Just a mere two weeks ago I spend a week in Brussels at the ISPD offices for a course on Protocol Basics. I’ve had the pleasure of organising many complex events but also quite some high level, high profile ones. It’s my passion, my joy, love the energy, love the team work involved, the finding our way together, navigating the tight spots and piecing together all the fine details that turn The Big Picture into reality. Protocol has always been a bit of a black box for me and in “my” events I mainly sailed through with the help of some great protocol professionals. Since I wholeheartedly feel that as an independent consultant you need to be the best you can be in your game I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to up my knowledge and skills in this field. So off to Protocol school to study with the best. In addition to all precedence rules, protocol ins and outs, flag rules, seating arrangements, lessons learned, I have to admit I was smitten with the fact that for one whole week I was in the brilliant company of kindred spirits: professionals who relish in getting all the details right. For whom also no detail is “too detailed” to overlook. As I admitted to a few teachers it almost felt like a sanity check as I felt that I might be getting somewhat overly neurotic. Of course there is always a middle road to be found, but quoting Aristotle (hey, I am a philosopher after all:-)) the middle road stands for excellence! That’s why in proper English it’s referred to as the Golden Mean. I learned a lot of new things regarding protocol but also I stand happily confirmed that in (high level and high profile) events you’ll only achieve that by going over every detail in the preparations. And low and behold: the timeline (which many of my clients know as the roadmap) was repeatedly quoted as essential in the arrangements. I came back feeling incredibly enriched, empowered and quite ready to take the game up a notch (or 2, 3, 5:-)).
Coming back I concluded that Protocol in Big Practice was everywhere around me: our house is located close to the Peace Palace, is 2 kilometres walking distance from the World Forum, and a street away from both the The Hague Hilton Hotel and the Carlton Hotel. In other words: the setting of NSS2014! What a way to see protocol in action. Quite a few lessons learned by me at ISPD were demonstrated on Dutch television by former Master of Ceremonies of the King of The Netherlands Gilbert Monod de Froideville. Close by we witnessed cars with special NSS 2014 licence plates. We weren’t allowed to take pics of the plates BUT thanks to a taxi driver I as allowed to take a picture of his taxi with the NSS 2014 tag and the Indonesian flag on his window. A special Dutch touch: the police bikes nicely in line in front of the Hilton Hotel. Where my golden retriever immediately opted to wholeheartedly show off his own take on soft diplomacy skills:-) much to the amusement of the policemen and some
protocol and security officers. Just a few steps further down the road (or up, matter of perspective) is the Carlton hotel which hosted judging by the flags the South African delegation. Should I have seen this wrongly pleas
e correct me. I have to say: the air was constantly buzzing over the past two days with helicopters and the roads were pretty much taken by policemen on motorbikes (a motorbiker myself I can hardly stop from beaming when I watch these close formations ride. It touches my motorbiking heart even though its BMW’s:-)) and – the Dutch touch – on bicycles, but still to me even living in the middle of it it all felt really relaxed. No trouble getting anywhere I wanted to go, even could take Boris (=my retriever) to the beach for his favourite pass time. An unexpected treat I had expected to be quite fenced in during two days.
King and Queen are home. And yes, protocol course in full practice: red carpet in place!
Not very protocol but in the very entrepreneurial Dutch spirit I found that this is also the time to introduce the new Royal Croquet (a Dutch delicacy…well, delicacy, mmmm: a nice fatty nibble, let’s put it like that). But when it comes to making the most of free publicity out of the NSS2014 I cannot help but admire Wim Pijbes of the Rijksmuseum, who saw the highlight of his collection – the Nightwatch – royally featured with a smiling Obama on pretty much every newspaper around the world. Kudo’s there!
And so I went from workshops on protocol to living in the middle of its practice for two days. A magnificent coincidence. With practice from many events under my belt, recently enhanced by protocol theory at ISPD and now having observed the highest of high level practices literally around me: time to buckle down, get my work done to obtain the executive diploma and then find my way to new events to put my enhanced theory into renewed and reinforced practice!