Why I love running

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It can be six in the morning or it can be two at night. It can be only four hundred meters or forty-two kilometers and a little bit. It can be in combination with swimming and cycling or it can be trying to catch a train. For as long as I can remember I have been in love with running. This ultimate feeling of putting your shoes on and just going for it!

Ever since the soccer coach kicked me off the soccer team when I was six with the message: ‘that kid only kicks the ball really hard and than starts chasing it’ I have been running. Running with friends or without. Running towards the finish line or sometimes running away from it. Running for the national relay team or organizing a marathon of my own. I just have to run.

Running is my meditation. Many people tell me one cannot meditate while running but this is not true. When I am running all my problems go away. I can deal with anything. My breathing is controlled. My thoughts start to flow freely and after a few minutes my mind is in its most relaxed state. I feel connected to myself, the world around me and everything in it.

Running keeps both my mind and body in shape. It keeps my mind sharp and my body fit. To feel these two connecting by one single activity is just amazing. It is addictive. It is freeing a source of energy I have never experienced coming from something else. After a good morning run I love to start the day and I keep that energy throughout the day.

Running makes me feel like a child again. It reminds me that, no matter what you want to achieve in life, it all starts with that first step. Take that first step. Get your body moving and the rest comes naturally. This ensures me that When I am running I am moving towards my next goal in life, whatever that may be. It keeps me confident, focussed and energized.

When running I am whole.

‘We are all slaves’ or ‘The world is suffering from Global Stockholm Syndrome’

You are a slave. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. (Morpheus to Neo in ‘The Matrix’)

In this blog I want to investigate whether Morpheus is right. Can it be true that the we are living in world that we perceive as ‘free’, but in fact is a world where citizens are kept stupid, uninterested and submissive? Where elites are eager to keep them that way. Can it really be true that an entire world is suffering from something that can be described best as Global Stockholm Syndrome?

The definition of Stockholm Syndrome goes as follows: ‘a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them’. In simple words: at a certain point during a hostage situation, the hostages start to understand, like and even defend the people that are responsible for their captivity. A very strange phenomenon that seemingly also can be applied to different situations.

Psychologists have identified four conditions that need to be present for Stockholm Syndrome to occur:

1. Perceived or real threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and belief that the abuser will carry out the threat. Meaning that the abuser may:
– Assure the victim that only cooperation keeps loved ones safe.
– Offer subtle threats or stories of revenge to remind the victim that revenge is possible if they leave.
– Have a history of violence leading the victim to believe they could be a target.
2. Small acts of kindness from the abuser towards the victim
– In some cases, small gestures such as allowing a bathroom visit or providing food/water are enough to alter the victim’s perception of the abuser.
– Other times, a birthday card, a gift (usually provided after a period of abuse), or a special treat can be seen as proof that the abuser is not “all bad.”
3. Victim’s isolation from other perspectives
– Victims have the sense they are always being watched. For their survival they begin to take on the abuser’s perspective. This survival technique can become so intense that the victim develops anger toward those trying to help.
– In severe cases of Stockholm Syndrome the victim may feel the abusive situation is their fault.
4. Perceived or real inability to escape from the situation
– The victim may have financial obligations, debt, or instability to the point that they cannot survive on their own.
– The abuser may use threats including taking the children, public exposure, suicide, or a life of harassment for the victim.

My personal research during the last months has shown me how easily these aforementioned conditions can be applied to our own lives and how we are being held hostage by the thumb of a globally regulated corporate machine and by debt controlled financial system. When you apply the same analysis as one would do on a hostage on our society, a strange and disturbing familiarity can be found. Let’s take a closer look at each of the four points necesary to identify this form of ‘Global Stockholm Syndrome':

  1. Perceived or real threat to the physical survival of an entire population: Those in power have made it so we have to pay simply to exist on this planet! We have to pay for a place to sleep and we have to pay for food. If we don’t, people with guns come and force us to pay. This might sound very simplistic but it is quite true. At some point in time we were forced by those in power to start paying for everything and since then we assume that it is the way it is supposed to be and we don’t even question it. We are already paying  for everything we used to get from mother earth for free (including water) and probably air is up next.
  2. Small kindness: With strange and small gifts governments and corporations try to keep us happy. Small gifts like rent support and free or cheap (but completely regulated) education.
  3. Isolation from other perspective: corporate media provides the only valid perspective. On a global scale, over 70% of all the media channels are controlled by only five major companies. In the United States it is even 90%
  4. Perceived or real inability to escape from the situation: Industrial civilisation has become the air we breathe, and the corporate machine has the power and demonstrated will to use overwhelming lethal force against any and all who would resist. There are more than enough examples of corporations demonstrating this power towards those who challenge for example Monsanto, American Fruit Company, SHELL, etc.

