Looking in the mirror

Forty Five

It’s my 45th birthday today. I am spending it with my kids and my parents in The Netherlands.

Funny thing is that I do not feel any different than I was 25. When I look in the mirror, I look older. But inside, I feel not a year beyond 25.

Of course, I have learned a ton and not really reflect the person I was at 25. I’ve learned a ton in those two decades – both professionally and personally. I moved continents, started a few companies and had a lot of fun along the way.

What I do know is that I could not have predicted how my life would unfold when I was 25. I did not have a career path in mind. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to be working on “the internet”. It was still early days and nobody really knew what to do with it yet. I just felt like an enormous opportunity to build and work on great things.

Today, I still love “the internet” and it surprises me still every day on how it can impact people’s lives and changes the way we live and work. I am convinced we are still only at 10%. Or as Jeff Bezos would put it: “We’re still at day one.”

Over time my mindset did shift a bit from “everything will be online” to “the internet underpins everything we touch”. It is a subtle shift from the virtual world to a more physical integrated world.

I have no doubt in my mind that I will be working on “the internet” until the day I leave this earth. The internet is the single biggest achievement of mankind until today. It is a new age. We’re still discovering what this means and how we can apply it. It touches literally everything we know including politics. The industrial complex we built in the 20th century can no longer properly support our society today and it is hurting. The machine is breaking down. Change always hurts – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. It is the unknown what scares people and brings fear. It reminds me of this quote of Master Yoda (or George Lucas):

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

I would replace fear with anxiety in this quote. It makes more sense from a psychological point of view, but I digress.

Given history, we will get passed it and we will get it right. I’m an optimist at heart.

I for one feel lucky and privileged to be part of this journey.

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