It’s Friday night and I am sitting in my favorite seat (1st row on the upper deck) of a KLM B747 flying back to Shanghai after a short trip to The Netherlands. I am trying to keep my trips as short as possible these days because I want to spend more time in the office and with my family, but that makes the trips a bit harder than when I would add in another day or 2. But at least the trip was quite successful and I got tons of stuff done. The only real downside (next to not getting enough sleep): there are 827 mails waiting to be read, and hopefully not to be replied, in my inbox.
I arrived in Holland on Tuesday night after a good flight. Also on that flight I had the same seat (72K) on the upper deck, and the person next to me (who turned out to be a friend of a friend, small world) moved to a different seat after take off because the business class was less than half full. So I had tons of space to work, among others on email and on a presentation. My parents were on the same plane from Shanghai, so I went to talk to them a couple of times during the 12 hour flight.
We had a bit of a delay (30 minutes) upon arrival so I said goodbye to my parents in the arrivals hall (I only had hand luggage) and went off to my first meeting of the evening. I drank a lot of coffee on the plane in the 2 hours before arrival, so felt quite awake despite the long flight and minor jet lag. After an interesting second meeting I was in bed by 10:30 PM and asleep within a minute. I put my alarm at 4 AM to work and felt refreshed and ready for a new day when the alarm went off.
I worked for a few hours in my room and then checked out at 7:30 AM, grabbed a sandwich in a coffee bar and took a train to the Mediapark in Hilversum for an interview and photo session with Quote magazine. The photo session was in a bar on the Mediapark (Bar Boon), and because the photographer set up a complete set several people who walked by stopped to take a look. The interview went well, among others we talked about marathon running (interviewer Jordy Hubers also plans to run the New York Marathon) and how to avoid injuries. I explained my theory that many injuries are caused by sports shoes, and that running barefoot -or at least in Vibram FiveFingers- is a good way to avoid them. People ran without shoes for tens of thousands of years without any problems, and then suddenly Nike came up 40 years ago with special running shoes with more rubber to ‘protect’ you feet and legs. IMHO the effect is the opposite, because your body now gets the wrong signals and that’s how for some people injuries start. But I digress…
After the interview I went to visit broadcaster RTL to talk about my vision for the future of TV and what a company like RTL could do to be prepared for these changes. I enjoyed to exchange my thoughts with this group of RTL executives and to hear what they are doing and planning to do. After the session I had a quick lunch with my niece Ingrid, who is in charge of the RTL 365 iPad app, at the RTL restaurant before taking a taxi to Spil Games.
I had not been to Spil Games in a few months and the company keeps on growing. The company keeps on expanding its office but growth in staff seems to outpace the office size. Spil Games will therefore now set up its own campus in Hilversum, and Peter Driessen showed me the area and buildings that will be transformed first. A pretty cool plan, and something quite unique for Holland: the campus will not only have offices, but also a restaurant, sports and recreation areas and even apartments for some of the staff. This really sets Spil Games (now already by far the biggest Dutch Internet company) apart and will make it an even more preferred employer for Dutch and foreign staff.
After a couple of meetings at Spil Games I walked to the train station to take the train to Den Bosch. At the station I literally missed the train by 10 seconds because I had not set my watch correctly on the plane to Amsterdam (I think that the time on the in-flight system was a few minutes off…). So I just sat down with my laptop and worked on mails for 30 minutes until the next train would come. The ride to Den Bosch was fine and a taxi picked me up from the station to drive me to a hotel in downtown Den Bosch. I quickly freshened up and then went to the hotel bar for a drink with some of the speakers of the IMAGINE 2012 conference that would take place the next day.
After drinks we had dinner in a nice Italian restaurant in the city center together with some of the board members of Ricoh (Ricoh organized the conference). I sat opposite the person in charge of social media at KLM, which was interesting because I had my share of issues (both good and bad) with KLM and its social media staff over the past couple of years. He told me that his staff had prepared him, and among others had sent him a link to an interview that I did with a Dutch newspaper several years ago when KLM social media policy was still in its infancy (it turned out that KLM did not even own its Twitter name at that time!). It also turned out that we both studied in Maastricht and that we have several mutual friends. Small world once again.
After a short sleep (I set my alarm for 4 AM again to go for a pre-dawn run and to work) we left for the conference venue at 7:15 AM for breakfast and a sound check. The IMAGINE2012 conference started at 9 AM and after the opening by the Ricoh CEO I was the first speaker. My topic was “Creative and Sustainable Entrepreneurship” where I among others discussed how we implement this with unitedstyles: always putting the customer central, using green production technologies and having a very efficient piece-by-piece production system. After me EU commissioner Neelie Kroes was supposed to give a speech, but she could not make it to Den Bosch so she did it through a video. Next up was Nalden, who is a relatively famous blogger and who also founded wetransfer.com. During dinner the night before we discussed whether he was not afraid to have the same fate as MegaUpload’s Kim Dot Com, but he was pretty relaxed about it. He is a pretty cool guy with a good vision on technology and future trends.
I watched a couple of other talks as well, but also had some interviews to do and had set up meetings at the conference venue, so could not see all of the presentations. (For a compilation video of the event, see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO6fMakls78&feature=youtu.be – I’m also in the video). Late afternoon I went back to my hotel to do some work and grab a quick dinner. After another short sleep I left the hotel Friday morning at 7 AM to take a train to Amsterdam for an 8:15 AM meeting with the team of Dutch start-up PeerReach (I am an advisor to the company). They will officially launch over the next couple of weeks, it’s a cool concept and I expect a lot from them.
At 9:15 I was at BNR Nieuws Radio for a live radio interview. At 45 minutes probably the longest live interview I did so far. It was fun to do, the interview started off by discussing the main news of the day (among others the new amnesty law in Surinam, Dutch politics and soccer related news) before talking about business career so far, my investment strategy and a part about unitedstyles and its business model.
After the interview I had to go straight away into a meeting with an investor in unitedstyles, who I so far had not met in real life. We sat on the terrace of Cafe Dauphine, next to BNR, having a coffee. The weather was very nice, sunny and not too warm. As usual I saw a couple of other people there that I know, it still seems to be the place to be for people involved in start-ups in Amsterdam. My next meeting was with the CEO of Dutch media company (that I won’t name here) to discuss a potential cooperation with unitedstyles. And then it was off to the Hilton for a drink and (very) late lunch with a private banking/family office friend of mine. We enjoyed a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a nice Salmon Club Sandwich while discussing the latest in business and private life.
An hour later I was at the airport and not long after that on board the flight back home. I met a business friend on board, he was sitting 2 rows behind me. On almost every flight to and from Holland I now meet people that I know – or sometimes who I don’t know, but who come to me saying they read this blog! It was a great trip with good results, but it was quite exhausting so I am happy it is over.