Human beings tend not only to accept life within oppressive social structures, but to love and cherish it. We invent fanciful reasons justifying our subordinate position and go to the extent of punishing those who refuse to accept their assigned position. Such a person is generally considered “well adjusted” in human society. Human society as we know it seams to be Stockholm Syndrome at a global scale. What do you think of this term and theory?

To be continued…
Inspired by the following book and movies:
– End game (book)
– Zeitgeist
– The Matrix
– The Coorperation
– Flow, for the love of water
– Food Inc.

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My personal Why, How and What

Why? How? and What? are the three questions Simon Sinek asks in his famous TED talk.
Especially the ‘Why’ question is a hard one to answer for many people. Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What do you belief? Why do you exist?

This is an exercise that I have used quite often for various projects in the past but never actually applied to myself and my own purpose. Why am I actually here? Why do I get out of bed in the morning? Yesterday we were doing this exercise as part of our ‘Traveling Entrepreneurs’ bootcamp and I answered these challenging questions about myself for the first time. Since the exercise was part of the workshop ‘Digital Storytelling’ we visualised our outcomes and below you can find my Why, How and What.

A liberating feeling to see all the things you love to do in your life jus fall into place and captured in only five simple photographs. I thought sharing this would be a nice idea, after all it is better to work with people who believe what you believe, right?

Have you ever made your Why? How? and What? If you want to do so, let me know and will help you! Part of my existence:)

steven,lars,guus

My dreams for the coming years

There is only one way to turn your dreams into reality: say them out loud, write them down and start chasing them. During last weeks exercise of our ‘Travelling Entrepreneurs Bootcamp‘ we had to create a bucket list of our dreams. Dreaming like you were a child again but with all the tools and skills to make them happen for you now:) And although sharing it publicly feels a little scary, below you will find mine:

1. To have a simple but beautiful wedding at the beach of Pie de la Cuesta surrounded by our dearest friends and family
2. Find a place where I can live in balance with myself, my surroundings and nature
3. Run a marathon on Isla Holbox
4. Become an Iron Man on Hawaï
5. Start an anonymous blog so I can write freely
6. Train for the Iron Man on the most beautiful places in the world
7. Keep calling my grandma every two weeks
8. Make less money and be more self supportive
9. Turn ‘Working Wonderfully‘ into something bigger than myself
10. Live on one place for maximum four months and then continue traveling
11. Interview more interesting people and learn from them
12. Write a book about my vision on money, work and our society
13. At least two months per year use my knowledge and skills for free for (local) projects (and if possible) in exchange for food and a place to stay
14. Ride more beautiful routes on my mountainbike
15. Keep close contact with my family but at the same time..
16. ..dare to let go of the Netherlands and my old life and..
17. ..live more in the moment
18. Swim from hotel Las Nubes to the peer (3 KM open sea)
19. Start meditating
20. Keep understanding my dad
21. Do completely nothing at least one day per week
22. Visit more places in the world where the nature is so beautiful it makes you quiet
23. Find more likeminded people who are resisting capitalism and infinite growth and start playing a more active role
24. Have a sixpack (again)
25. A son or a daughter to discover this beautiful world with
26. Live in a closed community for a while and grow my own food
26. Sail over the world together with Gerben
28. Spend at least two months per two years in Holland
29. Experience the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and turn them into a good thing for the local community
30. Improve my spanish
31. Learn Portugese
32. Create my own location for ‘Working Wonderfully’ where our principles are applied on the location, the guests and where we work on  things bigger than ourselves
33. Surprise Diana more often
34. Go Skydiving
35. Don’t use a shower for a week and use natural resources (lake, waterfall etc) to clean myself
36. Work in a bar or restaurant
37. Give a street performance and earn respect or money from the crowd
38. Shave my head completely
39. Visit at least one big festival per year and dance my ass of
40. Keep making people happy with my pictures for free
41. Participate in the HAKA in New Zealand
42. Bike from Amsterdam to Enschede (I don’t know why, just want to do it someday)
43. ‘Feel’ the himlaya
45. See real lava
46. Do more creative video and photography projects
47. Keep laughing really hard about the most stupid things with my two great brothers

So there you have it: my dreams for the coming years. I am curious to hear what you think of them and what your dreams are. All I can say is doing this exercise every one or two years helps you to keep track of things that matter most to me, and life is about doing what matters most to you isn’t it? After all: ‘the purpose of life is a life of purpose’.

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Lars, Guus: Sometimes the best things in life are really simple, I love you guys!

An ode to money

An ode to Money. Humanities greatest gift to the world.

