Who is Yvonne van der Laak?

When I asked Yvonne to be in the book, she was really surprised. Not fake suprised, as some actresses do when they get an Oscar, she was surprised because technically she is not an agilist. She used to work for the Dutch branch of Xebia) as a Marketing Coordinator. I have not met Yvonne, yet for me, her interaction on twitter showed me that her mindset was really agile. I don’t know if that’s because of the influence of working for an agile company (which some of us would like) or because Xebia has great hiring skills. This book wants to show off people who understand agile and who breathe it and that is why Yvonne is in the book.



What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?

I am an idealist. My goal in life is to make the world a better place, especially when it comes to animal welfare. I have always known that this is something I care about, but only recently realized that it is actually the thing that drives me. My goal is to make a difference in the world. Social media helps me to get there.
If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?

Well actually, I am not in IT myself anymore. I used to work for Xebia, but started my own business – Start With Y – in social media and online branding. I have a background in communication and marketing. Some of my clients, however, are from the Agile community.
I have never deliberately chosen to be in IT. It sort of happened, but I must say that working at Xebia has definitely changed me. I have met so many great, driven people that have inspired and encouraged me. They have introduced me to the wonderous world of agile which still comes in handy as agile is definitely not just an "IT thing" anymore.
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?

Being an entrepreneur. I am not a very disciplined and orderly person, so having to manage myself and not having anyone to report to, is quite a challenge sometimes. Still, I am also the one that feels the pain as soon as I am slacking, so that keeps me going.
Just recently I have decided to look for a ‘real’ job  again and keep my business on the side. Working for myself has been an amazing experience so far. It helped me figure out what I want and like and how to get there. It made me very independent, but it also reminded me that I have to ask for help sometimes…
What drives you?

Happiness. Respect. Personal development. Fun. My fiancé. Animal welfare. And of course, world peace Winking smile

I am always looking for new things to broaden my horizon. This often results in my friends saying ‘You are doing what?! Why?!’ or ‘That’s so typical for you’, whenever I tell them about my new Russian language course, sports club (rarely), collecting books for schools in Surinam (in progress) or organizing a beach cleanup (coming soon). I love learning new things and contributing to social or environmental projects. I love sharing knowledge and creating awareness, especially amongst my friends. And I am fortunate to have the most amazing guy supporting me and watching my back, no matter what I do.
What is your biggest achievement?

Leaving the stability of a job behind and starting my own business. With all the struggles and insecurities that come with it. And I am enjoying every minute of it. Well, maybe not every minute, but at least a few hours every day 😉
What is the last book you have read?

You mean actually finished? Let me think… I am halfway through Start With Why by Simon Sinek, the same goes for Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard. I am reading a few Dutch books about starting up your own business. And I have a pile of about 20 books that I still want to read, most of them related to social media, general management or personal development.
Furthermore, I’ve just read The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz by Denis Avey and I am now reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
The next book I am going to buy for fun is Il Etait un Fois by Benjamin Lacombe. I love fairy tales and picture books with pretty drawings.
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?

Who inspires you/is your role model? Similar to ‘what drives you?’ but not quite the same.
If I would have to name a few of my role models they would be

Sir Richard Branson (a self-made business man and idealist who works together with the biggest leaders in the world, trying to make a change and having fun while doing it),

Farah Fawcett (an amazingly strong woman who even when she was dying, wanted to help others by making a documentary of her illness)

Lady Gaga (a very young, driven and talented woman who has managed to build one of the biggest and tightest fan clubs in just a few years time).

And closer to home: Roos van Vugt, who is one of the biggest influencers in the Dutch social media/online community, has a great career, 4 kids and is a very nice person.

Last but not least my soon-to-be-hubby. Corny but true.
Who do you think I should ask next?

Definitely some Dutchies! I’d be curious about the anwers of Lillian Nijboer and some of my fomer collegues e.g.  

Last week Yvonne’s answers were already published in the Who is agile book together with the answer to the question: If you could have any super power, what would it be?