createmeaning

Update: Action speaks louder than words, or why I haven´t had much time to blog lately...

If you have been following the create meaning journey you noticed that I have posted updates on twitter and Facebook, but I didn't publish any new interviews in a while. So I thought I give you guys a little heads up on what is happening at the moment and what keeps me so busy here in Asia. 

The reason is that besides some inspiring interview partners, I've also met two very innovative companies that caused me to change my travel plans. Even though they operate in different (very different) sectors they have a lot in common. Both are founded by the motivation to make a difference in the world and led by visionary entrepreneurs to make it happen. But there was another thing they shared -  both are at a critical stage in the development of their businesses and could use some assistance taking things to the next level. So instead of interviewing them I decided to take these opportunities and use what I have learned over the last 10 years in my career to contribute to their causes.

So I didn't continue my journey as planned to explore China and Japan but took the plane from Hong Kong to Manila to work with BASE, a company that has the mission solve the housing crisis and build a better future for the poor. From the first meeting with the founders I was fascinated with their passion and dedication. They have developed an innovative housing concept that works with local materials (Bamboo), is disaster-resilient (Crucial for countries like the Philippines) and still affordable for the people who need it the most.

They had the technology, a solid business plan and a dedicated team, but they could use some support to bring int all together in a solid strategy. So we did a three day workshop where we nailed down the company purpose, build an inspiring vision and developed the foundation of their brand.

It was an intense workshop, but the week I have spent with them was so rewarding. We are now in the process of bringing the vision to life and I will keep you posted on the progress. 

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The second opportunity to contribute brought me back to Bali. It´s the home base of Adina & Oliver. Two entrepreneurs that decided to leave everything behind and create a totally new, different and free life here in Asia. But they didn't just start a new personal chapter in Bali but also a very interesting business that derived from personal challenges they where facing. Based on their own experience they found that only very few people were truly open & willing to share their feeling and views on sexuality & relationship. It was very hard to get deep knowledge and quality guidance for the critical challenges people face in their relationships and personal sexual development. Even though sexuality is a very important part in all of our lives, it´s also a topic that is mostly tabu to talk about. 

As a consequence pornography, religion, societal patterns are dominating the discussion and as a result may people suffer from it. They have an unhealthy self image, from the pressure to perform like in the movies they see or are overwhelmed by the rules that society forces upon them. With MyTinySecrets - they work hard to change the conversation around this important topic and offer holistic and well researched guidance, inspiration and support to help people to discover their own truth.

When I met the two I had exactly the same feeling like when I worked with the team from BASE - they are so committed to their cause and driven by making a difference in the lives of others. 

And I strongly believe that this authentic motivation is also their tiny secret to success. Today they reach millions of people each months with their blog and videos, they are building a strong team of likeminded people. I´m very happy to work with them to build a strong brand and business.

Although it´s a lot of work and doesn't leave time for blogging I feel that this work is exactly what the project is about. These two companies strive to make a difference in the world and I´m looking forward to share with you all the key learnings. Currently I´m figuring out how to build and work with a totally virtual team of designers, copywriters and programmers. I experiment with techniques on how to bootstrap the consulting and innovation services that used to offer for major companies like Mercedes or Beiersdorf to suit the needs of these new enterprises. I´m developing an own Create Meaning brand model and best of all I have so much fun along the way. So stay tuned, subscribe to the newsletter and I will publish some new interviews soon - promised.

Food for thought – Interview with Simon Jongenotter about new earth cooking.

Before I went on my journey, a mentor of mine said to me that this endeavor will be as much an “inner” and as an “outer” journey. Since the last couple of months have been really intense I felt the need to give myself a little time to pause and reflect. That’s why I spontaneously booked a ticket from Singapore to Bali to go to a silent retreat center there. It is in a beautiful spot right in the middle of traditional Balinese rice fields, and besides time to think I also found some very inspiring people there.

One of them was Simon Jongenotter who has quite an unusual career path. After a degree from ELE business school and a job in the IT industry he decided to follow his dream and become a chef. In 2004, Simon became a qualified chef through City and Guilds of London and then worked the following years in some of the better restaurants around the world. But just cooking for people who have enough money to afford to go to high class places didn't give enough meaning to his life, so he decided to devote himself fully to his passion of reconnecting people with the origins of food and empowering them to change their lives though better eating habits.
 

Ok, let´s start straight away with a bold question: How can you be empowered by food?

There seems to be a lot wrong with the world and if you would watch the news or listen to the radio it's very easy to feel disempowered because it seems there isn’t much that you as an individual can do about it. However, as consumers we have tremendous power in the choices that we make. I've come to realize that human beings have very basic needs, which is food and shelter. But because It's been made so easy for us to fulfill those needs we somehow lost touch with their origins. Now we have given away a lot of our power to big corporations who are screwing around with our health in order to maximize their profits. Think about it, there is not a month passing without a major food scandal – and that is just the ones that got public.
 

What do you think is the biggest challenge in changing that situation?

Our diets have changed more in the last 50 years than in the entire history of humanity.
The biggest challenge is that people have become very lazy. Convenient mystery foods, marketed in clever ways have great appeal and caused people to lose touch with real ingredients. More and more people are waking up to it, some of them because they get sick from the food they put in their bodies, others because they hear about all these scandals and want to do something about it.
 

What could a solution to this challenge look like?