I am the greatest gift to the world
You can buy anything with me
I am just a piece of paper
A fact nobody seems to see

I am the greatest gift to the world
I can take you anywhere
As long as you don’t realize
I was created out of thin air

I am the greatest gift to world
Everybody needs me to stay alive
And although you cannot eat me
I make you work from nine to five

I am the greatest gift to the world
I will make all your dreams come true
And although you might not notice it
I am enslaving you

I am the greatest gift to the world
Debt is where my journey starts
And thanks to smart tv commercials
I thrive on swiping credit cards

I am the greatest gift to world
Short term happiness is my thing
I am worth going to war for
To ensure the economy keeps growing

I am the greatest gift to the world
I will open any door for you
This means when you have a lot of me
You get to control other people too

I am the greatest gift to the world
Everything depends on my circulation
Although I exist mainly virtual
I control the entire nation

I am the greatest gift to the world
Very often I have been disguised
Because to acquire a lot of me
Many lives get sacrificed

I am the greatest gift to the world
I am actually no more than a toy
But when you have very little of me
This world is not yours to enjoy

I am the greatest gift to the world
You could save me for when you are old
But I will be worth nothing
Because it were lies that you have been told

I am the greatest gift to world
I am your only way towards salvation
You think you can’t live without me
Thanks to hundred years of indoctrination

I am the greatest gift to the world
No one questions my existence
The earth is being destroyed for me
Thanks to your belief and persistence

Am I the greatest gift to the world?
Or the worst thing we have ever created?
After reading this you decide:
Will you still be dominated?

An ode to money

wout

(dutch) Als iemand je een vraag stelt…

.. dan beantwoord je die natuurlijk!

Gisteren ontving ik een prachtige vraag van een van mijn nieuwe idolen in mijn leven: Wout van Wengerden. Wout heeft meer energie, passie en overtuiging in zijn doen en laten dan wie dan ook. Hij is de initiatiefnemer van o.a. kwetsbareheld.nl: een ode aan iedereen die zichzelf kwetsbaar durft op te stellen en daardoor een heldenrol vervult voor zichzelf en anderen. Hierboven staat het filmpje met de vraag die Wout mijn stelde: wat was onze grootste angst toen we in december 2011 Nederland verlieten en alles achterlieten voor een bestaan als Digitale Nomaden. Mijn antwoord staat hieronder:

Dit is mijn eerste videoblog. Spannend en weer een angst overwonnen. Het voelt gek om tegen je camera te praten maar eigenlijk is het een stuk fijner dan schrijven. Wat vind jij? Heb je ook een vraag? Stel hem gerust aan mij of Wout!

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The concept of weekend

Weekend is a strange concept. A concept created by man and obeyed only by man. A concept that is accepted worldwide as a standard. A concept based on basicly nothing, accept our believe in it. The weekend gives us something to hold on to and to long for. ‘What are you doing this weekend’ is a frequently asked question. But what is the weekend really? To answer this question we have to look at its past. How did the weekend come into existence? And does it still deserve this existence?

From a religious point of view, the weekend was created as the 7th day, our sunday. The sunday was a day of rest and mindfulness after a hard workweek of six days. A moment to reflect an to be with God. Not a bad idea in itself. In 1926, Henry Ford added from a economical point of view an extra day to the ‘weekend’ and also closed his factories on saturday. Since 1940 this was applied globally and since then, the weekend as we know it has been a fact. All in al the weekend is a concept based on a long past of religious thinking and economical effects of the industrial revolution in the 20th century. A concept that deserved its purpose for a long time, felt logical and gave structure to our society and our lives.

However, when you look at the weekend from a ‘Working Wonderfully’ perspective, it is nothing more than fooling ourselves a little bit. For the past eightteen months we have been living without the knowledge of week or weekend, holiday or workday. A truly beautiful feeling. At the moment you realize that the weekend was just an invention and you can let go of the concept of time, you earn complete freedom in return. The freedom to work when you want to, write that blog when you feel like, go party on wednesday evening and do some work on sunday afternoon because you feel like it. In the end it really doesn’t matter what day it is if you feel like working, relaxing, exercising etc.

Why should you only be able to have fun with your friends in the weekend? Why is it strange to work on a saturday? Stay longer in bed only on sunday? Why are you longing the entire week for something we all made up (and more importantly why are you fearing the monday?) You have the freedom to arrange your life the way you want it. To work when you feel like working, to relax when you feel like relaxing. People are not the most productive only from 9-5 on monday to friday and quality time and good weather can often be found during the week. An example from the animal kingdom: you will never see a monkey think on our sunday ‘hehe finally I have some time for myself’. No, he will work for his food when he needs it, he will rest when he is tired and play with his kids or friends when he feels like it. And you will never hear him think: oh shit, it’s monday tomorrow.

To dare to let go of the concept of weekend requieres a different view of ones life though. And quite often it also requieres a boos who can understand and embrace the same ideas. We believe that being able to live free of time, weekend and weekdays is something worth fighting for. To decide yourself where, when and how you work starts with the acknowledgement that time is a fluid concept and that we give our own purpose to it. And that this pattern can be broken. At the moment you realize you can change the thing you thought was being controlled by your Outlook calendar, a world of freedom will open itself.

