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How to Discover Your Passionate Purpose (Episode 92)

Jenny Harlen is an entrepreneur in the field of food waste – helping people to return organic material to the soil where it is needed to improve fertility as well as help counter climate change. Originally from New Zealand, she has started companies in Sweden and Myanmar based on innovative methods such as bokashi composting (a form of natural fermentation that boosts the soil microbiome and helps sequester carbon in the soil).

The company she runs in Sweden with her six colleagues, bokashi.se, was recently awarded third place in Sweden’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year award. While the company is not big by any means, the award recognized the sustainability of the concept, the solution, and the business itself over the decade and a half it has been working for change in this critical environmental area.

Jenny has built the business organically since 2007, harnessing the power of social media to create a market for a previously unheard-of product, and a solution for a need that society has until very recently been largely unaware of. Her driving force has always been to do something that is needed, and that makes sense on a personal as well as global level.

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What you will learn

  • How Jenny discovered her passionate purpose
  • Where energy and drive comes from
  • How to overcome fear and doubt
  • What you should be doing comes from an intersection of 3 things
  • The power of taking time off and silence can produce insights and get you in touch with your intuition
  • Why timing is important in business
  • How living simply gives you freedom and autonomy

Transcript

Jeff Bullas

00:00:03 - 00:02:14

Hi everyone and welcome to the Jeff Bullas show and today I have with me, Jenny Harlen. Now, Jenny is coming to me from the backwoods of Sweden and it's just getting dark there inside because they're heading into winter and we, of course, are in summer. In fact, some of us have been accused of Sydney's always in summer according to northern climes. But just a bit about Jenny, now I met Jenny via my partner who introduced me to this very, very adventurous Australian-born, New Zealand-raised adventurer that has traveled the world and even turned up in Myanmar in the middle of Covid and a coup so she likes obviously things starting to see Covid and coups of course, so Jenny is an entrepreneur in the field of food waste. Okay, so she helps people return organic material of the soil where it is needed to improve fertility as well as help counter climate change.

Originally from New Zealand, she has started companies in Sweden and Myanmar based on innovative methods such as Bokashi composting, a form of natural fermentation that boosts soil microbiome and helps sequester carbon in the soil. So Jenny is also about helping climate change, in fact, trying to reduce, but it doesn't happen. The company she runs in Sweden with her six colleagues, bokashi.se was recently awarded third-place in Sweden's Annual Entrepreneur of the Year award. The award recognized the sustainability of the concept, the solution and the business itself over the decade and a half has been working for change in this critical environmental area.

Jenny has built a business organically since 2007, harnessing the power of social media to create a market for previously unheard of product and a solution for a need that society until very recently has been largely unaware of. Her driving force has always been to do something that is needed. That makes sense on a personal as well as a global level. Welcome to the show, Jenny.

Jenny Harlen

00:02:15 - 00:02:19

Thank you, Jeff. It was a lovely introduction. I appreciate it.

Jeff Bullas

00:02:20 - 00:02:34

So Jenny, you've been on a very interesting journey. So originally you were born to an Australian mother and a New Zealand father, is that correct?

Jenny Harlen

00:02:34 - 00:02:39

That's right. Yeah. Maybe 60 years ago.

Jeff Bullas

00:02:39 - 00:03:16

Okay. Well don't worry, you're, I'm even, I'm even an older camp than that, but the reality is that you were raised in a little flat overlooking what became the Opera House in Sydney, Sydney Harbor and moved to Auckland and or near Auckland I think it was. And you ended up doing a degree in Bachelor of Commerce with a bit of a marketing background plus sort of programming and coding and computers. So what made you choose that sort of degree?

Jenny Harlen

00:03:17 - 00:04:13

Yeah, random. I mean, this was remorse in 1980, I guess. So it was the early days of computers. It was when we were all saying computers, that's the thing of the future and it was, it was very hard to find a way to study it actually, it didn't, they didn't, it didn't exist as a concept. So the only way to do anything about this computer thing was to hop into the science department and the computer science department and then you had to go right down to the coding level, you know learn assembler and ones and zeros and all that and sit up all night, the hacking code in the lab with the guys and I loved it, I really enjoyed all that but it wasn't really the path I wanted to go when I was more interested in the marketing path. So I was floating back and forth between the two and that worked and you know, gradually introduced computers into the business studies department as well and the rest is history.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:13 - 00:04:15

As in the university in Auckland, you're saying?

Jenny Harlen

00:04:15 - 00:04:18

Exactly, yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:20 - 00:04:27

Okay, so you dragged computer studies into the Bachelor of Commerce department, is that right?

Jenny Harlen

00:04:27 - 00:04:41

Yeah. It all sort of came about that time. Yeah. And then those of us that knew anything, it all got to be the tutors and help everyone else. So you know, it was really, really primitive when you think about it.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:41 - 00:04:54

So you sort of hinted that going into the Bachelor of Commerce was a bit random, so it was like it was a pin like throw a dart board at a range of subjects or what was what, what made you choose that path?

Jenny Harlen

00:04:54 - 00:05:22

Oh yeah, yeah, I had no I had no passion for it. It just seemed like a way forward, you know I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do or how to live my life, I really wanted to travel and then it seemed like okay a business degree, you must surely be able to do something with your life if you do that. And then there's the computer thing that's surely the thing of the future. And I thought that was very fascinating.

Jeff Bullas

00:05:22 - 00:05:36

So you may be chosen for a couple of things by the sound of it. Number 1, you chose it because you might get a decent job out of it. And number two, there was sort of like this emerging computer trend happening in the early 80s.

Jenny Harlen

00:05:36 - 00:05:41

Exactly. Exactly and that was incredibly exciting to be part of.

Jeff Bullas

00:05:41 - 00:06:10

Yeah, it was. I was in, I started my career in the computer industry after teaching. Just because it felt exciting. It was a star at the old Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, duking it out, Apple and IBM and MS Dos and then Windows. It was unique. Yeah it was just the Wild West, wasn't it?

Jenny Harlen

00:06:10 - 00:06:31

Yeah, it was really fun to be part of the custom of something and you could see immediately what the potential of the scale of it was. It was like being on the beginning of internet, which we also lived through and you see this is going to be enormous, but of course none of us have a crystal ball, but you just know that you're part of something, a paradigm change. That's always fun.

Jeff Bullas

00:06:31 - 00:06:52

It is always fun. I think if you can choose something and ride megatrends it can be pretty exciting in the career or a business point of view.

So you finished a degree and then you go, I need to get a job,were you able to get that new career easily?

Jenny Harlen

00:06:53 - 00:08:05

It was, you know, it seems so weird to say that today, but in those days, the companies came to us with jobs and it would have been the same for you. They, you just suddenly get all these letters from IBM and everyone saying “Oh we want you to come and work with us”, you know, please turn up, I didn't want to do any of that stuff, I didn't want to be so corporate, I wanted to go traveling, so I said no to all of those jobs. Actually, I got a few of them, they were good, good office, but I said no and I, I went to Australia and did a year have just had programming, contract programming to make some money and then I took my backpack and and left because you know New Zealand's a small place on the edge of the world and if you don't get out of there and see, I mean you grow up so curious about what there is in the world and I think had I not done that, my life would not absolutely not have been the same in any way because I mean the world is out there and you've got to take part in it, see where it's going and there's only one way to do that when you have no money and that's just you know, take your backpack and go put out your fun.

Jeff Bullas

00:08:06 - 00:08:53

Exactly, it's, I never did that I wanted to, but circumstances stopped me. That happened for me, but I've certainly traveled a lot recently in the last 10, 15 years, which has been great. And I think what's great about travel is it opens your eyes to the world and I think helps create more. I suppose it gives you an open mind. So you're not so intolerant, you tend to be a lot more tolerant as you travel because you realize that is one big world, we're all going to live on it. And we need to get on with each other and we need to look after each other. And so you traveled through, what is it? You traveled to Europe, you bumped into a guy, a Norwegian guy and end up marrying him eventually.

Jenny Harlen

00:08:54 - 00:11:04

Yeah, yes I do, yeah, I mean I traveled through Asia and around Europe tracking and you know, just over land stuff as you do, as you do as you do and yeah. Met a Norwegian guy as you do. I ended up working in Oslo for a little while, also doing some programming work and then we, we came to Australia and worked in and lived and worked in Sydney for a number of years and then I got a little bit more organized and did some corporate effort that, you know, all this, all this while I think and I think, you know, it's easy to play this down, but the point is when you have no money, you're always finding jobs and you're always working and you always hustling in some way and you end up with these super powers that you don't even know you have and I think mine is that you can just sort of drop me down on a helicopter anywhere and I'll somehow find a job or somehow survive, I'll make it work, but I don't really even think of that as a skill of life skill anymore because I somehow always been doing it and it takes a lot of the fear out of life because you realize well, you know, it's always a mess, but you always fix it and you learn so many new things all the time and whatever situation you end up and you always end up with a lot of new life skills anyway.

And this has never made sense to me and I've been almost somewhat ashamed of my CV. I did write it down because it's such a dog's breakfast, but I think this is, this is probably how you be able to an entrepreneur, you know, that you, you just fill yourself with a lot of random life skills and then at some point you actually find out what it is that you were set down here to do and you do it and you realize, damn, it's handy to have all these things that you just know how to do and aren't afraid of because they're already there, you've already filled your tucker bag with all that things that are good, too good to know and you know, the fear, it's just not there anymore because you've been in worse situations that he got out of them. So I think it's a great, great value and traveling and, and we, we shouldn't underestimate the value of random.

Jeff Bullas

00:11:05 - 00:11:35

Yeah, and I totally agree with that and that almost every, just about every entrepreneur have met, never wrote a business plan, or if they did, it was like in the back of a paper bag, you know like I see a long business plan is a prediction for the future, of course we all know how good we are at predicting the future. So I think a one page business plan is usually enough.

Jenny Harlen

00:11:36 - 00:12:53

Yes, but I think also builds on some experience and then, you know, I did these corporate years working for 3M actually in Sydney and you know, ended up as a Marketing Manager there and I've done a lot of business plans or marketing plans at least, which are quite similar there and I think that's all good training, you know, you just, you have to put in the, it's not 10,000 hours, but you have to put in the hours anyway. And after you've turned out a lot of business plans, you sort of understand what they're built on anyway. And so things I've done more recently. Yeah, there's a lot of backs of envelopes and paper bags. I have to admit there's a few Soviets as well, but in my, in my head, in my head I have the basic structure, because I have actually done a lot of the things and they're somewhere is this, you know, we shouldn't underestimate again the value of collecting life skills and it's the, I think the great pleasure of being almost 60 is that you have time to do a lot of the stuff, the preparation stuff and then you almost forget that you ever done that you think you're just randomly just doing some setting up some business, but it's not that random because you've put in, you know, you've actually, you've done the training at some stage.

Jeff Bullas

00:12:53 - 00:14:05

I loved, I loved the phrase you mentioned that your life purpose and why you're meant to be here ends up being the intersection of what you've done in the past. It seems to turn up at one focal point.

I totally agree with that. And number one, it's, I think, an intersection, innate ability. Number two, it's what experiences you've collected along the way that feed into that as well. And then also the expertise you've built along the way and somewhere in the middle of the intersection is what you're meant to be doing at that time. And I certainly don't think that, you know, your life purpose is a destination. It's more a, I suppose a station on the, on the journey, in other words might be a trade journey, but it's like, here's one station I'm gonna step off at and do something and I think it's that to think that this is gonna be it for the rest of my life is going is a little bit naive.

Jenny Harlen

00:14:05 - 00:14:09

But no, it's like marriages, but

Jeff Bullas

00:14:10 - 00:14:13

Yeah, well, I've had two.

Jenny Harlen

00:14:16 - 00:14:38

You're right. Nothing, nothing is forever. And everything is transitory and you do things as long as they make sense. And for a time, things make sense and the planets are aligned, then you do that and then maybe it doesn't make so much sense anymore and it's time to do something else. Yeah, exactly. And that’s absolutely a process.

Jeff Bullas

00:14:38 - 00:14:51

I think you still have to, you have to be listening and aware as well to what is that purpose that will show up at that particular time for where you're meant to be this time in your life.

Jenny Harlen

00:14:52 - 00:15:48

And I think also, be patient with that. There are long periods in life where it doesn't make sense. You know, you don't understand at least I'm speaking for myself of course, but you know, you don't really understand why you're doing what you're doing. It's not necessarily even the right path, but it's just sort of where you landed at that time and you can't, maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves to that everything should always make sense. Sometimes it just doesn't and then maybe later somehow you can sweep up all the pieces of what you've done and it does make sense and suddenly there was actually some reason for having that period in your life. So some sort of patience in a way that it's not always gonna be that much purpose and what you're doing well at least that's how I feel, sometimes it really feels very structured and random but you yes, you can't always plan it.

Jeff Bullas

00:15:49 - 00:15:55

No, and so you and I think that's something that you seem to be very comfortable with is you're comfortable with chaos.

Jenny Harlen

00:15:56 - 00:16:21

Yeah, it's logical, isn't it? No actually that's just the way it looks. I'm very structured under the surface. But I can handle a lot of waves on the surface. Yeah, The old lifeguard? You know?

Jeff Bullas

00:16:22 - 00:16:27

Yeah. So it could be rough stormy sea, but just underneath the surface is quite calm.

Jenny Harlen

00:16:28 - 00:17:22

Yeah, and structured and I work a lot with, with destruction. I work a lot with learning and finding information and trying to make my world safe by understanding how things work, collecting information. And I think that's, that's probably one of the great skills you learn from that sort of traveling that you do when you're young because it is very random and you're always trying to make sense of things and understand and navigate in a world where, you know, in our day we have no phones. Right? So you're always trying to just collect information from everywhere and I see it like a big jigsaw puzzle that you're always collecting little pieces of this was a little bit of blue, that might just might be the sky in one of my corners or it might not, but I'll have a look at that and collected and I might have another look at it later and just see and that's probably my way of operating, which looks very random and chaotic. I actually think it's quite systematic, but no one else does.

