2 Belgian week-ends

Rock Werchter is probably Europe’s best festival. Top organisation, program, crowd, whatever. But this year I enjoyed it for a different reason.


Living abroad makes some things more complex, and one of them is to keep in touch with Belgian family, colleagues, friends. I think I have about a hundred invitations for a lunch or dinner, but it is just not possible to do this in Belgium. When I am in Brussels professionally, agenda is usually pretty packed and I spend it with team and partners of SBS in Belgium, or in the organisations and activities in which I am active. When I am here in a week-end, I want to share all time with close friends and family, with Femke preferably a 100percent with me. Some may now that I love music concerts- and that I won’t miss Werchter for anything. But this year it was great to meet again so many friends, colleagues, people I know. It was a very ‘warm’ encounter. So great to see everyone back!

My personal (music) favourites: Muse (again), Goose (surprisingly good funky electrorock), Arno (‘nous sommes quand même tous des Européens’), parts of Metallica, parts of Pearl Jam, parts of QOTSA, the atmosphere of Bjork, … . I must say most concerts were excellent but very predictable. That’s why I already look forward to Pukkelpop, ‘my’ festival.


Our Brussels Saturday habit looks like this: we buy De Standaard, De Morgen, sometimes Le Soir and one of the sportpapers (usually HLN, who have a nice online version too), have standing lunch at the corner of Mer Du Nord/Noordzee at the Catherine place, read newspapers at a terrace. This week no different – but we added having a drink with my good friend (and former colleague) Alexis, talked with Bilzen friend Jean-Louis, then we went to the seaside and attended the opening of the new Kinepolis in Oostende (bravo Gilbert), where we also met many that we hadn’t seen in a while. Then a relaxing Sunday afternoon at Oostduinkerke (read great book), finished a project for work, watched the finish of the Tour and in the evening a movie at UGC cinema in Brussels.


This said: I do miss my beloved Limburg. Next week-end not possible, but after I would prefer to spend all week-end in Hasselt, Genk and Bilzen. It may sound strange: travelling around Europe makes you see so many beautiful places, but none have the sweetness of Limburg.





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.




19:23 Gepost door bart in Web | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: iab, iab europe, eacd, brussels, colleague sourcing |  Facebook |


BNoX - Barcamp Brussels

This Saturday I was for some hours in Brussels. A short night-before phonecall with Clo, a former colleague of mine at Skynet, got me over to the Brussels Barcamp (since I was travelling in I could only be there for 2hours). When there, she invited me to do a powerpoint karaoke – a presentation of slides that you have never seen before. Fun to do, not prepared – a good lesson in self-relativation, with a video that I will enjoy watching even more in 10 years or so.


Someone asked me afterwards why I would do something like this. True, I am only a couple of days per month in Brussels anymore. But let me explain you why.



Creativity and entrepreneurialism unleash the passion in people. Initiatives like Barcamp are not only great to present your thoughts, findings, ideas or realizations – they create an atmosphere of shared searching and discovering. About 2 years ago, Peter Forrett – the organizer of Barcamp Brussels – presented his ideas to the Skynet team for some support (back then was still CEO of Skynet). We supported the idea completely, because Skynet is company that lives on the creation of new ideas: from free internet to ADSL, from consumer to corporate solutions, from portals to interactive television, from search to permission marketing… but also because we thought that sometimes you have to role to support initiatives that enable creativity in Belgium. Barcamp1 was born.



Clo was one of  the persons I did quite some effort to hire at Skynet. It hearts a bit to see that see is leaving together with some others, but seen my switch I understand completely and all people are going for what they believe in. They are not leaving Skynet, they are going towards something else.


I believe that creativity can only thrive when you are a passionate believer of what you do. When I was very young, my grandfather told me something I would never forget but only understood some years later.

He told me the following: “Bart, in your life you are going to have to deal with some difficulties. In whatever you will do, you will meet people that are better than you. In studying, playing football, managing or whatever. There is always someone better. Except in one thing,… and that is being yourself.’

I think we can all do incredible things, if we are not acting, if we are not doing things for the sake of public performance, but because we truly believe in them. Clo’s blog (bnox.be) can be pronounced in different ways –but for once let us read it as ‘Be No X’. Be no number. Be no actor of public expectation. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Just be yourself. Just like my grandfather told me.

I will try to bebart.be.


Thank you Clo for a short but good time at Skynet. We’ll meet again. Thank you Peter for the effort in getting it organised. Keep it up. But thank you most of all the participants of daring to share. That’s the only way forward.




Brussels Airport - the return.

Some weeks ago I had a discussion with a dear friend of mine who works at the airport about the quality of the services at Brussels Airport. I have been flying a lot these last months, and compared to the (nearly frightening) efficiency of Munich or the incredibly well-run overall service at Schiphol in Amsterdam, I found it quite a disappointment.


Although he told me Zaventem was the best airport, I convinced him (slightly exaggerating) that it was amongst the worst:

§         for European flights you need your jogging shoes to get at your A gate (it can really long) and it is very boring to do it each time again

§         the check-in takes quite some time compared to others

§         the shops and restaurants are pretty poor

§         an article in the newspaper explained quite some luggage got lost in 2006 (even though it appears to be quite normal for a transit airport like Brussels)

§         etc etc


We went together to watch the cycling event ‘De Ronde Van Vlaanderen’ in Geraardsbergen, and arrived talking about it again. The day after an unannounced firemen strike occured... Although I have no idea why it occured and I believe that striking is a right if used under the right circomstances, it at least helped me in convincing that flying off Brussels is always a bit of an adventure.


One of the elements, the lack of good shops and restaurants, is really a missed opportunity. For one, for the passengers it makes the long walking and waiting a bit nicer. These grey walls and desolate coffee bars don’t contribute a lot in creating a happy atmosphere. But secondly, if well run this would create a lot of additional income, which in turn could be invested again in the modernism and comfort for its travellers. An airport could be (co-)financed by a well-developed and managed commercial area, which would benefit everyone. Cinemas do this via their 3C’s (Candy, Coke and Chips), but you see alternate business models built on commercial or advertising funding everywhere: from TV stations to search engines to flight tickets to ...


This said, my last 2 passages went flawless, and the rebranding of the Brussels Airlines do the airport very well, even though I remain with a previous remark (see http://becks.skynetblogs.be/post/3856723/brussels-airlines) and some search engine optimisation (try typing BA in Google) remains needed.


Seen our discussions, I see the secret hand of my friend in my last passages. My check-in, departures and arrivals were completely perfect, so timely that I expect him to have organized this especially to convince me. So a sincere thank you Jan A, I know you are behind all this, and that you are probably already designing a state-of-the-art commercial arena as we speak!