Companies of the future: No CEO, no boss, managed by blockchain

Great article by Jeremy Epstein on VentureBeat that resonates with how I think. It’s about a Decentralized Autonomous Organization and it has no CEO, CFO, or VPs.

The article touched me in the same way “Permission Marketing” from Seth Godin touched me back in 1999. So it’s something that doesn’t happen often.

It comes at a time where I’m trying to explain to people what the fundamental difference is when it comes to running a cooperative organisation like Herculean compared to a traditional organisation. The article describes exactly what I mean, so I hope many people will read it before they decide to work with us.

It comes at a time where I got in conversation with the founders of Duval Union, another amazing cooperative entity. They shared a great article with us about Network Governance. The article states that Networked Organisations are great to use for “Wicked Problems“. They are great to drive innovation. They are fast and rely on trust.

These things come at a time where we are building teams of licence-holders all over the world. A time where we need to define our “way of working” to hundreds of people from partners to crew to suppliers.

I actually believe that our governance structure is what makes us so special. Of course we are great in organising Hercules Trophy, Academies en Projects. Of course we have amazing technology to drive our growth. But I believe the most important part is our DNA. It’s the people who work together and create amazing experiences without a strict hierarchical model to govern them. It’s a DNA, a set of values that defines whether you are a Herculean or not. Because of that DNA, the non-Herculeans eventually leave the organisation and new Herculeans join. Just to be very clear: it’s not because you don’t have our DNA, that you are a “bad” person! We are just not the right company for you.

You can read the complete article here. Underneath are some interesting extracts:

In fact, there’s no hierarchy at all. Of course, any time you bring people together in a group, there are bound to be politics, but it won’t be the “command and control” structure that most of us are used to.

What a DAO is

A DAO is a combination of computer code, a blockchain, smart contracts, and people. (Well, people, for now, at least, but that’s a topic for a different post.)

The founders of a DAO set up the basic governance rules of how it will work. For one example, see how Fermat explains it here.

The DAO has stakeholders who own tokens that represent a share in the performance of the DAO. Essentially, what those stakeholders want is an increase in the value of their tokens as reflected by increased demand.

The bottom line is that, in a DAO, instead of being hired as an employee, you are awarded a contract on a project basis. The Fermat project, for example, calls these ‘Contribution Contracts.”  Then, after discussion among the community members, the proposal is voted upon and, when passed, work can commence.

So, the incentive for everyone who contributes to a DAO is

  1. Get your stuff done
  2. Get it done with high quality
  3. Treat people with respect

After all, if you don’t do these things, your livelihood is threatened.

Become a true ambassador

We are proud to announce that as of today, for the next 30 days, we open the Herculean cooperative company to new investors. You could be one of them and you are not alone.

Together with banks and co-investors we are raising up to 1,5mil EUR to scale-up the Herculean business all over the world.

We are deeply humbled that during the private launch of the past weeks almost 500K was already raised and banks have confirmed for another 500K. 

So now it’s a great time for YOU to join. Why?

  • Because you believe in the Herculean business
  • Because you can invest from 100 EUR already
  • Because you will become a Herculean ambassadors and will receive advantages (you will be invited as a VIP for the Herculean Days, which is already worth 175 EUR)
  • Because the whole process is driven by professionals
  • Because you are not alone
  • Because you want to show the world that cooperative entities are the new normal
  • Because we are a scale-up with a proven track-record since 1999, not a start-up


Just click on, read the investment profile and invest online. A very limited private crowd has already invested 20K in the past days. They were invited to two private investment events, and they loved the story.

Did you already invest?

THANK YOU. Good Karma is coming your way and you will start receiving priviliged information about our business. Feel free to spread the vibe to all your friends by sharing our message online.


Woke up this morning with Wouter Torfs on my Facebook wall. Probably because Mr Zuckerberg decided it was relevant.

Friday is our Herculean Scrum day. We look back one week, try to be thankful, finish stuff that should have been finished, do some serious cheering, learn new insights and start making new plans for the next week…because the world changed again, like every week. And guess what: things you couldn’t predict or imagine DID happen, just like every week.

