Mr. Wikipedia


Everybody has his weaknesses. Most people are very afraid to talk about it. But when you can turn your weakness into something positive it can be quite interesting.

I am not diagnosed with ADHD but I can be very enthusiastic and hyperactive. I know. Luckily it is not noticeable all day and with the passing years it is becoming less noticable.

This personal trait can be sometimes quite difficult, but like the famous Dutch philosopher, Johan Cruijff, said: “every disadvantage has its advantage”.

If I have to drive from Amsterdam to Oslo to a Client, my trip will be different to those of most other people. I will step in my car three days before the meeting and drive slowly to the North. But while driving I look around and think about. When it looks interesting, I make a stop. Take a look around, have a chat and drive further. I pass by Bremerhaven. Let’s take a look in the port. Fascinating. I also know someone in Hamburg. Let’s call him and pass by. Interesting meeting. Then I continue my journey to the North, stopping maybe 10 times, take a detour to the east to Rostock, then on to Copenhagen and perhaps even to Stockholm. From there on to Stavanger and Bergen before arriving in Oslo perfectly on time for my appointment.

The result is that my trip takes much longer than others who drive directly to Oslo. But they do not see on their route what I saw. Others will have missed the interesting pontoon in port of Hamburg, that nice ROV in Rostock and the impressive construction methods used for an immersed tunnel in Copenhagen. They won’t have seen how others salvaged the 17th century wooden frigate ‘Wasa’ in Stockholm or visit that new Offshore Construction vessel in port of Stavanger. Missing all of these things and not being able to file them away in your memory for future reference, logically. But I did.

I had a good meeting with my Client in Oslo and this time I drove straight back to Holland. I had no time, I had to work on the awarded new project. Needless to say I charged the new client only the realistic driving time and mileage.

During the project I faced a serious problem and wondered how I should perform this specific task. Two days are passing by without finding a solution. Then, I remembered a trip to France 3 years ago when I stopped in Antwerp and visited a construction-site. The methodology they used, could maybe also work for my current subsea problem with some serious adaptions. This is how it works! At that moment my endless interest in all kind of business-related aspects and sometimes the loss of focus, has paid off, I found the solution to the problem. In the end of the day everybody is happy. A lot of business relations know me personally and also know my knowledge of (what they call) ”useless facts” and “occupational deformation”. Subsequently, I sometimes feel myself a living Wikipedia.

But when others have a problem, some of them call “Ewoud (Wikipedia) Visser”….he might know. 

And often, but not always, their problem gets solved. Some I can guide in a direction or to meet someone else.

I accept this nickname more as a “badge of honour”.

Last week I was called twice with such questions. Do I charge them for a 15 min advice? No, normally not. The Dutch have a saying “Who does good, meets well”. Am I banking these moments? No, not to earn interest but perhaps some will be remembered in the not too distant future.

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Doggerland: marine and offshore trouble shooters