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Next stop, San Francisco

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For more or less two weeks straight I’ve been in conference marathon mode. In fact I’m typing this as I’m sitting at the UIKonf registration desk, blissfully catching up on email and admin.

This is what’s going on around me:

 

 

There’s another day of UIKonf hackday tomorrow, then on Monday I’ll be off to San Francisco to speak at O’Reilly Solid. This should be really good, I’m looking forward to continuing all the conversations started at ThingsCon there.

Then in June, I’ll be lining up some client work and quite likely another trip to San Francisco.

This has been a very good year indeed, with so many good conversations and connections. My mind is still reeling from all the input at and around ThingsCon, NEXT Berlin and UIKonf, and I expect this to continue at O’Reilly Solid and FooCamp.

At the same time, I’m trying to cut out some time to get another project ready to a soft launch throughout this summer.

These are very exciting days indeed.

If you’re at Solid or want to meet up in San Francisco next week, ping me!

Reboot

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Raygun Gothic Rocketship

Sometimes, even if things are going well and are enjoyable, it’s important to see if where your live is headed, and to change course to make sure to stay on track. For me, now is such a time. I’m leaving Third Wave.

I’ve been running Third Wave together with my friends Igor and Johannes for about two years now, and it couldn’t have been better. We started a kick-ass company out of nowhere, and got lots of good feedback for our work, and had a blast doing it. We ran a few events, and even grew to one employee and a couple of trainees. Personally, I learned lots and lots, and I met a whole bunch of wonderful, inspiring people.

And still, recently I started to realize there’s something else I needed to do, something that the framework of a consulting shop wouldn’t allow. I need to put to test what I’ve been preaching to clients for the last few years.

I haven’t quite decided on the details of my next steps, but I’m drawn to build something at scale, something that matters, with larger impact.

To be perfectly clear here: I don’t think that the work at Third Wave, or strategy consulting in general for that matter, isn’t important or doesn’t have an impact. It clearly does, and always will. Every strategy that helps a large organization get better at what they do has large-scale impact.

My decision to leave is a purely personal one, based on a professional change of direction after some five to seven years of full-time consulting work.

A big, big thank you to Igor and Johannes, to the team, to our clients and everybody who supported us along the way. There’s no way I’ll ever be able to express just how much all that meant for me. Thank you.

For a few weeks or months, I’ll afford myself the freedom to zoom out to bird-eye level, to lose focus, and to talk to a lot of people, bouncing ideas and thoughts. Only then, after some time to re-think how, where and in what context I should focus my energy, I’ll make a definite decision on what’s next. Until then, I’ll look closely at the mental equivalent of Venn diagrams – where my interests and skills intersect, where my desire to work towards scale and my background intersects, that kind of thing.

Also, as I wrote over at the Third Wave blog, I won’t get bored anytime soon. In fact, I have more than enough work cut out for the time being. Among other things, I’ll be service as Program Director for NEXT Berlin Conference 2013 as well as the upcoming spin-off, NEXT Service Design Conference; I’ll keep working on some things with Third Wave; I’m editor-at-large, Europe, for an upcoming magazine code-named Project377 (scheduled to launch next month). And there are a number of side projects that I’ve been having an itch to get started on.

So I’m writing this blog post with a laughing and a crying eye. On one hand, I get melancholic about the opportunities not seized with the great crew at Third Wave. On the other, I’m super excited and exhilarated about the next steps.

Can’t wait to get started.

Thanks & Happy Holidays: 2011 Wrap-Up

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It’s become a tradition for me to write a little wrap-up at the end of the year, both to remember, and to remind myself what the year was like. So this is mostly for myself, but I hope you enjoy it, too.

magical science creature capture
Image by Goopymart, some rights reserved.

Crazy travel

I love traveling, so I do whenever I can. Luckily, my job allows me lots of trips. According to Dopplr, in 2011 I took some 33 trips to 8 countries. Which come to think of it doesn’t sound that crazy, but it’s an average of almost 3 trips per month, which is nothing to scoff at.

Third Wave

My company Third Wave recently turned one. This is certainly the biggie in this annual wrap up: This year for me was largely dominated by our company, which I’m told is normal. Last year this time we had just kicked off, and were just getting organized. This year we have a bit more than a full year under the belt, and that’s a different story altogether. For one, it means that our little enterprise made it through the first year, which is when most new companies fail. So that’s good.

There’s a lot to learn when starting a company, so I’m learning a lot. Some things are more explicit (how does book keeping work?), some more implicit (leadership, criticism, self-analysis, presenting and representing, and overall thinking more like a CEO than a freelancer). All of these are very useful skills way beyond work, so I’m thankful to be learning more about them in this context, for this purpose.

Also, after 15 months we know that not just the company works, but that the three of us also work well together. Obviously we were confident that the team dynamics would work out, but that’s the hardest of all things to plan. I’m enjoying it tremendously to be working with Igor and Johannes, and to see where we can take this whole thing. 2012 will be a good & exciting year.

Cognitive Cities

Early in the year, I had the chance to co-organize a conference, Cognitive Cities Conference, CoCities for short. We did that between our company Third Wave, our office mates Your Neighbours (now Gidsy) and a loose group of friends and freelancers. It was an intense and quite excellent experience. Once you accept that sleep is overrated and go all in, nothing beats the adrenaline high you get from a conference going strong. Plus, I got the chance to meet a big group of very smart and interesting folks both at the event and in the aftermath, which I’ll always be thankful for. In 2012, we won’t run CoCities again, but we’re putting together a number of smaller events.

Friends & Family

In 2011, a number of excellent personal things happened. After a few years, M. and I found a nice place and moved in together, which turned out great. In a relatively rare family trip, my sister and I took our mom to Amsterdam, good fun all ’round. In terms of friends & family celebrations, my dad turned 70 with quite a party, close friends got married and other friends pregnant, and there were some job-related level-ups. I’m happy for all of you!

Tacky Gift Contest

In unrelated news, I was crowned as winner of the Tacky Gift Contest (2005-2011). Two friends from Australia and I have been having an on-going contest on who could find the tackiest gifts possible (certain rules apply, and the budget is set in advance). In each round, two would buy gifts, the third would judge. It’s much more fun than it might sound like, and it’s a tremendously social experience. In fact, I didn’t manage to stay in regular touch with many of my friends from when I lived in Australia, but I still am in touch with 100 per cent of the Tacky Gift Contest contestants. Anyway, I won, and I have a PDF to prove it and all. We’ll open up round two of the contest, and this time it won’t take six years to complete.

Happy Holidays!

I’m writing this at the beginning of a series of short trip to visit friends & family. For the next week or two, I’ll be largely off the grid, but friendly words and friendly faces are always welcome. That said, enjoy your holidays. See you on the other side.

Former annual wrap-ups: 2008, 2009, 2010.