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May 4, 2021

Yonca Braeckman on Doughnut Economics, the ZEBRA movement and making impactful choices

Yonca Braeckman on Doughnut Economics, the ZEBRA movement and making impactful choices

A wide-ranging, rich & interesting conversation touching upon topics such as Doughnut Economics, the ZEBRA movement and what it takes to create meaningful change.  

Yonca Braeckman is the founder & CEO of Impact Shakers, a global impact ecosystem tackling complex societal challenges through inclusive entrepreneurship. She is a mission-driven entrepreneur and investor in underrepresented founders. She helped build the Belgian and European tech startup ecosystems and as a mentor at SXSW, Slush Tokyo, General Assembly, Village Capital, Shapers Impact Capital and startup programs across the globe, she guided many startups on their first steps abroad. She built a new smart city hub in Ghent, Belgium, with an in-house acceleration program called Watt Factory. She serves on the board of different non-profits and is the curator of TEDxGhent and the Techstars Startup Digest Reading List on Impact Entrepreneurship. Most recently she initiated the Horasis Young Visionaries for the Global Vision Community Horasis to add to her mission of lifting diverse social entrepreneurs. Yonca is an absolute powerlady and some might even say she invented the word inclusive entrepreneurship. Kidding of course. She is also one of the 40-under-40, the belgian inititiative to bring together young visionary leaders - and that she is. So without further ado, let's dive into our conversation.


All right, Yonca. We're live. Thank you very much for being here.

We are live. Are we not recording? We're not alive. Live we're recorded. But we are rolling. That's so that's why switching to English. And yeah, this is this going to be the second episode of the impact billionaires. So first of all, thank you very much for being here. Secondly, I will have introduced you as the amazing mind blowing human being that you are.

 You were one of the first people that I spoke about that the concept of the impact billionaires. And so I remember you having a very distinct reaction when I spoke about the concept of the impact building there.

So I'm curious when I say the impact billionaire, what comes to mind? How do you look at it? What do you see? What do you feel. Yeah, thanks for inviting me, Tom. Thank you so much for your kind words. Billionaires. Yeah. So the association with billionaires immediately triggers, I don't think billionaires should exist as in financial billionaires, because I understand your impact, billionaires are something completely different.

But to me it triggers a negative. Active quantitation of the form of capitalism. We ended up and because I don't necessarily believe that capitalism is a very wrong format of economics, but I do believe that the way we live it and that our economic system has built its today is not maintainable.

And the idea that building a business and striving to become a billionaire. Should be your ultimate goal. Trying on the way not to pay taxes as you go, trying to earn extra billions when there is a pandemic and growing your fortune, which already is ridiculously big. Even more is not something that aligns with my vision of I'm driving humanity on a driving planets. Two quotes, Kate Crawford from the doughnut economics. 

Yeah. And that's something, something that I think about as well now I spoke to you about the concept of the impact coin as well as like looking at different forms of capital in that sense. But I'm curious, what do you think are the key questions we need to be able to answer in order to get to that, that vision of doughnut economics. Cause I believe that's the vision you support as well, or would you tweak it a little bit or, and maybe can you explain very briefly for the listeners, what doughnut economics is? 

I think it's an it's an economic model framework. The highest potential for adoption because it's not controversial.

Everything that's stated in there just makes so much sense. And I cannot imagine anyone opposing that we should strive for a decent life for people on this planet. So the donut consists of. Two concentric circles and the inner circle is called the social foundation. And basically it says that we should strive for all humans to be able to thrive on this planet.

And it has 12 different areas which are defined in which there should be minimum levels for people. In order to drive, these are things like housing, energy, but also political voice, social equity. But it doesn't state how we should achieve it. It doesn't have a very specific roadmap. It is a framework that can be adopted by people by systems that are already in place.

And the outer circle is a planetary boundary and it says, in order for people to drive on this planet, we should not overshoot our planetary boundaries. I think that makes a lot of sense as well. We need to make sure that we can live on a habitable planet. Even though maybe we want to be a space traveling people. But still that's not a ruin the planet we're wrong already. 

No. Yeah, I agree. And so you say it doesn't. Speak about the how right. And so that's, for, entrepreneurs like us to think about to jump on that is I think I have a belief where I think a lot of our issues come from the system that we design around.

So I think, the doughnut economics it gives is a good model. It's a nice outcome, but how do we create the system that has that outcome? And so I have a couple of ideas about that, but I'm curious what do you think? And that comes back to my, my, my first question is what do you think are the key questions we need to be able to answer?

