Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Stephanie Ward

Each month we’ll feature a different AABC member in our new Member Spotlight, this month Stephanie Ward. Would you like to be featured in a future edition of our Member Spotlight? Get in touch with Veronica at


1. Who are you? (introduce yourself)

I’m an Okie (that’s someone from Oklahoma) who has lived in the Netherlands since 1999. Moved here for a Dutch guy and we’re still together and happier than ever.

I love nature, water (looking at it and swimming in it) and tacos. I’m also one of the strange people who loves marketing.

I love to help other Small Business Owners find marketing strategies that fit for them so they can love it enough to take action and grow their businesses.

Connecting with people and creating and sharing ideas are also passions of mine.

2. When and why did you join the AABC?

I joined the AABC right after I started my business in 2002. This was way back when the events were during lunch and were held at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam.

At my first event I remember feeling nervous when they announced that all of the first time visitors would have the chance to briefly introduce themselves (this is still the case by the way).

I didn’t have anything prepared and to this day I still have no idea what I ended up saying. A lot has changed since then and now I can easily answer that question and I also help other people figure out how to answer it in a memorable way.

I joined the club because I knew networking would be one way to connect with people and build relationships. And it’s been a fun journey for the past 15 years.

I’ve seen a lot of people come and go and there are still some diehards like me who have been around forever.

At yet every event there are always new people who come to check it out and they are always made to feel welcome and included.

It’s an open and friendly group with a diverse mix of business people. Anyone can attend as a guest, come see for yourself sometime. I’d be happy to introduce you around.

3. Tell us about your business and how we can work with you.

I’m a Business & Marketing Mentor and I help Small Business Owners and entrepreneurs increase their visibility and connect with more ideal clients.

If you’d like more clients for your business, be sure to grab a copy of my Free Special Report, 7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time at my website:

If you could use some support in growing your business I offer many ways to work together. You can check them all out here.

And if your business is registered with the KvK, and you’d like to get more clients outside of NL, you may qualify to apply for a voucher worth 2,400 euro to work with me to help you expand your business internationally. Get the details on that here.

4. What are your tips and/or advice about doing business in the Netherlands?

Most of my clients, and the people in my Tribe, are Global cats or locals who think internationally. Many of them live in the Netherlands and the rest of them live all over the world.

The Dutch are very direct, so if your clients are mainly Dutch then you can feel confident also using a direct approach with marketing your business. And direct doesn’t mean in your face or rude, that kind of marketing is never a good thing.

I always recommend that no matter what the culture is, it’s imperative to listen first and to give value first when you connect with people.

Photo credit: Cristina Stoian

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Member Spotlight: Noa Rawlinson

Each month we’ll feature a different AABC member in our new Member Spotlight, this month Noa Rawlinson. Would you like to be featured in a future edition of our Member Spotlight? Get in touch with Veronica at


Who are you?

My name is Noa Rawlinson, I am a Dutchie and naturalized U.S. citizen who lived in the United States for close to ten years. I am a Certified Public Account, registered and licensed in the State of Florida. This is the State in which I spent most of my twenties together with my Floridian husband. I returned to Holland in late 2011 and I continued the business I set up in the United States: I am a U.S. tax preparer and since my return I have focused my efforts on preparing U.S. tax returns specifically for U.S. persons residing in the Netherlands. With the estimated 35,000 Americans living in the Netherlands who by virtue of the United States’ citizen based taxation regime need a U.S. tax return every year, business is steady and I am very proud to be able to continue servicing my community.

When and why did you join the AABC?

I joined AABC pretty much right after my arrival in the Netherlands. I searched for an organization in which I would fit: a mix of business and everything American. Although I lived quite a ways away from Amsterdam, I was excited to find out more about the club after some online research. I remember my first AABC event in the beginning of 2012 vividly. The first person I met at the event was John Milhado, who would later join me as a member of the AABC’s kascommissie (audit committee). The event was held at restaurant De Ondeugd in the Pijp, which is no longer operating under that name today. Many of the people I met that evening make up an important part of my business network and I am very grateful to the club for this fact.

Tell us about your business and how we can work with you.