What do you think? Is it time to say goodbye to the concept of weekend and put the thing you want to do first instead of checking whether the day or the hour is appropriate? If you like this way of thinking you might be open to something a little bit more extrem: out bootcamp Travelling Entrepreneurs in August on Isla Holbox in Mexico. The experience to set you free and create a life of working wonderfully. We would like to hear what you think of the blog above, please do so in the comment or by email!

(this blog appeared earlier on workingwonderfully.com and wonderlijkwerken.nl)

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What is certainty?

(this blog appeared earlier on WorkingWonderfully.com)

What is certainty? Is certainty knowing exactly what will happen in your life tomorrow or in a year from now? Is certainty the feeling of security? Having control over you life? Knowing every day what your day will be like? Or is certainty something different? Does it even exist?

I believe that certainty does not exist. All the things that give us the feeling of certainty lika a permanent job, a house or a good retirement plan might feel like it, but they are not. In fact, they might just be the opposite of what you think they are. In a lot of our recent talks with clients and other WW enthusiasts I learned that these specific three topics (job, house, retirement) are very important to them because they five them certainty. I believe so strongly this is not the case that I will share our thoughts with you in this blog.

Permanent job
So you think have certainty because you have a job with a permanent contract? Think again. The only certainty you have is the number of months of salary they have to give you the day they fire you. These days people find themselves standing on the street with the infamous box with all their stuff almost faster than the elevator can carry them. You thought your boss cared about you and that the company would always be there for you? These are false certainties that will buy you absolutely nothing at the end of the line. You are only depending on somebody ele’s judgement about your performance, your wage, office hours, holidays and time off. That is not certainty, that is prison. Your talent and passion are better justified when you are free to do what you like and decide your own path.

Owning a house
For many people owning a house is an important step in leading a successful live. While in fact buying a house is a commitment of such a enormous size that it pretty much determines the rest of your life and will probably end up limiting you. While you think you are buying a dream, you are buying a nightmare. Besides the fact that you are paying a huge amount of interest for an investment that is more risky than putting everything on ‘red’ in Vegas, you are buying a physical anker. You are limiting your freedom to move around and take a chance when you see one. The only certainty you have is that you will be spending 20-50 years of your life working to pay off something that more often than not feels like a cinderblock around your neck instead of a dream. Keep your freedom and rent!

A good retirement plan
Ok, by now you might agree with me that having a permanent job or owning a house might not give you the certainty that you though but a good retirement plan should offer some form of certainty right? Well, let’s examine this. What certainties does a good retirement plan offer you? The best it has to offer you is that when you are old and grey (and out of energy, taste, scent and vision) to live the life you have always dreamed off with all your finances arranged. Is that you idea of certainty? Besides the fact that by the time you will retire the best days of your life are behind you, a retirement plan is also making us lazy. All creativity and perseverance to actually do something meaningful with your time here have been taken out of the equation. You can just finish your boring job, wait till you are sixty-five and finally start doing what you love. And in doing so you are wasting a perfectly good life that had all the opportunity to make something out of it. So what certainty do you get out of a retirement plan? Sitting, waiting, wishing instead of dreaming, doing, living.

For us, certainty means something completely different. By letting go of all the things mentioned above, you will liberate your mind and soul in such a way that you will have more certainty than you could ever dream of or hope for. This is a different kind of certainty though: you get back the one certainty that whatever life throws at you, you are ready for it! Whether you want to work while travelling the world or build a new company around your passion, this way of certainty will give you all the energy you need and will make you look for more!

So, what is certainty? Certainty means taking your own decisions every day: what will I work on today? With who will I work today? What do I want to learn today? How many hours will I work? Etcetera. There is nothing better than having the certainty that you, and you alone, are responsible for the decision that have impact on your life, the way your work and the way you live. Oor mission is to help you find this feeling and never let it go!

Check our programs on how we plan to do this and please let us know what you think of all this. Thanks for reading, now go outside and build something!!

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10 life lessons from Startupbus 2013

A big hole. There is no other way to describe the feeling I have after having been on the Startupbus than falling in a very big hole. During the course of five days the lives of my and all my fellow buspreneurs have changed for the better. We have learned more than an entire year in college and we have made new friends for life. Every single on of the participants has rediscovered himself (or herself) and most of the lessons we have learned are very personal. Over the course of the coming months, we will all find ourselves making decisions and changes in our lives we never thought we would. Why because? Because Startupbus changes you and the world around you. In this blog I will share with you ten basic lessons that I learned by participating on Startupbus.

To explain startupbus in one sentence for those who have no clue what I am talking about: one bus, forty of the smartest people (developers, designers, business) and less then seventy-two hours to develop a new company with a finished product with people you have never met while driving on a bus from Mexico City to Austin (in our case).

This blog is intended to take the valuable lessons from the bus and share them for you to use. So, what have I learned?

