‘Leadership starts with the future’

Posted on 4 februari 2019

‘Leadership starts with the future’

How do you spark a micro-revolution within your company? How do you become a social impact intrapreneur? Those are the central questions we ask participants when we kick-off the journey. We invite them them to join forces, come up with solutions around social & sustainable issues, and have a real impact.

‘For those looking to become an intrapreneur at a large corporate, I would advise a few things:

  1. Choose doing over asking for approval
  2. Start small
  3. Don’t be discouraged by people telling you: it’s not going to work
  4. Know your source of energy and motivation.’

Freke van Nimwegen, founder of InStock, a company that turns food waste into delicious meals, shares her learnings. Five years ago Freke, together with three others, launched a circular business within Ahold Delhaize. During her traineeship at the supermarket giant she felt so discouraged by the amount of food she saw being wasted in supermarkets, she started brainstorming with some colleagues. ‘How can we do something about this?’, they questioned, and began to craft plans.

Fast forward to 2019: there are now three Instock restaurants in Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, a food truck, a catering department, and an event space. Plus, their founders are frontrunners in the global war against food waste.

Can-do attitude

Freke´s story is an inspiration for the few dozen of people gathering this Friday afternoon on the 23rd floor of the banks headquarters in a room with a 360 degree view over Amsterdam. Her story sparks a ‘can do’ vibe with the crowd. Freke has shown that she and her team were able to conquer the bureaucracy and processes of a large corporate. Her story proofs it ís possible: launch a startup within a corporate. Although Instock is now run independently from Ahold, the group did facilitate the birth of Instock.

Freke van Nimwegen passionately tells her story about Instock at the Frontrunners Challenge of ABN AMRO empowered by The Punchy Pack

Then Peter Blokland takes the stage. He is a polar adventurer and leadership coach, and here to share his lessons from expeditions on the Arctic with the mostly millennial aged crowd.

‘What did you feel when hearing Freke´s story?’, he asks.

The crowds gets buzzing. Some of the words that float through the room include:

‘Problem solvers.’

‘Did Freke´s story give you a sense of: yes I can?’, he continues.


The crowd answers in unison.


Then there’s a moment of silence.

‘If you point towards something, you also point towards yourself. Leadership starts with the future. Leadership is trying to deliver the future, through other people’, Blokland continues his speech.

‘The bad news is: the blueprint of the last hundred years is over. The good news is: we can now start building a new blueprint. Every change is as an expedition. Let’s start.’

Peter Blokland, polar adventurer, physically motivates the crowd.

‘What do you really care about?’

Blokland then gives the crowd some time to think deeper about the following questions:

What do you they really care about?
What do you want to create?
What do you want to lead for?

A heated discussion follows amongst participants.

‘I would advise my 1 year old daughter: never get a desk job’, one says. ‘I want to provide a better planet for the next generations and decrease inequality´, someone else notes.

Another participant: ´I really want the future to be more circular.´

The energy around the themes of progress, sustainability and climate change is buzzing in the room. They feel energized and intrinsically motivated to have an impact. And they know their next step should be linked to progress. ‘Ultimately, it’s the energy and intrinsic motivation that matters most’, Blokland says. ‘As long as that’s secured, the rest will follow suit.’