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 Herculean.coop 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!

“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.

Glen De Boeck becomes managing director of Herculean cvba

If you didn’t hear about our major announcement, you must be living on another planet 🙂  On January 13th, an important milestone was  achieved: Glen De Boeck becomes Managing Director of the Herculean coop. We were all over the news and reactions from the business and from the sport world were overwhelmingly positive.

HP_Website_intro_Glen_2

Time to start giving some business background!

4.5 years ago, Inge and me had a crazy dream to take Hercules Trophy global. We quit our corporate jobs and we worked hard, very hard to conquer a lot more than 12 Herculean obstacles. We focused on creating “a solid basis for growth” the first 3 years and then started “expanding the management team” in the next 2 years. Glen is a massive step in that process.

The journey was amazing, we met brilliant people all over the world, we aged at the speed of light, got to know each other extremely well, started building a break-through team, opened offices in Dubai and New York, shared a lot of tears and laughter, learned and innovated constantly, welcomed investors on board of the cooperative holding, started Hercules Academy and Hercules Projects, installed a board of advice etc

For Inge and me it was a very emotional day, as you can imagine. Compare it with that feeling when you bring your child to his first day at school. You know you are doing the right thing and you realise it’s now up to a lot of other people to make your baby grow.

Why this move? 

  • Because we needed a real “team professional” to run the day-to-day business while Inge and me:
    • Focus on growth outside Belgium (Middle East, Europe and USA)
    • Focus on growing the cooperative holding structure with the right corporate governance and the right investors. 
    • Guard the Herculean values, concept and platform and drive innovation
    • Inspire and help the management team to grow the business in our homemarket even further (we’ll probably grow with double digits again this year) 
  • Because Inge and me strongly believe in Glen as a leader and teamplayer with Herculean values. Everything he learned during his professional soccer career as a player, as a captain and as a coach is valuable for Herculean and we believe that Herculean can bring Glen what he’s looking for: an international challenge in a positive atmosphere.

We can’t wait to see our baby grow in the next 5 years! May the force be with Glen and the management team!

For the Belgians amongst us, here are some of the links that mention him:

http://belgs.be/glen-de-boeck-stapt-uit-het-voetbal-de-morgen/
http://www.demorgen.be/sport/glen-de-boeck-stapt-uit-het-voetbal-a2179270/
http://www.dhnet.be/dernieres-depeches/belga/glen-de-boeck-quitte-le-monde-du-football-et-se-lance-dans-les-affaires-54b3f667357050c2acd90833
http://www.hln.be/hln/nl/1285/Jupiler-Pro-League/article/detail/2179270/2015/01/12/Glen-De-Boeck-stapt-uit-het-voetbal.dhtml
http://kvmechelenrss.be/2015/01/12/glen-de-boeck-geeft-het-voetbal-op/
http://www.lalibre.be/sports/football/glen-de-boeck-du-football-aux-affaires-54b3f89d35709f0c39bf0f52
http://www.lavenir.net/sports/cnt/dmf20150112_00585183
http://www.mijnsportpagina.be/news/show/glen-de-boeck-stapt-uit-de-voetbalwereld
http://www.nieuws.be/nieuws/Glen_De_Boeck_stapt_uit_de_voetbalwereld_e23992ab.aspx
http://www.nieuwsblad.be/sportwereld/cnt/dmf20150112_01469688
http://www.rscanieuws.be/2015/01/12/glen-de-boeck-geeft-het-voetbal-op/
http://www.rtbf.be/sport/football/belgique/jupilerproleague/detail_glen-de-boeck-quitte-le-monde-du-football-et-se-lance-dans-les-affaires?id=8761167
http://www.sport.be/nl/jupilerproleague/nieuws/article.html?Article_ID=715996
http://m.standaard.be/cnt/DMF20150112_01469688
http://sporza.be/cm/sporza/voetbal/Jupiler_Pro_League/1.2206808
http://www.voetbalkrant.com/nl/nieuws/lees/2015-01-12/glen-de-boeck-geeft-het-voetbal-op
http://www.voetbalnieuws.be/news/161499/De_Boeck_komt_met_zeer_verrassende_boodschap
http://www.walfoot.be/fra/news/lis/2015-01-12/glen-de-boeck-nentrainera-plus
http://www.zita.be/nieuws/kranten/3657063_glen-de-boeck-stapt-uit-het-voetbal.html

Why You Should Take Your Work Outdoors

Couldn’t agree more with the post of Lisa Evans. At Herculean we take our work outdoors all the time. Try it, it helps. Here’s an extract of her post:

Do you feel stifled by the four walls of your office or cubicle?

