Dutch intellectuals worth following

My mother is Dutch, half of my extended family is Dutch and together with English, Dutch is my mother tongue. I consider myself fairly Dutch. Unlike my Dutch friends, however (many of whom are 100% Dutch), I have barely lived in the Netherlands, I don’t particularly care about Dutch culture and I don’t follow Dutch news. I also never read Dutch books. I’m open to reading Dutch authors, but I just figure (perhaps incorrectly so) if they would have anything important to say, they’d say it in English.

In general I find the Dutch to have a broader world view than other nationalities but their world view is very inflexible towards further expansion. A Dutch person may be in favor of euthanasia, for instance, but you won’t be able to have them entertain the idea that taxation is theft.

One thing that seems to be baked into the Dutch world view is that the US is the benevolent guardian of Western values around the world and a certain loyalty to them and their cause. I don’t think this is a healthy mindset for the country and I don’t think it’s based on facts. Watching Dutch news, Dutch talkshows and even Dutch YouTube channels is unappealing to me because this limited world view is all too apparent.

This is why I’m very pleased to have found at least a handful of Dutch intellectuals that have a broader world view than I’m accustomed to from my countrymen. On this page I intend to keep a list of Dutch intellectuals that are worth reading/watching.

Karel van Wolferen

Dutch journalist, writer and professor and Japan expert.

Kees van der Pijl

Dutch political scientist and emeritus professor at the University of Sussex.

Better YouTube Recommendations

My YouTube recommendations with my comments

For years now I’ve been frustrated by how terrible the videos are that YouTube routinely recommends to me. Although they are reliably terrible, on occasion, I have also discovered life-changing videos and channels through these same recommendations. This makes the situation extra frustrating: This content discovery process has the capacity to change your life – but it’s (intentionally or unintentionally) left broken.

(It seems like I’m not alone in saying this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12568477)

That being said – my feeling is that the recommendations have gotten even worse recently. Here are some of my complaints:

  1. Videos and channels are routinely recommended to me that, to me, are obviously not interesting.
  2. The same videos and channels that I am not interested in are recommended over and over.
  3. Videos I have watched in the past are recommended to me over and over.
  4. A video which I watched (and liked) is recommended to me again but from a different uploader.
  5. Sometimes a non-official uploader of an official source is routinely recommended to me. I would much rather be recommended the official source.
  6. Sometimes I’m in a “discovery mood” and I can’t find anything worth watching so I end up watching some terrible recommendation which then goes on to poison future recommendations.

More recently YouTube has gotten bad press for censoring Jordan Peterson and demonetizing videos created by Gad Saad, Pewdiepie and others. This is notable because

  1. The reasons for the censorship are never mentioned
  2. These videos do not depict violence or call to violence
  3. These videos contain nothing immoral or reprehensible (according to my personal world view that is)
  4. These videos DO often contain unpopular viewpoints which leave many people emotionally triggered and/or outraged

I have three main points of concern:

  1. This culture of outrage is getting worse, making it harder and harder for people to hold unpopular viewpoints
  2. Due to the nature of how we consume information today, the information that reaches us also tends to stay within the realm of those that share our viewpoints. As a result we’re exposed to a decreasing variety of voices.
  3. Google and Facebook have announced increased measures against whatever they deem “fake news.” It seems the world we live in today is one where Youtube uses the tools at its disposal to censor and bankrupt the voices it doesn’t want to be heard – I suspect their recommendation engine is another tool they use to achieve this goal.

All the above motivated me to explore this problem space – to see if there were others that were experiencing the same pain and I could discover hints towards a possible solution. Enter the MVP.

Validating the MVP

I decided I wanted to test this idea out to see if I could generate some traction for it. I created a google spreadsheet with a list of youtube videos that have made a big impression on me, hoping that I could find others that would add videos of their own. I included columns for the user’s twitter handle, a description of the video, the “job” the video performs (e.g. inspires me or relaxes me), and a link to the video. You can view the spreadsheet here.

I shared the spreadsheet in a Telegram chat group called wip (with 500+ indie hackers) and asked for feedback and contributions.

What I was trying to do is:

  1. Determine if others share the same pain (e.g. what is the scope and intensity of the pain I’ve identified)
  2. Determine if social recommendations is a viable alternative
  3. Leave the door open to new ideas

Unfortunately all I got was one or two people that thought it was a cool idea, but I got zero contributions.

Either I’m not striking a chord with people or my testing approach is flawed. After this test, however, I don’t feel like investing more time into this idea.

Since the MVP was not validated during my test, I’ve decided to ditch this idea.

Building a breakup recovery solution for men: June 2017 update

This is a monthly update on my project of building a breakup recovery solution for men at rapidbreakuprecovery.com.


I set out to prepare myself and my website to approach male-targeted podcasts to get myself featured. In that vein I started revisiting my site content and structure. This has already resulted in some improvement in my organic search rankings and traffic. This month I had 2 Skype clients and 8 book sales for a total of $307 in revenue.


I had set up a 7-day email course using Drip and an opt-in form using a Thrive Themes’ Leads at the end of May before going on a mountaineering expedition in Peru for 2 weeks. When I got back to São Paulo I was pleased to see I had made several ebook sales. I hadn’t set up conversion tracking correctly inside Drip, so I’m unsure if those conversions were a direct result of my email campaign.

Trying to follow the principle of essentialism I asked myself: “What activity will make the highest contribution to my goal?” I made an assessment of what the highest impact activities would be for the month and prioritised those in Trello. Based on what my competition and similar websites are doing I determined that the highest impact activity would be to get featured on certain Men’s podcasts (I’ve since come to question that goal). There were certain intermediate steps to get to that goal, I identified those to be:

Goal: Get interviewed on men’s podcasts.

  1. Clean up and re-organize site content.
    Background: I consider quite a number of articles on my website to be low quality. I wrote some of them back in 2012 and they were highly optimized to the SEO standards of the time. Times have changed, but unfortunately many of my articles haven’t.
    Status: Started, but turned into a bigger task involving keyword research and information architecture. If I’m honest, I might have let this snowball.
  2. Improve coaching salespage.
    Background: One priority is to continue to talk to as many customers as I can and another is to earn income. One of the best approaches to address these priorities is to lead interested visitors to my coaching services. I’m still questioning this strategy, however. The alternative would be to primarily lead visitors towards my book. I’ve started to charge $100/hr for my coaching sessions, vs. $19 per book sale, but coaching requires a good internet connection, which isn’t a problem now but will be once I start moving around more.
    Status: Not touched.
  3. Rehash personal philosophy.
    Background: I imagined that during a podcast interview I would be asked about the core tenets of my philosophy. I’m still unsure what those would be, but I think it’s something  should have clear.
    Status: I’ve started making a list of my breakup advice tenets in Trello.
  4. Run through the book.
    Background: In the spirit of Eric Reis’ Lean Startup “If you’re not embarrassed about your first release, you’ve waited too long”, I released my book in an embarrassing state. I’d very much like to revisit it and include the chapters that were still drafts.
    Status: Not started
  5. Reach out to podcasts.
    Status: Not started
  6. Order a microphone.
    Status: Not done

Cleaning up the site content snowballed into an exercise in information architecture (to determine ideal user flows through my site and content) as well as keyword research (to continue the steady stream of organic traffic and to improve on it).

I did not follow through on the goals I set above, instead here’s an overview of what I worked on:

Keyword research, site architecture and link clean up

I redid all my keyword research, which was long overdue. Google used to have the go-to tool, the Keyword Tool which morphed into the Keyword Planner. Frankly, it’s become a complete joke. The keyword planner is made for researching Google paid ads campaigns. Google deliberately did not make a tool for SEO. Not only that, but they recently started obscuring the keyword volume data in the tool forcing advertisers to buy keywords in the dark and spend more. Complete joke. Also, the figures they do provide are often questionable. The whole thing is a complete joke.

I ended up signing up for trials for some of the mainstream commercial alternatives out there. Although they seem to cater to slightly different sets of use cases, I found AHrefs to be the most useful and user friendly.

The end result is a spreadsheet with an extensive list of breakup related keywords. I segmented them based on user intent and have labeled those as themes and sub-themes. I’ll be focusing mostly on the keywords that have mentions of “ex girlfriend” or “her” as I’m assuming they will more often correspond to men making those searches.

My keyword research spreadsheet.

Having an idea what people were searching for and making an assessment on what their intent could be, I could start thinking about content (new or existing) that I could use to target those theme-keywords. I was still left a bit confused, however, how my different pieces of content should work and link together. Also, should I just rely on links inside the articles, or should I give links in sidebars careful consideration.

I found myself Googling stuff like “ideal site architecture for SEO”, but I found very little information. Many SEO websites have optimized content for this keyword, but hardly any of them answered any of my questions. The most useful post I found was this one from Yoast. He basically says: Create some “cornerstone” content — your key strategic content pieces — and pump out new blog posts that keep linking back to those cornerstone pieces. That’s exactly what I plan on doing.

What’s more, I also re-immersed myself into the SEO scene to get an understanding how the field has evolved since my last experience. I was trying to figure out if it was helping me or hurting me that I was linking to all my blog posts in my sidebar on pretty much every page of my website. Back in the day this had been the recommendation, akin to what Amazon does, but now it didn’t seem any other blogs were doing it.

