Patrick Struebi | Founder & CEO Fairtrasa International AG

Patrick Struebi

In 2008, Patrick was elected an Ashoka Fellow for his work as a social entrepreneur. At Ashoka, he was one of the first Fellows with a strong background in the for-profit corporate sector, and one of the first to have scaled a for-profit social enterprise globally. More recognition soon followed: He was named an Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2011 and Social Entrepreneur of the Year by UBS (2009), the abc* Foundation (2012), Univision (2012), and the Schwab Foundation (2014). In 2014, Patrick was honored by the World Economic Forum as a New Champion, and was invited by the Huffington Post to write a regular column on social entrepreneurship. He is currently a Yale World Fellow and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute.

Patrick-Struebi_P1My Definition Of Success | The meaning of success has changed fundamentally for me over the years. I began my career in a corporate world where profit was the goal. Success there meant making money for shareholders, and for me personally, it meant getting the best job, earning the salary and bonus, and winning affirmation from my clients and bosses. But in my early thirties, I underwent a major paradigm shift in the way I thought about myself in the world, and fundamental to that shift was how I defined success for myself. Success means applying my strengths as a person to generate positive change for people and our planet.

I Am Driven By | The act of creation—creating something truly new—and seeking innovative and sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

My Highlights | What makes me most proud on a personal level is not really a specific highlight, but the fact that I’ve always followed my inner voice against all odds, and that I’ve always been true to others as well as to my own values and principles. On a career level, I’m very proud that I’ve created an organization that’s providing opportunities to thousands of people who are far less fortunate than I was, simply because they were poor and marginalized. We have no idea how many Einsteins and Mozarts there are out there, who can barely read and write because they happened to be born in remote places with no opportunities. Creating opportunities for them gives me a deep sense of pride and satisfaction.

The Difference Between Good And Great | People who are good at something manage to learn and execute successfully certain tasks. But their motive for doing those tasks may have nothing to do with the tasks themselves (e.g., they do the job who pays best, etc.).
People who are great at what they do, do what is their mission in life. They don’t only have the skills to do what they do, but they do it with heart and soul, with every cell of their body. And because of that, they radiate a lot of good and creative energy and have this special shine in their eyes when they talk about what they do.

Patrick-Struebi_P2A Key Talent | I have a talent for motivating and inspiring the people around me. This talent is rooted in the clarity of my vision and mission and the strength of my inner voice. Each of us has an inner voice, but it’s so easy for it to get drowned out by all the other voices around us. Likewise our values are there inside of us, but it’s difficult to have true clarity about what they are. The more we act in harmony with our values, our inner voice becomes stronger the more we listen to it. I think of it as like polishing a crystal: Each decision that you make, each action you take, that confirms your inner values, makes them shine stronger and brighter. And as they do, you begin attracting the right people and opportunities.

Principles I Live By | Leave everything a little better than how you found it.

Critical Skills I Develop | I’m a constant learner. I observe the world around me closely, observe myself closely. I learn from my mistakes and from the mistakes of others. It’s important to maintain an innate curiosity and to always keep learning.

How I Use My Mind | I constantly try to maintain an open and independent mind, to see reality from multiple perspectives. I always look for win-win-win solutions.

Lessons I Have Learnt | I recently wrote a column that answers this very question, laying out 10 lessons from 10 years as a social entrepreneur.

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I love nature and classical music. Most of my important inspirations I had on the pilgrimage to St James of Campostela in Spain. It’s a profound way to reconnect with myself and with the larger picture of life and the world.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | After ten years as a social entrepreneur, I still feel that I’m at the beginning—that there’s so much work to be done. So that is still my primary goal and vision: to bring Fairtrasa’s model to many more small-scale farmers all around the world. At the same time, I’m eager to take what I’ve learned and apply it to other industries, sectors, and parts of the world, collaborating with people and organizations that share my vision. Also, I truly enjoy mentoring young entrepreneurs and help them make their dreams a reality.

Patrick-Struebi_P3The Meaning Of Life | Developing your true self by finding your mission and building something excellent that benefits others. In other words: Awareness, Creation, and Love.

On Inspiring Others | First, it’s essential that the goals be ours, not just mine. I connect with people who share my mission, vision, and passion. Beyond that, I think it’s important to entrust the people on my team with real responsibility and to give them the possibility of being creative, of being entrepreneurs, and of being leaders. When you give them this trust, they rise to the challenge and help us grow in ways that I couldn’t have accomplished on my own.

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