Influencer Gino Jacobs

Interview September 2019

Could you share with us some information of your family life?
I have 1 sister and my parents are alive and were very supportive in whom I have become right now.

Could you share with us some of your educational background and past professional experiences, as we know that you are an entrepreneur?

I went to the Peter Stuyvesant College now KAP (VWO) and I made a deliberate choice to stay one year in Curaçao and studied International Business Administration at UNA and after that, I decided to go study in the Netherlands at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, where I first got a bachelors degree in International Business Administration and afterwards got a Masters degree in Strategic Management.

We have met before in 2015 as we were starting the movement Share2Uplift. You were working for a company as an executive. Can you expand a little bit on what has transpassed since then?
In 2016 I was already working with Boudino de Jong as we launched a music platform in 2012 and by the end of 2015 Boudino and I had a deep conversation at Pop’s place at Caracasbaai. We were brainstorming on what I would do next and then he shared with me this small company he owned where he was building websites.

He asked me if I would like to join him to take the company to the next level. He was very well documented on what he had done in the past, and I decided, why not? Let’s do it after I stopped at my former employer. I started working on projects and that collaboration with Boudino proved to be an instant success. We massively expanded the last 3 years and as of today, we will be employing 25 locally and 6 in India, and we have a broad network of professionals in the Holland we collaborate with.

What kind of businesses are you eaxctly in now and what are the names of your companies?
We have three companies: Skempie, which is an online worldwide music stream platform for independent artists; the second company is Skenicash which we launch in January 2018 and the 3rd one and the largest one is Profound Projects, which is into innovative digital projects.

You are also active in markets outside of Curaçao. As when we talked about 2 years ago, you told me that your aim was to have 90 % of your business from markets outside Curaçao. How did you fare with regard to this goal?
Yes, this is still our aim, and we are not there yet, but for 2020 we expect to reach that goal. We are actively working and now expanding our horizon in the Dutch Caribbean markets, in Surinam and we are focusing on the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America. Like now, we are also focusing on Ecuador.

That is great to hear. Do you require other toolkits?
Yes, we firmly believe in local partnership when we aim at foreign markets as our strategy, as we try to find local partnerships who have better knowledge of the markets they operate in and often already have a big network.

This sounds that your expansion is very organic, right?
Yes, it is organic.

As you are growing so fast, in 3 years since 2016 since you started with Boudino in Profound Projects, when do you consider that you have been successful, let us say 5 years from now?
Well we use a definition of success that goes like this: “Success is the progressive realization of pre-determined personal worthwile goals.” So we consider success to be a journey, as we are running metaphorically a marathon, it is not a sprint. So 5 years from now I really can’t tell you where we will be. In this day and age, in 2019 it is very hard to predict the future in let’s say 3 to 5 years from now, as the world is changing faster than every before. We don’t know what the effect of the blockchain will have in the world and how the financial markets will radically change. We don’t know how specific geographical outside forces will be changing the island as we know it now. So much is happening right now and there are so many unknown factors and at the other hand, this is also at the same time the exciting part of our journey. We fully embrace this, and we look forward to what the future will bring.

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now?
“Relevance in everything” we can do. What are the things we can do to still be relevant tomorrow. Relevant in terms of the contribution and value that we bring to the market, relevance in the sense of how I personally contribute as a citizen of the world in this life time. Relevance as my biggest driving force and it is a healthy dosis of paranoia, as some people might call it. For example let’s look at the story of Wallmart and compare them with Enron. Enron was over confident and arrogant in predicting the future. We all know what happened to them. Sam Walton, that was brought up in the era of depression of the 1930’s always kept a business paranoia. His motto was, that if you do want to stay relevant tomorrow, you will have to stay on top of your game in an era of changing customers demand. To compare notes on how BIG Wallmart is. They make as a company revenues of 514.4 billion USD per year, while the second biggest company Aramco has 355.9 billion USD in revenues annually, Royal Dutch Shell is 240 Billion USD, Amazon 232 billion USD and Google 136 USD billion. This shows you how big the size of Wallmart is right now, while most people celebrate the Google’s and the Amazon’s, while Wallmart is operating in a market that is being challenged by on-line sales.

What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
One of our biggest company values is to turn challenges into opportunities. We create by doing this as a mindset where we accept obstacles as a natural phenomena of our progress. We nuture obstacles as we know, that we can use overcoming these challenges as a way to get us in a better position compared to the situation where we didn’t had any obstacles to overcome. For instance our local economy. We believe that we are living in the right time and btw in interesting times for our economy. In spite of the challenges, this should drive us, instead of having a mindset where we wait for things to happen. Now is the time to push and expand our borders I would say, this is what we are doing instead of waiting what is going to happen and opting for a defensive strategy. We choose to be as proactive as ever we have been and looking beyond this temporary transition that our economy is going through.

Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemma’s show up? How does that work for you?
I did a lot of meditation in the past, but of late I do this less, because for me the best way to trigger my inner voice and come at the source of where creative ideas come from and where I can (re-)create almost at will is, when I run. There is power in running and it triggers creativity. I run 2 times a week, sometimes 5 km, sometimes 10 km. That hour or is so magical for me, as I start running without any expectation, I do have questions that I ask myself, and I am amazed that I always get new insights in the end, it is like an awakening. I really look forward to running and at times nothing shows up. But then the next times I run it does shows up. It gives me answers on the practical ways to deal with the situations we are in. It gives answers to questions like how to take our company to the next level. It is awesome.

Do you use visualization in your future? How does it work?
Yes, I do work with visualizations, it is a constant exercise that I do for myself. Instead of looking at what it is right now, I try to make decisions on what it could be. It is with this mindset, for example, that we go about our investment in new recruits.

How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skills levels?
I like reading, I have always been extremely curios about let’s say everything. The beauty of trying to satisfy this curiosity is that the more you know, the less you know I am concluding. The only thing that challenges me in this quest to satisfy my curiosity is, that I have less time now as I work night shifts.

What subject matters do you read about?
I read about all sorts of subject matters like personal development, business, spirituality and autobiographies. I also learn by surrounding myself with like minded people. Recently, we also decided to start a bookclub as part of the Profound Academy for our employees.

What are your strengths?
I am a very optimistic person. I recover from disappointment fast. I accept a setback, evaluate what it does to me and often after a few hours (or to the max the next day), I am ready to go full speed again. I have this ability to process a lot of information which makes me learn a lot and fast, which on its turn, helps me to be on top of multiple things at the same time. I also refer to this as my mental stretch. I am often really busy and I break busy down into smaller fragments of workload I have to deal with. For others, this workload stresses them out because this busyness is most of all in their head. I keep expanding my mental stretch and therefore I am able to do multiple things at the same time, while staying on top of my game. In doing so I can see the forest for the trees.

Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
Running as a sport, I do this 6 times a week, of late 3 months ago, I started playing piano. I also enjoy reading, love to watch movies.

If you as Gino would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Holland or the US) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer? How would you describe Gino in one word or one sentence?
Hello I am Gino. I from a small island called Curaçao, and probably I would have to explain where Curaçao exactly is. I am passionate and extremely driven about this life-time.

Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career/life?
A lot of people inspired me, like my business partner, my parents, my mentors Nelson Mandela and Richard Branson.

Is their a character trait where you are challenge?
Yes, impatience. Look it works like this. I don’t like wasting my precious time, and that can make me impatient sometimes. I am always so focused to get the most out of my day, so I am forcing myself at times intentionally and trying to keep a delicate balance to still make time and listen to people that are not directly conducive to whatever I want to achieve. It is a work in progress though.

What are some of the challenges, lessons learned, that you have encountered in your life when you ultimately discovered your talents and strengths, or what was a defining moment in your life?
When I decided to embrace the entrepreneurship for 100 %. This completely changed my life as I was in the position to apply all my skills that I have honed over the years. Before that I could only apply it in a moderate way, after that moment I could use it to the max. Being in business as an executive is like doing top sports, so I am very conscious of what I eat and how much I sleep, to be at the top of my game. In 2016 everything changed and it has been a great and exciting journey up to now.

Where do you want to be 15 to 20 years from now with your career?
I seriously have “no idea”.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
I was there when they needed me, providing live and care in the most difficult times they always could have a good laugh with me.

What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
In 1973 I read a book called “Dubbelspel” written by Frank Martinus Arion and my biggest takeaway from that book was that in the whole history of Curaçao, we always had people predicting dooms day of Curaçao. And the funny thing was also that there were always people predicting that this time we would really mess up as an island, really really….that was almost 50 years ago. Let me be clear on this, I am not disregarding that Curaçao is in a crisis at the moment, but usually we need a crisis so that we can elevate to a next level, that is how I see it. The economy isn’t bad, it’s just in a transition. Some will continue winning, some will lose. Especially those that hold on to whatever worked in the past. Survival of the fittest is not about whom is the strongest or the most intelligent, but those whom are flexible enough to adapt to change.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
A great inspiring person once told me, that the difference between a successful person and a very successful person is that a very successful person tends to say “no” to almost everything. So don’t be afraid to say “no”, if it is not conducive to your own development and not aligned with your goals. There is where great power lies, in saying “no”.

One of the 250 Influencers
Gino Jacobs, is a representative of the business sector. In 2016, he decided to become a full time entrepreneur, using his ever expanding knowledge and skills to start SkeniCash in 2018 and also bring Profound Projects to a totally new level together with his business partner Boudino de Jong. The growth of their businesses has been remarkable, not only in terms of employment, 25 employees by the end of this year locally and 6 in India, but also because they have transformed their focus from being almost exclusively local to, as they project now, to have 90 % of their markets outside of Curaçao by 2020. This growth is being accomplished by looking for partners at the one hand but also through the Profound Academy, investing in the upgrading of the knowledge and skills of their employees. Gino’s curiosity in life, his focus, humor, optimistic demeanor and his drive to live his life to the max, is impressive. We definitely consider Gino one of the 250 Influencers in our society and because of his very young age (early thirties) expect so much more from him in the future.

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