I just finished reading the biography of Joop van den Ende. It’s the American Dream realized in The Netherlands. Dyslectic, little education, starting as a carpenter in a theatre and becoming a billionaire. It’s amazing how he knows to deal with adversity. Parents died before he became successful, he wanted to be an actor but that was not appreciated enough by the public (except for the small kids when he played Batman), failure on Broadway, heart attack, continuous scrutiny by the critics in the news papers and the pressure of the numbers: television viewers, theatre visitors.
His ‘inner dimension’ is less highlighted in the book (maybe my colleagues should interview him for our television series, but he struggles with his English when it’s not about musicals or theatre, he confesses). But the contact with a psychiatrist during his burn out is one of the best moments in his life. His psychiatrist dies early…
I am proud of the 300 people that we brought together in de Rode Hoed in October for the workshop with Joseph Jaworski. Mr van den Ende is happy when 1.5 million people attend a musical he produced. Jaworski asks himself in his book Source: ‘What is the source of the entrepreneurial impulse? What is the source of our capacity to access the knowledge for action we need at the moment?’ It’s not clear in the book if Van Den Ende asked himself these questions or what his answers would be. For sure he knows how to follow his heart and what he is enthusiastic about. He is someone who wants to prove himself to the outside world and someone deeply committed to what is beautiful about us human beings. He knows how to let them shine on stage. He doesn’t go for compromises and dares to take huge financial risks. Letting go when needed is something he has practiced and loving the people he works with makes him stand out from the rest.
What would happen if people like him start to address topics like sustainability, inner wisdom and personal development? Peter Bakker (former CEO TNT) shared earlier this year with me that all the initiatives around sustainability are way too small to address the crises we’re facing: ‘We need the ‘billion projects.’ To invest in these takes entrepreneurship that is not much found.