Buy and Transform – Why do it?

March 21, 2022

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If we truly want to be part of a transformation towards the #futureofwork, we should be focusing on inspiring and providing confidence to leaders to leap to new organizational paradigms!
 
This is exactly what Dunia Reverter, our special LIVING ROOM CONVERSATIONS guest for our 22nd episode will discuss in her talk entitled, “Buy and Transform / Why do it?”. Dunia is the Co-founder of Krisos, whose objective is to buy businesses and transform them into a force for good.
 
Host Steffen Keller, Co-founder and Catalyst at LIVEsciences AG will ask Dunia your questions and find out more about her dream, which is to start a contagious movement that moves organizations into a new state in which they thrive and look at profit as a means to be able to serve people, society and the planet.

Living Room Conversations: Dunia Reverter

STEFFEN = Steffen Keller (Host)

DUNIA = Dunia Reverter (Guest)

STEFFEN: Hello everybody! Good afternoon, good morning, good evening wherever you are

and welcome to the 22nd episode of the Living Room Conversations. My name is Stephen Keller, I’m a catalyst and co-founder of LIVESciences and I will be your host for today’s session.

It’s my first time and I have a list of things I need to cover so please bear with me if I need to check that I don’t forget anything. I’m very excited to finally also host one of the sessions and I’m very much looking forward to our conversation today. And before we start with the conversation, I’m not sure if everybody has been part of the Living Room. Living Room Conversation before –  so quick introduction why are we here today; what is this platform? What is this setting about? It’s supposed to be a very relaxed conversation and to spark new ideas to engage with the topic around and around Teal organizations around the future of work the future of society than just to engage and see where the discussion brings us and so you as a listener, you can just relax sit back have a coffee have something to eat whatever you want and you have the possibility to drop questions if you want so please feel free to engage with the comment section and if you have any questions, raise it and I would be happy to pick it up and then to bring it into the conversation. This session is also recorded so also hello to everybody listening in potentially from Youtube, Linkedin or Facebook live is what I see that where this video will also be available after the session. As I said, please listen to us, engage with us and use the comment section. 

Today, we are having Dunia Reverter with us. The topic will be ‘buy and transform: why do it?’ and I’m very much looking forward to hear more from Dunia. Before we pull her in a very short introduction of hers, I have a few notes on the side because turns out Dunia has done a lot already and I can barely capture everything in a few minutes that she’s done I had the pleasure to have a conversation with her before and there’s a lot to and to discover in her CV for sure but just the key points for now and Dunia has more than 25 years of experience as an international managing director CEO and transformation leader in the banking environment for big brands like GE Lloyd’s Bank and Aviva. And most recently Dunia then moved towards the transformation activities and collaborated with K2K and the NER group and to transform and turn around various companies that were having difficulties so they were supporting them with a transformative approach to cope with the problems they were having and now she’s having a

dream of a contagious movement that moves organizations into a state in which they thrive and look at profit as means to be able to serve people so really identifying the purpose of a company and supporting those companies and creating a contagious movement and Dunia is co-founder and one of the experienced transformation leads in the Krisos team and I think that Dunia will also tell us a bit more about Krisos in a second but for now I would like to hand over to Dunia to also give a quick hello to the rest.

DUNIA: Thank you Steffen. Thank you very much for the intro and thank you for organizing

this sort of spaces that I think are great at spreading all the news around this new movement that is emerging that is really exciting thank you.

STEFFEN: Thank you very much Dunia for taking the time and for being here with us. I know your schedule is busy and I very much appreciate that- 

DUNIA: Sitting now in this Living Room!

STEFFEN:  –exactly! We’re in the Living Room we are all relaxed, have a good conversation I already had the pleasure to also visit one of your talks during Teal Around The World so I have a bit of background, but maybe you maybe you want to we want to start and you let us know what is behind this idea of buy and transform? What does it mean?

DUNIA: Yes. Yes, so as you as you were mentioning during the intro, in the past years I had the luck of doing the first part of my dream which was to help organizations transform into Teal sort of paradigms right? Where the people are at the center – very collaborative, very integrative sort of organizations. And as we said where profit is a means to do something greater than that so that was part one. And part two now is well how do we make this contagious right how do we get that impact and as it turns out I’m convinced from my own experience and from seeing all the transformations that for example K2K have done along like this past 15 years, I’m convinced that it works it’s possible and we do bring abundance into the system by by doing this sort of thing so it’s very successful. But it’s not easy. You know it takes a while and it’s very dependent on whoever is holding the space. The leader who’s holding the space that creator that source as Tom Nixon talks about in his book, the source that is holding that space right? And normally that is an owner right so  if you were at my talk until around the world which was titled as within so without the personal transformation of that leader is fundamental is key before any transformation of whatever space that person is holding right, and personal transformation takes a while. 

