It takes a certain type of energy and vision to shape a future. An unstoppable energy, a vision that can foresee the potential in every moment. Mapping out your future can sometimes feel overwhelming, and with a view that looks straight ahead, can we ever really wonder what our future could look like from a different angle?
Henri Meijer is the creator behind Safe House; a person-centred business that focuses not just on the journey, but the impact the experience has on our lives. At Safe House, it’s about creating an environment that celebrates focus in terms of life goals while removing unnecessary obstacles and distractions.
But where did Henri Meijer find his inspiration for this life-changing brand? What areas of his life led to the high esteem he is held to now by so many of his clients and colleagues? We sat down with him to find out more.
Henri Meijer: The Interview
Hello Henri, it is a pleasure having you here today with us; thank you for finding the time for our interview. Could you explain to our readers what your profession is?
Hello. The pleasure is all mine to have this interview with you.
I guide people in the business and entertainment industry on the processes of self-actualization in their careers and personal life. I do this through my company Safe House, where we develop personalized strategies and roadmaps.
Could you please tell us a bit more about your past? We heard that you started your first business at the age of 15 and continued with music later on. Why this industry?
I started with ‘Heitje voor Karweitje’, a typical Dutch way of introducing young people to work by ringing the doorbell and asking people (strangers) if they need help with errands and chores.
Once, a friend of mine and I ended up at a farm, shovelling a 1.5-meter tree out of the dry ground (by the way, roots go as deep as the tree grows tall, I didn’t know that). I made the ground wet with a hose to get the tree out more quickly, which upset the farmer, and he took it from my paycheck in the end, I ended up with blisters, cuts on my hands, and with 9 Gulden (the Dutch currency before the euro) in my hand for 8 Hours of work in the heat of the sun.
I came home, sat on the couch, and told myself that I would find something in the newspaper I liked doing and could make more money with. But, unfortunately, going through all the articles and readings, I didn’t find something I would enjoy doing. Then my dad showed me the paper's crossword section, which I left out.
And there it was.
A section where people were selling things like: ‘Yamaha RGX 112 Electric Guitar’ at the price of 175 gulden. Honestly, not a special guitar at all, but my room lit up. So, I called the seller and told him I was a 15-year-old kid who needed a guitar to play in a band. Long story short, I ended up negotiating and bought the guitar for 100 Gulden and sold it to the local guitar store, which was around the corner from where the seller was living, for 150 Gulden.
And this all happened within two hours! I found something I like and am good at, and since I come from a family of musicians, I had the knowledge and a good feeling with instruments.
My big breakthrough came with the rise of the internet. Before Google hit the market, there was Altavista, and I saw the opportunity of selling and trading online. When I was 17 years old, I was providing 1/10th of the market of South Netherlands and part of Belgium of vintage guitars. Since I had no clue about money or saving, I spent it all on my friends having a good time. I bought a vintage Mercedes Limousine before having a driver's licence, and older friends of mine drove us around to pick up guitars and make the deals.
When the Euro came, the market changed, and I changed direction. I started to study songwriting and guitar at the Rockacademy, a private music school in the Netherlands.
I am aware that we can develop our skills in musical instruments and also learn about songwriting. Now, looking in retrospect, the fascinating part of the process of songwriting is the realization that songs come from a ‘source’ within us and a ‘flow-state’ in which you have easier access to our inspiration.
So I wish, besides the technical approach to songwriting classes, we would have teachers with more knowledge about the sincerity of emotions, how to understand them, interpret them, and work with them in music.
The same goes for working with your gut feeling and ego. Because being capable of dealing with your ego, will give you the skillsets that are powerful for your career. Ego plays a big role among musicians and artists because they often live with insecurities due to their profession, and they end up covering it up with certain arrogance.
Therefore, if you don’t work on your insecurities and ego, and at a certain point, if you gain fame, you can become a prisoner of your mind. And that can lead to self-sabotage behaviour and bad decision-making.
Let’s talk about Safe House, the exclusive individual offer you develop for each client personally. Would you kindly tell us more about it? How did the idea occur to you? How do you start working with a client, and how do you organize the trip?
I would love to talk about Safe House.
