WHY THIS PAGE
Inspired by my friend Robin Clarke and his pretty cool readME on gitbub, I decided to create this page to share a little bit more about myself without so much focus on the professional side of being me. Things change and so do I, so there will be some updates here every-now-and-then. When needed, please remind me that I have to update this page!
THIS IS ME
There is an interesting and never ending struggle inside my head. On the one hand, I am your typical open minded tolerant spontaneous outgoing and outspoken Dutchman. On the other hand, and driven by own negative experiences and fact-finding-missions during my research in Cybersecurity, I am very cautious about privacy and security. This struggle influences basically everything I say, write, post, share and publish. At what point is information too personal, at what point can information be used for other purposes than it was intended? It might sound strange but I really ask myself these questions a lot, and the lessons learned have coined me to the extend that I make active and conscious decisions about what I share and what I will keep to myself. Yes, this process of course also influences this page!
First and foremost, family and friends. There is nothing that comes close to that priority but I am also very aware that I should do much more to uphold that priority. Especially when being buried in work, I am still guilty of not taking a step back and reward the most important people in my life with the same attention that they bless me with. This is my weak point and I can only ask for forgiveness for all the times that I failed to do so. Don’t give up on me yet, I am working on it, reminding myself that this is my responsibility!
I have always been and am blessed with special friends throughout my life. Roeland, I still miss you every single day. Norbert, you are the kind of friend every person should have. Robin, our journey is far from over. Bernhard, the student and the teacher. Tanja, never stop being Moo. Meneer Marc, you are the smartest and coolest person I know. Milko, never surrender! Thomas and Marcel, teaching me how to disagree with respect. Wolf, always Mind over Matter. Kami, always being yourself no matter what. Peter, my personal safety net and the feeling is mutual. And of course Amanda, never a dull moment and always showing me where to look but never telling me what to see. I should say “thank you” more to all those special people in my life and I will start today!
PEOPLE OVER PLACES
With 3 decades of international career and still going strong, I have had the pleasure of seeing many places around the world. To be honest, the places are not my most precious memories of moving around and traveling. For me, all that really matters are the great people I have met on my trips and assignments abroad. Different cultures, different perspectives, different understandings of the same things. This is what makes life interesting for me and I hope there are many decades of learning and experiencing cultures ahead of me.
A few years ago I tried to make of map of all the places I have been. I think it describes best how I feel about my dwellings around the globe by the fact that I really had to make an effort to remember all the places I have been but without any effort was able to remember the people I have met, the discussions we had, the fun we had. I feel blessed that I still have regular contact with some people I have met at the other side of the globe more than 2 decades ago.
Little over 10 years ago, I became the victim of cyber crime and it was bad, really bad. And expensive! At first I was angry, really angry. After that, my curiosity and never ending drive to understand what happened kicked in. From researching how this could have happened, talking to people who had experienced similar and even worse events, all the way up to setting up a test environment and successfully repeating the hack. I was shocked how simple it could be and decided to be very vocal about it. Workshops, speeches, articles, postings, and now even a book in preparation. My professional passion is to raise awareness for Cyber Security, Cyber Crime, and the need for education of users and children.
Educating children is a very special and important topic for me, about which I am even more passionate. With over a 100 Cybersecurity workshops done and hopefully many more to follow, it is clear to me that smart and intelligent adults are struggling to understand the risks, the do’s and don’ts, and the majority still have some false sense of security by believing that other, for example the companies they buy their equipment from, will take care of their personal cyber security. Until they join one of my workshops and see the shocking reality. Against that background of adults having major challenges to protect themselves, try to image how difficult it will be for children who try to find their way in current and future internet driven platforms and social media. When you are a parent or a teacher or a school director and want to get support in educating the kids in your surrounding, reach out to me!
Having a hobby has always been a bit of a challenge for me. Part of my mindset is to prepare and aim ridiculously high. I strongly believe in that and it is as much part of my career as it is part of who I am and even who I want to be. Always set higher expectations for myself. Always improve. Always learn. With a full time schedule and that mindset, having a relaxing hobby has been close to impossible for many years. Until I discoverd photography. Photography allows me to focus on the moment, the view, the process, and with that let it all be for a while. I have no ambition whatsoever to become a better photographer, all I desire is to be able to enjoy photography. Experimenting, learning by doing, collecting valuable memories. Aim to enjoy the picture and not for the optimal end result. In case you still want to see some of my pictures: check my portfolio on 500px. And since 3 years, I even try to paint. Thanks, Wolf!
