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.

What if Money didn’t matter

I’m in Australia on an economic mission with HRH Prince Philippe of Belgium (too bad our Belgian media doesn’t know how to bring the good news about this mission and the work of our Prince to the people in Belgium, but I guess they still think it’s cool to bash on royals).

Anyway, looks like all the parameters are green to hit the Australian market with Hercules Trophy. I’ve never seen a country where sport and outdoor culture play such an important role in people’s lives and where corporates really understand the importance of our concept.

So now we are almost 4 years after our initial decision to take Hercules Trophy global. 4 years after Inge and myself asked the question: what if money didn’t matter? We’re now active on 4 continents, but there so much more growth to come. My next stop tomorrow is New York. We’ve got some very ambitious plans there. Watch this space.

And still we get weird looks when we explain what we do, but that’s mainly by Belgians on an economic mission Smile Happy some of them understood the business value of Hercules Trophy and want to join the 10.000 fans in Belgium next year.

If Inge says so…

My wife, best friend and business partner gave me a compliment!!! Must put it on my blog! If you know she’s the biggest perfectionist on the planet, this really counts. She made my day by tweeting: “9 reasons why he’s a better leader than I am”.

Reason #1: He’s one of the most humble people I know.

Reason #2: He’s very open about his weaknesses and weirdness.

Reason #3: He strikes a great balance between being kind and being firm.

Reason #4: He encourages people’s craziness.

Reason #5: He’s a scary-good detector of untapped potential in people.

Reason #6: He exudes an infectious enthusiasm in the workplace.

Reason #7: He has a great understanding of the dynamics on his teams.

Reason #8: He admits he’s wrong.

Reason #9: He listens.

Big thank you to The Mojo Company for an inspiring blog post: http://themojocompany.com/2012/10/9-reasons-hes-a-better-leader-than-i-am/ If you want to read everything, just go there!

And don’t forget: COMPLIMENTS really work! When was the last time you gave one?

Dreams come true

Press release

New York, June 23, 2011. Today, the City of New York and Hercules Trophy International have signed a contract to organize the first American Hercules Trophy on Randall’s Island, Manhattan. The signing of the contract was presided by His Royal Highness Prince Philippe, Crown Prince of Belgium. The first Hercules Trophy will be organized on July 12 2012 for more than 250 corporate teams in New York.

On June 23 2011, the City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation and Hercules Trophy have signed an agreement to organize the Hercules Trophy event at Randall’s Island (Manhattan). The contract has been signed during the Economic USA Mission of H.R.H. Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium.

Hercules Trophy is the fastest growing networked teambuilding competition in the world. The format has already revolutionized the event and teambuilding market in Europe and the Middle East and is now ready to conquer the American market. By the combination of competitive experiences, sports and entertainment on one day, Hercules Trophy builds a long-term team effect. The format actively promotes physical and mental fitness for business people. Everybody at the office with a basic physical condition, regardless of age, sex or weight can join the event, and even win the competition.

The first edition of the Hercules Trophy in the United States will attract 3,000 business men and women from New York, who are looking for a balance between work, sports, health and family.

“New York City was elected as the first City in the USA to organize a Hercules Trophy, for obvious reasons like the City’s attraction as a Metropolis, and the vibrant economic activities”, says Inge Van Belle, VP Sales and Co-Founder Hercules Trophy International. “But what most appealed to us, was New York’s impressive way to promote health and fitness programs amongst the citizens. We think that Hercules Trophy can have an added value to these programs by adding the “team” dimension to the existing offering.”

Koen Blanquart, CEO Hercules Trophy North America: “Randall’s Island came out as the best location to host the event, because of the central location, variety of sports facilities, festival atmosphere, and the similar values on sustainability and sports. We are very excited about our collaboration and will be happy to support the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation (RISF) in our CSR program.”

About Hercules Trophy
Founded in 1999 in Belgium, the Hercules Trophy is a super-charged inter-company sporting team day that builds camaraderie, embraces networking and promotes company loyalty. It has developed into the biggest and most anticipated international teambuilding and networking event in Europe, attracting more than 15,000 people from 500 companies to date. In addition to Belgium, Hercules Trophy events are also run in Spain, The Netherlands, UAE (Dubai), South Africa and Singapore. The United States, Germany and the UK are scheduled for launch in 2012.

Hercules Trophy was created by international entrepreneur Yves Vekemans and a group of corporate businessmen who cared about their people. They looked for a formula that would establish long lasting emotional connections between their employees. Recognizing that sport was a good means for getting people connected and working towards common goals, they created an inter-company challenge that today is the Hercules Trophy. Teams of 5 to 7 people participate in 12 ‘labours’ or sporting challenges with a fun twist. Each activity requires participants to think, act and perform as a team, and the emotional resonance created by the event continues at both the team and individual level long after the day. So successful is the outcome of Hercules Trophy that the event enjoys a 91% return rate every year.

About Randall’s Island
Randall’s Island has enjoyed the status of a shining star, one of Manhattan’s main recreation hubs, since the 1930s. Between 1934 and 2002, Downing Stadium served as home base for professional football and soccer teams, as well Olympic Trials and a plethora of music concerts. In 2004, Icahn Stadium replaced Downing as the island’s athletic headquarters, boasting a standard 400-meter Mondo surface running track, with 5,000 covered spectator seats and temporary seating available for up to 10,000 spectators. In addition to leisurely bike rides and scenic walks, Randall’s Island abounds in tennis, golf, soccer, and baseball leagues, programs, and fields, thanks in large part to the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation (RISF). Randall’s Island Sports Foundation was founded in 1992 as a public-private partnership to work on behalf of Randall’s Island Park, located in the East River between East Harlem, the South Bronx and Astoria, Queens. The Foundation, in conjunction with City leadership, works to realize the Island’s unique potential by developing sports and recreational facilities, restoring its vast natural environment, reclaiming and maintaining parkland, and sponsoring community-linked programs for the children of New York City.

Hercules Trophy North America Corp.
Koen Blanquart
+1 (646) 652 6216 koen.blanquart@hercules-trophy.com 110 Wall Street 11Floor New York, NY 10005-3817 www.herculestrophy.com
Randall’s Island Park
David Salerno Concessions and Events Manager Randall’s Island Park (212) 830-7713 David.Salerno@parks.nyc.gov http://www.randallsisland.org