Helping people grow their ability & courage to create improvement in the world. That’s what matters to me.
I have always found myself at the intersection of coming up with new ideas and encouraging people to be involved in making them happen. If I have one natural talent it is to see future potential in things long before others.
I’m a kid from the 90’s. Born and raised playing soccer all day, watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and pretending to be Raphael from The Turtles. I guess this pretty much sums up what was going on before hitting puberty. Oh, and I grew up with two brothers across the street who were named Tom & Jerry. No kidding, what are the chances!
At high school I was that kid who sold custom-made CD’s with pop and punkrock songs. People could even send me their own list of preferred songs. I charged 2€ extra and that was it. I wasn’t the only one who had access to a computer and mp3’s of course. The reason people came to me was because I did not just deliver a blank CD. If someone asked for a copy of Blink 182’s Enema Of The State, I made sure I copied the album cover too. Front and back! I wanted to bring my friends as close to the original experience as possible, without spending too much money. And before you think I was some 16 year-old Wolf of Wall Street: I shared my revenues with my dad immediately. This way his investments in blank CD’s, paper and cartridges were paid back as soon as possible.
Back then, two of my best friends were also into computers. They were a lot smarter than me and their love for math & programming really inspired me. I decided to move forward into the world of computers and applied for a Bachelor in Multimedia & Technology. Little did I know it was one of Europe’s finest digital creative programs, way ahead of most other European Institutions. 3 years later I was presenting a school project at the Adobe offices in San Francisco, heavily encouraged and supported by a few of my tutors. Their coaching and education made a big impact and I still meet some of them every few months. I learned how rewarding it is to do things you could never have imagined before. And most importantly, that you need other people to get you to that place.
I have always enjoyed teaching and coaching other people too. This is one of the main reasons I fell in love with innovation & business development. Not only is it key to come up with new ideas, it’s also important to explain and show other people what the possibilities are. When I finished my Bachelor I felt really excited about mobile apps. Out of 100 students graduating I remember I was the only one moving into that direction. Even though there was no such thing as an iPhone or App Store. In those good old days it was Nokia ruling the landscape. But what if more people would own a smartphone with internet? What could you do to serve them better? To improve the world around them? These questions were on my mind constantly and I had one idea after another. From mobile festival brochures to mobility, financial and even health services. The opportunities were endless!
After a short period as researcher at a web development company I decided to start freelancing. The iPhone just came out (2007) and I knew it was going to be huge. I was the first Belgian app developer who made it to the top of Apple’s most downloaded apps. A very big deal in the industry and the demand for consultancy grew fast. After a year of freelancing I had built a portfolio of diverse clients and shipped several international apps. At that time I was working with a small creative studio called Little Miss Robot. The company had just started and was looking for people to help grow its digital creative services. In 2011 I joined as creative director & managing partner and started shaping an offering around product innovation & design. I learned how to manage larger clients, bigger projects and more talented colleagues. Being involved in the creation of over 100 innovative products I found out how companies operated across industries such as radio, tv, healthcare, finance, insurance, publishing & education.
Looking back at this amazing experience, it’s not the amount and variety of projects of which I’m most proud. It’s the positive and creative energy that was always flying through our company. I had the opportunity to hire & coach a bunch of really talented people and I always encouraged them to move forward. Coaching them to grow their abilities and courage was the most rewarding aspect of this 6-year adventure. From interns that amazed their teachers, designers giving lectures at international conferences to project managers handling intense co-creation sessions. A handful of really ambitious colleagues even started their own company. Some of which I have proudly supported such as Knight Moves and nøcomputer.
Today, I’m still as much in love with creativity as I was 15 years ago, selling CD’s with crappy printed album covers. I learned a few things the hard way and the most important lesson is this: developing a new product, service or company is cool. Coaching & supporting people to do this themselves is even cooler. In the end, people care about what you did for them and that’s what they’ll remember. To help people grow their ability & courage to improve the world around them, that’s what matters to me most.
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