Get yourself inspired for your career

Work can be challenging on the one hand, on the other hand, you’ll find days where time just won’t pass. And that’s what this blog is for: To bring you inspiration & motivation when needed.

All in all, it’s about spicing up your career – whether it is about getting promoted or just new ways of spending your workday. For example, did you know that doing sports regularly or the way you spend your lunch break could boost your career?

So, whenever we see an interesting Ted Talk about work or take a break from our work by brainstorming about ideas on how to stay motivated, you’ll find our results in this blog. Find yourself some inspiration & motivation!

The Potential of Collaborative Effort in Sustainability – in conversation with Julian Lings, Senior Manager, Brand Sustainability at VF Corporation

Wouldn’t it be nice if outdoor brands shared concrete strategies on doing good for the environment? Sharing insights into new technologies of producing materials more eco-friendly? Together, ensuring that carbon emissions decrease a lot faster, and product development becomes more and more sustainable to combat climate change.

It’s a mission already realized across nations, with The Paris Agreement bringing them together for a common cause. So why not integrate shared goals into businesses as well?

Of course, the logical (or economical) answer seems to be that companies won’t share their business advantages. In 2021, it’s more important than ever for brands to behave environmentally-friendly to strengthen their customer relationships, with consumers favoring products which meet their own requirements of sustainability. A shared-value approach that is uniting businesses with sustainable and community-building progress.
Having a thorough sustainability strategy set up is creating a competitive advantage - giving that away doesn’t appear to be in line with capitalism. Nevertheless, it might be a great chance to achieve a bigger impact in bettering the world. But is it merely a fantasy?

Who better to ask than the outdoor industry itself - or at least, key players in roles having the power to make change happen. One of these people is Julian Lings, Senior Manager, Brand Sustainability at VF Corporation. He makes it clear that the necessity of partnerships has long since reached the outdoor industry. Be it under one roof at enterprises who are uniting brands for common sustainability goals, or industry wide, with brands coming together for the good cause of bettering the world in the European Outdoor Group. So, what is happening in the world of the outdoor industry? Giving us an insight into the walls of his own work, we asked Julian to shed some light on the change happening in the industry.

Building sustainable businesses across brands in an enterprise

In the last years, we’ve seen companies putting sustainability on the top of their agendas, publishing ambitious goals in reducing their carbon footprints, choosing responsible manufacturers, focusing on recycled and reusable materials, and designing with circularity principles in mind. Of course, so does VF Corporation.

VF is one of the largest apparel retailers in the world, leading the way in cross-brand sustainability strategy in the outdoor industry. In total, they unite 13 brands under one roof, outdoor being one of their main sections with brands like The North Face, Icebreaker, Smartwool and Timberland. Under the motto “We are made for change”, VF is looking for a way to improve people’s lives and make the world better, with the necessary power and influence only a company of this size and (wo)manpower can have. Uniting brands and respectively their consumers for the same goals, creating shared values. Their shared sustainable practice makes it possible that those brands enable each other while staying true to their own identity, reach bigger successes in acting sustainable - or with purpose - together instead of alone - and at the same time, generate a better revenue.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/KgsunZKvLqc

In 2017, they decided to transform from linear to circular production. Realizing this for 13 brands simultaneously, that's a change happening on a grand scale.

To ensure that their goals are met according to their plan, VF is acting on two levels: Brand and Global. Each respective brand sustainability teams take care of improving the environmental impact for its brand, focusing directly on the aspects that concern each specific brand. The global sustainability team supports each brand team and keeps track of the overall process across all brands and corporate-wide. A must if change is supposed to happen: “The goal of shaping a sustainable future for people and the planet is going to require radical changes, from government policy, private and public finance, to the way that we do business every day. For business, those changes won’t happen by individual functions acting in isolation. The systemic changes that are needed will require a business wide response that brings together the skills and expertise of all functions to shape the sustainable future that we must strive to create.” (Julian Lings)

When actual change happens: Reducing the carbon footprint

A concrete example of what they have achieved in the last years is their collaborative effort of reducing the carbon footprint. According to Julian, “60-80% of our carbon emissions are produced in material processing and product manufacturing. How material is made into products. Consequently, one of our main goals is shifting to materials with a low carbon impact. For The North Face, it is polyester and nylon, where we prioritize recycled materials. For Smartwool, it is about transitioning to recycled or regenerative wool. Each brand has its unique targets.“ 

One of the most important materials to focus on for most brands is cotton. Around 50% of all textiles world-wide are made from its fiber. Unfortunately, conventional cotton farming processes are a significant contributor to biodiversity loss, soil erosion, and carbon emissions. With 1.5 million units of apparel and footwear produced by VF’s brands, this is one of the biggest chances to deliver results by collaborating to meet their targets until 2030. That's why they are changing their course from conventional farm methods to innovative ones.

Soil acts as a vital carbon sink by sequestering carbon into the ground. Normally, conventional farming and agriculture is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. However, regenerative farming solutions allow us to turn it around by enhancing soil carbon sequestration, for example, by no-till farming technique, or enriching the soil with compost.“, says Julian.

A development of new cultivation, especially with exchanging synthetic fertilizers with organic compost, results not only in better soil health and biodiversity, but also offers the tantalizing prospect of having a net carbon positive impact. Obviously, this isn’t done by VF alone, but in cooperation with responsible manufacturers and companies that focus on developing innovative ways to act more sustainably.

When companies come together, change happens

Or how the popular saying goes: "Alone we are a drop, together we are an ocean".

What we can learn from the example above is that the moment that brands are focusing on partnerships outside of their own walls is where the collaborative effect is becoming clearer.

Using our scale for good is intrinsically linked to a recognition that despite our size, only by working in partnership with others can we truly leverage our scale to address the biggest challenges the world faces. Breaking new ground on sustainable innovations such as regenerative agriculture can only be done by cultivating partnerships with NGOs, companies, and external experts.“ (Julian Lings)

A great example would be the development of The North Face Cali Wool Beanie project. This project was the brand’s first foray into regenerative agriculture and was only made possible through their partnership with Fibershed – a non-profit that develops regional and regenerative fiber systems on behalf of independent working producers. The growing and sewing took place regionally in California, bringing it back to their North American home. As a so-called “bioregional garment Project", regional fibers are integrated into the existing global textile supply chains, which are normally dominated by foreign manufacturers.

The partnerships from brands with NGOs allow for embodying an all-encompassing approach of environmental values and social responsibility. Adding an important step to the ladder of product design & manufacturing, which starts way before recycling and reducing, or creating awareness for environmental products. It’s a necessity to truly turn the outdoor industry around, not only on the outside, but inside its core.

From competition to collaboration - for a sustainable future across brands in the outdoor industry

Now that we have seen what is possible for one company and its partners alone, the question is: Will there ever come a day where competitive outdoor brands act together to make a change? A question that we want to direct to Julian: "Definitely. Collaboration between brands has been well-established in the outdoor sector for many years. We’ve been collaborating on a range of subjects, and the output of that work has been very important on specific topics. For example, the outdoor brands in Europe came together on the issue of microfibres, and helped to establish The Microfibre Consortium which has since become one of the leading organizations on textile microfibres. Similarly, these same brands have come together more recently to establish the Single Use Plastics Project to accelerate the work being done to address this critically important challenge."

The collaborative approach cross-industry and on a global level of The Microfibre Consortium and Single Use Plastics Project accelerated the progress of research and development, which couldn’t be done on this scale as stand-alone companies. A positive outlook for a near future where sustainability becomes at least as important as creating revenue. It’s a way of changing the industry as a whole, with VF being a strong pioneer pointing in the right direction.


