Live from Amsterdam

Mike Parsons 0:09

Oh, yeah, me. There you go. After eight years. That's the only Dutch I have. But it's not too bad, right? Not too bad. Welcome. Welcome to the Moonshots podcast. How is Amsterdam this morning? This afternoon?

So you think I've already been drinking a few beers? I don't even know if it's morning or afternoon. Welcome. Are you feeling good? Are we ready to do some thinking, some investigating? Are we ready to expand our minds? Or do we just want to drink the beer? Awesome. Okay, well, a very fine welcome to all of you to Episode 14 of the Moonshots podcast. And as usual, I am joined by the man with a plan, usually behind the camera but today he's in front of the camera, which will give it up for Mr. Chad Owens.

Chad Owen 1:06

Hello, Amsterdam.

Mike Parsons 1:11

So if any of you got to see our preview broadcast yesterday, I had a great moment with Chad. And I asked him if he'd been to a cafe in Amsterdam at to which he answered yes, I had a very nice breakfast at the cafe. But I said, Did you go to one of the real Amsterdam brown cafes and he had no idea what happens in a brown dark cafe in Amsterdam. So he needs you, he needs your education, your advice on how to find the very best of Amsterdam and maybe not only some of the, the shiny tourist spots, but maybe some of the more earthier, really

Chad Owen 1:53

off the beaten path

Mike Parsons 1:54

off the beaten path as they say. So we have a lot to do here on the show today, Chad, we've got some amazing guests that we're going to talk about in a second. We have so much to share but I think we've got to do a few shout outs. First, for a disclaimer, this is our first video live broadcast. So when we thought to ourselves, let's go live, let's go live and do it in video as well. So we are welcoming upon us all of the variables that you get when you do a live broadcast for the first time. Now, you might be thinking if this is a live video broadcast, where is the camera? In fact the camera is right here in front of us and it's doing also to groovy technology. Right chat. It's like zooming in on us. Everyone gets quite a high tech production, right?

Chad Owen 2:42

Yeah, I'm actually controlling them from my phone right here, quite a neat little app. We've got a nice two shot here going to a wide shot and a close up on you right now Mike.

Mike Parsons 2:53

Oh, there you go. So, first of all, we got to do some shout outs I'm looking where's Tiago in the audience Tiago who's watching us live from Brazil? The wife is in Brazil. So, we're sending out big shout out to Brazil. I also know that my friends and colleagues in Bucharest we're up on a big wide screen in the office and is like 200 engineers in Bucharest right now. They've put the laptops down and they're cheering for us here. Amsterdam so, Give it up for Bucharest and Brazil.

Chad Owen 3:33

I think I have some fellow New Yorkers also. It's about 9am. They're just now waking up after their food comas from Thanksgiving, or they're trampling over people at Walmart for Black Friday. One of the two.

Mike Parsons 3:44

Or doing all of it

Chad Owen 3:44

Or doing all of it. Yeah, exactly.

Mike Parsons 3:48

So we are all quite fancy and high tech this afternoon. We've got live stream with people coming in and chatting with us. But I should come to my next disclaimer and that is this is not a relaxed kind of a session for the next one and a half hours. So I think we need to warn this audience that they've actually got some work to do.

Chad Owen 4:11

Yeah, I'm coming out with the mic a little bit later and asking you guys I'm asking you questions. So be prepared.

Mike Parsons 4:18

Hear that sound? That sound? That's the, what's he gonna do? And yes, he is from Brooklyn. So you might be expecting to be kicking the Adidas and dropping some rhymes. But actually what he will be doing with his mic, is he's going to be coming to you, our audience is going to be looking online reading questions from our audience. And here's the thing, we're going to have these great entrepreneurs, these great innovators on stage with us and Chad and I, we really get the easy job. We are going to ask a few questions, try and learn as much as we can from these four fine gentlemen. But we're going to ask you the audience to wrap it all up and tell us what we have learned from them. So rather than us doing the postmortom it will be you the audience is going to help us decode all their secrets to success. So you better make sure those glasses are full, because you're going to have work to do. Are you guys up for some insights and tough questions?

Oh, Chad.

Chad Owen 5:24

I don't think they

Mike Parsons 5:25

What just happened? We have such good energy at the start. What's, what's the audience online doing? They're all gone? Yeah. Yeah, they're all gone. Do you think we could get them all back? You think?

Chad Owen 5:35

Yeah, Yeah.

Mike Parsons 5:36

Okay. So guys, are you ready to tune in and learn from some masters of innovation here in Amsterdam? All right. Okay. So that brings us to our first guest, this is someone who's really, it's really special for me to invite on stage because he protected all of you good Dutch citizens from receiving badly formatted emails from me when I was working in this advertising agency sending out creative messages to the world. It was his technology that we use some 15/16 years ago when I worked at McCann Erickson. So I'm really, really proud and really very happy to introduce you to someone who has not only founded a lot of companies, he's not only sold companies, but he now invest in companies. So I am very excited to welcome to the stage. Mr. Johan Van Mil.

Johan Van Mil 6:35

Thank you, Mike.

Mike Parsons 6:36

Thank you and *inaudiable* as they would say. Now, before we get into the serious innovation and entrepreneurial question,

Chad Owen 6:45

but Johan was actually about to recommend a brown cafe to me. So right before we got on stage, so yeah, what's your recommendation?

Johan Van Mil 6:52

I think we should go to a cafe called Int Aejpjen in Dutch. So in the ape.

Chad Owen 6:59

It seems like a few people know that one in the audience?

Mike Parsons 7:02

We have gone there already. The shows only been going half an hour

Chad Owen 7:05

man is having a big confession and he's laughing. So that's good. But what I mean, Int Aejpjen is one of the oldest bars in an answer. It's really funny, because that's a big deal type story in a zoo in Amsterdam, and which it was built, especially from apes coming from sailors which arrived and enter them. And when they came to a bar, they could sleep and they were paying with apes, what they brought from abroad.

They with monkeys?

Johan Van Mil 7:32

They paid with monkeys, and with the monkeys they started the zoo and it's really beautiful stories. One of the oldest bars it's at the Sea Dike near central station, you should go to the Chad really, you would like.

Mike Parsons 7:42

Okay, that one's for the list. Now, we have another very important announcement, as you will know and we have a global audience. I'm going to see if Chad can see if we have any Australian viewers who are definitely either a few beers in as they would say or already on to the espressos. It's like 1:30 in the morning. We couldn't pick a time zone to make everybody happy. But we do have this global audience and we thought it only appropriate that we introduced the world to the very sophisticated culinary delights of the Netherlands. So Johan in front of you, you might see a few food items that are familiar now for our global audience and for those of you here in Amsterdam who can't see what we have in front of us, we have the Speculaas. Okay, now the Speculaas is sort of a spicy biscotti and would you say that's a kind of only a Christmas thing Johan? Or is that kind of something you can have all year?

Johan Van Mil 8:43

My kids. My kids eat it all year round.

Mike Parsons 8:47

Okay, so this kind of a spicy fun one. We have over here the Pepernoten, now that one's definitely a Christmas one.

Johan Van Mil 8:54

Yeah, Santa Claus. Santa Claus serves it. Yeah.

Mike Parsons 8:59

We have over here this one is called the ty ty.

Johan Van Mil 9:03

Ty. Ty.

Mike Parsons 9:04

Yeah. Now this is like it is like a chewy doughy kind of an experience okay so here we've got our three highly sophisticated Dutch delicacies okay, known worldwide don't but then we have probably a national favourite

Johan Van Mil 9:20

The drop.

Mike Parsons 9:22

Tell us, what is the Drop?

Johan Van Mil 9:23

Yeah. Drop. It's very, you can have it in different flavours. You know, can have them it's sweet and salty. You can have it in hard and soft form. I love it. I always have a bag in my car eating is

Mike Parsons 9:32

Would you say in Dutch *inaudiable*.

Oh, now, but the big question is sweet, sweet or salty.

Johan Van Mil 9:44

Sweet, sweet and soft.

Mike Parsons 9:46

Okay. So So each of our guests are going to be invited to nominate their favourite Dutch treat, but you get to go first. So you have a whole selection here, tell us Johan if you have to pick one of your favourites. Yeah, I think you've given us the clue.

Chad Owen 10:03

What should I try first?

Mike Parsons 10:04

Yeah. What? What should Chad first?

Johan Van Mil 10:05

The Drops. Yes, right. Yes, it is.

Mike Parsons 10:08

Okay, here we go. So Chad is going is his first drop

Salty. Do you get salty?

Chad Owen 10:15


Mike Parsons 10:15

Yeah, liquorice it is. Now let's just have a look at the audience. Let's see. By a show of hands, who else here? All these good, Dutchmen and Dutch ladies. Who else here would put the drops? out of the four. Who puts the drop your as their favourite Dutch treat? Let's have a look. Oh, yes. Yeah. And, and sweet or salty. Whatever.

Chad Owen 10:41

That's about one fifth of the audience.

Mike Parsons 10:42

Yeah. Yeah. So there's still a good chance for the cookies? Actually. Yeah. Okay. So we have the drop. So stay tuned, particularly for our global listeners. Stay tuned because we'll be not only introducing drops, cookies and all sorts of good things. We've got lots of great entrepreneurs, innovators that we're going to be interviewing, but I think it's about time we, we put some questions towards Johan. What do you think?

Chad Owen 11:09

Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Parsons 11:10

Chad's just nodding because he's in drop heaven.

Chad Owen 11:12

I'm busy eating the drop.

Mike Parsons 11:14

Okay. Okay. So the first question that we have for you Johan is you've built companies and now you're investing in other people's companies. Tell us how you have had to shift and how you've had to grow from being that hard working entrepreneur trying to make a vision come about and how have you been able to transition now into helping others build their companies?

Johan Van Mil 11:45

Yeah, good question. I started an entrepreneur become an entrepreneur already when I was a student, so build a few companies also as a student, and also afterwards, and then I learned, you know, learned and having a company is great. And but managing people is not so great. And so I'm very good at, you know, thinking about ideas, creating companies, building companies, you know, when there are 10/20 people mix, but afterwards, it's became a pain for me, really, to be honest with you. So I was always in the problem of starting a company working my butt off to get a successful but then I fall into the now fell into the fall of that the company was too big, so I couldn't manage it myself. So I think 10 years ago, I realised, you know, I have to do something, I have to switch my career more or less. So then I found some friends who also had that same problem more or less, and also have a little bit of money. And we said, well, let's put that money in one basket and let's invest in other companies and let's learn how it works. And it was 10 years ago, and 10 years ago, there were not so many VCs in the Netherlands as there were, for example, in the US, so we were I think there were 10 roughly and we did this by by by gut feel. So we talked to different companies put some thought sometimes our money and sometimes we didn't. And we did three investments with the guys. And it turned out pretty successful, we sold to listed companies. So that means in VC land for the audience that you're doing pretty good one there was bought back to the team and that means in VC land that's not very good. So we did we had a pretty good return. And then we found a new fund at a new fund. And then I think two and a half years ago, when I was selling my last company, I was thinking, What shall I do with my life? Shall I start my 12th company? Or shall I...