So the whole point here is what if we don’t have to work with that leader during that journey but we can actually already you know, transfer the space to other hands and accelerate the process and make it more reliable and that’s what it’s about. There’s actually another aspect to that one is because we do think because of what I was just saying that it will accelerate the process of transformation and make it more reliable but also also we want it’s almost like we want to liberate the organizations give them to the people right for that. First they need to evolve, they need to transform to this higher level of consciousness if we could say it in that way but then you know somehow they need to then take it and be the ones that are on their own destiny and that’s kind of like the second step of it right? So transform them, to liberate them.

STEFFEN: And I mean the transformation part is something that I’ve heard before transformations that worked out fine where really you could change something within the company this buying part is something that I truly that I find amazing then so if I understand correctly it’s not just about going in and trying to transform but going this additional step saying if I understood correctly there is this source that needs to transform first as you also shared your own personal transformation during your talk and only then the rest of the company can follow. What was the trigger point for you to to come up with this new approach not just to wait for a leader to request something but to really be more proactive and say ‘okay we can even we can exchange the source and make it our own’? 

DUNIA:  Yeah well I’ve had many triggers because along along these transformations that I’ve been working on I’ve seen several times the leaders pulling back you know halfway through I’m not ready and it’s quite frustrating right for a whole organization we’re embarking in this very exciting journey but then we have to pull back so that is the trigger and it makes sense for a leader to have to do that and in fact I would recommend it don’t go where you’re not ready to go you know so it makes sense to go at the pace at my own pace but I’m impatient, I want to go faster! [laughter] 

STEFFEN: And how does it work? Now, did you already go through such a process of really then  buying and transforming a company and no having results?

DUNIA:  So the way we’re doing, we’re just starting. So basically we have- we are four partners. Three spanish partners; Xavier, Javi and myself who the three of us have experienced in transforming organizations using most of the times the K2K approach let’s say. And then we have partnered also with the corporate rebels and and the corporate rebels are supporting us in terms of  reaching out to investors across the world who would want to support us in this endeavor so the plan is to start in Spain with us three as transformers, let’s say, and to buy three companies on this first round so we’ve just now we’re in the midst of formalizing and closing our first round which is a round of investment that we’ve pulled for to support us during the search and due diligence phase which is what it’s what we’re doing right now, looking for companies that are for sale. And then we’re gonna enter the second phase which is buying them and then transforming them. Now the plan is to do this and once we’ve done it and prove the model let’s say, then why not do each of us three more right? And find other transformers that want to do this so obviously the plan is not to stay in Spain, it’s how scalable can this be.

STEFFEN: And how do you finance the whole encounter? 

DUNIA: Well it’s as I was saying with the support of the corporate rebels and all their connections. What we’ve decided is let’s talk to people who believe in this. So we’re not going to normal investors. In fact it’s all- it’s almost friends and family no family but friends of Teal let’s say so. So we are lucky to have a pool of investors who probably want this more than we do they’re extremely excited about it and this is what we need. We need very strong alignment with the sort of thing that we’re trying to do or else it can become tricky.

STEFFEN:  And I can imagine then having the right investors is an important piece right? That’s also why I guess it’s friends and family because if then the investors are coming with a different approach in mind and maybe also more profit focused than anything else I guess then it will not work out in the end. So how do you make sure that you’re all aligned? Is there a process behind how to select them?

DUNIA: Well, first of all there’s people that we already know right? In some cases people have approached us but mostly it’s people that we already know we’ve been lucky to actually get more than more people than what we needed interested so actually the round started and ended in like in less than two weeks which is amazing to see how there’s already there’s already a lot of people out there that really want this right? And then it comes with the sort of conversations I mean the way we structure this, we don’t structure it, and we don’t talk about it in a way that it appeals to an investor who’s just looking to make money. It just wouldn’t appeal to them.

STEFFEN: Congratulations for closing the first round so quickly. It sounds like people are convinced of the idea and I am convinced too, I have to say.

