If you look up the term “Dutch Trader” in the dictionary, you'll find Dik’s picture. He was the consummate trader: informed, smart, quick-witted, tough and nimble. I'd swear that those traits were hard-coded into his DNA. He built one of the largest and most successful flower trading companies in the World based in Aalsmeer, The Netherlands, just outside Amsterdam; it was something to behold.
But Dik was so much more than that business profile; he was also caring, family-oriented and incredibly human. It took quite awhile to get to know him at that level, but those were the qualities that made him truly special. Over time, our children also became connected with one another as extended family. That sort of thing doesn't happen very often in the hustle and bustle of today, especially when an ocean separates you.
On the business front, I learned the most valuable lessons of all from my dealings with Dik over a span of 15 years:
- "What I think, it does not matter. It is only what my clients think that matters." (Dik spoke these exact words, time and again to me through the years; I've learned them and know them to be true.)
- If it's wrong, then fix it. Don't wait for your client to tell you what to do.
- Have the courage of your convictions. If you believe in it, you'd better be able to explain it.
- Do serious business, but don't ever take it too seriously. Opportunities come and go, just like problems.
- Be willing to try something new. Whether it turns into great business or not, you’ll surely learn something from the experience.
The sum of a life is not the business transacted, but rather the people transformed in the process. People like Dik make this journey both memorable and enjoyable.