Linkedin Twitter  YouTube

How to choose

How much information do you need?


When I was 39, I had a serious career crisis. To explain, we must go back to 1999. I was 29. And I had just agreed with Lee Hecht Harrison to create their Outplacement business in The Netherlands. From scratch. They were a New York headquartered Outplacement company, in the process of globalizing their business. A huge opportunity for me! Although I had hardly any track record, I was trusted with their brand name, guidance, and toolbox to attack the Dutch market. Absolutely great!


I always liked to call myself an intrapreneur in those days. Entrepreneurial, with high levels of freedom. Start-up style. We were going to take market share from the existing players in the mature Dutch market! However, at the end of the day I was on their payroll. Lee Hecht Harrison itself was 100% owned by a publicly listed Fortune 500 company. The more we grew, the more I became a victim of my own success.


10 years later, the number of meetings and reporting requirements dramatically increased. Dealing with office politics sometimes felt like a day job. But not my job. I didn’t see myself continuing to do this. It just wasn’t for me. But now what? I thought it through hundreds of times. Should I stay? Should I leave? But what then? What about our mortgage and other fixed expenses (we had 2 young teens at the time)?


Eventually, I quit and moved on to create tèn company, the boutique coaching and consulting firm that I still run. I went to the chamber of commerce in March 2009 to register this business. A couple of months after Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. In hindsight the deepest point of the financial crisis. Let me share some of my learnings.


  • You will never have all the answers beforehand. Make peace with that. Don’t even try! I have learned that life is not about avoiding risk. Calculate the risk, use the information available and jump. Or not. But choose, don’t fall victim to inertia.
  • It sounds corny, but I needed to close one door first, before another one opened! After I’d left, within days I received a call from someone unexpected from my network. This was 13 years ago. To this day, it makes me happy to still do some work with these fine medical professionals.
  • To choose, it helped me to think through a worst-case scenario. Imagine, after one year, I had hardly any business or revenue. In that case, I had to return to an employer. I imagined, if I were the hiring manager, would I want to hire a guy with my story and background? I like to think that the answer to that question was YES!
  • I was all into my business. And needed to create some distance first to get perspective again. Create space, slow down, inspire yourself and give yourself some time!


In hindsight, leaving my corporate career was for me the right career decision. I realize that this is not advisable for everyone. I never dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur. But to make a difference, doing this as an independent business owner for me simply made more sense. I love what I do, I can make a difference and I can work with our clients all the time.


Over the years, I have met with so many great people that struggle with personal career choices. Don’t let fear be your only guide. Life is short, timing is everything.


A heartfelt thank you to all our previous, current, and future clients that trust us with their business!


Hope this inspires.


Paul Donkers

Paul P.J. Donkers is a sought-after global business coach and management consultant. More about his work and projects can be found via and via

Paul and his partners work since decades with leaders to assist them create more value. If you want to have a confidential conversation, just reach out to us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

Share this column: