Finding my current purpose has been a long journey. I say current purpose because for most people the purpose will evolve and change over time. It’s unlikely that your life purpose will be the same in your early twenties as your 40s or your 70s.
Your purpose is not a destination but the journey you’re on. The same thing applies to companies. The purpose or why for most businesses will evolve over time and it’s what you actually do and not what you say.
The journey to my current purpose involves Bill Gates, startups, love, failed angel investments, ayahuasca, meditation, dreams, surfing, becoming a father and white beaches. This is the short version of my story.
As a child I was not like the other kids. Long before the world wide web was born I was running bulletin boards (pre websites) and writing software. My big idol was Bill Gates. I wanted to be as successful as him and manage lots of people.
The number of people working for you was important. Therefore another inspiration was Jack Welch who managed over 200,000 people at GE and known for being tough but fair. Secretly I also aspired to become an author like Douglas Adams, the author of Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy.
Money wasn’t particularly important but big things were. I wanted to construct big houses and tall skyscrapers. For a short while architecture was a potential career path except that I couldn’t really draw a straight line.
Like most other people in their twenties I just went with the flow. Studied computer science, got a job in an IT startup, helped create a couple of other startups and accidentally became a millionaire for a short period at the age of 25. Then I lost the money equally fast by investing it all in IT stocks in January 2000. It didn’t bother me too much.
My first purposeful decision was the creation of the mobile app startup Golden Gekko in 2006. I left a well-paid executive job in London to start a company with a friend. Our plan was to get rich fast by developing mobile apps and games. One year later we had no revenue and I had spent most of my saved up money. Then we had our breakthrough and became the leading mobile application consultancy in Europe.
The creation of my own business had a second purpose. Living by the beach in Barcelona. I was tired of corporate life and rainy London after 3 years. Instead I wanted to live in Barcelona, Spain after visiting some friends.
As Golden Gekko grew we started talking more about the vision and mission of the company. Our main development office was in Phnom Penh and we ended up creating hundreds of jobs in Cambodia. This became our purpose. Then we started Golden Gekko University training young talent on mobile app development and human centric design while working on projects in partnership with NGOs and governments. Our teams created mobile solutions for Unicef, USAID, Oxfam, Friends, World Vision and many more. Our purpose evolved to improving the world through mobile technology.
When we received an acquisition offer for the company late 2012 the decision to accept it was easy. My dream was no longer to be CEO and manage lots of employees.
In 2012 I also met the love of my life and now wife. For me it was love at first meeting whereas it took 6 months to convince her. Maybe the struggles and ultimate success of Golden Gekko helped me to persist.
Although I had been warned about jumping on to the next project too fast after selling my company I did it anyway. Beside my full-time role as President of DMI International with 400+ employees, I started making angel investments in startups with my goal of becoming a full time angel investor in the long term. My goal and purpose was to give back by helping others succeed based on my experience and lucky fortunes.
This changed when the next challenge presented itself. During a conversation with an acquaintance I became interested in the issues of drinking water in Spain. Why was it that the water tasted so bad, was it safe to drink and what was the perception of Spanish people? We concluded that at least 40% or over 6 million households in Spain drink bottled water simply because of taste preference and lack of trust in the tap water. Could we find a solution for this, eliminate the need for bottled water and create a sustainable business?
While we continued to research the problem and test possible solutions I also started thinking about and exploring my life purpose for the first time.
The love of my life moved in with me, we spent 4 months in San Francisco, I proposed and she said yes, we got married and decided to start a family. I tried meditation and ayahuasca, wrote a diary, documented my dreams, started a book club with 6 brilliant people and went surfing early mornings whenever I had a chance. The ocean and the waves gave me the most tranquility. My mind paused and enabled me to just enjoy the world.
It wasn’t an individual experience that helped me find my purpose but the journey and combination of everything. What kind of world did I want my children to grow up in? How could I help ensure that there would still be beautiful white beaches and clean oceans in 10 and 20 years from now? What did I want to focus the next 5-10 years on?
What started as a project of eliminating the need for bottled water grew into a purpose of reducing human impact on the planet for the future of all inhabitants. Part of this is achieved through the company TAPP Water and its employees that share my personal mission.
The other part is me and my family living a life that supports the purpose. And of course living by and enjoying that white beach that I dreamt about since the beginning.
It’s a journey and not a destination.