CEO Blog

Category Archives: Change

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to change.

Don’t Stop Trying!

If it was easy everyone would do itGenerally speaking the best things in life come at a cost.

Whether it is money, or effort, or time; or some combination of those things, invariably there is some cost.

I would also suggest that very often that cost is greater than you expect!

So, when we want something or want to achieve something we need to keep that in mind.

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”  Dale Carnegie

The way we improve ourselves, and our lot in life is by investing in ourselves, by trying new things and by effort … a lot of effort!

More often than not, those ideas, projects or attempts at improvement will not work the first time.  They might even fail multiple times!

The biggest difference between those who achieve their dreams and those who do not is persistence … an unwillingness to give up on that dream.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison

Are you willing to do what it takes?

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Eleven Thoughts About Keeping It Simple

Peter Drucker quote about useless efficiencyYou would think it fairly obvious that the more complex a solution is to a problem, the bigger the chance of failure.  Yet we often over complicate our lives, our businesses and the problems, both small and large, that we are trying to solve.

We see the risks all the time with BIG projects … they take longer, cost more and generally don’t do what they set out to do.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do big projects … big “things” still need to get done.  Maybe it means going about it differently,  OR maybe it just means setting different expectations.

What I am talking about is our (Human beings) penchant for over complicating things.

In business that could be as simple as striving to solve a perceived issue with a technology solution … when perhaps all that was needed was a common sense change in process.  It is like when the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, it is amazing how often a hammer is the answer to your problems.  Sometimes we have business issues that don’t need the IT department to solve them, when all it might take would be a sign in sheet at reception to track the 5 visitors a day or a manual log to track the 2 cash transactions a week!

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  Albert Einstein

Some random thoughts about “keeping it simple”:

  1. Ask yourself if a proposed solution really NEEDS to be technology based, or is there a more simple way?
  2. Do you really NEED a room full of people in a meeting to discuss a solution?
  3. Are you trying to solve a systemic issue, or are you reacting to a “one off”?
  4. If you are looking at a computer solution that needs to be built from scratch, have you considered the possibility that buying an off the shelf solution that solves 80% of your needs and requires some in house change to your processes might actually be a better way to go.  (Shooting myself in the foot with this one … we LOVE big development projects that need contractors!)
  5. Even if you need to have great time management skills, you do NOT need complex tools … keep it simple.  Calendar; TO DO List; and Goals.  Paper or electronic … whatever works for you!
  6. If you are doing strategic planning, account planning or any kind of business planning it is easy to let things get complex.  Simple plans get executed, complex plans … not so much!  Break it down into manageable “bite sized” pieces that are easily executed!
  7. Decide what is important for you in your life, and focus on those things.  Don’t be distracted by all of the million other things that you COULD do, or COULD have!
  8. Sometimes the most direct approach is the easiest … it is easy to over think situations.
  9. Communicate using words everyone can understand.
  10. There is an old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words“.
  11. Bonus … and perhaps the easiest answer.  Ask yourself if someone elsewhere already solved your problem?

“Complexity is your enemy.  Any fool can make something complicated.  It is hard to make something simple.”  Richard Branson

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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What IS The Comfort Zone … 10 Thoughts?

Einstein quote about mistakes and trying new thingsYou will see all kinds of articles, quotes and advice about “getting outside your comfort zone” and I have certainly written my fair share.  Certainly I see that a lot of people “get it” but there are also many who either don’t see the value, or don’t think they should bother.

So … I thought I would try to demystify these references to the comfort zone.

1.  The comfort zone is a comfortable place.  We are in familiar territory, we do the same kinds of things day in day out.  We deal with the same people, using basically the same processes and don’t try to do anything differently.

There are good reasons to be here.  It is lower stress.  It requires less “thinking”, and creates less errors … because we learn to do the same things over and over again so we get them right!

2.  Getting out of the comfort zone is not for everybody.  Some people would be very stressed out.  They would probably be paralysed by fear or uncertainty if they were forced to change the way they do things.

