This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

Marleen did the interview from a houseboat over the canals of Amsterdam where she was for a management off-site. In the interview, she spoke about her love for mountain climbing, and how that has taught her persistence and patience. She also shares how growing up in Curacao – in the Caribbean – and then moving to Amsterdam at 19 – made her feel like a stranger in her own country – and how that has shaped her as a person and a leader.

You can find Marleen at the below links

In the interview, we talk about

  • “So when I was young, I really got used to getting to know new people, but also saying goodbye again, because every person who get to Curacao, stayed at between one and two years. So you would get very good friends and then they move out again to all kinds of regions of the world.”
  • “My father was an entrepreneur. He always stimulated me to be very independent. And yeah, I think for me, I don’t necessarily need to be an entrepreneur. Now I enjoy it because I have a lot of freedom.”
  • “I didn’t realize that, but gold is the best product to what we now call tokenize. Why? Because every gold bar is a unique gold bar. It has a number stamped into it. And because of that. It can change ownership at a distance.”
  • “I think we actually are in a situation where our resources are basically getting finished. So it (impact investing) is a no brainer that we need to do something about it. Energy prices are going through the roof, et cetera, but you also see if you look at the market, if it’s, if you try to predict where it’s going to be going and what is happening in the rules, then it’s no brainer. Those are the startups that probably has the highest innovation levels and that they get the highest returns in the future.”
  • “I’m good with numbers. That’s for sure. And I love to build scalable solutions that solve problems. “
  • “I define freedom as I am in charge and in control. And doing what I feel is necessary to do”
  • “when something is developed enough, then I can hand it over to a  team and move over to the next step. So I do have quite a lot of time. I  don’t feel busy. “
  • “Physically it (mountain climbing) is very hard. At high altitude, your body doesn’t react in a way that you are normally used to how it should react and that’s tough. It’s basically your body against nature and there’s only a limit as to how you can influence that but the beauty of a  mountain and how quiet it is. And yeah, I think that the culmination of the two is that it’s amazing. And that is something that triggers me.”
  • “I strongly believe sitting behind the television doesn’t bring you anything.”
  • “It is. always important, even if you would have no clue how you’re going to resolve something, that you keep on moving and that’s the same with climbing. If you stop, if you get out of your motion…. So that’s how I think my biggest learning from the mountain. “
  • “And then next to that, it all sounds very beautiful, but sometimes climbing is days of waiting and boring and seeing feeling crap. And it’s like also doing something with death. How do you structure your thoughts and what do you do with that? So it’s this strange combination of persistency and also finding space. “
  • “I think my previous CEO at Optiver Randall Meyer shaped a lot in my life because I never wanted to be there in the beginning. I was way too creative to work in the financial sector. But he always supported me and pushed me forwards and he knew that this was my loyalty I would stay. But because of that, I got so many chances in life.”
  • “I’m usually a very transparent person so I share what I feel and what I think. And what I’ve learned to do is to trust until the opposite is proven.”
  • “I don’t do things as everybody expects to do it, or according to the rules and sometimes it’s weird but for me, it works.”
  • “I learned that sometimes you just have to accept that you’re different, but that you can also trust your guts and follow it and do it. And it will be okay. “
  • “Do what you love and love what you do, but probably that sounds so simple, but it’s so super important and nothing happens out of nothing.”