Farewell Nelson Mandela, may you rest in peace

Farewell Nelson Mandela, may you rest in peace

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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…

Do good, do well and have fun doing it: the new sexy

You can do good and well at the same time. You can even have fun while doing it! It’s the new sexy (although becoming 40 is pretty sexy too).

A few months ago I did a speech for a crowd of executives about Special Olympics 2014, together with Evy, one of the athletes who inspired us for the new logo of the games. Special Olympics is one of those examples where we try to do good by doing well. We support the games with fundraising and with Herculean people helping them out.

During my speech I said something along the line like: “Come on guys, we all know we have been doing the wrong things in the past 10 years, time to change that right? Time to show our hearts and engage in good things! Special Olympics is ideal!” Magically they all stood up and started applauding!?! I didn’t anticipate that at all and I had a very hard time not to become very emotional on stage.

A few weeks ago we held the inaugural Hercules Trophy in Johannesburg at International Nelson Mandela Day (and Richard Branson’s birthday Smile). As you know, Madiba is our hero. The efforts of the SA Olympic Team and the Herculean efforts of the participating companies to do good were just mind-blowing. Everybody at that day new: we have started an amazing journey here. There was a lot of crying involved.

About 2 years ago I met a business leader who explained the concept of coops to me. I immediately new: this is the way forward. We started Herculean – the holding company of all Hercules Trophies – as a coop who wants to inspire fans all over the world to do good and well. No we are not going to go IPO – sorry Facebook, you really did the wrong thing – we are going to allow our fans to join the coop, think long term and change the world with us!

A few months ago Inge and her 2 sisters decided to start the Herculix Foundation as separate initiative to inspire our fans to bring social change through sports. They recently closed a partnership with Ammado to organise fundraisers through the Hercules Trophy teams. They support Randall’s Island Sport Foundation, Special Olympics 2014, International Nelson Mandela Day, Laureus Foundation The Netherlands and many many more to come in the next months.

We all have the power to bring change. We can all do good AND well. We are doing everything we can. Join us? Just do it.

Sometimes a get a good feeling

July 18th was one of those days I’ll never forget. It was one of those days that proves my mantra actually works. Thank you Gerry, Yvonne, Tom, Theo, Leigh, Tilana, the whole Dream Team,… thank you!

Look at the video below and understand why. We made this video during the inaugural Hercules Trophy on International Nelson Mandela Day. The Olympic Team of South Africa joined us. Goosebumps.

 

Mandela was in public service for 67 days. As you know, Nelson Mandela is our hero and we use one of his famous quotes to explain the power of Hercules Trophy: “Sport has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” The Mandela Day campaign is calling on people around the world to commit 67 minutes of their time “to make an imprint and help change the world around them.”

The Herculix Foundation, powered by Hercules Trophy South Africa, donated sports gear to 6 underprivileged schools, donated 67.000 Rand to the good cause of the winning team, the Olympic athletes wrote inspirational quotes for the schools and inspired people that doing good can be fun! Imagine what we can do if we have between 500 and 700 teams like in Belgium!?! We hope to inspire all our fans all over the world to do the same.

How the hell did we end up here?

A few years ago I sent an SMS to Inge: “in 4 weeks we’re going on an economic mission to South Africa”. Her answer was a typical one: “owkay”. No questions asked. We share the same dream so no explanation needed.

On the flight to Johannesburg Inge told me: “Next is Dubai”. My answer was a typical one: “owkay” (and indeed it was…).

4 weeks later we had a meeting with Gerry Skerritt, one of the founders of The Dream Team in Johannesburg. It was our very first meeting in Johannesburg, initiated by Flanders Investment and Trade. We came out of that meeting and we immediately knew: these are the ones! During one week we checked out the main players on the market and our initial feeling was right.

We got to know the whole team over the years. What a team! One of the best I ever came across. Divers, passionate, positive, respectful, lots of fun, open, experienced, can do mentality… They didn’t go for Hercules Trophy unless everyone was convinced of the dream. It took some African Time though Smile, but everybody became really passionate about Hercules Trophy. Because make no mistake: if not everyone believes in the dream and focuses on it, it won’t happen no matter what you want!

Ups – downs – hopes – setbacks – worldcup in between – small successes… we experienced all the things that always happen in startups but we never stopped believing.

And then something magical happened: Yvonne joined the team. She was the missing link to bring us the network. You can have a dream and a focused team, but without fans you are nowhere. Teams joined because she said they had to join. People trust her and did it for her. As Yvonne has a long history at Virgin Atlantic, she knew exactly what we are all about and she knew exactly how to get that message across.

The inaugural Hercules Trophy in South Africa was the best ever. Spot on. A massive success. No doubt in my mind that Africa is going to be huge in the years to come. Every single team was inspired and will be back next year with more teams. I’m 300% convinced they will spread the word. In fact, the first teams subscribed the day after!

So you see, going global is really easy Smile

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.