We believe that an agile mindset, a growth mindset, brings happiness.

It rarely happens that I relate nearly 100% with an interview. And it almost never happens that I listen more than once. This time it was different. Kudos Wouter Torfs, Zwijgen is geen optie and Anthony Bosschem. You made me smile. You made me think and write. Here’s the interview in Dutch.

Want to share a few personal take-aways to remember when I turn 45 at the end of this year (no, not 50!!!)

“Pull yourself by the hair out of the swamp”, is exactly what I told the crowd a few days ago. And it made me very emotional on stage when I said it and looked at Inge and my parents from stage. Being a first generation entrepreneur, chasing your dream, feeling like everything depends on you, having to “fix” everything, is the most difficult part of the job. It’s a marathon. It’s draining. Nobody will do it for you. It shapes you, but it confronts you with loneliness. My family, enough rest and daily meditation keep my energy levels high.

Et Alors? When you are out there, doing everything you can, fighting for every inch, protecting your baby, you often get the feeling that people turn against you. That the gods are testing you to see if you really want to go for it. During that struggle you go from mistake to mistake. You learn and adapt. As I turn older, I become milder. I’m not there yet though, but I should according to my personal coach. Because it’s bad for my heart.

A company is more than a money-machine. As I’m a huge fan of cooperative thinking, this one’s right up my alley. Torfs grew tremendously in the past 10 years. And they did it while being Best Employer for 6 years. Respect! The multiples are comparable, but Torfs’ numbers are a lot bigger. Like…a lot! The challenges are the same I guess, because they don’t depend on the size of the numbers, but on the multiples. A company that grows 1% every year has different challenges than a company that grows with two digits year after year. When I explain our cooperative structure, I still see people think we are not about making money. People who join Herculean sometimes mistakenly think it’s all about “Flower Power”. It’s not. It’s about a lot of hard work and about growing! We ARE about making money and profit (otherwise you go out of business) but we are about sustainable growth and getting the right people on board and doing the right thing. We are about creating a system where the right people stay and other people automatically leave, no hard feelings. Where the right people build amazing experiences for customers, so customers come back and buy more, become ambassador and convince other customers to join, so we make a profit and stakeholders are happy about their investment. Not just happy about the financial return, but happy they could change the world a little bit. Happy they did it together with a lot of Herculeans out there.

“Moeidu”, or speak up! Anthony, the interviewer says: I can imagine that Barbara sometimes says: “Wouter, do shut up, we sell shoes Wouter, SHOES!” I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard that. As I had the opportunity to get to know Barbara a little bit in the past weeks – as she will become our new Managing Director Belgium and member of the Board – I could actually SEE her saying it 🙂 It’s in fact a topic that we discussed regularly during our initial talks: how far can you go as a company when it comes to formulating a public opinion? Inge and myself like to keep a low profile when it comes to our personal opinions. Inge even more than me. Lately, this is changing with everything we see happening in the world. As Hercules Trophy is a corporate festival, it represents a certain group of like-minded people and it’s our moral duty to formulate our opinions from time to time. So, Barbara, it’s now your time to speak up! 😉


FINLAND: Basic Income experiment authorized by Parliament

Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, announced on December 14 that the Finnish Parliament has passed the act authorizing an experiment of basic income. The experiment is set to begin on January 1, 2017.

For a few years, my heart tells me the Universal Basic Income is the only way forward. It’s the same feeling I had, when we started the Herculean cooperation as a more sustainable way of doing business. The capitalists in this world warned me that it was better to started a “limited corporation” to “keep the power” (which has proven to be complete rubbish).

What fuels that feeling?