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The Power of Identity and Purpose at The North Face – an Interview with their Brand Experience Manager Marco Mombelli

05th July 2020

The Importance of Purpose-Led Storytelling – An interview with Bryony Collingwood, Digital Content Manager at Eastpak

Bryony Collingwood on Storytelling, Inclusion and Diversity

Content Marketing has reached a new peak in significance. It has become more than a marketing tool to distribute product information in a clever way but has developed itself to be the heart of a company. With digital transformation evolving, content can now reach people wherever they are, in all forms possible.

In their process of becoming a digital-first brand, Eastpak, a brand part of VF Corporation, has managed the integration of a well-executed content marketing strategy in which storytelling has become one of the most important assets. Their memorable campaigns don’t focus on product selling alone but tell stories out of the bag by starting conversations about Pride, Diversity, and Inclusion. 

One of the people coming up with new ideas and making sure everything is communicated well is Bryony Collingwood, Digital Content Manager at Eastpak. In her role, she is managing all digital content on all digital platforms together with a small, but great internal team of creators. In this interview, she shared with us her insight into the content side of the digital development at Eastpak and her own passion for purpose-led storytelling.

Being in charge of all digital content and its strategy, you are the person combining content marketing and digital transformation at Eastpak. How do those two come together?

When we changed our structure and focus as a business to one that is digital first, that’s when everything started to align. 

This isn’t just a case of resizing and refitting, but actually tailoring content to what is right for each platform. You have to think about each campaign differently, taking into consideration the consumer and how they consume content on each platform. When we are launching a new collaboration, what kind of content should we create, what story do we need to tell and where do we need to tell it? It’s about building that bridge between our Digital team and our Brand team so we’re working in partnership with each other.

What tools do you need to ensure strong storytelling across digital?

The biggest challenge we have within digital is juggling all the different needs, communication points, and requirements, especially when everything is always changing. We need to support eCommerce with an ad-hoc promotion required in just a few days' time while planning our next seasonal campaign with our brand team for the year ahead. We can’t do this without strong communication between teams and clear briefing processes to make sure that nothing is missed – we’re always busy, that’s for sure!

So all in all you’re developing a very agile working flow!

Yeah, and not only from a technical perspective. I think that the people who work in digital are those who are most reactive to change, who like to come up with new ideas and try new technology. We‘ve always got something new going on. And digital transformation supports this fast-paced environment – the need to create and adapt at speed. We benefited from this strong set-up as soon as we went into Lockdown and our needs and requirements changed with the consumer. We were able to put together campaigns within weeks in collaboration with other teams, taking into account consumer insights so we could communicate in the right way and at the right time.

You mentioned before that you like telling stories of people. Maybe there’s one particular story that you told across the different channels, where you can give us an example of how exactly digital content is told.

We supported Pride this year by telling the inspiring story of female boxer Nicola Adams and her fight for equality. We truly believed in the value of her story and when editing the video, decided we should test keeping it at the full seven minutes – shortening it just didn’t seem to do it justice.

Amazingly, the data showed us that not only were people watching and enjoying it but they were also watching the full video. This shows the power of a strong story even in this age of distraction and poor attention spans. We filmed dedicated shorter content for Instagram Stories and were able to edit shorter sections from the full video as well for other channels. We then used quotes from the video and combined them with images taken during the video shoot to create animated banners – trying to get the most out of the one shoot and the time we had with Nicola but tailoring it for the different platforms. 

THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY WITH NICOLA ADAMS - © Eastpak

This is part of VF Corporation's „Perfomance Driven“ strategic filter. What’s the importance for you personally?

For me, it’s about bringing my own personal passions into the work that I do at Eastpak. And that’s actually what I mean when I talk about the power of storytelling. It’s not just about highlighting products, but telling stories or letting people tell their stories that inspire our consumers and fit with our brand mindset of positive resistance. It’s also about working with creatives to tell their stories in their own way – through photography, illustration, dance videos etc. That’s the other great thing about digital, the way people share their stories is constantly changing and evolving. It keeps us on our toes!

Keeping it natural, especially when it’s done in a context of a campaign that clearly also has the goal to create revenue, and also with the recent events going on, seems to be hard to do. How is your approach to make it natural? 

I don’t think it should be hard. You always have to educate yourself. To learn to use the right language, to not patronise people. To meet them at eye-level. So I would say you need to always inform yourselves on the topics that matter to you and to your consumers.

In your LinkedIn profile, you state that you are „passionate about people and awareness of Mental Health“. How does your own personal schedule of telling a story concerning these topics fit into the schedule of Eastpak?

I believe all managers should have an awareness of mental health and take the time to ask their teams how they are, to understand how they react to stress and how they can support them. It’s about having an open and honest dialogue. Inclusion and diversity are also important to me and I don’t believe you can create honest brand storytelling without ensuring you are telling everyone’s story, especially those that aren’t being told.


I don’t believe you can create honest brand storytelling without ensuring you are telling everyone’s story, especially those that aren’t being told.

Bryony Collingwood - Digital Content Manager at Eastpak

The interview caught your interest? Read on with Part 1: Digital Transformation at Eastpak: "No small steps, but a big, bold transformation” – Chris Delahunty on the Digital Transformation at Eastpak"


‘Built to Resist’ is carried through in the culture at Eastpak. Our values of Empowerment, Freedom, Creativity, Collaboration, and Positive Resistance colour everything that we do and who we are as a team.

Eastpak is a subsidiary of VF, the world’s largest apparel and footwear company comprised of over 30 brands.

On becoming a Product Design Entrepreneur in your 40s – Meet David Mateo

We asked David Mateo, Product Designer and Stylist at David Mateo Design how he made the switch from employed to self-employed. While we mostly thought about getting an insight into his daily life as entrepreneur, this interview turned out to be an inspirational guide for aspiring Design Entrepreneurs. So:

This interview is for (Product) Designers who think about starting their own brand. It's an insight into the advantages of designing for more than one brand, it's a motivational piece on becoming self-employed when you have gained enough experience. It's also a chance to get to know more about the creative man David Mateo.

Introduction

Your Job / Company Name:

Product Designer & Stylist at SARL DAVID MATEO DESIGN

Your Field of Profession:

Product Design for bags, shoes and eyewear.

Your Company (Idea) in 2-3 Sentences:

To be recognised as an expert in bags, shoes and accessories design and development. A long experience and a lot of projects in the same domain makes the difference. To make the smartest design and the most beautiful product. To understand the DNA of each brand and bring the appropriate design, at the right moment. To push the creativity out of the boundaries to innovate. To work as a team with the customers on all steps of the project!

Careerwise, what have you been doing before you got self-employed?

I started in the car industry as I love cars and transport design. As a surfer, I moved to the surf industry in 2001 to design bags, accessories, footwear and eyewear for 6 years at Ripcurl, 2 years at O'Neill and 5 years at Oxbow. These jobs left me with a lot of experience!

Before you started David Mateo Design SARL, you’ve been working as an employed Product Designer for more than 20 years. How did you move from employee to Entrepreneur?

I worked as a Product Designer for 17 years before I started my own business. Indeed, I didn't go from employee to entrepreneur straight away because I wanted to check if it was doable. I did one super freelance project in the same time: MUB was born. And then, Pataugas, a famous french shoe brand, were seeking for a freelance designer to create a bag collection. I made it! I was employed at Oxbow at the same time and I went to the far east to visit luxury bag factories during my holiday! Then, another project came and I left Oxbow.

When I had enough experience and an extended network to start, I started my own business. I wanted to work on different domains with different people.