Mike Parsons 13:25

Woah woah woah, are you joking on the number 12? Are you for real?

Johan Van Mil 13:29

That's for real. Yeah, yeah.

Mike Parsons 13:32

12 company. Okay, we're gonna come back to that. Okay, so you're at the last one, the last one, okay, you've sold it off. And you went through a transition.

Johan Van Mil 13:40

And then I went to a tradition because I realised that that, you know, that the problem I was falling into every time, you know, starting a company becoming too big, etc, that I took to really shift it as one and that I liked being helping other companies, coaching people think about new ideas, etc. And then at that time, I was moving out of Amsterdam because we live pretty nearby each other and I moved outside, Amsterdam into a natural forest areas, so really outside. And I realised, you know, I don't want to travel all into the city again, at 9am in the traffic, etc. And I want to spend more time with my kids so, I was looking for a new way of, you know, getting direction, sorry, helping me in life and, and finding new ways to work on and then I two and a half years. So I full time made a switch from being an entrepreneur to being an investor. And since I'm since that I'm doing it, and it's great. I think it's very good. What I like in my job, if you meet all kinds of people, yeah, you meet entrepreneurs, so it gives a lot of energy is great to, to have them on the table and discuss the issues. And the hardest part for me is as an entrepreneur, you know, I always see where it goes well, and what needs to be changed. And then, you know, the big the gap for me is that I step in and fix the problems myself. So that's one of the issues I'm constantly working on.

Mike Parsons 14:55

Okay. Okay, so

Chad Owen 14:57

I have lots of questions. Yeah,

Mike Parsons 14:58

you got you go first.

Chad Owen 15:01

I think for me, what's your biggest takeaway from being an entrepreneur having founded 11 companies? And how does that give you a new perspective to then look at a company and decide if it's worthy of investment? Or advisorship? And what are you taking from your entrepreneurship and applying it to your investing?

Johan Van Mil 15:18

Yeah, I think what the most important thing as when you are an entrepreneur is having, you know, complete 1,000% focused on what you're doing, and work your day work day and night to realise that company. I think if you don't do that, you will not succeed and it was, you know, when I started my first company roughly 25 years ago, I think it's the same now. And it's even harder because the competition especially you know with a tech and it's easy to build a company, you don't need an office, you have we work, you don't need a car, you have you know Uber if you got to go somewhere etc. So it's very easy to start a company. But I think so it's really hard, it's really hard to have a successful company and it's really important that that you work hard, but also work smart. So I think that's, that's what I take as entrepreneur. And for your second question, Chad was?

Chad Owen 16:04

Really I'm asking, like, I don't know if there's any Dutch entrepreneurs here, like, what should they be doing to interest someone like you to then become, you know, an advisor or an investor in their company?

Mike Parsons 16:15

And what is it to build on that we're now you're looking, if you imagine there was all these perspective startups in front of you, take us into your mind, like, what are you actually looking for? Like, you must have some sort of checklist?

Johan Van Mil 16:28

Yeah, we do have checklist we call it internally, we call it the T score. And every company we talked to an every guy I run into even if it's in a funeral, because sometimes people really pitch at a funeral.

Mike Parsons 16:40

Hang on, you've been pitched at a funeral?

Johan Van Mil 16:42

Yeah, there's a long story

Mike Parsons 16:45

Long and sad story by the sound of it.

Johan Van Mil 16:47

And we use more or less a model that we, we, we, we disceted from the from the 15 companies we invested in already I think we saw roughly, I think, 2000 business plans and entrepreneurs, etc. And what we are looking for is and so what we call the T score and is derived from one what is the team like? the team? Two is what is the traction? and three is what is the thesis of the company? So what really the problem they're solving? What's the market they are taking? Yeah, how scalable it is. So we constantly look at these three when we evaluate an opportunity, or Yeah, in whatever phase it is. And then we we derived from that what we're going to do with that company. So it's a really structured way of working. And otherwise I think that's a smart part. You know, it's working hard, but it's also working smart. I mean, if we don't do that we get you know, as you can imagine a lot of business plans going being sent in and we get approached a lot of times, it's very good to, to, to be very specific in the time which you spent on each company. Because if you don't do that, as an investor,

Mike Parsons 17:44


Johan Van Mil 17:45

I mean, time is our biggest asset that we have.

Mike Parsons 17:48

Yeah, and you can't buy time,

Johan Van Mil 17:50

You can't buy time still.

Mike Parsons 17:52

Okay, so I want to go back. I know what's really interesting for the audience here and the audience listening live online is there's a lot of people who had trying to make a breakthrough professionally, like with a business idea with a product, but it's often mirrored by a personal breakthrough at the same time. I wanted, I want you to take us back to this big transition, obviously, you said, I'm out of this city, I'm heading to the forest. Okay, how did you make this transition? How did you invite this change into your life? And what advice would you give to anyone who's trying to go through that? Imagine that someone might, in fact, be working at a company, but working on their own idea and they're trying to like they've got a dream of a startup, or they just want to see something great come about in the world. How did you invite this change? Take us through what you actually do.

Johan Van Mil 18:50

Yeah, the best way perhaps, is compare it to the different stages you have as a startup. You know, you have the idea phase if the MVP phase, the product market fit phase, and the end the scaling phase. And, you know, we're now moved our facility perhaps as a good example, because it's more in the private level instead of you know, as a business, then I had idea of moving outside. My girlfriend she will stick to the City, she wanted to stay in the City and I really want to move outside. So he had discussions, years, years about moving out of the city but she wouldn't do it. And a certain moment I realised, you know, being an investor and working with those four stages, I realised I had to build an MVP for the situation. So I said to my wife at that time, a girlfriend Sorry, I said to her, Well, perhaps we should try to lift we started a project called poof bone. And so we started to rent out to rent fire Airbnb houses, outside Amsterdam, you know, just a week to feel how it was living somewhere. So we rented a house, everywhere around Amsterdam, you know, half an hour maximum way from Amsterdam. So we started living me, my wife, and also our two kids, how it was, you know, living there.

Mike Parsons 20:01

So you you if I just understand that, rather than just kind of being in a in a somewhat abstracted life, thinking about some big move, which would feel very dramatic if you've lived in in the city all your life and then you're going to make this radical change, you kind of did a test and learn, let's create an MVP and see if anyone wants it. Yeah.

Johan Van Mil 20:22

And then we did it, I think, seven or eight time. So we are at great location, but also at a very boring location. So we learned what we want, and we we adapted our view on that and then a certain time we agreed on, you know, moving out of the out of town, and then we bought a house somewhere, and we started living somewhere. So I think if you use that also for your personal life. And if you are an ideas entrepenuer, because I meet a lot of people who have an idea and cannot set can make a real decision about starting the company is just one I think the first phase is create an MVP. Test how it works. You don't spend one day of your work sorry, one day of the week, or build a small thing, or test a campaign or Facebook and see how people react, just create an MVP, create a test for yourself and get some proof and get some failure, some validation from yourself, but also from the market, how it works. And then the step doing that is pretty easy. And I see what I see a lot is that people hang in the phase more or less about thinking about ideas and having that wish but not doing the real step.

Mike Parsons 21:25

Okay, so just to unpack that a little bit. That sounds to me like once you actually started testing the idea, much like you might do even in a startup that actually made the transition much easier.

Johan Van Mil 21:36

Yup. Yeah.

Mike Parsons 21:37

Yeah. Did you find that was also a source of the commitment from your better half? Once you had done some testing and learning, it wasn't so much a sell anymore? Yeah, you had really done it and so the evidence was perhaps clear?

Johan Van Mil 21:49

You buy it

Mike Parsons 21:51

Yeah, yeah. Okay. So that's a big change that you've invited, you've gone from building you saw on the horizon, your 12 coming up. I've known you a long time, I didn't realise it was that many companies!

Chad Owen 22:03

One, one thing I'm actually really interested in, I have one company that I'm still operating, how in the world did you find the time to found so many companies and I'm curious, just kind of your day to day process for thinking about both the higher level of how the company is doing, but then your brain is probably already on to the next idea, right? So how are you kind of taking care of what's happening now, and then also planning for your future ventures at that time?

Johan Van Mil 22:33

Yeah, that's, that's a big risk for me, of course, because I'm always planning ahead ahead. And what I do is, you know, if I have an idea, you know, when we started Peak Capital and also in our next phones, I the visualisation of how it becomes and I worked towards that visualisation and I work, you know, then day or night in realising that's, that's the way I do it. And it's also my big pitfall, of course, I'd have to step back sometimes and realise what's happening, etc. So I think that's, that's one. And the second one is, I think it's very important that you found I always find great people to work with, because I can never have 12 companies on my own. So I always have great partners who I work with, and to cooperate with, because, you know, for example, when we invest, we never invest, for example, in single founder companies, right? Because having a company especially these days, requires so much skills that you cannot do that on your own. So,

Chad Owen 23:25

yeah, I think one thing we found in unpacking all the great entrepreneurs on the Moonshots podcast is they all build teams around them to execute their ideas, whether it's someone like Jeff Bezos, who builds a team for one singular product vision, like Amazon, or someone like Elon Musk, that builds multiple teams for multiple companies, SpaceX and Tesla, the boring company, etc.

Johan Van Mil 23:49

And what I mean is building a team, that's one, but also getting a co-founder that's on the same level as you both are to work with you. And then, you know, if you have a co-founder, you don't give him example 5% of the shares, because it's not a co-founder. But then you do when you are three guys, and you have 33%, they said, this guy isn't good enough needs replace him, but easy. So also make that tough decisions in the phase. that's crucial, I think,

Chad Owen 24:12

Getting people to put skin in the game together.

Johan Van Mil 24:14


Mike Parsons 24:17

So let's get into a little bit of how you coach and mentor others. That must be a huge part of your day. Because you tell us a little bit about the portfolio, how big is it and give us a sense of the sort of engagement you've got with founders right now?

