And so I thought, “Okay. I’m going to hook myself to this guy, because he’s going to lead me to where I want to be. And I’m going to help him to develop his vision.”
Hi everyone and welcome to the Mojo Moments podcast, I’m your host Thane Calder. Now not all the stories our guests tell us make it into the full episodes, but we’ve got one here from our conversation with Bernard Mariette of Lolë fame. Right after he left Quiksilver, and having overseen the transition of the business from 25 million dollars to a mighty 2.5 billion, he decided to go on search for mojo, in Bangladesh. Here’s Bernard’s Bangladesh quest.
So, I left, but not knowing what I was going to do. I had my bucket list, which was still full and I thought I'm going to do one by one. After one month, my wife say, “I cannot stand you being around me, like all the time.” So I realized that my passion was to do business and do good.
So, I decided that was going to be again, what I was going to do. I had plenty of time. So I decided I was going to travel the world. Not like before, before I was doing one world tour, every month. Every single month. But I was going to do it, one way ticket, no agenda, no meetings plan, no hotels plan, nothing.
So just go and kind of see what comes.
Yes. And trust me, I was not used to it. I was the other way around. Like when you do a 2.5 billion dollar on the stock market in Wall Street, you don't have a life. And so I thought about the guy at the time who for me was doing some of the best in the world. That was Muhammad Yunus. Muhammad Yunus is the, the gentleman who founded, Grameen Bank... Sorry, he founded Grameen, at the beginning and he was a professor in, uh, Harvard or MIT, one of the two. He went back there to help his people...
He’s Pakistani, no? Or...
And he is one of the founder of microcredit. And so I thought, “Okay. I’m going to hook myself to this guy, because he’s going to lead me to where I want to be. And I’m going to help him to develop his vision.” I tried to meet him in the US and it was virtually impossible. It was in 2008, Obama was elected, and he was part of the advising committee of Obama. So I thought, “Well, there's only one place I can meet him. It's in Bangladesh.”
So I went to Dhaka, and trust me, 2008 in Dhaka, that was a challenge. Even if I didn't have any plan, I mean I had enough resources to usually find a nice hotel. Well in Dhaka, you're not constrained by resources, there's no hotels. In 2008, there was one hotel. So I got to the hotel and start to connect with people. And two people I had relationship, like the Danone team. And then I met the Danone team and they were there because they were doing a project with Muhammad Yunus.
That really inspired me. The idea was to, lend money to these ladies in villages, for them to buy an additional cow... it was not a cow, they were goats. And like that, they can generate more milk. Take the milk to a micro-yogurt factory, like micro.... it was like a kitchen.
These people were doing the yogurt and selling the yogurt. Again, I loved it because it was all about making the ecosystem and the community better. And it worked fantastic. The people at Danone were just incredible. It was retired engineers, the CEO of Danone was supporting the initiative, like very strongly, Muhammad Yunus was just a magician into this equation. And I was just like super happy to be part of it. But I realized that microcredit was not where my passion was. And I was missing my passion about creating and making a lifestyle great for people.
So you were drawn to the community…
But at the end of the day, it's a form of a bank.
It is a bank.
And you’re like, you liked the objective of it, but the emotion, the creative process...
There was no creative process.
That's exactly that. But the numbers were good. So, you were doing good and you were doing good numbers. So, I decided that at the end of the day, I wanted to go back into a lifestyle I felt very strongly about, which was yoga. My wife has been a Yogi, for more than 20 years now. I've never been, even now, I’m not a Yogi, I can do yoga, but I'm not a Yogi. I was not a surfer.
And that's the reason why I think I'm successful. It's because I love the space, I understand the people who are fully passionate and fully committed to the lifestyle. But I can translate that to a bigger audience, which is me, basically, people like me.
It's almost in a way, you have the ability to play the bridge cause, when someone's really good at something, and I've seen this like even in my kids' sports, it becomes very...
Very focused. It's very positive, but it's undemocratized in a way.
Yeah. And so you were kind of that bridge.
And by the way, surfing and yoga are very close, in fact. The communion with the sea, with the wave. There's a lot of joining points.
And there you have it. I love that story because it shows that just because you’ve had success in one place, doesn’t mean you’ll immediately find it in another. And you just can’t fake passion.
We hope you liked this bonus story from our conversation with Bernard Mariette, and if you haven’t checked out our full podcast, you’re missing out.
Subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already, and here’s Chris Velan to play us out.
Take care, speak soon, be safe.