What system should we look at in order to get that outcome? That is a very big question. And I think I want to go back to my role in their router and how I see my role and my contribution to these questions because asking the right questions is the beginning of everything. And there is some type of framework already in the donut, which is.

Which does talk about the, how, which is regenerative by design and distributive by design, but still it is about how we're going to apply it. And. What I'm interested in is how we're going to apply it to businesses. My passion is how to use entrepreneurship as a vehicle for change. I think all stakeholders in society should contribute, but I've found the parts where I believe that I can contribute to most is entrepreneurship right now, because it is such an agile vehicle.

It gives you so much Liberty to. Build something changed things change how you're building it's while you're building it, but also grow exponentially and have an exponential impact. So that's what we're focusing on with impact shakers on how to make the shifts on using entrepreneurship not only as a means to grow our fortunes, but also too, while we do that -  because we absolutely believe that profits is okay and should be a part of building a business. But how you do that while creating as much impact as you can and how we approach it is in a systemic way, because we believe the shifts.

Is a systemic shift and that's why we're building different blocks of which, how businesses are financed is a very important one. And legal structures will be another very important piece in there as well and room for experiment within these. And so what we have now is our community. We have an online community for impact entrepreneurs, which is just a place where people can connect.

But it's always important to have a space. We started with real life events, but yeah, one day And then we have an educational piece where our flagship program is raise alternative funding for your impact business which is in collaboration with Atmos and with zebras unite. So the ZEBRAS are basically my idols.

For those of you who haven't read anything by, or about the zebra movement, they started, I think over five years ago in the U S in Portland for women started by writing this money festival which puts a new type of business as opposed to unicorns where. Your goal is to build a billion dollar business.

Your goal is to build a sustainable business as a zebra. It is to do it in  collaboration. It is not to build a business where the concept is: winner takes all. It is about how you see the ending of your business. Is it something you build to sell to someone to, to sell to a bigger company? Or is it something you build to give to your community?

And it doesn't necessarily make the choice, but it gives a much broader spectrum and. In this, how you finance your business is it's often overlooked. How big the impact is of the decision you make very early on in building your business. And by offering a much broader spectrum of financing instruments, you can help

different types of people to build different types of businesses for different solutions, which is also why we want to experiment with a new investment vehicle. And we want to hack basically an existing legal structure for this. Co-operative. This is in Belgium. We have been doing research together with a law firm on how to use a co-operative as an investment vehicle where we would also work on who is the investor.

And get many different types of people to become small investors in this micro financing fund. And the, we would go invest in six to eight companies with this first version of the instruments and go and work on. The, so it's a complete experiment. It's, it, this is a different legal structure.

It uses different investors. And the way you invest into the companies is also different. It's not an equity investment. So it means you don't necessarily take a share of a company because once you take equity of a company, it means you want this company to be sold one day. But what if you invest with revenue based financing, which is becoming a new hot thing and you basically invest or loan money based on future revenue.

It means that whoever is building the company keeps much more ownership of the. Choice of future choices of what to do and how to build a business. 

My question there, I think I have a couple of questions that, that arise there is first maybe the one that comes directly onto what you're saying is if the ownership lies a lot more with the person that eventually builds the company, aren't they also going to be the ones that are going to profit a lot more. And isn't that though the whole shift that we're trying to go away from, or how do you, how does that work? How does the company retain value or how does it, how is it valued as if, cause to, to frame the whole thing that I'm saying to give more context is I am looking like I dream of

a way where companies are not valued by the monetary value they create or not only as a proxy, but are almost directly measured on the impact they create. The problem with that is that the impact measuring impact is hard. Like you can't, you like you have direct impact, indirect impact there's   direct consequences, indirect consequences.

 Companies and certain entities that have a certain cash flow that flow through them. And then there's a valuation and investment and equity. That's an easy system to understand in the sense of what this company's worth, what you're going to be able to do with that money?

Is this an answer to that problem? Or is this an answer to a different sort of problem?

 I think it's an answer to a different type of problem. It is rather an answer to all of the businesses that are not a good match with venture capital because venture capital has become as it seems to be the only way to finance a business while it never has been.

It's also about uncovering and showing the world again, that there are so many more instruments and. Because it's clear the numbers in venture capital venture cap, that's all money, all goes to the same types of businesses and the same types of people. So there is clearly a mismatch. Yeah, jump in.

