Romania 2.0

Birds flying high, you know how I feel (poor sound, but notice an entire stadium singing). Still post-enjoying the Muse concert at Wembley… I know it’s a (too) bombastic show, but if anyone they can have it, they can. Here’s the start of the concert (poor quality, but it shows the intenseness of the show)– and here a nice summary of most of the concert (even if many of the highlights aren’t there…).


And now for something completely different.

Over the last 20 days I had a rather diverse but also quite exhausting couple of days at work. Take last week. In 5 days, I had meetings, negotiations or workshops in London, Brussels, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Brussels. 7 countries in 6 days… I was invited to go to the Ocean’s race in Valencia for the week-end, but it was more important to me to have a relatively calm week-end with Femke, some Brussels mates, read magazines and books, go to a culturel event in Antwerp, have an evening drink with my former Skynet management committee just outside Brussels, and talk to my sister and some friends in Limburg.


That said, the most impacting evening was probably Tuesday. After an entire day developing our digital business in Rumania and a dinner – I was confronted with 2 choices: go to bed or take a night discovery of Bucharest.


You guessed right – at midnight I asked one of the drivers of the hotel to take my through a tour of the city. Around 1am we stopped for a while in front of the Palace of Parliament, probably Bucharest’s most (im)famous construction. Standing in front of it and looking at the monumentalism around makes you wonder about the madness of this regime at some time. The cab driver (who used to be in Ceausescu’s army) explained me the past and current political structure, the feeling of the population after entering the EU, the growing scepticism, why the locals don’t visit the Palace of Parliament (that actually was originally named Casa Poporului – House of the People…), etc… Although this is a country that is experiencing growth in some domains (in the media business: over the last years media spending grew over 50percent in total, broadband connection grew a staggering 28 percent in one year, … - these are usually indications economies are growing) – it has infrastructurally been standing pretty much unchanged. Instead of talking about web2.0 (there was no real web1.0), the discussion is about Rumania 2.0: what should the purpose and drive be of this complex 22 million country?


Some days later I read that 15 persons have died in Bucharest because of high temperature… It isn’t the staggering number of Parisiens of some years ago, but it also makes you wonder in a week where me and my environment are talking about advertising awards, football transfers, epo or Werchter… Believe me that I am not downplaying (I’m also mainly doing all of the above). Just reflecting upon it for a moment. Rumania 2.0. Wish I can contribute a bit.




Father and me in London - life at its best

One of my favourite live bands is Muse. About 3 years ago, they accepted to play for the launch of the Skynet Music Club, an online music downloading service launched by Gunther Nonneman and Stijn Willockx, 2 former Skynet colleagues. About 1000 invitees attended this incredible concert, and afterwards I have a beer (okay okay, a couple of beers) with the band – and they were so young but so great. I still wear my Muse at the Skynet Music Club concert with a lot of pride!

Since then I saw them

-        in Vorst/Brussels (fun evening with Karen & Dominique from Happiness Brussels, backthen DDB agency),

-        at the incredible Beach festival (one of the best festival I ever attended with Femke, bravo Marc Klein) but also at Pukkelpop, at Werchter, etc…

Yep, I like them J


Muse is also a band that my father likes. He doesn’t like the ‘piano’ songs too much, but is pretty crazy about their riffs, rock songs and everything that basically makes a-load-a-noise.


When I discovered that Muse was one of the bands to open the new Wembley stadium, I had the idea to go there with my father. And a bit surprisingly but actually not – he said “okay son’. I don’t think I have ever been on a trip alone with my father ever, so going to London to attend a concert of Muse in the new Wembley looked pretty great. His sms the day before ‘London, the Becks’ boys are coming’ indicated what we felt: 2 days alone, father and son on the road.


So Saturday we took the Eurostar to London, and my Femke and my mother did all to make sure we got there on time to spend our “father-son’ week-end.


It was great. It was amazing. It is something I will think of a lot. We walked for miles and miles on Saturday, and took tourist busses and cabs on Sunday. Muse played an incredible concert in a sold out Wembley, where from the field until the roof rows everybody was singing, air-guitaring, hugging, dancing. It was a true victory. Go see them on YouTube- but try to see them live to feel what 3 guys can do.


My father and I talked about a lot, even though we sometimes enjoy the silence. The main subject was of course the baby to come J but we talked about music, sports, family, politics - life quoi ... Femke has a great week-end with her parents in Brussels, and my mum had a great party in Bilzen with many of the rest of the family (sorry sis for not being there, big kiss to Lientje and Liezeke).


It was such an unbelievable week-end. This is something that I wish for you all, knowing that it is not possible anymore for many. It was these kind of magical moments that remain top of mind for the rest of life. It is maybe even the kind of things that one lives for... It is definitely the kind of thing that I live for!





Its only rock n roll, but I like it – part 1.

