Updated: Oct 17, 2022
MindSpeaking Podcast Episode 6 - Peter Akkies, Founder of PeterAkkies.net
▶️ Watch the podcast with video on YouTube:
00:24 Introduction of the guest
01:57 Who is Peter Akkies?
08:28 Living Abroad
10:00 Who was Peter Akkies in High School?
12:08 Personal Development
14:07 Energetic Speaker
15:44 Tips on how to become more energetic on speaking
25:40 Thoughts on "Teaching is the best way to learn"
31:32 Importance of Peter Akkies' Values
34:28 Role of Journaling
37:15 Rapid Fire Round
42:58 About Peterakkies.net
45:08 Where to follow Peter Akkies
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Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Today in the mind speaking podcast, I speak with Peter Akkies. I met Peter a few years ago, during one of the meetings of toastmasters of public speaking club. I'm really excited because back then, a few years ago at that meeting, I saw him on stage and I saw him speak. And immediately it was clear that he has an energetic way of speaking. And you also see that in this episode, also Peter kind of created the dream life for himself. He is an entrepreneur and takes a lot of holidays is the founder of Peter Akkies.net, where he talks about productivity in blogs and also creates a lot of YouTube videos next to his paid courses. So if you want to find out more about how to organize your life, how to create this dream life, as Peter did, and to learn more about his story, and how you can create a life with less stress and get more done, whatever your goals are, then Peter has a lot of tips for you. You will enjoy this episode about personal development. How to get better at public speaking, and travel. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I certainly did. Enjoy it, Peter. Hey, again. I'm so glad you joined the podcast actually we met on toast during Toastmasters, one of the meetings there will tell you more about that later. It's a speaking, public speaking club. And I'm excited to talk to you in a lot of depth about a lot of different topics. But first of course, the audience would like to know a bit more about you. Would you like to tell a bit more about yourself and why?
Peter Akkies: Yeah, sure. You know, there's always the question of how much detail should I share so I do a bullet point overview. So I'm Dutch. I live in the Netherlands now just like you. I did spend quite a lot of time living abroad sort of when I was 17. I did a lot. I moved to Hong Kong for the last two years of my high school that was fun and a very international school and I was like Hey, I like this living abroad thing. Then I went to study in the US. So I did my bachelor's degree in the US for four years and then you know, there's like, Okay, now what do I have to do for work? And a lot of people were going into consulting which sounded exciting to me at the time, so I was like, oh, let's apply for some consulting firms. There are different kinds of firms. And the one that appealed to me the most was it's known as economic consulting or litigation consulting. So I went into that, and I did that for three and a half years. It's the kind of work where basically what we did is large companies are suing each other and they're arguing over numbers. And we were we would run the math, you know, whether it's in an Excel spreadsheet or in like a statistical piece of software. We'd read a lot of documents, write up reports, and all this stuff had to happen fast and very accurately. Because it was often you know, about it was always at least about millions of dollars, you know, 10s of millions, 100 million, sometimes more. And so the work that we had to do had to be very accurate and we have to be very fast and sometimes we got quite busy. After doing that for three and a half years. I totally burned out. I didn't want to deal with that anymore. And then I moved back to the Netherlands, which is as you can imagine quite a big move because at that, at that time, I'd been living in the US for seven years. So I felt sort of more American than Dutch at this point. Yeah, move back to the Netherlands and spend a couple of years you know, basically recovering from burnout and at some point I was like, I never want to have a job anymore. I don't want anybody else telling me what to do or when I have to do it or whatever. And tried a bunch of business ideas. Some of them worked out. Or rather one of them worked out a bunch of them didn't. And the one that worked out was teaching people how to be more productive in particular using certain apps and so I've been doing that for a couple of years now. And it's a pretty fun life
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Goods. I think there are so many interesting avenues we could take from here right but let's talk about the following. I was I'm very curious about your burnout. This is a more interesting topic for me since two years ago when I started my own business and I think more people can relate to that. Do you have your own business or not? And I'm wondering, what was the first time you thought maybe I'm overworked? Or what were some symptoms you had?