Johan Van Mil 24:32

yeah, good question. We, we invest money, but also, you know, our own, you know, experience, and we help these companies on a day to day basis. So we invested currently in that we, we invested in 15 companies, we sold three, we're currently closing a deal and so we have a lot of companies still to manage. Yeah, what we do is we manage those companies actively. So that means, you know, when we invest in a company, we make a plan roughly for the three months ahead, because it's the most important periods when we put money in our money in that it grows, yeah, faster than it did before. So if you hire people, etc. So now we are involved, you know, on there, I think we speak to these founders, you know, once or two times a week, we meet him to really very intensive and after three months, then then it will become less. And then it's, you know, we go to a weekly meeting, or bi weekly, etc. So, we are very active with the founders. And it means for my role that I'm very active as a as a more or less a co-founder with a companies. So I have calls and meetings and all day about new funding rounds, potential buyers, the CMO they want to hire, you know, everything we we help them and also with a network that we have, and also the things of course, that we learned ourselves as entrepreneur.

Mike Parsons 25:44

So if you were to abstract across those 15 companies, what is the toughest thing your founders in the portfolio? What's the toughest thing that they have? They're all relatively early stage companies, what's the thing that they struggle with the most? And tell us a little bit about how what what advice you have for them to solve

Johan Van Mil 26:08

I think, I think the biggest struggle is that they have especially the companies we invest in is that they are most of time they are so called bootstrapped company. So they're funded by themself and then running a company is more or less running your cash flow. Yeah, because the, the speed that your company grows, is derived from the cash that you have. And when we put in money, and it's roughly half a million until one and a half million, then we have to speed up the process and change that thinking with a founder, I think that's the hardest part in our job.

Mike Parsons 26:38

So is that because you feel that the stakes got a lot bigger, the risks feel much bigger is that what the

Johan Van Mil 26:46

that's one, but I think the most important one is that they have to work a different way than they did before. So if they hire a guy that normally do what really check the salary they have to do to get the cheapest guy, which on the market, and we've been going on board, we want the best guy on the market. And if we have to pay him twice as much, then we are willing to do that. Because we know from our own experience, that he speeds the process 10 x. So it's a good investment. Yeah, and that thinking that change in thinking, I think that's the most is the hardest part in our in our job. That's that's what we discussed a lot of where to

Chad Owen 27:20

go from someone that's been bootstrapping the whole time to now I actually have resources.

Mike Parsons 27:24

Yeah, how. So just in a follow up to that, how do you actually help them have like, sort of a huge paradigm shift because that's, I can imagine if you're incredibly proud, and you've built it, you've bootstrapped your way there, and then all of a sudden some guys walking in, say, spend the money, go for it real quick. And I mean, this is sort of a very disruptive to yourself into all the sort of

Johan Van Mil 27:48


Mike Parsons 27:48

playbooks that you have, what do you how do you create this change for them?

Johan Van Mil 27:52

Yeah, I think it's building a relation, that's one. So when we invest in a company, normally, it takes from the first meeting that we have to closing a deal takes four to six months. And in the four to six months we really get to know the guys that we invest in and we meet them we may even their wives, so we have dinner at our homes with with their kids with our kids, you know, giving them a lot of dreams so that we see them in a human behaviour, the home behaviour, but really get down.

Mike Parsons 28:16

Hang on, hang on. So we should tell anyone, whenever you ask to have dinner at someone's house, the good news he's thinking about investing, the bad news, he's going to get you really drunk,

Johan Van Mil 28:25

they get drunk

Mike Parsons 28:27

you should really be worried.

Chad Owen 28:28


Johan Van Mil 28:29

so I think that's very important. also build build a relationship. And during that phase, you're in the, you know, the four to six months?

Mike Parsons 28:36

And what do you how do you getting going from a to b like, how do you shift them along? You've got the relationship. So then now, maybe a little bit open to this, but what is the device that you use to help them get the ah, we should hire that top guy.

Johan Van Mil 28:49

I think that's in talks that's in analysing the data is looking at the company, helping them during the investment phase, also showing before we invest, also helping them getting them to learn other people's to learn from their mistakes and seller. So there's really talking, showing things learning things, giving them insight in their own business because we analyse the data that they have in their company often better than they do herself. So that brings us also the realisation that it's, it has a lot of opportunity, but they have to really speed up because the competition is growing, for example, much faster as they are. Yeah, so I think giving them the insights and first is building the relation. And the third one is, you know, a plan how to execute it.

Chad Owen 29:28


Johan Van Mil 29:29

And so, you know, the three month plan that we work with companies on when we invest, okay, and then really execute the plan.

Mike Parsons 29:34

So you essentially go from invest, there's a couple of key milestones you invest or does the dinner at their house with the kids in the wine. Does that happen before the investment I think that does?

Johan Van Mil 29:44


Mike Parsons 29:45

Always before the investment. Okay. Then you have the the aha moment and then you try and shift them into this highly accelerated situation where their whole tempo the whole rhythm of the business is transformed.

Johan Van Mil 29:57


Chad Owen 29:58

Okay. Wow. Wow,

Mike Parsons 30:00

I want to I want to get him over for dinner, just so I can see that transformation.

Chad Owen 30:04

Invite him to the country come to see me. Okay. I'll invite him to the brown cafe.

Mike Parsons 30:08

Yeah, yeah, there you go. With the apes with the apes. Okay, so we're about to go wandering into the audience for some post game analysis. So bit of a warning here to the audience with us in Amsterdam. We're going to need your help to decode what we just learned from Johan, and I want to take this moment to thank you for inviting us into this world. I feel like there's a whole world to talk about what happens after the three months acceleration. And so maybe the next time we come here, we can talk about what happens there and getting all the way to those golden moments on the first three, which is when you sell the company.

Johan Van Mil 30:46

Great plan.

Mike Parsons 30:46

Okay. Alright, Chad. Chad is going freestyle.

Chad Owen 30:49

Someone in the audience at the Moonshots podcast, we're all about decoding what great entrepreneurs and innovators are doing and so I'm actually just curious someone in the audience what's kind of your biggest takeaway or learning from our conversation here with Johan?

Mike Parsons 31:07

Get ready to share Come on folks I'm looking for those arm raises this one

Chad Owen 31:12

okay somewhere one person was entertained.

Mike Parsons 31:15

Let's make sure you introduce the the individual the talented at the back

Audience - Mika 31:20

Hello I'm Mika. Test and learn. it's always test and learn. So it was really a reminder for me just to do things and not think too much. But just experience. So that's something I take.

Chad Owen 31:34


Audience - Mika 31:34

thank you.

Mike Parsons 31:35

Your welcome. Test and learn. Now for everybody the test and learn team has come back a lot for us, you will be amazed at how many people have ideas that have never been tested. Or when they finally and I actually don't think a lot of people even get to actually truly creating a test or an experiment. The amazing thing is the aha moment you get when you actually put the product in front of a customer. And it can just be like a prototype. It doesn't even have to be a full fledged shiny product. It can be Airbnb is outside the city. Yeah, exactly. And I think the big thing that you've reminded me of is actually this test and learn philosophy of prototyping your ideas, doesn't only live in your professional life. So I was really inspired to see how you took thinking from your work as an investor, and you just took it into your personal life. And actually, you you you had a transformation, not not with your co-founder, so to speak, right. And she was not necessarily so excited about going to the forest. But through the testing and learning you kind of got there. So that's a great reminder for me, is that things that can work in the office, ideas for how you can improve things, and not necessarily siloed, but they can actually, they can co-habitate in your personal life as well. Fantastic. And thank you to our first insight giver, thumbs up. Okay, everybody, would you please show your appreciation for Mr. Johan Van Mil.

Chad Owen 33:13

and stick around we have three more amazing entrepreneurs and innovators from right here in Amsterdam. Mike, do you want to?

Mike Parsons 33:20

Yes, but hang on. We also have lots of Dutch treats as well.

Chad Owen 33:23

yes, I still have lots more hopefully it's plate is empty by the end.

Mike Parsons 33:27

Woohoo. Easy. Easy. Okay, we might need some crowd audience help as well. Okay. So that's the the first of our guests, we're going to move into our second guest now. And what's really interesting is we are now going to kind of go deeper into the world of coaching and mentoring, systems and habits. We're going to talk to, and this is, as I said to to Chad, yes, this is a great adventure in understanding Dutch names. So our next guest is a coach and a mentor at GoFastForward. And so he spends a lot of time actually transforming entrepreneurs who are trying to build a business and take it to the next level. And I think we've got lots of systems and ideas that will be helpful for all of us in this next interview. So everybody here and online, would you please welcome to the stage Mr. Maarten van Montfoort. Okay, Maarten, you are like a coach of entrepreneurs,

Maarten van Montfoort 34:39

You think?

Mike Parsons 34:40

Yeah, so I wanted to ask you, I wanted to pick up on some of the themes that Johan was touching on. Johan was talking about, like, founders of bootstrap their company and then all of a sudden the world changes, there's capital, but then what's interesting is, is also expectation. That the big thing that comes with capital, and so everything starts to change. Now, I would love for you to tell us a little bit about when you meet entrepreneurs, at the start of your coaching program. Take us through a little bit where they're at, and the transformation of where they get to, after they've been working with you.

Maarten van Montfoort 35:18

Yeah, so the, the GoFastForward program is meant for scale up. So companies with at least 1 million euro revenue, so they're already serious companies, have a good proposition, have a good product, have some customers have an organisation but want to make the next step. And I think starting starting a company is one but really growing the company is even more difficult. And the companies we talked to and the entrepreneurs that that we are coaching really would like to make the next step. And I think in essence, there's a lot of theory, but my role is also to introduce best practices. I've been an entrepreneur since 2004, I have a lot of experiences and I can share those stories experiences with all the other entrepreneurs, and also make them prevent, not making the same mistakes that I that I made, for example, but I think in this world where you can really share your knowledge and expertise that can help make them the next step in their entrepreneur career.

Chad Owen 36:15

Yeah, yeah, I'm curious, what's in your mind, what's one of the biggest thing that is holding a company in an entrepreneur back from going like you said, from 1 million to 10 million. And how did they get that 10 x company, you know, go to 10 million, and then hopefully grow to 100 million? What's what's one thing that you've, you've seen that that's been holding them back?

Maarten van Montfoort 36:36

Well, there's a couple of things and I think Johan already addressed some of them as well, I think first, you really need to have a clear plan, right? You need need to have the big goal, you need to live it every day, right? You need to have a good plan, write it down, visualise it, and then live the plan and make sure that every day when you're in the office, when you work with the people, live the plan, stick to the plan.

