Today I turned 40 and it is also exactly 10 years ago that I set up my first business. On October 11, 2002 I registered my first company, while studying Mandarin Chinese at Beijing Foreign Language University. It was a decade that seems to have flown by , even though (or maybe because) so many things have happened. I founded or co-founded 4 different companies and invested in a lot more businesses. It was quite a rollercoaster ride, with huge ups but also some very deep downs. I had some great business partners, but also encountered a couple of frauds over the years (one of them is in jail now in the US for the next 10 years, another one was declared bankrupt after a court case in Germany, and one of them is still doing business in The Netherlands).
I had a lot of sleepness nights over the past 10 years as an entrepreneur, a lot more than I would have had if I had stayed in my job at Daimler. But looking back it was absolutely worth it, and not only financially. I learned so much about different businesses and I got to know some very interesting people. I traveled a lot and have probably seen almost as much of the world in the past 10 years as in the 30 years before that.
And privately lots of things happened as well of course: I got married in 2005 and now have 2 wonderful kids. If you had asked me 10 years ago, the idea of getting married or having kids would have scared me. But now I realize that having kids was the best thing that ever happened to me, something that changed me completely. I am quite happy, I would not call myself a family man but I am doing my best trying to become one.
Over the years I ran marathons, climbed mountains and biked through the Himalaya. And of course I started this blog in September 2004 and now have over 60,000 unique readers coming to this site every year. I moved a lot as well, I lived at 7 different addresses in Beijing and Shanghai during the past decade. And amazingly I am still in China, that’s not something I had expected.
I set myself some work and life goals when I turned 30 and reached most of them. But I am not setting myself goals for the next 10 years anymore, at least not work wise. Of course work will still be an important part of life for me, but I hope I’ll never work as many hours per week as I did since I turned 30. Enjoying life with my family and friends has become more important, and not to forget staying healthy: a few of my friends already passed away over the past years. And if blogs are still around in 10 years I hope I’ll still be writing regular updates about my life, work and travels!