Laurentien van Oranje: ‘Children and startups are quite similar.’

Last week, Princess Laurentien van Oranje and journalist Jeroen Smit launched their book ‘Nog Lang en Gelukkig’ in the one-off space at B. Amsterdam. For the book, they interviewed ten managers about their struggles, dilemmas and doubts. Next, they asked a group of children (age 9-12) for advice. But why? 

Jeroen Smit and Laurentien van Oranje have been friends for over 35 years. IMG_6274Jeroen is an investigative journalist, Laurentien writes children’s books and works for the Missing Chapter Foundation. This foundation matches Boards of Directors who have certain questions, with boards of children who offer advice. Apparently, children are still more ‘in touch’ with their gut feeling and intuition.

Laurentien is so enthusiastic about the advice these kids have to offer, she calls Jeroen with the idea of writing an entire book on this subject. Jeroen is in. Then they find some well-known ‘bosses’ who were willing to open up and ask for children’s advice. To name just some of them: Neelie Kroes (StartupDelta), Ben van Beurden (CEO Shell) and Ahmed Aboutaleb (mayor of Rotterdam). The lessons the children offered them, were original to say the least. Maaike (10) said: ‘Ask your heart what you should do and your head how to do it’. Bedirhan (9) was more strict: ‘If you’re not happy, you’re not trying hard enough and others will pay for that.’

IMG_6277// fan of startups
The benefits of listening to children, seem quite like the characteristics we see in lots of startups. Laurentien agrees: ‘When you compare startups to corporates, startups are usually far less afraid of change and unpredictability than corporates. They dare to take risks, not knowing exactly what the outcome will be. That’s the same for kids until they reach a certain age.’ Apparently that’s also the reason her and Jeroen chose B. Amsterdam as the location for their book launch. Laurentien: ‘When you walk into this building, you immediately sense that there is so much creativity in here. People are constantly making bold plans and creating new things. That’s exactly the spirit I think more corporates should have and why I’m so enthusiastic about B.’.