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It’s quite a challenging task: to write a piece of maximum 2000 words on the Bitcoin adventure me and my family got sucked into four years ago. For quite some time we have been living a 24/7 all-in crypto life, so where to start?
A good time to start is on Wednesday, 13th of November 2002. I was 24 years old back then we were having dinner at my parents’ place as usual. It was an amazing evening and at the end I said: «Bye mom, see you tomorrow.» These were my last words to my mother ever as she fell into a coma that night and her heart stopped beating after seven days. She was completely healthy but had a stroke, fell down and never woke up again.
It was terrible. I couldn’t handle the emotions and turned into a workaholic. I started my 1st company that grew into three companies with more than 20 employees within 12 years. In that period, I was introduced to Bitcoin and because of its revolutionary aspect and the money I could make, I started mining bitcoin in 2013 with some friends. We cleaned out one office in my 1700m2 office building, bought the motherboards and built the Riggs.
At that point I was a materialistic guy wanting to become a millionaire as soon as possible. I was taught that accumulating wealth, a big house and many cars is a great goal that will lead to happiness.
I quickly learned that wasn’t the truth and that the opposite was true. It was in December of 2014 when I was driving my jeep Cherokee and my dad called me in the car. At that time I felt to be on cloud nine as I had all the wealth I always wanted. On the phone he asked me, whether I was sitting tight? I told him: “Yes I am driving, why?” He replied that he has just come from the hospital and had been told to have cancer with about one more year to live.
Immediately I drove as fast as I could to my father’s home. As he opened the door we hugged and cried. He was my hero, an ex-professional football player and now pro-trainer, the man that taught me so many things In life. How could life be so unfair. First my mom when she was 48 and now my dad after he turned 60. I quickly realised that the only thing I could do was to spend as much time as possible with my father in 2015. I hired managers for my companies, went living with my family in the souterrain of my father’s house and focused on him and my family.
We watched football, celebrated Easter, vacation and Christmas for the last time before my Father died in January 2016 with my brother, sister, his girlfriend and me next to him. My world collapsed but I needed to stay strong as I needed to organise the funeral, inheritance and everything else. A month after his funeral in a football-stadion, I organised a beneficial match between his all-star team from VVV and FC Maluku (his roots), which was a lot of work. After this, I collapsed and was struck by a huge burnout that I tried to hide for everyone. It went worse and worse and I told my wife that we needed to go to a tropical island so I could mentally and physically reset.
What’s it all worth?
We booked a flight to Thailand and originally planned a three month trip. I rediscovered myself in these three months and looked at my life and decided that I was not living the life I should be. I needed to focus on my family and spend time with my kids, exactly what I hadn’t done enough in all those workaholic years. After three months we decided to travel for longer and my wife and I agreed that we were completely happy as a traveling family with just three backpacks and no luxury goods. The total trip took seven months and my energy was back after already a month of focusing on the right things in life.
Exactly at the time when we were in Bali a friend of mine called me and asked me if I still had the Dogecoins and Bitcoins we mined in 2013. I said yes, somewhere, but explained that I was on the beach watching a sunset, my kids were playing I sipped some more from my favourite drink, a bacardi coke. He said: «Didi: Check the coins and the community, it is all going up and the community is growing.» In the evening I called my sister to check my laptop in the Netherlands and if she could see if there were still Dogecoins in my wallet. «Yes, a few million», she replied. This was the first step. Then I needed to call the person that had my safe with my paper wallet. Yes, there were still some Bitcoins on it. All the coins combined could easily pay for all the travels of the last seven months! So I decided to check the forums and indeed: everyone was very excited and enthusiastic.
Immediately, I felt the flame burning inside me and understood that the disruption of the monetary system was starting. It was exactly what I needed: A new adventure that could fill the gap I created when I decided to stop the old life and sell my companies. I asked my wife the next day on the beach during the sunset: what if we kept living this nomad life? Let’s fly home, sell everything we have, become digital nomads and travel the world together with the kids. She was nodding, and I could see in her eyes that she liked the idea as we had talked many times about leading by example and showing our kids what truly was important in life. Not accumulating wealth but accumulating happiness.
Going all in
If we sell everything, we have a bag of money that we can use to travel. But what if we take that bag and go all-in bitcoin? I was certain that this would be the next step in the evolution of money and I felt the need to support this revolution. My wife looked at me in the way she always does when I come up with crazy ideas and said: «Didi, don’t get me wrong but you are a very materialistic guy and you want to give up your Cherokee , cabriolet? This will never happen.» She needed to laugh but I stayed serious and said yes. We know now that all that wealth didn’t make us happy and that life can slip away very quickly. We also wanted to show our kids by leading by example that luxury goods were not important. And so we did.
I went online, put my cars up for sale and bought Bitcoins. Then we flew home and put our house up for sale, also against Bitcoins. This was seen by the local news station and they came filming because they didn’t understand why I was selling my house for something they thought was a scam. This news was picked up by national news and then international news and we were suddenly called the bitcoin family.
In the eyes of many, we were a foolish family that exchanged a perfect life for a very uncertain volatile life. The house was sold in two weeks and together with everything else we sold, we bought Bitcoins. We were almost all-in. Before we knew our savings, the kids’ saving and my pension were spent on bitcoin and bam, we were all-in. Bitcoin took off to 20k and we were living on a campsite. Wallstreet journal flew over and wanted to make a documentary, soon channel news Asia and many others followed. The bitcoin family was real.
