From Munich to SFrancisco/LA and back...

I wanted to rest some days in San Francisco, but getting there makes one want to become an entrepreneur immediately. You get into conversations like: “my first 4 companies all failed, the 5th I sold for 240m USD, and now I have just started another one…”.
During a dinner with some friends over there, someone convinced everyone: “if you are born between 1970 and 1980, and you haven’t once done or participated in a start-up, you haven’t really lived. Quite the opposite of what the Belgian universities preach.


Then- against everyone’s advice - I decided to spend some days in Los Angeles. It was very last minute booking, and everyone tried to convince me to stay in SF, but once something is in my head…. Being back from LA, I can truthfully say that ... I LOVED IT! I booked a hotel in Hollywood, took the tourist discovery hop-on/hop-off, strolled Rodeo drive, slept a bit on Venice and Malibu beach, and ran into a friend (I guess the only one I know around there) in the WhiskyAGoGo, the bar on Sunset strip where the Doors once used to be the house band. He took me to Chateaux Marmont bar, we ate at The Standard (from Ocean’s Eleven), to the infamous Viper Room and some other cool places. And I met up with some guys from the Hollywood studios, and had fascinating discussion about the future of Hollywood. I’ll be back, too!

I love San Francisco’s internet and technology fever, but also LA’s movie and music drive. Combining technology, media and communication with an internet flavour have and will always be my passion I guess.

Then via Brussels to Oslo, and had some meetings with the great Norwegian team. Thomas Houge, the head of new media Norway, is not only a great thinker who achieves great things, but over the last year is becoming a good friend. Together with some Norwegians we went to … a Muse concert (yes Marc, now I am officially a groupie). Concert was ok, but nothing will beat the London tapes with my father and good friend Luc Van Utterbeeck.

After that I had meetings in Brussels, Amsterdam, Munich and Berlin. Today I initially wanted to go the MTV awards in Munchen , but instead we decided to go the Belgian coast.

Still dreaming of Hollywood, we went to the movie from Michael Mann with Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Gartner named ‘The Kingdom’. There was a lot of publicity for this movie in Hollywood, but it didn’t help here. The 22h30 movie at Koksijde Studio (5 screen movie theatre at the Belgian coast) attracted 2 (TWO) visitors: femke and me. 300p room for us alone. And yes, we enjoyed this private screening ;-)



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.





Google-kerke (or PolderGeist)

Last week-end I spent a couple of days at the Belgian sea-side, in a beautiful place named Oostduinkerke. We have been coming there for about 10 years now, and it remains wonderful, each time again.


Femke wanted to view the exhibition named Visually Hungry in Knokke, so I decided to bike from Oostduinkerke to Knokke, via a small detour. Although it was about 90 km (and I had expected to cycle 50 or 60) it was amazing. Totally alone through little villages, small roads in a perfect happiness. A nearly 4 hour during enjoyment.


From Sunday to Tuesday I had the honour to be invited to Google’s Zeitgeist, a conference with an incredible line-up and atmosphere just outside London. Speakers such as Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, Hans Rosling from gapminder, James Murdoch (CEO BSkyB), Chad Hurley (founder youtube), young but fascinating Josh Bear, Kevin Roberts (CEO Saatchi n Saatchi), and about 50 others …


Panels discussed the future of branding, entertainment, digital youth, but also entrepreneurship (one of the best session I ever witnessed in my life), education or green technology. It remains weird but also so normal to have a drink with let’s say the founders or bebo, youtube or so many others. But you cannot imagine how much I have been brainstorming, re-thinking, discussing and questionning so much over the last days...


It was truly amazing, again. Bravo and thank you Googlers for having us and for creating an atmosphere of exploration.