3.  Our world changes around us all the time.  Innovations, discoveries and evolution force change on us.  We need to adapt and embrace the change or we go the way of the  dinosaurs!

picture showing a circle representing "the comfort zone" with the larger area being "where all the good stuff happens"4.  For the right people change is exhilarating, or at least stimulating, which helps life to be more interesting.

5.  People that want to have successful careers need to be people willing to make changes … rather than have change happen to them.

6.  Change happens as much in our personal lives as it does at work, so a willingness to get outside the comfort zone can be very beneficial in all areas of our lives.  Getting out doing new things can result in new skills, meeting new people and open up new opportunities.

7.  Change, or a venture outside the comfort zone, does not have to be big.  It can start small.  As we get comfortable with small changes, then we can try a little more.  It is similar to learning to swim … start with short distances in the shallow end of the pool.  Ultimately you might swim across the lake, or at a minimum have fun jumping off the dock with your friends!

8.  We grow our muscles by working them hard.  We increase our knowledge by learning.  We grow our life skills by trying new things.

9.  A comfortable place is often a great place to be … but sometimes it is just boring.  Change brings some hassles, but the rewards can be many!

10.  I would sooner get to the end of my life and regret the things I did, rather than the things I never tried.

“Twenty years from now you will more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”  Mark Twain

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Knowledge is the New Job Security

learning quote from Brian HerbertHere are a few thoughts that just might resonate with you.

There are no “jobs for life” in the modern workforce. 

That means your job security is

(a) what you know and

(b) how you perform.

That is what will give you success in your current role, and what will win you your next role, whether in the same company or somewhere else.

The pace of change in our world is relentless … globalization, demographic pressure (retiring boomers) and technological advances are affecting us all daily (if not hourly).  

That means we need to stay current or we get left behind very quickly.

There are numerous statistics about how much information we retain when we take training.  The most positive one I found suggested that a month after our training we might retain 25% of the content, others suggest just 10%!

That spells an opportunity for us all, because we all have a ton of training materials from the many course we have taken over the years … that you can revisit and learn the other 75%!

Each of us needs to take responsibility for our own learning … and it doesn’t need to be tough or expensive.

“Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it.” Brian Tracy

Here are just some EASY and INEXPENSIVE ideas for you to improve your knowledge:

  1. Revisit your old training material. Yes, some things are affected by change but others are constant.  You will have forgotten 75% (or 90%) of the material since you took the training, revisiting it will bring a greater percentage back to you … and the only cost is your time.
  2. Borrow training materials from your peers!
  3. Follow “thought leaders” who can share their knowledge with you … and read their blogs, articles in trade magazines etc.
  4. Read … read industry articles, newspapers, business magazines, anything that can bring you some new knowledge.
  5. Free sites.  There are a ton of sites offering free courses … here is an article that suggests 25 sites.

“You should always be learning, if you are the smartest person in the room then you are in the wrong place.”  anonymous

Knowledge is the new job security so make a commitment to life-long learning!

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey
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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Twelve Lessons on Building a Company Culture

Jack Welch quote on cultureThere is a significant amount of focus on company culture these days, and with good reason.  If you want a sustainable entity then a positive company culture is a good start, it is a great way to attract & retain talent plus it is a positive message to clients and shareholders.

Where I get a little concerned is when I see leaders establishing a “project” to “fix the culture”.  It might well be the right thing to do, in that there needs to be a plan to establish a strong corporate culture but it is not really a project, because working at culture never ends.

In our more than twenty year journey from starting this company we have learned many lessons along the way, and have received recognition for some of the good things we have been able to do.

I thought I would share some of my thoughts on culture, based on our journey.

