Freedom is one of the most important things in my life – the freedom to make choices and to do what I genuinely enjoy. In my case, that’s a lot. I work thirty hours a week at ABN AMRO and run seven businesses on the side: an ice cream factory, a delicatessen, an importer of ice cream wagons, a home accessories shop, a Christmas hamper wholesaler, a property firm and a consultancy. Freedom is not the same as free time. On the contrary; to me, freedom means working hard – really hard. And I love it!
Freedom is not the same as free time. On the contrary; to me, freedom means working hard – really hard. And I love it!
Jos Blom Senior Business Consultant
From inspiration to enterprise
My entrepreneurial spirit was stimulated by my girlfriend, Imca. We were both working for ABN AMRO when I met her, but she was also running her own home accessories shop. We went on sabbatical together in 2009 and took a trip around the world. During our travels, we talked about everything that inspired us: from original styling to fantastic delicatessens. Imca quit her job two days after we returned to the Netherlands. She came home and said, ‘I just quit my job!’ She wanted to open a second home accessories shop, and she also wanted to open a delicatessen. I helped her, and not much later I opened my own ice cream factory with two good friends of mine.
I often sit in my ice cream factory (which I built myself)! with two laptops next to each other. I’m good at multitasking and can easily switch gears. My secret to juggling different things effectively is a lack of structure. Take away my freedom and I become a lot less productive. My manager understands that better than anybody else. He always says, ‘Doing what makes you happy is good for the bank’. I have no desire to leave ABN AMRO, even though I could financially. It’s the combination of activities that thrills me. And the fact that my employer supports me – that’s really great.’
ABN AMRO has embarked on a new path in recent years, thanks in part to the New World of Work. By giving people like me freedom, it enriches the organisation enormously. I think it’s fantastic that some of my colleagues have their own businesses, are top sportspeople or do volunteer work. It makes for a unique combination of people within the bank. We all take our life experiences to the bank. This makes us more customer focused, simply because we look beyond the bank’s standards and values.
Do what you love
I challenge everybody not to restrict themselves to one company or one position. Look beyond these limitations. Do things that really make you happy. Take the time to discover what you want to do and have the guts to experiment. You spend most of your life working, right? So you should do something close to your heart, whether you want to build your own ice cream factory (like I did), become a sports consultant, or help your brother at his law firm.
Take the step!
A lot of people would like to do what they love, but are afraid to because they think too ‘strictly’. Sure, you have to make choices and concessions. But you don’t have to burn your bridges to follow your dream, as long as you are a little creative and give yourself the time. If you can’t work part-time at your current job, perhaps you should take a job at a lower level, for example by switching from a managerial position to a more operational role. That’s a small sacrifice if it allows you to do what makes you really happy, isn’t it?