How would you say did the freelance projects prepare for starting your own business?

I would always recommend to proceed so. It permits to test if it's works, if you can make enough money, get several customers while having the security of employment. 
But I would not recommend to do both for a long time; I remember I worked day and night at this time.


Sketch from David Mateo showing the shoe design process for Pataugas
PATAUGAS SHOE DESIGN PROCESS
© David Mateo

What advantages and disadvantages does entrepreneurship have for you in comparison to being employed?

The main advantage is the freedom to balance private and professional life the way we want. I can go surfing in the morning and work after diner instead. I have time to pick up my kids at school. The other advantage is the opportunity to work on different domains, projects and people, making my work quite varied.

The main disadvantage is the fact you never really know in advance how much turn over you can make at the end of the year. The advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages though :-)

Would you say it's advantageous becoming an entrepreneur 40+ than in your twenties?

For me, in my domain, in product design, it's crucial to gain experience first by being employed in different companies for a couple of years before you can start your own brand. Only through this you'll be able to learn from others and create a relevant network.

For many, the fear of failure is the reason not to start their own business. What would you say to someone to convince them to go through with it anyway?

The fear of failure is normal but I would say it's better to regret things we've done than things we haven't. Every success comes with a risk. It's worth the try!


Ashoka Paris X Pamela Anderson
© David Mateo

What’s the biggest reward(s) of having your own business?

To work on super cool projects! As the designer of Ashoka Paris, I recently created a handbag collection for Pamela Anderson in collaboration with Ashoka. I worked with her for 16 months and it was an awesome experience!


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The Power of Identity and Purpose at The North Face – an Interview with their Brand Experience Manager Marco Mombelli

The North Face is the largest outdoor brand in the world, not only in regards to their gear and products, but especially in terms of a strong identity. They are not plainly selling products, but have managed to create a voice that communicates their values of Authenticity, Empowerment, Perseverance and Environmental Responsibility. The North Face has been creating a brand experience which is involving their customers directly and invites them to live their slogan "Never stop exploring" instead of just reading or hearing about it.

One of the people making this possible is Marco Mombelli who is the Brand Experience Manager of The North Face. In his role, he develops and manages the brand experience strategy, especially by optimising their physical touchpoints to create a community and enable them to go outdoors. Furthermore, Marco is a great interlocutor and thus, has been up to an extended interview about his role and the very big topics of brand experience and brand purpose.

In this interview, we got insights into:

  • how The North Face's brand experience inspires, connects and enables their customers to explore and protect the Outdoors
  • why every lifestyle & outdoor brand essentially has to develop a strong identity and voice
  • how purpose affects VF Corporation and its brand The North Face and why to strive for doing good and doing well

As we talked to Marco back in the beginning of May 2020, we also took the opportunity to address the Covid-19 crisis and how The North Face managed to still enable people to explore in times of a lockdown.

When looking at your career, you’ve been working in the sports business since 2002 for different brands before you became part of The North Face in 2015. What has drawn you to work at TNF?

MM: I actually started working at VF in 2008 and recently celebrated my 12th anniversary which is amazing. How did I end up working at The North Face? Wow, where do I start? I mean, everything in my life has led me to my current role. My family used to run a small business selling building materials, and after studying accounting in high school I felt it was my destiny to do something entrepreneurial.  But I realized I had more to learn so, I decided to continue my education and  go to university, where I studied Communication and Public Relations. 

I started working in 2002 for Red Bull as a Student Brand Manager and after a year I was promoted to Assistant Brand Manager. At the time, I was still studying and I was in a punk rock band that was becoming popular - we had a video on TV and a second album due, which obviously took up a lot of my energy! I knew I was taking on too much, but I knew if I quit school, my parents would kill me! So, it was a decision between Brand Management and Rock’n’Roll.  I decided Brand Management could wait – and I chose school and rock’n’roll

And then?

MM: I kept studying and kept working hard with the band.  Being part of a band was a great experience, but I soon realized that Rockstardom wasn’t for me, so I got back on track.  I found a great job at Connexia, one of the biggest PR companies in Milan. After a few years there I was contacted by the Country Manager of Vans Italy and I started to work for Vans in 2008. I was the Marketing Manager in charge of pretty much everything - from athletes to PR to events. 

I was based in Milan for the role and although I loved the city experience I missed the mountains, the lake and my family. 

I was eager to move to the VF EMEA HQ in Stabio, Switzerland  which was closer to the mountains and closer to my hometown. Unfortunately, there were no positions at Vans, but there was a good opportunity at the Reef brand instead. At the time, my manager said, “It’s a small brand, but it could be a good platform for you to have a more European role”. Not a big team to manage, but I was in charge of the whole brand at the European level, which again was a great learning experience for me. After some time with Reef I realised I wanted to join a bigger brand, with more structure and when an opportunity to join The North Face came along I took it. 

The role was maternity cover, stepping in as Wholesale Marketing Manager in charge of Spain, Italy, the Nordics and the Netherlands. It felt very natural. Even though my previous experience was with action sports brands, I have a real love for the mountains and have snowboarded since 1991. I felt an immediate connection to the TNF culture and people and I knew it was the right step.

And how did you end up becoming The North Face’s Brand Experience Manager?

MM: Once the maternity cover position ended, I swapped roles again, moving to the Retail Team and working on retail transformation - shaping the way for stores to move from shopping spaces to brand experience platforms and finding new ways to interact with and to engage consumers.

Your responsibility is optimizing the brand’s physical touchpoints. How do you actually  improve the experience at a retail level?

MM: I was challenged to create the first TNF Community Program in 2016. We created the first one in London, using our physical stores as a Hub for the Community to meet up before going outside to explore, to meet for workshops and to listen to talks from our athletes. 

We now have 9 Communities across Europe and we engage with more than 20,000 Community Members on a yearly basis. The Community Groups take up most of my focus and I’m very proud of this. You really get the chance to have a positive impact on people’s lives. On a weekly basis, we offer sessions with personal trainers specializing in outdoor activities who lead either outdoor workouts or activities such as indoor climbing.   After London, we developed Communities in Munich, Berlin, Paris, Milan, Stockholm, Chamonix, Manchester, Bolzano – focusing on key cities and awesome outdoor destinations.

The North Face Shop in Soho, New York: An area to get inspired and hang out in the community
Photo Credit: The North Face/Sasha Turrentine

So, you’re saying that a shop is not a shop, but a place for a community to meet. Where they can exchange their minds, their opinion, just watch a movie together, connect.

MM: Yes! I could tell you a thousand stories of people making new friends through our Community Program!  In our Community Groups, you are sure to find likeminded people with whom you share the same passion for the Outdoors.

In the end, we are successful because of the passion of our Community Managers and Community Members. If you talk to someone who is a snowboard enthusiast, a skateboarder or an Outdoor person in general, they love (and will talk forever) about their passion, whether its hiking, climbing, skateboarding or snowboarding. This passion is behind every product we sell. Behind every jacket and backpack and shoe. It’s a culture, you know. It’s something that brings people together.

In you could put it as simply as possible, what does the term ‘brand experience’ mean?

MM: Our team of Community Managers and I take our inspiring campaigns and stories and bring them to life by providing a platform for people to participate. Without this approach, our consumers would be spectators, looking at pages in a magazine or films online. We want to enable people to actually experience our brand stories, The North Face brand, and in turn become a part of it.  I believe this is truly important. 


My generation were educated to be spectators. You watch a movie, and the actor is the star, right? The young people of today are different – they want to be the protagonist - the hero of their own story. They don’t want to only be inspired. They want to be enabled. I like that!