DUNIA:  Great! I will talk to you then. [laughter]

STEFFEN: I mean this is why I’m asking what your what your criteria are right? Because yeah bit of a egoistic from my side and no- but- now imagining you’re entering the company and you

you now can transform it like what does it mean to transform the organization like what’s the future state that you have in mind? Or do you find it out only with the team how does it work?

DUNIA: Yeah I mean there’s a few elements right? Which are very actually similar to Frederick Laloeux’s breakthroughs right that that we that we talk about so before we do a transformation we talk about the values right? Values like transparency, like freedom, and responsibility, which is basically self-management right. So we talk about values like that but then but then the trick is to make sure that we are very coherent with those values right so what it means to transform to that is basically to change an operating system. Change the operating system to this new way of being and working on and being of the people that are in it. But yeah there’s some after having you know done many you know and actually that collective experience that we have there’s a series of practices that we know okay we do all these things and we’re pretty much reaching another state. I mean it’s not static, the journey never stops right? So I don’t think there’s an end point that we have to reach but there’s a moment where when you can breathe a different- a different culture, yeah? In the organization.

STEFFEN: Thank you and I guess this is then based mainly on your previous work with the K2K and NER group and the transformations you’ve led there and the experience that you’re now bringing into this. 

DUNIA: Yeah. Yeah and not only so we have- because they are actually very effective ways of transforming but not only we also we also use a lot to support us in this sort of transformations. For example, Sociocracy, Sociocracy 3.0 patterns are very useful and very compatible I really like as well one of my favorites is tough leadership and the sort of coaching that you do to

leaders to help them stop being directive and stop having adult I mean to stop having parent-to-child conversations but changing to adult to adult conversations so it’s a bit of a combo from the best of the best of everything and more is welcome so this is what’s nice about it that  that the whole point is that to do several and to do them without the blocks that you would have you know from an owner that maybe doesn’t get it yet then hopefully that frees us up to

to use, you know, the best techniques that are out there to help organizations transform.

STEFFEN: I mean as soon as you own the company I guess that you have a lot of freedom and flexibility and how to tackle these topics.

DUNIA: But! But, let’s not forget one thing though and we will incorporate this in our approach of buying companies the people in the company need to want to do it so we won’t buy a business if it doesn’t want to be bought. Not by the owner only but we need to make sure that the people in it want to do this as well. It’s very important. So we’re not doing it to them we’re doing it with them.

STEFFEN: And I think it makes a lot of sense to make sure to make it work what I was wondering is if then I mean there is a leader that built this the organization sometimes really from the beginning having one vision letting the organization grow and bringing it into the stage where it is today and it was a successful organization most likely otherwise it would be dead already how does the organization take it if then all of a sudden this leader is I’m not sure if if the leader is gone or if the leader has a different role how does it work?

DUNIA:  Yeah ideally is gone because a lot of the culture in the organization comes from that leader so if you maintain the leader there it’s really hard to aspire to a different culture right? It’s like a really heavy weight. It makes it very difficult for the leader and for the rest of the people in the organization so so ideally it’s gone on a completely different role right so and we try to do that when we do transformations also we also try to rearrange especially the people at key leadership positions otherwise the teams find it really hard to become self-managed right we still rely a lot on the leader and it’s very hard as well for those leaders to change their style right  because the dynamics come you know from from both hands so we try to do enough of a change of context so that everybody gets a chance to almost like start afresh.

STEFFEN: And how do you how do you figure out if they want it or not like very pragmatically is it a like a survey or so?

DUNIA: I know a general assembly and normally we do have it has to be a general assembly where everybody has a chance to ask lots of questions ideally we can either do a bit of show show-and-tell if geographically it’s possible otherwise a bit of workshops so that people get to not just  understand what where we’re gonna aspire to go from here but also feeling it a little bit so a few games that sort of  make people used to the idea of okay this is what it means right this is what this is how it feels to to operate in this new way and then we we do a general assembly and we ask them and we seek a very ample majority so we wouldn’t do it. If at least 80 percent of the people in the organization don’t want to do this although it just becomes too difficult, it’s such a profound transformation and it’s going to be so difficult once you get into it. It’s exciting but it’s also difficult for everybody that you want a lot of people wanting this. 

STEFFEN: And may I ask what does a lot of people mean?

DUNIA: Eighty percent.