Jeff Bullas

00:17:23 - 00:17:55

So, ideas. In terms of, in reading your longer version of the bio and also the chat we had last week before we decided to hit the record button this week. So how did the journey into being an entrepreneur happen with Bokashi? Where did that start? What was the inspiration? Where did the idea come from?

Jenny Harlen

00:17:56 - 00:21:26

I think there's a couple of threads that get into it. One was that I've been, just to set the scenario, this was 15 years ago now and I was living in Sweden in the countryside basically in a small house with fields and lakes and woods and animals all around me. And I was growing my own vegetables and it was, you know, the small, peaceful life that everyone dreams about, a little bit boring to be honest. But you know, I had a small kid, I had a, you know, her dog and you know, all of that. So, and I've been running my, I've been running companies, but just working for myself basically for some time before that just to make ends meet doing various things.

But living in the countryside and growing food and I had terrible soil and I wanted to grow vegetables and it was in me quite deep. It was sort of embedded in my fingertips that I wanted to grow stuff. So I first realized that I had to make the soil because the soil wasn't working. And I did that, but it takes a long time to learn all of this as any gardener will tell you, you know, you try things and you learn. But I was starting to feel really strongly, it was time for me to do something meaningful because I've been doing it for too long my whole life. I've just been doing things to pay the bills I think you know like 45 years old I suppose something like that and I've just been doing stuff to pay the bills and never actually really been that motivated by what I was doing and I felt like it was time to do something that spoke to me on a deeper level. But I had some other chaos in my life and I went out and I walked to bed across Spain, I walked on the Camino de Santiago, an 800 kilometer walk which was fantastic. But there was an extra thing that happened to me on that walk and that was that you walk past a lot of people's back gardens and they're all growing food, it's quite a poor part of Spain in the northern zone and they're all growing their vegetables and that was of course interesting for me but I found myself really getting into the soil, like really looking at what soil I had and how they were, you know just smelling it, feeling at all that you know in a gardener but I just couldn't get rid of this, you know and I came back home with this feeling like “Man, what was that all about?” It was a really cool trip etcetera, but there's something going on with the soil thing, you know, like what is it, what's the message? that I drop everything and be a farmer, you know I already live in the countryside so not such a big step.

And a little bit down the track, I picked up on this. I was just listening to some random podcast and picked up on this with Bokashi, which is a way of using food waste to make soil in a household environment. Different to traditional composting, etcetera, etcetera. And yeah, that's it that spoke to me, it was just like all planets aligned and I just knew this is my thing, this is what I should do. Here it is, I was just waiting for this, you know, little piece of blue sky to put in that hole and there it was and it turned out that little piece and I thought, yeah, I know what to do, That was 15 years ago and I have not for one second doubted that that's what I should be doing, which is quite an extraordinary thing to experience.

Actually, just that certainty, I didn't know how I should do it. I didn't even know what it was. I, I, you know, I didn't have any ideas. I just need this is, this is what I've been sent to do. So my job is to find out how to do it. And I did it and here I am 15 years later, that's what I've been doing and it's worked and we've made an impact I think.

Jeff Bullas

00:21:27 - 00:21:41

So you've started and of course I think you were supporting yourself by doing translation services. Yeah. Right. So, basically Bokashi was almost a side hustle?

Jenny Harlen

00:21:42 - 00:25:45

Yeah, I started that way because you know you have to pay the bills, right? So you know I'm not rich by any means. I'm not supported particularly. But I can think very small and very big at the same time, I can zoom out and zoom in and the big vision was what was perfectly clear for me was that here I am in Sweden. I am a kiwi girl, right? Not even Swedish but we speak Swedish fluently etcetera. But I thought right, what we have to do here is change the behavior of the whole country. We have to start seeing food waste as a resource and we have to get it back into the soil. This is the basic thing. So how do you change the behavior of the whole country in terms of something that nobody's even interested in or talking about. You know, go back to 2007, we weren't talking about food waste, we weren't even talking about bacteria. Fermentation was not a word that people used. Even the sour dough bread wasn't really a thing. You know it was before the days of kimchi and kombucha and in every kitchen. So all of this was like really hippie stuff it seems like, but I'm not hippie, you know, I don't know what I am.

Anyway. So I thought right, let's approach this like a business, no business plan. It was an envelope thing. But I thought what we're going to do if we're going to change the behavior of country, I'm not going to do this top down because I don't understand how governments work or local government. And it bores me to tears. I want to do this in a gorilla way. You know, I want to see if we can get into every kitchen And change the behavior in every kitchen. How do you change behavior in every kitchen? Well you just nag on people, right? 2007. It was the golden time to start nagging. I mean it was the start of social media. So these planets just aligned so perfectly. So social media was the pathway to get into everyone's kitchens and nag on them to do something with their food waste. And then the other thing is you need a practical technical solution, you know for this percussion, you need buckets, you need some bacteria in the form of Bokashi bran and you need some packaging and nice information and you know all that stuff. I understand I've worked in consumer marketing all my life. I know this stuff so and then you need somewhere distributing it. And I had a zero budget for this whole thing. It was started on a zero budget and that's been quite fun and I am the Secretary of State of the street. And so I thought right web shop and that was the early days of web shops as well or do they called online shops? We call them web shops and Swedish online shops.

But as it happened I had quite a close contact with a guy who was starting a business in that area. He since become the leading developer in Sweden of online shops and extremely good technical platform. The best there is in this country and Sweden is quite a progressive country when it comes to Internet and online shopping and everything. So I got the best software that existed in 2007 for free, which was amazing. Yeah it was super good software and all those support and training that I needed. I had a marketing, I've been working in marketing for 20 years, you know I am, I like to communicate and social media came really naturally. I thought it was great fun to be blogging and then when Facebook came and instagram came and all of that. Yeah, I just thought it was so so extremely fun to do all this stuff. I was like in a sand pit, you know I love to write and take pictures and tell stories and and motivate people and I thought, so I'll do this nagging in micro doses, so you know, every day for 15 years, I've just been nagging in micro doses have been very small, small small stories as you do. I didn't understand it then, but that is of course how you use social media. So yeah, we found our way into the kitchen of every home in Sweden.

Jeff Bullas

00:25:45 - 00:25:51

So how did you package the idea? So it was attractive.

Jenny Harlen

00:25:52 - 00:31:41

I think, you know, all the classic marketing things, you know, you have your product in your place and you have all the distribution and just you know, make it available. So that was having a nice online presence and then of course I did a lot of workshops and lectures and markets and all that sort of stuff, starting with very small groups and building it up. How did I package it? What was the message? I think that was the important thing because you need to make people understand why they're doing it and a lot of people at that time as they are now, we're starting to get this climate anxiety, I'm translating for Swedish amongst climate anxiety, not knowing what to do with themselves.

