You can read below the story of personal drive, motivations and current ways in which this ebbf member lives her values and passions, having started her life behind the Eastern German wall. A story of discovery and determination creating and allowing people to create and evolve their dream enteprises.
You can join her and Jahan Tavangar in the next “steps to create my dream enterprise” ebbf hangout on the 26th of August
and take part in her sessions helping you move from an idea to starting your meaningful and just enterprise at ebbf’s annual learning event in Barcelona.
EBBF: So what are you on earth to do?
MONIQUE: I think that every human being has not only the gift , talent, joy and pleasure but also the duty to become the best we can be, and then find ways to contribute not only to ourselves but to the …
… world around us. This can be done on several levels, starting on ourselves, then on our family and friends and onto the bigger level of contributing to society. I believe that everyone has a mission. That mission is different for everyone and it might take quite a while to find out what it is. I also admit that it took me almost four decades to find mine.
EBBF: How would you describe your line of work? What is your area of influence? M: I am the founder and accelerator of the Business Launch Portal, inspiring many entrepreneurs around the world to rocket their ideas into enterprise, to make them real and through them creating a great and positive impact on society. Rather than focusing on helping one-man freelancers I like to help individuals to build organizations, thus allowing a bigger impact to take place. I like to help people who can make a difference.
My mission is to inspire and empower people to grow themselves, so that they can grow organizations where people can live their full potential, where people care, where they experience joy, respect and abundance. It is a big difference from the corporate world where I worked before which felt so competitive. Now I feel a strong sense of collaboration, focusing now on positive attitudes, on abundance and respect for each other.
EBBF: How do you do that?
M: One thing is to live our global opportunities and chances. I am running online courses to bring international groups of people together to grow their own businesses, applying a very practical approach, so that they learn by doing, by actually starting their business. I also offer live speeches and workshops and trainings. And I mentor people internationally. I also interview successful entrepreneurs all over the world and share their experiences and insights, as I noticed how a lot of people crave to hear success stories from other entrepreneurs, stories from people that started with nothing and have made it, just like themselves.
EBBF: Why do you think they are happy to share their story?
M: Last year I interviewed an entrepreneur who was already very successful, also financially, who had moved to the Silicon Valley by the age of 23. He told me that the only reason to start a business should be because someone wants to make a difference, someone is itching to do something with a positive impact that no one else is addressing so far. And when the purpose is a bigger, more elevated purpose, you do not want to keep that purpose to yourself. But you want to share it and you are happy to let others know how they can achieve their dreams for themselves. EBBF: Are you seeing any emerging trends in your work?
M: I would highlight three trends.
The first trend I am seeing is something not really new but it was surprising to me which is that young people do not strive anymore to make money, but rather to live in live with their values. This is very close to my heart, also because I grew up in Eastern Germany, in a very different society, where we cherished different values but wealth only. And now I see this in the entrepreneurial world again: money is not the main driver for entrepreneurs.
Here is a story that opened my eyes to this: I once gave a workshop at JADE on how to pitch your idea when presenting to an investor or potential client. I started by asking those young early 20s people “Who wants to become a millionaire?” and absolutely none of them put their hand up… a stark contrast to the corporate world where everything seems to be focused on money and profit. So I asked those students: “If it is not money then what drives you?”. The replies surprised me, they said they care most for their family and friends and wanted to do something for them and do something meaningful with their life. I see how, especially with young people, money is not the key driver for them, neither in business nor in life. Instead, building a life around values and purpose is what matters to people.
The second trend is the speed at which things are happening which is mind boggling. I was at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia last Autumn where the Global Startup Youth event aimed at helping 500+ young entrepreneurs to build a business – in 48 hours! Teams of about 10 young people, who had never met each other before, came together to kick off a startup with the aim to “make the world a better place”. I was astonished to see how within less than 48 hours they came up with a business idea, a concept, created an App that was ready to be sold, had created a website, a social media presence and a marketing research, and on top a compelling pitch that was presented to the jury… and all of that in less than 48 hours. It showed me just how fast you can build a new enterprise today. I find that in Europe for example, people still take months to come up with a business idea, or a business concept. The third trend I am seeing is how more and more people strive to make a positive difference beyond their own benefit. I also observe how people are growing social-emotionally. You might have read the book ‘From good to great’ in which they describe the five levels of leadership. Now, the Harvard Biz School came up with the sixth level of leadership: the transcendent leader. These type of leaders are not just themselves, not only serving objectives or their company, but instead they aim at serving society. I see, and am encouraged in seeing, more and more of these leaders that think beyond themselves and their organizations and that want to increase and benefit society.