Peter Akkies: It's actually really hard to say, you know, it's hard to pinpoint one particular moment because at the time I was much less aware of the feelings of my emotions and of my sort of you know, body state, both mind, and body than I am now. So it's a realization that crept in over time. Looking back at it, there are a lot of warning signs. I was getting more irritated with people really easy right? I was unable to sort of juggle multiple projects at a time, which I still think most people try to do too much at once anyway, but sort of, that's sort of the nature of the job that I was in where you're always working on different projects. You know, there's usually not one project that needs all of your time. So you get split. And I would get really sort of serious with people about like, do not enter my office do not talk to me, I need to but like in a probably too aggressive way. So in hindsight, I realize all these things, but at the time, I didn't. I had very little free time. You know, I was not one of the people in the office that work the most by the way. I was probably one of the people in the office that worked at least but even so the hours were such that on some weeks, you know, you're always having dinner in the office, you're always going on really, really late taking a taxi home that the company pays for, you know, there were days when I took a taxi back to work in the morning, whereas normally I would bike to the train station then take a train but there were days when like, I just wanted to speed it up just so I could get another half hour of sleep. Yeah, and so that was not it was not. I mean, it was cool in a sense that when you're young, you know at the time I was sort of in my early to mid-20s You're like oh, this is cool. I'm getting paid a lot of money to work for important people and like people are driving me around taxis and whatever. But like it didn't really feel fun. And there are plenty of evenings when I came home. I lived in San Francisco and worked in Silicon Valley at the time. And so I lived at the top of the hill. And so on the way home I would take first a train for about 45 minutes and then like a half-hour bike ride, but I had to bike up the hill. Some days I made it all the way up the hill, but usually I didn't. Either way, I'd be drenched in sweat. So the first thing I would do what I would come home and like whatever it is 8pm or something maybe seven if I was really lucky. Let's take a shower and then quickly eat something and whatever and then I'd have like two hours left in my day before I'd have to start all over again. So that's the experience and not many vacation days especially you know, we live in the Netherlands here where people are employers are a bit more generous with vacation days than in America. And so for American standards, it was all right, but in the end, I just didn't have enough time to myself and the work pressure just got to me at some point and got to a point where I was like I need to quit my work very soon because it's getting really bad.
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Right, well, good decision then. I was wondering if many of your colleagues back then that they feel the same. Were they in the same room?
Peter Akkies: Yeah, so how was that a lot of people found it difficult but I definitely it's not like everybody burned out you know, like most people didn't and I think there are some certain personality traits that make you more likely to burn out for example, I'm quite perfectionist or I was I'm less so now but that's something that really contributed to it when you have a lot of work on your plate for a lot of different projects and you want to do everything correctly. You want to do everything right. That can really be a problem because you're not doing things as fast as people want you to do them or you're doing them as fast as you want people do them but you're doing sort of more work in that time than other people. So you're like really, really pushing yourself. And that's sort of a cycle that I got into where I got really stressed. being stressed causes your brain not to function as well. So you either forget things or you make mistakes and then you get mad at yourself and you try even harder you didn't read even more stress you make even more mistakes and this sort of it's like a vicious circle.
Influence on living abroad
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Right, right. Yeah, it's a very interesting story. And I think there's so much to learn from from that. You also mentioned living abroad, right. You mentioned Hong Kong. You mentioned the US How do you think those periods outside of the Netherlands abroad living abroad influenced you?
Peter Akkies: Yeah, well, first of all, I love living abroad. I totally want to live in the US again someday. The only thing is that my girlfriend's Turkish doesn't have an American passport. I don't want a job anymore ever. So we quickly run out of viable visa pathways. So no, I mean, I, I loved it. It's, I really feel and this has been really relevant during COVID. During COVID I did much less traveling than I usually did. And it really feels like your brain just shrinks, like you're not your brain but like you're sort of the part of the world that you are aware of what is going on is like getting smaller and smaller. And I felt by living abroad, it was the opposite way around where you see things from a different perspective. You meet people with very different ideas, you know, like anywhere Dutch people have a certain culture certain, you know, ways that they do things, certain things that they say and you start to think that's normal. That's the only way that things happen, but then you go to other places and things are different. So I really found it super valuable because of that. I think I became a much more resilient person. Also, just because you're faced with different challenges that you may not have in wherever you grew up. Yeah, so I mean, I you know, if I ever have kids, I want to make sure that they travel lots as well, because it's awesome, awesome.
Who is Peter Akkies in Highschool
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: You mentioned a few things that you've learned along the way. That makes me curious about what type of person was Peter Akkies? In high school?
Peter Akkies: Yeah, well, depends whether we're talking about you know, Dutch High School which I did for five years, or the two years afterwards that I did in Hong Kong, because those are quite different. In Dutch High School. I spent most of my time playing video games. I mean, it's, I've tried to put a number to it. I think sort of six to eight hours, maybe sometimes 10 hours a day is like a reasonable estimate of how much time I was playing video games. That was a big part of my wife at the time.
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: What did you like some video games?
