Influencer: Adrie Williams a multi-facetted leader

Interview December 2019

Could you share with us some information of your family life?
I am married and I have three children, of which one is living in Holland. I come from a family where I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters. My parents, even though they have passed away, were very supportive in whom I have become right now. Their influence is still there.

I was raised by a mother that was a highly ethical and strong woman. She came from Banda Abou. As I was the oldest child, my mother and I got along very well. We were so well-connected that we could communicate without talking, just by looking at each other. I call that, communicating at a subjective level. She taught me to be specific and decide where do I want to go and develop strategies and other ways and means to get there. All these efforts will pay off in the end. It doesn’t just happen, you will have to work for it she taught us. She also taught us to be respectful and she was an excellent communicator, she would have good relations with our neighbors. In those days when there were no cell-phones, if we as her children would cross a boundary, any kind of boundary, before I was home, she already would know this. That is how well the neighborhood was connected and kept an eye on our wellbeing.

My father used to work as an administrator at different bakeries and even now after all these years, I would at times meet people whom had worked with my father and expressed themselves very respectfull towards my father. My grandfather was from Saint Martin and my grandmother was from San Pedro de Macoris (Santa Domingo). So he knew as the son of a migrant, that only hard work can make you prosper in our society. I didn’t grow up with my father, but we met regurlay and in that sense, he also played a role in whom I have become now.

My grandmother from my mother’s side, lived in Willibrordus and when I was a child, I use to sit on her feeth as she would lend people money. She also sold goat meat and some herbs. She had a strong 6th sense, that I also developed. She would say, that a certain person was due on her payments and within soon this person would come and hug and greet her, and discretely handed her the outstanding money. Things were not easy in those days and she would say, I haven’t heard from my brother for a long time, my uncle, living in New York. And within short she would get either money or groceries that he send to her. After his sailing career, he stayed and lived in New York. He would send either money or groceries and in the groceries would come some money. So this 6th sense I also have. Just as a side step, my grandmother was from Willibrordus and back in the old days, Willibrordus was the center of Banda Abou as it had a school. So many youngsters from Westpunt would go to Willibrordus for their education. Willibrordus had different plantations surrounding it like Landhuis Hermanus, Jan Kock, Sebastian, Port Marie, Cas Abou, and in the days where there was slavery, the slaves that weren’t very obedient, were send to Willibrordus and it was expected that they wouldn’t survive the harsh environment in Willibrordus. But they did survive, as they were very resilient and strong-minded people. And I come from this heritage.

You consider your self a world leader, where does this come from?
At a very young, I was 14 or 15 years old, as I was taught by my mother, I projected what I wanted to be. I would become “A World Leader” as I really believed that I was a born leader. During my career as president of Initiativa Particular Korsou, I attended international conferences and bumped into a book by Jose Silva, a self-taught para psychologist. That made an impact on me, because what I was taught by my grandmother, I could now validate by reading it in this book.

I went to follow a course in Venezuela of union leaders once and I met Eduardo Garcia Moure. He told me that I was unique, because I was multi-facetted. This after he saw how I handled a soldier guarding the Panteon in Caracas Venezuela and this was just after Hugo Chavez was first removed and then later liberated by some parts of the army again. As at first the soldier was not willing to allow us to visit the Panteon, I told him that I had to compliment them, because without a lot of bloodshed they have re-instated Chavez. Just by saying that, all doors were opened and we and other union leaders from different countries of Latin America got a royal treatment as they guided us through the Panteon. As part of my leadership abilities, I am able to typify people based on their dominant personality and this would give me an idea on how to let certain people fit in any kind of collaboration, while using their strengths. I am also an excellent communicator and connect easily with other people as I am an extravert.

You have a daughter you told me that is a serial entrepreneur, how did that come to pass?
When my daughter was 14 years old, I told her that I would not going to let her get herself into a debt because of her studies like most youth that finance their studies via loans. After they have finished their studies, they are indebted while they still have to earn their first salary. So I told her that she would have to pay her studies herself by starting a business. At first she wasn’t happy with this, but now she considers this to be “the best thing that ever happened”.

When they were young I allowed my children to open up their electronic toys, as long as they would close it back afterwards and that it would still work. So she did just that, and she build lots of experiences “hands on” with computers and cell-phones. She wanted to sell cell-phones, so I borrowed her money via my creditcard and this first Blackberry that was already sold to a customer, was stolen. So I let her buy a second one on my creditcard again, because I thought if I can not trust my daughter whom else would trust her. The rest was history. She sold cell-phones, computers, was involved in the repair of computers and cell-phone, she would refurbish used cell-phones that would look like there were brand new. When she was 17 years old, she bought her first car, and now she is 24 years old, she has a car rental company that has 24 cars. She is the owner of 4 companies and as a serial entrepreneur, she is making big waves. She started getting involved in the BNB-business after she took over the management of the house my mother use to live in when she died in 2015. And she is also a motivational speaker, sharing with others the power of being a master of your own destiny.