Mike Parsons 36:57

Do you often meet founders that have done done fine, but are actually missing this plan? How I mean, how often is that missing from the equation when you meet people?

Maarten van Montfoort 37:09

Yeah, so there, there's not a clear plan, or they have several plans, so they don't stick to one plan.

Mike Parsons 37:15

Okay, is that common to like, just wanting to like boil the ocean as we would say?

Maarten van Montfoort 37:18

Yeah, well, I think if you talk to entrepreneurs, we always see multiple opportunities at the same time. So most of the time, we get distracted. And I think you Johan mentioned focus. I think what is really important, if you want to grow, their businesses need to be focused, and you really need to focus on what you're good at. Because most of the time, that's what you really like doing, you should focus on that and the things you're not good at, try to find other people to take care of it, for example, manage the company, if you really want to be the innovator, or think of thinking of new ideas. I think that that's one and then also having the right mindset. So making sure that everybody's aligned, that you have a great team and then challenge each other on a day to day basis.

Mike Parsons 38:03

Okay, well, so that's a lot of good stuff there. So let's, let's start with that last one, the challenging of each other, one of the things that I see is that founding teams and management teams often have all the best intentions, right, but constructive conversation, or even deliberate polarised argumentation, to find the best path is something I see a lot of people struggling with. It's they don't know how to like, say, No, that's a crazy idea, or that's it. What advice do you have for people that can't have healthy debate conversation around what the business should do, like imagine were stuck there now, we can't have the right conversation. What advice do you have?

Maarten van Montfoort 38:51

Well, I think if you're running a company, and when you're in working with business partners, it's like being in a marriage, right? And we all know that within a marriage, it's all about communication. If you don't, if you can't be open and transparent, of course, then you probably end up in all kinds of discussions, or there's no communication. So first of all, you need to create that that level of accountability. And of course, a plan can help with that. Because if you already have a plan, then you can hold each other accountable, say, Hey, this is the direction this is our vision as a company, and you're not following division, you're not doing what we agreed upon.

Mike Parsons 39:26

So what's harder for people? just to have the sense of accountability or the active holding each other accountable? So is it that everybody knows you should be doing a thing, but nobody can really call you out on it? What, tell us where it really breaks down.

Maarten van Montfoort 39:44

I think a lot of people find it difficult, right? To hold each other accountable. But if you really want to grow the company, that that's something you really need to have.

Mike Parsons 39:53

Okay, so let's say Chad and I were struggling with accountability. How do you, How do you help us keep each other accountable? Like tell us some of the systems or practices that you help these founders put in place?

Maarten van Montfoort 40:09

Yeah, well, I always use some of some of my experiences. And just to give an example, I started my company with three founders. But after a couple years, I didn't feel right anymore, because I felt like that not everybody was working that hard, or was bringing that entrepreneurial spirit at the table. And then I thought, Oh, I can just maybe look at it for a while, and then see what happens. And then I thought, No, I just need to speak up. And how did you do it? Tell us tell Mr. The moment, just invited them in for a coffee and expressed how I felt okay. And at the same time, one of the guys said, Well, I'm almost waiting for one and a half years for this discussion. But I never wanted to start a discussion. So sometimes when you have that gut feeling, you need to express it because somebody other body or your other colleagues, you want a business partners have the same feeling so Okay, so

Mike Parsons 40:57


Unknown 40:58

says, because this is my fault. Yes. Oh, don't leave things on said

Mike Parsons 41:01

yes. Yeah. But isn't it amazing to think when he when you when Martin finally shared how he felt that one of your co founders was sitting on this for a year and a half? Yeah, but how powerful is it that you could find a way of communicating it? Now, often, these conversations are hard because of the conflict and the misinterpretation that comes from these kind of discussions. How can I have those discussions? How can our listeners have those discussions without any up in a arm wrestling? boxing fight?

Maarten van Montfoort 41:33

Yeah, well, of course, I think you need to have the, the, the rhythm of the business, right, you need to have the weekly the monthly catch ups, because what I've often see is that those meetings when you really take the time to sit together, look at the strategy, look at division of the company, because it's busy, there's a lot of other things to worry about, then those meetings will disappear from the calendar, those are the first ones, I think those are one of the most important take the time to evaluate on a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, what's going on within the company? How do you feel. And then, of course, if you do that on a regular basis, things don't stay unsaid for a year. So because you have to pressure you have the pressure to speak up. Yeah, it's not just it sounds like it's not just

Chad Owen 42:17

on the business. But actually how you're feeling as one of the founders as well. Like, I'm not as interested in the business now. Or, Hey, guys, I want to run and you guys are not moving as fast enough.

Mike Parsons 42:29

So let's now go to the audience. I want to do a show of hands here. Who here in their jobs, experiences, moments where you feel things

Chad Owen 42:42


Mike Parsons 42:43

but you don't always say things when other show of hands, I'm going to put my hand up.

Chad Owen 42:50

That's pretty much everyone in the room. So

Mike Parsons 42:53

you've got good counsel for all these people. And I think what's really interesting about what you said is, it's so true, isn't it, that when you get busy, the first thing to go, those are the regular empty meeting. I will just skip that this week. Too busy, right? But it sounds like what you're saying that ritual of being together and expressing that kind of helps.

Now, when you when you work with these founders are they are choosing are they choosing to sign up with you, they're all coming to you ready, willing to take on the world? And to go from 1 million to 10 million? Is that generally where they're at? Yeah,

Maarten van Montfoort 43:28

so when they sign up for the program, and I'm just one of the mentors or speakers during the program, that they serious amount of money for it. So they're all highly motivated, and everybody in that classes really want to take the company to the next level as well. Okay, so it's different kind of companies, different type of entrepreneurs, and there, but they're all in there to learn from each other, and to learn from, from the guest speakers, and as well.

Mike Parsons 43:50

So what are the common challenges that you have for founders when they're highly motivated? We've talked about having a clear plan, and often what I call part time entrepreneurs or bed time entrepreneurs who have lots of ideas but never actually do anything. But this is very different, these are people that are highly motivated and doing things. What are the the most common big problems that they have? It sounds like there's a lot of paradigm shifting that you need to do to get from that one to 10. It's not just about working harder.

Maarten van Montfoort 44:24

Yeah, yeah. So I think one of the most commonly heard things in most discussed teams is people, right? So how do you attract the right people? And in particular, in the, in the current market situation where it's really difficult to get the right talent? So I think everybody's struggling with that. And also, how do you keep the right how do you keep people? How do you motivate them? That's something we always discuss. There's a great team, which I'm also presenting around profit and cash management. I think, when you

Mike Parsons 44:53

this is also what Johan was the management of that capital and cash flow is critical.

Maarten van Montfoort 44:57

Yeah, I think, of course, because if you want to grow to come company, you need cash. Yeah, we all know, we all know that. But since they are in the phase of growing, that's something that they all didn't give a lot of thought of. Right? Because they were growing the company thinking of the product and the people. But if you want to grow the business, you need, you need profit and you need cash to do so. So that's a theme that we that's the theme that we address as well, and where we get a lot of questions. So we try to give them some tools and some best practices and also how they can create the right budget and how they can stay in line with that as well.

Chad Owen 45:12

I have I have a question for you just about Dutch and Amsterdam entrepreneurship. And I'm coming from New York. And I've spent a lot of time working with Mike and San Francisco when he was there. What do you feel like makes this people and country and culture a great place for entrepreneurs? Kind of what are some of the great, you know, characteristics of entrepreneurs that you found here that are maybe uniquely Dutch or from from people from Amsterdam?

Maarten van Montfoort 46:01

Well, I traveled a lot in the last 12 months and I found out that when I go to other countries even close by. So in the Nordics or the UK, people really appreciate the fact that these people are really direct. Sometimes we may be a little bit blunt, but really, yeah, but yes, yes. And no, is no. So we're always really clear, we don't have a lot of excuses. So I think that's one thing. And then also, if you look back at our history, although we were real small country as the size of the country, we have a lot of inhabitants. And I think for many, many decades ago, we all we already traveled the seas and try to connect with other people to trade. So I think it's in our nature to connect with people and try to work with other cultures as well. And really be open, I think the fact that from I think the most basic rates in school, we are learning our kids to speak English as well. So so we have the international mindset because our our great great ancestors,

Mike Parsons 47:01


Maarten van Montfoort 47:01

already had to do it because we had to travel the seas. Yeah. So I think it's the combination of being really international entrepreneurial, with a trade mindset and also just being direct and just say what you think. And I think that that's, I think that's a good combination. Yeah,

Chad Owen 47:16

I've been here less than two days. And I've been really blown away by just everyone here and, and Amsterdam, so kudos to all of you. I mean, how do you say Holanders and Netherlanders, neither, or?


Maarten van Montfoort 47:32


Mike Parsons 47:34

Okay. Now, so for me a couple of key themes here. I think the the trading history of Holland was like, I still see that in the sort of open system that it feels like when you work with Dutch people with Dutch companies, I would say we shouldn't forget how special the Netherlands is for innovation and business, the first stock exchange in history, the first company in history, the VOC, is that right, the VOC was. I actually lived in a Dutch East Indies Company warehouse. Yeah, that used to store spices and ammunition, which was was just really special. But what we have to realise that if you just think about the idea of a company, as we know it now is largely what the VOC was. With shareholders and all these and you've got a notary for being part of the county, and then the stock exchange. And we all know the impact that the financial system has on the way in which we do business. I think there's another thing is a very famous Dutch politician, Wim Kok. And if I remember, it's right, it's he had this philosophy of the *Dutch Language* the third way, of bringing people together. I think you will find that there are very few societies that are engineered for working together and overcoming the fact that is very dense, very multicultural, but then you walk around, and you enjoy such an incredible quality of life, despite those conditions. And I just want to remind you, when you go to other countries that a jam full of people often that has a direct correlation with poverty, lack of infrastructure, but it's sort of the opposite here and here in the Netherlands. And you come to a city like Amsterdam and you know, I had to enforce a rule that yesterday remember, like, in order for me to learn Dutch I had to ban the English because everyone's language was so good here. Everyone was so willing to speak English I was like I'm never going to get anywhere with the Dutch but I was threatened you might want to tell people about this I was threatened with a week with The Nuns of Vught

Maarten van Montfoort 49:36

Okay, okay, that stuff that was

Mike Parsons 49:40

Can you explain to our audience particularly those that are online what what does that mean?