Marco Mombelli, Brand Experience Manager @ The North Face

And how does this affect the role of the customer and the brand?

MM: Brand experience is about enabling. In the early 2000s and in the late 90s, brands focused on inspiring consumers. You showed them an advert, they got excited and eventually they went and bought something. My generation, I’m from 77, were educated to be spectators. You watch a movie, and the actor is the star, right? The young people of today are different – they want to be the protagonist - the hero of their own story. They don’t want to only be inspired. They want to be enabled. I like that!

So how can we do that? How can I do that? I think the role of a brand is becoming more and more about enabling people to experience something. Especially, with an audience like today’s generation that have such a wide choice of options. 

How are you solving experiential marketing during the current COVID-19 crisis?

MM: Of course, in this moment, being in charge of events is not ideal in any industry! But we’re focusing on how we can make training accessible for as many people as possible, as responsibly and safely as possible. 

You have to be flexible and agile in these situations, so we moved our physical touchpoints to a digital channel where people who were locked down could have an opportunity to work out with our trainers. We are using our athletes, influencers and members to help keep our community engaged and inspired. Because as you know, in this situation, staying fit and staying connected is very beneficial. We are using technology to motivate them to be prepared for their next adventure, as soon as we can all start exploring again.

In your opinion, how does Covid-19 affect the outdoor industry in general? 

MM: Right now in Italy, we are in phase two*, where people are allowed to do sports outside the home. So I think for us, for the outdoor industry, it presents a good opportunity. Pre-Covid-19, a lot of people used to go to the gym for fitness.  Now, in my opinion, the trails are the preferable place to train, to re-energize, to experience nature, and all the while maintaining social distance. 

At the moment, we want to support people, driven by our purpose of powering movements and active lifestyles. So how can we enable people to escape the city by themselves? We have the platform and the knowledge. My goal is really to use the network that we have to inspire and enable people to leave the city. 

*Note from Editor: The interview was held at the beginning of May when Italy had just entered phase 2 of the corona lockdown restrictions.

The North Face is also communicating „We will weather this storm together“ through your online channels right now. What’s behind this?

MM: This is part of our Explore Fund campaign. We’ve launched a ‘first of its kind’ fund, with 1million euros available to charities and organisations in the UK, Germany, Italy and France to ensure they are able to support exploration when it’s possible again. 

Do you think that the desire to explore and to go outside does help to create an environmental consciousness in society?

MM: Yes. I see that, in general, the current generation is more environmentally conscious, compared with past generations. The younger generation values sustainability. They value having the least negative impact on the planet as possible. 

What is important to highlight here is that although I believe everyone has the desire to explore, not everyone has easy access or exposure to the Outdoors – especially people living in big cities.   I think it’s important that we make the effort to show people what the Outdoors has to offer and to enjoy the Outdoors responsibly.   

For example, what we do quite successfully in our community in Stockholm, is plogging. It’s a combination of jogging and picking up trash.  Maja Tesch, who is one of our Community Managers there, is a leader in the plogging movement in Sweden. I see this as an important trend. It’s an activity that matches physical performance and doing your part. 

The result is impressive after one day of plogging / trail running with garbage collecting by The North Face Trail Academy

If we talk about sustainability, we should also take a look at purpose since brand management strategies in the 21st century often revolve around those two topics. What does brand purpose actually imply?

MM: That’s a very good question. One of the things that excites me the most about purpose is the chance of doing good and doing well - at VF we call it the power of „AND“. As a Purpose Led company, our focus is running a healthy business with a return for its investors, and at the same time, working for the betterment of people and planet, having a positive impact on our society. With a company on the scale of VF, with thousands of employees and touch points all around the globe, we can really enable people to do better. 

Nowadays, being a brand is more than a logo on a T-Shirt. Being a brand is a representation of a culture with rituals and with values. It is about having a strong identity. When you walk around with a The North Face T-Shirt, you are communicating what kind of person you are. If you take a look at VF’s brands, at Vans, The North Face, Timberland, you’ll immediately understand the lifestyle associated with them.

I don’t want to imply that brand management is becoming more and more important to guide society. But for sure, it’s one important factor. Brands have quite some influence, but also a lot of responsibility. We better find the right spot in between doing good and doing well.

How do you define The North Face’s brand purpose?

MM: Our brand ID is: „We dare to lead the world forward through exploration“. So, when you see our logo, you will immediately think of exploration. It’s not limited to physical and outdoor activities, but actually includes a state of mind. 

For me, exploration is the sum of curiosity and courage. Curious people daring to ask „Hey, what’s next?“. Explorers strike out in new directions, with curiosity, but also courage, pushing them further. Exploration has always been essential for human progress.

So, to simplify you could say that The North Face’s purpose is to completely embody exploration. We want to improve the world around us and find new ways to do so. But again, you need curiosity and courage to get to know what’s behind what we know already. It means embracing the culture of failure. How many times do you need to fail before you succeed? 


Take a look at the relevance of sustainability. Today, brands need to be sustainable or else you’re out of the market. Being purpose-led is probably the next determining factor. You need to have a voice, an identity. You need to generate disruptive change. I think the consumer is asking for that from a brand.

Marco Mombelli, BRand Experience Manager @ The North Face

Why do you think purpose is becoming such a big topic today among so many brands? 

MM: Take a look at the relevance of sustainability. Today, brands need to be sustainable or else you’re out of the market. Being purpose-led is probably the next determining factor. You need to have a voice, an identity. You need to generate disruptive change. I think the consumer is asking for that from a brand.

What role do you feel brand experience and purpose play in the internal culture of the North Face? 

MM: We have five internal guiding principles.  I have listed them below and explained what they mean to me personally and in my role.   The guiding principles are not part of a marketing campaign, but rather part of our brand purpose.  Whether you work in Finance, in Customer Service, in Sales, the principles are same for everyone. 

The internal guiding principles of The North Face:

  1. Love wild places.  Of course, we have to explore and protect our playground. If there’s no outdoor, there’s no outdoor industry. 
  2. Spark curiosity. It’s important to be curious. It’s an attitude, a state of mind, which is instrumental for exploration.
  3. Dare to disrupt. The North Face has always been bold. You can’t be a brand that pleases everyone. If you want to be authentic and true to yourself, you sometimes need to be disruptive. People sometimes need to be shocked about what you do.
  4. Create Community. And this is particularly meaningful for me. The power of being together.  In this time of social media, especially in big cities, people don’t talk to each other as much anymore – especially new people.  Instead we spy on each other through a screen. Through the TNF Communities, we have the chance to connect likeminded people on a regular basis, to actually spend time with them and to make new friends, to go outside, socialize and just connect. That’s something strong. That’s what I am really proud of. It actually gives me goose bumps to talk about it.
  5. Integrity. Very important. It’s self explanatory. 

Should employees or candidates thinking about applying at The North Face have an affinity for outdoor sports, for purpose, sustainability?

MM: To be honest, I think that if you work for a lifestyle or outdoor brand you should have passion for what the brand does and represents. In my opinion, only then, will you be able to fully contribute. If you’re not passionate about the outdoors, action sports, or whatever each brand embodies or represents, it’s not going to work. Either way it is a cool job, you work for VF, it’s a great company, it treats you well. But if it’s just a job for you, you can work for any other company, for example a bank. I mean, maybe you have a passion for banking and that’s the way to go. But if you want to work for the leading outdoor brand, you need to have passion for the Outdoors.


