Steve Jobs said that the world belongs to the generation of creatives that realizes cooperation not competition will lead us to a better tomorrow. A tomorrow we and the next generation can be proud of. I agree.
Outside The Box
Thinking “outside the box” or by a different paradigm has always been part of who I am. While most children and young adults would look for ways to follow a pre-existing, pre-structured way of doing something, I naturally tend to think of purpose before action. Growing up in two different worlds, the former Yugoslavia and Canada, gave me a unique perspective on how environment, culture and societal values shape our daily lives. I was blessed to grow up in a family which respected people from all walks of life and backgrounds. The human condition interested me from as far back as I can recall. I remember being about 10 years old when I first read the phrase “survival of the fittest,” referring to Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Like everyone else, I simply understood it to mean that nature favored the strongest and the fittest.
Back then, I didn’t know that this sentence was taken out of context and used to give the European ruling class moral grounds to colonize and dominate most of the world. The European ruling families of the 19th century took the statement to mean that the poor were not fit for competition; therefore, the rich should not feel ashamed about using and abusing the laws to favor their generational wealth and power. Hence, a new era of laissez-faire capitalism commenced.
What does all of this have to do with Cold Press Juice and Virgin Press? I moved to the Virgin Islands during the winter of 2014 with the intent to gain yet another life perspective. Shortly after arriving to this place which was a brand new world to me, I realized that I’d happened upon a place which valued and respected humans regardless of their socioeconomic position. I enjoyed watching everyday people simply being happy and spreading happiness to all who were willing to tune in and participate. I basked in this new found natural paradise and wondered what I could do to make it an even better place. Within a few months, I realized that the biggest challenge the island had was a lack of affordable nutrition. Even though one of the neighboring islands was rich in land and agricultural opportunities, the skill set and basic infrastructure to cultivate significant amounts of organic produce were non-existent. The repercussions were tragic especially for children living in poverty. This small, eight mile by three mile island is an afterthought to most, yet it receives 2.5 million visitors annually and is home to close to 60,000 year round residents. Virgin Press was born to help pave the road towards nutritional independence throughout the islands.
In our first phase, we will launch our nutritious cold press juices in Miami to help generate support and provide the necessary resources for the second phase of our project which involves helping local farmers on the island to grow the produce required for our juices. We plan to build a chain of Virgin Press stores along the Caribbean cruise ships’ path to provide millions of tourists and locals with the cheapest form of organic nutrition and hydration.
My life’s journey placed me in megacities as well as tiny villages where I gained life experiences and absorbed different perspectives. My first major brush with an opportunity to affect change happened while working at the University Of Western Ontario Department Of Education. I was part of a research team tasked with evaluating the impact of a groundbreaking project which aimed to revise the way science was taught in Canadian high schools. Let’s talk Science (www.letstalkscience.ca) began as a big idea in Dr. Bonnie Schmidt’s mind. Ten years later, this idea has changed lives and touched over 3 million students and educators. Students who, in the past, were turned off by antiquated teaching techniques now had an opportunity to develop a love and passion for science.
I remember being inspired and humbled by the significance of this project. It was the first time that I recognized that thinking big is the way. Upon graduating and completing the research project, I moved to Montreal where I spent four years working for a global conglomerate, gaining necessary insights into global organizational workings and infrastructure. Employing five thousand people and having 248 branch offices worldwide was an impressive feat considering the company’s humble beginnings. Future Electronics was started by Robert Miller in 1967 and grew into the largest privately owned distributor of electronics components in the world. Coincidentally, it was built on the philosophy and principles of the Dale Carnegie Institute which advocated cooperation over competition (Job’s concept). My experience at Future Electronics was formative as it provided both the opportunity to learn what I like and most importantly what I dislike about the corporate system. Although I was excelling in my position, my creativity and passion for purpose remained stifled.
I knew that I was not driven by the same motivating factors as most and could not continue my career and life working for a corporation without purpose. Sometime during 2004, I began to delve deeper into my own spiritual and intellectual development by reading books and new research on topics such as quantum physics, meditation, brain neuroplasticity, spirituality and consciousness. I began my research and interest in nutrition in 1996, and by 2010, I successfully applied it to treating my own auto- immune disorder (Psoriatic Arthritis). The doctors’ prognosis was a lifelong treatment of bi- weekly injections. I begged to differ and soon became living proof that the human mind is capable of a lot more than we understand and give it credit for. In 2012, I helped co-create Joycott (www.joycott.com) which helps socially conscious organizations to promote their purposes and services. The big idea was to give both consumers and socially responsible companies a voice, so instead of boycotting the companies they didn’t like, consumers had the opportunity to Joycott the ones they did like. My experience with Joycott ignited an enthusiasm in me to write a manifesto which depicts four winning principles that every organization in the twenty-first century ought to consider in order to succeed. Four Elements was written to empower companies and individuals to do the right thing and not be afraid to invest in being good. It explains how, in today’s social-media-driven ecosystem, companies that care win.