Maarten van Montfoort 49:44

So in the southern part of the Netherlands, we have a it's an old monastery and if you really want to speak a foreign language and you don't want to take one year course you can go to the monastery for one week and there's no connection with the outer world you're just in the monastery and with the nuns and they can teach you any language within one week. So especially if you want to live abroad work abroad and you're not familiar with the specific language you can you can go in there and at least have the basic right right

Mike Parsons 50:11

What do you think guys next moon shots podcast man send we send we send Chad to the The Nuns of Vught, as a filmmaker, you could probably make a documentary about it.

Chad Owen 50:21

It sounds very interesting.

Mike Parsons 50:23

Actually. You'd be totally up for it. Okay. Now, now, before we let you go Maarten, and we forgot to ask you about which which Dutch delicacy so so let me get up the list. So I get all the names. exactly correct. *Dutch Language* We got the *Dutch Language*

Yeah. Okay. So help us here, Maarten, which is your pick?

Maarten van Montfoort 50:51

So we already had to drops. I really fancy them. But I think we spoke a little bit about Dutch heritage, about our past. And I think in particular dish time of the year, when we are celebrating Sinterklaas, which is a typical Dutch big event for the children. Of course, I have to pick the *Dutch Language* because we only eat them from let's say, early November until the fifth of December

Mike Parsons 51:13

Good choice.

Maarten van Montfoort 51:13

And so it's it's a typical Dutch delicacy. And only we only have this time of year. So.

Mike Parsons 51:19

Okay, so the *Dutch Language*. Okay, there we go. Alright, so I feel like our boy from Brooklyn is going to jump out there into the audience again. So I want you to get your thinking caps on and I see a number of Finsters drinking beer up the back there, I can see Valter is drinking beer, and RJ is drinking beer. So I'm sure they've got some good questions. So here's the thing. Chad's gonna be looking for people who want to share the biggest learning or insight they had from listening to Maarten so let's see some participaton here we go Yes. Second row and all, yes,

Audience - Unknown 51:58

I think its first of all,

Mike Parsons 51:59

hang on who I am. You have to enjoy. Oh, who is this person?

Audience - Unknown 52:02

Hello, everybody raise hands that don't know me yet. So I'm an advisor to to the guys and the girls from moment one, and very thrilled to be here feels like home to my question of not to question the observation. I think it's all about transparency and honesty when it comes to the relationship between co founders and management of the board kind of guys and girls. And I. what I still have as a question, but I don't know whether it's that is your role in facilitating that. It's also one maybe to watch your own, even later on over a beer, how to create an environment to stimulate that transparency, openness and honesty, I would be very curious to hear about your vision on that.

Maarten van Montfoort 53:03

Yeah, well, it's good question. And I think there's not just one answer to that as well. I think in essence, it's all about trust, right. And I think I would like Like I said, early on in the interview, when you're in a company, and you have a co founder or a business partner, co owner, I think you should treat it as a marriage, right? And you need to have that same mindset, because you spend most of the time of day working on that big goal is trying to grow the company as well. So it's, you need to have that level of trust, right, you need to find it. And if there's no if there's no trust, and that's, of course, the first step you need to work on. And I think the second thing that can be really, really helpful, of course, get mentoring, don't do it by yourself. I think when I wanted to grow the company with one of the founders, when we really decided to go ahead just the two of us, we brought in two mentors, because we said, okay, we can't do it alone, we need some help from outside as well. So I always tell people, it's about dare to ask right., Dare to ask for advice. Mentors can be really, really helpful, especially if they're a little bit outside the business as well. These can be the guys the the women that can ask you can ask the questions to challenge you. I think that's what you need to be challenged, right? And that that's really important.

Mike Parsons 54:17

So can I just to make sure we capture this learning, you're saying that the the impact of an external advisor is in the fact that they can have a little bit more freedom to ask tougher questions. And do you think that's because they're not involved on a daily basis, so they don't have all the, the bias that comes with being an employee, they have a little bit of distance to say, Come on, that really wasn't great. And they're not scared of losing their job it is just open feedback.

Maarten van Montfoort 54:45

Yeah. And they are allowed to ask stupid questions, because they're not part of the business. Right. And I think that is sometimes what we forget, we sometimes we are too focused, and it's good people from the outside kind of other questions, which you already forgotten about

Mike Parsons 54:57

what and what's really interesting between what both you and Johan are saying, is this, this trading off between focus and perspective all the time. Yeah. And that sounds to me to be one of the greatest and I'm looking at co founders here who've been up all night finishing products, that having having the the ability to zoom out, zoom in and zoom out and shift between the different modalities that come with being a founder. That's why we love it. Maybe sometimes it's a little challenging.

Maarten van Montfoort 55:22

Yeah, but we like a challenge we do.

Mike Parsons 55:24

Yeah, we do. All right, everybody, would you please give it up for Maarten. The Super coach!

Maarten van Montfoort 55:30

Thank you.

Mike Parsons 55:34

Okay, I know, we've got more and more guests arriving at the back. So people are welcome to join in the room. And come on in, we're halfway through, can I send you back out in the audience? Grab the mic, I want to go and ask who's got some thoughts on this idea between focus and perspective, who else here is finding that a big thing in their role. Focus. Perspective. Who here is saying that in their role?

Let's have a look or any Oh, is a little hand raising going here, there's a little founder over here.

Chad Owen 56:16

Don't forget to introduce you introduce yourself

Audience - Dave 56:19

Name is Dave.

Chad Owen 56:20

Hey, Dave,

Audience - Dave 56:21

go founder. Now, we have been building the finished product, which going to look at later on today. And I think my perspective on the focus perspective, I think, would be mainly that if you are building one specific thing, it's very simple to get into a tunnel to only fix a certain element because you're working on it, like every day. And it really helps to have other people around you. Which we had, which was really helpful to actually make sure you also get the Yeah, just this other perspective on things. And we're also really helps you speak a lot to your clients, for example, because they also could be kind of mentors for the product that you built. So I think it's very, the balance is very interesting how to continuously move between those two elements. Because if you're only too much into perspective parts, and working with a small team in are going to build a product either. So that's a bit I think, the biggest challenge to to to solve.

Mike Parsons 57:24

Great, thank you guys give it up a Dave.

Chad Owen 57:28

I love that idea of having clients as mentors, because then you can have that client and product focus. Yeah, but then you you have people from outside the company that are giving you that feedback? Good idea Dave. Yeah,

Mike Parsons 57:41

I really like that. Because we, we get very excited about our own ideas. There's actually a scientific process called the endowment effect where we get so in love with our own ideas, we forget that our end customers are not in love with our ideas at all. In fact, what's really interesting is that end users, consumers, they're in doubt, they are very partial to something that we call the status quo. So whenever you propose a new product or service in the world, customers are instantly looking at the switching costs, the the, the trade off of what you're asking, so you have your shiny thing, and you're like, ooh, we got it, we got it. And, you know, you're absolutely convinced the world is going to love it. But actually, the reality is that customers are not in love with it at all. In fact, you're even lucky to have their attention, most scarce resource in the universe, you're lucky to have their attention for a brief second, and at that point, that you do manage to get their attention. They're literally like, what's this gonna cost me? Like, how much like, what do I get? And like, how do I, how do I, if I do this? How much work is it going to be. So the classic thing is here, if you look at, you're an iPhone user, and I say to you, I have an Android phone that's really good. The first thing you're going to go my contacts sync, they don't use Imessage, this is all what we call switching costs, okay, so that there's always this trade off going on. And so this is philosophy, particularly in Silicon Valley, about 10 x. And the reason that you will always find me yabba yabba yabba about 10 x this and that is. It's a very nice rule, you should make something 10 times better than today solution, and it's actually proven. There's a guy, you can check it out on Google. His name is john Gonville at Harvard Business School. And he just spent his time studying the degrees of which how many times better there's a product actually need to be too launch, successfully. And he actually and this is a nice little secret that you won't know, he actually in his study found that it needs to be nine times better. So he runs over to Google in the early 2000s. And he presents his work to them. And one of my old colleagues was in the audience, this is Tom Chi and all these people are there. And he says, but but you've got to be nine times better. And all the Google guys. And this is like Google X. You know, the guys that do all the Moonshots. They're onto something. They do the moonshot stuff. And so so john says where it needs to be nine times better. And he looked at why all these companies had failed and technologies and failed and he actually has a formula for why be nine times. But the Google guys are like nine x doesn't quite sound very good. So they just added a whole new factor and put it up to 10 x. So all the founders out there, if you thought nine x was hard enough, Google just raise the bar to making a 10 X. But there is a real truth in it, that switching costs are massive for users. So for all of the entrepreneurs in our audience, for all of the creators, all of the people that really want to do something great in the world go on that mission. But you have to know this one thing that as as much as you love your product, your customer loves the status quo loves it hates change, hates change, so you need to come up with something that is so remarkable, so remarkable that it will have this attraction it's naturally so good at addressing a problem but so much better than today that they will they will climb mountains to get to that area.

Chad Owen 1:01:25

Yeah, I'm going to plug our very first episode of the moon shots podcast on Elon Musk, because I think he embodies that 10 x mindset. And if you just listen to him talk, you can hear everything that he does that all of his companies, he's thinking in x. So if we improve the efficiency of the motors with batteries for x, then Okay, we're closer to 10 x. And then if we decrease the cost of the batteries by two X. Okay, so then we're at this factory and everything he thinks about is getting to that 10 x because he knows that a company like Telsa is only going to be effective and scale if we can move all of these people that are on traditional gas powered vehicles to fully electric vehicles.

Mike Parsons 1:02:12

So if you want to check out the Elon show, just go to You can hear that is actually one clip that we took a Elon where he does the formula, I cannot stress how important that is, if you want to know what getting to 10 x. So looks like he gives it in one of these talks. It actually gives him we recorded it. So it was fantastic. Okay, so now we're into the second half the show and we're going to do a big switch now because we're going to get into some hardcore infrastructure talk, we're gonna get into the world of laying fiber. You know, the amazing thing is that we create so much data every single day that we kind of forget that all the software and all these applications are actually driven by the fact that we have nodes and hubs glass fiber, but dark fiber, all of these things running all around the world. So we're very excited to bring to you when a Holand's gurus in infrastructure, would you please from KPN. Please welcome Pieter Plaisier. Yeah. Now we're going to be a little bit more organised with you, Peter. So we're going to remember to ask you for your for your favourite Dutch delicacy. So tell us about what you see here. And what gets your vote

Pieter Plaisier 1:03:27

My vote gets the Speculaas

Mike Parsons 1:03:30


Pieter Plaisier 1:03:30


Mike Parsons 1:03:31

The spicy cookie

Pieter Plaisier 1:03:33

The Speculaas is especially it's not only a cookie for me, but I also used to put it on my brood, around my bread when I was a child.