  1. Steven Covey played a big part in our company culture … and Habit #2 “Begin with the end in mind” was just one factor in our development.  In order to develop the right kind of culture we needed to define the kind of company that we wanted to be.
  2. One of my previous employers was consulting company Andersen Consulting, now known as Accenture. Their methodology at that time focused very much on alignment between People, Process, Technology and Strategy.  This was another critical influence for us.  It is important to have all parts of the company pulling in the same direction.
  3. In line with the above, we needed to develop a mission, vision and core values that inspired us, were meaningful to us and that we could live with … even when decisions were tough. This was an important process for us, and while they have been modified over the years, they are fundamentally the same today as they were back then!
  4. We don’t live in a perfect world so we had to learn some patience. Rome was not built in a day.  There are always setbacks, poor hires, wrong turns along the way and tough economic times to traverse.
  5. A business needs to be profitable in order to pay its people, its suppliers and provide the right level of service to its clients. This means that you might want to provide more “goodies” for your employees, but it has to be done prudently.  I like to point at Nortel, which was a company that its employees loved because they had big salaries and amazing benefits … unfortunately that was not sustainable and most of those employees had trouble finding jobs that could offer anything similar.  As a private company we need to live within our means.
  6. For us, our vision meant focusing our efforts on clients, our own employees and on the candidates that work with. We have continually looked for ways to improve those relationships.  This focus allows us to ensure business decisions we make are in line with that vision.
  7. A positive culture within our company means that we have high expectations of our people, and that we provide them with training and the tools to e successful. We create an atmosphere focused on one of our core values, TEAM, and we are prepared to invest in growth.  We give monthly and annual recognition for employees that excel and that exemplify the behaviors we associate with our values.
  8. You can never please all of the people, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
  9. If you have a clear culture then you will attract the people that fit your culture, and those who do not will self identify quickly.
  10. The number one reason why culture is successful, or not, is leadership. It needs 100% commitment from the whole leadership team.
  11. Sometimes you will need to make tough decisions to preserve the culture you want, or you risk getting the culture that just happens!
  12. It is a work in progress that can never be considered complete.

In addition to being a Platinum member of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies program our company has been recognized as one of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures and one of Canada’s Best Workplaces.

The awards indicate that we are on the right track and we are enjoying the journey … but it IS a journey!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Make Change Stick

Jim Rohn quote about cIf you are like me then you will always be looking for ways to be better, in many areas of your life.  I work at my professional role, my home life, my relationships and my health.  If I want to improve anything it requires change, and as we all know change is tough!

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

It is no big surprise to anyone that wanting to make changes, and being successful at those changes are a world apart!  As anyone who has failed in their attempts to quit smoking, or lose weight can tell you.  I would go so far as to say that most of us will fail at implementing change most of the time, BUT if we truly want to get better we need to find a way!

Effecting change in your life, whether it is as simple as committing to more exercise or as complex as making a career change or starting a business, is hard!  Here are three principles to apply if you want to be successful at implementing change in your life.

  1. Consciously create new routines … the mere act of creating routines will work with your brain, not against it.
  2. Keep it simple … take the “eating an elephant” approach, one bite at a time.
  3. Have a plan … not just a goal, but a plan with action items to help you reach that goal.

It is easier to make small changes and create new routines, than to make BIG changes in your life in one go.  If you can make multiple small changes over time, that together add up to meeting your goal, then you will be far more likely to succeed.

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want.”  Richard Yates

It is important that when we “fail” to achieve the change we want, we don’t just give up.  The right answer is to adjust the plan and try again.

“Fall down seven times.  Stand up eight!”  Japanese proverb.

Change becomes easier when we see success from our efforts.  By having smaller goals, and making incremental changes you will see small successes and use them for motivation.
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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Positive (or Negative) Influences Can Change Your Life

Make the right choices to be happy. quote from Francesca ReislerWe all know those “glass half full” people who always seem to be positive.

We also know negative people who always seem to have something to complain about.

Both of these characters can have a profound effect on our own mood, lifting our spirits or dragging us down.

The best thing you can do for your own happiness is to seek out the positive people, and spend as little time as possible with the negative people!

Positive people are a joy to be around, their energy is contagious and even inspiring.  When we spend time with them we feel good about ourselves, they lift our spirits and we too are more positive.

