Social Impact Heroes Helping Our Planet: Why & How Hendrik Van Der Ham Is Helping To Change Our World
An Interview With Martita Mestey
I wished for a strong brother when I was younger, stronger together. I would advise you, if you can, to study enough and to have a partner, so you do not have to do or think of everything alone. Connected to this, the best way for doing business is being level-headed with all big choices that you do have to make. But in today’s world, doing business in these challenging times, the smaller the company the faster you have to be and make quick decisions or choices in increasingly stressful situations. So by being with a partner you can rely on, you also will have a bit of time to get relaxed, confident and be prepared for the difficult choices you will have to make.
As a part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”,I had the pleasure of interviewing Hendrik Van Der Ham.
Hendrik is a Visonary, Entrepreneur, Author and Thought Leader in Sustainability & Circular Economy. Writing, building and advocating for sustainability causes have been the pillars of his personal and professional growth over the years. Writing has always been the preferred way of sharing and espousing his thoughts and ideas. He has finished 14 books , 5 of which have been published and the next book on ‘Resilient Sustainability’ will be published shortly. A globe- trotter, Hendrik has explored many places in the world and has assimilated as many culture, Currently he lives in The Netherlands, Spain and Dubai.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! You are currently leading a social impact organization that is making a difference for our planet. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
Motivated to realize my vision for resilient sustainability, in 2007, I started SEVENTH which is inspired by the legendary Atlantis and has been created from a prophecy and his lucid dreams that lasted exactly 40 nights. The project includes a floating island with a merkaba consisting of a large pyramid building surrounded by six smaller ones, to be replicated in 10 cities around the world. SEVENTH’s philosophy: ‘The Other Way of Living’ and the project vision includes an island where healthy living and sustainability are central to elevating the future of living. The foremost company for the project is SEVENTH Bridges Dubai which has considerable experience in large-scale shipping and construction projects. To continue building SEVENTH’s vision for a sustainable future, I started two other companies to launch the SEVENTH Project. — SEVENTH Project Development BV and SEVENTH Bridges Project Management Services.
We will be building Floating Islands because Seventh is envisioned as an island with pyramid buildings on it, where a few people will live, but many will come to visit or stay for a short period of time and rebalance. Actually, they will rebalance, rejuvenate, and will get stronger both mentally and physically.
This works because the energy from the structure will harmonize people’s energy. Besides that, there will be therapies and treatments. Our goal is to build an example society on sustainability. Crops will grow here to feed all visitors, we will do Energy harvesting in many different ways, new Wastewater treatments and much more will be part of it.
Seventh will help people to reinvent themselves in a more sustainable world.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
From a very young age, I started to dislike dishonesty. Personally, I had a lot of problems growing up. I was bullied for many years, which is maybe why I wanted people to be very gentle toward each other. Nowadays people would say I was a Peacekeeper.
Even today, so many years later, I still dislike dishonestly, but most certainly when people are not allowed to live their life to the fullest. Talking about illness for instance- many illnesses are curable. Overall, people can have a much better life than they are in the world today.
I think it all starts with respect. Respecting ourselves, our life, the earth we live on, and the others in our world, near and further away. I think in this simple undertaking there is a lot to gain. Out of all these experiences and beliefs, my passion for sustainability took its roots and eventually led to the envisioning of SEVENTH.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
I like the “Just Do It” slogan of Nike, but other than that my real big push was my 40 nights in a row of Lucid Dreaming. It was 20 years ago, yet it is vivid. Every day, I dreamt and I understood I am back in another realm, the world of today. In these dreams, I walked in white in Pyramid-shaped buildings and saw that collectively we got all kinds of information on how to build and also the purpose of it all. Much of this information is still unraveling for me, even today, after all this time, because it was really a lot to grasp. But the motivation never dwindled. I had my other business, so I did not start right away. At one of the Construction Events in the Netherlands, I talked to a director of one of the Developing companies in the Netherlands and he wanted to know the whole story. Because of that event and the energy or feeling I got from the dreams, I was urged to start SEVENTH.
Many people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
About starting the project, I can only say that I might be a bit of an inventor, at that time, for sure, not the serial entrepreneur I am today. I had and I do have the intention to never stop. I can tell all of you out there that if you have a dream, build on it, the intention has to be strong and you have to keep faith that you will come across the right people who will help you build on your dream and company.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
One very interesting story is how I met my leading Architect Joost Heuvelink. My Personal Assistant then was reading the papers and came across an article about a person who was very good with using light from the outside in buildings. The article was about Joost and I asked her to set up a meeting. During the meeting, we found out that he was a perfect fit. In the next meeting, he showed that he even picked up parts of my dreams, he drew the globe inside the heart of the main pyramid building and I only could say: “Yes, exactly that is in it on that location, chapeau!”
