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 are the Hercules Trophy labours 2013?

We are in the middle of selecting new labors for Middle East, Europe and USA 2013. It’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it. The mix of the right labors for a Hercules Trophy is one of these things that makes the Hercules Trophy so attractive. We have to make sure it’s safe, everybody can participate and most of all: it has to be fun and competitive in less than 15 minutes.

We organised well over 70 different labours already. It’s not always the most expensive ones that get the highest customer satisfaction by the way.

We know our fans scan the internet to be the first to find out. No guys, you’ll have to wait for the announcements. But you can definitely find clues in the next video.

And if you don’t believe that, I’ll make up something else. Smile

Have a Herculean Day!

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.

Individual sport vs team sport

Dubai MarathonMarathons, 20 miles, 10 miles, 1 mile,  Ekiden, mountainbike races, climbing mountains on a bicycle, triathlons, golfevents… I just love it when people participate in sporty challenges for individuals!!!

Going to sportevents, cheering for your teams, inviting customers in business seats: again, great stuff!

I love endorphins. I love people who try to stay healthy. I love people who train for a sport event. I love people who love sports. I love companies who see the value of wellbeing for their employees!

BUT. Sometimes you see fancy marketers trying to sell these events as “team building”. Please guys, give me a break and stop doing that because you are overpromising and under delivering. Team dynamics is much more than a bunch of individuals performing well in sports or watching sports together. Stick to your core business and that is: organising sport events for sporty individuals or for people who are interested in sports. And you are doing a great job by the way.

If you really want to start building a team,  this requires at least 5 people achieve something together.

No, not the 5 best runners of your company you selected and trained to win a race

No, not the 11 people you selected to form a football team for your company

No, not the top notch CxO’s who play golf with customers

…but 5 people who work with each other on a daily basis, all have their strengths and weaknesses, and are in the teambuilding activity together with a chance to win something because they are an awesome team.

Not everybody loves sport in a way all these individual athletes do (the world would be a boring place wouldn’t it?), but sport has the power to unite people in a way that little else does! You feel the important difference? If you really want to organise a sporty teambuilding, EVERYBODY should be able to participate and everybody should be able to win!

You don’t have to believe me, as I’m only in the teamsport industry for 12 years Glimlach.

By the way, I think team building is not the best word for it. Improving team dynamics is probably a better one. I like even more “Improving Wellbeing of Teams”, but for a lot of people that’s still a bit difficult to grasp.

Look at how the famous Six Sigma describes team building, but I think it’s originally coming from Tuckman. Read the text and try to find the individual athlete in there…

There are five typical stages in the team building process. Each team passes through these stages as they start and proceed through the project. The various phases of the team building process are as follows: Forming, Storming,Norming,Performing and Adjourning.

The first stage in the team building process is called the Forming stage. In this stage the team comes together and begins to formulate roles and responsibilities. The team leader is identified and he/she starts directing the team and assigning responsibilities to other team members. Most team members at this stage are generally enthusiastic and motivated by a desire to be accepted within the team. The leader employs a directive style of management which includes – delegating responsibility within the team, providing a structure to the team, and determining processes needed for the smooth functioning of the team. Towards the end of this phase the team achieves a commitment to the project and an acceptance towards a common purpose.

The second phase in the team building process is called the Storming stage. As suggested by the name itself, in this stage conflicts start to arise within the team. It is responsibility of the team leader to coach and conciliate the team. Team members often struggle over responsibilities and control within the project. The leader employs a coaching style of management which is reflected through facilitating change, managing conflict, and mediating understanding between different parties. Towards the end of this phase, team members learn to voice disagreement openly and constructively while staying focused on common objectives and areas of agreement.

The third stage in the team building process is called the Norming Stage. In this stage, relationships gel and the team develops a unified commitment towards the project goal. The team leader promotes the team and participates actively in the team activities. Team members look up to the leader to clarify their understanding as some leadership roles begin to shift within the lower rungs of the group. The leader employs a participatory style of management through facilitating change, working to build consensus, and overseeing quality control. Towards the end of this phase, team members accept individual responsibilities and work out agreements about team procedures.

The next stage in the team building process is called the Performing stage. In this stage, team members manage complex tasks and work toward the common goals of the project. The team leader supervises and lets the team lead the project on more or less an automated mode. This is the most productive stage for the project team. The leader employs a supervisory style of management through overseeing progress, rewarding achievement, and supervising process. When the project has been successfully completed or when the end is in sight, the team moves into the final stage.

The last stage of team building is called the Adjourning stage. In this stage, the project is winding down and the goals are within reach. The team leader provides feedback to the team. During this stage, team members are dealing with their impending separation from the team. The leader employs a supportive style of management by giving feedback, celebrating accomplishments, and providing closure.