Yeah, I think so. I think the two big problems that you're  tackling on is first of all, there's just  it's spillage, right?  You just give money and you hope that a company  you give money to a thousand companies and you hope that one becomes a unicorn in that pace.

All the rest of there's, a lot of social environmental, human capital is being wasted. So I think that's a big problem, but I think that the second one, I think that's maybe the one that you are very passionate about is that Venture capital is very, probably if you're white and male, the chances of you getting venture capital are way bigger than if you were, a female that is trying to make it in that same space, just to give an example, but there's other minority groups.

How are those different tools that you speak about opening that space up? So that's it, it's clear that there is one type of founder, one type of business that's being built with a certain goal in a race that fits venture capital very well and there are multiple causes for that.

And one of them is of course, That people invest in what they know. And so they invest in people that look like them. It's the typical bias story and things they understand which none of it has to do with malice. It is a system and the system perpetuates itself. So that is one part. But the other part might also be that a lot of people don't want to build this type of business, but the only

well-known financing instrument in this whole startups sphere right now is venture capital. So our role is also a lot in the informing part because we're not. Revenue based financing is quite new or becoming more popular in this type of startup investment, but the other things they're not new they're things like grants, government grants, tax benefits.

There are things like participating in a challenge and winning prize money there, a bank loan getting other types of debt it it's. Part of it is informing. And the other part is really opening up money for a new group of people. Indeed. 

Yeah. Yeah. Okay, cool. So a question going slightly, like still within that space, but going away from that in the sense of.

Why do you care? Like why do you even want to have an impact? Why do you even ask yourself these questions? Why do you choose to go in that direction? What, why do you care? Which question. It's a question I ask myself sometimes, but I, I don't know how to do otherwise. It's part of me wanting to change and challenge things.

It's always been a part whichever job or mission I embarked on is basically changing the status quo and. I'm always stuck in this dilemma between do I really want to make a systemic change and fight to change things at a higher level? Or do I just want to impact one life? And I think it's a struggle

a lot of people have that have this drive to change things they find in just and right now I'm still trying the higher level, but I bet someday I will be like, I'll just go and help three people. And that'll be it. But my drive the thing that drives me crazy is injustice and yeah.

It's always been the case ever since I was a child that I speak up and that I it is part of my character clearly to get involved in things that are not my business and go and speak up and suffer consequences sometimes for that. But my life has also always made me a bit of a, an outsider.

In, in many ways I fit in socially, but on the other hand my path hasn't been a very conventional one, so I know a lot of injustice from up close, very up close. So it means it's often the case that people who haven't countered certain issues Really have a big drive to make sure that other people don't have to encounter the same problems.

Do you want to maybe elaborate a little bit on, on your story? What are some key moments where you were like, okay this really defined me.

That would be a very long story. One day, one day I'll make a movie. There are already plans for a part of my teenage years where I like that ambition. We're going to look back when you're like this huge impact. entrepreneur because they're going to make a movie about your bite your life, and we're all going to go watch it.

Yeah, there were some definite interesting forming years in my in my teenage years. And one of the very cool things about that is that one of my friends from back then anaïs was one of my best friends when I was about 13 and she joined the impact shakers as a marketing manager now, and I'm sure will.

Our story in an article one day, but to start with, I was born my father is a Turkish immigrant. He came to Belgium in the seventies, late seventies. So I am one of the first children and against to be born out of a Turkish, Belgian relationship. Not a very successful one. But I grew up with my mom just me and my mom for the largest parts.

And yeah, many more things followed. Yeah. Yeah. I can imagine. I can imagine I'm curious though, because I think I want to jump back a little bit to the, the thing that you said about like high level and low level. Cause this is a struggle that I obviously also have.

And I think, like you say a lot of people, especially, the The internet generation that grew up with seeing, like people like, Mark Zuckerberg, for whatever he created good or bad, we'll leave that in between. But literally like it started from a bedroom and he's literally shaping the world from starting from his bedroom.

And I think that puts a lot of pressure on those people wanting to have an impact on this world and seeing that, wow, we need, that's the level that we need to be thinking at. And obviously I like, I believe there's a lot of power in just reasoning at that scale level, because I believe that if you ask the question of, okay, how can I impact a billion people's lives positively?

You're going to start thinking about different things than if you would about, okay, how can I make my roommate? Who's sitting downstairs happy. I can make him a pizza and he's going to, he's going to be very happy, but then. The thinking is different. So how do you how do you keep yourself in a mind space or what questions or what things do you use to keep that drive alive?