The North Face® is part of VF Corporation one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies connecting people to the lifestyles, activities and experiences they cherish most through a family of iconic outdoor, active and workwear brands including Vans®, Timberland® Eastpak®, Kipling®  and Dickies®

Our purpose is to power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet. We connect this purpose with a relentless drive to succeed to create value for all stakeholders and use our company as a force for good. For more information, please visit vfc.com.

Entrepreneurship 40+: Alain Marhic from MARCH LA.B

Introduction

Your Job / Company Name:

CEO, Alavie SAS (March LA.b)

Your Field of Profession:

Luxury Goods & Jewelry

Your Company (Idea) in 2-3 Sentences:

Simple elegant affordable watches made in France

Careerwise, what have you been doing before you got self-employed?

I was a business unit manager in the Quiksilver group.

What was your motivation to found your own business?

I could not see my product vision anywhere in the watch business as this kind of product range had not been fulfilled yet, especially not in the way that I was thinking, so I wanted to bring it alive. Also, I was frustrated by the lack of vision and missing reward and recognition with my ex-employer. Having this outlook, I was thinking that my passion and vision should be used for myself instead of someone else who does not care enough at the end of the day.

How did you move from an idea to a business success?

Well, let' say 10 years, minimum. With baby steps including lots of meetings, little successes, big failures, and a huge amount of work and positivity.

What, in your opinion, makes a successful entrepreneur?

Someone who listens a lot and knows his own weaknesses. Someone who moves fast and stays focussed on his primary vision.

How do you think is it different to start an entrepreneurship 40+ than in your twenties?

Well, family and kids increase the pressure to succeed. But 40+ is probably the best moment to start your own business as you combine experience and network. And you are still full of energy to conquer the world! 

For a lot of people, the fear of failure is the reason not to start their own business. What would you say to someone to convince them to go through with it anyway? Which impact did fear have on you?

I never really had any fear to fail. Leaving your comfort zone is the best thing you can do as far as your personal evolution is concerned. You learn so much and stay so much younger in your heart, body and mind at the same time.

Saint Augustine said something similar. It goes somehow like "The fear to loose what you have should not prevent you from becoming who you are."

How is your daily life as an entrepreneur?

Coffee at 7:30 in Paris to talk to people, handle some work before the team arrives at 9:30, and then managing my team and meetings all day long with a lot of shops to stay close to the market.

What’s the biggest reward(s) of having your own business?

That's easy! When people are sending me messages saying how happy and proud they are to wear my watches! After 10 years, it is still a very intense feeling. Those words give meaning to the whole adventure.

From Athlete to Marketing Director: Meet Hanane Sabri from Kipling

Hanane Sabri, Marketing Director of Kipling, part of VF Corporation, in Hong Kong, has been working in the sports & fashion business for more than 20 years. While this is impressive on its own, it is even more so considering Hanane’s background: Before starting her business career, she used to be a French athlete who participated in national & international competitions. She was crowned as champion of France in the 1,500 meters in 2001 in Saint-Etienne and competed in the 2001 World Championships in Athletics in Edmonton. At the same time of her athlete’s peak, she started her career in the sporting goods industry, making her a great example of mastering a smooth transition from sports to business.

And there’s still more to her story. Hanane has reached the highest level in a sport practiced in shorts as a Muslim woman and today, has achieved a top management position in a men’s dominated industry while being a mother of two. She’s challenged the assumptions about female roles in sports and economy and proved that, indeed, women can have it all.

So, what can we learn from her success about progress, resilience and purpose? Tracing her career as an athlete, marketing professional and mother, Hanane Sabri shares with us an insight into her own history, her values and a lesson on hard work.

SJ: You started your professional career at the same time as your athletic career and continued with both for almost 8 years. How did you manage to bring the two together?

HS: I come from a family of workers, so hard work was a primary aspect of my education. My parents were forced to work in very difficult conditions in the North of France to support our family. So, they gave everything at work, never complaining when they returned home. From an early age, I understood that to be successful you had to work hard and be persistent to achieve your goals. My athletic career has also taught me that. I have not been champion of France in the 1,500 meters by snapping my fingers and no other athlete either, not even the talented Usain Bolt!

It’s simple: to succeed in your professional career you have to work hard, to succeed as a mother you have to work hard, to succeed as an athlete you have to work hard, to succeed in your life in  a relationship, you have to work hard and so on! For everything in life, you always have to give your best and above all be attentive to others, but also to your body, to achieve performance.


"I understood that to be successful you had to work hard and be persistent to achieve your goals. I have not been champion of France in the 1,500 meters by snapping my fingers and no other athlete either, not even the talented Usain Bolt!"

Hanane Sabri

SJ: Are you proud to have started your professional career like this?

HS: Of course! It was an intense period, just like my whole life. In fact, I don’t really know how to stop because I’m a chronic hyperactive [laughs]. In addition, Adidas was a very good school for my early career. I had a CEO, Antoine Sathicq, who was a very inspiring manager and who managed us perfectly. I was able to learn a lot in finance, project management and marketing through my various positions at Adidas.

SJ: You are currently Marketing Director at Kipling. Has your athletic background helped you get here?

HS: Totally! My life as an athlete has allowed me to understand three things: The first is that you have to work hard to achieve your goals.

The second is resilience. The ability to keep moving forward despite obstacles, energy shortages, etc.

The last one is empathy, listening and connecting with others. You never succeed alone.

Even if I have practiced a sport that is described as individual, for me it is still a team effort. I had my physiotherapist, my trainer, my hares, my relatives, etc. It was them who helped me, in part, to reach the world championships in Edmonton. For me, it is important to move forward with a team that we respect and with which we feel connected.

In addition, my parents taught me the values of respect, sharing, empathy and performance. The notion of performance is ingrained in me and that is what brought me to where I am today whether in the sports industry or the fashion industry.

SJ: In 2018, you arrived in Hong-Kong and joined the Folli Follie group. Why did you leave the sports industry to work in jewelry?

HS: Actually, I first came to Hong Kong out of love. I wanted to learn Mandarin and take care of my family. As I could not stop working, I joined the Folli-Follie group and discovered the world of jewelry because I wanted to learn and discover new things on the Asian market. I really liked the learning process. After 3 years, I had learned a lot, but I wanted to take on new challenges. So, I applied to VF Corporation. It was not easy but after some interviews, I was recruited! Today I am very proud to work for this brand which immerses me in the world of lifestyle and millennials.

SJ: What inspires you at Kipling and what are your goals in this business?

HS: When I arrived at Kipling I was in observation mode for 3 months. This is a rule that I have always imposed myself in any new mission because you must first understand the company and the brand for which you work. The collections, the market, the brand’s consumers, employees, the functioning of internal but also local teams, cultural differences, company values, objectives and finally the strategy put in place. Beyond the specific objectives of the company, my priority remains the human being and the relationship with others in order to ensure team cohesion and the establishment of common objectives. I love to grow and see others grow. For me, the manager / employee relationship is a win / win relationship, based on respect, listening and performance.

Why did I choose Kipling? I really got hooked with the new managerial leadership in place and especially their objectives and the new vision of Kipling. Today we want to reach millennials by transmitting the message of exploring the world with curiosity but also of lightening their lives thanks to our inspiring and functional products. I totally find myself in this message. In addition, I like to work on new concept stores to offer a real experience to our consumers, be it in store activations or through merchandising visuals, but above all to communicate with Asians using 80% of the digital world. And this may include the entire strategic approach of online distribution for our own sites kipling.com or on our Kipling Store on Tmall platform [the largest E- commerce platform in China and in the world] without obviously forgetting the importance of social networks such as WeChat, Weibo, FB or Instagram, etc. All these subjects are challenges to be met in a disruptive and specific way to create a real competitive difference.