Mike Parsons 1:03:43

Hang on. So you have bread?

Pieter Plaisier 1:03:45


Mike Parsons 1:03:46

that's meant to be the sandwich bread, but you put a cookie in between

Pieter Plaisier 1:03:49

Yeah, a lot of butter.

Mike Parsons 1:03:50

Oh, yeah. Oh, that's good.

Pieter Plaisier 1:03:51

And then two slices of Speculaas, actually

Mike Parsons 1:03:55

Is this a Plaisier creation or is this national pastime?

Chad Owen 1:04:01

We have lots of votes in the audience.

Pieter Plaisier 1:04:03

And becuase of this inside my children now they use Speculows? And there's sort of there's a spread

Mike Parsons 1:04:10

So the cookie and a spread.

Pieter Plaisier 1:04:11


Mike Parsons 1:04:13

And they say the Dutch are a bit weird. Come on. Like, who puts the cookie into a spread?

Chad Owen 1:04:17

I'm gonna have to go bread and butter and put some Speculaas on it

Mike Parsons 1:04:20

Now you're only getting half of the

Pieter Plaisier 1:04:22

take it home, Mike and Chad.

Mike Parsons 1:04:24

Well, thank you. We have we've got a vote for Speculaas, we've had a vote for the pepernoten, the drop.

Chad Owen 1:04:30

Sorry, Ronald. You know what? That's leaving us?

Mike Parsons 1:04:35

Yeah. Yeah, you can blame Jose. That was his idea. Okay. So I think it's really interesting to to hear from you, Peter. You're not only in this world of infrastructure. But part of your backstory is that working for not only the largest telco here in in the Netherlands, but it would have to be one of Europe's biggest telecommunications operators. Correct.

Pieter Plaisier 1:05:02

One of their there are bigger, because there's a lot of joint of there a lot of alignment between the telcos. But it's one of the largest still independent telco. Yeah,

Mike Parsons 1:05:17

yeah. And the special thing that you're often doing is working on these big infrastructure projects.

Pieter Plaisier 1:05:22


Mike Parsons 1:05:22

but you're also going in sometimes, to companies that have been acquired by KPN. Now this for us as a sort of cultural movement in innovation is dripping with all sorts of interesting ideas. The first thing is like in comes the infantry with their flags, oh, here comes the KPN. So we want to talk about that. But the other interesting thing is culturally, how you can build bridges into new cultures and how you do that. So we've got a lot to unpack with you. But tell us about, take us to a moment when you're thinking about the first day when you walk into a new company that KPN is working with. And you want to connect to the leaders in that organisation? Tell us how you do it. How do you walk into a situation like this and get everybody aligned? Or to use a good Dutch saying, to get all the boats sailing in the right direction? What techniques, what practices you and how do you do this?

Pieter Plaisier 1:06:22

Yeah, there's a very good question. Because that's, that's always the challenge to get connection to, to the, to the team and to the people in into the company. Because there's a lot of resistance. And there's a lot of there are a lot of questions about what's what's going on? And what will be the new future for us for our company? And do I still get will will stay with within the job? Yeah, of course, it's a very important question. I think it just starts with connecting just one to one connection, get conversation, get. Yeah, give a lot of answers to the questions. And if you don't have the answer, just say that you don't know the answer yet. If you have the answer, it depends a little bit on who you speak to. But I'm, I'm also very favourite of being very transparent over that, so.

Mike Parsons 1:07:21

So you're saying we have an emergent theme I think it's really like transparency is is quite big. But let's get into it. You're walking in there. And you're trying to create this transparency Peter, but you've basically laid up an environment where people are like in extreme emotional situations, it's either fight or flight right? and so yeah, you can say hey, let's have a cuddle and get around the campfire and sing Kumbaya but people are a little bit worried about the situation how do you how do you actually get them to become easy and then make those connections?

Pieter Plaisier 1:07:57

I think it's also a praise on what achieved, so you KPN acquires a lot of smaller companies and they have achieved a lot. So you, you praise that and you say that people have done a very good job and that's one of the reasons KPN buys it so they've given the little bit proud and that's important and that you also are very keen on still get all the assets what's in that company that you want to keep that and the assets is of course, yeah, it's real assets, material, but also about people and about knowledge and about how they are acting on the market. So but they also know that normally you go into synergies, economies of scale and reorganisations. Of course, you you can say up we're not there yet, it's it's a process or you you step into the process and try to do get people in that process. Normally they understand and sometimes you have to make the tough decisions and it's better to do that quite fast.

Mike Parsons 1:09:09

Okay, so tough decisions, I like getting into moments of tough decision. So

Chad Owen 1:09:15

I actually have gaps, following up on that, many of our listeners are running their own, you know, small companies and and are bootstrappers. But many of them also work for large corporations. How have you found, How do you work in an agile way in a big humongous company? You know, how can you work more like a startup, you know, and be more agile? Because I know that that's something that a lot of our listeners are are struggling with is, you know, I'm a product manager or a VP at a company, how can I get my company to work in a more agile way and be more responsive to make the right decisions?

Pieter Plaisier 1:09:55

That's a good question. I think a lot of corporate companies I know in the Netherlands are dealing with that. How can we be more agile? They are looking a lot of either startup companies disqualifies who are using the agile way of working and I have to say a lot of corporate companies use agile way of working and my own experience also, that we have used agile way of working in the regional markets approach, because you need the whole organisation. So not only the marketing and the sales or the product management or the chain management, but also the customer service, also the retail organisation, also the engineers and you want to make if you want to roll out fiber, for instance, in a city, then you want to get all the teams together in the approach of rolling out fiber and commercially are successful in that city and that's, that's a very good way to do that on the agile way of working. So every week on to in the same room stand ups, see where you are, what's your responsibility? What did you reach? What are your questions? Where do we need extra help and get everyone involved and it works.

Mike Parsons 1:11:17

Okay. But this to me is like a big idea. In fact, transitioning teams from perhaps waterfall into agile, it sounds easy, sounds easy, but massively challenging, because you have to give a lot of supposed certainly when you work in a waterfall basis. Now, we have a nice big book that's about this thick, and it says every little thing that we're going to build, you have to give that away and trust in the process. But you were saying something really interesting about getting everyone on the same page for agile?

Pieter Plaisier 1:11:50


Mike Parsons 1:11:50

let's get into that a little bit. How on earth do you do that? And particularly on infrastructure projects? I mean, I largely work on software with a little bit of hardware IoT stuff, like you're talking about having a guy digging up the road and putting, like, how do you get everyone on the same page for that?

Pieter Plaisier 1:12:08

Well, it's let's in the IT world, agile way of working is common also within the corporate, but especially in the more commercial on the more commercial side. It's quite new. Personally, I just went into sort of conference, it was at the at the bank and Rabobank. And then the Southerland, that's the guy who just introduced agile way working. He had a presentation and it was 80% was IT and some commercial guys. And I was really amazed by his guys his ideas and how it works. And I thought, why not for the commercial side as well, because it's a very constructive way of working, that you're on the same page, and that you make impact. And then what we already said, is just starting to do it with team. Did you start to do it with one team? Yeah, where does a lot of complex complexity around. I started with one team, and eventually with a colleague of mine, he's also here, somewhere over there. We started with eventually, eight or nine teams working on agile way and just made it through as our way of working.

Mike Parsons 1:13:34

Okay, so you managed, you managed to go from like, one unit across up to nine different units working in the same way with agile, okay, and so I just want to take you back this for everyone who's in the audience. This is the book

Pieter Plaisier 1:13:47

Yeah, exactly

Mike Parsons 1:13:48

that Pieter was talking about. It's called Scrum by Jeff Sutherland and JJ Sutherland I thoroughly recommend it's called Scrum. It's absolutely the godfather of Agile thinking. And it's so you actually got to hear Jeff Sutherland speak?

Pieter Plaisier 1:14:04


Maarten van Montfoort 1:14:04

that's great. Also, I want to say, though, I don't know if you know this about Jeff. But he actually was in the army and implemented Scrum in the army.

Pieter Plaisier 1:14:14

If you know him. He was, yeah, he is a pilot. And

Mike Parsons 1:14:19

now one of the interesting things for everybody is, what you won't know is that Peter also was in the army. So you built this segue for this show I've ever seen. What did you What do you use in these big agile projects with KPN? Is there anything that you learn when you go back to your time in the military? Is there anything that you see yourself using and making sure people turn up on time maybe. But what lessons did you learn right back then? Because you're actually coaching cadets in the military? What's it like? Do you use any of those practices? Now when you're when you're working with a large teams?

Pieter Plaisier 1:15:01

the only no, the only thing is that I just asked the cadets, how much will an F testing cost? Just to make them a little bit aware of the budgets going on the army?

Mike Parsons 1:15:13


Pieter Plaisier 1:15:15

I think it's important that to people are a little bit no aware of costs and costs minded. Yeah, but actually, it was a long time ago for me that I was in the, in the army. I just was a sort of a teacher and for the for the cadets just to learn some economics and internal organisation. And it was great time, but I didn't use a lot of my experience, right then on the other hand, we had a lot of different teachers have different, let's say, desciplins. And the agile way of working is, of course, multi disciplinary.

Mike Parsons 1:15:55


Pieter Plaisier 1:15:55

way of working. So you could say that's, that's something we have in common.

Mike Parsons 1:15:59

Great. So now I want you to imagine that all of us want to employ agile as a way of working and we're sitting here like, how do you do it?

Pieter Plaisier 1:16:07


Mike Parsons 1:16:07

What if you're only allowed to give us one set of advice? Yeah, to implement agile, and this really move means moving to a much more dynamic way of working, very process, collaborative way of working lots of scrums. Lots of sprints. So those good keywords. What's the one one piece of advice that you would give to anyone thinking about?

Pieter Plaisier 1:16:31

You just start with one team and get a good coach who's really into the discipline of the way of working of scrum. So if you start with one team and a good coach, because it seems like a very flexible way of working, but in fact, it's very disciplined way of working

Mike Parsons 1:16:50


Pieter Plaisier 1:16:52

So you need to really, yeah, work on that Scrum method, a coach is very helpful. So that's one advice.

Mike Parsons 1:17:01

Okay. So start hand so that so I'm deconstructing this. One small teams start just with eight?

