Blog Speaker Contest 2023

Introducing Speaker Contest 2023 Finalists: Thijs Launspach

The Speaker Contest 2023 Final is approaching – only a few weeks to go! 

This year the contest attracted an incredibly diverse and talented pool of speakers from around the world, each with unique insights and experiences to share.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sitting down with each of the finalists to learn more about their backgrounds, what inspired them to enter the contest, and the insights they want to share with our audience. From sustainability to leadership, we’ll hear from speakers representing a wide range of industries and backgrounds.

So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and join us as we get to know the Nordic Business Forum Speaker Contest 2023 finalists. Let’s start with Thijs Launspach

Thijs is a Dutch psychologist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author. His book Crazy Busy discusses many of the same themes he presents in his Speaker Contest speech; why are we so busy and stressed out, and what to do about it?

Thijs, how did you start your speaker career?

“I was a teacher before, I used to teach psychological skills to high school students. How to cope with stress, how to motivate yourself, how to plan, those kinds of things. I was trained as a clinical psychologist, but I decided to do something else instead. Basically, everything I do has to do with mental health and talking in front of groups. I worked as a tutor at Amsterdam University for years, I taught classes on psychology. I had the opportunity to put a lot of speaking hours under my belt this way, and it was only after that that I became a keynote speaker.”

What made you want to join the Speaker Contest, and how has your journey in the competition been so far?

“I saw an announcement for the competition on my LinkedIn feed last year and made a video to join the contest. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the semifinals – a good friend of mine did, and he made it to the finals. The idea stuck with me, and when I saw this year’s competition announced, I immediately wanted to join. To my own surprise, I made it to the semifinals and won! It has been fun thinking about how to do a condensed version of what I usually do. It has been quite a journey, it has been fun thinking about what I would say to the business leaders. It has been a great experience even before the final, so I look forward to it.”

Why do you think your speech is so important for business leaders to hear?

“What I want to do with my speech is to speak to business leaders about responsibility. Mental health is a big thing momentarily at work. Everyone is talking about the burnout epidemic. That is something we should be aware of. At work, we are also people, and we bring our human frailty to work as well. We can’t be machines. 

There has been a lot of attention on mental health at work, my only problem is that we tend to individualize the problem. So when someone suffers from burnout, stress, or other mental health challenges, we put the focus on the person. We say oh, this person has probably been a perfectionist, their workload had become too much, or there is a mismatch between the task and the talent. What we tend to forget is that it’s also a work problem. Work environments also are sometimes toxic. And it’s very difficult to keep yourself sane and healthy in an environment that’s inherently toxic. So, I think we underestimate the role of the work environment in how to keep people healthy or what makes people ill. 

It’s very difficult to keep yourself sane and healthy in an environment that’s inherently toxic.

I think there is a huge responsibility for business leaders to make their companies as pleasant and as healthy as they can be in order to take care of their employees. The business leaders have a decisive role to play, and that’s why I want to talk to them about how to take responsibility for mental health in their company. It begins with the example you give and the norms you set as a leader. I hope to influence a lot of people by influencing their leaders.” 

Want to watch Thijs’s speech?

The Speaker Contest 2023 Final will be organized on the 10th of May, at 18:00 EEST.

You can register to watch the live stream here.

Register to watch


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