  • Taxes (hidden or not) raise at ridiculous rates for the middle class, which makes it virtually impossible for these people to start a venture around their idea. Instead they all have to do jobs they don’t like, with two people, killing their personal lifes.
  • Burn-out rates are exploding. I still meet people who think it’s a “fad”. It’s not. By the way: we see a lot of burn-outs in Financial Institutions. The values of the employees don’t match the values of the Financial Institutions anymore.
  • Individualism and polarisation keeps rising. I think we can all agree they are not a good thing. People become jealous, hate it when somebody is succesfull…
  • Digital disprution improves our way of life, but reduces the number of available jobs. I believe we need even more disruption to gain our quality of life back.
  • The number of people on the planet is exploding and huge economical migrations are ungoing in our backyard.

When it comes to the Universal Basic Income, you hear the same capitalists yell about the risks:

  • People will become lazy: I don’t believe a basic income will lead to more lazyness, on the contrary. Every Human Resource Manager will tell you that money is not a motivator. It’s purpuse that motivates them. People will do things they are good at, without having to worry about making money. It will unleash a lot of talent which isn’t unleashed today. The people who want to be entrepreneur will pay a lot less taxes to support the current system, and will thus create more job opportunities.
  • It will kill innovation: on the contrary. People will use their full potential to experiment without being scared of losing money.
  • Companies won’t find people who want to work: the number of jobs is decreasing, so the number of people who want to work will increase. On top of that, companies will be able to invest more in the best people – because of less taxes. Working will become a lot more fun.
  • It’s unaffordable: many expert studies show the opposite. The RSA has calculated it would only require 1% extra GDP. I also believe that people will spend more, as they are sure they will have money every month and don’t have to save for “dark times”.

I believe the rewards are better than the risks. Think about it.


Start-up culture is corrupting our youth and killing real entrepreneurship

I came accross this article by Lukas Mikelionis on The Telegraph and I couldn’t agree more. For the record: it’s a “black-or-white” titles because they make us think and adjust where needed.

Imagine the sort of person that runs a start-up. How would you describe them? Probably using words such as “young”, “ambitious”, “innovative”. They probably embody that meaningless expression “nothing is impossible”. This is the problem with start-up culture: it has created a myth that has the power to ruin lives.

I know it might sound as a negative story, but it’s not. Believe me, I coach me kids to follow their dreams and coach them about “learning by doing”, but I also coach them about wisdom of the “old people” and “respect” and “savoir vivre” and “hard work”.

“Unfortunately this notion that it only takes a “killer idea” (preferably something based on an app) and just enough funding to conquer the innovation-hungry consumers is a lie. It goes against traditional business-making practice, where companies respond to the demands of consumers rather than the other way around. True, we all heard stories of successful innovators who indeed delivered revolutionary products to the consumers, but it’s perfectly reasonable to doubt that every millennial has the same trick up their sleeve.”

I probably sound very old school now, but I believe I’m where I am because I always surrounded myself with people who are older and wiser and took the time to absorb their experience and do better. Not because I found capital for my crazy dream. Finding capital is just a tiny part of realising that dream and it’s not too difficult either. So yes, I listen a lot to the opinions of grandma, mum, dad and experienced business people to make our platform bullet-proof.

Don’t get me wrong: I also listen a lot to the rookies in our team, or when I teach at Real Madrid Sports MBA or when I was a coach for the Founders Institute. I love their energy and disruptive thinking. I give them lots of opportunities but in the end I have to make sure that becomes a global success and that won’t be achieved overnight.

“Even when true innovation happens, there’s increasing tendency not to attempt to create a business with a long-lasting plan, but instead chuck it towards larger corporations in exchange for a handful of cash. Business cards stating “serial entrepreneur” – those who move from project to project – are becoming a norm. The idea of nurturing a company is in terminal decline. In the past, making sure that the company is thriving and has a competitive edge used to be the defining aspect of good entrepreneurship. Nowadays, by contrast, selling your company for a life-changing sum of money is the mark of success. This breeds a new type of entrepreneurship, which centres on the short-term boom, and turns the creation of start-ups into an industry itself. Start-up culture shifted the focus away from company ownership to either “get rich by selling” or participating in never ending game of start-up creation.”

