From a mosquito in a nightclub, to unf*cking the economy, and 125 personal purposes
Imagine a well-known industrial Berlin nightclub, on a rainy day, turned into an inviting location for 150 purpose explorers. It was perfectly imperfect, an authentic place to meet like-minded people. The event? ForChiefs’ first Purpose Day in Berlin.
A few months previously, we got together to create a purpose event in Berlin following the success of Purpose Day in the Netherlands (organized by one of the ForChiefs team). These events have had an excellent track-record of connecting like-minded companies, educational institutions and people, together contributing to a purpose economy. We wanted to expand this and find out how the topic of purpose is seen, felt, lived and implemented in Germany.
To get the conversation started, we invited speakers from very different companies to tell their stories and experiences about purpose in business.
Our first speaker, Waldemar Zeiler – the founder of Einhorn, a vegan condom manufacturer – encouraged participants to collectively ‘unf*ck the economy’ and to build their own purpose GmbH. He showed us a compelling video that lifted the lid on their transparent supply chain, from the harvest of rubber to the final product, and the importance of knowing and respecting the people you work with.
Next up we met Olga Gerashchenko-Zambon, who told the story of Weleda’s journey to purpose rediscovery, both from a leadership and co-worker perspective. She engaged the crowd with their approach – connecting the ‘why’ of the organization, to the ‘why’ of the employees, and the ‘why’ of the leader.
Last but not least we welcomed the Choco Evangelist, Ynzo van Zanten, from Tony Chocolonely – a Dutch company that works to create a 100% slave-free chocolate industry. They live their purpose through a fully transparent supply chain that provides fair prices and working conditions at every step. Although they’re currently choco-lonely on their quest, they have an open book policy to share their practises and learnings with the industry.
Ynzo’s presentation is best remembered by a quote he presented from Anita Roddick
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in your room”
In between presentations, participants had the opportunity to start crafting their personal purpose 1.0. You could sense a great buzz in the audience, people were laughing, connecting and delving into the topic seriously. In the afternoon, we hosted a diverse set of purpose-driven workshops. These ranged in topic from the connection of purpose and leadership, to what a purpose-driven operating model looks like.
The success of the day was largely down to the variety of entrepreneurs, founders, co-workers from start-ups, scale-ups and big corporates who attended. Their feedback for our first Purpose Day was overwhelmingly positive – a new Generation P was born!
We can now reflect on our original question: how is purpose seen, felt, lived and implemented in Germany? Well, we saw it, felt it and found great examples of execution in very diverse companies and different branches. In the end, it is important to create awareness about purposeful ways to positively and inclusively impact people, the planet, profit/economy and society as a whole.
We see this as a movement that expands through positive advocacy. The pull is there, now we need to act.