STEFFEN: Eighty percent. Okay, thank you. And there is one question that we got from the audience – from Rhea and it is what kind of criteria do you have to pick the right organization to buy and transform?

DUNIA: Okay so I mean this works anywhere where there’s people okay so in theory we could do it with any organization okay? Now where we see a lot of benefits of course is when they’re big enough that already there’s bosses right? Because then when you reorganize and you don’t have bosses those people become and you eliminate all those bureaucracies and controls that normally managers are spending their time with and as we say then you remove all the fat yeah and then I mean you don’t remove the bosses everybody stays there but now they become productive right? So actually there’s a significant gain in productivity and in sales because normally those people tend to be more ready to have commercial business development product development sort of roles so the companies grow and become productive at the same time. So we want enough size that that you have that effect and that’s our ideal sweet spot is between 40 and 100 tops 150 employees and the tops. I mean it because at the beginning we can do it with more people and collectively we have experience of having that transformation with larger organizations but then it takes longer it becomes more complicated right? And initially we want to just do it with something that it’s easy right? So that we can do it quickly and have a you know, proven track record sooner rather than later. 

STEFFEN: Makes sense.

DUNIA: Ideally so to finish off, sorry, with your question; so in terms of employees it’s a really big criterion. For us which is 40 to 100, 150 employees and then we’re looking for revenues and every that sort of match that size now another very important criterion is they need to have a problem. So there needs to be some sort of a crisis right if you don’t have a bit of a crisis in your life you don’t grow you need that tension right? For the holacracy people out there you need a tension and create that muscle. So yes, ideally a crisis, it could be generational right? A leadership sort of crisis it could be financially we’re very comfortable with, a financial problem that requires a bit of a turnaround.

STEFFEN: Thank you Dunia. Makes a lot of sense. Also answers the second question that we got around the size of the companies and exactly what like how large are the

organizations that you target to buy and transform and what I understood is like 40 150 people to make sure that they have this management layer which is cumbersome and inefficient but they’re also not too big so that you can have a proven track record rather soon instead

of spending five years to transform you rather have a shorter transformation

span correct? Okay, let’s move to the next question the questions are coming in there is another

question from Kate and the question-

DUNIA: You encounter resistance from the staff, would you let them go?

STEFFEN: Exactly.

DUNIA: No, we don’t let go of anyone. And we state that upfront and there’s a very important 

reason for that which is we want to create safety right so it’s already going to be so rocky [Laughter] that the more safety that we can create the better. So we want safety and nobody goes we work with everybody right  now if if somebody says this is not for me of course we are all free individuals right? But we during a transformation we don’t let go of anyone because we feel like they’re not ready. Everybody’s ready, this works for humans right some people will choose to be more engaged some people will choose to be less engaged normally this fits better in our han bodies this sort of culture okay so normally people tend to get more comfortable now at the beginning it could be a bit difficult for the egos of some people that have the perception that they’re losing power right? So then we take special care with those people and through coaching through special sessions again with reorganizing and changing them from their settings so it doesn’t become something so painful they are able to to overcome that.

STEFFEN: Thank you Dunia. I think one thing that goes with this loss of power at least this perceived loss of power that we sometimes hear is also potential loss of salary so being high paid manager is nice and maybe I’m doing my job good or not at least I have my salary now all of a sudden I should step down and there is no reason anymore why I should earn the salary only if I become a true leader who I’m potentially not so how do you handle these situations and these conflicts?

DUNIA: We have to agree with everyone. You know salaries don’t go down, period. Again you want to create that safety salaries don’t go down the past is the past and the consequences of our past decisions we will live with them now in fact it’s illegal for salaries to go down right? but but that would create a very chaotic and emotionally unstable scenario right? If that could actually happen now salaries normally go up not for everybody but for a little a lot of people go up and we’ve seen that even companies that are struggling financially in many cases in most cases we actually make sure that there’s not a huge gap between who earns most and who aren’t least one of the key practices that we’ve seen that work in terms of helping this advancement of culture of consciousness however you want to call it is actually reducing that gap right it doesn’t mean that everybody gets paid the same but there’s not a huge gap and normally we do that by increasing the lowest paid normally in our implementations we increase the salary 15-18 percent overall right? But that means that in some cases for people it doubles or even more right? And we co-create with the organization kind of the criteria for the new rules of salaries so that then we can be very transparent about it because it’s no longer your salary no longer depends on how good you are at negotiating with your boss it depends on some very

transparent and open criteria that we agreed as a whole and that where your colleagues actually are part of in terms of giving you the feedback or agreeing or not to you being in different levels.