SJ: After such an inspiring journey, do you have any advice for students and recent graduates?

HS: Do everything to achieve your dreams and never give up! For me, nothing is impossible. I am living proof! I have reached the highest level in a sport that is practiced in shorts while I am a Muslim. I have always worked in men’s professional circles when I am a woman who comes from a working-class family and I have done very well. Again, I emphasize the concept of resilience which is very important throughout our lives without forgetting human values such as respect, empathy and listening.


"Do everything to achieve your dreams and never give up! For me, nothing is impossible. I am living proof ! I have reached the highest level in a sport that is practiced in shorts while I am a Muslim. I have always worked in men's professional circles when I am a woman who comes from a working class family and I have done very well."

Hanane Sabri

One of my daily motivations is to ask myself: which actions can I take today that could have an impact on the world, on my family, on the ecological level, and at work? I am a great player and I always take the example of dominoes, because every little gesture can have a huge impact on our lives and the lives of others. Even a smile, a moment of listening, helping someone in need even if he is a stranger to us, and so on! These little actions can give hope. And we have to share this hope because that is what makes us build a better world in the end.

This also applies to the global scale about ecology: I believe in humanity and if everyone makes small gestures, we can build a society more respectful of our planet Earth and leave a legacy for our children.

More about Hanane Sabri

Hanane Sabri joined VF as Asia Pacific Marketing Director of Kipling in Hong Kong HQ in May 2019. She has more than 20 years of experience in the Fashion and Sport Retail industry.

Based in Strasboug, Hanane joined Adidas France in 2000 as a Finance Controller. During that time, she was also a national athlete representing her country in international competitions. Hanane Sabri became Strategic Planning Director in 2004 and took the role of Senior Sport Marketing and Communication Manager in 2006, specializing in Event activation plans, production planning, finance and market analysis. She oversaw international sports events such as the Olympic Games in Beijing, Athens, Vancouver and London, and was directly in charge of the French Olympic Committee and 18 national Federations for 8 years.

Between 2006 and 2015, the highlights of Hanane Sabri’s achievement involved managing contract negotiations with athletes and celebrities for adidas performance & Original, including the renowned Rap Singer Akhenaton , the two times Olympic Champion Teddy Riner in judo and multiple times gold medallist Nikola Karabatic and olympic champion in handball.

Prior to joining VF Corporation, she worked in Folli Follie in January 2016 as their Asia Pacific Marketing Director, developing leading design teams, product management, marketing and communication for 7 countries and more than 150 stores in Japan and China.

Her financial expertise also plays a key role in her success in managing P&L on multi-million budgets across several product lines of the business. Hanane has a Master’s Degree  in  Corporate, Finance and Securities Law at the EM Master Strasbourg Business School and also a BBA and MBA in Finance at Bowling Green State University in Ohio US. She is currently living in Hong Kong with her husband and two children.

© Portrait of Hanane Sabri by [email protected]

About Kipling

The Kipling success story started in 1987 in the heart of the fashion capital of Antwerp (Belgium) with crinkled nylon bags. By injecting our creativity and out-of-the-box thinking into developing thoughtful designs with a casual coolness, Kipling products are created to inspire mobility and enable you to Live.Light. As more than a bag brand, Kipling represents a positive outlook on life, a light-hearted mentality, free spirit, and inclusivity. Today Kipling’s well-known bags and accessories are available around the world in 436 stores in 80 countries and can be found in more than 7500 shops, and on kipling.com.

Today Kipling is part of VF Corporation. Founded in 1899, VF Corporation is one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies connecting people to the lifestyles, activities and experiences they cherish most through a family of iconic outdoor, active and workwear brands including Vans®, The North Face®, Timberland®, Napapijri®, Eastpak® and Dickies®. 


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Entrepreneurship 40+: Meet Anthony Cazottes

Entrepreneur over 40: Anthony Cazottes

Trust in your experience. Make your vision come reality. Be brave to start your business over 40.

Our Entrepreneurship 40+ series introduces you to personalities from the sports industry who followed through with their ideas to start their own business.

In our third interview, we spoke to Anthony Cazottes from Biarritz, owner and founder of the agency French Albion. When he lost his job in 2015, he was shocked at first, but then realised the chance to finally be free to create his own future. A vision he already had for almost 10 years.

Introduction

Your Job / Company Name:

Founder of French Albion, based in Biarritz (France)

Your agency French Albion in 2-3 Sentences:

French Albion is a forward thinking agency focused on introducing Outdoor & Lifestyle brands from overseas to the European market through an innovative hybrid business model.

Careerwise, what have you been doing before you got self-employed?

I started my career in 1998 in the Action Sports industry working for Quiksilver in the UK as a visual merchandiser, then went on to become a sales rep covering menswear in London and looking after a selection of key accounts. In 2002 I came back to the Quiksilver HQ in France to look after the off price business for the Na Pali group. Then in 2004 when Quiksilver bought DC Shoes I was named Sales Manager for France. After 10 years working for the group I sailed off to NIXON in 2008 and directed sales for 4,5 years, this time on a European level. But the biggest opportunity of my career came in 2013 when I was promoted to EMEA General Manager of Electric Europe, a company then part of the Kering group.

Anthony Cazottes Career Path from Quiksilver to French Albion

What was your motivation to start your own business?

I realised over the years that no matter how good you are at your job and how much you represent the brand you work for at the time, you always leave with a hand shake and you never take a piece of the company with you other than memories. In my late 30s I felt a strong need to create something of my own, something I was passionate about and that I would be able develop with my life philosophy in mind, not following someone else’s strategy. In 2015 I lost my job and although it was a bit of a shock to the system it was a relief at the same time, I was free to create, to innovate, to think out of the box… That is what motivated me to create my own business: freedom to think.

How did you move from an idea to business success?

In my case things came naturally, first I was consulting for companies who wanted to come to Europe and through that process I realised there was a need to propose a solution that was different from the classic models of distribution. Once I had the model figured out we managed to attract brands that we chose carefully in the Outdoor & Lifestyle market through my connections in the US & Canada. The first clients are always the hardest to get but once you have a proven track record companies reach out to you for business regularly.

What, in your opinion, makes a successful entrepreneur?

It’s a combination of different things of course but in my opinion motivation, commitment and rationalism are the key ingredients. An entrepreneur also needs to be able to mitigate passion with reality and try not to get too carried away by things he likes doing vs things that need to be done.

How do you think is it different to start an entrepreneurship 40+ than in your twenties?

If you have a brilliant idea in your twenties but you don’t have the experience to bring it to life then you would probably have to rely on other people who can help you make it a reality. Less expertise means the idea needs to be even stronger and innovative to be successful. Starting a business in your 40s is definitely different, you are mainly relying on yourself and the baggage you have cumulated throughout your career. Your contacts, knowledge of the industry and experience are the fuel to your idea.

For a lot of people, the fear of failure is the reason not to start their own business. What would you say to someone to convince them to go through with it anyway?

The risk depends on the business idea and the means to bring that idea to life. If the idea is weak but the means are strong it’s likely that the success will be minimal, if the idea is strong but the means are weak success will come by finding investment which is always easier than finding a good idea. Rather than speak about fear I would prefer to call it doubts, I think all entrepreneurs have doubts, doubts fuel the mind to be better at finding solutions and are therefore good companions to entrepreneurs. Don't be afraid of doubts, if you are convinced about your business idea and you are fully committed then you will be successful. However, my advice would be to ask friends, family and a consortium of industry experts for their opinion before you dive in. Also don’t give up everything you have before you see traction in your new venture. Last but not least, don’t force yourself into an entrepreneurial career out of desperation, becoming an entrepreneur should be a natural path you follow.