Indeed, I found out that if you keep linking to all your blog posts on all your pages you’re diluting the “link juice” that Google attributes to those pages. So instead of concentrating that link juice on your cornerstone content, you distribute it across all your smaller, shittier posts. Not smart!

Previous sidebar with a list of all blog posts.

So instead I got rid of the entire list and only link to my category pages and my cornerstone content. I also used this as an opportunity to redo my category structure (still a work in progress) as well as clean up my broken links with Screaming Frog.

New sidebar with updated categories and featured posts below instead of a list of all blog psots.

This has resulted in an immediate uplift in my organic traffic and rankings. This was made evident by Ahrefs. See the uptick at the far end of both graphs below. Why is there a decline from end of last year to May this year? I’m not sure, but Google did update their algorithm several times at the beginning of the year and I think that negatively impacted RBR. I’m also not too concerned, because I haven’t put any effort into SEO for a long time.

Organic traffic and keyword visibility June 2016 – June 2017

Ultimate guide

One of the conclusions that I’ve drawn after doing keyword research and revisiting my site’s structure is that I need to be more explicit about what my cornerstone content pieces are. In that vein I’ve decided to create an ultimate guide targeting the main keyword groupings of “how to get over a breakup for men” and “how to get over your ex girlfriend”. For one I will be employing Backlinko’s Skyscraper technique essentially ensuring I have the best content out there. Secondly I started using a concept I got from Nathan Barry ‘s Authority book where he tells you to go out and read your competitor’s book to make sure you’re covering the advice that they share. I intend to apply Nathan’s technique to this ultimate guide as well as to my book. I’ve started scanning through the main breakup books out there and making an inventory of the concepts they put forward.

Competitor Research

While doing keyword research I used some of my known competitors’ websites to generate keywords, but I also discovered some new ones. I did not discover any new direct competitors in the niche of breakup recovery for men, but a handful of female breakup coaches seem to have popped up. I’m interpreting this as market validation. Some things I noticed:

  1. Various competitors are using facebook groups as a support group. I’ve joined one which is quite active. This format seems to work for people.
  2. One competitor is getting a lot of traction on instagram. This is a channel I hadn’t even considered, but posting inspirational quotes on instagram seems to give them good responses as well as leads.
  3. More than one competitor has an online course for sale.
  4. I’ve seen more than one competitor now quote scientific articles and bringing science into their message. This wasn’t the case when I started.

7-day email course

I rewrote some of my 7-day email course emails and I received some feedback on email 6. A reader said he really liked the emails but that the 6th email, which covers “How she could move on so quickly”, had brought him back down. Essentially he said that he wasn’t ready to hear the truth about why she had moved on nor was it the type of advice that he was looking for at the time.

This has made me think ever since. You could classify some of my advice as tough love and some of it as more kind or more uplifting. Perhaps there’s a right time for a certain style and perhaps people respond differently to different styles. Perhaps I can allow my readers to indicate what type of style they like and would like to receive more of. Some readers might like to receive only tough-love, manly type of advice, while others might not want to hear about the science and might only want positive, uplifting advice. It seems plausible to me that something can be done in this area and I will continue to develop this idea in the back of my head.


I read and reviewed the book “Attached” by Amir Levine, which was long overdue. I liked it, even though it was more of a practical guide and I was expecting an approachable survey of the literature. Either way, worth the read.

Customer Development

I had two clients in June. One old and one new.

One is a young professional who has initiated no contact, has no trouble keeping it, but is struggling with lingering sadness as well as incessant questioning of himself whether or not he could have done something differently. He wants to get over his feelings and doesn’t want them to impact his professional life.

The other is an older guy who fell head over heels for a younger, very attractive but extremely unstable and troubled young lady. I’ve been helping him initiate and maintain no contact and deal with the ensuing obsessive thoughts and strong longing.

Revenue for June 2017


I did 2 consultations at $100 and 1 at $50 for a total of $250.

Book sales

My book was priced  as “pay what you want” and I made 6 sales totalling $57.

Total revenue


Reflection & Conclusions

I’m happy with my revenue figure for June. It shows me that I’m able to find clients through existing channels and that I can get people to pay me $100/hr for Skype consultations.

I’m a bit uneasy about not having worked on the things I had set out to be the most important. Looking back I think I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that getting featured on men’s podcasts might not be the most practical thing while traveling. If I try to be present-minded and ask myself the same essentialist question: What’s activity will have the highest impact? I don’t find myself thinking about getting featured on a podcast anymore. At the same time, I’m not confident my answer to that question will stay the same throughout the month. Unsure what to do about that other than asking myself that question as often as possible and adjusting course as necessary.