10 months, 3 weeks ago
On the morning of the 22nd of October 2016 I woke up from the sound of my phone. On the screen I saw it was my mom calling.
I thought about letting it go and call her back ( it was early in the morning and I wasn’t feeling well) but I decided to pick it up anyway.
The moment I got her on the phone I instantly realized that something was wrong. That was when she told me my brother was found dead that morning.
Losing my brother is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Ruben was 5 years younger than me and besides being my little brother he also became one of my best friends when we grew older.
When we grew up we always heard people tell us how much we looked alike. But what most people didn’t know was that we had much more in common than the way we looked. We both had a need for freedom and adventure (resulting in lots of bruises and injuries when we were young). We were both rebels. Always challenging people who would think they could tell us what to do. But above all we shared an entrepreneurial mindset and a dream about building businesses.
Of course there were also differences. Where I was the more visionary type, he was the hustler. I was thinking about ideas that would make a big impact in the world. He was more focussed on the short term, trying to make quick cash, preferably with the least amount of effort possible. When I had a new idea I would try to think through all the steps I had to take to make it a success. When he had an idea he just took the first step and went for it.
People would often tell me that my brother looked up to me. Truth is I looked up to him just as much. Because taking action is the only way to not only dream it, but to do it!
In the period after my brother died I began questioning myself if I was on the right path to realize my dreams and get the most out of life. It didn’t take me long to discover that I wasn’t. I had talked about my dreams to become an entrepreneur for years. I had discussed countless ideas with friends but I never took the necessary steps. There was always a reason. Truth is that I’d been procrastinating for a long time, because I’d let fear get in my way.
Looking back, losing my brother was not only a loss, it was also a lesson. It made me realize that life has a deadline. A deadline that could be a lot closer than you might think.
Remembering that life has a deadline changes your perspective on life. It helps you to make the biggest choices in life and follow your heart. Fear of failure and embarrassment, external expectations and pride fall away in the face of death. A lesson Steve Jobs shared with the world in his Stanford speech.
Having realized that life has a deadline I promised myself that I would stop letting fear get in my way. I decided to follow my heart and went on a journey to become an entrepreneur, to do what I love and make an impact.
Together with my best friend Rutger (who was one of Ruben’s best friends as well) I took the first step. Based on an idea we’ve had for years we founded Passionfruit at the beginning of 2018. With Passionfruit it is our mission to empower, inspire and connect digital nomads, freelancers and entrepreneurs worldwide. At the moment we are building an online platform that uses innovative technology (AI) to empower digital nomads and freelancers and connect them with entrepreneurs and businesses worldwide.
I love the freedom building an online business gives me to work from any place, to travel and explore the world. In the long term Babette (my girlfriend) and I are planning to move to Valencia. Until then I’m planning to visit a different digital nomad hotspot in the world every 6 weeks. This gives me the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a digital nomad myself. It enables me to meet and connect with digital nomads from all over the world. This helps us to build a unique online platform around the needs of the digital nomad community.
Until now my journey as an entrepreneur and digital nomad has been an adventure with ups and downs, successes and f*ck ups. Those are the moments I miss my brother most.
Not being able to share the milestones in our journey with him is hard, but I believe remembering him helps me to make the right choices. In that way he is still with me.
One thing I can say is that I kept the promise I made to myself. Of course I still feel f*cking scared sometimes, but I don’t let fear stand in my way anymore.
Writing this blog from a co-working space in Barcelona – during my first trip as a digital nomad – I realize that this is just the beginning of a new chapter in my journey as a digital nomad & entrepreneur. Through blogs, guest blogs and interviews I’m going to share our adventures and the knowledge we gain with you. I hope this will help you to do what you love. Together we can change the world for the better!
At the moment we are building a community of 300 passionate and purpose driven digital nomads, freelancers and entrepreneurs called the Tribe. You can request to join the Tribe. As a member you are the first to get the opportunity to test new features and give us feedback. You also get the opportunity to earn passive income by referring Passionfruit to your people in your network.
If you send us a request to join we try to contact you as soon as possible. You’ve read my story and we can’t wait to hear yours. Getting to know you helps us to make sure that we are building a community with like-minded people around a shared vision. Do what you love and make an impact.