So I worked on two levels and one was to try to share the information of why this is important, why soil is so important, why soil is the key to the future, why it's one of the biggest solutions to solving climate change that there is is that we fix our soil and I won't spend time here going into that huge, huge piece of the puzzle. And that's I guess being the part that's really always come from my heart, this is the message I want people to understand so that if they know why everyone knows that climate change has to be solved. But if they know about a really major solution and you can break that down into something very simple and then you can get it into their hands in their kitchen in a way that they can touch and feel it and they can get their kids to actually work with this like brushing their teeth. You know, it's something small you do every day then you're actually working on the big change that has to be done, but you're doing it at a micro level every single day several times per day in your own kitchen. So kids will grow up knowing that putting your food waste in this bucket and processing it with these bacteria. So it's not smelling and being very easy to handle it and is turning into fantastic soil.

This is something that kids grow up with as being normal. It's like cooking the food, you also look after the food that's not cooked and not eat and it's just as important as making the food in the first place. So, you know, I just how do I package it, I think is with knowledge, because you know, all the rest of it's just plastic and you know, online shipped. Right? So It's knowledge and it's getting these kids four year old to understand what happens with those pancakes that he didn't eat and get excited about it. And I've had every day for 50 years,I think any stories from people about how happy they are, you know, how excited they are. This is wonderful. This feature energy and “Oh my four year old kid for example, just to keep going on this red, he's given the bucket a name and he calls it Junior. And you know, he puts his when he doesn't want to eat a spaghetti, he puts it in there and he knows he's doing a good thing for the world because even if he can't eat, it doesn't want to eat his spaghetti, he knows it's going to be good soil and that's good for the future. And then we would grow the pumpkin for Halloween in the soil that's made from the spaghetti he didn't eat, you know, and round and round”

So this is a big kind of like a self feeding loop. So this is more your question was, how do I package it? But I think I've answered in terms of where does the energy come from? Because the packaging for me is the energy, I mean all the rest of it is a marketing 101, right? The thing is how do you get the energy to create an idea that doesn't exist that people have never heard of, create a new category, to create a new need. People don't even know that they needed a solution for this, They didn't even know it was a problem.

And so it was all of that that I was thinking of, how do I create an understanding for why we need to have this need and why it has to be at the top of the agenda in every home. And it has to be so important that people are putting this at the forefront of the things that they're dealing with in their home when they are already very busy and out of that reprioritizing of people's needs in every kitchen in the country, it's a self feeding loop with energy, you know, you put the energy into it, you get people thinking in this way and then they feed back the energy with their stories and their little successes. And on top of that it's created a community because I realized very early on that I couldn't handle the customer support for this. You know, this is, I mean, there's nine million people in Sweden, 4.5 million households, you know that's too much for one person to manage in terms of customer support. So part of the reason for all the nagging and everything is just to get the education base built. But the other part of it is that I wanted to have the education and the customer support and a community that it would be a self managing. So we very early started up a Facebook support group where people can join in for a few months or a few years when they first start. And there's always new beginners starting and then there's always someone that's been doing it for a little bit longer. And then you've always got some old hacks that have been doing this for ages and they will just help each other and support each other and teach each other and keep it real and keep the focus on why we're doing this for environmental reasons. You know why I want the camera to put my bananas, my egg shell in here, will it be a problem if I do this? You know, it's all the small, small, small, small, small stuff of daily life but that people are supporting each other. But it's also the big stuff, you know that we're in this to deal with climate change. My goodness. That was a monologue. I'm so sorry.

Jeff Bullas

00:31:42 - 00:31:44

So you really started a movement?

Jenny Harlen

00:31:45 - 00:31:56

Yes. And then that was my idea right from the beginning, there's a word in Swedish, it's a young movement. It sounds so arrogant and cocky but that's actually what I wanted to do.

Jeff Bullas

00:31:56 - 00:32:40

That's what you've done. You've started a movement and yeah and created what I love about using the facebook group. And of course that's important is that people will come there because of the information but then they'll buy something. But what they'll do is they'll stay for the community because that's where they feel they're supported and that's where the movement gets its energy. Exactly. Yeah. Now the thing I suppose to put in context for our listeners and viewers as well is that how did you package it? So what did you sell online in your online store? What was your in other words, what was that? Is it shipped to a customer to start their bokashi journey?

Jenny Harlen

00:32:41 - 00:37:48

Right, okay. Back to the original question. Um, what do you need to do in bokashi? Bokashi is some kind of bucket and you need the magic goo which is basically just living bacteria and that's in the culture which is wheat brand. In our case we produce all of that locally here and you sprinkle that on each day onto the food waste which is in the bucket and that preserves it right? So we have packages which are pretty consumer packages with nice colorful cardboard and the nice european made plastic buckets with taps. Airtight buckets looking nice fitting into european fancy kitchens. So we selll start kits with the bucket and the bokashi bran. And then alongside that we sell the refill packs of bokashi bran, which is kind of an interesting business model because it fits into the textbooks, you know, you sell a start kit, then you have them hooked on a refill forever. But on the other hand, we've always been very careful to to try to keep the pricing very real and keep the cost of the bokashi bran as moderate as possible so that the cost of it is like running a dishwasher and you know, none of us think about that, we're spending money to keep our dishwasher running forever because we have to keep buying those little, you know, powder thing needs to put in the dishwasher, it's something like that. It was the idea with the model. It shouldn't be such a big deal. So that's what we sell basically and we've tried to keep it very clean. So it basically is just those core products, then there are some other related products that we sell now, but basically it's what you need to start doing bokashi composting in your home. And just also for context, this is not traditional composting where you do everything in a pile outside in your garden. This is actually not really composting at all, but it's fermentation, so it's a process that you do in your kitchen and the first half, so you just collect up all your food waste, every kind of food waste, you know, meat and fish, eggs and tea bags and whatever in this packet in your kitchen. And every couple of weeks you just dig it down into your garden or into a pot plant or into whatever you need to make more fertile. And then two weeks after that you can plant something. So you have a two week turnaround on the food waste from old food to new food. So you're planting new food as a new seed or seedling into something that was actually on your kitchen table two weeks earlier. And this is the genius and this is what makes it incredibly adaptable because it's solution that can be used in houses where you have gardens, in apartments, you can use it in a climate like Sweden which is very arctic and frozen half a year. You can use it in tropical climates, you can use it in every in between climate, you can use it in big scale like hotels and monastery. You could use a small scale like one person in a studio apartment. And this was what was attractive for me as an old compost, I’ve been composting traditionally forever. The attractive thing is that it's so incredibly versatile and also depending on your gardening style, do you just grow a little bit of herbs on the balcony or do you have a full scale of self sufficient garden in your backyard. It works for everyone in every scale