Let’s first start with two things I am passionate about: First, helping people develop a mind that is a healthy place to live in. Second, evolve the skills that help you deal better with people, time, and money.
We do this by creating a clear distinction between personal and professional identities based on authenticity. Which means not compromising on your morals and values in both identities (authenticity).
I keep this combination as my Northstar.
The idea of Safe House occurred to me after travelling with a client to Reykjavik in 2017. We stayed at a high-end place, but it was still quite spartan, where we focused on solving my client’s challenges for two days. Then, after getting to the root of the problem and having clear solutions, we both travelled home. We stayed in contact over the years and became friends later on.
What struck me during the sessions was that even though the topics we covered and the work we did were highly uncomfortable, our energy and focus stayed high.
I didn’t believe we would have had the same effect if we had done this in an office environment. That is why I wanted to find out the difference, so I tried both offices and Safe Houses. And saw that doing it in a Safe House is less distracting and makes people purposely more focused because we have a limited time to achieve the things we are aiming for.
Besides that, having earth elements and nature around us impacted our state of being. So whether hearing the sea or ocean when you fall asleep or wake up or having the fresh air of the mountains, it will help connect those emotions to the experience we create for you. Because we want to ensure that Safe House is a fit for our clients, and of course, that they are a fit for Safe House, every client we work with undergoes an application and selection process.
We have specific values and principles that are important to honour for a successful collaboration and outcome. For example, we ask for total honesty and transparency from the start and at all times, cause without them, we can’t reach excellence.
We start creating your Safe House Edition after the application process.
Is the stay at the Safe House only coaching sessions, working hard on oneself and getting “cured,” or are there also moments for relaxing and tourism?
I want to start by mentioning that I’m not doing coaching with my clients. In my opinion, coaching means I would sit down with you and guide you until you find the answers yourself. At Safe House, I don’t do that.
In the last few years, I identified 10 supportive pillars that can help us in the process of self-actualization:
- The Mind: A good place to live in
- Your Body As A Compass
- Awareness Of The Self
- Past, Present, Future Self
- People knowledge
- Emotional attachment
- Your Leadership Style
- The Power Of Choice: Self-actualization
What I do at Safe House is evaluate the 10 Pillars to see which ones are unbalanced, so we work on the areas you can evolve. Then, growing in those areas will positively impact all other areas in your career and your personal life. For this to work, we do a lot of preparation before the sessions even start, which means we are clear on what we are working on – if you have blind spots or self-corrupting biases, they will surface in our sessions, and we will deal with them.
To be honest, I am happy when our clients achieve their objectives after one edition, and they don’t return for a second one. This means that we did an excellent job.
Sometimes, after achieving their goals, some clients want to do another Safe House a year later to work on the next stage of their life. And other clients request yearly guidance because they like our approach to maintaining and growing their careers
Our Safe House community has a family acceptance feeling because we are there for each other. If someone needs support business or career-wise or is exploring new opportunities, another community member can often provide the support required. I am always happy to connect them with each other.
Regarding the second question, we haven’t hosted an edition that was focused on relaxation or tourism. In my opinion, to reach these ‘breakthrough’ moments that are striving for, it always requires focus and openness to go a bit deeper.
The houses are foreseen of comfort, quiet and privately located at sea or mountain, with beautiful landscapes. Everyone has a car available during the stay, so if they want to cruise around the location, it’s easy to get out a bit to have some time yourself. You can also stay at the house if you want some alone time.
I sometimes drive out for a few hours to clear my mind and disconnect. Touristic attractions are not part of the Safe House Experience, but if there is a specific request, we can look into it. We have a private chef and assistant that take care of food and logistics, so we can keep our focus on why we are there.
Who would you recommend the Safe House to? Who is the perfect client for you? Maybe you could tell us who was already among your clients?
Our perfect clients are people who are in a position where they can either inspire, empower or have an impact. They are successful individuals in business, social movement, and the entertainment industry, and they can make a positive change in their organizations or impact and inspire people through their craft.
Our clients' situations before they work with us can be pretty diverse.
It can be from business leaders who often look for self-improvement to those wanting to create a healthy company culture or gain skills to run their teams better. All the way to creatives who depend on the innovation of their craftsmanship to stay successful and grow with their art.
Some clients accomplished their dreams and are now searching for new directions and clarity of what to do next.