1.  Age doesn’t matter.
Half of the people on my team were below the age of 25. They have impressed me in every way possible. Not only are they capable of achieving extraordinary things. They have shown to be extremely creative, entrepreneurial and afraid of nothing. A mentality that I was still looking for at that age. Thank you Rodrigo, Alex, Javier and Christian I have learned from you and you are an example for all people your age and everybody else!

2. There is nothing you can’t do
It all starts with this simple sentence. Not just on the bus. In life in general. More often than not we are being told that our ideas are to far fetched or that you should nuance your thoughts. Just remind your yourself every time when people give you this crap: if Einstein would have made his ideas more realistic we probably would not know him and he would be stuck at E= instead of E=MC2 :)

3. Talent combined with passion beats education every time
No matter what they taught you at school. When you are on the Startupbus or chasing your idea in real life, your combined passion with talents will get the job done. In our team developers were designing and business guys were building a website. We never learned these things at school, we learned them right there and then because we needed it and we managed them because we believed we could.

4. Job titles and job descriptions are worth NOTHING
When it comes to creating your team on the bus or in your real company, job titles are not important. Only hire people who believe what you believe. If your gut feel says they believe what you believe the rest will work out because of the point mentioned above. Create tasks around people and not people around tasks.

5. Dare to step back
Sometimes the right thing to do is let things go. Especially when you are under pressure and you feel that you should be involved in everything, dare to let go and step back. I know nothing about development and instead of constantly checking on the progress (which slowed us down on day one) I stepped back and let the guys do what they do best. The result surprised everyone (me but even more they surprised themselves)

6. Enable, Empower and Endorse your team
People can do things they never thought they could. By simply believing in them and expressing that in your actions they will surprise you. Simply enable, empower and endorse them to see the results. Often this means that your job will be about creating the circumstances to let them flourish. (on the bus this means: get coffee, arrange wifi, let them sleep, put them first:))

7. Involve the entire team
No matter how good your idea is, if you don’t have everybody on the same page, you will be struggling. We lost twelve hours this year because we didn’t involve the entire team in the first phase of the process. From a business perspective we were building the platform from our vision. When we presented it back to the guys who actually had to build it, we all struggled to explain and start building. We could have tackled this by involving them and co-creating the final idea. We would have had more time and a better quality product that would have gotten us to the next round. A hard but valuable lesson.

8. Validate your idea (but don’t let your findings turn you down)
On day two we found out that our initial idea actually wasn’t that different from a couple of big companies we actually never heard of. Realizing this bummed us out for a moment but within a matter of hours we adopted to the newfound circumstances and created actually something that was way better and had a lot more value.

9. You can do more than you think
No explanation needed. YOU CAN DO MORE THAN YOU THINK!

10. Sleep is overrated
When you are really ready to pursue your ideas or business but you still have your job, cut on your sleep. Sleep is overrated and your mind and body can do a lot more when true passion and drive are involved. Up your game and make your dreams come true instead of keeping on dreaming.

So, what have we built?
We have built a platform called Emplify.us. Our goal was to bridge the gap between the people either stuck in their job and looking for a way out and the kids coming from university realising that the things they were taught actually have little or no value. They might be very passionate about other topics but they are lacking experience to actually get hired. We wanted to connect these people to the group of companies looking for passionate professionals but don’t have the budget ton hire them. In this way, the job seekers can amplify their talents and the employers can amplify their budgets.

A word of thanks
I hope my personal lessons have helped you and inspire you to pursue your own ideas. But most of all I hope you hop on a Startupbus near you to experience this life changing journey yourself! I would like to thank my personal sponsors: Thank you so much HansMikeRolfCrista & KlaasRoderik and Dave & Bonnie  and my anonymous contributors!! This adventure would not have been possible without you! If there is anything I can do in return, just let me know!

Useful Links
- Startupbus Movies (top 4)
- Startupbus Pictures
- Startupbus website

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When things don’t work out the way they planned the real buspreneurs are separated from the weak (and tired)

What do you do when you have been working for almost 16 hours straight (5 of them on a driving bus) with your team on an idea you thought was great and turned out to already partially exist and have over a gazillion registered users?

Well, I did the following:

– got my headset and hooked it up to my iPhone (against the snoring Mexicans;))
– searched for Paul Kalkbrenner’s most famous songs Aaron in my iTunes, put it on and set it on repeat
– sit and contemplate on my options, this is the result:

The startup we are launching from the Mexican Startupbus is called Emplify.us. Our mission is to get people to work more from their passion and enable them to amplify their talents using our platform connecting them to various job opportunities. Instead of becoming the next Elance.com by focussing on freelancers and online jobs (as we originally more or less had in mind and thus found out was kind of lame and not so innovative) we changed our philosophy to three groups that are way more interesting:

– the gifted but unemployed
– the (well) educated but unemployed
– the unlucky employed

For these three specific groups we will set up a platform to help the not only find a job but really turn their passion into profit and amplify their skills. Where are they going to find these jobs I can hear you thinking. Well, we have learned there are many people looking for a kind of but just don’t have a big budget to hire an expensive freelancer. Out of this group we identified the following potential job providers:

– idea people (people with an income and with an idea for a business looking for someone to help them take the first step)

By connecting the ‘idea people’ to the people looking to improve their skills and make some money we have found a perfect match where we thought our idea had turned useless..

