Ernst-Jan Pfauth, co-founder of the online journalism platform The Correspondent, suffered from a kind of chronic dissatisfaction until he realized that he was only trying to sate his hunger for more and better. In Issue 29 we have a conversation with him about the past, present and future.
“These are very exciting times. I moved to New York, US, in 2017 to work on launching an American version of De Correspondent: The Correspondent. Just like with the Dutch version, we are planning to launch it through a crowdfunding campaign. We have 30 days to raise US$2.2 million in order to be able to do so. At the time of this interview, we are one week in, and there are 11,921 founding members who have invested almost €700,000 so far, so we are well on our way to reaching that target.
I must admit that, for the first three days, I was completely obsessed with looking at the counter on the website; I’d wake up at least five times a night to check it. In the meantime, I’ve developed a slightly more healthy relationship with it and I only check it throughout the day. Approximately three times an hour! It’s still fairly neurotic of course, but this is—and was from the start when we launched the Dutch version—our dream.
I am finally living this dream; this is what I always wanted. I am cautious, however, or perhaps I should say I try to experience this process very consciously, whatever the outcome may be. Although I’ve always been very lucky in my life, I have learned that success alone isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. Because when the Dutch De Correspondent was up and running and things were calming down a little, I felt I was suffering from a kind of chronic dissatisfaction. I was always looking for what could be better, what more could be achieved.
When I thought about writing a book, it was not because I wanted to experience the wonderful process of writing or because I wanted to tackle a certain subject, but because in my mind’s eye I could already envision my book displayed in store windows, and my appearance on television talk shows. I read a lot of self-help books, but they were mainly about how to get even more out of my day, how to become even more effective. I was getting a lot done, but I wasn’t capable of enjoying it. And while I was aware of that dissatisfaction, I didn’t know what to do about it. It was a vicious, negative circle.”
Ernst-Jan eventually took all this negativity and made it into something positive. In Issue 29 you can read about the book he wrote about searching and achieving satisfaction, called Dankboek (‘The Book of Thanks’).
- Read the full interview with Ernst-Jan Pfauth in Issue 29.
Interview Clementine Wijngaarden Photography Bonnita Postma