During the Polaris Summer Networking Event, our guests had the pleasure of listening to the incredible life story of Marianne Kuiper, Founder and Owner of Efficient Hotel Partner & Music Meeting Lounge. For all those who could not be present, Marianne was kind enough to give an interview to our co-founder Ingrid Veling, and you can now read it below.
Since we met, I got to know you as a person with an eye for detail and a passion for giving people special experiences. Why is that important for you?
Following the heart is not something that describes me, I’m not a fan of standard and that shows in several ways. You probably will never receive a gift card from me. I would much rather buy something original, accompanied by a card written with humour. My company newsletters are full of creativity, truly something different from other newsletters. It’s fantastic to surprise people, exceeding their expectations and see a smile appear on their face. Which in turn, I enjoy seeing.
You have set-up your own meeting venue the Music Meeting Lounge, what is the story behind that?
After starting my own business, Efficient Hotel Partner, a venue finder, I always missed the hospitality effect of hosting guests. When the unique opportunity presented itself to create a new meeting venue in the same office building, I didn’t hesitate, not even for a second.
Immediately I had the desire to create something that was out of the box. I could have just splashed some fresh paint on the walls and buy some standard meeting tables and chairs, but there are already so many standard meeting venues. Nothing special.
Which is exactly what I didn’t want. It’s been proven that a unique venue outside of office simulates creativity at brainstorm sessions, defining a new strategy or finding new solutions.
The Music Meeting Lounge offers the ‘old-fashioned’ possibility to play vinyl records, which works great to create a connection between the guests and it can be used as a warm-up, icebreaker or as part of/closing of the meeting.
We’ve been open for a couple of months now and all of our guests are ragingly enthusiastic.
You mentioned once that your father was a role model for you. What did you admire about him and how have you used that in your work?
Speaking of out of box, this describes my father to a tee. During the war he lived in Berlin for 2 years, was part of the resistance and survived many bombings. He wasn’t afraid of anything anymore.
He was so thankful to have survived that period that he enjoyed every minute of his live and stimulated me to live life to the fullest. His two greatest passions were music and photography. Day and night, it always needed to be better.
He passed this on to me; either do something good or don’t do it at all. Furthermore, he possessed a great deal of genuine Amsterdam humour, which would have everyone rolling on the floor laughing. And laughter is the best medicine for everything.
What was the most difficult decision you had to take in life?
Selling my dreamhouse, situated on the waterfront of the Amstel.
It was a fantastic house and I put everything that I had into it with the refurbishment and interior design. It wasn’t big, but the unique location made it our own little oasis. The house felt like a warm coat on a cold day, I was truly happy there. It wasn’t just a house. It was a home.
I could have possibly stayed there after my divorce, with some creative problem solving, but I let other people talk me into selling the house. I let peer pressure get the best of me and I regret selling that house to this day.
You have had a flourishing business and then suddenly you faced some huge challenges. Can you share something about that time with us?
In 2013 there were some issues at work and at home, nothing too disturbing, but in 2014 everything crumbled to the ground like an unstable house of cards. It felt like a neverending tsunami, one wave after another.
A divorce, selling the house, upset children that got sick, moving to another house, a dog dying en and a conflict with my business partner.
This conflict escalated to the point where lawyers needed to intervene, which resulted in another separation.
On the 1st of April 2015 I was the only one left in my company, no staff and only half of the clients. To top it all off I got sick and had to be operated for 3 hernias, and while trying to recover trying to rebuild the company.
What made you so strong during that time, so what kept you on your feet?
For a couple of months I was walking around like a zombie, I couldn’t do anything, I didn’t know what to do and I kept making the wrong decisions. I was totally lost, couldn’t sleep and suffered an immense amount of pain in my back and neck.
When I woke up after my surgery, which was very complex and dangerous, and realised everything was still working all my fears disappeared.
I was so happy I was given another chance that I managed to rebuild my live quite quickly.
What are you most proud of?
That I managed to regroup myself, put away the tissues and forced myself to start over and rebuilt Efficient Hotel Partner.
Moreover, I created and started a second business; Music Meeting Lounge, despite the daily pain I feel in my neck and back.In addition, I am proud of finally fulfilling my passion for writing. Since 2 years I am a columnist in Meeting Magazine which is also posted online and has many readers.
What tip do you want to share with the audience?
In times of hardship or when coping with disappointment you are guaranteed to lose people. Not everyone has the best intentions and some show their true colours in situations like these. Don’t involve too many people with your problems, everyone has a different opinion and you’re likely to get even more confused.
Listen to your own feelings. What do you want? The answer is always within yourself.