In today's business landscape, the concept of purpose has become increasingly significant. More and more entrepreneurs are realizing the importance of aligning their businesses with a greater mission that goes beyond profitability.
In this interview, we have the privilege of hearing from Claudia Winkler, a former CMO in the telecommunications industry, who embarked on a transformative journey to establish a purpose-driven business - Goood Mobile.
Claudia Winkler is a Founding Partner & Board Member at goood network.
Discover Claudia's journey in implementing alternative management approaches and the lessons learned along the way. From embracing the B Corp accreditation to navigating the challenges of holacracy, Claudia shares insights on keeping the mission alive, fostering diversity, and the importance of personal growth in creating a meaningful and sustainable future.
Her story sheds light on the challenges and rewards of transitioning from a profit-oriented mindset to one focused on making a positive impact on society and the planet.
Let's dive into Claudia's inspiring journey and explore the unique elements that set her business apart.
To get the full story please watch the interview - there is a highlights package below but it doesn't do justice to hearing Claudia tell her story.
How Claudia's business journey began and what motivated her to make the shift from profit to purpose driven business?
Claudia's journey into the world of entrepreneurship started around three to four years ago, but before that, she had a solid background in the business world. She achieved the remarkable feat of becoming a C-level executive in a European telecommunications company operating in eight markets. Her passion for the telecommunications industry stemmed from a genuine belief in its ability to connect people and make a positive impact.
For many years, Claudia found great satisfaction in her work, loving what she did and excelling at it. She received positive feedback and enjoyed a successful career. However, as she approached her 40s, she began to question if there was something more she could contribute to the world. This internal reflection led her to discover the Japanese concept of "ikigai," which outlines four essential circles for defining one's purpose: doing what you love, doing what you're good at, doing what you can be paid for, and doing what's good for the world.
Realising that her current role no longer fulfilled all four circles of her ikigai, Claudia made a clear decision to embark on a new path. She decided to study social innovation, even though she initially had limited knowledge of the field. This journey brought her in close contact with people from the nonprofit sector, providing her with a fresh perspective and a deep appreciation for the potential impact of social businesses.
Claudia's passion for creating a bridge between business and purposeful endeavours grew stronger. She came across the concepts of conscious business and social business, which emphasized aligning business with societal contributions. While she initially explored different avenues, including founding a successful nonprofit organization, a friend from the telecommunications industry challenged her to use her expertise more effectively. This sparked the idea for their first venture, "Mobile," which aimed to make telecommunications more sustainable.
Their innovative business model involved allocating a portion of customers' mobile tariffs to a charity of their choice. This was just the beginning, as Claudia and her team realized they needed to transform their entire business model to achieve holistic sustainability. For them, sustainability encompassed not only ecological factors but also social and economic aspects. They strived to create positive social impact, minimise harm to the planet through eco-friendly practices, and ensure the business remained financially sustainable in the long run.
With these principles in mind, Claudia co-founded "Goood Mobile" and successfully launched their first tariffs in Germany and Austria. Today, the business stands as a self-sustaining example of how a business model can be changed within an industry. While their customer base may not be massive, their impact and proof of concept have resonated. Claudia firmly believes that leading by example and demonstrating the feasibility of such models can inspire others, including larger companies, to follow suit and drive real change.
In her mission to make a difference, Claudia actively engages with others in the telco industry and beyond, sharing her experiences and encouraging them to consider similar approaches.
She hopes to ignite the spark of change in others, knowing that collective efforts can truly transform industries and contribute to a greener, more sustainable planet.
Any major difference in the ecosystem Claudia operates in?
Claudia's company embraces a unique approach to entrepreneurship, aligning with the concept of zebras rather than unicorns. While unicorns represent startups with astronomical valuations and a focus solely on financial success, zebras emphasize profit and purpose, recognizing the importance of both. Claudia believes in the power of collaboration and the strength that comes from working together. This collaborative mindset sets her company apart, as they actively seek partnerships and openly discuss their failures, ideas, and projects.