There’s a reason for that.

Trapping ourselves indoors has created what health experts call a “nature deficit disorder” — depression or anxiety resulting from too little time spend outside. Getting outdoors can do great things for your health. Reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and improving immune function are among nature’s health benefits. What’s more, incorporating elements of nature into your workday can also give your brain a boost, resulting in increased productivity, focus and creativity.

Read more

Another hurdle taken. Now what’s next?

Exactly one year ago Herculean cvba, the holding company of all Hercules Trophy companies around the world, bought the remaining shares of Hercules Trophy Belgium.

As Inge and me decided to go fulltime for Hercules Trophy in 2010 and started Herculean cvba, we felt extremely uncomfortable with the vision of the 2 other shareholders (and vice versa). To avoid unnecessary frictions in our home market, we made the bold decision to do a management buy-out. The investors of Herculean cvba supported us 200% in our ideas. Without any bad emotions we completed the transaction in only 2 months time. Rest assure: after 13 years of collaboration, this requires a lot of maturity from all sides and I’m still grateful that everybody kept their coolness. The two former shareholders even visited this year’s edition and saw what we always wanted to implement was a huge improvement for a concept that already was awesome.

Now you know why we were able to design the new Hercules Trophy from scratch. And it worked! We kept the good stuff and added a lot of new features that confirmed our position of coolest sportainment festival on the planet.

Looking back, it’s best decision we’ve ever taken – for the fans and for us – but back in the days we faced many many many many doubts and fears and during the past year many hurdles crossed our path. So if you think that these type of strategy changes are easy, think again. I love the graph below by the way.

530318_545773172135225_1022783450_n[1]

Leaving SO2014

Antwerp, June 7th 2013. Yves Vekemans, President and CEO of Herculean cvba, has decided to end his contract as CMO and member of the executive committee of Special Olympics 2014.

“I learned a lot on this worldwide movement in the past 1.5 years. I worked in many different sectors during my career, but never experienced the very specific culture of non-profit organizations. It’s amazing to meet so many authentic and engaged people who give all their energy on a daily basis. I’m glad I could help build a great team and a vision for Special Olympics 2014. We managed to get a lot of new believers on board. The project is now getting into execution mode and that would require too much of my time to do it right. With the international expansion of Hercules Trophy, that’s impossible to do”, says Vekemans.

Vekemans adds: “I’m convinced that the current team holds all the cards to make a big success of SO2014. Not a simple job in these difficult economical conditions in a country where sport or charity is not part of the culture. It was heartwarming to see that there are still companies and people with a good heart. People who really care about Special Olympics.”

“The board of SO2014 understands and respects the choice of Yves and wants to thank him for his input, ideas and positive energy. The team will take over and focus on the success of the games. The board whishes Yves a lot of success in the future expansion of Hercules Trophy”, says Catalina Daniels CEO van Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Summergames 2014.

“I will always remain a supporter of Special Olympics and the organization can always count on my support. Now it’s time to focus on the growth of Hercules Trophy in the Middle East, USA, Africa, Europe and Australia. Implementing such a massive growth in 3 years time was a true Herculean effort!”

Entrepreneurs and teachers

WP_20130430_001[1]I love teaching! This week I coached a bunch of highly motivated and smart Sport MBA students of the Real Madrid University about “Entrepreneurship the Herculean way”. Over 20 different nationalities in the room!

Was a bit nervous they wouldn’t be interested in my story as it was their final class and a few hours later Real Madrid would play against Dortmund in the semi-finals of the Champions League. All turned out well except for Real Madrid. Good to know the Indians, Canadians and Americans expressed a lot of interest in Hercules Trophy.

Told them our story, talked for 2 hours about the Herculean mantra and did a business case with them. They were split up in teams, all representing a country, they all had to challenged me with serious questions on why Hercules Trophy would be so great for their country (as they had other events they could pick). Once convinced of the power of Hercules, they then had to convince me why I would pick them (as we have to make choices too, you know). They learned a lot, I learned a lot.

What struck me the most: the social responsibility and entrepreneurial mindset of a lot of students. They loved the fact that we use sport as a means to increase CSR within corporates. They loved the fact we help Special Olympics, Randall’s Island, Kid Care, Nelson Mandela Day, Senses… They loved the fact that we are not in it for the money, but for the dream.

