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!

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“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.

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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!”