Negative people have a way of sucking the life out of you.  There is always some problem and it is everybody else’s fault.  They have a black cloud hanging over them and they pull you under it too!

“Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?” Dennis and Wendy Mannering

Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Make a list of the people you spend your time with and rank them on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is very negative and 10 is very positive.
  2. For all of the people that scored extremely low create a plan to either stop spending time with them, or at a minimum reduce the time you spend with them.
  3. For all the very positive people, make a plan to try and spend more time with them.
  4. Join organisations that have positive people … entrepreneurial organisations, learning organisations and charities are just some great examples.
  5. Do your part … be one of those positive people that others seek out.

This is easier said than done, but you can make a plan to improve things over time, just by increasing the time spent with positive people and decreasing the time spent with negative people.

Three classic issues you will need to contend with:

  1. Some of those negative people will be family! Clearly avoiding them altogether might be tough, but establishing new routines that decrease the time spent with them will work.  You may feel a little guilty but at the end of the day it is the right answer.
  1. How do you get to spend time with entrepreneurs and successful people? Get introductions, join clubs, get involved with charities and get creative with your networking.
  1. Do you need to tell the negative people that you don’t want to spend time with them? There is no need to be rude or even obvious about this, just change your routines a little at a time and it will happen naturally.

“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.”  Oprah Winfrey

If you can spend the majority of your time with positive influencers it will change your life, and that is worth doing!
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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Are You Changing With the Times?

11 Questions to Ask Yourself About Change

Vince Lombardi quote about winning in a complex societyOur world is constantly changing and we all need to adapt with it if we want to survive and remain relevant!

“Control your own destiny or someone else will.”  Jack Welch

If you are a salesperson, what are you doing differently to ensure that meet your targets in 2015?  You can be sure that someone out there wants to eat your lunch, how are you going to combat that?  How are you going to take market share from your competitors?

If you are a business owner or a leader of any kind you need to be aware of your environment and adapt to the inevitable changes affecting you and your business.

We are a couple of weeks into January and already there have been some big impacts on our world here in Canada.  Target announced it is shutting its Canadian operation, Sony is shutting its Canadian retail operation and Mexx is shutting down.  The conference board suggests that Alberta will go into recession based upon the price of oil and the Canadian dollar is as weak as it has been for a long time.

There are disruptors gaining traction in many industries … a couple of examples would be Uber in the taxi/limousine space and AirBnB in the hotel space.  Are there disruptors in your space?  Would you know if there were?

Skills shortages associated with the professions are a growing issue, but that may come with high unemployment in the unskilled labor market because of the attraction to offshore manufacturing.

Add to all of the above factors the uncertainty created by international terrorism and you have a market that looks very different from this time last year.

“Enterprises that do not adapt are in for a lot of trouble.” John McCallum

Here are 11 questions you might want to ask within your organization …

  1. Do you understand what internal and external factors will affect your business?
  1. Do you understand the risks AND opportunities?
  1. Are you listening to your clients? Are you asking them good questions?  Do you know how they will react?
  1. If you are in management are you listening to you staff … because they are closer to the action? Are you arming them with the right questions to ask?
  1. Do you have a game plan for 2015? How is it different than 2014/2013/2012/1998?
  1. Are you active in your industry association? Do you know what your competitors are planning?
  1. When did you last do a strategic plan?
  1. When did you last look outside your own business?
  1. When did you last do an extensive account planning exercise?
  1. Are you executing on the planning that you have done?
  1. Do you have the right people on your team, or could you benefit from “upgrading”?

If you can answer these questions well you are likely in a minority, and well positioned for the future.  If you are doing the “same old, same old” then just maybe you should act now before it is too late!

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Is Your Company Making Time For Strategy

Planning quote from Richard WinwoodRunning any business can be all consuming, there is always so much to do. I don’t care whether it is a large public company or a small private company, the challenges are significant, if different, and the resources available to tackle them are also different.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

One of the constants, regardless of size, is the need for strategy… which can come in many forms. It can be the company’s strategic plan, divisional plans or even account plans. At every level there is a need for a “roadmap” and a need to keep that “roadmap” current, which requires regular “checkpoints” to ensure the strategy is still good, and that the execution against strategy is happening as planned.