And our challenge over these 15 years and actually a large part of my work has been to design the practical solutions for everyone and all of these different environments. What do you do if you one person in a micro apartment? What do you do if you have got a big family in a big house in the country? What do you do if you're running a monastery and then a tropical country, you know, so I've kind of use and done a lot of experiments I can say I have, I've spent a huge amount of time just out, you know, out playing in the dirt, testing everything that I could think of and this is the true entrepreneurial journey that I've done that actually I never really remember to talk about because I sort of so much part of my life, I don't think about it. There's all the IT stuff, there's all the social media, that's the web shop, you know, all the digital marketing. I mean obviously we do all of that and we do it as well as anyone else. It's totally professional and at a high level. But the real work has been, you know, I've been out there in my work boots digging and testing and talking with the worms and you know, growing everything and trying to force the mistakes. I've been trying to force every problem that someone else might have and every time someone had a question I go out there and try to make that same mess that they made and see how this told it. So every solution that I came with was something that, you know, I'm sitting here with my hands in front of me. It's something that I've done with my bare hands. You know, I've been out there in my garden developing all of these solutions and they are used around the world now, which is fantastic because I've been blogging in English at the same time.

Jeff Bullas

00:37:49 - 00:38:29

So yeah, that's fascinating. So you've basically a researcher getting your hands dirty, but then showing up in the shiny web shop and digital marketing machines running so that you can create the sales funnel to get people to convert at the right time. So you’re early on obviously Guerilla marketing tactics. Okay, so you really went to markets, you ran workshops, so you really, I suppose got traction early by literally going out into the community, is that correct?

Jenny Harlen

00:38:30 - 00:42:11

Yeah. And also I wanted to be close to people and I wanted to learn from them as well and get the feedback and try to find out how to tell the story in a way that worked. Yeah.

And you just, you know, you try, you try, you try everything, you just try everything and I mean I made no money for years and years and it also didn't bother me because I never was doing this to make money, I was was doing it to for the good cause that was the only reason and you have a business background. So I know you have to, you have to run a business, you know, you have to make things work. So I'm absolutely far from the, you know, I'm totally not a hippie when it comes to that, but this sort of thing and this ties back to the traveling question before that, this sort of thing you can't do if you're looking for an exit strategy or you're looking for the money.

And I just knew that, I mean, I know that it takes seven years to get in my experience to get anything you're going. And then I thought, well this will take seven years. Actually, I'd say it took 10 before anything really was with, you know, where the numbers were worth looking at. And it didn't bother me for one of those days because I just knew this was the right thing to do, it was needed. And even if I would work with this for 50 years and not make any money, it's still the right thing to do because somebody should do it.

And this is the whole reason I started it in the first place when I got when I got this idea, when I understood this is a solution that the world needs and I realized that this is something actually I can do because through my first 20 years, I've worked like 25 years, I collected the skills that I needed to do this and I thought maybe not so many people around that have this particular mix of skills and energy to do this thing. Therefore I have some kind of moral obligation to do this because I can and it should be done and if I don't do it maybe it takes another five years before someone else will turn up and do it and that's not good enough because this climate clock is ticking so I should at least do it. And then I saw it like starting a baton relay a running really like okay I'll take the first baton because I happen to have the baton and I can do it and I run that and then at some stage someone else will take that baton and they can run the next but that's also okay but somebody has to do the first thing and there I was you know I had the IT skills you know I'm smart enough to do this. I have some background in business, I've done my marketing apprenticeship, you could say with consumer marketing. I've already been a gardener. I'd already been composting since I was quite young because you know worms speak to me. I thought it was really cool because I like to write, you know it was intuitive for me all of this with social media. It just was something I like to do. You know, I have two languages, English and Swedish. I don't, I don't know, it was kind of like I had all the pieces to do it. Why would you not do it when you understand what's needed and you have all the pieces to do it? And the only thing that was in the way was that, well, I'm obviously not gonna make any money on this. And I thought, well, that's actually no problem because I have another life skill and that's that I lived very simply. I can grow my own vegetables. I live in the countryside in a small house. You know, I could, I could take my whole life down to a resting poles basically. It didn't cost me anything to live and therefore I could afford to do this business because I didn't need any money much to survive. And I just thought it was needed. So I did.

Jeff Bullas

00:42:12 - 00:43:11

You mentioned something which is really important to me and that is that you live life simply. And obviously if you live life simply and you're not tied down by debt or huge overheads in having to follow the Joneses, we're having to be consumerism driven. Then you've got freedom because you don't have to pay a carb repayment. You have to pay a mortgage repayment, you know, so what you created was like you said, I could live at a bass pulse and there's a real power and freedom in living that way in that you've got the flexibility. You're not tied down by debt and you're not tied down by society's expectations. You're living life on your terms.

Jenny Harlen

00:43:12 - 00:43:34

And I live in Sweden. So, education, you know, schools, I ever have one daughter, but she was at school and that cost nothing. You know, the education costs nothing, her health care costs nothing. You pay your taxes, but you don't pay very much taxes if you don't do it very much. But anyway, I have no overhead. So yeah, big difference.

Jeff Bullas

00:43:34 - 00:45:10

I watched the fascinating documentary by Michael Moore, which was the title of the documentary in 2015 is Where to invade Next. And it was all these ideas. And one of the things that came out for me was that a lot of countries around the world that he was trying to bring back to his own American friends and countrymen was that a lot of countries such as Sweden and others have a strong sense of community. In other words, we're in this together and we're actually going to contribute more taxes because we can actually give you free schools, we can provide free healthcare. And in fact we are looking after each other and it's not the cult of individualism and I think that's the wonderful thing to observe as you travel to see how different countries are organized and what's important to them versus what's important to another country. And you mentioned something, you know that the freedom that you had because you live life simply. So that means you had money to spare to actually spend on a bucket and worms or whatever you wanted to do to create the product and test it. I think it's wonderful and it speaks to my heart as well. A lot of people don't design life thoughtfully. They just plunge into the template driven life of the modern Western world and it's, it's not, that's not freedom.

Jenny Harlen

00:45:11 - 00:48:07

Yeah, no, it's not. But you can also look at that sometimes when you, I mean there were many times where I was feeling just poor, you know, just really would have been nice to have, it's nice to go out and buy a new one or to go for something like that. So it's not, I mean I don't want to glamorize it because it really wasn't glamorous, but I think, you know, again, it ties, I'm glad we talked a little bit about the traveling in the beginning because I think a lot of things stem out of that that I lived so long with so little just winging it and I can, I can live that life very easily.