EBBF: Why did you think it was important to launch your Business Launch Portal now?
M: In the fist place it is related to my story. I grew up in Eastern Germany, a socialist system, and at the time I did not know that building my own business was an option at all. I followed a career as I did not know what else to do. I was successful. And when the wall came down between East and West I started to travel. I also started and followed a classic career as an economist for some time but I felt something was really missing, a feeling that I was the right fish but in the wrong pond. There was something I wanted to do but did not know what it was. So I was very brave (my dad said foolish) and I left my secure corporate job without really knowing what to do after. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to start my own business. As I did not have an idea on my own at the time, I decided to start a business with a couple of friends. We failed and I learnt 10.000 ways of how not to get a business started. I decided to go on my own and to share my experiences and help others to get their business started. I looked around to find out what support entrepreneurs get when they just get started. I realized there were three missing in the entrepreneurial startup environments: 1. There is little longer term support for a bigger number of startup entrepreneurs. There are many startup weekends offered all over, and these are great and raise a lot of energy and commitment. But two weeks later the energy evaporates and teams fall apart and if you do not sustain it over at least a couple of months, most great startup ideas never see the light.
2. In formal education, at universities and in most biz schools they focus mainly on people creating a business plan, which is geat but too theoretical. My experience is that the ‘learning by doing’ approach is much more promising. Entrepreneurial education needs to be much more practical. You learn most while building your business.
3. A lot of startup enterprise support systems are very local and there is not enough exchange between them going on, unless you are in Silicon Valley where everyone is inviting you. Once I met someone from a startup platform in Malaysia who had asked another startup platform in Belgium to set up an active exchange between their startup entrepreneurs, but they were not interested. Incredible! We live in such a small world today. So, I decided to step in and Malaysia became a great partner to our Business Launch Portal. I believe, an international exchange is very enriching and people need to be supported locally and internationally.
Summarizing what I have said, I built the Business Launch Portal to address all three gaps: Being a startup support system that supports entrepreneurs longer term during their startup process. We teach them everything they need in very practical ways and they can apply it in their startup right away. And, we bring startup entrepreneurs together virtually from all over the globe, so they can learn from and actively support each other.
EBBF: What about the “creating your dream enterprise” program done in collaboration with ebbf, what do you aim to achieve with this new ebbf / Business Launch Portal partnership project?
M: My mission, as I said earlier, is in line with my life mission, I help as many people as I can to grow themselves, so they can grow organizations in which people live their full potential. I want to make a difference on three dimensions 1. Helping themselves – to live well, doing what they love doing most. When they are in their flow and they make good money or are valued in another way – they become more open to help others and think collaboration instead of collaboration. 2. Building organizations that are values based and that create value for everyone involved 3. Uplifting societal, economical and other standards by having our newly built organizations implement new standards on how people are engaged in their organizations, how they are valued and paid, how are strategies defined and how success is measured – just to name a few
Only when we have fulfilled individuals that work in value-centered organizations we can create the energy, wisdom, and experience we need to uplift standards. It all comes back to the reasons why we do things!
EBBF: Monique, you have been an ebbf member since June of 2010, what attracted you to ebbf?
MONIQUE: A friend who had been at previous ebbf events suggested me to join one of the Autumn ebbf conferences, promising me that I would find people there who “share our values”. The 1st conference I attended was in September 2009. At the time I was employed at a large multinational corporation that went through major organizational changes. There was a lot of back stabbing going on and nasty political games were played. From that atmosphere I arrived at the ebbf event and I right away felt something like “It has been a long time since I felt so at home”. It was wonderful meeting all those people who shared my values and had a very similar perspective on the world as I did.
Integrity and honesty are two key values for ebbf and an anecdote gave me confirmation that I was in the right place. In one of the first meetings I joined that weekend, I had a 20 € note in my back pocket, but it must have fallen out as I did not find it as I entered my room later that evening. The next morning I went to the ebbf registration desk, mentioning to them that I had lost a 20 € note. The person at the desk took out that 20 € note from the desk with a big smile and said “yes, here it is, we were waiting for the owner to pick it up”. That was the moment that I realized that ebbf members do not declare these precious values, but that they truly live them. That was one of the first times they won my heart.