As mentioned earlier, I focus on U.S. tax preparation for individuals and businesses in the Netherlands who are subject to U.S. taxation. You may consult with me on how to structure your administration and finances to make sense for both countries. My background of living both here and in the U.S. makes me also able to relate personally to individuals who are going through that same thing. On the entrepreneurial side, I have a few things to say about starting business in the U.S. or being a U.S. person starting a business in the Netherlands. Although I am usually busy preparing tax returns, I can always find time for an initial consultation. I have found that my (potential) clients get a big benefit from getting a general overview before diving into all the details.

What are your tips and/or advice about doing business in the Netherlands?

As a Dutch person who has developed my business habits in the United States, I am still sometimes disappointed with the Dutch idea of what customer service should be. But in the course of time I have learned to accept this as an unchangeable reality and once I stopped fighting it I have becoming happier and more effective in business. It’s all about understanding. As is true in business everywhere, it’s the relationships between individuals that make or break a business deal. I would invest some time in getting to know the Dutch culture, customs and habits. Expect to always be asked “why?” – Dutch people are curious and do not like to leave anything open for guesswork. Although the Dutch are seen as direct and sober, they like learning about all things that are new to them, open to fresh ideas, internationally oriented and are genuinely interested in others. And the most important tip: don’t forget to smile!

Photo credit: Alex Blanco

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Member Spotlight: Albert Both

Each month we’ll feature a different AABC member in our new Member Spotlight, this month Albert Both. Would you like to be featured in a future edition of our Member Spotlight? Get in touch with Veronica at

Who are you? Introduce yourself

My name is Albert Both and people also know me as Mr. Dutch Brainwash. I have my own company Talencoach (languages coach) and I show people how they can learn and speak Dutch faster than they ever imagined. For this purpose I developed my own techniques, such as Dutch Flow Now and Dutch Brainwashing
I am Dutch for 100% I grew up in a small village Broek op Langedijk, close to Alkmaar. There you can find many fields with cabbage and the colors are as beautiful as the tulip fields. There is one big difference, the smell….
I came in Amsterdam to study and then I stayed… It feels that I have been living in Amsterdam for centuries

When and why did you join the AABC?

I joined the AABC in 2005 I think, quite some time ago. At that time there was still a lunch format. The people that come to AABC are always great and… now there are borrels, so in that sense the AABC got a lot better :).
The AABC is a great place, because it is easy to meet new people. Not only clients, but also I work together with people that I met at the AABC. This is how I found Expatica, I am Expat & Fire Fly Coaching.
I personally prefer to work with people that I have met before and that is why the AABC can be really wonderful. It is also a great way to combine business and gezelligheid.

Tell us about your business and how we can work with you.

I help people to learn Dutch fast and to speak much more Dutch than they could ever imagine while having fun
Many people believe that the Dutch language is extremely hard, and although there are always challenges when you learn a new language, it is not true. Dutch could be the closest language to English and in its essence it is like a German light
The first thing that you need is a different mindset. Once you have this, then speaking Dutch gets so much easier… When it comes to speaking Dutch, many people have many limiting beliefs. But… when you open your mind you can discover for yourself that it is not that difficult to talk about anything that you like, in Dutch!
I have free eBooks and a free workshop Finding Dutch Flow so that people can start to feel inspired and then, if they really like it, they could even be Dutch Brainwashed. This means that you really dive into Dutch for 7 days in a row. You’ll have a great adventure when it comes to learning and discovering new exciting things. It is not only about language… it is also about structured and creative thinking and many other things.
People that follow the Dutch Brainwash somehow notice a great sense of accomplishment. When all of a sudden you just know that you can learn and speak a new language, and certainly when you get in touch with your ability to learn new things, then somehow it makes life different! This is what I love about my job, because any time that I work with people, I just know that speaking more Dutch will have a great positive impact on their lives…

What are your tips and advice about doing business in the Netherlands?