STEFFEN: Thank you Dunia. There are a few more questions but I would like to to stick to this topic just another one or two minutes, and because you mentioned that the salaries go up by 18% so also meaning that costs go up by 18% and I guess there is something behind that you gain out of the transformation that allows this so would you like to elaborate on.

DUNIA:  It’s amazing no? Salaries go up so we increase the base of the labor costs basically

by 15 to 18 percent and productivity at the same time goes up by 40 percent. So we do more [Laughter] you know with what we have and by 40 percent why? Again because everybody is a lot more engaged and this is the magic of this sort of transformation and it’s interesting because it happens so quickly from the moment we start  this is the power of the collective intention and clarity and openness and transparency and trust. Everybody just kind of pulls their weight up and we become a lot more productive even though we increase our cost base on the labor cost side it’s magical because you cannot pinpoint it to one particular project or one particular hero that sold this or did that it’s a collective effort and it happens very quickly.

STEFFEN: I think those those numbers are amazing. And if you think about it it’s quite astonishing what you can achieve with just rethinking the way and you collaborate as a team and there was one more quest a question from George about what type of industries that you target?

DUNIA: Again we’re looking for humans. So any industries work of course if the business model is one that I don’t know making weapons probably we don’t want to go there right? Or the tobacco industry I don’t know, we wouldn’t want to go there. We feel comfortable right? Because it’s almost like okay stop it and let’s come up with a new idea right? A new business model

so we probably wouldn’t go there but otherwise anything anything works I mean we have a lot of experience in industrial settings also services professional services but really any industry where there’s people works now we also look because of this improvement that I was telling you in productivity we look for businesses where the labor costs are a significant portion of the total costs because we know we’re going to become more productive so if a lot of it is dependent on materials for example or equipment then you know our transformation is not with machines or you know materials you know knowledge it’s more with people so we look for that.

STEFFEN: It’s interesting that you also mentioned  defense and the tobacco industry because when we had this conversation in our team exactly those points came up and like what would it mean and what kind of project etc. so I think it’s always interesting to see I guess it’s more or like whoever wants to whoever has the right mindset is good and then decide on who like which purpose maybe you don’t want to support right? Like building weapons or whatever.

DUNIA: Yeah. I guess that’s more than anything because it’s really hard. I mean, I believe this is the hypothesis right? That is driving me to really want to do all of this right i believe that when we do this sort of transformations  organizations as a whole gain higher consciousness and then they become instruments for good in the world right? As a whole so we started to be effective you know through corporations through companies at fixing the world right? So there’s things that all organizations do that maybe are not too ethical you know that maybe are not sustainable that are not great for the environment yeah and we want to work with those companies because precisely we want that change to happen right so exactly so it’s it’s we’re not targeting the amazing companies out there that have already all figured out. No, we want to work with standard but of course if the business model is so far away that you know it’s almost like

impractical then then you know we could work with them but then it almost means that we would need to completely change the business model.

STEFFEN:  I mean I think I think that’s where it becomes a kind of philosophical then

what if the project like if can you change the company from within let’s say like bringing like bringing this purposefulness into the company and then also navigating the company as it like what’s the outcome of the company towards a more positive direction but I think that’s a whole other discussion that we could have for another hour well.

DUNIA: Why not you know, what exactly I mean I started doing yoga and meditation and then I started to eat healthy and then I became vegetarian and then so it’s it’s a process that impacts all aspects right? So organizations become healthier as a whole and start to be more in tune  with the planet right?

STEFFEN: Yeah, no, I fully agree. That’s also why it’s difficult to say I think any industry depending on the project could have a positive impact after all but it’s a very interesting conversation and before I before I start getting into rabbit holes of things that I find interesting I’ll have a look at the comments that we got from the participants from at home and there is one comment from Marianna. 

DUNIA: Okay.

STEFFEN: Maybe we can bring it on the screen exactly. I’d like to know is there a time frame for you to show your stakeholders that the takeover and transformation was worthwhile? 

