My TEDx talk has led to many new opportunities

“TED is the place to give the talk of your life!”

… reflections on my TEDx talk and its first sequel – leading to Giarte’s Outsourcing Performance Day with Gijs Scholten van Aschat in ’t Spant! Bussum


“TED is the place to give the talk of your life!” Over the years, I had heard people say this, I had read it on the TED website, I had said some quick prayers for it, and then the dream came true: TEDx Erasmus University Rotterdam became the place to give the talk of my life.

It was Thursday, 25 October 2018. I had been training for 4 months, together with ten other TEDx speakers, guided by our invaluable TEDx coach Jonathan Talbott; and then I finally climbed the stage, took my place on the round red carpet, drew a deep breath…


“Breath is key. It is the key to a relaxed performance, to restoring your deepest connections with impulse, with emotion, with imagination, and with language.” Thus, Gijs Scholten van Aschat opens the Outsourcing Performance Day of Giarte in ‘t Spant, Bussum. It is Thursday, 27 June 2019 and I am all ears. Because Gijs is breathing. He is breathing Shakespeare, telling and showing us that breath is key; That breath is the way to ‘in-spire: To breathe (life, a soul, etc.) in or into.’ And I am inspired. The rest of Giarte’s audience is, too. I’m thinking about that moment-to-come, later this afternoon, when I’ll enter the same stage. When I’ll be breathing Shakespeare, again. To inspire. And give another talk of my life.

Looking back to the past 8 months, I realize that my TEDx talk has led to many new opportunities. I realize that I owe each of them to the people who granted them. That they did so by getting in touch, laying their cards on the table, willing to search and recognize a shared goal, going off together with me and Shakespeare, in quest for values worthy of pursuit. By trusting me.

Thank you, Liane Philipsen and your Mainfreight colleagues, for applying Shakespeare to Mainfreight and learning how to be an inspirational leader, with Henry V.

Thank you, Marcel Koeleman, for our spirited and insightful meeting and your thoughts on ‘Aesthetics at the heart of leadership’.

Thank you, Daphne van Meurs of the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt Grammar School, Amersfoort, for inviting us to play Romeo and Juliet with your fourth formers: ‘How art thou out of breath?’ Thx to director Erik van Plateringen who led this rich learning experience for >60 teenagers and their English teachers.

Thank you, Nicole Maas, for inspiring me to think about Shakespeare and mourning. Looking forward to contributing to your Netwerk Hemelrijk.

Thank you, Frans van den Boomen, for your Midsummernight’s Dream wishes once a year, ever since that memorable first Shakespeare-sustainable logistics workshop in 2011, and our good discussions.

Thank you, Jonathan Talbott, for coaching me (again!) towards the place I want to be, because it’s home to me and Shakespeare. All the world’s a stage…

…the stage that I am about to enter now, 27 June 2019, at the annual Outsourcing Performance Day of Giarte, three hours after Gijs’ inspiring opening on the transformative power of Shakespeare in questions of leadership and sustainability. I’m trying to pull myself together. Michel Peters, the preceding speaker, has just concluded his talk with a moving video on how tech has taken over our lives – and moved me to tears. Just my luck. I must go on the stage in minutes! As the audience is applauding, I sneak away to the speaker table for a glass of water, then slip into the aisle. Fortunately, on stage Marco is taking his time to thank Michel and have his chat with the audience. As Jonathan taught me, I think of the last line of my presentation: ‘At thy choice, then.’ I have made my choice. That’s what brought me to TEDx, that’s what brought me here. My tears are dry. I draw a deep breath.

Another talk of my life

“I read myself in Shakespeare. I read Shakespeare in me.”

Thank you, Reinout Jörg, Marco Gianotten and Erik Bouwer, for embracing the connection between Shakespeare, digital transformation and leadership. Of course, digital change involves more than technology alone: people! So, a few months ago, we looked in Shakespeare’s mirror together. We saw power abusers versus inspirational leaders. We discussed Hamlet, Richard III and Othello. Then we focused on learning from Lear. How to make ‘good’ decisions? How to broaden our perspective on the force field at work in disruptive organizational changes? How to go an extra mile for our customers and create real value? ‘Nothing can come of nothing’.

So now I am telling Giarte’s audience about King Lear and sustainable decision-making, about Coriolanus, obstinacy and sustaining communication, about Richard II and being human in business.

‘Whate’er I am, nor I, nor any man that but man is, with nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased – with being nothing.’

The power of connection can never be overvalued. I enjoy meeting people: relatives, friends and strangers, and I feel fortunate for all support. Thanks to my Shakespeare applied partners Kaja Pohlmann and Erik van Plateringen, Mette Bouhuijs, Mike Duijn, Moos d’Herripon. Thanks to all relatives, friends and strangers interested in applying Shakespeare to their challenges. Looking forward to giving many more talks of my life with you.

Photos Giarte: