A Tribute to Ivo, a life planning pioneer and visionary

A Tribute to Ivo, a life planning pioneer and visionary

By Thom Boot, Trainer with Kinder Institute

A wonderful human being has passed. Ivo Valkenburg (1966) was a man full of love, which he gave so much of to others. Love was the core, and it was the main reason he was here with us on this planet. His dream was to make the world a better place to live, for everybody. He carried this dream in how he worked, what he wrote, and how he spoke to us.

I met Ivo for the first time in 2007, when he spoke about a new way of financial advising. It was called Life Planning. At that time, he had already inspired me (and a lot of others) to go to the first workshop of The Seven Stages of Money Maturity® held in The Netherlands and later the EVOKE® training. I had the privilege to receive my training from George Kinder, Gerard van der Made, and Ivo himself. It was one of the most memorable weeks of my life, and I was inspired by Ivo to make some real changes.

Three colleagues smiling and toasting champagne while holding flyers.
Lili, Thom, and Ivo celebrating the building of Casa Maria in 2015.

Ivo and I ‘met’ again in 2014 when I participated in a Business Leap Workshop in Transylvania at his Retreat Centre that he had built with his wife Lili. Ivo started to work with Jelle Bartels in The Next Step Factory, a collective of entrepreneurs who worked together to make the world a little better every day. It was an intense reconnection between Ivo and me. The start of 8 years of wonderful meetings, working together with clients, campfire talks, and visits here and there. For the second time he inspired me to live the life I felt was most fulfilling. Live from the heart!

His heart was in Transylvania! There he had fully integrated into the local and regional community. Everybody knew him as the ‘tall Dutch man Ivo’, and he was seen as warm and kind. He did that in the typical ‘Ivo’ way: giving a lot of kindness, caring, and showing real interest in what the other might need. One thing kept chasing him: the Romanian language. We joked that he was still not speaking the language as well as he wanted to. His excuse: “Love does not need a language; it is the language itself.”

Ivo was a genius in connecting people. Over the last few years, I had the pleasure of connecting with Ivo and his family. Not only did I enjoyed the acquaintance of new friends in his community, but Ivo used his world wide network to bring people together who he thought could be of interest and inspiring for each of them. He did that with no self interest other then making him feel happy.

The big dream of Ivo and Lili was and still is the building a place for people to come, stay, relax, have meaningful meetings, and/or just to enjoy nature: the new retreat centre. It started in 2015 with the building of the Casa Maria next to their house and now also a very popular B&B. The next chapter is situated in a wonderful area on a plot by the lake Beliș-Fântânele, a few miles from their home. We had many talks about this dream, about how, when, where, and the finances around it. I dearly hope and expect that this dream still becomes reality in memory of Ivo.

Man in a red shirt playing the piano in a living room.
“Ivo always playing.”

A wonderful human being has passed. I have lost a great friend. Many of his actions are a perfect example of the 7th Stage of Aloha: Ivo passed a lot of blessings from him to another person just because he felt it was needed. A couple of days before he passed away, I had the honour to have my last conversation with him. He intensively enjoyed the presence of Jelle Bartels and me, called all the attention and warm greetings a “God’s blessing” and asked himself how he deserved all that. Typical Ivo, no selfishness at all. We were happy for him that he felt the warmth of all the attention around the world that was sent to him and answered with “you get what you give, Ivo, and this is the moment to receive.”

Ivo will be missed, and at the same time, in the spirit of Ivo, he will live on in my heart and in the hearts of many people. Thank you, Ivo, for being in my life.

Live your magnificent life. Dream, dare, plan, and do it!

By Gerard van der Made, Trainer with Kinder Institute

In fond memory of the Dutch Life Planning pioneer Ivo Valkenburg

Man in a white blazer speaking to an audience.

“If you don’t choose to let the voice of your heart speak now, if you don’t choose to follow the path of your heart now, when will you? Life is not a dress rehearsal; it is the big performance itself. Find out what you think is holding you back. Map it out. Make a plan you believe in and live it.”

The above quote typifies Ivo. Driven, passionate, full of conviction. With the fire burning in his heart, he wanted to move the world. He believed in a heaven on earth. Refused to discriminate based on nationality, background, education, or belief. He wanted nothing more than to contribute to the fact that the financial sector would help people to connect money and life in such a way that the pain and anxieties surrounding money would no longer devour the dreams of the heart. On the contrary: his dream was that the right advice on money matters would be useful for everyone to a life full of meaning.

I met Ivo in 2004. He almost literally pulled me from behind my desk to connect my knowledge about ‘brain and being’ with his passion for ‘money and meaning’. He introduced me to George Kinder and captivated by his vision on Financial Life Planning, we stormed onto various stages together with a lot of energy and passion. What followed were some unforgettable years. Ivo brought George to the Netherlands for the first time and introduced many people to ‘the idea’ of financial life planning. He organized a very special 5-day EVOKE training, which he partly led together with George and Susan Galvan. He taught me what he had learned from George and encouraged me to do the 6-day trainer course.

With George’s blessing, Ivo and I, in addition to our various broader team and organizational development trajectories, then provided the first Seven Stages and EVOKE training courses for the Kinder Institute in Dutch. And many KI trainings followed.