WP_20130430_002[1]Seems like teaching/coaching is in my blood. Can’t help it. It’s a useful skill to coach a team, but I want to coach other people too. It feels like I have to. Mum and dad were teachers. My father’s dad combined teaching with entrepreneurship. My mother’s parents were true entrepreneurs and they did what Inge and me are doing right now: work together day and night and build something from scratch. He died very young, she made it to 94 and was probably the smartest godmother in the world. Let’s hope we both make it to 94.

Reminder to self: we’ve been testing the idea of the Hercules Academy for some time now as fans kept on asking to support them before and after the Hercules Trophy. We tested with business coaches, functional coaches, public speakers, Olympians,… and I’m convinced it’s the way to go. We want to extend our platform and connect our fans with Herculean coaches to inspire them to improve their wellbeing throughout the year. Here you go, I’ve said it. Isn’t that a cool idea? We just partnered with Gella Vandecaveye and Eddy Vinckier in Belgium. Guess why?

Other reminder to self: about time we publish our eBook on the Herculean lifestyle. Mmmm, maybe we should incorporate the feedback of the fans while writing it. Let us think about it.

Boss vs leader

bossversusleaderOn a daily basis I hear people complain about their direct “bosses” or bosses that influence their lives indirectly (bad politicians, lousy bankers, selfish managers…) . Don’t complain, don’t get depressed, act! Otherwise you have the characteristics of a boss too. We don’t need bosses and we should fight them with all the powers we have. Be a leader of the life you want and don’t let anybody tell you it can’t be done!

I’ve worked for bosses and with leaders. I recognize bosses in 5 milliseconds, and they feel that Smile The relationship with bosses were extremely short as I have a tendency to confront them into a “them or me”-situation. The leaders are friends for life. I can only advice you to challenge the bosses keeping your own strengths in mind. Don’t step into their ballgame, because they are great at it. They will try to scare you, but always remember they are more scared than you. They are very good at hiding it. Their worst nightmare is you discover their incompetence and that they will lose their power. That’s the last thing a leader thinks about. So don’t be scared of bosses, be scared of being unhappy for the rest of your days.

Should we be patient and let bosses become leaders? A few years ago I would have said yes. Back then I showed too much patience hoping some bosses would “become” leaders. Today, with all the experiences of the past entrepreneurial years, I would say no. I don’t think people can change from being narcissistic to altruistic, because that’s the core characteristic of a true leader. At least, I haven’t found examples yet.

So, let’s fight those bosses as they don’t deserve to lead you. You deserve a great leader to help you achieve your dream. It’s your job to find him or her. You deserve to lead your own life in the right direction. You have my mental support and the support of all Herculeans out there.

Have  Herculean one!

I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you

A few days ago I had a meeting with Jamie Anderson and some of his students to discuss a new business idea (no I won’t tell you what it was Smile). He’s Professor of Strategic Management at Antwerp Management School. Recently named as a “management guru” by the Financial Times, he has also been included on a list of the world’s “top 25 management thinkers” by the journal Business Strategy Review.

Have you seen his TED talk? It’s about the art of followership.

I couldn’t agree more with his analysis. I took out a few pieces to comment on:

  • I like his statement at the end of his speech: “Why should I follow you?” Rings a bell? It’s another way of saying the first line in my mantra: “What’s your dream?” What are you passionate about? How can you ever be successful if you don’t know what your dream is?
  • Do you think you have a “stupid” dream? There’s a great Apple video in his TED talk about people who think they are crazy enough to change the world. People who think different. So now you know why I like Jamie? If not, you should read my blog more often Smile
  • “You need to thank your followers constantly”. We do that. We call our followers fans. 90% comes back every year. That’s not just because the Hercules Trophy is such an awesome event. It’s so much more. Fans know why. you have to experience it ones, and then you’ll know. Even fans can’t explain. Fans make it their event. We just create a platform. So thanks again fans, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you.
  • “People look for electrifying moments”. Nicely put Jaime! That’s what we do at Hercules Trophy. People need to get out of their daily routine, do sports, connect with other people, have fun, do some good…if we want them to lead the Herculean Lifestyle.

And about the Herculean Lifestyle we have exciting things to announce shortly. Watch this space. You’ll be surprised…or not, if you know us well!