Therefore, every Safe House is different because it’s tailored around our client's needs with our 10 Pillars of self-actualizations, making every experience unique and fun.
Since we have a very discreet policy and signed NDAs with our clients, I am not allowed to share names.
After being in the Safe House, the clients go back to their lives. How do you know when they are ready to reprogramme their mindset, and how long do you accompany them after the stay until you decide they are confident with the changes?
It is pretty simple. When you become aware of a pattern or habit that doesn’t help you, you raise your awareness. Meaning that the next time it happens, you recognize the pattern and the habit. The strategies and roadmap we design together at Safe House are implemented afterwards and help our clients take immediate action.
After the Safe House Edition, we always offer four follow-up sessions, which are part of every package. Some clients will do the follows ups because they want more guidance afterwards. Others prefer to implement the knowledge alone and only come back to us if they have questions.
Let’s talk about your other branch of the business, the Tower of Power. It is also an exclusive and personalized offer for a few clients yearly. Why did you decide to create it, and how does it differentiate from the Safe House?
I trained myself from a very young age to create and keep a healthy, constructive mind (I am saying this looking back at it, at that moment, I wasn’t so aware of it).
To be honest, I discovered these things quite autonomous. I just found myself in unhealthy situations not created by myself in my childhood, and I wanted to find a way out at the age of 12. I don’t know how, but when I was relatively young, I realized that liberation was not within freeing myself of my situation, but freedom was within my mind.
So, I guess my Safe House starting point started at 12. That was the age when I decided that when I turned 15, I would find a way to move out of my house. I successfully did this, and running my first business at 15 was my liberation.
The knowledge I gained from being exposed to extreme situations at a young age and how to deal with pressure and stress and keep a positive mind and attitude toward life became an obsession. Then, of course, I failed 1 million times, and that mindset and my success were tested the whole time.
But two things never stopped: my curiosity about how the mind and reality work together.
Later in my life, I hung out with entrepreneurs, artists, and actors. I was sharing my thoughts with them and quickly acknowledged that my advice worked out. Even in the early stage of my life, it made some people quite some money or brought them more peace of mind. But I never charged for it because I thought sharing my opinion was just sharing my opinion.
One day an artist told me, ‘Music is my art, Henri, and your art is people.’ It woke me up.
I started to have so many questions, so I asked the people who followed my advice how it benefited them. And I found out that some of them either made good money with it, others got into better relations with people, or they knew how to deal better with themselves.
That was the start of developing the ten pillars I created for our Tower of Power Program. These 10 supportive pillars helped me in the process of my self-actualization. But the big breakthrough of my work came after I developed the distinction between personal identity and business identity based on the authenticity of the individual. This methodology seems to be the most impactful, powerful, and efficient, and is quite easy to implement directly.
The difference is that at Safe House, we do the work more intensely in a shorter time, over the span of 2–3 days, in a physical location. And the Tower Of Power is rolled out over a more extended period of time with monthly guidance.
So, Safe House is for you if you want to accelerate the process and emerge in the experience. But, on the other hand, if you're going to take it slower, at your pace, and have consistent step-by-step guidance, then you might prefer the Tower Of Power program.
In what ways have your Companies influenced your life? Do you also use your Programmes in your daily life?
I am a big believer that we should practice what we preach. So, therefore, yes, I implement my strategies and knowledge in my life.
Working with people that are exceptional at what they do or achieve had a tremendous impact on my life. I learned from everyone, and their insights and sharing of their knowledge enriched me.
The beauty of the Safe House community is that it is very supportive of each other, and with most of our clients, we keep close contact.
You said, in a podcast we listened to, that you have a natural talent for finding the blind spots and the sweet spots of the people you work with. Could you please explain what they are, and how did you recognize this talent in you?
I don’t have a good rational explanation for it. For me, it is a combination of pattern recognition and intuition, together with the experience I gained. Once you manage to follow your body as a compass (Pillar 3), you create a more profound understanding of intuition.
The more authentic you go through life and learn to trust and let go when you did everything you could do to make it happen, the more fulfilment you will find.
When you develop intuitive, compassionate, and empathetic skills, you do things where you lose track of time, and you are in the ‘flow’. Your ‘sweet spots’ and ‘blindspots’ in life become more officious anyway.
