I don’t raise my voice very often, but the other day I yelled at someone relentlessly. He was involved in a football match you may have heard about. I feel embarrassed thinking about it again.

His name is Bjorn. His own team were already knocked out of the tournament, but there he was in the final - as the referee.

You probably know that while refs have a thankless task, they do get paid. For a game like this they’ll make several thousand euros. A referee like Bjorn is a pro - right?

What you may not know is Bjorn really didn’t need to do it. He’s already made over €10m as the owner of a Dutch supermarket chain. The company is so successful it even sponsors Formula 1 star Max Verstappen.

Why am I telling you this?

First, you don’t have to be full-time to call yourself a professional.

Second, being paid is not the same as being a professional. Being a pro is about work you continue to show up and do whether you need to, or want to. You can be a pro regardless of money.

Third, professionals tend to have a certain empathy for those fellow travelers also doing the work.


I qualified as a football referee was I was 14. I did well over 100 games. The work was often rough, and sometimes I didn't get paid a penny, but I still showed up. It feels weird to say it, but I guess I was a pro.

So I’m sorry for shouting at you, Bjorn. I may have never got close to being in your shoes, but I still should have acted like a fellow professional.