And how do you think at that scale? I consume massive amounts of information. I read a lot I have different types of sources as well. So I read a lot of new economic thinking but also more specifically than on the financing part. And on the other hand, I talked to a lot of people as well.

Over ever since I started in the startup world, I've had the privilege to work with so many entrepreneurs. So to understand how you build a business, I think I learned mostly by engaging with people who are building businesses and out of so many conversations I had I also had the privilege to travel and to learn from entrepreneurs and.

People supporting entrepreneurs across the world. So I think for me, a lot of it comes through processing information from different types of sources. And my brain is wired to think at a higher level. It's just something I'm good at. I can see a bigger picture easily. But on the other hand, when sometimes people ask you, what is the thing you're most proud of or what is your biggest accomplishments?

And if I think about those things, I think of people, I think of a person whose life I impacted, I don't think of some policy that I tried to push or a program. I organized, I think about a person.

 So I love thinking about how can we change the system. But when I think about what gives you the warmest feeling, it is this one person. You have an impact on, so that is why I think it's very hard sometimes to keep motivated because the fight you're fighting is not a direct.

You don't have this direct link with your achievements. With what we do. We do try that. That is also, we have these different pillars and in some of them we do impact people directly. And I think that helps to keep motivation because in anything you do And especially if you want to change things, you're fighting your and your victories are not always very remarkable.

 I think that's very profound. What you're saying, and I think that is. When you're thinking about impacting a billion people's lives, that's a huge piece of it, because for so long, you're not even going to know how many people you impact, whatever you start.

And so that's why I think that the whole concept of trying to impact a billion people's lives will always remain a concept. You're never gonna know whether you impacted a billion people's lives. The only thing we can do is try to think at that scale and try to understand how, we can. We can create that warm, fuzzy feeling for like billions of people between each other, but in the end, it's not going to be able to be directly linked to you in that sense.

So I think that's such a profound thing. How would you just touched upon and I'm thinking for myself in the same sense, as well as what keeps me. Driven over. It keeps me motivated and trying to like, get up every morning and work on things that you think are important.

And it's true. It's hard to, it's like a an answer of it's just who you are, right? It's, there's like a, I don't know if you have a bat as well, but I have a fire in my belly more every time I think about stuff like that, maybe it's something like that. So for you the.

The thing that makes it easier is the more it aligns with who you are in general. The easier it is to keep going because it is for, even if you're working on the best cause in the world. And. Helping a billion people. I'm sure everyone wakes up some days and is like why am I doing

 this? And then I think the link to working directly with people and maybe trying to keep that link in there as well makes a lot of sense.

I think it's why people like Richard Branson organized programs in which they work directly with an entrepreneur To enable them to keep a connection with humanity

 My ideas on life-work balance are, they're not a thing.

I think the more, I don't believe you're different people. When you wake up and go to work my take care of the same person. You might adjust your language a bit and tone it down. Or just somethings about you a little bit. Not anymore,

but you're still the same person. And I think that is why so many people are unhappy in their jobs because it's not aligning with who they are.  I think that's, again, you're spitting truths after truths, but I think what's how did you. Like, how did you realize, or how did you define or come to know the person that you are?

Because I think so many people struggle with arriving to a point where they feel aligned. What do you do? How do you do that? Lots of struggles early on in life. They help. Yeah. But is that sure? What in the end, the struggles they come to you, but. It's about how you deal with them, is there, like, how did you look at this? 

That's how I'm raised by my mom. I am raised to be me, him and not to have, I'm also raised in a very atypical, Belgian way. As I have no guilt, I was not raised with any type of guilt or judgment. Or need for, to be someone to, there was never pressure on me to go to for anything.

It's very intrinsic. I was taught to be very kind, always and I dunno, I always attracted people around me as well. Who shared their stories. Empathy as one of the keys, learning who you are by listening to others. And yeah it's one of the keys in my life has also giving up, not being afraid to give up on things, which is one of the advantages that come with no guilt.

Because it's. In a country like ours it's very hard sometimes to give up and allow yourself to discover something news, something that might match you better. But yeah, basically everything I did before impact shakers, I gave up each time to enable a new thing to answer. Yeah, I think, for everybody listening, if you just replace like your mom with our own thoughts towards yourselves, then you've got so many keys to letting yourself be who you are.