DUNIA: Yes. Okay, as I mentioned the results normally are very quick so quite like in the first six months we will know, we could start seeing changes right that reflect that manifest basically we could start seeing how the culture change manifests in performance right but we- but it doesn’t mean that it’s stable right? So the new habits let’s say the change needs to be sustained for longer so we feel like we need to support those companies at least two years two to three years for the business to be for the organization to be stable in this new way of operating right? However the results  come earlier which means that potentially you know depending I’m- I always want to like ah let’s I’m an optimist right? To do as much as possible, as soon as possible so potentially sooner than when the transformation is finished right? We could already start thinking of other businesses to buy all the rounds, let’s say.

STEFFEN: And what does it mean to sustain? Does it mean that you will stay with the companies for an undefined period of time or is it also the plan to exit again?

DUNIA: So the ideal cycle, after those two to three years would be to find who’s gonna hold the space now you know we’re gonna it’s gonna be to pass it on right? Ideally the company, the employees buy their own company right? And this would be obviously done in a way and priced in a way where it’s not speculative okay we will make money out of the transaction that company will be worth more but but we will do it in a way that it’s already agreed upfront beforehand how it’s going to be then right  and our intention is that the company that the employees buy it from themselves at the time and in every process that makes sense for them

it could be that they don’t want to buy it right that’s happened before and then in that case we would need to look for other solutions and there we’re exploring other solutions that legally restraint let’s say the power of a stakeholder, of an owner so that the operating system can be preserved regardless of who owns the shares of the company.

STEFFEN: Yes, I think I mean ideal scenario is that the company owns itself, right? So that the employees who are the company would really also own it and profit from it also potentially  there is one other question coming in from George and I think it was on the topic that we touched before of like if people don’t want to adapt or cannot adapt or adjust; is there any severance offered?

DUNIA: Yeah it depends. I mean that this depends on the situation that’s a very contextual

questions but  what we want is love and peace we will do it if the employee says i want to go then of course they can go normally if they want to leave they leave according to the labor laws you don’t need to you don’t need to pay but depending on the situation we just accommodate it’s not it’s not a huge thing it’s not that you know it’s not a huge problem or worry it doesn’t happen that often that problem and-

STEFFEN:  I guess it’s also something that happens bilaterally right the most like there’s an agreement potentially that this is not working out or I don’t want this I don’t want to adapt and I can leave.

DUNIA: Yeah.

STEFFEN: Maybe one more question from Rhea before I would like to switch a bit the topic towards more also your personal journey and how it fed into this but there is another question from Rhea about eliminating leadership. Exactly does it also mean you have to find a new CEO knowing that usually it’s 6 to 12 months lead time for that?

DUNIA: Yeah so that’s the transformers. We become the CEOs. We call ourselves coordinators  during the transformation phase which requires a very specific particular energy different than once the company is already operating in this new paradigm okay now the good news is that because we are transitioning to self-management it’s not a full-time job so it obviously it’s more demanding on the initial phases of the transformation so maybe on the first month, it’s four days a week then during the first six months to a year is three days per week and then it can go down to two to one days per week.

You know this sort of involvement so it’s a very subtle way of holding the space that you want to get into and in fact you want to create that distance and you don’t want to be there every day because then you know we’re all humans and you don’t want to be tempted into offering solutions that maybe they can figure out themselves right? So ideally we try to not be part of it. What we do when we do these transformations is that we create a very stable rhythm of communication and very intentional as well so we create particular forums like say the governance sort of meetings the tactical sort of meetings there’s a series of fors that operate in a very predictable way and very intentional these sort of things so then it’s really easy to tap into that rhythm right on those particular dates and that’s when you kind of are there most of the time and then you let them self-manage for the other times. 

STEFFEN: Dunia, maybe you should offer CEO coaching so that they know how they can transfer the 80 hours a week into a 15 hours a week [laughter] sounds worth sharing! Okay do the audience also- bring in the comments and if you have some please feel free to raise questions i would like to make a short transition towards a bit more your personal journey as I know that also there was a lot of stuff going on and a lot like also in the previous meeting that we had I love the energy that you bring whenever it comes to this topic of like changing things for better and you seem to have this just can do and just do attitude and I was wondering what was the trigger point for you with the career in banking successful career and going up the career ladder and then at some point deciding that you want to do something totally different? What was it for you that triggered you?