And so, you know, at times in my life, I've had quite a lot of money at other times. I've had absolutely nothing, you know, 20 cents in the bank and it doesn't particularly bother me one way or the other and I think there somewhere is that it was that long, long, long, slow introduction to life that I had where I was just winging it, it takes away so much of the fear that most people have to live with, a lot of fear and I don't have to do that because I think life is too short to waste, waste it on here. You know, you can just get in and do things you can always, in some way you can always fix and if it doesn't work. So and also I think there's another factor here that's quite important and that's the fact I'm not Swedish, I live in Sweden and you know its pluses and minuses with every every country and just now it's November and it's dark and it's cold and I wouldn't necessarily put that on the cross account, but it's a fantastic country. But I've come in as a basically a New Zealander with values, my values and background from new Zealand and I fit in, you know, kind of okay and Sweden and I talk Swedish and all those normal things, but I'm not Swedish and I don't have the fear of being Swedish and so it's easier for me to do something that's a bit offbeat because I'm already not quite, you know, I'm not, I'm not quite there, you know, I'm already sort of a little bit hovering on the edge. So I think the risk for me was much less because I had completely different reference points and the fear of failing is not there because you're already kind of an outsider because you're in a new country, anyway even if I've lived here and died here now more than 20 years, but still, I think there's a lot of power in that and you mostly mostly talk about the being an outsider in a country like an immigrant, which I am, I’m not a refugee immigrant, but an immigrant, voluntary immigrant or whatever. But the power that comes out of that is also a lot of freedom because you can see it as being an underdog. But you can also see it as having a completely different set of references, which makes it much easier to be disruptive. Disruptive was not a word that existed then, but that's basically what it is.

Jeff Bullas

00:48:07 - 00:48:14

So an outsider doesn't have to fit in because you are an outsider. So you are given, you are given the freedom to actually be an outsider.

Jenny Harlen

00:48:14 - 00:53:12

Exactly, you can take the freedom. You have the choice to take the freedom. Yeah. But that builds on the fact that, you know, I think all of this traveling and you know, I think by now I've lived in six countries, but you're always trying to like make things work and patch it together and it never really does, but it's sort of somehow does and you get by and you wing it and then you just realize that you're always winging it anyway, so whatever can just as well wing it a bit more. The fear of failure is just not there. And I think too, it was also part of my reason for doing this organically because, 2 reasons, one was because it just took the risk out of it. You know, you don't have so far to fall if you haven't invested a lot of money, there's no risk. Like it could just be an interesting adventure and if it didn't work, it didn't work. It's no big deal. I mean my life doesn't go under for that. It's an interesting adventure. And the other thing is why I haven't specifically haven't wanted to take in any form of venture capital and I've had plenty of opportunities. I do this for different reasons and I work differently and I have my own ideas about how I want to do this. And every time I've been talking with people that have been mainly man's planning to me about how I should be thinking and doing things and not giving me any credit for the fact that I actually have some life experience of my own and I just have to quietly walk away because I don't agree with what they're suggesting, how they're analyzing it and how they see the world and our world views are so different and so I realized quite early on that it's a combination of stubbornness but also I think some quiet belief in myself, I actually know the right way to do this and I'm going to do it by the way so just you know quietly stay out of my way and let me do it and by then not involving anyone else financially then you're free. And this is another part of freedom. And that for me is really important because my energy comes out of the freedom and if someone else is telling me how to do and then that I need a business plan that looks like this this this this and there's an exit plan and this blah blah blah blah blah blah. My energy will just go like a pin in a balloon and then nothing will happen because I'm not motivated by that stuff and I don't think they're right.

So that's also slowed down the process but it's also ensured that it succeeded and this business has succeeded. You know I have six people, it's a small business but six people that are running the company we got this entrepreneurship price that you mentioned. I mean in Sweden there are 600,000 registered, you know listed companies or not listed sorry 600,000 official companies in Sweden not the personal ones and we got picked out as being you know in the top 10 and then it's a random placing but it's not nothing. It's just a quiet confirmation that even if this took a long time and it's not any, you know this is not a stock market company, it never should be, it's not that kind of thing. We have succeeded and we are succeeding and this is working. We've changed the behavior in the country. Absolutely, everybody knows about this. Now the word Bokashi, which is a Japanese word, we decided to use because it's used around the world and we wanted to have this as a global thing. So we've been very much driving, driving the use of that word globally. But we got it, it was actually, we didn't even get into but it was adopted into the Swedish dictionary a couple of years ago. You know the official Swedish dictionary of the Swedish language. So this Japanese word, random word because she is now an official Swedish word and that's that's enormous. I think that's a great sign of success.

And the fact that we're in every kitchen, the word is adopted into the Swedish language and that we got recognized as the third entrepreneur for, you know whatever entrepreneurial company in Sweden or whatever, those three things speak to me and also that we have many, many companies that are copying what we're doing the twos and you know, we are in a crowded marketplace now which has its challenges, but I see that also is some form of success, you know, as we've managed to develop a market that's attractive enough that everyone needs to be there because it's just becoming, we're moving into a sort of generic phase and all that involves from a marketing perspective, but I see all these things have a sign of success and also, you know, I'm getting some money out of this now, which is also okay, you know, so I can buy winter coat, other things.

Jeff Bullas

00:53:12 - 00:53:16

I'm glad to hear you're glad you got a winter coat now, That's really cool, I mean really?

Jeff Bullas

00:53:19 - 00:54:02

So you ended up going to Myanmar to start and I think it was a suggestion by your daughter because you spent some time in Myanmar, which was the old burma and how did that happen? Was it because you sort of, you sort of pulled out of more than a day to day running and you've sort of done what you needed to do in Sweden, you felt like you needed to pass the baton on to the younger generation that were running the show in the team now. So you're going okay, let's go to Myanmar and start a business with Bokashi.

Jenny Harlen

00:53:54 - 00:54:01

Yeah, Crazier, yeah,

Jeff Bullas

00:54:01 - 00:54:02

So what year was that?

Jenny Harlen

00:54:04 - 01:01:43

It was 2017, so four years ago now, but the decision first to hand over that came first, so it was a generation shift as you say, but it was also an energy shift because you know, by then I've been doing it for 10 years and I got through this wasteland, I suppose nothing happening and then it was starting to happen. But it wasn't my energy was running out, you know, it wasn't, it just wasn't my thing anymore. It was too much of the company and I can do that, but I get tired. So I was super lucky and found this wonderful colleague to hand over to and she just took it and she's a biologist. She's worked in strategic environmental planning. She had a really great base to build on. And so she's done everything since then for the last four years. So actually the real success of hers to be honest. And then I knew I wanted to take this knowledge and do something more meaningful with it, you know, spread it out into the world. I didn't want to just be sitting at home doing spreadsheets and bookkeeping and you know, all of that. And then also I could see that we were going to start making some money if we were lucky. And then I wanted to use that profit to do something useful out in the world because it's not motivating for me just to earn money and what I don't know what should I do, buy a new car, you know, it's better to do a project.

Myanmar came for two reasons. One because I happened to travel there with my daughter, it was her suggestion and for a month we both just fell in love with it. It's a country in total chaos now. But underneath that if you, if we look aside from that, it's possibly one of the most wonderful countries in the world with the most generous and beautiful people, huge attraction. It's also the country, third most exposed to climate change. So I thought, right, and it's one of the poorest countries in the world. So you have one of the most lovely countries, people wise the most exposed to climate change and one of the poorest and also one of the hottest really suffering with temperatures and so it doesn't, it's not there already tipping into all effects of climate change, which you see it under your nose.

