Dreams, Discipline, and Determination: The Jesse Plasman Story
1. How would you describe your journey?
In his youth, Jesse Plasman was a passionate sports enthusiast, always ready to excel in various athletic endeavors.
Growing up in the Netherlands, he learned that money wasn't the primary pursuit; instead, they were allowed time and effort to develop what they were good at. Which to Jesse, was sports. He pursued a degree in physical education, only to realize that his heart wasn't really in it. In 1992, he decided to drop out of university, for medical reasons and decided to travel to Barcelona, Spain, where the Olympics were hosted at that time.
It was at this point in his journey, Jesse discovered his passion for working as a travel agent for young travelers. He assisted in planning excursions and organizing events, and found joy and meaning, in connecting people, bridging the gap between suppliers and buyers, while creating value for all parties involved.
Although he briefly returned to college, his experiences in Barcelona left him disillusioned with academic life. He dropped out for the second time to embark on a journey that took him to Spain, Hawaii, and New Zealand. Back in the role of a travel agent, Jesse thrived on facilitating connections between individuals, finding both positive energy and income in what he was doing.
However, a transformative moment occurred when he met two young women in New Zealand who were struggling to fund their education despite their parents' significant investments. This encounter made Jesse realize the importance of making the most of the time he had. He returned to college, completed his degree, and took on a job as a banker, aiming for success, and not to spoil the opportunities life had given him.
After successful years of hard work, Jesse was offered a job from the Rompa Group, where his father was working. He declined, but once asked again after two weeks, he accepted it on the one condition that he was allowed to operate in China, a region he saw holding immense potential for growth. But the catch was, that Jesse had visited China only once and knew nobody there. The company agreed and provided him with €250,000 to establish operations in China.
Despite the language barriers and challenges, Jesse successfully built the Rompa Group's largest manufacturing hub in China. The lessons he learned from his journey in Spain, of connecting people and fostering trust and positive energy, he applied the same in China.
What he realized was if one stays true to oneself, and emphasizes honesty, openness, and a clear set of values in one’s leadership, it is possible to create unity, and success will follow, even in spite of cultural and communicational divides.
Ultimately, Jesse's journey has taught him the importance of fostering connections with people to create more even value, a lesson he continues to carry with him to this day.
2. You mentioned earlier that discipline is your weapon, how do you maintain it?
Discipline, to Jesse, is his most valuable tool. He maintains it by recognizing that time is the most precious currency one has. It's a concept that he came across when a professor at Harvard mentioned, to “never line in your own pocket," following the expression "to line someone’s pocket.” An expression that has stuck with him ever since.
To put that analogy in real life, if he were to spend money, it’d be okay, but it's not the same with time. Time is the only currency he really has for himself. To “line from your own pocket” would mean to spoil his own time.
Soon, when the day passes, he hates to be left wondering, "What did I do today?”.
To have wasted his day would mean that he has spoiled his precious currency – time – and is now out of it, so he strives to get the maximum value out of his day by focusing on what's truly important in his life: to make the most of every moment and do as much as possible with his time.
As part of his routine, he wakes up at 2-3 a.m. to go for a bike ride three to four days a week. Other times, he opts for runs at 5 a.m. These activities serve as his meditation, helping him clear his mind and maintain his discipline.
While discipline is important, he recognizes that occasionally he simply wants to let time flow freely on unproductive activities, but, even in these moments, Jesse realizes that he’s spending time from his own pocket.
As a result, he tries to limit such spending of his time to only the activities that truly add value to his life. There are days he’s not entirely satisfied with his discipline, but the effort to keep improving ensures that he gets the maximum out of his days.
So, how does Jesse maintain such a level of discipline? It’s easy, he feels guilty when he spoils time. This mindset keeps him focused and motivated to stay on track to reach his goals.
3. What is your advice to a young person starting his career?
His advice to young individuals embarking on their career journey is to chase their dreams relentlessly. Don't let time slip away, or they may end up living with regret, wondering what could've been.
He’s 52 years old, and he firmly believes in the power of dreams. He tells young people to speak their dreams out aloud, put them on paper, and display them somewhere they can see every day, maybe above their bed or on a computer, but as long as they make sure that at the end of each day they don't feel guilty for not taking steps forward to achieve those dreams.
Jesse acknowledges that everyone can have excuses – not enough time or money, for example – but that shouldn't stop them from chasing their dreams. Never allow excuses to hold you back. If something doesn't work or doesn't create value in one’s life, speak up and make a change.
Jesse states it’s essential that one is clear on why one had chosen that particular dream.
He wants to keep them realistic and encourages them to make clear plans to follow them, so achieving their dreams becomes even more fun that way.
However, the most important aspect of it all is to have fun in whatever it is one is doing.
Surrounding oneself with positive energy, giving and receiving it, and sharing it with others, are valuable opportunities to build connections and foster a positive work environment— those water cooler chitchats and other interactions are far from a waste of time.
Jesse admits he’s a bit jealous of the opportunities and chances young people have available today. To be in the right place and at the right time, and to have one’s potential to make a significant difference, be successful, and create value today.
Jesse ends the question with a remark to chase those dreams, whatever they may be, and not hold back.