I get that question often: When will you sell? When will you exit? My answer is always the same: we are building a sustainable cooperative platform, a system, powered by Herculean people and we are trying to structure it with all the lessons learned in our many years of corporate experience, keeping into account the disruptive future ahead of us. It’s like raising a kid, and with 3 kids I know a thing or two about raising them and letting go 🙂 When the time has come to let go, I will, but let’s enjoy every step of the journey!

Next investment round for Herculean

We are getting ready for the next step in the history of Herculean. Want to join the club? #exciting

HERCULEAN, that's how I feel today

Are you an entrepreneur or a smart investor with a proven track record?
Are you looking for a solid investment opportunity with exciting international growth plans in the sportainment and corporate wellbeing business?
Do you want to share your experience, open your network and learn from others?

After a summer of intense preparations, The Board of Directors, Board of Advice and Management team of Herculean Cooperation have decided to take the next step in the amazing Herculean history. We have started the next investment round in order to finance further international growth with smart capital.

Over the past 5 years, several investors joined the Herculean cooperative entity. Some of them were early believers when it was just a dream and some of them believed in the team when the business was still in investment mode. Today we are looking for people who believe in our sustainable growth plan, based on a profitable business.

Herculean is a Belgian holding company with…

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A Change In The Basis Of Competition

And now for a strategic update about how we at think about “competition”. Greg Satell‘s post “Platforms Are Eating the World” on, explains it exactly the way I see it.

Business theorists have long thought of strategy as a game of chess. By making the right moves, managers could diminish the threat of new market entrants and substitutes and improve bargaining power with buyers and suppliers. That, it has long been thought, was what led to sustainable competitive advantage.

Yet strategy in a networked world is different. Competitive advantage is no longer the sum of all efficiencies, but the sum of all connections. Strategy, therefore, must be focused on deepening and widening networks of talent, technology and information and we do that by accessing ecosystems through platforms.

So, if you are working on a strategy to increase your connections through sportainment or corporate wellbeing: you are not a competitor, let’s talk, because we’d love to co-create with you! If not: bring it, you’ll need more than 12 moves to beat the Herculeans 😉


Read all about it on


“When they go low, we go high”

My Third lady (Inge Van Belle is my First and my mum Second :-)) gave an epic speech about values and beliefs. I couldn’t agree more and thought it was more than appropriate to store it as “one of those moments”.

The more perceived “success” you have, the more people will “go low” on you. Don’t fall into the trap and just ignore the hateful. Go high instead! Stay true to your values and beliefs. Lead your Herculean life, don’t sit back, make a difference and never ever quit.

2016: Freedom it is!

Every year, we discuss our NY resolutions and pick a word that describes the whole theme.

2015 was all about “ambition”. Looking back at our initial plan and the experiences we had, the word was spot on. The song that influenced us the most was The Nights from Avicii.

For 2016, Inge came up with “Freedom” as it sums up all of our plans. I wanted to share Pharrell’s performance on the roof of the Tonight Show because that describes very accurately. However, it was nowhere to be found. The official version will do just fine. Have a Herculean one and let your firstname be Free lastname be Dom!

If Belgium is a failed stated, the US would be Afghanistan

The former American Ambassador to Belgium made my weekend with a great interview. “The biggest risk in Belgium is cholesterol” and “It’s failed journalism, not failed state.” Hilarious that he was talking to a typical example of negative journalism. In the same weekend we lost the finals of the Davis Cup which would be celebrated in any other country. In this country the reporter said: “Tomorrow we will wake up with a bad hangover”. Seriously???

29/11/15 – Speaking in the VRT’s Sunday’s TV show “De Zevende Dag”, the former American ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, discussed the issue about whether or not Belgium could be called “a failed state” as some foreign media are doing. “Belgium is the 14th safest country in the world. If it would be a failed state, then the U.S. would be Afghanistan”, Gutman said. Still, it seems Belgium’s image abroad has been seriously dented in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks: “The only failure Belgium has had, is that it let others control the message.” (interview Tim Pauwels)