I think. In the end, an Apple tree seed doesn't need anything either to become an Apple tree. And so I think the things that you spoke about how much, how many times do we like not guilt trip ourselves on things like, it's just in our own thoughts, we don't even need a mom or an upbringing to do this to us, or judgment.

We keep judging ourself and our thoughts and we keep.  Taking these judgements of other people,  so at heart. And I think these are all obstacles to just finding and really being in alignment with yourself. So I think, in, in the end, it's so awesome. First of all, like your mom sounds awesome.

I definitely want to meet her one day. But secondly, like it's, I think. Yeah, I think that's that those are key things in and really seeking your alignment and what you say about giving up. I think a lot is about the words that you use. Because one of the key beliefs that I hold as well is that failure doesn't exist.

Like you can't fail, you can either learn or continue. And even while you're continuing or you're learning, but that is, yeah. That's yeah, it's interesting that I use the word giving up because that's not really how I see it in my own mind, but it's rather how I notice a lot of people see it for themselves because I have so many friends and people I talk to that are like, Oh, you're doing such great work.

And it must be so nice to work on something so positive and yeah. I have a job I'm too scared to leave. I would love to have a job with purpose, but it's a good place. It's the golden cage. And that's it's moving on. It's just as hard as a breakup. It's, I'm breaking up with a part of you with a part of yeah.

Mostly with a part of you. And so would you say you're so good at that? No, but and you, I guess you really are, you are good at just in that sense of like creative destruction, right? Like destroying apart of what you were before to become something different. What would you say to those people that are in those golden cages that actually know that they're not aligned?

Like where what's the first step they could take? You think. Yeah. So what I often see is that I don't think I've met anyone who has regretted it when they left and made a different choice. I think change is rarely bad. I think almost all people are happier by going through change than by staying in a situation.

Yeah. Yeah, no, absolutely. I think I also try to train my own mind to like, whenever I'm in a situation I'm like constantly thinking like change is good. Change is good. Change is good. I'm like just telling myself those things. And also I think to add onto that is I think I try to also Relinquish or, yeah, relinquished my attachment to outcome by trying to fail at something every day.

And so I try, Very hard on yourself, but th the failing, again, like it doesn't really exist for me, so what I'm saying is I'm just trying to phrase ample, like to contact a prime minister or whatever, and I'm like, okay there's, but there's also like other things that you can do in that sense to detach from outcome and focus on process.

But so that's pushing a boundary a day. Yeah, I'm really trying to do I'm currently at one a week to be very honest with you. That's better because high expectations on yourself, that's a, you were talking about being hard on yourself. Yeah. And I think so I was still born in the eighties. I think I'm the last generation who's like able to.

He could have been easy. And although seeing people around you that become millionaires before they're 30, it's a bit frustrating, but still, I don't think it's as frustrating for me as it is for you. And. I did. I had a cassette player. I didn't have the internet or it's a really different level of expectations that were put upon us growing up as it is for you.

For sure. I would definitely agree. I think there is a whole lot of pressure from this window on the world being wide open and mystical anomalies being taking for the standard whether it be all the girls and guys on Instagram that are being photo-shopped and being portrayed as the vision of beauty to exactly what you're saying, right?

There's every single day, I see, a clip of a 22 year old being interviewed as, the new millionaire that started this business or that business like this, like there is that extra mental pressure that you're taking on. And to me, I think, I think, yeah, but if you'd asked me like two, three years ago, was like, I have to go.

But I think what really brought me peace is the fact that I'm. Working towards impact instead of that monetary thing, like I think the monetary will follow if I find the right things of impact. And I think I look at that mechanism as, if you build useful things, you'll be rewarded with treatment one way or another.

But the focus for me really shifted from, that the how question to the what question and getting to the what's through a, how. If if you know what, I'm probably not making a lot of sense, but by focusing on the what and the why and letting the, how unfold itself that took off

a lot of pressure, because I feel like, especially when you're chasing numbers, because that's what it is in the end, you have your first million, you want your second million and it never fricking ends.

But yeah, I do agree that pressure is there, but that's why I believe so much in enabling the shift from, I think the impact offers a space where everybody can create that utility feeling for this sentence, because I think in the end, that's what it comes down to is we're all trying to be useful members of society one way or another.

And today monetary is seen as that. Benchmark for that, but you know how useful is, I'm sorry for all the stockbrokers listening, but how useful is it what you're doing with day trading? Like you're not working on allocating. Financial equity in in, in a good way, so yeah.