Wow, this was crazy! We were already on a rollercoaster ride because we had changed from a materialistic stationary life to a minimalistic digital nomad life but this media attention made the rollercoaster ride ever crazier. Because of all the media, we escaped from our campsite to Thailand again, Koh Phangan. Some rest at last, as that was what we needed as a family. But when we went eating in a restaurant, a Russian guy came to me and asked if I was the bitcoin guy. I answered: «Yes that’s me.» He was very excited and wanted to make a selfie. My kids were laughing and I was completely amazed. On the other side of the world a Russian guy recognising me from the bitcoin news?
Bitcoin changes lives, indeed
The day after Arte, a big tv-channel in Europe, called to ask if they could fly to Thailand to film a documentary with us. I discussed it with my wife as we wanted rest but we both realised that this wasn’t going away. So we agreed on just going with the flow, accepting this «bitcoin family» branding and go for it. Let’s use this to earn some bitcoins and money and then share that money with charities and poor people! I called Arte and told them it was possible, a week later they arrived and we created an amazing documentary that was their best viewed documentary ever.
Since that we have been traveling the world and supporting Bitcoin, Blockchain and many other cryptocurrency projects 24/7. I wrote a book in Dutch that is now translated into German and soon English. I am currently writing my second book. I am not only a frequent speaker on blockchain at crypto events and meet-ups but also at mindset-related events. I became an ambassador / advisor for many start-ups in this industry and am helping projects that decentralise parts of industries that need to be decentralised.
Please understand that the first 2,5 years weren’t easy: there were no crypto debit cards for example. We needed to find btc-accepting stores or use localbitcoins to get cash but we prefer shops/restaurants that accept crypto directly. In other situations we try to find creative solutions like buying online coupons that we spend in stores or we do groceries online and pay with btc. I even sold bitcoins to family and friends to get cash to buy some groceries sometimes. So yes, we need to depend on cash sometimes. But for us, the game is more about not using a banking system, cash is ok for as we understand that not everyone in the world understands the power of bitcoin yet. We don’t have traditional bank accounts anymore but along the last 2 years we did of course get some bitcoin debit cards and they are now slowly turning into banks as well which, in my opinion, is an amazing step in between but should not be the end goal of this monetary revolution. The goal should be clear: peer to peer digital cash that is accessible for everybody!
I also understand It’s difficult to push people into BTC as most people don’t liked to be pushed. It will happen naturally as the world economy is slowly collapsing and people will search for more privacy. I think it will happen in this way: Firstly, governments are creating centralised forms of cryptocurrency like the CBDC or the Digital Yuan. Secondly, governments will make the world cashless. Thirdly, everybody will only use digital forms of payment and realise they lost their complete privacy by using these centralised cryptos. Fourthly, people will search for privacy currencies and decentralised ones in opposite to the by governments created centralised ones.
And finally, people will understand the power of BTC, DASH, XMR, LTC and all the other cryptos that provide them of the privacy they were used to have with the cash money we now use daily.
Yes this will take some time. But every big change in the world takes time.
You can understand that this lifestyle is not always easy and can lead to frustrations and even huge discussions in the family. Like we when were at the Turkish border and forgot a visa: The debit cards didn’t work and the figure out how to pay for the visa. Believe me that are situation that lead to some yelling in the car. More than once we stood there with a full grocery car and the debit card didn’t work. That’s very frustrating but we always try to see the funny side of it. People always ask us whether we regret paying with Bitcoin. Because paying with btc now can turn out to be very expensive as the bitcoin may be worth way more in the future. They calculate that when we pay €100 worth of groceries and pay 0,01 BTC that in the future these 0,01 btc could be worth €10.000 , so expensive groceries! For us it is different as we are all in BTC. There is no other solution. If we exchange BTC for fiat, we also have less BTC. So spending BTC or exchanging BTC for fiat is the same for us. We created a mindset that money is not important for us and that we don’t look too far into the future. We know we need about €2800 to live every month. We believe that BTC could go to more than €100.000 per bitcoin. So even if we have only 3 BTC left in 2 years’ time we would break even with our initial investment while we living an amazing life for 4/5 years. We let go of materialism and we trust in BTC. It is a life, financially and emotionally, like a rollercoaster with ups and downs and probably some looping to come.
For me it is all part of a revolution that will bring back the power to the people in my aspects of life and not only the monetary aspects. Yes I am a dreamer and a believer that there will be a time when it doesn’t matter where you are born in this world and you have the equal opportunities in life because we all have the tools to access the monetary system without a bank account. Cryptocurrency is the next step in the evolution of money and will create more equal chances for everyone. At the same time, this amazing evolution of technology we refer to as blockchain will change the complex world into a more decentralised one where third party interest will disappear and we as humans can grow to each-other again because of trust. Yes I know this might sound crazy and I might sound like a dreamer. But I have learned that is better in life to follow your passion and dreams and go for it instead of living in fear; because fear will kill most of your dreams.
At the moment we still travel the world as a family. I still trade and I even started to blog and vlog on YouTube. I found that creating information on YouTube at the moment is a passion as I can reach people while being creative. I’m making a daily show and the channel is is growing tremendously. All the revenue I make with this will be shared with charities and poor people we meet during our travels. I’m also building and supporting houseofdao.io in Thailand and blochchainvalley.com in Bulgaria as I love the fact that they are building blockchain co-working and living places to maximise the positive impact on the world. Because in the end, it’s all about life. Or as I always say in my videos:
«You need to zoom out in Bitcoin and zoom in at life.»