How about putting People First in 2013?

Running a company is about creating stakeholder value. All the CEO’s in the world know that. But there are many stakeholders and is there any order? I believe in the following order:

  1. Happy employees believing in the company
  2. Produce awesome customer experiences, through great suppliers, that generate profit
  3. Of which part should be given back to society
  4. And all this will eventually create shareholder value in the long run

O yeah, before the Unions become fans of my blog post or you think I’m some kind of anti-globalist: YOU NEED ALL 4, not only the happy employees…

I’ve been in many businesses, profit and non-profit, in many sectors and I can’t find examples where the order should be different. If you do, let me know!

I’m even convinced that changing the order won’t create ANY value.

  1. Customers first? Of course listening to customers is crucial, but they are not always right and they definitely don’t have all the info at hand to give the right feedback. It needs to be interpreted by employees. Customers come second, because without them, it’s impossible to make any money.
  2. Society first? Without profit, you shouldn’t give back. It would be ridiculous and very short-term. 
  3. Shareholders first? I guess we all saw the effect of that in the past years. However, shareholders are crucial. I’ve been in business with good ones and bad ones. The good ones invest for the long run and help to push the company forward. The good ones believe in the order above.

Through my work at Special Olympics I’m even more convinced that people and volunteers come first. You first need a great team that believes in the project, you then need “customers” buying into the project and then you can start giving back to people with an Intellectual Disability. And that’s what will make the Board very happy.

Here’s an inspiring video on the volunteers, the employees, of the Olympic Games 2012 in London.

Every company will probably say they put their people first. But do they actually? We have a great barometer for you: the Hercules Trophy. It’s all about Employer Branding and if you don’t understand that, you probably don’t understand the order above. On one day we can easily tell which ones care and which ones don’t.

Me and my hero

You know Nelson Mandela is my number one hero, but Count Jacques Rogge, the eight President of the IOC, is definitely in the top 5. Yesterday I had the chance to meet him briefly in person. He spoke on a Congress about Sport and Diplomacy. Did you know he’s going to be the President of the Honorary Committee of Special Olympics 2014? So proud I will actually get a chance to work with him on the “Games of the Heart”!

Sorry for the bad quality picture. My Samsung Galaxy needs urgent replacement…

So that was the secret mission

Those who follow me on Twitter know that for weeks now I’ve been preparing for a new and exciting mission.

The Special Olympics Summer Games 2014 are coming to Antwerp and I will take the role of CMO (Chief Marcom Officer). In the next days and weeks I will create a dream team of professionals who will work on this exciting mission for the next 3 years. As I will remain President and CEO of Hercules Trophy I will divide me time between both challenges.

Why I’m so excited? How many reasons do you need? For me, the video below was crucial to understand I want to be part of Special Olympics.

Special Olympics

In 2007, Special Olympics Belgium with the assistance of McKinsey and company developed a bid document to bring the games to Belgium. They succeeded. In September 2014 the Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia Games will come to Belgium for 9 days. Special Olympics specifically target athletes with a intellectual disabilities. Antwerp, one of the 22 Olympic cities, will host the event for 2,000 athletes and their delegations from 57 countries. More than 4,000 volunteers will help to make the multi-sport event unique and unseen.

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

  • “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”, that’s the Special Olympics athlete oath.
  • “Everyone can be a hero”, says Herculix.
  • All sports for all people. This is surely a phrase that people will consider foolishly utopian. That prospect troubles me not at all. I have pondered and studied it at length, and know that it is correct and possible.”, said Pierre de Coubertin.
  • “Sport has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” That’s what Nelson Mandela taught us. At Hercules Trophy, we use this statement to make people understand the value of sports for teambuilding.

Understand why I’m so excited about this?

I hope we can make you all fans of Special Olympics in the years to come.

Fans of Special Olympics


You can find the press release here.

Olympic altitude week

Had an Olympic week in Munich, Garmisch Partenkirchen and Seefeld (and don’t forgot our visits to Legoland and BMW World).

Our goals, as we are an extremely focussed family:

  • Investigate the start up of Hercules Trophy in Germany
  • Have fun with the kids and celebrate the successes of the past months
  • Read 10 million books
  • Reflect on past and future


You’ll soon hear more about Hercules Trophy in Germany. It’s a bit too soon to go public about it, but Inge and myself are excited.

Legoland in Günzburg: marvelous! THEY HAVE STAR WARS….iiiiiiiiiiiii. Loved the healthy food. Plopsaland, go and have a look and dump all the junk food please.

BMW World: as I’m not a car freak and I love my Toyota that never fails, I must believe my 6 year old son and a very jealous brother in law: awesome! The architecture of the BMW World building is just epic!

Our little side trip to Austria, going through Garmisch was inspiring to say the least. The Olympiaschanze in Garmisch was mindblowing. Convinced the kids I would dare going down…Problem is they never forget such a bold statement.

Seefeld is preparing for the first Winter Youth Olympics next January. Well, the host city is Innsbruck but some disciplines will be organized in Seefeld. It’s a paradise for Nordic Walking, Ski Jump, Mountainbike, Biathlon etc. As they don’t have a lot of black slopes, I personally wouldn’t call it a ski heaven but great to go on ski holiday with the family. The general sport accommodations are enormous for such a small mountain town. A must see!

Swallowed The Carrot Principle, The 4-hour workweek, Blue Monday. Liked them all. Especially The Carrot Principle. As always I’m not going to do a book review. Read if for yourself if you want to know the 4 basic skills of great leaders, the importance of employee satisfaction and employee involvement, the difference between altruistic leaders and “the others” and last but not least: the power of recognition. All based on scientific studies. Loved it!

As always our mind didn’t stop working. We celebrated successes of the past 6 months, talked briefly about the most important failures and came up with tons of new ideas we’ll roll-out in the next 6 months. Watch this space because we have even more energy than ever!!!