Stop talking, start walking….

Above you’ll find a video and short interview with Harald Swinkels, the CEO and founder of the Nederlandse Energie Maatschappij (“NLE”) and one of the most successful Dutch entrepreneurs of the last decade.

I got to know Harald really well in the past months doing a TopMind Programme together. Before and at the end of our programmes we measure the development objectively, and he improved the fitness of his mind significantly. That in itself is a great achievement, because improvement only happens through consistent self-practice over a period of time.

A short bio of Harald Swinkels

Harald studied econometrics and business economics at the University of Rotterdam. During his student years at university he decided to become an entrepreneur in the domains of online recruitment and later of IT. Initially this seemed to be a raging success, but it finally ended, for his second company, in quite a dramatic pan-European bankruptcy. Starting from scratch again he and his partner Pieter Schoen decided to enter a market they knew even less about… ‘Why not start to sell ‘energy’? Nobody is doing it’ … (except for 3 or 4 experienced corporate energy GIANTS). … Now 10 years later NLE is the largest independent energy supplier in the Netherlands. It provides energy, energy data services, electric mobility concepts and is on the verge of even offering telecom services.

This enterprise is said to be one of the biggest start-up successes in the past 10 years, and both founders are often invited as guest speakers to talk about this at seminars and on TV.

Invest in yourself ‘because of’ and not ‘inspite of’ things going so well….

Not that Harald boasts about it; on the contrary, I got to know him as a very humble self-critical person.

And what made my respect even greater is that he decided to throw himself into this Self-Training Programme at a point in time when it might be the peak of his business success. NLE performs better than ever before and is successfully entering new markets and opportunities. I’m impressed by the fact that he decided to work at himself, while things are already going so well.

A lot of people would take a step back at such a point or become even more dominant towards others. Harald had a different approach. He decided to invest in himself ‘because of’ and not ‘in spite of’ things going so well.

He reasoned: ‘My company now might need a different kind of leadership. What got us here might not get us further… And I’m willing to start the change within myself. My progress always has been realized in DOING….’

As the former slogan of NLE said: “Ik zeg doen!” Freely translated into English: …..Stop talking, start walking…

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