What about your son?
My son has a musical ear and he can discern easily when someone is misque-ing a note. I can’t hear that. As I was travelling a lot, I would buy souvenirs for my children and my daughter was able to get some reasonable sounds out of some of these souvenirs, like a souvenir “kuarta” I once brought home. My son also could do this and he was more like playing the percussion though. So my son once went to his music teacher at his school and he asked him why they couldn’t start a brass-band at their school. His teacher told him, that he tried and there was not enough interest. So my son, as he was new at the school went and after some recruitment on the school yard got 40 names of youngsters willing to participate in a brass-band. But then came the challenges, there were not enough instruments, so my son told the teacher he would consult me as his father on this. I suggested them to be specific as my mother taught me, to always be specific in your wants. After making a list of the specific instruments we needed, they googled and got some prices on what these instruments would cost. So as there was no budget to buy instruments, we scanned locally and found a store that was able to deliver the instruments at a much lower prices. So I suggested to my son as the next step to visualize the successful attainment of these instruments within the group interested to form a brass-band and they are now right in the middle of doing this visualization. I am confident that they will succeed.

Why are you confident that they will succeed?
Because I am a living example, that at a very young age I visualized that I would be a “World Leader”. I am in the board of international organization of civil servants and I have even been a guest of Hosni Mubarak on a trip on the river Nile where Susan Mubarak was in a project aimed at improving literacy among women in Egypt. What I mean to say is, that I am living this visualization right now as I am travelling the world as a leader of the world, now as a union representative in the past as representative of other organizations where I was part of, manifesting what I had visualized at a very young age. I meditate and visualize every day.

You have also been a leader in your neighborhood, Marie Pampoen, right? What was this project all about?
25 years ago, when the government was finalizing a deal between with the Van der Valk-group whom bought the Plaza Hotel, they promised them a beach, first in Punda, but that turned out not to be a good option and then the beach of Marie Pampoen was suggested. We knew that this beach was one of the last public beaches available, so we protested against this. We had also protested against plans to close the free passage from Marie Pampoen up till the inland waters of Jan Thiel by Dutch Schiers, as we considered this important, as a principle, for the coming generations. As president of the Initiativa Particular Korsou (IPK) I had visited lake “Strobold” in Austria before stepping down as the president and I could compare the development of that area in Austria with Marie Pampoen and I was convinced that we had so much more to offer.

So we started a foundation, all involved paid Ang 25,- per person for expenses and we had no office building so we met under some trees in the beginning as our slogan was: “The goal is much more important that an office.” After sometime we got a location via the former director from Sedreko, Lipo Elhage, that we used as an office, but we would have to pay the utility bills ourselves for 15 years without any subsidy from no one, which we did. We visualized the reconstruction of our venue and MCB adopted the project and even mr. Chicu Capriles came to help paint our venue. Now after 25 years everybody can take notice of how Marie Pampoen, the beach area is now developing as a public area open for whom ever. This is what we saw early on and this is another example of how through defining what we want and through visualization, we were able to manifest our outcome. It is a process and you have to be consistent.

In 2016, we were one of the organizations that almost won the “Appeltje van Oranje”. But Willem Alexander was so impressed by our Marie Pampoen project, that they send me a ticket to be present at the ceremony honoring the winner of the “Appeltje van Oranje” in 2016. I went to Holland and came back in 3 days.

What is your Big Why?
First of all, I want to be able to empower those that have the least opportunities in our society. As I came from parents my mother from Banda Abou and my father from Saint Martin born, I had a “double trouble”, as I was discriminated severely by people living in the middle of the island. But I overcame that completely. Therefore, those with the least opportunities I want to help, empower them, those are the ones. In those days when I grew up, discrimination was harsher than nowadays. Like myself, I don’t want those people to fall prey to a victim mindset and I want them to survive and flourish just like I did.

An empowered mindset is much more important than having material wealth, that you might have inherited for example. An empowered mindset is a guarantee for having better and more positive outcomes in your life. Like Saturday the 7th of December, I will give a course to 6 women, aimed at empowering them. I love doing this.

Secondly, I want to maintain my mother’s legacy. She taught me to decide where do I want to go and develop strategies and other ways and means to get there. All these efforts will pay off in the end.

What does success look like for you?
Success is to decide where you want to go and pursue this with your planning, strategies, tactics and actions. At times, I can see things not going well, based on the way people express themselves like some politicians. I know that they are on a failure path, but don’t listen but then again at times, mistakes have to take place before people are willing to change their course of action. The down side is, we all lose lots of time and energy, but it is as it is. There is only so much we can do and I am at peace with my consciousness.

My grandmother use to say: “Nobody is your enemy. Your biggest enemy is your own consciousness.” She is so right.

Where do you want to be 15 years from now?
Curaçao is a room of my house I would say my house is the whole world. I will have become one of the most inspirational speakers on “Earth” by that time.

If you would celebrate your birthday let us say 20 years from now. What would you want your loved ones, friends and others say about you?
That is a good question. I address this differently when I am giving a course. I ask people how would you want to be remembered if you would die today? Most people have no clue and that is sad to say.

I would want my loved ones and others to say that: “Adrie has helped lots of people, to develop themselves emotionally and spiritually.” This is priceless and feels better than any amount of material compensation, really.