And the grit to happiness basically is helping others and being grateful. It's not that complicated. And that helping others every day is just to. Selfish motivation because it makes you happy. But what you were saying about building businesses that are focused on impact, the tricky part there is that it's hard to build a business which focuses on both of them on impact and profits.

And that is where we want to come in and we want to build solid models and methods to help people build these types of businesses because. It's not easy to build it on the side while doing your job. It's not as easy to create revenue from the start, which is what we're noticing as well. And we've been trying really hard to get sustainable revenue in the company, but it doesn't, it's not easy to grow it

as fast as you would I am convinced as well that the money will follow, but you need to find the space and time to get to that point. And that's one of the trickiest. Yeah. I think it's that or there needs to be a there needs to be a system shift, but like a genuine system shift. I think

our current monetary system is just focused on financial capital. There is no like literally like countries are sometimes incentivized to get down entire forests. And then they can, sell the woods and that will boost their GDP. And now they're doing good, but heck no, they're not doing good.

And that is just the outcome of the system that we're producing. So I think again, if we take a billion impact perspective, we need to look at, is there a different currency that we can create that can take those things into account where you could be making money and could be getting revenue just by the fact of the impact that you're creating.

And I do think there are a lot of spaces there and a lot of possibilities. And again, like I spoke earlier about the concept of the impact coin, and I think the whole crypto. Sphere in and of itself allows us to completely rethink our monetary systems. And so I think there is a very exciting space that I'm personally also like looking into.

So I think as you're saying like you could either optimize within the current system and try to figure out ways to work that. But I think at the same time, we need to be coming up with ideas to say look, this old system isn't working for us anymore. We're literally. Completely destroying our planet.

We need to figure out something else that also works for everybody and creates the same incentive structure because we do want to keep innovating and we do want to keep creating new services and all those things. And I think capitalism is great at that. But yeah. How do you, so that is the motivation right there.

I get to meet people like you. Every week. And I see a very positive change as into how many great minds are working on new ideas. And I think it's inevitable that we're moving into a good direction. Yeah, I think so too. I think 98% of the world is good and they're all working on. Some of these things yeah.

All right. I've another question for you. What is something that you believe that few people agree with you on

As they say, it could be, there's not really a thing, but I don't know. Business-wise I can't think of anything just like this sunspot. No. It is a hard question, but it is an interesting one to think about. So if anything, just try to, if you can do something with it. I think one of the things that. It's maybe a thing is that you, I think you do really believe that, creating impact is a super viable way of making a living in the end.

Yeah. You think few people agree on that. Yeah, maybe I'm in a bubble. I think. I don't maybe not maybe it's not that few. But I just think there are a lot of people maybe even people that are listening here on the podcast that think, yeah. Yeah. It's really cool to have impact and I'd love to have impact on a billion people.

They've been the in Indiana and I need to put food on the table. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like sometimes people feel like they're juxtaposed, but they're really like, I think, if you look at, for example an Elon Musk in my mind, again also controversial, but in my mind, what he's doing, for example, with Tesla is a huge impact versus sustainable future.

And what are we going to do with the batteries? Yeah that's a good question. But we can, there's definitely, maybe this is a controversial opinion of mine. What are we going to do with all of the batteries of all of the electric cars? I think you can recycle them, right? They don't go into the air as CO2.

I don't think we can recycle all of the toxic waste they produce, but okay. I don't know enough about it to really go into that. Okay. Anyway, we'll take that. We'll write that down as your controversial opinion. Another question is what is your biggest failure, or, I don't know, you don't necessarily see things as failure, but what is one of the biggest points of failure and what have you learned from it in this impact journey?

That's the thing. I really don't look at things as failures. I remember getting this question on one of my first job interviews and I couldn't, and I couldn't think of the largest obstacle or problem I solved. And the only thing I could think of was having a car breakdown somewhere very dangerous.

That was a real problem. But other than that, I don't know. We shift gears so quickly as well. Like right now, we launched impact awards. You can apply till May 21st for the impact shakers awards based on the doughnut economics model on the social foundation. And I came up with did Christmas hold this.

And we started building it six weeks ago. I think six or seven weeks ago we started. Putting the material together and after three weeks. So let's say four weeks ago we were ready to start fundraising because my idea was to find someone to sponsor each award to finance a prize for the participating companies.

And to finance us a bit. Field. So we're taking a different approach. But that also means we gave it three, four weeks to try. So the new, we should gears really quickly as well. Two, I call this a field experiment and now we're changing it. We're going to take a different approach. We're gonna try to find one bigger.