Pieter Plaisier 1:17:08

Eight people

Mike Parsons 1:17:08

Eight people, okay. Make sure you have a good coach.

Pieter Plaisier 1:17:12


Mike Parsons 1:17:13

Okay. He really understands Scrum and agile.

Pieter Plaisier 1:17:16

And then you have a product owner and the scrum master. And, you know, you you you have the team ready. And then you see within two, three weeks, you see you, you notice a lot of enthusiasm.

Mike Parsons 1:17:30


Pieter Plaisier 1:17:31

And then suddenly, there's a moment that the people outside the teams who are not into that Scrum way of working, they are very curious. Yeah, they want to work as well, because the team is so enthusiastic, what are they doing? Yeah, and then you get the second team in the okay, maybe the third team and still get the coaches and kickoffs with the team. And we going to do this and then it will then it will work because the results are coming as well.

Mike Parsons 1:18:01

So when you build the nine teams was a lot of what you were doing was as you would build a scrum team, you were kind of almost trying to make it contagious within the organisation. It sounds like you're looking to create this new way of working. Yeah, but get everyone excited about this new approach. And yeah, almost letting the, the contagion spread. Yeah, exactly.

Pieter Plaisier 1:18:23

Yeah. And but it's there is there is because I was in a domain what, which was a separate domain in a corporate organisation and bigger organisation. Yeah, you have also your that the governance of an organisation and there's there isn't, there is a moment that you have your now agile way of working, and that it's, it's linked to the normal governance, it's not, and that that is not what you want, that you have sort of two governance going in the same organisation. It's confusing. So and then you need really need to decide, are we going to do the next step with the, with more departments in the organisation, and eventually the whole organisation? And yeah, that that makes it quite more difficult than a startup.

Mike Parsons 1:19:17

Yeah, I feel like that's, that's also for the for the next broadcast we do from Amsterdam. And we have to go from from one team to one organisation to like five companies, how we kind of build this agile thing. Okay. We're going to send you out into the crowd Chad, grab your mic. So this is the moment where we're going to put all of you guys on the hotspot for transparency, for new ways of working in terms of agile, So who here had some aha moments when Peiter Plaisier was waxing lyrical, about agile and transparency? Look at them

Chad Owen 1:20:00

Yeah, anybody? Yeah, we got some people back here.

Mike Parsons 1:20:02

Who's got some thoughts up the back there. I can see lots of people.

Chad Owen 1:20:05

What did what did you learn or pick up from our conversation with Peiter? Anyone?

Mike Parsons 1:20:11

Oh, here we go. Here we go.

Chad Owen 1:20:12

Introduce yourself.

Audience - Unknown 2 1:20:14

*Dutch Name*. Also one of the fellows within he There you go. Um, I think Well, one of the things that Peiter highlighted is the there's a difference between applying Scrum and practicing Scrum. Yeah, I think that's a very, very important one. So basically, make sure you're all aware of what you want to achieve applying these mental methodology. And once you're on the same page, you're good to go. I think that's a in an important learning.

Mike Parsons 1:20:50

Nice one. Thank you. Okay, everybody, would you please give your welcoming, you're rewarding thank you to Peite Plaisier. Okay, so we have had three fabulous guests, Chad, we've heard some emerging themes. What have you got on your theme so far from Johan and the whole crew? Yeah, what, what do you got on the line

Chad Owen 1:21:17

My favourite part of unpacking entrepreneurs and innovators is these recurring themes that emerged and I think tonight, one of the biggest ones they resonated was transparency and not being afraid to speak your mind, both as a co founding team, but also, you know, within the company.

Mike Parsons 1:21:35


Chad Owen 1:21:36

And then also the importance of outside perspective and mentorship and coaching.

Mike Parsons 1:21:42

Yeah, that was big. That was big.

Chad Owen 1:21:43

I think that can help foster more transparency if you have someone on the outside kind of looking at those are. Yeah, my thing my favourite so far has been transparency. Yeah, it's something I think that a lot of us who are starting or running companies could really learn learn,

Mike Parsons 1:21:56

I thought, I thought a good one was having customer as a coach, right, having that accountability. So we are now ready to introduce to you our last guest, our very last guest. And it's really exciting because we have somebody who is a long time TV and media guru and executive and he's the the Big Cheese at really very much the the entrepreneurs Bible here in the Netherlands. It's really the go to the Fast Company, the Wyatt here in the Netherlands. So I would love you all to show a big Amsterdam. Welcome to Ronald ter Voert. Okay, so, Ronald, you're in the hot seat, because you're going to help us close the show.

Ronald ter Voert 1:22:52


Mike Parsons 1:22:52

bring it all together and you got to realise that the three of us have sort of the only thing between the audience and having more beer. So it's a precarious situation to turn.

Ronald ter Voert 1:23:05

Good challenge but thank you for having me on the show.

Mike Parsons 1:23:07

Okay, thank you. So I want to ask, first of all, you're in the business of ideas, you're in the business, you don't lay glass fiber. So you what's really important is that you build a business around ideas, that you inspire people. So tough question, but how? How do you do that? How do you get ideas that inspire the world?

Ronald ter Voert 1:23:37

Well, before you have ideas you have, you must have the right people. And I think in every person, there's someone, which is very creative, which you have to give them the floor, you know, you have to give them space to grow. And I think most of the time companies are not able to look the person, but just the business. And they forget about what you would like to do in your life. You know, and really what you love, not only about your payments, or your next job, but what's in the core of your interest.

Mike Parsons 1:24:16

So that makes you, that puts you in a really interesting situation because not only do you need to have the mental capacity to think about what's happening in the world with technology and entrepreneurialism. But you also need to be very tuned into your team.

Ronald ter Voert 1:24:34

Yeah, that's, that's true.

Mike Parsons 1:24:35

So how do you and this is so great, because what Johan was talking about, is helping founders, building teams. If you look at the Agile transformation that Peiter told about, or what Maarten talked about, with coaching founders, all of this high tech world full of data is coming back to people. And that's been a huge theme of our show. What you what you really bring about is this very interesting idea. Ed Catmull, who's the CEO of Pixar talks about creating safety as the primary role that he has for great ideas to exist. Yeah, so now in your channeling your inner Ed Catmull, how do we do this? You walk into the office and you want to create this environment that's focused on the people and what they're trying to achieve and helping them grow. How do you, how do you do that? How do you unlock that?

Ronald ter Voert 1:25:30

Well if you if I look back to the time that I worked for television, you know it's it's it starts with a good atmosphere of course, what you what you said but it's you have to pinpoint the dot on the horizon, you know, and you have to share your thoughts about what the product or the show in the end could be. But there's a lot of roads to get there. And, you know, it's, it's, it's not a process that you do in one hour. You know, it takes time, you know, the guides on the mall I worked for, I should have seen on my CV. You know, it's very inspirational to work with this guy. But it's also mind blowing like, Well, shit, I have to think something within two hours, right? Otherwise, I get fired. Or it feels like you get fired.

Mike Parsons 1:26:18

Did you really, really feeling that pressure to to produce ideas that quickly?

Ronald ter Voert 1:26:23

Yeah, sometimes? Well, for example, once I got a juris guy, and we got a show from the States, and I got to the order to make in just 24 hours a show for the Netherlands, but which wasn't that we, you know, stole it from the other one

Mike Parsons 1:26:42

Hangon, So, so you get the call make me a TV show in 24 hours?

Ronald ter Voert 1:26:46


Chad Owen 1:26:47

How do you do that?

Ronald ter Voert 1:26:49

Or, you know, it was like, we sold already 70 episodes. But it's a game show. But yeah, I told him something about this and that. But it doesn't work good now, so just make something. Well, that that's the best stories of course, but you know, that that happens. Yeah, but it's really difficult to, you know, I always say like, if you want to create an a game show, it's not difficult to do the introduction, the middle part, but the the, the final episode, that's where it's, you know, desperate crisis.

Mike Parsons 1:27:24

So, how do you ensure that you've got the right people working in the right way to get that job done? What do you do is editor in chief? What, tell us about some of the the tactics, the behaviours that you employ, that enable your people, your teams to achieve that what you deliberately doing to ensure success?

Ronald ter Voert 1:27:45

Yeah, one one thing I want to say first, is, if you look at television, you look for the people who likes to be creative, you know, they don't have any boundaries, you know, sometimes these are the people on the street, we think, almost lunatic, but they the best one, I think, you know that from the advertising industry as well. But if you look at at EMERCE, you know, when I started a section of years ago, the first thing you do is look at all the people and ask them the same question, Who are you where you want to be in a few years, and, and what when you do in life? And we're that in mind, you can decide if somebody is on the right track, right position or not. And sometimes you have to say, okay, you like it on the position you have, but you better move on because it's not the right track for you. And that's just profiling someone, my gut feeling

Mike Parsons 1:28:38


Ronald ter Voert 1:28:38

I sometimes say to my wife, I don't know where I learned this. But you know, it's the same if I have to do an interview, you know, and for example, a few months ago with the CTO of Ali Express, I don't know the guy, I just had mailed him, and I said, we want to do a cover, shoot an interview with you. And within a few minutes, he is in China, it was 11 o'clock at night, and in the Netherlands it was three in the afternoon, and we have to become friends within just a few minutes. Otherwise, we have for 45 minutes, and then it ends up. so that there's always a nice spot to to profile somebody to be come friends. Yeah, and get get more information than just you know, what the press people also tell you. Yeah, that's not what we want to know.

Mike Parsons 1:29:22

So do you do you build models of like, each of your team members? Are you like, calculating what they're looking for? What their hopes and dreams are? Do you feel like you've almost got like a mental library of all the dreams and hopes of your team?

Ronald ter Voert 1:29:36

Yeah, but that's, you know, I'm passionate about communication and psychology and media is all about those things.

Mike Parsons 1:29:43


Ronald ter Voert 1:29:44

And it's also like, when I started that EMERCE, you know, we're doing brains online and events, we have the biggest E and E business in the Netherlands. We always say, we like the wired or the fastcompany from from here. But it's, it's, it's, it's always about. I forgot your question, now.

Mike Parsons 1:30:01

So you know, this, this where we're going is unlocking all of these practices within your people. You've got like this library of all of their hopes and dreams. Are you constantly checking against that? Are you are you constantly saying, I've got to make sure Chad, I know he really wants to do this. He's motivated by this. Are you literally checking in on that, that library of the dreams?