Like, I once introduced a new intervention tactic to teach some youngsters back then when “Bos di Hubentut” started. This was to teach the group, but especially a youngster, to discipline himself before he spoke and interrupted others while they were talking. Which he often did, as he was yearning for attention from his peers. This was disrupting the group dynamics, so I asked my intuition “What to do?”. So, this idea came up. We would stare at the person that was not disciplined enough to let others finish their thoughts, when they spoke. If that happened anyways, all others would stare at the one that interrupted the conversation. So, we did that and it stopped. The other day, remember this happened years ago, I met this youngster again at a gasoline station and after checking if I would still remember him, he shared with me that this intervention tactic was a defining moment in his life and this changed his life.

Or the other time at Brakkeput, when I was doing a workshop as speaker and I also played R. Kelly “The storm is over”. One youngster after our session, he was sort of the leader of the group, came to me and told me he would change his life, because I told him that my grandmother had taught me that: “If you mistreat your parents now, your children would double the pain they would cause on you when you become of age.” This youth came up to me afterwards and told me – after he was unwilling to be responsive in the beginning – that he would change his life, because he had children and he didn’t want this to happen to him.

What are your strengths?
My ability to visualize the things I want to manifest; I am a good organizer; I am good at earning my living with “the sweat of the use of my tongue”.

Do you use your intuition/ inner voice?
Yes, I do this constantly. It works 24/7 and when I am puzzled I just ask questions and I do get the answers, as I have been doing this from a very young age. I meditate at times to get my answers, but I always get my answers.

As a leader you were also involved in sports, can you expand on this a little?
Yes, in Marie Pampoen there were lots of youngsters practicing free style bycicling. Which was something constructive to do in our neighborhood, right. My brother in law managed to get lots of youngsters involved and became their trainer and combined this with acrobatic acts. They even manage to, during a long period of time, give a show during breakfast on Sundays to tourists at Princess Beach Hotel together with a steelband. That was great. They also competed in Aruba, they competed internationally in Venezuela – estado Aragua, in 1986. In 1988, we earned the right to organize an international competition in Curaçao in the Suffisant-stadium. Our biggest challenge back then was, we had enough money to build a cross runway for the free style bycling event, but not enough to break it down again. But we succeeded in doing that anyways, building it up according to the required standards and breaking it down after the event and we won 5 medals. My brother in law is now living in Apeldoorn Holland and because of his experiences in Curaçao, he is the trainer of a cross bike club in Holland, which is unique, because as trainer normally you have to be certified in Holland to be allowed to do this. So, this proves to me, that we had reach a high international level. As we were achieving results in competitions and the sport was booming, I was a board member of CSF and because of the positive support I got from Junior Millerson, we were able to reach these international heights in bycling.

How do you survive amidst a rather complex, slippery political environment, as a union leader of ABVO the biggest union on the island?
Well I have learned from my grandmother, that: “Don’t let anybody touch your tomatoes and avocado’s or dry their hands unauthorized on your hand towel”. Meaning draw clear boundaries in how far you allow people to breach your privacy. And I have become very good at this. Meaning, you have to be close to people at times, but still away from them at a safe distance. That is to survive.

But I am also a creator, I can speak out strongly on our opinions as representative of the union for example, but never disrespectful. Furthermore, I am also very aware of the content of what I want to communicate. I am a forward thinker. In both sense, I am a little un-orthodox. I am able to do this because of my emotional and spiritual upbringing and development.

Why are you optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
Because I use the gifts given to me by GOD and my upbringing, I respond to my environment, I don’t react on it. I teach this and empower others to be likewise, that is why I am optimistic about our future. I am aware that colonialism has created mindsets that are totally dysfunctional, hampering the colonized countries more than the countries that colonized. I firmly believe that we can overcome that. We can create our own future, every one of us, can. I am always creating, I am a creator and setting the tone for 75 % and leaving to others to finish the rest of the 25 %. And as Eduardo Garcia Moure once told me long time ago in Venezuela, I am unique because I am a multi-facetted leader. And this talent I want to use to disseminate empowerment among others. And I am eternally grateful for my upbringing, especially via my grandmother and mother.

One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Adrie Williams is a motivational speaker that has used the sweat of his tongue, to earn his living. Adrie is also a leader, now a “World leader” as he visualized when he was 15 years old, representing the civil service union internationally. But as a multi-facetted person he is also a neighborhood leader, a sports leader, very un-orthodox in the upbringing of his children and also the chairman of the biggest union in Curaçao, ABVO. Because of his emotional and spiritual upbringing and development, he is very capable to be close to people at times, but still away from them at a safe distance, for survival reasons given the slippery environment he – as a union leader – has to operate in. But he is also a creator, that can speak out strongly of his opinions as representative of the union or any other role he has, but never disrespectful and at the same be very aware of the content of what he wants to communicate as a forward thinker. His ability to visualize and manifest the things he wants and using his other talents to disseminate empowerment among those whom have a disadvantage in our society, makes him and his contributions to our society unique. As a representative of the government sector, his efforts are aligned with the Share2Uplift goals and we definitely love and respect him and consider him one of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao.

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