Of everything that can be remembered – and that is really very much – two memories stand out. Ivo was deeply moved by the emergence and impact of an evening that we organized in collaboration with a popular Dutch magazine (Happinez) in the Dutch famous ‘Duif’, a Catholic church in the heart of Amsterdam. I will never forget that evening where we taught the audience the importance of understanding and following the voice of your heart, linked to life planning as a method and means to give that voice the hands and feet which can transform a dream into action and reality.

Two colleagues laughing in front of a corn field and hedge row.
Gerard and Ivo

A real big opportunity was offered to us by Paul Versteeg, the then CEO of Allianz, later taken over from the heart by Sjoerd Laarberg. In part to Ivo’s continuous efforts, and our earlier work for this company, we earned the opportunity to create a dream program, Pure Life, in which business strategy and life planning came together. Wonderful years in which Ivo managed to let hundreds of people to think about their business, their feelings, finance, and their life.

Ivo brought Life Planning to the Netherlands, now several Dutch people are bringing Life Planning further into the world. Without his faith, perseverance, and enthusiasm, it would not have happened in this way and on this scale.




Even later when Ivo, a free spirit as he was, wanted to free himself from forms and obligations and therefore also from his role as trainer for Kinder Institute, he continued to promote Life Planning and was an inspiration and beacon for many. And he still is. His lessons, his trainings, presentations, lectures and finally his books, they live on. Literally and in the hearts of many.

I was deeply touched by the overwhelming number of messages I received following Ivo’s death. The warmth of the memories of Ivo and of our joint work and even more, what this has done and still does in and for the lives of hundreds of people… deep gratitude fills my heart. All this thanks and love goes to Ivo, his wife Lili, their son Edwin, his family, and close friends. They have lost their dear husband, father, son, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, and friend. We all lose a living example of what can be done if you really believe in something and go for it completely.

Ivo has lived his Life Plan. What a privilege that he still invites us to follow his path in our own way. If it wasn’t time already, now is the time: “If you don’t choose to let the voice of your heart speak now, if you don’t choose to follow the path of your heart now, when will you? Life is not a dress rehearsal; it is the big performance itself. Find out what you think is holding you back. Map it out. Make a plan you believe in and live it.”

In memory of Ivo Valkenburg

By Louis Vollebregt, Lead Trainer with Kinder Institute

Man in a collared shirt smiling in front of an evergreen tree.

Today is the farewell of Ivo.

A sad thought that this rock is now also flooded.

I knew Ivo as an incredible optimist who was always genuinely willing to believe in the good of man! It takes guts!

Because of his enthusiasm, he had a particularly important role in bringing the founding father of Life Planning, George Kinder, to England and to the Netherlands. As a result, there are now tens of thousands of families in England, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, South Africa, and Australia who experience much more quality and satisfaction in their lives.

Many of those people may never know that they owe it to Ivo’s passion, but I do know, and I will always be grateful to Ivo for all the good he has added in his far too short life!

Ivo, your work is done; it is now up to us to continue it! Thank you.

Rest gently.

A Vision of Freedom, Remembering Ivo Valkenburg

By George Kinder, Founder of Kinder Institute

Man laughing at a grand piano with his reflection in the lid.

Ivo was one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met. He was naturally charismatic, dynamic, and visionary. I was swept away by him, and I think he was swept away by the life planning work I was doing, so our meeting and work together was a match made in Heaven.

He and I shared an enthusiasm and a passion for healing people’s wounds around money. Even more than that, we wanted to bring them into a paradise of their life, of living the life of their dreams. We believed that if we were able to do that, then the world would be cured of its problems. It would be a much better place to live.

Ivo got the mission of Kinder Institute immediately, and he spoke with enormous enthusiasm about it. He brought me over to the UK, and we did a workshop in London that he organized, and he brought a lot of Dutch people to that training. Then he set up the first EVOKE courses in the Netherlands.

I don’t know that we would have a European presence outside of the UK if it weren’t for Ivo. That might also mean that we would not have the presence we currently have all over the world if it weren’t for Ivo. We certainly wouldn’t have the great train-the-trainer, Louis Vollebregt, without Ivo.

What I really want to say is that I loved Ivo Valkenburg in a way that it is hard for me to speak about many other men. He was infectiously enthusiastic for doing the right thing, for living the right way, and for insisting that people hear the message and change their lives. He was 20 years younger than me, and yet we just bonded and made something happen. It was a real privilege to have him as my student and then as my partner for Kinder Institute events. A real privilege.

I’ve missed him enormously from the moment he chose to go and do his own path. I would have loved to have just gone on with him forever, his vision constantly renewing. A vision of freedom, of happiness, of a world that was healed, of a world that was filled with love. I’ve missed that, and I miss him. So few people are infectious with vision. Ivo was infectious.

Man in a white tee shirt, black vest, and jean with his arms open wide staring into the sun with a smile surrounded by a grassy landscape.
“The feeling of freedom.” Ivo in Romania.

Do you have a story to tell? We want to hear your Journey in Life Planning. Email lora.woodward@kinderinstitute.com, to express interest in being featured in the Kinder Institute blog.

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