DUNIA: Yes there’s many triggers. It wasn’t just one. I think a very big one was when i was at

the height of my career in GE – I got pregnant. And when I got pregnant I saw a different light you know, I thought I was working in the perfect company ever right? And nothing was wrong with the world at that time for me. I thought everything was perfect and when I got pregnant I wasn’t treated in the way I was expecting. Something just kind of broke there right  all of a sudden I realized ‘oh this is not as nice as I thought’ and it was that you know that moment that crisis that we need in order to start a transformation process that was probably the big one because i actually had to let go of a lot of things right  at that point and then there’s other there’s other there’s other things I mean I think when I started to do yoga and  which led them to a bit of meditation that I think opened me up as well right? To- I became more… I don’t know, awake,

aware, curious and then you know the it was gradual at that time we were already in London and then the Frederick Lalouxbook was huge for me. I mean books in general I think I was telling you I don’t know if I was telling you that at a new year’s eve party I decided that my new year’s resolution was that I had to read a lot because the world was screwed up but I had no clue why or who I would support or vote for right? If I wanted change and I didn’t want to you know, support the wrong thing, so I needed to read a lot and I started reading a lot and books actually became almost like portals for development like little jumps right? That I take always a little bit of that book and somehow I incorporated it in my life right? So they’re very linked to that but the Fredrick Lalouxbook was a big one. Because it helped me realize what my purpose was right? Which was to supporting transformation but to a new paradigm you know I was done with supporting organizations in just improvements that we’re not going to change the paradigm

otherwise I felt that I was always building castles sand castles that naughty boys would then just come and break behind my back right? So yeah many I guess many little breakthroughs throughout.

STEFFEN: And the breakthrough with Fredrick Lalouxresonates a lot as also for me. This was my first contact point with the whole topic coming from university back then not knowing how messed up the business world can be and was very nice to see also that there is other examples so this was also very inspiring for me and now having your new playground you can build your own castles not just out of sand but out of stone and make them last actually and how does it feel for you and what is your vision to..? Like where do you want to go with this?

DUNIA: I want this to be the future right? And we have a lot a lot of work ahead of us because it’s very far from it right? So it’s kind of for me it’s like just this interesting puzzle that I think it’s gonna accompany the rest of my life right so it’s just playing with that and finding ways to make it sustainable and to solve kind of like some of the big problems of the world right? Because we see we see all around us how there’s so much corruption, and there’s so many problems from power hoarding we prevent from that how do we even prevent societies from always looking for where’s the next hero the next savior right? We need somebody but it’s always gonna be if you don’t change the model and if you don’t stop looking for heroes  then nothing is going to change right? So finding ways in which power is not hoarded, accumulated, totally distributed and are sustainable, right? And truly transparent and people truly know how to operate and be effective in those settings it’s huge i mean we could spend the rest of our life doing that. [laughter]

STEFFEN:  I like what you said. Like, don’t look for a hero. And in my mind it was like don’t look for a hero, be the hero yourself and enable others so that we can all be heroes at the same time.

DUNIA: Yes. 

STEFFEN: And I had one question in mind and you basically you answered it already because I was wondering like everybody watching now and I guess we all have been in situations where we thought oh it should not be this way but it’s difficult to to know exactly okay what is my next step to do it’s not always easy. And I think there is this perception that something is off with our business environment that we’re in at least in some cases. What would be your suggestion like what can each individual do also to bring us as a society forward? And it sounds like you already touched it.

DUNIA: Yeah. I can do a recap because I went through that right? I went through that and I went through all those doubts and I had to at some point – I had to decide right? To let go even of sources of income that were very nice and stable right so it’s quite scary right to do that

and Ii also got myself into situations that actually I wouldn’t recommend for people to get into so so what I would say is if you’re in a setting in an organization that that frustrates you and doesn’t operate in this way don’t try to change you know. Think of what is your domain. What is the space that you control? You can work on that and practice on that there’s so much practice that we need to do. There’s so many things that we need to unlearn that you know we can so long as it’s a setting where I can practice, let’s do that. Because practicing would make me feel a lot more confident in finding new new ways right? And doors will open from me practicing in the areas where I have I’m holding like a mini space let’s say within the large one right? But don’t try to change the rest because then you become almost like a cancer for that organization. I mean I know you’re not trying to be, you’re trying to to aspire for something better but it’s perceived wrongly right? So better not to go there at one point you’re gonna need to leave. I found that at one point even if i wanted to work in a traditional setting, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t fake it and I couldn’t even be effective anymore. I became incompetent. Yeah so so then okay now it’s time to go for sure and I did it many times that I ventured into the new paradigm world but it was not providing me with enough income so I do like a project here or a project there and I saw how more and more i was just not able to to operate in those settings anymore right? So I gradually transitioned, right? And sometimes I had to take some big jumps, yeah? Which always come with a bit of risk and a bit of it’s scary but you feel so good when you’re doing it you feel so I mean you’re like on fire when you’re doing that it’s like wow like you feel like you’re illuminated you know like and you just like jump and you’re so excited hoping you’re not gonna crash but you’re so excited about it so yeah. [laughter]