Johan Van Mil 1:30:27

Yeah, yeah. But But the most important thing is that you have to look what is the biggest special, you know, we sometimes have people in Netherlands, and they write a letter, like, I want to work for you. I always say like, I don't care. You know, we want to have people who are passionate about the industry. Yeah, so you want to know, the next story or the next evolution. And you really know the facts, you know, writing everybody can, write, you know, but it's about really being interested in people, in industries.

Mike Parsons 1:31:01

Which is, which is interesting, because finding people with passion is something that some of our other guests talked about, what what are you looking what's a sign that someone is super passionate and driven, but say you were interviewing Chad or I, What are you looking for? What's the signal that maybe some of the entrepreneurs here can be looking for when they're interviewing people? What should we be on the lookout for, for talented and passionate people?

Ronald ter Voert 1:31:29

You know, the, the method I use is, I always talk business wise, but also personally. So most of the time, like the guy from Ali, within five minutes, he will know that I have a wife, two children, what their habits are, etc, etc. to just make him feel comfortable and I do the same with my employees. You know, it's not like, Okay, I'm the boss. But it's like, I have also my issues, you know, and I want to be one of them. And then yeah, you're going to get a connection. You know.

Mike Parsons 1:32:03

It's, it's almost to me, like the transparency thing is coming back again, of being the being yourself, being who you really are, and not trying to, you know, wear a fancy tie and pretend you're the boss.

Ronald ter Voert 1:32:15

I think that's the best thing you can do. Because you know, it's the same for myself. It's like five years ago it was like people saying, oh, what you're doing Ronald, the market wants specialist and you're a generalist, you know and then there was emails like wow, your CV is great, you know in about five years the world's will be changed again. Yeah, so I always say also to my children I introduce them now but if they to add it to girls but you know you have to do what you love and the world's will change every day you know, you don't know what will happen and it's also the same if you if you look at our audience our readers or visitors you know it's not like oh yeah we must be on Facebook, no. What is their mindset? What's what's going on?

Mike Parsons 1:33:03


Ronald ter Voert 1:33:03

If you know what they are thinking then you can be ahead of the next step. it's the same with the text messages you know everybody was like no we don't want to have that but in the end we're very happy with it so it's always about well that point

Chad Owen 1:33:17

yeah i would love, it sounds like you're not only have to get into the minds of your own people but being a media company also understand what's going to resonate and be popular with people. I'm i'm curious kind of how you go about finding the trends of topics and people and companies to profile that is kind of ahead of where right where the industry is. I'm just I'm curious to kind of about your process and how you do that research and find what what Yeah, because that's going to make EMERCE, you know be out there?

Mike Parsons 1:33:52

Because what's interesting about this question is you're the tastemaker so how does how does it tastemaker?

Chad Owen 1:33:58


Mike Parsons 1:33:59

Like build the design, guys?

Chad Owen 1:34:01


Ronald ter Voert 1:34:02

um, you know, it's, it's something every minute of the day, also, in my private life, you know, you're always looking for the next big thing. And, you know, I always say, I don't like reading, but I read a lot of stuff, mostly on Flipboard and that kind of things. But, you know, it's, it's that sense. I, what I said to you before, I'm a sort of digital trend watcher, and it's sort of disease almost, you know, it's like, yeah, there's force coming on, you know, what, can we do it for us? Yeah, and you, you, you try things yourself, like Johan said, before you talk to people, you just, you know, you, you, you say to someone? Well, I don't think this going to work and they're going to, it's going to work? Oh, yeah, I'm great. I've also also, you know, but it's, it's always like, you know, like a trend watcher and, and also with the mindset of audience in mind. Yeah, you know, what will be the impact of it, etc, etc. And then we make content of it in several forms.

Mike Parsons 1:34:57

So we've talked a bit about the process of attracting and keeping talent. And what's really refreshing is, in this world of data, and software and startups, that is still about the people, it's still about the way in which you interact, the way you collaborate with people. And you're doing all of this within the setting of Amsterdam. And I think it's really exciting to hear from you. What makes Amsterdam so special? Why is it that we were in a city that's full of creativity and innovation? Why is that so?

Ronald ter Voert 1:35:34

Well, one of the other guests already mentioned the VC mentality, of course, but I was raised in the east of the Netherlands. And it's not a big difference between there and Amsterdam. But I live now for 25 years over here. It's like, you know, the atmosphere, you can be yourself, you know, it's like, nobody will say, or blame you for something, it's like, you can sort of self employment as self development. And I think if you have several people have that in one office, you get a gang of creativity until, big heights, you know, you know, that yourself, I think, when you're working here, and also it's we are a small country, you know, it's always like, Oh, we are going to conquer the world. But in the end, we are just a very small country, right, as as big as Paris. So we have to be very creative with a little bit of money.

Mike Parsons 1:36:31

So you think there's actually some natural constraints? Yeah, I you know, I hear the story a lot that because the Dutch have always been forced into a trading mentality as a small nation, you've built bridges, virtual bridges to the rest of the world. And that's still seems, from what you're saying to be alive today.

Ronald ter Voert 1:36:49

Yeah, but we have to, you know, it's like, if you're so small, you have to be smart again. Yeah. But and I think if you look five years ago, well, when we said we are from Amsterdam as well, okay. You know, it's sex drugs on that, that kind of thing. But I feel in about the last year, it's like, Wow, cool. Amsterdam. I think it's because of the geographically place. Yeah, and, and, and it's just a shift, you know, it's like, people see, like, Wow, that's a nice place. I can see that also allows last night I was on the TV there was like, the tourism in all of Europe was going down, except for the Netherlands. And Amsterdam was not like, 5% up, but more. Yeah, it was like, Why, what? Why is that, you know, for us, it's normal. Yeah, but there's something magically or something.

Mike Parsons 1:37:39

Yeah, there's, there's, there's definitely a very magical,

Ronald ter Voert 1:37:43

cozy as well.

Mike Parsons 1:37:44

It's cozy and I think that you feel the openness. Culturally, you feel the openness. I always say that the greatest challenge of living in Amsterdam is that you're not expected to be anyone other than yourself. But that is often the greatest challenge of all. So what I want you to help us do now. Chad, are you ready to go out into the audience? Okay, so this is where we can mix it up a little bit. I didn't tell Chad about this. We're going to ask the audience to tell us why they think Amsterdam is such a great city for being creative, why it's such a hub of innovation? So who has some thoughts on what makes Amsterdam so special?

Chad Owen 1:38:31

Yeah. Who wants who wants to brag on your city? Come on. There's got to be someone out here. Why is Amsterdam so great? Yeah, okay. Don't forget to introduce yourself.

Audience - France 1:38:41

So good afternoon, everybody. I am the father of Yost. France, my name. I was born and raised up in Amsterdam in the west side of the Amsterdam what makes Amsterdam especially Amsterdam has a history I heard you talking about the VOC that's for the Netherlands very very important as hassle and history why we can be proud on. To be to come to come be and Amsterdamer that you have to earn that, you know what I mean? It's kind of a trophy. So if you want to earn that you have to study about Amsterdam, just visit the Branca face then you can meet a lot of people will have talking people from the neighborhood etc. That makes you rich about the history of Amsterdam. As I said doing with the shipyards, the heaven, what means the dump truck everybody's talking about a rock. A rock is a place to be where you can go with your boats and they putting on on the site for waiting for next transportation, etc. This is the history of Amsterdam and I'm still proud. I'm no living no more in Amsterdam. But still, I'm proud to be an Amsterdam.

Mike Parsons 1:40:14

All right. Who else? Who else has some ideas to offer on why Amsterdam is a creative and Innovation Hub? Don't be shy because Chad has been known to force people to speak. Look at him. He's a brutal guy. Who else has got some thoughts?

Chad Owen 1:40:31

Why is Amsterdam so great?

Audience - Stephen 1:40:33

Hi, it's Stephen I would also say because of the honesty of the people living there. To people if you look if you look strange, people tell you look strange. You look nice. People will tell you look nice. And if you have a good idea. People will tell you, you have a good idea. If you have a shitty idea. You people will tell you, you change this and this and this or help you to make it better.

Mike Parsons 1:40:55

Okay. So openness. I think there's a great Dutch saying a true friend in Holland tells you when you have spinach on your teeth. Right?

Ronald ter Voert 1:41:04

For sure. Yeah,

Audience - Stephen 1:41:06

Again, I think we've been talking about corporate agility. But maybe this agile metaphor, maybe even can be taken to a nationwide level. I think that as a nation, we've always been forced to adjust to be flexible, because we're not with many. So we need to be smart. So I think as a nation, we're very open to trying to do new stuff about from a great infrastructure apart from greats levels of education, apart from the fact that we're physically quite well situated where we are. So I would like to think that as a nation, we have a lot of Agile characteristics.

Mike Parsons 1:41:50

Oh the first agile nation thank you. So Chad, why don't you go to the lady who was the first to comment and ask her. She's got lots of ideas. I can tell. Okay,

Audience - Mika 1:42:06

What I think about Amsterdam?

Mike Parsons 1:42:08

and why is it a creativity and innovation hub?

Audience - Mika 1:42:13

For for me, Amsterdam is really a free spirit. So there's so much energy in the city and about exploration, do new things. Freedom that's free. So that's what comes to my mind.

Mike Parsons 1:42:28

Fantastic. All right, everybody, would you please show your appreciation from the Big Cheese from EMERCE Ronald! Okay. Now, if you hadn't already noticed there's plenty of beer being consumed. There's a whole rabble of people at the back of the room now. I think that's a clear sign that we need to get to a wrap on this show. Chad, what do you thinking?

Chad Owen 1:42:57

Yeah, thank you so much, everyone, for participating. And I just wanted to remind you that Mike and I do host a podcast if you couldn't draw and you can find that at, we've profiled some really great entrepreneurs and innovators, unpacking as much as we can from them to learn how we can take their practices and apply them to our own lives. And I think today we've gotten some really amazing takeaways. For me, I think that the biggest one was this idea about honesty and transparency. It seemed everyone that we spoken to everyone got to that point. And it seems to me to be a very Dutch thing as well. What Steven was saying how, you know, they'll tell you how things really are.

Mike Parsons 1:43:45

Yeah, I love that. So what a fabulous way to kick off the night here. The night is only very young we're super thankful to all of you for being part of the moon shots podcast which episode number we is this 14? 14th episode. So we thank you very much. We want your thoughts, your comments and your ideas. But in the true spirit of Amsterdam the freedom of the night. It's Friday night. We're going to wrap up here for the Moonshots podcast, the DJ is queuing the vinyl and we're ready to enjoy and celebrate something very special tonight. So everybody thank you very much for Amsterdam.