And while writing this blog everything came together so instead of finishing this blog I will start putting it into action.. So the lesson here is: when it seems like things are not working our the way you planned, just stay calm, put on Paul Kalkbrenner and trust that it will all work out just fine.

In case you are Interested in what we will build eventually (in less than the 50 hours ahead of us)? Check www.emplify.us and sign up for our newsletter.. Talk to you later!

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Startupbus 2013: before the start

Tomorrow around this time I will be in a bus with forty mexicans travelling at 90km/h on our way to Austin, Texas creating new companies from scratch in less than 72 hours in a crazy experience called Startupbus. Our goal? Getting a Mexican company to win this unique competition for the first time!

What is Startupbus?
Startupbus is the ultimate learning experience for entrepreneurs. Creating a new company with people you have never met, in less then 72 hours, driving on a (mexican) bus, sleeping only a few hours, pitching for an impressive jury at SxSW and discovering how you perform under the circumstances of pressure, failing wifi and being sleep deprived has been of the best experiences of life last year. These are the pictures and my blog from last year.

I have just googled some of my fellow buspreneurs for this year and I am very, very, VERY excited about the talent we have on board. Some really smart hackers (developers), hipsters (designers) and hustlers (business) make me feel confident to say to the other busses coming from the USA: prepare for Startupbus Mexico cabrones, we are coming to win!!

My sponsors for this year
Startupbus is a crazy experience and without a little help from friends and family this trip would be impossible for me. A special word of thanks to the amazing people who decided to sponsor my dream and who I hopefully will make proud by getting a mexican team (preferably my own;)) in the finals and winning this years edition. Thank you so much Hans, Mike, Rolf, Crista & Klaas, Roderik and Dave & Bonnie this would not have been possible without you!

P.S. hopefully our bus will look better than the one on the picture above but in Mexico you never know ;) nonetheless we will be coming hard!!

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A random multilingual evening on Isla Holbox

I am lying in my hammock on the beautiful Mexican island Isla Holbox. While sipping my sangria I am listening to the conversations around me. Slowly the chatter becomes clear:

Behind me I hear a Polish guy ask in English to the Argentinian restaurant owner whether the Mexican chef could maybe put a little less peppers on his Italian pizza the next time. The Argentinian restaurant owner asks in Spanish to the Mexican Chef why, for god sakes, he has put peppers on the Italian pizza of the Polish guy. The Mexican chef answers in perfect English that in Mexico they put peppers on everything and that includes Italian pizzas and that he speaks English as well and the Polish guy should shut up and go to Italy if he wants Italian pizzas without peppers. At that moment, the Canadian couple in the hammock next to me starts laughing and say in fluent French to each other that peppers are not the problem, but the Italians and their crappy pizzas. They are told that’s not true and that they should go to the norther part of Italy in fluent French by guy from Switzerland sipping a Corona chatting in German with a couple from Berlin….

Slowly, the multilingual chatter around me is dissolving and I am back in my hammock and start realizing that I just understood this entire conversation in five different languages. For me this is the essence of travel: not just the (in this case beautiful) destination itself but more the people you meet. And to get the best out of the people you meet, you have to learn to speak their language.

How many languages do you speak? And have you ever witnessed a conversation like this one? Please let me know!

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‘Human beings are a disease’ or ‘We don’t need further economic growth’

‘I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species, and I realised that humans are not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment; but you humans do not. Instead you multiply, and multiply, until every resource is consumed. The only way for you to survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern… a virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer on this planet.‘ 

This is what ‘Agent Smith’ said to ‘Morpheus’ in the well known movie The Matrix. It may sound a little dramatic but it looks like he was right. Our need for constant economic growth is killing us. It is killing our planet, our society and our plans for the future. And besides that, by only focussing on growth we are missing out on a lot of things our lives have to offer us when you take the time to stand still.

I was raised and educated in a world where ‘growth’ was the most important measurement tool we had and we thought we needed. If you are not growing you are standing still and when you are standing still while everybody else is growing you are going backwards. Especially economists tend to think that ‘economic growth’ is the only indicator of success we have. And this is where they are wrong.