I believe that by getting in touch with the source of our food we're taking back a lot of our power, so we don't have to be victims, we can change something through the choices we make. I've become really passionate about creating awareness, exploring new solutions and still cooking great food. One way to get through to people is by inspiring them is with amazingly delicious food, it's very emotional. As long as food can be delicious then all the other things can fall into place. I believe the only way to inspire people is through fun, it has to be appealing, it has to be joyful. In my case I’ve taken it quiet far, reaching for ever higher purity standards which go beyond just organic, local ingredients. It includes eradicating all plastic packaging, and embracing sustainable cooking methods such as cast iron pans and charcoal cooking. It doesn’t only serve the entire web of life, it’s actually a lot of fun too, most chefs would love this stuff!  
 

So tell me more about the philosophy behind new earth cooking.

New Earth Cooking is not a diet, it’s an invitation to rethink your eating habits and see food differently. The philosophy is broken up into 5 questions and answering them will help you make better choices.

Here are the 5 P’s of the New Earth Cooking Philosophy:

Place:
Does it make sense to you to eat food which has been imported from far away places?

Product:
Are you willing to eat food that is proven to be less vital, fresh and nutritious than Mother Nature has intended? Are you willing to tolerate any amount of toxin and pollution in your food that are known to be a burden on your system? Do you think food should be of lesser quality just because it’s produced in modern ways and said to be ‘cheaper’?

Price: 
When you choose affordable or cheap food, are you considering the real price you are paying? Are you thinking what you can afford today or what you can afford in life?

People:
Would you be happy to eat food which has been produced by people who suffer emotionally or physically as a direct result of their work?

Planet:
Are you willing to take more than you give back to planet earth? Do you feel we need to honor earth as our mother who has sustained us since the birth of our species? Is it possible to be a healthy individual whilst all life forms are under threat?

Note: you can read the full New Earth Cooking Philosophy here: www.newearthcooking.com


And here some impression how this philosophy looks in action:


What could people do to make a change for themselves today?

There's a wide range of things that you can do, and it will all depend on the level that you
can afford it. If you live in the city, it might be as simple as starting to visit farmers markets,
or buying a couple of seeds, perhaps starting a compost heap in your small backyard.
At all times show interest in ingredients that are in your food and how it is produced. You can find great amounts of information on the Internet. My favorite thing though is cooking for friends and creating a community around it. These are all very basic ways of getting in touch with the things we eat again. And every time you do that, praise yourself for that.
Never come from a place of I'm not good enough and I need to change, but see who could find joy in every little step you take.

 

Why do you do what you do?

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It is a simple question, but let´s be honest – do you really know the answer to it?

The truth is once we start working we tend to forget about it. Between rushing from meeting to meeting, managing projects and constantly creating new ideas, there is often very little left time to reflect on things like that.

But this question is more important than you think. Because to do something well you have to like it. That concept is not exactly new. We hear it all the time: "Do what you love…" But doing what you love is actually quite complicated and that´s why it’s rarely done.

Why? Because it´s a hell of a lot of work! It means staying up all night tinkering a thought in your head; it means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone; and it always takes a lot of discipline to finish what you’ve started.

I wrote these words a little while ago as an foreword for a design book of a good friend of mine. Hannes created the All-Day-Everday Project where he designed a poster each day for a year. Following his project was a great inspiration to me  because it reconnected my passion for creativity and how important it is to keep it alive.
 

Time to ask myself  this simple question again...
I guess why Hannes work made such an great impact on me was because I had a similar project, one that was in the back of my head for quite some time. Two friends and I started the Create Meaning Project a few years ago and since then I was working on it when ever there was time. I thought classes and gave lectures and talked about it with likeminded people. But actually never took the initiative to really follow it trough. I always thought I will do it when I have more time, less work or more money - but this time never came. So one day while I went for a run on the Tempelhofer Airfield next to my place, this question popped up in my head again – and this time I felt the need to answer it.

But the idea kept growing and over the years many new perspectives added to the picture. I met a lot of inspiring people a long the way, read some eye opening books and made some transformative experiences myself. 

One pivotal moment was definitely joining the "TheoryU Hub" in Berlin with Daniel Ludevig. Theory U is a methodology for leading profound change developed by Otto Scharmer,  a German professor at MIT. While I was familiar with most of the techniques and elements of the process itself, I had never seen anyone combining them and applying it in an academic or business context. But what struck me most was actually the topics that Otto was talking about; how the current system is not working and that we have the opportunity and responsibility to change it. These ideas stayed with me and shaped my thinking about this project.

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Time to jump...
What started out as a project focused on marketing and advertising now became something else. So instead of asking how can we change the marketing and advertising industry, the question became how can I as a creative contribute to change some of the issues we face in our world today? How to help and transform business for the better and what role does the creative industry as a whole play in this?

I don´t have an answer to any of these questions, but the urge to explore them became so strong that I decided it was time to make a leap and finally start this project that I had been thinking about for so long.

So from today on I´m on a journey to explore the emerging future of the creative industry. My goal is to meet entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, economists and other change makers and talk with them about their perspectives, insights and experiences on how such a future might work and look like.

I have no idea where this quest will lead me, but I will share the findings, the ups and downs, raw ideas and some nice pictures from along the way here with you. 

If you know somebody who might be interesting to meet, or if you want to contribute yourself please don´t hesitate to get in touch. This project is open for anybody who believes in the idea and wants to become part of it.

I´m looking forward to go on this journey together with all of you...

All the best from my first stop: Istanbul

Steffen

 

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