The culture within Claudia's company promotes transparency and encourages open dialogue. They have shifted away from the traditional top-down approach and strive for a more egalitarian working environment. Although their attempt at implementing a holographic model didn't succeed, they still prioritize working on an equal footing, allowing everyone to take responsibility and contribute based on their expertise and insights.
These differences in approach extend beyond their internal operations. Externally, Claudia's company actively collaborates with others in the ecosystem. They believe that by interconnecting and building networks, they gain diverse perspectives and can work collectively to solve the challenges facing the planet. Their commitment to contributing to a greener and fairer future for all serves as their mission, driving their purpose-driven endeavors.
Was it challenging for Claudia to make the shift to this different environment which seems or is perceived to be much less powerful?
Making the shift to a different environment and embracing a new perspective was undoubtedly challenging for Claudia as an individual. As the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in her previous role, she was accustomed to power and influence associated with her job title. However, she had a realization that her power was tied to her position, not to her true self. It was a wake-up call for her to recognize that power and success should not be solely defined by job titles.
Fortunately, Claudia had experienced multiple job transitions within her career, which involved letting go of power and starting anew. Each time she moved to a new job, she had to leave behind her previous position's authority and rebuild from scratch. This prior experience helped her navigate the transition to her current role.
The biggest challenge for Claudia was redefining her values and measuring success in a different way. Previously, success was tied to her paycheck, social status, and the number of people she managed. However, she now measures success by the impact her company makes, the inspiration they provide, and the positive change they bring to the world. Although she intellectually understands this new perspective, after two decades of thinking otherwise, it can still be challenging for her to fully internalize and let go of the old metrics of success.
Claudia continues to grapple with redefining success based on her company's purpose and mission. While they have their own set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) focused on social impact, such as the number of donations, the amount of money raised, the number of talks given, and the reach they achieve, the deep-rooted conditioning of traditional success metrics occasionally resurfaces, creating inner conflicts.
The personal journey of shifting her mindset and redefining success has been challenging for Claudia. It required letting go of the power associated with her previous role and embracing a new set of values and measures of success. While intellectually she understands and aligns with the new perspective, it takes time and self-reflection to fully embrace it on an emotional level.
Bcorp accreditation and why is important to Claudia
The B Corp accreditation played a significant role in Claudia's journey. When she started her business, she was initially unaware of B Corps. However, when someone in her team discovered the B Corp framework, they were immediately drawn to it. The concept resonated strongly with Claudia and her team because it offered a great way for businesses and individuals trained in business to contribute to a better planet.
B Corps, or Benefit Corporations, are a movement rooted in the United States that promotes the idea of businesses as a force for good. It is a community of thousands of businesses across various industries and sizes that commit to conducting their business in a way that contributes positively to society. Claudia mentioned some notable companies that are part of the B Corp community, such as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry's, and Kickstarter.
What unites all B Corps is the belief that businesses should create not just shareholder value but also stakeholder value. The B Corp framework provides a clear definition of stakeholder value and offers a holistic approach to building sustainable companies. B Corps are assessed based on five pillars: social responsibility, ecological impact, governance, workforce, and customers. By meeting the criteria set by the B Corp association through an audit process, companies can earn the B Corp certification.
For Claudia, the importance of B Corp accreditation goes beyond receiving a stamp or certificate. It is about the journey and the guidance provided by the assessment process. Completing the assessment helps businesses identify their blind spots and areas for improvement. Claudia shared an example of how their initial focus on social responsibility made them overlook the ecological side of their business. The B Corp framework helped them realise the importance of considering their ecological footprint and taking steps to address it.
The B Corp accreditation provides businesses with a roadmap for becoming more sustainable and guides them in aligning their mission and practices with the values of the B Corp community. Additionally, being part of the B Corp network offers opportunities for connection, collaboration, and access to resources and ideas. It also provides visibility and publicity, contributing to the positive image and reputation of the certified companies.