Partner probably only for the next edition. We're gonna try to come up with maybe an ecosystem solution for this. And yeah. Yeah. I think that's actually an even more insightful answer. And that I think is core to a lot of great entrepreneurs in the fences that. The way you look at failure is exactly the way that you just described it.

Yeah, exactly. Part of the process. And it's something that kind of almost fuels your iteration and fuels. Okay. This isn't work let's fricking go to the next step. Yeah. So we have of course raise alternative funding for your impact business and the first cohort. The results of one of the participating companies was that they stopped our business after two coaching sessions with me.

Is that a failure? I don't know. I think it's a big success because. Yeah, I think it's the better, it was clearly the better decision there. And it was almost as if I gave some type of permission to let go again, that letting go. Yeah, no yeah. I think exactly. And that again, For me, it's always a core question.

If you're trying to have impact is first question is, from what perspective are you looking like? What is your reference frame? And then secondly, what is the actual thing you're doing? And I think one of the things that you just said is why I think a core thing is just do things as you as I've also, I had also applied to be one of the 40, under 40.

And so I did not get selected as one of the last ones. So for me, that was also like a moment of. Okay. I failed at this attempt, by the way, for listeners you want shut did get selected very rightfully and we should. That's freaking awesome. But to me then again, like I call it I emailed them, asking them for feedback and being like, Hey, like, how can I, what can I do to become part of this community and to, scale the impact that I'm trying to have, because that's really how I looked at that community as well.

And they said something that I already really know. And I guess, that's also one of the reasons that I'm doing this impact thing is just do things like, I guess I'm still very young. Post to somebody that's 39, they've had more time to do things, but in the end

, I know this, like it comes down to, it's really good to have all these ideas and you can help have all these visions and they're important to drive you forward.

But in the end it comes down to try stuff. Start do it. And that's what you just said. You had the idea for the impact shaker awards. You're like, you're not starting to write five business plans and calling them and being like, Hey, is this a good idea? What do you think? You're just like, Nope, we're trying it.

We started we have 40 ecosystem partners joining in, which is the part that makes me happiest about this particular project. It's the first time. Yeah, it's the first time I think that so many impact ecosystem players are rallying behind wanting and yeah. My entire mindset is collaborative and I am so happy to see that we found something that people can see as a collaboration instead of a competitive project.

And we have impact accelerators impact investors joining and I hope to get to 50 for this first edition. And the first one is in Europe, but next one will be Southeast Asia or. Or Africa and when we could a global thing, because yeah. Everything we do is also global and it's so nice to be connected to some entrepreneur in Cambodia.

And so yesterday we had the last session of our second cohorts and it had people from Cambodia bunch from Europe, but also Portland in the U S then so we spent the entire globe and in one session of people helping each other out That's awesome. Yeah, I can imagine. I can imagine. All right.

Maybe a pretty fundamental question as we're nearing the end of this podcast is how do you look at impact? What is impact for you? Yeah, maybe this is also controversial. I don't know how much I like impact measurement. It's I have an impact investor friend and he put it to me one day.

I don't remember the person of the quote, but it's a judge from the higher Supreme courts in the U S who had to make a judgements and about porn. And he said, It's hard to describe or define porn, but I know it when I see it.

Okay. Yeah. So I think having positive impacts is something. It's, it's and I do believe that we should apply frameworks. It's also why we're trying out now for the first time with the doughnut framework. But it's also why we chose that one because the ideas okay. Are you working towards giving people a political voice?

Is that the impact you are achieving? And one of the things in our projects any type of project we develop, the part we focus on the most is understanding the problem because there is often a mismatch of building a solution that is not an actual solution for the problem. But if you have a very solid understanding of the problem, the impact you will make will also be

impact on this particular problem. And it's more about going back to this every time while you're developing your product or your service to figure out your impact, and then trying to figure out which numbers work. If you're developing a new medical solution. It will be easier if you cure people, you can count the people you cure, but there are many more complex solutions that work at different levels,

like you say. And I think focusing, but that's also part of my doer ship, focusing too much on how we're gonna measure what I'm doing. Only takes away from trying out different things and making sure it's actually working. I couldn't agree with you more. But then, because I really do agree and I think, the shifts that we're seeing towards the more, I feel like abundance based economy where you know, where there's a lot more, that's why it's also, I think so important to strive towards equality because I think.