If we want to continue and maintain our current living standards on this planet, we already need 1.5 Earths to support all our needs (let alone another Earth to dump all our waste). We are going to be 9 billion people soon, if we keep growing our economies at the rate we currently do (and all the ministers of economic affairs, managers of banks and big corporates want us to), we will burn down our system completely. You simply cannot grow infinitely on a finite planet. We have reached a tipping point in our development as a species on this planet. After more or less 10.000 years on Earth we have failed to establish the aforementioned equilibrium we need to survive and if we are not going to do so rapidly, our existence here on Earth might end sooner than we all want it to. Not in a couple hundreds of years but in our lifetimes. We are approaching the point where Thomas Salk is turning out to be right when he said:

“if all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish”. 

People already tried to tell me, while I was still working for a big corporate company, that growth cannot and should not be the main driver for our species on this planet, but I wasn’t able to listen to them then. I simply couldn’t believe them. Like many others I was brainwashed. Brainwashed by my government, teachers, bosses, commercials. For years I was only looking at the competition and trying to be faster, smarter and better than everybody else. Almost at any cost. Until around a year ago I realized there is nothing wrong with ‘standing still’ or ‘not growing’. In fact it is both beautiful and necessary!

By stepping out of the corporate life where shareholders, CEO’s and managers determine what is important (growth and profit) and are willing to sacrifice almost everything else in order to acquire that, I am now in full control of my life and the projects that I want to work on. I am responsible for what I do and I determine the impact I want to have. I focus on helping the people I meet with the knowledge I have (or can acquire). Hopefully spreading happiness one encounter at the time. My goal is not to grow or to possess. My goal is to live in balance with the people and cultures I meet and try to deserve to exist to do good things for the people I meet and make enough money to live my life in balance with our planet. Living my life this way feels awesome, every single day!

Does this mean I only eat fruit that has fallen on the ground? No. But it does mean I acknowledge the fact that we are messing up our world and I am focussing on turning that around! By writing about this I hope I can inspire you to do the same and rethink your way of living and change your focus on growth and economic figures. If not, in a few years we will all probably be forced to change our lifestyle a little more dramatically.

How do you feel about all this? Please let me know in the comments!

This blog was inspired by:

- The Matrix (Agent Smith talking to Morpheus) (movie)
The Earth is Full (TED-talk)
Prosperity without Growth (book)

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30 years, 10 lessons

One month ago I turned thirty. This means I have been walking around on this earth for thirty years. The first twenty years people tried to teach me a lot of things about myself, the world and how to act in it. And the last ten I have finally learned about myself, the world and how I want to act in it. I have decided to write 10 important lessons I learned for during these thirty years I have been around. So here goes (in random order):

1. We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are
Your mindset is biased and most of the times this is a good thing! Just be aware of the fact that it and start making your art.

2. Education is overhyped
The first ten years at school are valuable (who goes anywhere without tying his shoe laces?). After that it is a lot better to decide who you want to be, what you need to learn how to get there and go do it.If you decide to stay in school, challenge your teachers, professors, mentors, they are not always right!

3. Give and you will receive
So simple and yet so true. The more you give, the more will come back to you. More often than not this will be a smile, a thank you or a hug, but those things are more important than money.

4. Whatever you think, think the opposite
What you think is a combination of where you were born, how you were raised and where you live. More often than not, the opposite of what we think, is also true. Validate your own arguments by trying to argue for the exact opposite. You’ll understand life much better. (click here to buy the book that changed my life: ‘Whatever you think, think the opposite‘)

5. Stay hungry, stay foolish
Nothing better than a hungry and foolish life. Aim for the sky and make sure you have fun while doing it!

6. Listen to your stomach
Always, always, always, trust your gut feeling. Intuition is your best guide. There is no better way to live your life than listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, change it. It it feels awesome, give everything!

7.  There is nothing better than finding the love of your life.
If you haven’t found him or her, keep looking! Diana, thank you so much for everything, you complete me!

8. Run like the wind
There is no better sport than running, both for your mind and your body. The best ideas occur to me while running and  a fit body results in a fit mind. Don’t hesitate just get up, go out and run!

9. Travel the world
No matter where you live or what you do, go see the world. Meet different people, learn new languages and try to understand your place in this very big world of ours. (note: this blog was written from Zipolite beach, Mexico)

10. Your parents are not always right (but often more right then you think)
Even though they are right a lot of times, there are some times that they are just plain wrong and you have to listen to your gut feel. Just make sure you know these are the two people in the world that want nothing but the best for you and their drive for that is love! Once you know that, get on your own two feet and show that you love them by proving them wrong (sometimes).

Please let me know what you think of these ten lessons in the comments below and share them if you like them!

P.S Saskia and Bob, thanks for the picture!

 

 

 

Empathie bij KLM ver te zoeken

(dutch) KLM twittert vaardig maar doet (het) verder niet zo aardig #fail

Ik heb de laatste tijd een aantal negatieve tweets over KLM geplaatst en omdat ik me normaal verre houdt van dergelijke negatieve energie wil ik deze graag even toelichten.

