Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten is an Internet entrepreneur, Founder, and CEO of TNW (The Next Web), an international blog for Internet professionals with more than 10 million visitors a month; he is the man behind TNW Conferences, inspiring events gathering speakers and attendees from all over the world to talk about the future of web and tech; and above all, he is a fantastic person with great energy and vision.
When you hear the word “business” do you, like most of the people, immediately picture boring white guys in suits shaking hands or looking very serious and important? Well, that is exactly what Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten would not want you to picture. He firmly believes that business can be fun, and he can prove it! He is enjoying his work and having fun at work, together with his employees. They are doing their business with a smile!
Our conversation for this podcast was relaxed, fun, full of real-life stories and examples, and big truths told in simple ways. Boris is an adventures guy, and for him, starting a company is a great adventure. It inevitably involves risk and possible failures but is an exciting journey, full of raw energy, ideas, innovations, and priceless experience.
Boris shares with us the way he applies his love for adventure to everyday life and how he avoids boredom in managing his company. And what is most important, how he keeps the spirit of innovation alive and well.
According to Boris, there are 3 types of innovation – opportunity based innovation, defensive innovation, and innovation for PR. The last one is fake innovation since it is just an attempt to look innovative in the eyes of the public. Boris says history is plainly showing us that it is difficult to invent new things when you are surrounded by the old ones. So the most reasonable thing to do if you want to be innovative would be to start a new company, let it breathe the fresh air and give it the freedom to be bold and risky. Established companies are forced to play safe, avoid mistakes, keep their process going smoothly. That is not an environment where you make new and unexpected things. You must risk and be ready to lose everything. Failure is a part of the adventure, Boris says. It is painful and hard, but it teaches you a lot about yourself and life. It is a priceless experience and in a way, already a success. As he funnily explains, when something fails, it means you successfully showed it doesn’t work.
We also talked about TQ – curated spaces for talent and fast-growing tech companies, about the importance of networking, socializing and sharing experiences. Also, about big companies learning from start-ups while, at the same time, helping them on their journey. That is what TQ is all about, and Boris talks about it with vision and excitement.
Boris’s energy, love for innovation, creative and fun spirit, the capability to “live what he preaches” are amazing and inspiring. He doesn’t avoid stories about failures and risk, but his vision of business and innovation is so encouraging that it makes you think anything is possible.
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