Reflection: my first 265 days as CEO of easygenerator


Last week I met with a former colleague, just catching up. He made a remark about this blog. He said it had become more a marketing blog for easygenerator and less reflective than it was before. I read back some posts and he is right. I shifted (a bit) from a personal view to a corporate (easygenerator) view. So I decided that it would be a good idea to restore that balance. I will start with a personal reflection on my first period as CEO of easygenerator.

I have 100 days to go to complete my first year as CEO of easygenerator. A  nice moment to look back on the first nine months.

The first thing that comes to mind is not work related, but private. One of my sons became seriously ill in January. This made very clear for me what my priorities are. For me my family comes first, no matter what. I’m happy to say that my son is doing alright now, but this episode made me aware of the fact that it’s great to have an exciting and challenging job, but it is not the most important thing. This became clear for me from the moment I became a father (now 21 years ago), but an experience like we had really brings this home again. A great career and success in business are important to me, but I’m (again) aware of how relative this ‘success’ is.

I have been a CEO before, but the last few years I was working on the vice president level. The easygenerator team is just over 20 people and they depend on easygenerator for their livelihood. Stockholders (ISM) invest in us and an increasing numbers of partners and customers rely on us, some even building their company strategies on the fact that they use easygenerator. At the same time we have an ambitious plan to sell easygenerator globally and to make it the ‘next generation authoring tool’. As with any ambitious plan this comes with risks. I knew that by accepting the role of CEO I took on this extra responsibility but I must say that the impact of this is greater than I expected. Or maybe I must say I’m more aware of it than I anticipated.

Overall I’m very happy with the start I have made at easygenerator. Both ISM and easygenerator are great companies to work for. The average age is well below 30. This makes me (at 49) one of the very old. I’m the only one in easygenerator who is above 30. What I like most about working with a young team is the energy. People are willing to make changes and are willing to ‘go’ for it. Thanks to this we are able to move fast forward. Our product development is a great example of this. Not only did we deliver two new versions (with the third well on its way), we were able to create functionality that really can make a difference in the field of e-Learning.  This is one of the great advantages of my role. I can translate my vision on e-Learning into a concrete product. A great way to spread your ideas. The other thing is that the market will decide if these ideas (and our product) do add value for them, I can’t imagine a better way to get feed back on a vision.

Another interesting aspect of my current work is that it is globally oriented. I travel quite a bit and get to talk to people from all over the world. It is very enlightening to hear very different perspective on current developments. I talked to our Egyptian partner about the revolution that was taking place, I get to hear the view of a potential US partner on the financial unrest. This gives you a broader perspective of things and it makes you realize that our news (even in quality newspapers) is always colored. On top of this it’s the first time that a large part of my direct colleagues live and work in an other country. I have visited our colleagues in the Ukraine now three times (I will go again in September). I got a lot more insight in their country and the culture, which is quite different from the Dutch culture. I like those changes of perspectives; it is a great way to learn.

The strangest thing I have noticed over the past months is that people react differently due to the fact that I have ‘CEO’ on my business card. Having that ‘title’ has more effect on how people respond to you than my résumé that spreads over 25 years. It is a strange phenomenon. But I guess having a ‘sexy’ title is a good compensation for becoming bold and approaching the 50. It is a lot cheaper than a sports car.

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