During that first conference I joined quite a few workshops and presentations and came out with a feeling of “now I know what to do with my life”. Even though what I do today is pretty different to what I thought I should do back then, ebbf has been an inspiration for me ever since. At ebbf I found a feeling of being at home and with family, with people who not only share my values, but also an understanding of why we are on this earth.
EBBF: Was your journey always an easy and clear path?
M: (She smiles) Absolutely not! Even though somehow I always knew I came into this world to make a difference. But it took me some 40 years to find out what that meant. For many years I saw people with this sparkle in their eyes when talking about what great things they were doing and I was jealous that they had found their purpose. On the other hand I meet many others who still have not found the ‘why’ in their life.
For me, it definitely has been a roller coaster ride. Sometimes it feels like it is a huge puzzle that slowly, very slowly, falls into place. And the next step of the path takes so long to find. In addition, sometimes we have to face a lot of critique from people that are very close to us which can be very painful.
To be a successful entrepreneur we need to have a deep optimistic belief and faith that everything will be good in the end. There is always going to be a solution. At times I was almost entirely broke and did not know how I get to tomorrow. Then I found support in my partner. But of course, I wanted to be independent, so I just had to come up with a solution. As an entrepreneur we also need a lot of patience. A tree does not grow overnight, nor is a business started overnight. It takes time, patience, passion and drive. And then we are rewarded with big breakthroughs. There were moments when a new door opened and I thought ‘WOW, I never had imagined that this world would exist’. And these magic surprises happens time and again. So, sometimes it is very slow to get to the next level, and sometimes we go at warp speed.
As entrepreneurs, we also need a strong support network that helps us to continue, and ebbf is one of mine. It is an incredible network with many amazing people that strive to do different things to what I do. But it is fantastic to know that I am surrounded by people who also have a mission that is bigger than themselves, like mine. Without you, Daniel, and Jahan and Eva I would not be able to do this work within ebbf. You are helping to open doors and you enable me to make this whole create dream enterprise project happen. As they say, when you want to create something bigger than yourself, you need to step onto giant’s shoulders.
EBBF: How do you find your clarity on your path? There are different things I am doing, especially when I am having a tough time.
M: First, I have faith and trust that I know the answer already, somewhere deep inside me. I am mediating and I am listening to my inner voice. I simply know that there is an energy out there that is helping me and connecting to it gives me huge strength. Some people call it God, or Bahaullah or something else. For me, it does not matter what others call it. I simply feel this strong bigger energy that gives me a deep trust in myself and my mission.
Second, when I am lost I talk to others and they tell me “I know that feeling”. Many people have been in much crappier situations than I have ever been. If they could handle it, so can I. That knowledge gives me strengths.
Third, I find things that make my body and soul actually feel good, and healthy and nourished. For example, I am running almost every morning out there in nature, feeling my body. Especially now, spring in Europe is so beautiful. Hearing birds singing and being surrounded by all this beauty makes my soul sing, too.
EBBF: What would you encourage someone reading this interview to do, to make happen?
Start their own dream enterprise? What else?
M: I really encourage people to stop to from time to time – stop being busy and look at yourself and start taking yourself and your dreams seriously again as a precious soul who has the right to live a wonderful life. Ask yourself from time to time what it is you really want, and why. Write it on a piece of paper what you want and don’t stop, don’t stop with the car, the house and other material wishes, but continue writing. You will see surprising things arise. Asking yourself why you want it will differentiate what is really important to you. And another hint, don’t judge what you come up with. Just dream, allow yourself to have any dream – never say I’ll never be able to achieve that. And then take the very first small step, never mind how small. Then start speaking to others about it as that will make your ideas and visions more real. And you will find a lot of support along the way.
And if you want to make a positive difference in the world by starting your own dream enterprise, you might want to talk to us! Get in touch. Join one of our special hangout sessions. Fill the application form for our program if you think this program could become your jumping board. In any case, we look forward to hear from you!
A few of Monique’s favourite quotes:
The best way to predict the future is to create it. ~ Peter Drucker
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ~ Walt Disney
You’ve got to jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down ~ Ray Bradbury