Hey all. Over the last weeks I have been doing pretty much 3 things: worked quite a lot, took care of Femke and went to great concerts. As you know I don’t talk too much about work on this blog, I’ll share family life things with you later – so today it’s about the music.


Tuesday 29th I flew into NY. After a short night, had 6 meetings in 1 day in different locations (everyone who has been to New York will agree it’s a great achievement!). However, a couple of hours before I took the plane, I bumped into an old boss of mine – Scott A, who had been a fantastic the President of the Skynet Board for years. Scott has not only been a strong chairman and leader, but has become a personal friend over the years, who I trust a lot. He learned me a lot about leadership but also how to get things done in large organisations. He is probably the Belgacom leader that is most in sync with the internet business and generation, and thus has stimulated much innovation and creativity. He suggested me to have lunch in the Spice Market, a restaurant in the Meatdistrict. I suggested this to my dinner partners, who fortunately agreed.


At the restaurant, I ran into an old friend, who invited me to a concert by Roger Walters (Pink Floyd) in Madison Square Garden that same evening. I had seen that there was a show but it had been sold out for a long time. How about that for great karma J A 3 hours incredible concert with an amazing set list. Part 1 is a bit of The Best of pink Floyd, part 2 is the complete Album Dark Side of the Moon, the encore is from The Wall. Here some highlight clippings:


Mother  -  On the run  -  Sheep  -  On the run  -  Time  -  Money  -  The Wall


Full set list




June 5, I was one of the closing keynote speakers at the good IAB Interact conference (everything is taped here if you have some free time). Together with my friends and colleagues Mark Bresseel (MSN EMEA) and Zapatero (Yahoo Europe) we ended the conference, but other great speakers I was able to attend were Esther Dyson, Jaap Favier (Forrester) and some others. See all videos at youtube.


My SBS Belgian colleagues had organised an event to see the Rolling Stones at Werchter, and were so kind to invite me too. I have seen the Stones quite often, but I enjoyed the evening a lot because of the different set than usual, but also to get to know some of my Belgian colleagues a bit better (Hi Sofieke, Fred, Jo, Kristof, …). Kinda first Babybecks concert.


What I liked at both concerts is that the audience was 18-81, and there was an intense happiness at both concerts. You could say life is music, but let’s keep it today at: it’s only rock’n’roll, but I like it.




Colleague sourcing - IAB Interact and EACD, Brussels

Over these last moths I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at many conferences: from LasVegas, to DLD in Munich, from Istanbul to Sydney, but also in Rome, quite some in Amsterdam, London, Budapest, and other countries like Spain, Austria, France etc. Most been about digital media, innovation and entrepreneurship, the convergence of media and telecom, future of advertising, the impact of internet on life, media and internet in Europe, etc. although the strangest was probably end last year in front of 30 or so 15-16 year olds in a technical school about my view on education, career and the link between both. Seeing so many talented speakers everywhere makes one feel humble, but also motivated and kinda happy…


But nothing yet in my beloved Brussels. My friends of Insites had organised a session on Youth Marketing, but I was unable to be there. So I am happy that I can finally be back in my beloved Brussels.


In the coming weeks I have a double treat:

1.     on 4 and especially 5 June, IAB Europe is organizing the European Interact conference. I look forward to being one of the closing speakers with Mark Bresseel – now Sales Director EMEA, Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions, and former kinda competitor when he used to run MSN Belgium and me Belgacom Skynet - and Rodriguez Zapatero, who is Sales Director Yahoo Europe.

2.     on 12 June, I will be on a panel of the European Communication Summit. I will on a panel titled “web20 and the internet revolution: shared by everyone, owned by no-one) together with Dorothee Burkel (VP Marketing Communication AOL), Guy Nielsen (SVP corporate affairs from Aegis) and Ph Borremans (the new media lead for IBM EMEA).


Both conferences have amazing line-ups, programs and participants – so would be great if we see each other there.


And believe me, speaking looks like fun but it is week-end work. No time during the week to prepare the speeches and I am still in the conviction to give each one as if it was my last, so it takes some time to prepare. And the hours at the conference must be recuperated in the evening hours. But I love it.


You cannot believe how much I have learned. By speaking, because like blogging (and I do agree with Bruno Seghers here), it is getting your story straight and reflecting beyond day to day business. By listening, because there are so many bright people out there with amazing stories. But most by talking and exploring. So many people are willing to share, and this industry of internet and digital media have so much impact on nearly every aspect of our life that it’s impossible to stop speaking about it. And it is often the same rhythm: 1st time you say hello, 2nd time you say we met before, 3rd time how and what are you actually doing, and then you ask people opinion about – well – whatever.


We are in an era that we have no final answers or solutions yet, only explorations. But these explorations are needed more than ever to progress. Let’s call it colleague-sourcing for now.




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