This company, and its founders, make our heart melt. By reading this article by Sofia de Meyer, you’ll immediately understand why. Opaline: A company of the future!
By Sofia de Meyer / Opaline
In the last 12 years, I’ve had the privilege to witness the importance and power of love in business. This was after my professional life as a commercial lawyer, in a large international law firm in London. Before I made fruit juices.
When I was 18, I decided to study law but I didn’t really know why. Same thing happened when I took my first job in a law firm. Didn’t really know why, if only that it seemed the right thing to do. Good job, good money, interesting prospects.
But at 30, after 7 years of being a lawyer, I was blessed with an amazing discovery. My heart. I knew I had one. But I never really heard what it had to say. I just felt that something was not quite right about the system. So I decided to listen and ultimately to do something about it. This was probably the biggest and scariest decision of my life.
12 years later, here I am. I founded of an inspiring juice business, I am an extremely happy mother of a 4-year-old son, and I am surrounded by people I care for and people who inspire me, whether at work or at home. And I can be the same person in both environments. It certainly feels like brain and heart working together is the best joint venture I’ve ever signed.
How does this work in practice? An economic model, whatever it is, touches on 3 types of resources: Nature, Humans and Money. How these resources serve one another actually determines how sustainable the model is. Our ability to use these resources sensibly depends largely on our emotional intelligence, on how much we follow the guidance of our heart.
In the pyramidal structure, employees do the ground work. They represent the majority in numbers and stand at the basis of the pyramid. Moving up, we have managers, here to tell employees how to do their work. At the top, a CEO sets the objectives and puts it all together. And if these guys can’t afford to fund the business, then we’ll have shareholders.
In this pyramidal model, we all work to generate revenue, which in turn serves to pay the suppliers, salaries and other fixed costs. If all goes according to plan, we’ll even make a profit so that we can reward the shareholders. Money in this model is a key indicator of performance and viability. Our brains serve our intellectual intelligence and are translated into numerous excel spreadsheets.
The problem is, that if we keep on working with our intellect, we’ll constantly be looking at ways to optimize our work. As soon as we generate profit, we want more of it. The question arises: How can we grow the business whilst reducing costs? So we negotiate with our suppliers, work harder as employees. At the end, we may be able to reduce the costs, but we also put a strain on the precious resource that actually contributes to grow the business.
All businesses need natural resources. Yet, in this model, it is considered as a commodity. In others words, before we even know it, Nature, like Humans, suffer as a business prospers. The financial resource they helped generate does not serve them in return.
If we keep on letting ourselves be driven by financial objectives, we’ll squeeze our precious resources into excel tabs. Worst of all, we’ll actually loose the connection to who we really are as talented individuals and the precious place we have in Nature.
The result is pretty scary. If we look at the news, or read the papers, we read about burn-outs and many other stress related illnesses, climate changes and stock market crisis, not to mention entire governments going bankrupt. We are clearly running out of all 3 resources. Not because there aren’t enough of them. We are running out of resources because we use them to feed economic models that are not designed to serve us in return. It’s a one-way street with a dead end.
This reality was unacceptable for me. I couldn’t accept our existence to be limited to destroying our talents and our Nature in the name of financial performance. And I felt the urge to change this. If today I’ve persevered in this difficult task, it is no doubt thanks to the incredible power of love. Because
love turns the pyramid into a circle. The economic model becomes an eco system where all resources are considered as equally important. They contribute to the life of the system and the system is there to contribute to their lives.
In this circle, there is no place for hierarchy so we don’t need titles. We simply care for who we are as individuals, not as holders of titles. We all have responsibilities of course and our days are structured but we trust each other to do our best to meet our shared objectives. Trust fuels creativity and the full potential of individual talents. Trust is fuelled by love.
Nature is not a commodity. It is a source of inspiration. It is here to help us enlighten the full potential of our emotional intelligence. So we need to keep our connection to Nature. This is why we press fresh fruits and don’t use concentrates. We source them locally and press them in a solar paneled factory. We follow the season and adapt our recipes according to what Nature has to offer. And rather than maximizing revenue and profit at the expense of natural and human resources, our challenge is to ensure that our revenue serves to feed all resources who contribute to the growth. We connect with those who farm the land and integrate them fully into our system. They are not suppliers. They are an essential resource to our eco system. So we pay them the price they quote for their crop and praise the quality of their work.
Similarly, our shopkeepers or café owners are not just “clients”. They all have their story and they all serve to build a sustainable economy. So we care for what they do and we share their passion with the rest of our community. And here’s the magic: we’ve experienced 1 sick leave in 6 years. We’ve grown by sharing our values. In our first year, we gained the trust of a dozen shopkeepers. Today, our juices are available in over a thousand places in Switzerland and this will ensure that we can continue to serve our community.
Best of all, this model can be endlessly duplicated. Whatever our age, background or gender, we all have access to our hearts. It’s free and it’s available 24/7 without running out of battery. Without a doubt, it is our best tool to turn our one way street with a dead end into an inspiring journey.