How is your daily life as an entrepreneur?

It’s fascinating, the world is your oyster, the opportunities are huge and anything is possible. Of course the reality hangs over your head and acts as a hand brake to funnel your enthusiasm but the balance of the two is what I find the fun part. Being free to decide, working with people I love, no politics, is how my company is run everyday. My daily life as an entrepreneur resembles a lot to my daily life as a person.

What’s the biggest reward of having your own business?

Thinking of an idea, putting it together and launching it successfully is very rewarding in itself but being able to employ people and giving them long term projects is probably what I take most pride in having achieved so far. Also, when brands you look up to contact you through your web page to start a partnership is a great reward.


Interested in meeting other entrepreneurs over 40 from the sports business? We are publishing new interviews regularly in our series Entrepreneurship 40+!

Entrepreneurship 40+ in the sports business: Meet Alban Le Pellec

Sport Business Entrepreneurship 40+: Meet Alban Le Pellec

The sports sector is entrepreneurship to its core. As a quick evolving industry, it is marked by innovation and change, an ideal breeding ground for new business ideas.

Even though the sports sector is known as quite a young industry, with a lot of entrepreneurs being in their twenties, there's actually a significant number which is older than 40. To give you two well-known examples: Dietrich Mateschitz founded RedBull with 40. Bill Bowerman was 53 when he co-founded Blue Ribbon - which became Nike when he was 60.

While we associate young minds with freshness, innovation and braveness, all key factors for creating something new, middle-aged people tend to bring qualities that younger ones lack. Because experience counts. Entrepreneurs who have worked in the same field as their start-up were found to be 125% more successful than those without a background in their chosen sector. Not only do they have the skills and the network, they have the vision and experience on how to lead a company in the right direction, how to obviate classical pitfalls and how to make a tough decision when it is needed. 

We feel that it's time to introduce you to more entrepreneurs 40+ in the sports industry which is why we started an interview series with different business founders on their career and their views on entrepreneurship.

In part one, we would like you to meet Alban Le Pellec.

Introduction

Your Job / Company Name: 

All-Seasons. I’m the founder and General Manager.

Your Field of Profession: 

I have 20 years of experience in Marketing, Sales, Management and Top Management.

Your Business (Idea) in 2-3 Sentences:

All-Seasons offers expertise in Consulting, Distribution and Services for sport brands willing to develop their European business. We’ve got internal and external experts to establish and expand your brand awareness and sales. 

Careerwise, what have you been doing before you got self-employed?

I started my career in sports marketing before changing to Sales. Then I took my first step in the outdoor industry where I gained a lot of experience thanks to eight years at Millet, and after that evolved in the American group, Wolverine Worldwide and its sports division represented by Saucony and Merrell. For more than 9 years, I held several positions as Key Account Manager, Sales Manager France, Country Manager, and at the end, European Strategic Director.

During the last period, I served as President of the Outdoor Commission of L’Union Sports et Cycles, the French Sport Industry representation.

When I got the opportunity to work as CEO for an eye-wear company, I made the transition from sports to fashion. A position I held for two years. During this time, the desire to return to the sports and outdoor world got so overwhelming that I took part as a Mentor in the world’s first innovation hub Le Tremplin (Paris&Co). Then very spontaneously, in January 2020, I decided to set up All-Seasons.

What was your motivation to start your own business?

All-Seasons was born out of a need to support sports brands which have the wish to develop in the French and European sports market in a very pragmatic way. Concretely, All-Seasons takes its roots in years of exchange with Mick Midali, my partner in this adventure. There were needs and missing solutions in the market and we have decided to respond by combining our skills.

With cash being the key, it is important to combine the strategic vision with a rapid but sustainable implementation. And it is on these axes that we position ourselves. Nowadays companies must operate with agility and All-Seasons is there to help them succeed. We are guiding companies in their development of Sales, mostly in France and Europe, but also in North America thanks to our partnerships with Global Sales Guys. At the same time, we guarantee to respect and maintain its brand values while aiming for a higher profitability.

How do you move from an idea to a successful business?

With more than 20 years in the sports industry in different job positions, I know this market quite well, so the idea was evolving for years. To move from this idea to the launch of an actual business, that’s a question of developing a concrete business plan which helps transforming the idea to reality.

Now it’s up to us to convert this into success, even though the recent crisis [Covid-19] might jeopardise our agency's growth. But we think that the economical change happening due to Covid-19 can also be an advantage for us, showing brands that they have to rethink their current business model, their structure, their offers. And our expertise can help on this new journey.

What, in your opinion, makes a successful entrepreneur?

I don’t think I can explain what makes a successful entrepreneur, because I am only at the beginning of my story. But in my humble opinion, I am sure that expertise helps a lot. Commitment. Vision. Also, a clear positioning. Those are key elements.

How do you think is it different to start an entrepreneurship 40+ than in your twenties?

It’s clearly a different situation. At 20, your start-up is based mostly on ideas. And you can start it carefree, because normally, there's no real financial risk. 

At 40, with a family to take care of, you take bigger risks, but you have one strong advantage which is experience. And the success percentage is often higher for experienced people which researchs confirm.

For a lot of people, the fear of failure is the reason not to start their own business. What would you say to someone to convince them to go through with it anyway? Which impact did fear have on you?

Fear is an unpleasant emotion that emerges when you are worried or threatened by something dangerous. That’s why when you start your project, a solid business plan is mandatory. If your plan is well prepared and financial forecast not too optimistic, more realistic, you know where you’re going. The danger becomes smaller and fear vanishes.

However, the fear is always present, it’s a motivation for an entrepreneur. You convert it into motivation.

For sure, you feel it stronger some days, and it’s not pleasant, but it magnifies your happiness once you succeed. Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.

How is your daily life as an entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur doesn’t really have regular office hours. There is so many things to fix, so many projects to follow, so many issues to resolve. We think, we live, we dream with our business in mind all the time. Our days are all different, so organisation is important and finding the time to step back to take in the overall situation is essential. An entrepreneur has to switch from one topic to a totally different one all the time.

Personally my office is at home, so I’ve dedicated a room to work away from my kids, and spend hours on visio-conferences. The days I am not sitting in front of my laptop at home, I am traveling to visit my teams, partners, fairs or retailers.

What’s the biggest reward(s) of having your own business?

The reward, the recognition, is something personal. Each person has different goals in their life. For an entrepreneur every single success of the company feels like your own. It’s the advantage of this position.

For myself, I set up my agency to have the liberty to choose the brands I want to work with, I want to share the same values with my partners, and have more freedom in my day to day job. My biggest reward would be to work with great sustainable brands and make them successful. It would also help a bit to protect our planet.

Boost your knowledge with these 5 online platforms: Free courses to advance your career


"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young." - Henry Ford



Do you know what makes successful people? To never stop learning. Always be curious about the world, new fields, and ways to improve your skills.
To get you even more motivated: Keeping your brain working will keep it healthy, preventing a bad memory or even Dementia.

So, how can we gain new skills? For some of us, we are lucky enough to have an employer who is interested in developing talents. It’s companies who are willing to spend on further education of their employees, for them to make a better job and bring in new ideas. But the reality is, that most people need to care for their own education. Not all of us have the time to enroll in university for some extra lectures or pay for further education on our own.
Luckily, web 2.0, the interactive web, offers great chances for online courses and tutorials to learn new skills all by ourselves! Of course, it’s not only limited to hard skills, you could even learn about fields you were always interested in. Art, History, Biology, Psychology, there's no limit on knowledge.

