Last week I spent a couple of days in The Netherlands for meetings and to give some speeches. I am trying to travel less and that is working quite well, because it was my first trip to Holland in almost 2 months. I took the daytime flight on Sunday to Amsterdam, which is more relaxed than the night flight that arrives around 5 AM.
On Monday I had a couple of meetings in Amsterdam, among others with Nico Schoonderwoerd and Zlatan Menkovic of Peerreach. I just invested in the company, something that was also announced during the time that I was in Holland. Around lunch time I was interviewed (short version, long version) by Erwin Blom for Fast Moving Targets and after recording the show we had lunch together.
I then did a few calls before taking the train to Maastricht (2.5 hours). There I arrived just in time for a conference call with a start-up on the West Coast, before having dinner at Beaumont. After dinner I had drinks with some fellow entrepreneurs who would also be speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Week. Among others I had a glass of Italian wine with Iens, the founder of the Holland’s largest restaurant review site, Iens.nl, and I talked to Jan Scheele, who is a TED fanatic and among others organizes TEDxBaghdad.
I got up at 5 AM the next morning to go for a run, but because I had a bit of a cold I decided to skip sports and just work on my emails. After a big breakfast (where a hotel guest recognized me from a speech I gave a few months ago!) we took a taxi to the Gouvernement, the seat of the government of Limburg Province, where the Global Entrepreneurship Week would be held. It was a nice event, where I met some old friends, including my former university classmate Bert Habets (we were on the board of a student association together), who is now CEO of RTL in The Netherlands. Nice to catch up with him and to hear what he is up to in his job.
Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012 in Maastricht
The talks at GEW were inspiring and I had a great day. I also did 2 video interviews (did not see them online yet) and gave a speech. My talk was mainly about my own entrepreneurial experiences over the past 10 years and I specifically focused on some of China’s challenges. Lots of questions as well, which is what I like. After that there were drinks and over a couple of beers I talked to lots of entrepreneurs, investors and students. During my studies in Maastricht entrepreneurship was not a big thing yet, but that has changed completely! At night I had dinner with some friends and then went to bed quite early.
Wednesday I once again got up at 5 AM and again decided not to run but do some work. The downside of spending time at conferences is that you completely get behind on emails, and spending 2 hours in the morning to answer the most important ones makes me feel a bit better.
Bridge over the Maas river in Maastricht
After breakfast I prepared for my speech for later that day and then went shopping for some clothes. I had seen a nice shop close to my hotel, but it was still closed at 10:30 AM, so I went to another one that was open, where I spent quite some money in a very short time. The owner seemed to be very happy with me as a customer and I was happy as well: I am not a big fan of shopping and now I had 5 new shirts, 2 sweaters and 2 pairs of jeans in 20 minutes while also enjoying an espresso. When I walked by the first shop on my way back to the hotel at 11 AM the owner just opened up. For one moment I wanted to tell him that if he had worked a bit harder he could have earned an additional EUR 1000, but decided to refrain from commenting. He wouldn’t understand it anyway and everybody should decide for himself how hard he wants to work.
Scott’s personalized golf balls from Redline Golf
I changed into my suit and then walked to Beluga, a 2-star Michelin restaurant on the Maas river in Maastricht. I had been invited by David Verburg of Redline Golf, a Dutch company that sells high quality golf balls. Because he had seen on my blog that Scott also plays golf he gave me among others a set of golf balls personalized with Scott’s name on it! Scott loved it, see the picture at the end of this post. Lunch at Beluga was amazing, we asked the chef to just make some nice dishes for us and that’s what he did. What a fantastic food and a great way of preparing it (partly next to our table), and of course with very nice wines to pair with the food. Highly recommended. Thanks again for lunch David!
With the winning team of the Maastricht University business plan competition 2012
After lunch I had another meeting in the lobby of my hotel and then walked over to executive building of Maastricht University at the Minderbroedersberg. I had a cup of coffee with some students and then watched the finals of a business plan competition before I gave a speech about entrepreneurship. As usual there were beers afterward (I think every student-related event has free beers in Holland) and I was among the last people to leave. Then I went for dinner at Tout A Fait with a friend who runs a large family office, excellent to catch up with him over 5 courses of great food and fantastic wines. Life is good!
Although I did not go to bed until 12:30 AM I was awake by 4 AM already. I tried to sleep a bit longer (I was still tired because of copious amounts of nice wines) but that did not work, so got up before 5 AM, took a hot shower and started working. I packed my suitcase, had breakfast at 7 and then took the train to Amsterdam. There I had among others lunch with my parents at the Conservatorium Hotel and almost missed my flight afterward (my own fault!).
I was so exhausted from the busy week and the lack of sleep that I only had a glass of champagne and a quick appetizer (Beijing Duck) on board, before I put my seat in the sleeping position and enjoyed an 8 hour sleep. I woke up just over an hour before landing, had a small breakfast (yoghurt with fresh fruit, a warm croissant and some coffee) and then was happy to be back home. I brought the kids a lot of presents and tons of Dutch Sinterklaas candy, so they were very happy to see me as well. It was a great trip!
Scott showing off his own golf balls!