Written by contributing author, Joanna Ouellette
Vera and I had connected because we both applied for the same job. She mentioned that she was talking to somebody else who had also applied unsuccessfully, and suggested the three of us meet for coffee. This was my first meeting with Peter; he and Vera had much more in common; they had both worked with start-ups, started their own companies and felt passionately about sustainability and living sustainable lives. As a marketer I have often worked as a one-woman business and, conscious of my value proposition, believed my most entrepreneurial opportunities were through my marketing talents; marketing somebody’s ideas and products, never my own. While I have always supported sustainability and green issues, and live day-by-day making conscious decisions to reduce my own consumption, carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment, I never considered going into business with a focus of developing my own personal sustainability, let alone that of my local community and beyond. The idea of starting a business in the sustainability or green sector was completely alien to me. But I passionately believe that the only alternative to sustainability is, simply enough, unsustainability. I believe our futures and those of our children require us to take a stand now to try to make a difference. When Adam, my son, tells me (in thirty years from now) that my generation should have done more to treasure what we have on earth, I want to be able to tell him that I did something.
So our first meeting was interesting; hearing about Peter’s experiences in biodiesel startups, after learning about Vera’s amazing background certainly made me feel like ‘wtf’ – what do I have to contribute? Yes, of course, my marketing background; would be advantageous, but it was secondary. Still not sure about my role, but feeling productive I hung around. When we started talking about the ‘paradigm shift’, this period of change where all the cards are thrown in the air, and this time of a new renaissance, I started relaxing and enjoyed the discussion. We talked about achieving balanced lifestyles, about our finite resources, about the need for transparency, about collaboration, sharing talents, about what each of us were seeking to achieve and how we each wanted to have fun. So we were all singing from the same hymn book, and I think we all were excited that we’d found like-minded individuals with the same thoughts. The discussion turned into ideas; what could we do? What ideas did we have? We all had ideas, and were willing to share them. We discovered that the three of us are smart enough and have enough relative skills to create “success” (whatever that is) between us, and somehow our skills and talents, our personalities and experience complement each others’ very well. Somehow this meeting brought for me, personally, a great deal of optimism; I realized that not everybody was asleep at the wheel on the highway of life, and it was time to get out of my comfort zone and take a road trip.