I wrote those words more than ten years ago, in Stockholm while I was working for a giant corporate multinational that represented the polar opposite.
It encapsulated everything about my adopted region of Scandinavia that I believe the world needs to learn from. A region of better practice in almost every aspect. In social mobility, gender equality, sustainable development, environmental performance, trust, freedom, quality of life, happiness…
You name what’s important to our shared future, and there’s a respectable index somewhere with the Scandinavian countries jostling for top spot.
Why do they consistently perform better?
It took me ten years of living there to work it out, but it’s actually quite simple. It’s a story of balance; of the individual, within society, and with the environment that surrounds it.
I had found my purpose.
I left the giant.
Fast forward a decade and our collection of fragrances celebrating the benefits of a more Scandinavian approach to life can be found in more than forty countries and many of the world’s leading retailers. One person became twenty-five, no faceless Wall Street shareholders to answer to, a refugee employment program to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and those words are written above the staircase to our Copenhagen office.
They’re the vision for our company.
But it’s not enough just to represent something better, it’s also your responsibility to live up to it. To never stop asking yourself the hard questions along the way.
That’s why, seven years in, we felt we weren’t truly walking the talk, that our products didn’t match our promise of a better world. So we did something unprecedented. We replaced our entire produc collection almost overnight. To become more local, natural, organic, ethical and responsible. Essentially, we bet the company on becoming better practice ourselves.
It wasn’t that the original collection was failing, that one had helped us win growth awards and become a Certified B Corporation. It’s just that we’d learned how we could make it leave an even lighter footprint and, when that knowledge touches your conscience, ignore it at your peril.
Words on a page.
Words on a wall.
Words to live by.
When you do decide to turn words into action, remember this.
You can choose the safe path and take a risk.
Or you can follow the riskier path.
And play it safe.