Sinds ik in 2006 begon met zakelijk vliegen heb ik praktisch al mijn vluchten geboekt met KLM (uiteraard om mijn frequent flyer miles te sparen) en over het algemeen was mijn ervaring met de dienstverlening goed, zeker in de lucht. Echter het laatste jaar heeft KLM mij meerdere keren dusdanig teleurgesteld dat ik besloten heb niet meer met KLM te vliegen in de toekomst.

Als luchtvaartmaatschappij heb je in deze tijd een aantal contactmomenten (touchpoints) met je klant. Contact kan lopen via de website, de telefoon, aan de balie, aan de gate, in de lucht en via een van de sociale media kanalen. KLM blinkt uit in haar online klantenservice. Simpele vragen maar ook zaken als het omboeken van een ticket zijn binnen een paar tweets geregeld, fantastisch! Helaas mag van de rest van de organisatie van KLM weinig empathisch gedrag verwacht worden. Hierdoor werkt het online customer care team perfect als het gaat om bij brand de sirenes uit te zetten, maar niet bij het doven van het vuur. De rest van de organisatie is te log en hecht geen waarde aan loyale klanten. Graag licht ik deze harde uitspraak toe met een tweetal voorbeelden:

De klant als nummer bij KLM

Dat binnen grote coöperaties de klant als nummer wordt behandeld zal geen verassing zijn. KLM staat voor mij echter synoniem voor star, stug en onbuigbaar. Zowel telefonisch, aan de balie als via de email houden KLM medewerkers zich schuil achter regeltjes, ticketnummers en voorwaarden en zonder naar de mens achter de klacht of vraag te kijken. Het afgelopen jaar heb ik dit o.a ervaren met:

  • het (om)boeken van tickets (nee meneer, u kunt uw ticket niet omboeken naar een latere datum en nee ik ga u geen geen korting geven als u deze vlucht wel helemaal betaalt, er geen gebruik van maakt (zodat wij hem opnieuw kunnen verkopen) en daarna alsnog een nieuwe vlucht bij ons boekt).
  • het zoeken van stoelen voor lange mensen omdat 14 uur naar Mexico Stad klem tussen je stoel zitten geen pretje is (nee meneer, ook voor mensen die langer zijn dan 1.95 hebben wij geen gratis speciale stoelen, voor ‘slechts’ 172 euro meer zit u wel comfortabel)
  • Verloren Frequent Flyer Miles (nee meneer, ook al was u maar één maand te laat met het boeken van frequent flyer vlucht, uw miles zijn vervallen)
  • etc etc


De KLM servicebalie

Afgelopen mei vloog ik samen met mijn vriendin naar Mexico Stad. Wij hadden bij ons: twee koffers van onszelf, een extra koffer van een Mexicaanse vriend (á 120 euro) en twee mountainbikes (ik bespaar jullie het verhaal hoe onwillig de KLM medewerkers zijn, zelfs als je met twee hele grote dozen tussen alle poortjes, die open kunnen, door moet manoeuvreren). Nu heeft KLM de regel dat voor ieder extra stuk bagage je moet bijbetalen (normaal ongebruikte ruimte in het vliegtuig en dus bijna pure winst, maar OK). Nu wil het geval dat de dozen met de mountainbikes allebei twee kilo te zwaar zijn. Dus de KLM dame in kwestie vertelt ons dat we voor beide dozen nog eens 100 euro extra moeten betalen bovenop de 200 euro die we al betalen per doos. Ik slik even en geef haar aan dat onze andere koffers gezamenlijk 5 kilo onder het gewicht zijn we al een behoorlijk goede klant zijn (zeker met deze bagage) en vraag haar of ze een uitzondering kan maken helemaal omdat onze fietsdozen volgens KLM voorschriften helemaal dicht getapet zijn en we niks meer over kunnen pakken. Haar reactie is, en ik citeer: ‘Meneer Zwerink, hoe denkt u dan dat ik morgen aan mijn manager ga uitleggen dat ik twee bagagestukken die te zwaar waren voor minder omzet mee heb laten gaan?’ op mijn reactie:’U zou kunnen zeggen dat u twee mensen aangenaam verrast hebt met uw coulance en daardoor loyaliteit voor het leven hebt afgedwongen met een investering van slechts 100 euro op een vracht die in totaal nog onder het toegestane gewicht is gebleven’ komt helaas geen antwoord meer, we moeten betalen en snel ook, wie denk ik wel dat ik ben..

Hierna hebben zowel mijn vriendin als ik besloten om niet meer met KLM te vliegen. Jammer van mijn net weer opnieuw gespaarde miles, jammer van mijn transatlantische vluchten als Digital Nomad maar het zij zo.

Heb jij soortgelijke ervaringen met KLM? Gedeelde smart is halve smart dus ik hoor ze hieronder graag! Ik vond tijdens het plaatsen al wat medestanders