This Burning Man is a rising Phoenix

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This end-of-year post is not a happy one, but at the very least it will be honest. As you have always known me. 

All in hindsight

Starting August 2012 as an Evangelist for Veeam Software I had the happiest year of my entire life. I had finally landed somewhere where my talent was appreciated, despite some of my flaws. I worked with and for the best people in this industry for one of the best products out there. The fire in me was enormous and I reckon you have noticed. That happiness reflected on our personal life as well and Lynn and I had a great time.

When that ended I took the greatest risk I could to be independent again while I actually still had too much work to build on my personal brand. I was too proud to take the immediate easiest offers on the table. I am a very loyal man, and that doesn’t stop with the end of a contract, no matter what side of the table made that decision.

I would not have hesitated a single second if I could turn the clock back to the first half of 2013 where I still had that passion to fight for ‘my’ product and team. I would have opened my green suitcase, packed my green shirts, strapped on my green trainers and my green watch and go fight for my team. I have missed that passion.

That risk taken has turned it’s back on me. Although I am one of the most passionate strategists you have met, selling myself (out) for profit has not worked out so well. I lack that particular skill of following through and closing my leads. This has put a lot of stress financially and emotionally on my company as an independent and my family.

The Phoenix will rise again

In the last 12 to 18 months now I have had a dozen really interesting conversations. Knowing what you are good at and acknowledging what you are not good at is not always easy when you are looking for a new role especially if you are a niche player. The search for unicorns is almost as mythical as the unicorn itself. When you think you’ve found it, hiring managers and even executives have proven time and time again that convenience in the end trumps talent.

My best and worst moment of 2014 were on the exact same day somewhere in January. I was applying for Community Leader at one of my favourit companies (then) in this industry. One of the C-level executives that interviewed me gave me the greatest compliment I had recieved in quite a while:

Hans, you are fire! You will either light the sky, or burn down the house. It’l be up to us to make sure it’s not the latter.

Moments later the other C-level exec, whom I would report to said, and I quote:

Hans, there is no real future for purists like you in our industry.

That man almost got me to leave this business there and then, becasue I believed that he was right and I was not prepared to let any industry change who I am at heart.

But have no fear, I am not gone. That moment has only strengthened me to fight for that change from the inside. I will prove that ignorant man wrong! I will prove that being in marketing or fighting for your product doesn’t have to include lying about your competitors, making up numbers and insulting your audience, just because that’s how it’s always been done.

I promise that 2015 will be an uprising. I have only grown stronger. My faith in this community of friends has helped me getting back on my feet everytime convenience knocked me down again.

A special thank you goes to one specific friend in the industry who went beyond just telling me ‘if there is anyhting I can do’. This friend has texted, DM’ed and emailed me every other week for the last year to check how things were moving. Who replied to headhunters heading his way to recommend me for roles he wouldn’t take. I owe you a bottle of Limoncello, my friend 😉

Motivation

When it comes to motivation, nothing more than football is able to stand by me. During my years as player, coach and board member of my home team The Puurs Titans in Belgium, I have heard quite a few quotes, speeches or watched motivating movies. Here is one of my favourits that reminds me to keep fighting when things get a little dark:

Life is a game of inches and the inches we need are around us. (Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday)

I dedicate this post to my lovely wife Lynn, who stands by me and fights with me for every inch. We’ve lost a couple of games but we’re still in the running for playoffs!

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7 comments

    1. Thx for being a mentor, Stephen. Not only to me but to this community in general. If there is one man that has earned many I-owe-you notes, it’s you. Send my greetings to the family!

  1. What a great, honest post! It’s awesome to see you keep on fighting, and that’s exactly what you’re good at.

    Never let somebody tell you what can or what can’t be done (especially when you’re involved ;)). You’re Hans, you’re a great guy, doing such great for the community. You’re the one that is always honest, and that’s just how it needs to be!

    You’re a great guy and you’re always willing to keep growing, and you’re absolutly right proving that man wrong, and you totally will!

    Thanks for so many awesome things you’ve done in and for the community and a special thanks for being the great guy you are! I wish you and you’re lovely girls a merry christmas and a very happy, awesome and dreams come true 2015!

  2. Wow. I also had a similar moment this year, and came away disillusioned from a company I thought was awesome. I am not sure how I’d have reacted to that one statement. Good on you though.

    The podcast is awesome man. I’m enjoying your insights on every episode. Hope your 2015 is ablaze.

  3. Good post Hans,
    Keep fighting, this industry needs people like you!
    Vibrant, strong and very straight with comments, I like your style and this is your value. Keep it up!
    My best wishes for a great and prosperous 2015.

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