Peter Akkies: Well, first of all, there's just like action, dopamine, excitement, and all the classic things why video games are fun, but I also did it sort of in a team context. And so at the time, I played Call of Duty and actually sort of my team reached the number one spot in Europe in call of duty for a short period of time, which at the time, this was a quite a while ago, you know, almost 20 years ago, and it was much easier then to become like the best Call of Duty player in Europe than it is now. Like right now. There's much much much harder right now. There's like professional tournaments. With people earning millions of bucks and whatever. But I think part of the excitement was just hey, we have a team going on here. It's a social thing. I was sort of the leader of the team, sometimes together with one other person and so you're making decisions for people. I really approach to basically as a sport, you know, like we had trainings we had competitive matches. I was doing a lot of research all the time. Oh, yeah, we were training and in a very detailed way we're like okay, like you have this map and you're fighting each other five versus five usually right? It's cold war, by the way is very funny. And then, you know, you start at the map at a specific time. And when we wouldn't map out okay, we start here in how many seconds? Can we reach this part of the map, which is a strategic location, a house to occupy or a vehicle to grab or whatever, you know, somewhere to put a mind what so that when the other guys come, they run onto the mind, and so we would timeout if we run this way or that way. Like what's faster, okay, you shouldn't be there after 19 seconds. Like if you're there after 19 seconds, I'm here after 17 seconds, we can ambush them, like I took this very seriously.
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: So until and, and maybe there's something in there also about you know, improving all the time and trying to not game the system but improve your own got your own game, which and I know you're also very much into personal development. Do you also see that link and how, how did the personal development journey?
Peter Akkies: Yeah, you know, I think sort of as a teenager, maybe not thinking of it in terms of, you know, the phrase personal development, but I've always been super interested. In like, improving myself. And so it was, I guess, at the time very fun to always think, How can I become better at this? Oh, I lose. It's painful. I don't like losing what did I do wrong? What do I need to do better? And I think over time, you sort of apply that to different parts of your life. For example, in college in the US one of the things I did is I worked in the so called Writing Center. So we had a writing center where people would go in and they would bring their papers, or a paper that they've written and, you know, people working there, which was me at some point, would review the paper and come up with some feedback and then you sit down together with the student maybe for 10 minutes to 40 minutes, and be like, Okay, here's some ideas for how you might improve the structure, you know, how you might improve, you know, the words that you're using, etc, etc. And thinking about it, you know, that again, was a big exercise and just like taking one specific skill and very deliberately getting better at it first, there was a class to teach you how to like give feedback to people basically. So like you're learning how to give feedback, then a lot of practice a lot of a lot of experience also comes into it, of course, discussing with other people, what makes for good academic paper, etc. What are some good structures and yeah, when I think about it, I can input basically at any time of my life? I was busy actively trying to improve something.
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Right. And what about what about public speaking? Yes, we met at Toastmasters, which is a public speaking club. I know you're you're a big fan of public speaking. You enjoy it. You have a podcast, podcast channel or YouTube channel. You have your own podcast. I can tell from this conversation alone that you enjoy speaking, right. And if I think about you, and the speaker, Peter Ickes, I think about an energetic, spontaneous and funny speaker. Have you always been like that? Or haha, how has that been? About probably,
Peter Akkies: I know, even in Dutch High School, sort of before I left for Hong Kong, which at the time was pretty interesting, right? You know, 16 year old who's about to turn 17 is going to spend two years in Hong Kong. I mean, this is in 2006 when I guess it was even more interesting than than it is now. Because at the time, there was no WhatsApp. You know, so like, you could like text people like I would go on Skype, sort of with my parents once a week and that was like very advanced technology. And so I remember giving a speech at my high school before leaving and everybody was just blown away by how good the speech was. I guess for like a 16 year old, whereas me, I just felt like I was just kind of telling my story, like, why did I choose to do this? What am I going to do and stuff? And yeah, I guess at that time, I was people already perceived me as sort of a very energetic speaker and I don't know maybe that's just kind of the person that I am. I feel like you probably have some thoughts on this. But if you're speaking and you're putting on a very different persona than you have in your daily life, I think you're just making it harder for yourself.
