Meet Stijn: Desires of Safety Stand Against Every Great Man

We’re proud to present the latest addition to Betty Blocks’ rapidly expanding team. Stijn van Wonderen will be reinforcing our marketing department. With a knack for storytelling and a background in advertising, journalism, and music, Stijn is on a mission to help us turn Citizen Development into a no-brainer.

It’s only fair that a great storyteller tells his own story, so without further ado, here’s Stijn in his own words.


Don’t call me a singer-songwriter

Back in 2008, it seemed I was heading towards a career as a singer/songwriter (although I didn’t wear straw hats nor aspired to be the next Jason Mraz —*barf*). With my band, we managed to breakthrough in the Dutch music scene. But instead of taking the leap, I chose the safe way and finished my studies in New Media, leaving the potential pop-star life behind.

I then started a career as a journalist at a business magazine. Timing couldn’t be worse. The financial crisis had just struck and advertising revenues were plummeting. In addition, the traditional market was losing more blood because of the arrival of stiff (online) competition like blogs, vlogs, and grassroots journalism.  

First thing I noticed was that the majority of my team of journalistic veterans was clinging on to bright memories of the fleeting past, the ‘good old days,’ before the crisis and the arrival of the internet. Back in 2009, with YouTube still in its infancy, only 2 of our 30 staff members were appointed to manage our website. In hindsight, we were far too late embracing the digital.

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Letting nostalgia hold you back?

I guess it’s rooted in our nature to hold on to nostalgia-fuelled longings for the past, myself included. So I kept working at the magazine on and off for seven years and kept returning because it was a safe haven.

Still, deep down I always knew it was because of those who embraced change that we’ve come this far in our socio-cultural and technological evolution.

These last years it dawned on me why I chose to study the relationship between new media forms and the impact on society and culture at large. It is an exciting ever-changing landscape that keeps moving, and you have to keep up in order to be kept up.

Today, even the world of neuroscience agrees that the mind only gets stronger when immersing oneself into the unfamiliar. It has become clear that people sometimes need to push their boundaries to grow, even if that means embracing change.

Bridging the gap

Naturally, the next revolution is going to take place in the digital realm. The current deficit of software developers already illustrates this. The world is screaming for developers and the lack of skilled programmers in the workforce is causing a delay of progression in many businesses. As the market is unable to meet up with the demand, a new revolution is bound to happen.

I had come to know about Betty Blocks, a company that stands at the forefront of this revolution. It propagates the rise of the Citizen Developer: a user who helps build applications to facilitate the processes of business operations, with a focus on those who always wanted to develop apps, but were held off by the fear of complex programming languages and jargons.

This way, the new IT-hub hopes to bridge the increasing gap between the supply and demand of developers. Not by replacing existing IT departments, but by supporting them with new ideas and innovative testing methods.

Why I joined Betty Blocks

Personally, I too have wasted much of my time trying to keep things safe and steady. But lately, I realized this was not the way to go. In a culture increasingly typified by people working different jobs at different periods in their life, it’s necessary that we keep up, that we reinvent ourselves constantly.

The obvious reason why I joined the company is because it lives and breathes reinvention. Not only is Betty Blocks bravely trying to innovate the workspace (what an amazing office!) and our user-experience with software, it also attempts to change the way we handle application development for good, opening the door for a new tech revolution.

So, in my personal quest of reinventing myself, I figured this wasn’t such a bad place to start :-).

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