I think it is much easier to do business if you really enjoy life. I think that Holland could be a great place for business because in general, people do like new ideas and they are quite easy going. At the same time, it is important to be patient and it helps if you like to meet new people and if you are genuinely curious.
In Dutch there is a word that does not exist in English, which is gunnen. It is the opposite of being jealous. It means that you feel happy when good things to other people. Therefore we also have the word gunfactor. It means that people like you and even if you charge more than the competition, they still prefer to work with you. I think that gunfactor is extremely important…
Another tip that I have is: make sure that you recognize compliments. If a Dutch person says goed (good) or interessant (interesting) it could mean: I really really love it! Not always of course, but just make sure that you are open to that possibility as well. And then, make sure that you always feel great about what you do. Sometimes it is easy not to ‘forget’ the real value that we give to others and… always remember that you could give far more value than you ever imagined to other people, by just being you….

Photo credit: Magpeye Photography

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Member Spotlight: Adam Kiolle

Each month we’ll feature a different AABC member in our new Member Spotlight, beginning with Adam Kiolle, our board member in the position of Legal Affairs.
Would you like to be featured in a future edition of our Member Spotlight? Get in touch with Veronica at

Who are you? Introduce yourself.

My name is Adam, I am 29 years old and am an Australian attorney at a commercial law firm in Amsterdam, Blenheim Attorneys. I am also a member of the AABC’s board of directors and responsible for the legal affairs portfolio.
Originally from Brisbane, Australia I have been living in the Netherlands since summer 2014.

When and why did you join the AABC?

I have been a member of the AABC for about half a year now. I joined for a number of reasons: firstly, it is a great place to meet interesting, like-minded professionals and businesspeople and to expand your personal and business network.
For me personally, the AABC is also a great place to meet new clients — in my practice, I specialize in advising foreign clients on doing business in the Netherlands and support Dutch companies engaged in international business. Not a meeting goes by where somebody doesn’t come up to me with a legal question or problem that they are having trouble with.

Tell us about your business and how we can work with you.

Blenheim is a full-service commercial law firm that caters to businesses of all sizes: from sole traders and start-ups to SMEs and international corporations.
In addition to the traditional corporate law, real estate, administrative law, labor law, IP and general contract law practices, Blenheim is quite unique in that it also has a specialized English desk staffed by native English speakers. This allows us to advise our foreign clients and draft complex legal documentation without any of the important nuances getting “lost in translation”.
If you need advice on setting up a company, drafting or negotiating a contract, solving a dispute or any other aspects of doing business in the Netherlands, don’t hesitate to contact me or one of my colleagues at Blenheim.

What are your tips and advice about doing business in the Netherlands?

One of the things about the Dutch legal system that often catches foreign companies, especially American ones off-guard are the strong protections of employees’ rights under Dutch law. Great news if you are an employee, less great if you are an employer. Here are three issues to be careful of if you run or are starting up a company or a branch in the Netherlands or things that you should be aware of if you are an employee working in the Netherlands.

  1. At-will termination? Not a thing here. If you want to fire an employee, you will have to make sure that you have (very) good reasons. Why? Because you generally cannot fire an employee without special permission from the courts or the Dutch labor authority, the UWV. An employee can only be terminated without notice for serious cause. In the absence of sufficient cause for termination under Dutch law, the only solution will be a decent severance payment. This is something that should be factored into your HR planning.
  2. Is your business growing? Great! Are you reaching the 50 employees mark? Fantastic – but don’t forget, you now need to have a “works council”. Employers in the Netherlands with 50 or more employees need to set up a works council – a committee of employee representatives who have to be consulted with on certain issues and who even need to give consent for certain strategic, organizational or personnel-related decisions.
  3. Are you sure that your contractors are contractors? Given how heavily Dutch law leans in favor of employees, relying on contractors instead of employees can be an attractive alternative to taking people on as employees. Be careful though, simply calling someone a “ZZP’er” (contractor) does not necessarily make them a contractor. If the courts look at your situation and see that someone who is a contractor on paper is actually being used as an employee, the courts will simply treat the relationship as an employment relationship – with all of the employer obligations and employee protections that come with it.

Blenheim Attorneys’ labor law practice advises and represents employers and employees on these kinds of matters and any other employment law-related issues. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the issues discussed here or any other labor law matters.

Photo credit: Magpeye Photography

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