How do Claudia & her team keep their WHY alive?
Claudia and her team keep their mission alive in their day-to-day work by staying focused on their "why" and maintaining a clear understanding of their purpose. Their overarching mission is to shape a meaningful future, not just through their mobile operations but also through their consulting work and collaborations with nonprofit organisations.
To make their mission tangible and aligned with broader sustainability goals, Claudia references the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs provide a framework of seven goals, including ending hunger and poverty, addressing climate change, promoting sustainable consumption, and fostering partnerships for achieving these goals. Claudia and her team believe that they can contribute to the SDGs by educating and providing opportunities for sustainable consumption, as well as by fostering collaborations among diverse stakeholders.
As social entrepreneurs, their aim is to go beyond their immediate projects and become system entrepreneurs. They leverage their experience and expertise to act as catalysts for change, bringing people from different worlds together to work towards the SDGs in their respective domains. This ability to navigate between different sectors and facilitate collaboration is seen as their most valuable asset.
Given the dynamic and uncertain nature of the world, Claudia acknowledges the need for flexibility in pursuing their mission. While they have a broad goal, they recognise that everyday decisions and actions may need to be adjusted based on changing circumstances. This flexibility allows them to adapt and respond to the challenges and opportunities that arise in their work towards creating a meaningful future.
Any interesting company rituals or unique practices?
Claudia mentions that their team doesn't have any specific rituals or traditions. However, what makes them interesting is the diversity of their team members. They have individuals with different personalities, which adds a unique dynamic to their work environment.
Regarding their experience with holacracy, Claudia shares an interesting story. They decided to implement holacracy, a self-management organizational model, inspired by the book "Reinventing Organizations" by Frederic Laloux. They were excited about the principles and wanted to give it a try. They hired a coach and introduced circles and self-organizing teams. Initially, everyone was enthusiastic and enjoyed the concept.
However, they faced challenges in meeting their performance goals and deadlines. The stress of the situation led the founders, who were trained in traditional top-down management, to abandon the holacratic approach in a moment of frustration. Claudia acknowledges that they lacked the necessary leadership skills and mindset to fully embrace and sustain holacracy.
Looking back, Claudia suggests that if they were to do it again, they would consider adopting an agile framework instead. She emphasizes the importance of personal growth and development alongside implementing new management approaches.
It's not enough to simply establish organisational principles and values; individuals also need to invest in their own development and leadership skills.
Claudia shares this story as a word of caution and inspiration for others who may be considering alternative management approaches. It's crucial to recognise that personal growth and training are just as essential as creating a framework for the organisation. Without investing in self-improvement, the implementation of new management models may not succeed.
More about Claudia & Goood Mobile
Claudia Winkler is a Founding Partner & Board Member at goood network Holding AG | Helping impact ventures growing their ideas Claudia is a C-Level Executive with 15+ years track record in starting-up and managing innovative telecommunication companies in eight countries in very challenging and different market environments, serving millions of new customers.
She is passionate about social impact and impact innovation, with a proven track record of transforming traditional business models for the next generation. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Vienna University of Economics and Business and a postgraduate degree from the University of Technology Sydney.
Claudia is now a published author & had written a beautifully simple & powerful book called The Sustainability Puzzle.
goood mobile was launched by a team of experienced Telco executives and NPO Experts as the first Impact mobile service offering in Germany in Spring 2017. After first successes in Germany goood mobile was also able to start in Austria in October 2017. Spring 2017. After first successes in Germany goood mobile was also able to start in Austria in October 2017. Goood is the first telecommunications company in Europe to receive B Corp certification leading to a democratic redistribution of profits to social projects.
In addition to numerous recognitions and prizes, the company was also honoured as the "Top 50 Most Impactful Global Social Innovator 2019" during the World CSR Day 2019 in Mumbai. More about goood: www.goood.de, www.goood-mobile.at
What is a B Corp?
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. B Corporations and leaders of this emerging economy believe: That we must be the change we seek in the world.That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.
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