Become the change you want to see in the World” A talk with Fabrice Leclerc
What is sustainability?
It’s our actions which make tomorrow better than today. It’s part of our universal dream & deepest instinct: to create the best conditions for our specie to replicate and survive. Elon Musk wants to settle a human colony on Mars for the sake of the survival of our specie. It took us some centuries to understand that the planet was big, now we realise it is very small.
We don’t call it sustainability any longer, we just reconnect with Life, everyday, for the better.
The revolution is much wider than we can see, and this is important because tomorrow is where we are going to live.
“Become the change you want to see in the World”
Where to start?
From the design of the model. At the origin of our lives, the first cells, unions of our parents’ legacy, multiplied and created who we are, our design. Later on, we shape it both physically & mentally based on what we eat, where we live and what we think, this is the epigenetic.
The information is inside our book / the DNA is just a book, what matters is what you do with it.
In business it’s the same, the model and environment creates its reality. If the original design has errors, doesn’t follows the laws of Life, the multiplication will be a disaster. This is what we currently experience.
Cancer is similar, it is a design error from the replication stage. If our body and our mind are not strong enough, it takes off and eventually kills us not because it is cancer, because we have weakened our model. For me, it’s similar to the way most business have been designed over the past years - we see the insane impact they have on our lives and on the planet: 80% of the oceans and the rivers are polluted, and we know that water is Life… the speed of destruction is accelerating. I trust that the 20th century way of doing business, of everlasting growth & usage of resources without giving back is a sort of brain dysfunction. It is the Alzheimer of business.
The problem: we never understand something until it happens to us. We speak about global warming but some of us haven’t yet seen the devastating impact on our families and friends, or haven’t made the link yet to their activity.
So how to create these modern models?
In practice, it always starts by gathering the best designers, the best resources and the best vision and beliefs.
It’s about designing an experience which so inspiring and loved, that the previous experience becomes obsolete, this is the essence of innovation and evolution. It has always been like that.
practically, you’ll soon know more on how to do it at Pitti Fragranze.
some teasing: you can stay without food for some weeks, without water for some days, without air for some seconds, who cares about your phone.
Can corporations do it?
Yes, they can.
This take guts as it implies a deep and common evolution of beliefs from the CEO and the shareholders
Together they have to unlearn what they have learned to open up to a much higher level of knowledge and contribution. This is tough to do, but it is the only way forward. It takes courage when part of your board is made of old style minds. It must be very hard from Obama to discuss with Trump. This is the feeling we all have when advocating this evolution, but this is what innovators are about and face each day, it takes guts & vision. Cosmetic companies have been selling rejuvenation for our skin - it is time now to demonstrate they can rejuvenate our lives & planet to be trusted.
I have recently heard the CEO of a top raking cosmetic company saying that soon their products will be green, and it made me sad. Why? Because there was no dream in it, no contribution, no revolution in the way they do business, he was just willing to make its product “greener” because the market was asking for it. We can’t solve our problems with the same mind that led us to create them.
Unfortunately, this is what a lot of companies think sustainability is about, reducing their carbon footprint, "going green", working on better social conditions… but unless they change the model and the mindset they will never make it, nothing will change. for example, even if we move all the cars to electric, car makers will still want to sell more electric cars. By doing so, we would have solved part of the carbon & fine particle emissions, but not the model and the impact will be similar, because the mind will be the same.
What corporations can do is to launch new boats, new start-ups, designed from the beginning with modern and smart skills, becoming authentic advocates of Life, and thus engaging their audience, being "partners" and not just “sellers to consumers”.
Who is leading?
We are. Millions are doing it everyday, in their way, they are the new leaders, activists of their lives, engaged in a personal mutation - taking their bikes or sharing their cars, working from home to see their kids growing, and loving their partner, growing their veggies on their balcony, cooking with love, enjoying living local food mainly vegetables, building their own resilience daily practice, practicing mindfulness, wearing organic cloths as they are aware that the clothing industry is one of the most damaging on the planet as it is, building their own companies during their work time, dreaming of changing their lives … these are the people I call "the magicians". we are millions, the challenge is our multiplication before it’s too late.
We have crossed the tipping point two years ago. People like Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia have inspired many with his manifesto: let my people go surfing, because he talks about the lifestyle of sustainability, the reason why to work for this company. Cosmetic companies, sell hope, so “making the planet great again” should now be their mission (great for all). Davines is an Italian company close to my heart and a source of inspiration and they are thousands of great projects out there.
Why is it a revolution?
The difference between an evolution and a revolution is that it changes the belief system and usually creates a strong reaction. Think about the taxis versus Uber. Taxis are in the street fighting for their old model. This is a sign that a revolution is on. The sharing economy is an example of revolution as it breaks our believes - it demonstrates that sharing is stronger than owning. This is heretic for most of us, but today it becomes our reality. We can earn our life with virtually everything we own by just placing it on a sharing digital platform, and the more we share, the more we realise that owning stuff did not make us happier nor healthier, this was an illusion created by the old consumption era.
A revolution works when it brings more personal benefits and this is clearly the case with this Life revolution: by moving in this direction, we become healthier, happier, richer. We live with purpose, we participate to the evolution, and those who do it, become the new source of admiration and inspiration.
European is leading?
I think so. It is an early stage perception, but it is shared among the innovators scene.
for many years Europe has been the “old continent” because its set of values were not aligned with what was cool at the moment. No teacher in business schools would have dared to use the words life, love, happiness, this would have been heretic, although this is what matters to all of us. The dream was about performance, maximisation, being the number 1. a climax of the industrial age and the ego. The holy grail was to push the limits, to do always more, no matter the impact on individuals, the environment. I guess it originated when America helped the World to win the war against the Nazis, the American industrial dream became the new dream, cigarettes, chewing gums, cars, processions and owning stuff became the new cool… most of us are kids of this era, so it takes courage to evolve now.
Few years ago, we realised that this was not a dream but a nightmare: Life on Earth is collapsing, we have entered the 6th mass specie extension, 60% of the biodiversity is gone in few years, our fertility and health is falling. The beaches, rivers and mountains we loved are contaminated with chemicals, plastics. When our kids look into the water with their diving masks they no longer see the amazing colours of the fishes in crystal water we have seen, they see plastic bags. They don’t play on fields of scented flowers and amazing butterflies, they do it on concrete in front of their iPad. We have wiped out what we loved, what made us humans, healthy & happy, without realising it.
But the European beliefs are coming back as a major source of inspiration and innovation.
Europe still holds the wisdoms acquired over Millennials of experience on how to live a good life, health, resilience. the healthiest country in the World is Italy. This is why I believe Europe, even if outnumbered by other continents is going to play now a major role, again, and it is probably the last chance to make it happen in the human adventure.