the interview

Why did you found this company, The Business of Being?

Elkie: “We didn’t ‘found’ The Business of Being. It was not ‘founded’. Rather, it emerged and is still emerging. 🙂 And it isn’t a company 🙂 It is a creative collaboration. We were both looking for space to truly co-create with the people we work with and to let things emerge that are really meaningful and useful to them. To trust that structure and form emerges with more clarity and pertinence when there is no pre-decided plan. We are confident that we have enough to share and that people bring enough to the table themselves to guarantee a deep and finely attuned learning experience.

You call it a ‘learning event’ rather than a training or workshop. Why?

Marie-Cecile: “We call The Business of Being a ‘learning event’ rather than a ‘training’ or a ‘workshop’ because we really value equity and an openness to learning by all who are present. We are moving away from the teacher/pupil paradigm while ensuring that we bring more than enough to the table that people will experience as being new, refreshing and supportive.”

Elkie: “And directly applicable. That’s very important to us. That people leave with tools that they can experiment with straight away. They can start doing some things differently – however difficult that might be.

Marie-Cecile: Also, every ‘The Business of Being’ learning event is unique and co-created by the group, together with us in real time. Maybe someone brings in the question “Help! I have an interim manager who says quite clearly that she is not interested in people only in results. How can I connect with her?? Do I even want to?”

Elkie: “Exactly! And someone else might say; “Our meetings are so boring and take so long. And yet still we don’t seem to get much done. I am so fed up with it!” or “I go to work every day and spend more than 30 hours a week there..and yet I don’t like what I am doing. And I have a mortgage. I feel trapped.”

Marie-Cecile: We harvest input from the group and then we sketch a design for the time that we are planning to share, whether that be a couple of hours in a digital clinic, or several days in an in-company event. We keep checking in with the group to make sure that the learning is still relevant to them. Our intention is to create a learning experience that fits like a glove.

Elkie: We really want to support people in gaining new insights in the situations they are in; to increase their awareness of choice in the moment; and to empower them to put new concrete actions into the world with the aim of enriching it. We do this while keeping our eye closely on our consciousness of the systems we are operating in and the impact they have on the choices we make.

It sounds complicated. Doesn’t this process of creating in the moment take loads of time?

Elkie: We are inspired by new style organisations as described in the book Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux. We hope to show people how quick and effective group decision making can be in real time so that they can take those skills back to the workplace.”

How do you work exactly?

Elkie: Well. it is important to us to find a balance between physical, cognitive and emotional approaches. I think that the ‘serious play’ element is higher in The Business of Being than in traditional ‘trainings’ and that this is one way in which we invite people to gently stretch into a fuller wisdom than a purely cognitive approach.

Marie-Cecile: That goes for a more meditative approach as well. After all, we have chosen the tag-line ‘slowing down to move forward’ for a reason. We really believe that people and organisations are way more effective when they slow down consciously to connect to more than just the next appointment in their diary, their next deadline, or even their next client.

Elkie: We work with the group as a whole, and invite people to form dyads or smaller groups to have the space and depth of connection to investigate some things in more detail. We use all sorts of different types of games, exercises and approaches to support the learning and to ensure that sessions are fun. Fun, depth and learning go great together!

What do you mean with ‘experimenting with different economic models’?

Elkie: I am unhappy with the current economic system we have created and continue to maintain. I see our current systems as working very, very well for a very small group of people; as working reasonably well for a slightly larger group of people; and not working at all for the majority of the people in the world.

I have been experimenting on a personal level with different economic systems for the last 15 years. I want to walk my talk. I am hopeful and inspired to live a gifting economy which is some steps away from an exchange economy (I will give you this, if you give me that) or the value economy (this is what this is worth to me so I will give you that).

A gifting economy works on a two-way principle. That people live their passion and unique contribution to the world on the one side, and take full responsibility for their own relationship with the flow of resources between people and other life forms in the world on the other. We go into this in greater depth when it comes up in clinics or other events. We share the different economic models that we are aware of and the group decides with which model they want to experiment with.

Wow! This seems scary to me? Don’t you feel unsure?

Marie-Cecile: Sometimes 🙂 And it is a wonderful way to give more space to let life steer me where she wants to have me. Dana, a buddhist practise, has been in the world for centuries. So there is nothing new in a gifting economy.

Elkie: Some people get confused and think that a gifting economy is about doing things for free. Nothing is further from the truth! It is about indivdual response-abilty and consciousness of interconnectedness at all levels.

What are your dreams for The Business of Being?

That we give it the space to grow and flourish at the tempo that reveals itself; that we remain flexible and focussed on what we want to create in the world – happy, healthy organisations that contribute to the well-being of all in the world; that we create open, emotionally safe spaces where can share, grow and learn together in the emotional safety that they enjoy; that we get things done without ‘pushing the river’. Believe me, this is all possible and sustainable – and it is a different from the so called ;main stream’. We believe it is time to do things differently. 🙂