Drives are the real engine behind growth and development, but to what extent are companies in the Northern Netherlands consciously working on them? And how do they approach it? NOM is curious and, for this column, interviews organizations that are actively exploring their motivations.
His grandfather used to generate electricity with a windmill he built himself, because he was a man who saw opportunities and took advantage of them. Entrepreneur Maarten Overeem (36) does the same in superlatives, although he is learning to dose better and better since his burnout six years ago. "My life has changed completely, but the adventure is still part of me.
He is and remains an idea engine. So the name of the software company that Maarten runs with two partners in Assen - Idee101 - seems to be written on his body. "The world around me constantly stimulates my ideas," explains the inspired entrepreneur. My head naturally looks for possibilities, sees opportunities, and is always thinking about how something can be done better. In conversations, I am often already three steps ahead. That is a strength, but I have experienced firsthand the pitfall of not mastering that ability. In my first years as an entrepreneur I jumped into everything like a young dog and after a while that proved - especially in combination with the principle 'work hard, play hard' - to be the recipe for a serious burn-out.
Not yet thirty years old and he was already burned out. Maarten realized six years ago that things had to change course and went on a trip around the world. 'While my partner Ronald Sijbom kept the company running here,' he says gratefully. 'Really all credit for that, because it gave me the space I needed. Traveling changed my life; especially logging in the nature of Tasmania did me good. After my return, I made different choices. No longer working six days, but four. I also moved from the city to a village with more sheep than inhabitants. Less stimuli, more peace and quiet. Although the arrival of my two kids also brought a new challenge.'
'If I compare myself to a smartphone, I still notice that my internal battery is damaged by that burnout.
I don't get that full one hundred percent energy anymore and I also drain a little faster. Especially in contact with people I have to dose, limit the number of appointments in a day. Otherwise I run away with myself because of all those ideas, which - fortunately - still keep coming. The counterbalance of my partner Ronald helps me with this. The differences between us regularly led to struggles in the beginning. He likes certainty, I prefer the uncertainty of adventure. I think of everything, he gives it hands and feet and keeps focus. The beauty of that is that in balance we are very powerful together. So keeping in balance is essential.
The tattoo on his forearm reminds him daily of the importance of balancing. It is a wave, a very famous one even: "The Great Wave of Kanagawa" by Japanese artist Hokusai. A wonderful symbol for Maarten's vision that entrepreneurship - or, in fact, all of life - is a matter of learning to surf well. 'You have no influence on the waves themselves, but you do have influence on how you anticipate them. If you can surf, the waves don't catch you, you catch the waves. Surfing has also taught me that sometimes you have to wait a long time for a good wave. The trick is to make sure you are ready when that good wave presents itself. Just like in life itself. The more relaxed you can move along and be balanced, the better you sail when the big opportunities present themselves.'
At its core, adventure is his greatest motivation, though he likes to create and connect along the way. 'That makes me keep dreaming and also curious about the dreams of others. At Idea101, we think it's important for everyone to be entrepreneurial in their own way. We desperately need that everywhere in our country. To continue to stand out on a European and global level, we must continue to develop entrepreneurship and our soft skills, such as creativity, guts, ingenuity and enthusiasm. In my view, we need to encourage those elements everywhere, from primary education to universities, from start-ups to multinationals.
Making good use of talents is what Maarten consciously strives for within Idea101 and what he would like to extend in the future, as a kind of ambassador for entrepreneurship. I want to encourage people to chase their dreams. It is my dream to give others a push in the right direction based on my experiences, lessons, ideas and all the beginner's mistakes I have made. In the long run I would like to create a physical place in the Drenthe countryside where we can inspire each other in life and work. Because if there is one thing I have learned, it is that the two are inseparable. That makes entrepreneurship such a beautiful adventure.'