The problem executives and managers have is that, because they are so busy, it is easy to let these checkpoints slip, or to pay them “lip service”. The result is that companies operate in a very tactical manner… even IF they did the initial planning process well (which is often not the case). They become driven by their days and weeks, rather than driving the activity to meet a strategic objective.

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.” Roger von Oech

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Do you have an annual planning process that REALLY looks at the strategy for the coming year? Or do you go through a pure numbers exercise, that looks the same every year?
  2. Do you set aside time to revisit the strategies throughout the year? Are they “rubber stamp” exercises or do they get very focused on the execution against the plan?
  3. Do you have measurable goals that are not just focused on the bottom line?
  4. Do you have account plans with regular reviews?
  5. How do you track you progress against plans?
  6. Do you hold people accountable for their goals?
  7. Do you help managers, salespeople and executives to find time in their busy schedules to actually plan?
  8. Are the management team, in your company, driven by their days, or do they drive their days?
  9. Do you get surprised by events at clients? Decisions, activity levels, competition etc.
  10. How comfortable are you that you have a roadmap for the next year… that has goals, action items, timelines and accountability?

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.” Abraham Lincoln

It is tough to mix Strategy and Tactical execution… to switch between the two regularly is all but impossible. I believe you need to bring separation from the day to day tactical in order to focus on any strategic planning process.  Does your company have that discipline?

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?
________________________________________________________________

Leaders Don’t Stop At The Decision … They Ensure Success

Jim Rohn quote on leadershipAs a leader, whether you run a business, a division within a business or a very small group, you try to improve your situation. It might be trying to improve productivity, increase sales, improve quality, and improve working conditions or any number of things.

The process you will likely go through will involve understanding the current situation. This is best achieved by talking to the people involved, getting their perspectives, thoughts and ideas. NO doubt they will differ but that will be for you to sort through.

You will need to understand options. This may take some research, but again the current people may have ideas for options, things they have seen work before. You may have your own experiences to bring. You can get consulting help. You can research what other companies and organisations are doing. You can look for industry best practices.

Then you will likely evaluate those options, perhaps weighing up pros and cons, costs and return on investment, complexity and likelihood of success in your environment.

All of these steps will likely happen with collaboration. There may be a team of people working on the project, or you may be doing it mostly yourself with input from others. Likely that will be dictated by the size of your organisation and the complexity of what you are trying to achieve.

Ultimately you will reach a decision about what the solution should be and communicate that to those people responsible for implementing the changes.

Some leaders think that now their job is done… when actually the hard part is just beginning!

Good for you in reaching a decision. You passed a test by doing that, because too many leaders are indecisive. However now it is time to roll the (metaphoric) sleeves up!

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John Maxwell

Change is hard! You already know it… and maybe you feel that someone else should now implement the change. After all, as the boss, you have handed out the orders!

Welcome to the real world.

If you want your project to succeed you will need to be VERY involved, pushing, pulling, motivating, selling, cajoling, encouraging and yes, rolling up your sleeves doing stuff to ensure its success.

Yes, others will do most of the work. Yes, you should delegate that effort. Yes, you should expect your next level leader to make things happen. However… if you do not stay close enough to (a) ensure things get started right; (b) the project is progressing as planned; and (c) make I clear that YOU own responsibility and accountability for its success… you will be setting yourself up for failure.

Passing a project off to a project manager (who might just have a day job) is a recipe for failure. That project manager needs active executive support (you), someone willing to have their back (you), to make tough decisions that ensure the project happens as it should (you).

Don’t be THAT leader. The one who thinks that just because they say it, that “it” will happen.

Be accountable. Be involved. Be a LEADER!

“Earn your leadership every day.” Michael Jordan

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiterservice?
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