Usually we give our students the opportunity to share their experiences, but to shake some things up a bit we asked Jelmar Starkenburg, one of our Team Academy graduates, to share his experiences about life after Team Academy.

So, Jelmar, how’s life treating you?

Hi there! I’m doing great, thanks. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share some things with you: the teamentrepreneurs at Team Academy and the whole community. For me Team Academy will always have a place in my heart, so I would really like to stay in touch and share a some things of my story with all of you.

To introduce myself I asked my team to send me some words. I like to introduce myself in this way because I really value what they as close friends and partners in crime think of me and I strongly believe that the people closest to us know us best.

Niek Diepman: Jelmar is always trying to innovate. He focusses on the discovery of new things in order to enable others in their own journeys of exploration. He is good at starting something and brings existing ideas under a broader perspective that challenges.

Pim Berentzen: Jelmar is clear-sighted, sharp and has the ability to focus on specific details. He has the ability to see the bigger picture and knows how to motivate people to get things done.

You have graduated from Team Academy a few years ago. How do you look back at your time at Team Academy? What have you learned?

For me Team Academy was the place to be. It was a vibrant and stimulating place, an entrepreneurial environment that allowed me to develop myself in every aspect of my life. I learned to be in the driver’s seat, to develop my own ideas, to work in a team, to have a positive attitude towards learning, to put theory into practice and to constantly challenge myself to get the best out of it.

I think one of the most important things at Team Academy is the community, it is a very strong element. Unlike any other school or university the community at Team Academy allowed me to be myself and play it to my strengths.

What are you best memories? What were you biggest struggles?

Best memories huh, wow, let met think, that’s not an easy question. I realize now that being a teamentrepreneur at Team Academy is something special, a once in a lifetime thing to be very grateful for. In my years I learned so many new things and developed a completely new mindset.

There are a lot of great memories. I especially enjoyed our learning journeys to Finland and Spain. I also remember our team room with a wall completely filled with creative images, a lamp hanging from the ceiling with our team logo, and we even had a team bird, ’Larry’, that flew away one day when we left the window open. I liked the atmosphere the most, having dialogue sessions with my team and the collaborative process towards any project I worked on.

A year after graduating it becomes clear that my time at Team Academy was sometimes chaotic, but that is what makes it so interesting. Being able to take risks, to take matters into your own hands, to step into unknown territory without loosing your head is an important skill for entrepreneurs.

What have you been working on since you graduated. What are you working on right now?

In december 2015 I graduated from Team Academy. Shortly after things started to change rapidly.
One month before I had decided to quit my fulltime job and also stopped being a table tennis trainer which kept me busy 6 days a week.

So there I was, no job, no sports and a paper in my hand. This meant a lot, really a lot, of free time. From 10 to 0 you could say. It felt strange and at the same time challenging. Great thing from having nothing to do is that you have all the time and freedom to explore new things, to get back to yourself, talk to a lot of people and come up with new ideas. It can be a messy and difficult time but it’s also very beautiful and satisfying to find new things to work on.

Right now I’m working with a young and dynamic team of amazing people on the development of learning expeditions as a service. We aim to facilitate a process that provides the right conditions for a group of young people in order to have an adventures and diverse learning experience of which they will benefit for their entire lives. Besides I currently work as a facilitator in creative processes to help teams and companies to innovate.

After our first program in Peru last year we decided that we wanted to give others a great experience in South- or Central America as well. This year we are going to Bocas del Toro in Panama to provide 15 master students an amazing experience.

What advice would you give to people who are about to start their career at Team Academy?

To keep this one short…

• Share. The person who is sitting next to you might have great skills you didn’t know about: Share your ideas, otherwise no one will know about it.

• Don’t do things just for yourself, give to other people what you have and they will return the favor.

• Focus, focus, focus, work relentlessly hard, play your own game, believe in yourself, don’t get distracted, because you have all the opportunities in the world, everything you could’ve wanted is already there, you just have to find out how to get there. And this is the fun part: don’t look to much ahead but enjoy the ride, trust and be the process.

• Find balance, don’t work from day to day but look ahead, plan your activities, everything starts with taking care of yourself, play sports, meditate if you need it to be at your best..