You will notice that each stage of team, the team leader needs to adopt a different style of leadership. It is therefore important for a leader to understand these stages and identify the current stage that a team is undergoing. The success of the team depends on how well the leader can guide them through these phases.

I wish you all a Herculean Day!

José Mourinho

Danny shared a nice video of one of my heroes talking in a campaign for Braun. Thanks for the tip dude!

“I open myself a lot to my people. Players they know me. They know me deeply. They know all my feelings all my emotions. They know my targets they know my challenges. And when they know that and when I demand a lot from myself, I can demand a lot from them.”

That’s 200% my style.

“Family before, Football the second”.

Again, my kind of guy.

Shoot with José Mourinho

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

Professional amateurs

30 years ago, only 25,000 Americans finished a Marathon. In 2009, 467,000 finished it. 10 years ago, climbing the Mont Ventoux by bike was for the innovators. Now everybody asks “How many times did you clime it in one day?” 30,000 amateurs at the 20 Miles of Brussels, 20,000 amateurs at Tour of Flanders, 50,000 amateurs at the Dubai Marathon, 68,000 amateurs at the JP Morgan Race in Frankfurt, …

Open door: Individual amateurs are looking for mass events to do sports and have fun! In the back of their mind, they all want to be heroes, like Emil Zatopek.

Fabulous!!! Individuals have discovered that doing sports is good for them. That comparing their results with others is motivating them. Companies have discovered that they can use sport to coach people in their daily job. That healthy people perform better. That good causes can be linked to those events.

I wouldn’t call that a trend though. These events have crossed the chasm, convinced the early majority, and the late majority is now discovering it.


So, what’s next? In my opinion the most important trend in this area for the next years is: Collaborative Competition.

All the events mentioned above, focus on the individual. They focus on nurturing the ego.

When you look at the real world, it’s changing from an individualistic world, to a collaborative, community-driven world. A world were hyperconsumption is not done. Where ethics are high on the agenda. Where authenticity is back. A global world where people care about nature, not just their own short-term profit. A world where people start sharing again. Where new cooperative structures will see the light of day. Where family values make a difference. You get the picture right?

You don’t feel comfortable with that thought? Don’t worry and don’t be scared because it’s a good thing. It just hasn’t crossed the chasm yet and you are probably in the group of pragmatists or conservatives. Nothing wrong with that. It will take a few more years before it will hit you, but it’s inevitable.

Don’t believe me? Just look at what’s going on everywhere in the world at extremely rapid speed and think again…

How do you know if something crossed the chasm? I tend to use the general writing press or TV as a barometer. When they start to talk about it (first in a patronising tone and later more seriously), it means the late majority has discovered it.

So, in a few years from now, it will all be about doing sports with teams in a collaborative competition. Call me an early adopter surrounded by innovators. Until then, we are happy to welcome over 8,000 corporate people in teams on Hercules Trophies all over the world. You guys rock, you’ll change the world into a better place, because you are without any doubt innovators and early adopters! Kudos!!! CU soon!

Collaborative Competition

“I’m not competitive”, some people tell me. Ahum, yeah right.

I’m paying a visit to the Datanews Awards tonight. The “crème de la crème” of the Belgian ICT sector will be present. The Top of the pops. The “place m’as tu vu” for 1000 people in black tie (except for the ladies)…but they are not competitive noooooooo sir. “It’s just for the networking and the fun of it”.

One month later – you could call it business before pleasure – the ICT Trophy, powered by Datanews, ADM and CIO Forum. Must be the 10th edition already. Over 1700 ICT people participating…but they are not competitive noooooooo sir. “It’s just for the networking and the fun of it.”

Be honest: we all want to win those Trophies!!!! There’s nothing wrong with that.

What's Mine is Yours, Book CoverI love competition. However, it’s something you have to use with care. If you would create a culture for employees to out-compete their colleagues, I’m pretty convinced that it would kill innovation. People will keep ideas to themselves to score at the right moment and the company would become slow.

That’s why I like the idea of Collaborative Competition. Stop watching all that rubbish on TV and read “Collaborative Consumption” to find out for yourself. We are in the middle of a shift from a very individualistic, narcistic, overconsuming, ego world to a Collaborative World. Swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting are being reinvented. Ever heard of Zipcar, Rent-a-toy, Bag Borrow & Steal, Netflix, Neighborrow, Zopa, ParkCirca, Eatwithme, and so many others? Check them out and feel the vibe.

After the great recession, people start sharing again. They feel that the ego-world is not getting them anywhere. You see the early adopters changing everywhere. The followers will follow. They join clubs again, work more in teams, share ideas, spend more time with family, don’t spend money on “stuff”, think about nature and wellbeing, innovate to outcompete…OTHER COMPANIES.

Trust becomes more important than fear, community more important than isolation. Collaboration has become extremely easy through social media tools. So why wait? Let’s all compete collaboratively 🙂

Have Herculean Datanews Awards and may the best team win!