When a new client contacts you, how do you find out what they need and discover their blind and sweet spots? We also heard that you are a radically honest person. Do you ask many personal questions?
As I mentioned above, every person needs to go through our application process, which contains a short application, a phone call, and a detailed intake. Based on these 3 touchpoints, and the information we gathered during this time, it gives me the first impression of my clients' sweet spots and blind spots, when we start working together, we will find them in a relatively short period.
Furthermore, common-sense plays a significant role here. Once we start working together, I can quickly tell where things don’t add up. That’s where blindspots show themselves because common sense is lacking. Even if you are intelligent, that doesn’t necessarily mean you make wise decisions.
To give you an example, some people are givers and, at the same time, are incapable of asking. That breaks the natural chain of how you can receive. Cause when you ask someone for something, you allow them to give too. And isn’t that a beautiful thing? Not only do you give the person you ask for a form of recognition, but if they have the capability of helping, you receive. And you both feel good about this. Thereafter, you get the chance to give again.
In my opinion, with this wisdom, you can achieve something beyond your intellect. But, of course, your sweet spot is your God-given talent that you are naturally good at; of course, you can be more skilled when you put in the work.
As for being radically honest, yes, I am when it is needed: I believe in acting accordingly to a situation to bring back harmony.
I view myself as being self-aware; I’m still learning every day, and I try to honour and understand reality as well as I possibly can.
After working with so many clients, could you please tell us what is the most challenging and the most satisfying in your job?
The challenge of running a perfect Safe House is more on the logistical side. We have a team that helps us provide the services, and we all know that people can make mistakes that can have a chain reaction.
The challenge for me is keeping the organization going smoothly while running a Safe House Edition. Originally, that was challenging, but now we have an excellent operative team that I can rely on. I am proud and happy about that.
My satisfaction is seeing my client's growth and success and the trust we build towards each other.
The community is powerful and, at the same time, kind and helpful toward each other. Seeing how an idea created in a ‘closed’ world quickly grew into something, so substantial, is beautiful.
Do you think that to become a successful entrepreneur, a person should act in some established way? Or maybe break the rules, go against the current, and do things out of common?
When we discuss established or successful people, positioning is the difference.
To give you an example from the film industry. The people who got from successful to established became better at positioning themselves in the social circles they are part of.
Established people often have a certain relaxedness in communicating and towards their life. However, acting established is not something you show by saying how great you are doing, name-dropping, or how much money you make.
For me, ‘acting’ established means showing your talents and skills, being humble and showing your vision.
As for breaking the rules, I would say, “break the rules and not the laws.” If you are going against the norm, it’s out of the ordinary, part of your vision, or you create a new reality and evolution, please keep doing what you are doing. Breaking society's rules, from an innovation perspective, is always welcomed.
Would you be so kind as to share with our readers any advice about how to maintain a healthy balance between their careers and their private lives?
One thing that gave my clients and me freedom was looking at our perception (and thoughts) as a second person.
This means you can go into a dialogue with yourself, meaning you can agree or disagree with your thoughts. If you don’t see that your perception is not an excellent fit for a constructive outcome in a situation, why would you listen to that straight away?
If you observe yourself and ask good questions or ask people who are experienced in what you are dealing with, you will be surprised about the answers you will come up with. This is not a simple thing to master, but when trained and practised, this is a life changer for many people.
And, finally, we’re wondering – what’s your favourite city? And what are the top 5 spots there you’d recommend to your best friend when they’re in town (it could be any place: a bar, a gallery, a park, a shop…)?
My favourite city is Los Angeles and the California coastline.
My top 5 favourite spots would be:
- Beachwood Cafe in Beachwood.
- If you want to meet people from all over the world, Soho House West Hollywood and Warehouse are great places to go.
- Venice beach to just relax at the beach and enjoy the waves.
- Echo Park Lake Los Angeles – If you shortly would like to get out of LA and have a family feel, a palm tree green environment
- Grand Canyon: I know it’s a bit of a drive from LA, but if you are making a small road trip, preferably in a convertible, I would highly recommend checking the Grand Canyon.
Thank you very much; it was a pleasure and a very inspiring interview!