Luxembourg entrepreneur Martin Vos is a rising star in the local money-for-services scene. Moving nonstop between meetings with CEOs, investors, the guy at Contrôle Technique who screams if you don’t understand him the first time, and other important people, Martin was kind enough to give us 10 minutes of his time.
So, Mr. Vos, what do you do?
I launched a fintech startup in 2015. We specialize in adapting blockchain technologies to existing database structures.
What does that even mean?
Fintech? I don’t really know, and I’ve always been too embarrassed to ask. It’s just one of those words…
No, I was referring to what you said about blockchain technologies.
Right, that. Uh, I don’t know that either. I’m actually just a consultant, and I’m hoping this profile will give me some credibility. I figured I’d make up something impressive-sounding about my track record.
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. What sort of consulting do you do?
I advise C-level people how to leverage existing synergies to expand knowledge capital and thereby increase brand awareness.
That’s quite vague. Can you tell us more?
You’ve me caught again. The truth is that I used to be a shoe salesman, I’m hoping to get into executive coaching. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been told it’s a fast way to easy money.
I see. Well, thanks for the interview. It’s been very interesting talking to you.
Hey, I paid for a 10-question interview. You’ve only asked me four.
Really? Are you sure? Did you count?
You can’t trick me. Six more to go.
Okay then, what are the biggest challenges entrepreneurs like you face?
Everyone’s constantly reminding you that you used to be a shoe salesman. A few weeks ago, I snuck into a fancy Christmas party organized by the chamber of commerce of some country or another, and I was telling a group of business leaders how I could help them to increase their earning potential by using meditation beads when someone said, “Hey, I know you — you’re the guy who sold me this pair of loafers.” He pointed to his feet, everyone had a good laugh, and a muscular security guard threw me out before I even had time to give out my business card.
Did the security guard literally throw you out, or are you speaking figuratively?
He actually picked me up like a rag doll and sent me flying out the front door. Luckily it had been left open. Otherwise, I might have got a skull fracture.
Did it hurt?
Not that much. When you’re starting out as an executive coach and you don’t even know what it is, you expect that sort of harsh treatment. I was wearing six layers of soft clothing.
Well, I certainly have enjoyed this conversation. Have you?
That question doesn’t count. Next.
What are your plans for the upcoming year?
If I can get a client, I might be able to get two and then 10 or 20. That’s how things work in Luxembourg. Reputation goes a long way. It’s like with restaurants. One day, you hear about a certain beef bar, and how you have to go there because everyone goes there. So you go and wait two hours for your food. Then you think, wait, this is just a boring old cheeseburger and it’s costing me 50 euros. But by that time, you’ve invested so much of yourself in the experience, and you’re too ashamed to admit you got tricked. So you tell your friends about this amazing new beef bar that they absolutely must try.
What advice would you give someone who wants to follow the same path as you?
Get used to people saying, “no, seriously, what do you do?” when you tell them you’re an executive coach. Half the time, people like that are plain old life coaches who get jittery around important people, and know they’ll never rise to your level. Ignore them.
Right, so how many questions is that now?
Ten, I think. Oh crap, you got me.