Long ago, and I don’t always want to be reminded how long ago that really is, I managed what we would now call a startup. Nowadays, we see startups as something positive. New energy, new ideas, short go-to-market. Back then, startup was a bad thing. Too high risk, no long standing reputation, no long list of references. That has changed a lot and the settings for startups are significantly better. Still, there are plenty of challenges and I truly enjoy coaching startups to solve those challenges. Most startups don’t have budgets available to pay for consultants and coaches so it is somewhat of a probono thing in most cases. Maybe some of it will pay off somewhere in the future, maybe others won’t. That’s the risk I am willing to take because I simply enjoy the thrilling energy of the startup culture. Should I also count this as a hobby? Maybe I should.
There has always been a somehow nerd side about me but please don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret! It started as a kid. Cosmonauts, Astronauts, Space Race, landing on the Moon! Besides a poster of Ajax and Oranje (yes, they were really good back then and yes, I know we didn’t qualify again…), my room was filled with posters and articles about Sputnik, Vostok and Apollo. Yuri and Neil were my heroes, and still are! I grab every bit of information about the International Space Station and won’t miss a SpaceX launch, with the same excitement as watching the first Space Shuttle landing from the officers mess decades ago. So it is somehow logical that I enjoy Startrek, isn’t it? On the other hand, I never got into Star Wars.
In the past, the nerd force was stronger (this is still no reference to Star Wars!!!). Building PLC’s from sourced out parts to automate tasks. I still have a crate with some of those units. Doing everything with Linux for many years, sometimes just for the sake of “because we can” but mostly actively working with it. Programming in C because it felt like my second native language. That all has past by, nowadays I put more priority on convenience and simply have less time available to build and understand stuff.
VIRTUAL VERSUS REALITY
Having friends, colleagues, teams and principals around the globe, I truly enjoy the benefits of virtual communication on a daily basis. Chats, messages, video calls, everything is possible and with (mostly) very high quality. It is really wonderful how technology can bring people close who are thousands of miles away, although some people still have challenges with accepting time-zones. Call me old-fashioned, call me conservative, for me this will however always be the second best thing. Nothing can replace sitting down in the same room for a good meeting, having a chat over a cup of espresso, exchanging stories and experiences. But when that all isn’t possible due to distance or obligations, virtual communication is great. Just not the greatest.
I write. I write a lot. I write so much that I consider it part of my life, personally and professionally. I take notes during every meeting and that really helps me to keep track. I have learned that writing important things down helps me to remember them much better. So when you are in a meeting with me, please just accept that I take notes all the time. I write down my thoughts in journals, thoughts about what I appreciated, thoughts about what I would like to do different the next time something happens. Plans, ideas, lessons. I write them all down, even when in many cases I never look at such notes again. It just helps me to sort my thoughts and clear my mind, it also helps me to remember and evaluate later. I write articles for this blog. I write articles for others. I write whitepapers for work, booklets and contributions to research papers. I write a lot. Somewhere in the back of my mind is this plan that I will become a full-time author once I retire. There is still many years between now and that moment, so until then I will focus on articles and finishing the book I am working on. Cybersecurity for Road Warriors and Couch Potatoes.
There are different ways in which I write. When I write about for example LEAN or Agile, I have a concept in my mind and basically let the article or contribution create itself as I am writing. When I write about Cybersecurity, I prepare a structure with key points before I even formulate the first sentence. With journals and notes, it happens basically in RAW mode, thoughts and information end up on paper or in a document in bullet points without filter. And there is of course every now-and-then writers-block. I noticed that this happens mostly when I simply have too many ideas about what I want to write and how so I have learned a simple trick that helps me solve this. I put all ideas in a mindmap and enjoy the structure. Did I tell you already there is a nerd hiding inside my head?
FACTS AND DATA
It isn’t always easy for the people around me (and sometimes for myself), but I am very facts and data orientated person. I truly enjoy different opinions and learning from different perspectives and experiences. And I check facts and data. Please don’t feel offended about it, that’s just me.