STEFFEN: Thank you Dunia. I’m imagining you lifting from the ground being illuminated with all the excitement and my last question goes in this direction like how can we share this excitement? But before I go deeper into this connection in this question and for the audience we have nine minutes left so I think I’m supposed to wrap it up soon but I’m not going to do that we have a few more minutes I guess that we can squeeze out if you have one more question please feel free to drop it. And I have one last question for you, Dunia. You said that you want to be contagious, you want to create this contagious environment and for me, what we are doing right now is exactly what I think is driving contagiousness is speaking about it sharing it with people interacting letting people know, getting other points of view et cetera. What is it for you? Is it this is? Is it spreading the words or is there anything else that you are planning to do?

DUNIA:  Absolutely. I mean absolutely it’s doing but also spreading right? Because we’re all at different stages right in this journey and to see others why did the Frederick Laloux book inspire me so much because he talked about very specific cases of companies that already do it like that so I said okay this is not utopia it’s possible right so it’s a little close doing it I’m talking about it and collaborating with each other right? Like all of us, all this network really collaborating and supporting each other. The market is huge.

STEFFEN: Yeah. I fully agree. I also like just inspiring each other and learning that

it’s possible right? I think this helps a lot to just see that people have done it so maybe we are not so special after all maybe we can also give it a shot and and see what comes out of it to gain this trust that  we can really change something. Eight minutes to go we have one last question that we can tackle from Marianna. Have you ever been approached by the company themselves? 

DUNIA: You know that’s a really great question. No. Or at least not yet. But I think if we get to that stage – that’s it. We become contagious. So that’s the dream. 

STEFFEN: So way to go in the next two years I guess then after your first proof of concept and from the first companies then people should apply to get bought by you.

DUNIA:  Employees. Have employees call us and say buy our company. [laughter]

STEFFEN: I cross fingers that you are going to get there as I truly think it’s an amazing approach that you’re following and I’m very much looking forward to see also how things go. I’m happy to hear that the first investment round is through and that nothing is stopping you now to really just get going and create positive examples that can in the end serve as inspiration again  for the rest of the community. We have six minutes left and I think there is a few more things  to mention as- let me check my list real quick. As I said I’m not so super familiar with everything yet but I’m learning and it’s a learning journey also for me so and as you know I mentioned in the beginning you will have the possibility to watch this video also online and you also have the possibility to share this conversation and to like it and follow us on social media and we will also have following events for you and ideally in a second there will be a QR code exactly so that you can join our next Living Room Conversation. If you find time on March of the 30th we have,

and I’m sorry if I’m pronouncing it wrong, Luz Iglesias and Edwin Jansen and we have here and we have a Teal safari. I’m on the topic of sustainability running on March 24th. Just scan the QR codes and you will be directed to more information if you’re interested.

And with this my last words and thank you very much Dunia. And it was a pleasure having this conversation thank you so much for your time and for your openness to share for me it was truly inspiring and as our previous conversation was as well  just on a different level and I would like to hand over for the last words to you and so that you can share whatever you might have upcoming or whatever you want to share with the rest of the audience.

DUNIA:  Yeah, no, I- all I want to share is thank you thank you for being a great host and I’m very happy to hear that it’s your first time you did a great job and it’s great to be learning and learning so thank you so much. And yeah let’s start a movement. 

STEFFEN: Let’s start a movement. I think that’s the very best last point we can make. Share it, spread the word, get in contact, I think also get in contact with Dunia if you’re interested. I’m not sure if we have your details somewhere but I guess yes you are linked in the links and otherwise reach out to us and we can forward you the Linkedin page of Dunia and then let’s make a difference and share our successes to inspire others. I wish you a great rest of the day. If it’s evening or morning, enjoy the rest and talk to you during our next Living Room Conversations. 

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