Friday, March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Salez and I come from the same school. And we had a strange 'affair' in the last year of high school. We both wrote and produced a theater play. He hired Arenberg theater, I hired Elcerlijck. He wrote a French play. I wrote a Flemish play. He wrote a sort of musical. I can't sing. He had a full house, or at least that is what I remember of it. I had a three quarter house. His play was smooth and mature. Mine was experimental -very-. Everybody expected him to end up in the Arts but he became a successful entrepreneur instead. TBWA, Vicindo (bought Artis Historia and terminated it!), Vincotte, Delvaux. He also created a remarkable non profit for sick children in hospitals "Simon and Odil".
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
At the end of the day Europe Unlimited organized an Award Ceremony. High-growth companies selected from each of the parallel sector review sessions were honored and invited to comment on their key factors of success. While the 9 winners presented themselves I suddenly noticed an abandoned black suitcase against the wall of the auditorium. It was not the suitcase that attracted my attention but the newspaper that was sticking out of one of the side pockets: a folded WSJE!!
After the ceremony I met the owner of the suitcase: Dr. Herbert Koentges, Business Development Director at Medical Device Works NV. It is always awkward to step up to unknown people, but if they carry a WSJE in their suitcase, it creates the perfect excuse to start a conversation with a stranger.
Dr. Herbert Koentges turned out to be an old WSJE subscriber. I had a wonderful conversation with him about the newspaper industry. Just a few elements to highlight the profile of a WSJE subscriber:
Dr. Koentges (ca 55 - 60 years):
- PhD physical chemistry from TU-Berlin
- MBA INSEAD 1973
- Involved in Cordis MBO
- Member of start-up teams 3 medtech companies with IPO on Nasdaq
- Private investor in several medtech ventures
- Funded the start up of Medical Device Works NV together with the current CEO.
- Succeeded in landing 3.5 m Euro from venture capitalists mainly through his INSEAD network.
When I asked this he took the folded WSJE copy from his suitcase, rolled it out and....a IHT copy popped up. IHT is his first newspaper of choice. WSJE is number 2. He reads both newspapers every day.
For world events he reads IHT.
For world business he reads WSJE.
Where does he read the newspapers ?
In the morning in his car, they both lay on the passenger seat and every time he has to stop for a red light he reads a part on the cover pages. In the daily traffic jams around Brussels he continues to read parts of the other stories.
He likes the compact format, the short and precise articles, the view on world business.
About the IHT:
He is a IHT subscriber for 30 years now. In a former post I wrote about the Paris' soul of the IHT, Dr. Koentges actually doesn't like the Paris link too much. It brings him too much fashion he says. He likes the opinion pages of the IHT the most.
About other newspapers:
He would never subscribe to Financial Times, it is too British, and the articles are too long. He says "most of the FT articles are so big, but of so little importance".
Monday, March 17, 2008
I will work with Mr. F. the coming months. I am very curious. He has the tel. nr. of Richard Branson in his agenda.
Before leaving Paris I quickly visited Église Saint Sulpice. I knew the church had two things I was interested in. One was the world renowned pipe organ from Aristide Cavaillé-Coll and the other was the gnomon described in The Da Vinci Code. In the church you will find a meridian line of brass running across the floor, ascending in an obelisk. A ray of sun will pass a lens in a south transept window and will move along the brass line.
(Picture: 76, Rue Bonaparte, 6th floor, floor with balconies: Home of Catherine Deneuve)
Thursday, March 13, 2008
We still keep in contact and every time we see each other we have a clear off the record (the friendship's part) and a clear on the record conversation (the business' part).
Davy invited me to a French “steak tartare”, and he showed me how IHT is in origin and soul a French newspaper. Apparently the Paris IHT staff is convinced that moving IHT out of Paris (for example to parent company New York Times in New York) would be the beginning of the end of the newspaper. Not that this is playing at IHT headquarters (don't want to start a rumor this way!!), Davy just wanted to make a point about the 'soul' of a newspaper. He tried to prove the point by taking me to the unofficial Diana memorial near the Seine. Everybody thinks the statue (a flame) at the tunnel where Princess Diana died was erected to commemorate her life and death. So people will leave flowers and cards at the foot of the statue all the time. The truth is that the flame statue is an IHT statue. It was given by American people to the French to celebrate the centennial of IHT (1887 - 1987). The flame is therefore an exact copy of the flame held by the statue of liberty in New York.
(pictures from left to right: Steak Tartare, Mr. Davy Drieghe (IHT) at 'Diana' memorial,
IHT centennial plate at so called 'Diana' memorial)
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The values of INSEAD:
- Diversity as a source of learning and enrichment
- Independence as a governance principle
- Rigor and relevance in teaching and research
- Closeness to the international business community
- Entrepreneurial spirit
I like companies or institutions which communicate their values or mission in their entrance hall (as INSEAD does). I actually doesn't happen that much. Most companies will put their mission and values on their website, which is a good start, but it misses out on impact when visiting their premises. When I visit companies with a written mission statement in the entrance hall, and I haven't met physically with my counterpart of that company before, I always play a mindgame imagining the person who I am goin to meet based on the written mission statement on the wall.
I googled Insead's correct address and stumbled upon a blog from an Insead MBA student, that upset my evening. The blog starts in 2003, the year the student started her MBA at INSEAD (http://www.worldmbawire.blogspot.com/) and sadly turns into a blog about the student getting cancer (http://financemonkeyvsalien.blogspot.com/). Reading her blog is a terrible exercise in putting life into perspective.
The first post on her INSEAD MBA BLOG -she calls herself "Finance Monkey"- , dated November 24, 2003, was actually a joke:
A survey company decided to do a world survey on a very important issue. The question was the following: ”What is your opinion on lack of food in the rest of the world?”
The survey was a total disaster as the question was not properly formulated. Too many words were ambiguous:
- In Africa, people did not know what food was.
- In Western Europe, people did not know what lacking something meant.
- In Eastern Europe, people did not know what an opinion was.
- In the United States, people did not know what the rest of the world was.
One of her last posts in 2007 describes how she founded a non-profit to help beat her disease (http://www.beatsarcoma.org). She also refers to her INSEAD alumni network to help her translate her blogs in different languages.
Hi everyone -Sorry for the delay in posting an update. I am actually maintaining a private blog and it took up a lot of my time. I am still in treatment and still chatting with a bunch of doctors, fighting off the nasty Alien but I have some news. I also founded a non-profit to help with sarcoma research since it currently gets less than 1% of funds available for cancer research. Still very early stages but it looks promising!
The WSJE Future Leadership Institute is a virtual institute that acts as a bridge between university and industry. More and more I see and experience the differences between the world of science and the world of industry. The difference between both worlds is primarily based on different rewarding systems. He who wants to score in the universitary world has to produce articles, he who wants to score in the industry has to sell products.
It is clear that there is a growing industry to be found on the border of university (science) and industry, bridging both worlds. It is the playing field of the "Sciendustry". (To my surprise the domainname was still for sale, so I quickly cornered the term :-)
More about the "Sciendustry" in posts to follow.