The Blab with Wietse Wind
Welcome to The Blab, as announced, it is a series of interviews where I chase around some of the most renowned XRP experts and advocates to chat about...other stuff!
For the first Blab, I'm interviewing Wietse Wind, who most of us know as an XRPL powerhouse and rock star developer. But we're not here to talk about XRP, are we? (To know more about Wietse's work, I really recommend you to check out this web page with an impressive list of his XRPL projects). Over the next lines we will discover a few unknown aspects of Wietse's life: What were his childhood and student days like? What is some of his best advice to live life? (And remember, also extended content for Coil subscribers).
By the way: Funnily my initials are also are a repeated letter, so we'll go with “WW” for Wietse and “RR” for me, because that's how we roll!
RR: Hey Wietse, welcome to the first edition of The Blab! Let's start as far in the past as your mind can take you. What is your first most vivid memory?
WW: Hey Moncho, thanks!! My first most vivid memory was visiting the town center of Altea in Spain with my family on our holiday.
RR: What were you like as a kid? What did you like to eat? Do for fun?
WW: I was always discovering new things, working in the garden, collecting things, taking things apart (like an old radio). I believe I loved eating home made pizza, and Stroopwafels (treacle-waffle, which is a Dutch delicacy, a candy). Still love to eat them. I used to spend a lot of time playing with my two little sisters, our cats and (red-eared) turtles.
**RR: (Writes down Stroopwafels in his bucket list) Can you describe the neighborhood in Amersfoort you grew up in? How was it like to grow up there?
**WW: We lived in a townhouse near the city. When I was really young I would play outside (with the little sister -who is about my age- of my XRPL Labs colleague Tristan) but as I got a little older I didn’t really enjoy playing with peers living in the same street. Lots of good memories about my room and my family :). Most time I would spend inside or in the garden though, do handicrafts, tinker, either building things out of paper, wood and electronics or taking things apart (radios, computers).
I had my own patch in the garden where I would grow pumpkins, tomatoes, sunflowers, etc. If I would go outside, I would walk around the neighborhood with a modified walkie-talkie to pick up wireless phone calls.
RR: It's awesome how you started building and creating at such a young age. What was you favorite toy or game when you were little?
WW: I mostly played with Lego, and I had a Lego train. I didn’t really like games and still don’t, I never liked playing video games either.
RR: Times have really changed and back in the day we had to wait (sometimes for days) until our favorite TV programs showed according to the TV guide. “Go play outside” and other activities where far more common as there was no such thing as “TV on demand”. Did you have a favorite cartoon that you would anxiously wait for?
WW: We hardly watched TV. My mother is very creative, and would do ceramics/handicrafts/drawing/… with us, which we loved. If the TV was turned on, even when I was really young, I preferred Discovery Channel. Sometimes we would watch a Disney movie (Aladdin, Lion King, …) as a family :)
RR:Who were your heroes or role models when you were a kid?
WW: My parents.
RR: Which was the time when you got in trouble as a kid that you remember the most?
WW: Actually I don’t really think I ever got into big trouble...
**RR: Now moving on to teenage days and adulthood (because unfortunately we all have to grow up at some point, right?)
When you were a teenager, what did you do for fun? Did you have a favorite spot to “hang out” in Amersfoort? Does it still exist?
WW: My favorite spot as a teenager was definitely my own room or the shed, either programming, learning about servers, etc. or renovating old-timer four stroke mopeds (Honda C50/SS50/…)
I did visit a pub in the city center on a weekly basis when I was 16~17, with some friends. It doesn’t exist anymore.
I used to hang out in a park with friends from the band I played in. Sun, guitar, wine, the park is still there, close to the city center. It’s still a lovely place. Can’t wait for Arwèn to start walking to take her there.
RR: Sun, a guitar and wine sounds like quite a blast! It sure will be a really special feeling to take Arwèn to the places that bring you such memories.
And speaking of memories, can you tell us what graduating from high-school in the Netherlands was like back then?
WW: I either didn’t show up, didn’t pay attention or just did the bare minimum to pass (a test, school year, exams). I think I was horrible for my teachers. I remember some of them even telling me I disappointed them for doing close to zero. I didn’t even show up for my own graduation, I was so happy high school was over. I did convince myself to enroll in university, but after one month I realized that I wanted to continue full time with my software start-up.
RR: It's incredible how such early life decisions can really define your path in life. And how did you meet your wife?
WW: A friend and colleague of mine and her sister were dating, and we were their chaperones. We went to a place where you’ll normally never find my wife or me: a nightclub. Before I even realized what I was feeling, I managed to set a date for dinner. For four, but my friend and her sister didn’t show up ;)
RR: Very opportune! :). And ever since, you've had the blessing of building together a beautiful family: You have one daughter and a new baby coming soon, congratulations! Can you share with us what is your favorite story about your daughter Arwèn so far?
WW: Thank you!
I really love her reaction to music. She was moving to the beat before she could even stand up. Every evening, before it’s time for bed, we “dance” through the living room. Arwèn kicking her legs to the beat. But: it’s really impossible to come up with just one thing. It is absolutely amazing, every day. All the cliches are true.
RR: Earlier you mentioned you used to play in a band...What type of music do you like to play the most?
WW: Jazz standards, finger picking. But every now and then I plug in my electric guitar (Gibson Les Paul, Fender Strat) for some Jimi Hendrix or blues. I don’t want to bother the neighbors too much, so that’s not happening as often as I would like to. I don’t play as often as I would like to anyway. Time is a problem. Maybe a blues band when I’m grey and old.
RR: Even though I've never learned to play any instrument, I'm fully with you there. I recently came across the cajón and been meaning to get one and learn ever since. Not starting a cold war with the neighbors has been the show stopper for me...
What’s the most unusual but fun experience you’ve ever had?
WW: Skinny dipping on the Arctic Circle (Sweden, road trip when I was around 19).
RR: Yikes, I feel cold just to think about it!
You've also mentioned that as a kid you used to collect things. Can you share with us what was it? Is there anything you still collect?
WW: Not anymore. (Well, XRP?) As a kid I would collect lots of different things: Telephone cards, broken light bulbs…
RR: What’s your definition of success?
WW: Being happy and being able to share happiness.
RR: What’s your best piece of advice for living?
WW: Stop with the hurrying, stop with the eternal quest for more. More “success”, more money, bigger house, fancy car, etc. Take a step back and ask yourself if it brings you more happiness, or if it may even bring you more worries and more stress.
RR: That sure is great advice, Wietse. It reminds me of one of my personal favorite quote, it reads:
The richest man is not he who has the most, but he who needs the least.”
Thank you for sharing such valuable advice and also having shared with us the insight on how your story has unraveled so far. It's been a pleasure to run the first edition of The Blab with you!
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