Here are 5 platforms to get your brain working - completely for free:

Udacity

Udacity’s platform is directly related to gaining skills for your dream job. With courses about programming, web design, or data science, they offer nano degrees which are accepted as official references. 
Instead of lecturing, they believe in practical learning.
Together with companies like Google, Salesforce, and Facebook, they develop interactive courses for beginners, advanced levels, and professionals.
 However, not all courses are free, so you have to filter in advance.

Some courses we really like:

MIT OpenCourseWare

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, short MIT, is known as one of the high-class universities of the world. Mostly, it’s known for engineering and physical sciences, but their graduate programs offer a wide range of courses. In their OpenCourseWare, MIT made their content from different courses available for everyone, sharing it online for free.

In the course overview, you can filter by topics and departments, for example, Business, Fine Arts, Engineering, etc., getting the possibility to access the course online or download the materials. Furthermore, most of them contain video and audio lectures as well as assignments.
So you have to do your homework! To be honest, it’s hard to follow an online lecture without having the possibility to ask for more details, so we’d recommend it mostly for humanities, psychology, and fine arts.

Here are 3 courses we love:

(not all of them might be important for your work but could interest you on a personal level as well. Just learn, the benefits are yours!):

edX

Not only did the MIT provide their own content, but they also collaborated with Harvard to found edX in 2012. The portal offers courses from universities around the world, so you can enroll in courses from home and in your own time. Most of them are for free, and for a little charge, you can even get a certificate if you need it for your job or a future application. It’s open-source and non-profit. The courses come together from all fields of study, like architecture, law, communication, business, etc.
So feel free to feed all your interest!

Our favorite courses are:


"Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family." - Kofi Annan

The Digital Garage

A platform by Google about Online Marketing? That’s got to be a guarantee for digital skills! And it is. The digital garage’s online courses guide you through the function of search engines, social media, analytics, and more. It’s a great way to spice up your CV and score a career entry in Online Marketing.

We recommend taking all courses, one after another,  to get into the field of Online Marketing.

Inversity

Iversity is a special online platform that focuses on higher education for professional purposes. Their courses are provided by business experts who formed courses in their professional's fields for you to learn. Like most platforms, it offers free courses as well as paid ones. For the free ones, filter for „MOOCs“ in the course catalog.

Three of our favorites are:


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The advantages of working remotely in the sports business

While modern companies implemented remote work - even just for a day  per week - even years ago, the location-unbound working model is now becoming a big part of the every day work culture in the sports industry. 

One company in the sports business showing exactly how it is done is komoot. While located in Potsdam, the team is actually working from all over the world - remotely.

Right at this very moment, they look for a Brand Manager to expand their team.

This way, they’re actually developing a full functioning and effective team which takes responsibility and therefore, really pushes the company to the next level while being more satisfied in their job.

How so? That’s what we discovered in this blog. Find out what advantages working remotely brings and what it needs to make it work. 

The advantages of working remotely

Better work-life-balance

While most companies which offer remote work as a benefit do expect you to be available for a specific time frame matching the office hours, there’s still plenty which allow a flexible time schedule. Taking time off for necessary appointments and continuing work afterwards, starting earlier to have more time in the afternoon, or whichever model it is you prefer - you’ll be able to use your time more effectively and actually, coordinate your job around your life and not the other way round. A very exciting experience. 

And even if you need to work fixed hours, after all it allows you to spend more time outside of work. Taking into consideration the time employees are saving by not having to commute to work and back home, as well as the option to actually use your break for something else than having lunch in the canteen, it seems to enable a better use of time.

A focus on productivity instead of time

What happens when your daily task are done and your project is on hold? Well, let’s face it: A lot of office time is spent with browsing the web, socializing, figuring out where to go for holidays, you get the point. The reason is simply that we have to be there until a specific time when our shift ends, no matter the work load. While being idle in between tasks can push motivation, it can also be wasted time that you could put to much better use. 

That’s where remote work comes in handy. The advantage of working at home is that 

  1. you can actually concentrate on your work without having colleagues from your office interrupting 
  2. when your work is done, you can actually do something else because
  3. your boss can hardly stumble into the office noticing you’re procrastinating

We’re not implying that you should skip on your work for a layday at home and fool your team or boss. But if you’re doing your job quickly and still maintain good quality, there’s nothing wrong about using remaining working hours for other activities - as long as you’re available when needed.  This leads to more productive and effective work - so both sides, employee and employer, benefit from it. 

Creativity & innovation

In general, working from home might give you the needed distance from your work and team to be creative or innovative. Especially, when having the option to „work from wherever you want, be it a beach, the mountains, your house or anywhere else“ as komoot puts it in their job ad, the remote work gives you the freedom to explore new places, new cultures or even just the neighborhood in your daily life, to gain new experiences and impressions. Which - as we know - is fueling creativity. 

Cost savings 

Shifting to the employer’s point of view who does benefit from all mentioned points, they have furthermore the advantage of actually being able to save money. With more people working remotely, there’s less working space needed, which cuts the cost for rent, interior and maintainance. 

Happiness and passion

Taking all these things into account, it’s no surprise that surveys say that remote employees are all in all happier than regular office staff. It benefits their health, mental and physical, as well as giving them much needed freedom to fulfill dreams and goals. 

Disadvantages and how to avoid them

With our own Sportyjob team working remotely from everywhere between Germany to France and even to the Canary Islands, we know exactly that not working together takes a lot of effort to actually create a functioning team. While benefits for employees and employers are obvious, there are still disadvantages luring around the corner. Talking about miscommunication, feeling disconnected, projects lying dormant, unhappy team members - you name it.

But, like mentioned above, those issues can be easily handled with some effort and measurements that the whole team needs to take.

Communication

When being in the same office or building, it’s easy just to give a short update in between. But even in regular working environments, there’s a need for individual weekly jour-fixes and team meetings to keep the team updated. Even with some distance between the team, it’s absolutely necessary to maintain this. Giving updates on what you’re working on, project status, etc., even some personal information every now and then (planned holidays, how everyone is doing, etc.).

The most important part though is remembering that there’s is no digital, but actually a human team existing. For this, video calls are the easiest way to continuing talking face to face over any distance. With plenty of tools which allow split screens and group calls, there’s no problem to keep up with the communication.

komoot even took it a step further: 4 times a year, the whole team meets up at one destination around the world for one week, to work together, socialize, get to know each other in case there are new team members aboard. A perfect way of combining a team building measurement with an activity which resembles perfectly to company spirit and mission. 

Trust 

A very big factor. Remote jobs only work when both sides trust each other. If there’s colleagues or your employer mistrusting your work ethics, this is not going to work out. There might always be someone who thinks that remote workers only relax, play games or chat or watch tv instead of working, but in our experience, this is far away from the truth. Whether you prefer working regular office hours or like to use your mornings for sports or other activities and therefore, work late - that’s fine. It should be accepted and most of all, trusted, by your team that you still keep up with your work. 

Also, on the other side of the medal, trust in being seen. Don’t worry about being available all day long in case your boss actually sends an e-mail when you have just finished your day. There’s the possibility that you might feel the urge to always check your e-mails, always be online, so no one gets the idea of you being lazy. There’s absolutely no need to. Trust is needed on both sides. So is free time to stay productive and passionate about your job. 


If you’re interesting in knowing more about the realization of komoots working model, check out the free Whitepaper from our partner ISPO: Digital talents in the sports industry - Whitepaper.

By looking at komoot, they derive concrete recommendations for winning digital talents for the sports industry.