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It Takes Guts to Excel: Lieke van der Plas

It Takes Guts to Excel: Lieke van der Plas

Lieke van der Plas is definitely proof of that statement. She is founder of the successful company LEF Media, the first business vlog company of the Netherlands. LEF is Dutch for guts. Lieke is always focused on new exciting projects and is now even nominated for Rotterdam business women of 2020. Let’s hear how she is doing these days and what she has to say about her company and career. 

How did you start the company LEF Media and how did that develop?

Shortly after I graduated the idea to start business vlogging developed. I saw a future that could give companies a lot of opportunities. So I registered at the chamber of commerce and went for it. In the first three months quite a lot of interest appeared in business vlogging. The requests increased over time and I started thinking, I need someone who can edit my vlogs. So an editor joined the company, then an intern joined, then a vlogger joined and so on. The company grew over time and step by step. 

How is it to see your company grow?

It is amazing. I am in the middle of it so I need to plan intentional moments where I celebrate the milestones and successes. When I look back at the year I would write down all the highlights of the year. When I see what I have achieved, it gives me a boost to set challenging goals for the year ahead. 

Your company is located in Rotterdam, does the city have a lot to offer?

I come from a place close to Rotterdam and have been living in Rotterdam for six years. I am very Rotterdam minded and the city has always inspired me. I have a lot of collaborations with clients that are located nearby. My network is also very ‘Rotterdam’s’. I am part of MKB Rotterdam. It is really nice to keep in touch with other entrepreneurs and see where we can help each other. An initiative that is very cool is ‘support your locals’. There you go on a walk with someone and get a coffee. When I walk over the Erasmusbrug or besides de Maas, it gives me energy; and when I cycle over the Erasmusbrug I know I don’t want to leave. 

If you look back at everything you have achieved, is there something that stands out?

I have presented 65 vlogs on RTL in cooperation with a production company. The first time you see yourself on television you think, wow! That was definitely a moment where I was very proud of myself. Furthermore, it is also amazing to see how the team is growing. The team activities are fun and give me a lot of satisfaction. I visit a lot of places and meet a lot of beautiful people. In these moments I am very grateful for the work I get to do. Lastly, it is also nice when you reach certain commercial targets. 

How do you develop yourself personally as an entrepreneur; do you notice that the personal and business aspect influence each other?

I am my company, so personal development is very important for me. It is difficult to separate private life and business, I have to be there 24/7 for my company. Finding balance can be difficult so that is why I try to continually develop myself. I do that through following workshops or listening to podcasts. I also like to watch series and read books and I have a business coach. I keep challenging myself and stand open for feedback. When you guide a team you have to be a good leader, which is a challenge itself and a skill that you need to develop. 

Do you have any advice for students, things that you learnt during your studies?

During your studies you already have to be active with your network. Connect with interesting people on LinkedIn. Send a message to people who do something you also want to be doing in the future. You already can start working on your future. 

Author: Dieke van Ede (guest writer)

Editor: Gwendolyne Cheung

Illustrator: Roos de Waard 

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