So I thought for all these reasons, this makes sense to me. And then because we've been traveling there and met some people and was able to team up with them, local friends and burmese people and we teamed up and had a look at it meant a lot of people went around in a feasibility study. Feasibility studies slash, what should we call it? Back roll. We traveled around, we traveled around the country and to us talk to people and looked at everything and didn't write a single report, but it was perfectly obvious that this solution that we had, this knowledge that I was sitting on was just exactly what was needed in that country at that time. And so we have to do this. So I took a whole bunch of money from my company and we have been supporting this for four years now out of our funds for our Swedish company. And when we started this as a project in Myanmar and it never got to the point of breaking even, it's the last, you know, a year ago there were 6-9 months ago there was a military coup in Myanmar Burma and we had to just forget everything. It's over, it's game over who can't be rescued, maybe in 10 years time but not now.

So what was looking like our company was after three years of hard work. It was going to actually make sense and break even from a financial perspective, we had a lot of projects and contracts lined up to do soil management and worked with the organic waste. But the coup put an end to all of that. So that project is over, unfortunately, and that's been a great, great sadness and is all of that which we can leave aside from the point of this, what I did learn however, which has had some value was we had, we had great fun. It was a fabulous journey that, you know, so I took my backpack and I teamed up with some people that I hardly knew, but I just thought had potential and we checked everything out. We thought “Man, this knowledge that we have is exactly what's needed in this country at this time.” How on earth do we do it with basically no money? And again I didn't want to take project funding because everyone I talked to in NGO’s and so on, I know a lot of people now. They didn't believe in what we were doing, I said, “You know this is what we're going to do, this is the problem, this is how we see it, we're going to fix it like this.” Nobody believed in it. So we thought okay we have to actually develop this and find the solutions and show people how it works and then we can go from there and we spent 2-3 years doing that, we develop working solutions for food waste and using the food waste to create soil and grow gardens, grow more food in monasteries, in slums, in urban communities, in the middle of Yangon which is a seven million people. The city in villages on farms, rice paddies, you know I have seven acres of rice paddy and Yangon which we were working with, it's a great thing to collect in your life. There were 77 acre farm with rice paddy and we, we did a lot of education, we were teaching gardeners, we were teaching farmers, we were teaching a monks and nuns and students and universities. We were teaching people all over. Maybe one or 200 people a week, we would teach through our courses, so we did all of these things and we worked out the solutions. This is what you do with market waste from the wet markets, you know on the local markets, you know, we were doing half a ton to a ton of day of market waste, converting that into soil. So we developed all of these practical solutions and started training people on how to do it and that knowledge we were sharing for more or less free because we just wanted to get it out there.

And amazingly enough it was working, we just got, we got so much respect for what we were doing, The knowledge was spreading, people were climbing all over us to come and learn, some people are paying us for it. We were starting to get contracts to go into like hotel resorts and things like that where we could convert the food waste into a local soil cycle. You know, we build a garden for them and we'd structure up the whole thing and educate everyone working at the hotel and from then on they'd have no more food waste and they'd be growing their own food. So we had contracts going for all that and that knowledge which in the end is all crashed and gone up and flames in Yangon basically I have been able to get up to some extent to colleagues that I work with in other countries in Thailand and the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia here and there and everywhere. So it's not completely wasted, We learned a lot of things and we've managed to share that a little bit. But it's not, it's not what it could have been, but that's Covid and that's the coup. Yeah, it's life.

Jeff Bullas

01:01:44 - 01:01:52

So what's next for Jenny? I know you've been cycling around a lot of Scandinavia.

Jenny Harlen

01:01:52 - 01:01:56

Yeah, I have to do something.

Jeff Bullas

01:01:56 - 01:02:03

And I believe it was a fold up bike because the Swedish don't allow bikes on trains. Is that correct?

Jenny Harlen

01:02:03 - 01:02:06

That's right, yeah.

Jeff Bullas

01:02:06 - 01:02:09

I thought Sweden had grown up bike actually,

Jenny Harlen

01:02:09 - 01:02:25

No, no. It’s actually useless. So the only way to get a bike on a bus or a train is to have like, you know, the hold up one with its 20" wheels. Yeah, I've been biking on lateral. Yes. So it's no, it's, well, I know you think it's silly.

Jeff Bullas

01:02:25 - 01:02:39

No, I think what you've been doing is amazing. It really is, silly has crossed my mind in terms of the type of bike, but now I understand the actual reality behind the silliness of a fold up bike doing hundreds of kilometers,

Jenny Harlen

01:02:39 - 01:02:42

Thousands. Yeah.

Jeff Bullas

01:02:42 - 01:02:48

So you have any more bike adventures on the horizon, Jenny? Or what's the next thing?

Jenny Harlen

01:02:48 - 01:04:25

I know there's more, there's more bike adventures, the real reason for that was just I had to I guess I kind of I had a kind of burn out. I had to decompress, I need to decompress, I lost all the energy and I just needed to build up some energy again and then I really don't know what is right for me next and we have to all set out this Covid thing and I always thought that I would maybe take this Bokashi project and go and start up in another country, you know, Vietnam or Philippines or anywhere like that. But what I'm seeing now, it's this pattern change, right? Lots of people have taken these patterns, I feel like I've handed out 20, 30, 50 or 100 buttons. I don't know, I'm having them out everywhere and maybe that's my, my role is just to hand out batons to people and they run.

So it feels a little bit like that's where I'm at at the moment, so I'm still working with people all over, but it's not commercial, it's just because I I love um I love doing what I'm doing, but I'm also very happy not to be under the pressure of having to do it commercially just now. So I'm just sharing information the best I can motivating and handing out patterns and in the meantime riding my bike, I thought that was just the thing to, you know, wait out Covid, bike around them and sleep out and wait out Covid, but I'm starting to think it's actually quite nice if I keep doing it.

So, I'm thinking of venturing further further down into Europe with my bike and hopping on some busses and trains and taking the famous fold up bike and exploring a bit more. It's very easy again, it's very simple, simple life.

Jeff Bullas

01:04:25 - 01:04:26

Are you going to get a grown up bike?

Jenny Harlen

01:04:27 - 01:04:33

No, just just to irritate you right now.

Jeff Bullas

01:04:33 - 01:04:41

I'm just going to be nodding my head in amazement and going “What the fuck? Jenny's on that folding bike in China?”

Jenny Harlen

01:04:41 - 01:04:44

Yeah. Just watch this space.