It has been said, that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Do you have a story about a humorous mistake that you made when you were first starting and the lesson you learned from that?
Of Course, during such a project and in the 20 years we have been working on it, we encountered some mistakes. Although I never find them humorous, we learned a lot from this mistake costing over 800,000 euros. We worked with our team with the municipality on the example project, floating in one of the harbors in the Netherlands.
We had to find out that there were different agendas and that part of our ideas was used for other projects. Because of the different agendas we, even after winning the project, never could build anything. So I would advise everybody to know as much as possible about what the other party needs and is planning before you get deep into it.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
I must tell you that I am still searching for mentors that could help. It is best to have them. We started an advisory board to help us attain the goals of our projects. Although I have to say, for projects that are unique and far from what is seen in everyday life, it is very difficult to get the right mentors. You must understand that the mentors you should find for such kinds of projects are business-oriented people, not dreamers. Most of the time dreamers do not realize anything because they lack the passion or motivation or fail to find like-minded people to help make the dream a reality. Those that make it work are the ones that are realistic, grounded, and well-connected.
Are there three things the community, society, or politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
To address the problems we are trying to solve, we only need to read the papers or find all information online. Every day we hear that our carbon footprints need to be less and we need to take action. The help we could use is emphasizing that we need real solutions. For this, we all need to act less hypocritical. There are many solutions out there, which give another avenue for profits in the short term, but no real gains for the longer period. So I do think we all can emphasize more on what is really needed, so we will start doing research. In fact, we can help the world with our research centers, which also will be located inside SEVENTH.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
Profit is needed to keep existing. I would suggest that all of us look at quality and service. If the service becomes more and more important, we will connect with our clients more and more. We should emphasize The Why of all that we do. Our clients or customers will connect with that. An example of this is quite obviously the brand, Apple. If we start to use Apple, we almost never want to switch anymore. For a profitable product, we should take a closer look at all that we throw away. In many factories nowadays we can find new niche business models of all of the rest of the materials we cannot use in our main products. These niche models can start more locally oriented companies. This is what we do in my other company BRIDGES2000. There we work mostly with Aluminium, which is better for the environment because it weighs less and does not need any painting or maintenance. Further, we do not throw even one part of the root material away. We use and reuse. For this, BRIDGES2000 is a New Circular Economy Company, an example of sustainability.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?
The 5 things need to be one big thing. I wished for a strong brother when I was younger, stronger together. I would advise you, if you can, to study enough and to have a partner, so you do not have to do or think of everything alone. Connected to this, the best way for doing business is being level-headed with all big choices that you do have to make. But in today’s world, doing business in these challenging times, the smaller the company the faster you have to be and make quick decisions or choices in increasingly stressful situations. So by being with a partner you can rely on, you also will have a bit of time to get relaxed, confident and be prepared for the difficult choices you will have to make.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Start with brainstorming, get professionals within your team. Get like-minded individuals and partners who like to share knowledge, talent and experience while learning from you, which is a great exchange.
One more thing I would like to emphasize is that making a positive impact on the environment starts with understanding our earth, and with not being arrogant.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My Life Lesson — let me tell you that, like I emphasized already, it is better to work with others, partners. Everything in our life is about experience and the quality of experience is most important. Quality stays. Be it your spouse, your friendships, your product, your service. In my opinion, we need to act upon how we can serve. I try everyday to be a better man. I can tell you how this has helped me in my life. Because I emphasized on bringing up the quality in my life, I met my team, one after another.
The other critical thing is Being alert. I have faith and even though my endurance was tested many times, I am standing strong. I think we are stronger if we take it all step by step, instead of being overwhelmed with a deluge of decisions and efforts. So bring up the quality of your life. This is actually not about money or gains, but about our own actions. If you realize you can do better everyday, do it and you will be a happier man.
I started to compliment people, all kinds of people, also just in the streets, and next to nice conversations you will find people very worthwhile in your life.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
People I would like to speak to from the US, would be two persons in politics- Mr. Barack Obama and Mr. Donald Trump. Both are significant personalities and significantly different from other rulers in the US. Further if we will stay on that level, I would love to speak with few rulers in the Middle East and for sure in UAE, because I think they are setting a great example for the rest of the world
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers are able to follow me / us online on Linkedin: HendrikvanderHam / BRIDGES2000 and on Instagram: Hendrik.van.der.Ham and on my personal website: www.HendrikvanderHam.com
or on email id: email@example.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success with your great work!
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