full-contact sport

Entrepreneurship is a full-contact sport.

You need a lot of warming up and permanently train for strength and stamina. Unfortunately, not everyone fights fair, so blows below the belt will be dealt.

Get knocked down seven times, crawl back up eight times.

brain train

Every day a different muscle group. That’s what it takes to train muscles. Train them to become larger and more powerful.

Training the same muscles within 24 hours has a detrimental effect. The muscles need a day to restore. Training within the timeframe the muscles require to rest has an adverse impact. It makes the muscles smaller or less powerful.

What is true of muscles is perhaps also true of the brain? Provided that excessive use leads to cramps, how does one train the brain?

What’s the ideal balance between doing something every day to become better at it and resting sufficiently, again, to become better at it?

lessons learned

After suffering a defeat, becoming demotivated isn’t abnormal, especially when that defeat renders an entire vision obsolete. Up in smoke, in an instant.

Sometimes, the hunt is sweeter than the kill. When we live up to a specific moment with high hopes, the level of excitement fuelled by expectations can be pretty powerful.

Until we draw the short straw.

When (feeling) defeated, the way to deal with it is rather binary. Wallow in (self-)pitty or brush that dirt off your shoulder and move on to the next.

defying rationality

Sometimes, it all comes down to one thing. One person who is willing to risk it all and leave everything on the table. One person, who, even after their entire entourage made it clear they stopped having faith, refuses to give in. One person who simply doesn’t back down.

Even after all of the numbers have been crunched, KPI’s reassessed, and targets extrapolated. At a time when every fiber screams, don’t do it. When it becomes blatantly obvious that, from a rational point of view, survival chances are zero to none. That’s when this person rises to the occasion.

Clinging on to hope. Trusting that, when one or two things click in their place, it’ll be all right. Those are the ones Steve Jobs referred to when he said: “the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Cherish those heroes.

business grand prix — crashing

Six liters. That’s how much a Formula One driver loses in sweat throughout the course of one Grand Prix. Moto GP riders, crashing at 300 kilometers an hour, brush the gravel off, pick their bike up, and resume their race. Like it’s nothing.

This type of athleticism is truly astounding. I see nine parallels between these types of athletes and entrepreneurs. Namely, crashing, endurance, stamina, aggression, tweaking, broad knowledge, deep focus, fearlessness, and sportsmanship. Not necessarily in that order. Throughout the following days, I’ll highlight one resemblance at a time.


Sooner or later, accidents are bound to happen, even without making any mistakes. Another driver or rider could brake no more than one-tenth of a second later, touching your rear wheel ever so gently. At high speed, even the faintest touch can alter one’s course dramatically. In motorsports, racers are not allowed to touch each other’s vehicles deliberately. Racing incidents get investigated. Should the race committee think that there might be foul play, the racer will get penalized.

In business, even with the maximum amount of focus, the best team, and crystal clear strategic vision, you might still crash due to a competitor. It’s not always you. Without committing fraud, a rival business might start to target your market or geography. There is no committee deciding who should get penalized. Luckily. Otherwise, the free market would be compromised. In short, your business might crash, even if you play all of your cards right.

It is, however, always you who has to pick up the pieces and get back up. Fall down seven times, get up eight.

In order to learn how to crash and consequently how to get back up, crashes have to be experienced physically. As with many things in life, the more you crash, the better you’ll get at it. Convincing your mind that it’s okay to crash a bike at 300 kilometers per hour requires truckloads of courage.

Crashes should be avoided at all costs. They will, however, occur. When they do, it’s a matter of getting back in the saddle to keep on riding.

choices made for us

A muffled “krak”-like sound. That’s what I heard when I landed out of a jump in rehearsal. With that sound, something in my knee snapped. Finishing my dancing career in the theater in the blink of an eye.

One lousy landing wiped away everything I had vigorously worked for in an instant. All the holidays sacrificed. All the things regular kids were able to do. Had it all been for nothing? Training to be a dancer is similar to training to be an elite athlete, with an added layer of artistry.

From the outside in, it may seem like entrepreneurs always are their own bosses and that they’re able to make every little choice in their career for themselves. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

This one goes out to all the entrepreneurs who had choices made for them. Entrepreneurs forced to quit due to road works in the street of their shop. Restaurant keepers taking heavy blows due to lockdown regulations. Co-owners who have no choice but to forfeit because their partners decide to quit.

If you ever have a choice made for you, know that the sparkle, your unique ability to do what you have been doing in your entrepreneurial career is still there. You must find a way to re-apply it, perhaps in a different domain.

Choices made for us impact us differently as opposed to choices we deliberately make for ourselves.

possibilities paralysis

Adversity caused by limited options isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While having (too) many options may seem desirable. It’s not always the case.

Surely, by now, many are familiar with the paradox of choice or “choice overload” principle. Presenting consumers with many options doesn’t necessarily boost sales, quite the contrary. As studied by Sheena Iyengar from Columbia – and Mark Lepper from Stanford University.

An overfunded company has the luxury to try a couple of things simultaneously. Launch a bunch of new features, enter a new market segment, and so on. This can lead to possibilities paralysis.

A company that is underfunded, on the other hand, doesn’t have that same luxury. Arguably, in the absence of that luxury, focus increases. It’s like a hit or miss situation. Probably the reason why Amazon’s motto is: it’s always day one. This isn’t a plea for deliberately underfunding your company. Being chronically underfunded is expert-level adversity and can take the “living soul” out of a company.

Maybe entrepreneurs are sadomasochistic in a weird way. Sometimes, actively looking for adversity can be a good thing. Starting a company isn’t: maybe I’ll do some of this, and then some of that, and maybe some of this as well.

Starting a company is do or die.

anticipation training

We can anticipate some situations, definitely not all. Nevertheless, we can train ourselves to deal with both types of cases as they arise.

Those situations that we can anticipate, we should anticipate. Full stop.
If you’re selling ice cream, you should probably expect reduced revenue during wintertime. Many businesses deal with cyclical seasonality in one way or another. Ideally, strategical planning occurs as meticulously as possible.

For customer-facing businesses and jobs, anticipating should be done as wholeheartedly as possible. This is what the Japanese refer to as omotenashi. From a customer-centricity point of view, we should understand our customer’s desires before they can even express them. After all, who doesn’t like to be catered to their needs?

Situations that we can’t anticipate, on the other hand, require mindset training. In the end, you can’t control what you can’t control, so predicting the unknown consumes much energy. These types of situations require, when they manifest themselves, a combination of flexibility and resilience.

Anticipate when you can. Train your mindset for when you can’t.