Numbers are there also to prove something and to be like, look, I did this look, I made something. And so if we just assume that everybody has equal op like had like equal opportunities and has an equal voice and has those things, then you don't necessarily need to prove anything anymore. But I think numbers do provide.

That and they provide very succinct feedback on whether what you're doing is the best way of doing it. I absolutely believe we should use numbers. My only question is when and how much do you focus on the numbers and. It's a matter of every project that you get funding for something. And you notice that the KPIs you agreed upon are not the actual KPIs that you need.

How much do you stick to them? And. For example for us, we've been around now for two years and a bit, and it's only at the end of this year that we published a year report with very concrete numbers. And also goals. We have numerical goals now of how many businesses we're going to help, how much money we want to raise.

But that was a very hard thing to do in the beginning because. Building all of these pieces and I just think it should get the right level of attention. And the right level is up to. The founders and the people. And if you want someone's money, it will be also up to the people whose money you're taking.

That's also a part of the deal, right? When you're talking to investors or governments to help you build this solution, then there will be different requirements, but Being creative about how you think about your impact and how you're measuring it, I think is a key. And on the side of the people granting investment, I think it's very important that they remain flexible and focused on the actual goal and on the actual problem they're solving rather than sticking to some type of metric that has been agreed upon at some point.

Yeah. I fall in love with the problem is a big one there. All right. Yeah, we're nearing the end of our podcasts, but I have a couple of questions left. Yeah, starting with, if you were in my shoes, is there a question that I didn't ask you that you wish I asked you? No. No, not immediately.

That's great. Then I guess, well done me. So another question is like, where can listeners connect to you? Is that through impact shakers do to send you an email? Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn. I am active on LinkedIn and we don't have. Facebook or any of the other social media we have the websites impact shakers, and we also have impact checkers awards do apply if you're under five years old.

And and they're five years old. Yes. As a company. All right. Then a couple of quick fire questions, so you don't need to go super deep into these ones, but what do you do to help yourself think big in between brackets? Impact? Yeah, as I said, reading massive amounts. And so what advice would you give to people that are looking to have an impact?

Surround yourself with people with the same mindset, but not necessarily the same opinion. Brilliant. And what do you think it takes to become an impact, billionaire,

a lot of heart with a T and a lot of hard work. Because working hard actually does something. And we have a money festival on our web site as well. And one of the secrets I've uncovered is a very simple one. It is do what you say you're going to do. And that means in working with anybody it is rare.

And I didn't know, that was a rare thing, but apparently it is. I, again, I agree such a big one. And I think on what you're saying, the working hard part is I saw it as visual once where, it was like a timeline showing the I'm not going to be able to explain the visual because it's a visual, but the idea is just that, the hard thing about impact as well, is that your feedback on whether the hard work you're putting in is super delayed like it's 90% hard work, and then all of a sudden it's an overnight success.

And I think a key thing there is just what you said is one sticking true to. What you say you're going to do, which to me ties into, aligning with who you are and, speaking your truth, but acting your truth and all those things. And I think if you're able to do that, and if you're able to operate from your core, you don't need outside motivation all the time to keep you going.

Because again, it's just who you are. It's your, you're the Apple seed that's growing into this Apple tree. And. Yeah. I think the surrounding yourself with people who share your values is a very important part of that as well. I have been so lucky and I feel very privileged to people that I get to work with, that I get to know.

And yeah, it's fantastic. If, and if you're maybe at a lower point at some point, then somebody else will be higher and. If you go there alone, go fast, go together, go far. Absolutely. And by the way, you can join the impact checkers or you apply to join. Same with our community, like where we're always trying to bring together like-minded people to exactly.

That's also one of the big reasons that I started the impact billionaires is, it got me talking to you and it got me like, meeting. Exactly. And I think it's so core to. To find your tribe and connect with your tribe. And I think that's a very good one.

And I think with that incredibly good advice what we're going to end this podcast, and I want to say by first of all, did you enjoy it? Do you have fun? Yeah. Yeah. I think it was a very. Deep conversation. And it's not the most open conversation I've had on the subject and including me.

So thank you, Tom. You make people feel comfortable. And I wish you all the best with the impact billionaires. We're doing this together. We're doing this together. What do you like it or not? I'm not going to be able to impact a billion people's alone. Like you're part of it now. Sorry.

Awesome. Awesome. You and Chuck, thank you so so much. And yeah, until next time. Bye. Bye.