Tips on how to become more energetic on speaking
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Absolutely. I think I think the number one thing you need to do in becoming a better speaker is being yourself right being authentic because people can feel that people can see it. And yeah, that's why I think it's so important. Still, I think always people have things to improve, right? If I look at myself, I think I'm an okay speaker, but sometimes my energy levels go down. If I'm speaking for longer or or if I need to think about the content a lot. So in that sounds I can learn a lot from speakers like you are a bit more energetic. By nature. Do you have any, any tips you could share for me fairly
Peter Akkies: for me, I have to be excited about something so so first by the way, it's funny. It's funny that you mentioned because I feel like my prom is kind of the opposite. I feel like sometimes my energy level is too high and people are like, You got to slow down me because slowed down, but I just naturally get excited about stuff. And when I'm excited about something the energy level will show like I'm not faking it, you know? And if I had to talk about something that was really boring, like a really dry subject, then I would have to have something else that is exciting about it to like, have that energy level. So if it's not the subject matter that excites me so much, maybe I'm trying a new presentation technique. Or maybe I'm playing around with the inflections of my voice, right? Or maybe I'm trying to get a certain reaction out of the audience's certain point, like really focused on delivering a certain joke or something like that. And so I'm always I need to have something that is like, I either haven't done it before, or I've done it before, but it didn't go well. Something's a bit of a challenge that keeps it interesting. I feel like then the energy is there. If it's just if it's just boring, I'm just trying to get through it. Whatever. Yeah, I'm just gonna I'm gonna be you know, it's gonna be really dry delivery.
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Right? Is that also something you tried to apply in your YouTube videos? Because you created a bunch of YouTube videos. Do you always try to experiment with the format or try to focus on
Peter Akkies: always, I'm really in an exploratory phase with my YouTube channel. On YouTube, specifically, I've made videos for a few years now that are very how to Screencast style videos like tutorials, I will teach you how to do this in this app. Those are very easy for me to do now, because it's mostly improvisation. I have a bullet points in my head like three or four or five or whatever things I want to mention. If it's more than that, I just put sort of my iPad next to me and kind of kind of glanced at it every now and then. But it's a bit boring to always do the same kind of video. And sometimes that's why I am experimenting with different kinds of videos. And sometimes the experiment is success. Sometimes it's not. I like to think that is all part of the journey. We have to accept that some things are going to work and some things are not. In fact, if you're not making enough, you know, sort of things that don't work out. Maybe you sort of expand your boundaries, a little bit track train more things. I don't always try something new. Because sometimes I'm just you know, maybe I'm feeling a little stressed. I don't have that much time. It's been a little while since I put out a video. I have an idea for a video that I think is gonna go well. I don't really have the energy to do something creative with it and just kind of, you know, trying to get it out there. I do notice that those videos often to me seem worse than then people sort of perceive them like to me is really obvious like oh my god, I hated this blah blah, but people can sometimes tell but not always. So sometimes people are like this was great. None like it was not great recording like recording this completely sucks. So other times I think it's visible. Other times I think I make something that you can kind of tell that I'm not having a fun time and I've been really doing my best lately to avoid that because I want people to watch my videos. And feel inspired and they'll be like, Wow, this guy looks like he's not getting enough sleep or this guy looks like he's super stressed. Why would I listen to this one?
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Alright, right now lately a few weeks ago, I I read or I listened to Tim Ferriss and he said that he made a big change at some point. In his entrepreneurial career where he started to make decisions based on how do I feel when I see it on my calendar. When you see a new podcast or a new project or a new type of activity. How do I feel? Do I feel stressed when I feel energy drained? I think that's a good way to you know organize your your week if you have that luxury of course. So I think yeah, yeah, I can imagine you could kind of do kind of the same with with YouTube videos and make it interesting and find it interesting. Absolutely.
Peter Akkies: You know, it's interesting because first of all, like you're saying it's a luxury position. To be in. At the same time, you can create that luxury position for yourself. Not everybody can but probably most people listening to this podcast can you know, there are definitely plenty of people in the world born into a certain situation where it's much harder for them to sort of make that happen. But you know, if you're listening to this podcast, very good chance that you that you're able to sort of create that luxury position for yourself may take a couple of years. You know, it took me several years of not working, recovering from burnout and then several years of trying to start several businesses, some of which failed and one of which succeeded. And even then, in the beginning, the income wasn't that high. It's quite good now but that took a while. Anyway, what I My point here is I agree with Tim Ferriss in that you generally want to be excited about things on your calendar, you know, they're probably exceptions like, like at some point you need to take care of your accounting you may never get excited about your recounting, but you're going to have to do it anyway. If you sort of run a business, but I think a lot of times people kid themselves about what is fun and what is not. I think a lot of the time people are trying to sort of they feel like something should be fun for them. Or it should be interesting or they shouldn't be excited about it, but they're not and they're not listening to how they actually feel about this. It's like no, but like recording a podcast should be exciting, you know, but then if you really dread it, like just don't do it like it's fine. There's something else out there for you and I really tried to sort of take my gut feeling seriously, more and more where if something you know, let's say every but all my competitors, everybody else on YouTube in this in the same niche making the same kinds of videos or doing one thing, but if I then try to create videos like that, and it really stresses me out and I have a terrible time. More and more. I'm able to tell myself this is fine. It's not for me, like I know it would work if I could make myself do it. But I don't want to do it. So I'm not going to
