Once upon a time ... 1989, two years after I founded my first company and four years after I took my first steps in the world of engineering and engineering. I loved my work, found it extremely interesting and soaked up like a sponge all the knowledge and experience that each interviewee wished to share with me. I listened to their stories for hours on end. Although it was not efficient for my business (an engineering office for engineering projects and a selection agency for engineers and scientists), it was wonderful and very instructive.

At a certain moment I realised that during their interviews, many engineers said something like: ‘Gosh, Danielle, I was already like that as a child.’

I started to pay attention, and indeed: the Belgian industrial engineers or Dutch HTS engineers told stories of how much fun they had as a child playing with Lego or Meccano. Female engineers spoke of how much fun they had taking their dolls apart. As children, both sexes cheerfully disassembled radios or alarm clocks, often to the despair of their parents who naturally regarded this as ‘destructive’.

Among Belgian civil engineers or Dutch T.U. engineers a different pattern could be seen; there were those who also did the things mentioned above, but many more of them liked to read, often played chess, and loved listening to music. Please note: all this before puberty!

Playing football, tennis, roller skating, hide and seek, theatre, love of animals, drawing and painting, and hundreds of other children’s games or activities were examined. An idea began to develop: ‘Could it be that a child doesn’t become creative by playing with Lego, but rather plays with Lego because he or she is already creative?’

Thus fifteen years of research began, consisting of checking and double checking what this might mean as an adult. Purely empirical, for sure. I (unfortunately) didn’t keep track of which interpretations turned out not to be valid, but did record the ‘characteristics’ that proved to be correct based on this check & double check.

You know, I was fortunate enough to be dealing with engineers and scientists who were infamous ‘devil’s advocates’. If an assumption I had about them was correct, they said: ‘yes’. If that was not the case: ‘no’. So things progressed. I can’t imagine investigating this discovery via interviews with psychologists: ‘yes, but that was because my mother...’ and then there would probably be a long story about why she or he played with this but not with that toy ;-). However, it turned out not to be about ‘why?’ something was played with or ‘how often’, but only ‘what and how exactly’ and ‘how willingly’. Whether or not someone could do something correctly as a child didn’t even enter into the picture! The fact that you liked playing (with) something as a child - in an innocent period - reveals something of your nature (character: who you are), your potential (talents: what you could be) and your intrinsic motivation (desire: what you want).

In other words, children betray who they are by their own free choices for various things like sports, games, toys, games, activities, pastimes and interests - but BEFORE puberty. These things happily done as a child

were made up of only that which was actually done, not what the child would have liked to do, because it is impossible to know whether the child would have found the hypothetical playing as fun as it seemed ... In an average of 8 years (from 4 to 12 years of age (the start of puberty)), normal children have chances and opportunities enough to express themselves while growing up in an ordinary environment.

Recently Prof. Dr. Dick Swaab, a renowned brain researcher in the Netherlands and China, and author of among others We Are Our Brains: A Neurobiography of the Brain, from the Womb to Alzheimer’s and Our Creative Brains: How World and Mankind Shape Each Other, asked what I thought of the scientific literature that says that people continue to change until the age of 30. (By the way, he’s a wonderful man, but I always feel like I’m taking an exam when I talk to him!) I replied that I think this is because researchers compare the personality of their subjects as adults with those of their puberty and adolescent period, and those of their period as adolescent with the period as a child. We, in the CoreTalents Method, compare the adult personality with that of childhood. So before all these changes in the brain take place under the influence of the maturing brain and the rising hormone flows. I believe that the only period in a human life when someone is NOT himself is precisely puberty and adolescence - under the influence of a strongly changing and maturing brain - where the young person feels the need to experiment under the influence of raging hormones and is more susceptible to influences of their developmental peers. It was quiet for a while. ‘Interesting’ was his answer. When I asked whether the current state of brain research revealed things that contradict this, his answer was short and powerful: ‘no’.

In the end, the discovery of CoreTalents turned out to caused quite a stir ... I was lucky enough to be able to tell my story on Radio 1, in newspapers like De Morgen, De Standaard, Het Laatste Nieuws and many other newspapers and magazines in Belgium and the Netherlands. I appeared on Paul De Leeuw’s TV show and people actually liked the fact that for the first time, Paul didn’t know what to say. For my 2nd book, I was able to analyse Prof. Dr. Jean-Jacques Cassiman, Goedele Liekens, the late Prof. Dr. Roger Blanpain, the youngest minister ever in Belgium Inge Vervotte, author and ‘enfant terrible’ Herman Brusselmans, singer Jo Lemaire, and 8 other celebrities.

For my 3rd book, contributors included distinguished names such as Prof. Dr. Elke Van Hoof of the VUB and Het Huis voor Veerkracht, Prof. Dr. Dirk Buyens of the Vlerick School, Rianne van de Ven (specialist in highly gifted adults in the Netherlands), Jan Van Acoleyen (HR Director at Proximus), Dr. Frouke Vermeule (boreout specialist), and so on. 17 top representatives of their respective professions were happy to share some of their ideas via their pen.

I am very proud of my Mensa Fund Award for my work in November 2015.

I am very happy to give lectures for Voka, Etion and many other professional organisations.

I am a very happy person, because I can make people truly happy - and that is my dream: that all can know their CoreTalents in order to make positive sustainable choices!