communication basics?

What did you learn from your last sales call?

When did you last make your customers smile?

Have Fun, Patrick

We are all connected…

Posted: July 10th, 2009 | Author: Patrick Smits | Filed under: Team Performance | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »


We are all defined by what happens around us. On a large “quantum physics” scale we could say that we are all connected with each other. We are all energy. In normal situations, where a lot of strangers are together we tend to not feel this connection. We focus on our own internal self. We do not make contact with what happens around us. And when this last too long we start feeling depressed. But…

Only when something happens around us that synchronizes the energy into a nice frequency we get music. Music gives us the energy to dance. And when we dance together we feel even more energy. And the more this energy synchronizes the happier we start to feel. This energy of being connected with each other widens out to all person in the neighbourhood of this event. It works like a magnet.

In Antwerp Central Station there was a nice experiment of a dance group that set up a public performance. More than 200 dancers were performing their version of “Do Re Mi”, in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of “The Sound of Music”.

Watch for yourself and see what this does with the people coincidently in the neighbourhood of this synchronized event.


Fun, passion and togetherness is what connect us. It is amazing to see how quickly this can be realized with a crowd of people that does not know each other. Just having fun together… And it works.  If you do not believe this works… here is a more recent proof of how passion connects us. The passion for music. 

These are two performances made at Segels Torg and the Central Station (Stockholm). The dance collective Bounce came up with the idea and invited the public to a short choreographed session before hitting the streets.

(Copyright Pierre Wikberg)

Wondering why in this so called financial and economic crisis, companies have a hard time to connect again with the fun, passion and togetherness. The paradox, however is that we all need this. Where are fun, passion and connection gone in some boardrooms?

There is no magic. Neither the money nor the performance appraisals will have the same effect. But only those simple things will make a world of a difference.