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: write that makes a lot of sense. And I I think you're totally right you can create this life this lecture position right because right now you are in a position you you kind of decide what you enjoy, what values you have where you want to work with. So many people are in a job they might like or might not might not like. But of course I'm curious and I'm sure the listeners are as well how how you got there, right because there has been a long journey. You also at some point you did a content creation challenge. Maybe you want to expand on that or how did you get here, right? Because we haven't spoken so much yet about the professional side. And I think many people want to become an entrepreneur. So maybe you can guide us
Peter Akkies: there's a lot because people tend to ask if you know when I tell you introduce yourself at a party or whatever people are like, Oh, what do you do? I'm like, Oh, I make video courses online. Oh, really? What about? Yeah, productivity really is so cool. Like, how do you do that? Do you do that? Like on your own? Like yeah, so how do you get started? And it's not like I had this idea all of a sudden, you know, as soon as I quit my job or even before I quit my job. It's not like I had this idea and I just ran with it. There was a whole confusing process to begin with. But it really like one of the things I've learned is like business is not so hard. You basically people have problems and they want you to solve their problems and if you can solve their problems, they will pay you for that. It's really not that hard. Like it's like that. And you can make it a lot more complicated. I definitely made it a lot more complicated. So it took me several years and at first you know this was this was when I was still sort of in the middle of burnout recovery. I'm not even sure if I realized that I burnout yet like I knew something was wrong with me, but I don't think I really applied that label for like, maybe a year, year and a half after I quit my work. So it took quite a while. It wasn't really until I started working with a therapist, by the way that like things really started improving quite rapidly. But it was sort of around that time where I was like, hey, people are making money on the internet. People are making things on the internet and like selling them to randos and you know they're making a living that way this sounds great. You can work from home. You know you can work from Bali, you can go wherever the hell you want with your laptop. I did go to Bali by the way a couple times in the past couple of years. It's always enjoyable to like do a little bit of work there while you know in some nice villa with a pool and whatever. Do some yoga you know, that lifestyle really appealed to me. So I was like, How can I make this work? And then now you're at the point where Okay, I have a lifestyle in mind that I want to create for myself, but you still need a business. So that means you still need to solve some problems for people that like are valuable for them but they'll pay for it. So you got to look for an opportunity and I did so much mental work. Way too much mental work. I was consuming all the podcasts, all the books, all the online courses by other people teaching how to do online business. And at some point I felt like I could have been like an online business strategy consultant before I ever like made a single sale myself. Just because of all the information that I put in my brain. But you know, information doesn't create a business you have to take action. And it wasn't until I actually started taking some action that things took off.
Thoughts on "Teaching is the best way to Learn"
Gilbert Eijkelenboom: It's inspiring to hear your story and I can totally relate to what you're saying about taking action for me as well. I've I've I've taken notes and while I've been to YouTube and articles for four years before I actually started taking action, I think no one can ever see the path in front of them right to you. You first need to take action and on the way with a lot of scrambles you you get up and finally make it work and and by now you know you're kind of a teacher right in their specific fields. What and they also say that teaching is the best way to learn. Do you agree with that and and if yes, does that mean that everyone needs to teach?
Peter Akkies: Not best way to learn. It's definitely a great way to learn. So for me, the things specifically that I've been teaching started out with like, how to use one specific app called OmniFocus, which is the task management app a To Do app pretty complicated one let's say complex because it's not complicated in a bad way complex in a good way. And by teaching people how to use this app, people were able to organize their lives more and to get more stuff done. So it get more organized, be more productive. That's valuable to people and so they're willing to pay for this and I first wrote a blog post on this topic. Then I kind of did nothing with that for six months. And six months later, I realized, hey, wait a second, like Google has picked this up. And it's like sending people to my website, where I've been doing a lot of blogging but a lot of random topics and nobody was reading anything except for this one post that family was using, like how I use this app. And I put screenshots and I you know, put arrows on the screen says look, you should do this and whatever. And then someone was like, hey, us really charged for this. And then I was like, You know what, let's make an online course. And I think the first iteration of my course was quite good. I have I've never done a second iteration. I have added sort of lessons to it over time and I've re recorded a few lessons, but it's pretty much still the first iteration that I did. And it's really that process of creating a course teaching people how to use this app from scratch that Yep, you know, allow me to master the app. Because if you're going to teach something like you want at least I'm the kind of person who always wants to do a g