Jeff Bullas

01:04:45 - 01:04:52

Yeah, look, I'm in jest, I said silliness,

Jenny Harlen

01:04:52 - 01:06:13

I'm not working with any long term plans, I think that everything comes to you, you know, the things, the things that you need, they come to you and that the things that are not meant to stay won't stay and things have their time and this journey has been fantastic and it's had it's time. But I think I have a new journey now and that might be related to soil, it might be related to entrepreneurship or it might be more related, which I think it is, it's just a supporting people and turning up on their permaculture farms and their this and that and their projects and just being there quietly in the background and supporting and that's probably what I love more than anything. It's just the connection with people, creative ideas, solving, and giving energy helping people to break through this fear barrier. Lots of people ring me up all the time, young people that I've met here and there on all my travels. I've lived in a lot of hostels and a lot of projects with young people and they’re like “Hey, can we just talk for a couple of hours. I want to talk through this thing or that thing or the other thing?” and I love it. I just love it. Maybe that's, maybe that's the baton change. You know, maybe I just, you know, can help people to get through their fear or whatever and then they can go and do your thing. I can do something else.

Jeff Bullas

01:06:13 - 01:06:53

I think you might be right. You might be what brings you back to the world now is taking what you learned and sharing with others so they can find their passion project and make a difference as well, which is what you've done, which is amazing. I'm really just in all of what you've done Jenny. It's been an absolute pleasure to hear your stories and to understand where that drive and energy comes. And we've talked a lot in the past about energy. It sounds like you're just gathering your energy again to work on what the next passion project is, by the sound of it to me.

Jenny Harlen

01:06:53 - 01:07:01

Yeah. And it will come. I think it's, you can't force these things, they turn up when the time is right.

Jeff Bullas

01:07:02 - 01:08:59

I think what you started is just, so I'm reflecting on my life so far. I've looked back on when I've tried to force things and typically when I've done that they've crashed and burned when I've met when I've, when I've let it just step into the stream and actually go with the flow as the opportunity arises and turns up quite often unexpectedly. But then from that I think the magic really does happen. And so it really is. I've done a lot of reflecting the last few years on that sort of question. You know, where does the flow come from? And where does the force come from to actually to motivate you and drives you to get you up earlier and make you start late or to do something and concentrate and focus on it. I think, and I really do think that if you do understand that I use this quote all the time, it's like Steven Spielberg in an interview, he said that “What you're meant to be doing in life will show up as a whisper. It never shouts.”

And I think I interviewed another fantastic female entrepreneur who also discovered what she was meant to be doing on the Camino trail and she turned into a crypto funded energy company that it's actually saving the planet by reducing energy costs and tapping into the solar grid through smart meters and a platform that connects houses. So, so she discovered what she was meant to be doing on the Camino trail as well. I think I need to go on the Camino trail.

Jenny Harlen

01:09:00 - 01:09:44

I don't think it's, it's a fantastic trip. But I think it's more about what Spielberg said that it turns up as a whisper. So you have to be, you have to be in a place where you can hear the whispers and that's about getting off grid and going quietly amidst the haste under what is it, you know, just going down under the surface and under all that chop chop chop on the surface and just being because the flow is somewhere else. So yeah, listen for the whisper. Yeah. And that's, I guess what I'm doing now and on our bike riding as well. It's very, it's like meditation life actually to sit on the bike and just pedal for 8, 10, 12 hours.

Jeff Bullas

01:09:47 - 01:10:09

That's wonderful. And the thing is you can't hear the whisper. If you're in the middle of commotion and noise, you've got to, you've got to take the time to stop and people see stopping as being something that is not productive. And I think that's the thing we've got to understand as humans is we got to learn that stopping is being productive and give yourself

Jenny Harlen

01:10:09 - 01:10:17

Yeah, yeah. And collecting new pieces for the puzzle, some yellow bits instead of all the blue bits, you know,

Jeff Bullas

01:10:17 - 01:10:20

and become the curator and collector. And then producer.

Jenny Harlen

01:10:20 - 01:10:46

Yeah, yeah, exactly. And then I think always, always, always to work with the fear, always every day. I'm thinking about how to get the fear out of my life. There's always fear for something, you can't have it. You just got to get rid of that fear, every little thing. It's just got to go and push the comfort zone in every direction all the time to let things in.

Jeff Bullas

01:10:47 - 01:11:02

There's a great single word to use when the fear shows up in the darkness of the morning is that you've got to say to yourself “Next” and leave that thought behind and it's easy to say, but hard to do quite often.

Jenny Harlen

01:11:03 - 01:11:05

Yeah, Yeah. Does it work for you?

Jeff Bullas

01:11:06 - 01:12:05

Yeah. Because it's a habit I think with stillness and being in the now, which is, you know, the power of now back up told, transformed my life about 12, 13 years ago. And I've been working on that habit ever since because I think really being in the moment in the now is a habit that you've got to continually cultivate. And whether you're riding on the bike and just hear the drum of the tires on the pavement or whether they or the sound of the wind through your helmet, you know? So it's being aware of those whispers and being aware of that, I think, um, and you catch yourself with thoughts and fears rushing through your mind and you've got to somehow work out a way to deal with that. And there's different tactics to do it. And I've tried a lot over the years. And but it's I think it's a habit that we need to continually work on.

Jenny Harlen

01:12:05 - 01:12:06

Absolutely.

Jeff Bullas

01:12:06 - 01:12:16

And we sometimes catch ourselves not practicing and being aware and being in the moment in the now.

Jenny Harlen

01:12:17 - 01:12:30

And also not clinging, not clinging onto things. You know, the whole non-attachment thing, just not clinging onto things because you can't float if you're hanging on desperately to roots and twigs and

Jeff Bullas

01:12:30 - 01:12:44

Exactly, being detached is very, very important as well. And it's these are all life skills we learn as we gather a few scars and rushes on our knees and

Jenny Harlen

01:12:44 - 01:13:08

Yes, yeah, yeah. They definitely come with the scars on the knees. Yeah. And there's a great freedom in that, I think great freedom. And maybe that's part of the living simply, it's also a freedom of non-attachment because, you know, what stays will stay, what goes will go. It's we float along and do what we can

Jeff Bullas

01:13:08 - 01:13:44

I'm reading a book at the moment, which is by the authors and creators of the blog, the Minimalist and it's about it again, it's a weave woven into this new book of theirs. I can't remember the name off the top of my head. But the thing about them is that you should only collect two things, number one, something that serves your purpose like a tool. In other words, it does something, or number two, it's actually a beautiful aesthetic. And so in fact, if you can get something that does both, I think that's pretty cool.

Jenny Harlen

01:13:46 - 01:13:49

That's a wonderful way of looking at it.

Jeff Bullas

01:13:49 - 01:14:00

Oh, well, thank you, Jenny. It's been an absolute pleasure. And I look forward to hearing more about your journeys on a small bike and the vast expanses of Europe and

Jenny Harlen

01:14:00 - 01:14:05

Whatever, you hear something I hope.

Jeff Bullas

01:14:05 - 01:14:12

Don't worry, we'll, we'll be over there as soon as we can. So yeah. All right. Thank you for sharing.

Jenny Harlen

01:14:12 - 01:14:19

Lovely talking to you. Thank you so much, Jeff. Great, Alright, talk soon. Bye bye bye.