Zebras in the Wild: Yann Mauchamp & Jeffrey Coleman | Chapter Co-leads Paris, France
With our series “Zebras in the Wild”, we are excited to take you on a journey around the world to meet founding members, chapter leads, co-op members and allies! We talk to Zebras in the wild and report back how they’re challenging the status quo, how they envision the future and how we can support them in their mission!
I sat down to talk with Jeffrey Coleman and Yann Mauchamp to talk about
- The Zebras Unite movement in France
- A more humanist approach to entrepreneurship, and
- The slow pace of change.
Read the highlights from my interview with Jeffrey & Yann:
A Zebra is…
Yann:… an animal. From afar it looks very similar to all the others out there but once you get closer, you realize they’re all different. And these differences are what make them of value to the dazzle and the community.
Without diversity we cannot be fully alive and in harmony with nature and other beings.
Jeff: … some entity looking to impact the world in a way that has integrity between their values and the way they structure their entity. Prioritizing people and planet equal to or greater than profit — that’s challenging and requires creativity. It can happen a lot of different ways. We embrace that diversity.
We can choose how we feed our visions of the future
Jeff: Access to quality information and credible stories is an issue for how we see the world. For example, the media loves talking about VC-funded startup stories which leads many people to believe that in order to be a successful entrepreneur you need to raise VC funding.
We’ve been so inundated with certain ways of thinking, it discourages outside the box thinking. Imagining alternative business models or ways of working becomes incredibly difficult. Changing mindsets — including our own — is a real challenge.
Most ideas televised about the future are dystopian: Scary and hopeless versions of what’s going to happen to the world. When’s the last time you watched a truly optimistic science-fiction film about our future? BUT what if we gave ourselves permission to draw from alternative sources of inspiration like watching kids television (Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, for example)? What if we deeply diversified the communities we were talking to? Creative solutions can result.
A better-connected vision of the future
Yann: I envision a future where we all connect deeper to our hearts, our bodies, our soul, the communities we belong to and together truly care and work on what really matters, starting with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both locally and globally. I want to live in a world in which each of us is contributing to making it better than we found it and aligns our daily actions and lifestyles with what deeply resonates into us. That takes some introspection. Once we’ve figured out what really matters to each of us individually and what type of future we want to build, we (our body and our soul) start actively solving for the SDGs as a person, a community, a company, as society and as humanity.
I want to live in a world in which each of us is contributing to making it better than we found it and aligns our daily actions and lifestyles with what deeply resonates into us.
Once we start accounting for all the externalities that the current version of capitalism is imposing on us, we’ll have a clearer picture of what we want to change here and now. We first become conscious of the impact — positive and negative — each of us has. With that knowledge, we have the power to shift our mindset toward a triple accounting system where nature and people are accounted alongside financial profit.
Capital infrastructure: Patience over growth
Jeff: Sometimes reimagining the future requires us to become aware of what already exists and bringing those models into the mainstream. For example, in African-Caribbean communities there is already a long-standing tradition of sharing access to wealth internally through contributing to a money pool and people access that pool when they need it. It’s built on trusting relationships. It’s worked for hundreds of years. It doesn’t need to be invented.
We see alternative options emerging that allow us to build businesses that create value in our communities.
Yann: Half of the total world capital invested in tech and startups comes from our taxes/government* (*my own stats / prove me wrong -;-). In France, our public financial body financing companies is BPI (banque publique d’investissement). At EU level, it’s EIF (European Investment Fund). If it’s half, then I think we as tax-paying citizens have a voice to declare and decide how this capital is invested. Consequently, if governments doesn’t finance socially and ecologically responsible companies, we’ll stop voting for them, and find alternative bodies to represent us. We have more power than we have been taught when it comes to capital distribution. Solutions are all around us. Available now. Let’s alert and activate what’s in our power as citizens. We talk a lot about purpose nowadays and it’s great, let’s also talk about governance, starting with our public money, the money coming from the people to the institutions and it’s used.
Values: Humanist entrepreneurship
Yann: Jeff and I as a team are an illustration of the culture we hope to model. Jeff and I didn’t know each other a year ago but became friends, and chapter co-leads, because we believe in an alternative economy and share the same values: generative listening, cooperation, helping each other, respecting others’ opinions without judging (I do come a long way on this, and still work on it), building a world where we can live in peace.
I hope that 20 years from now, the more humanistic approach to entrepreneurship will prevail: not growth hacking but slow hacking, not exponential but experiencing, not fundraising but fun rising, respect for resources and humanity, not greed.
Zebras Unite has prepared the soil. Now it’s up to us to help the grains grow, give space to the roots, contribute and support the ecosystem.
Mapping the official and unofficial Zebra landscape in France
Jeff: When starting the chapter, we realized there was already a lot happening in France: people who were already inspired by the Zebras Unite movement and people who were already aligned with the values and ethos of sustainable, ethical business — even if they weren’t aware of Zebras Unite. France is full of people who think and feel this way about business and the economy — though they don’t always use the same terminology and might not be fluent in English.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, we are aligning ourselves with like-minded people at the pace of friendship: We are starting conversations, not from a marketing standpoint, not trying to make them adopt the Zebras Unite language, but from a starting point of shared values and worldviews.
Personally, I’ve been scaling back my career and focusing more on family, friends and projects I’m passionate about. Two such projects are at KCC DesignWorks and HETIC, tech training programs catering to those from diverse backgrounds. I work with career changers to help them expand networks and find opportunities to connect with industry professionals. Changing the way I relate to others inspires new behaviors without requiring a mastery of technical jargon.
Yann: In my professional life, I’m an entrepreneur. With MutualBenefits: I decided a few years ago to prioritize organizations and individuals who are dedicated to transforming our economy into a more humane and ecological one. For example, I work with Human Safety Net: This is an initiative to help refugees who come to France launch their entrepreneurial projects. What you have to understand is that refugees come to France — the country that established Human Rights — with an idea of how to build a future for themselves and their families. When they’re arrive in Paris or Munich, they come with great ideas, but without local networks, without cultural codes, therefore no access to what could give them the external kick (they have the internal one), often, their financial means has been spent to escape, cross the seas, the borders, to survive. At Human Safety Net, we listen to them. This is the most important part of our work. And then, we interact with them about what they’re capable of, who they are, what their project is, what’s their purpose, their Why?. Then we find the right resources to help them get off the ground and pursue their dreams, as humans do.
What does support look like?
There are so many reasons to feel pressure in the world today. Especially in the tech startup world, it’s non-stop urgency and now!now!now! When values are aligned, it comes from the gut and the soul and the heart altogether. We might not move at the same fast pace all the time. If we are patient with others though, then we can be loving toward ourselves. We are moving at the speed of trust. Like the tortoise, not the hare. Thanks for your trust and understanding!
Yann & Jeff ask the community…
What’s already going on in France that is aligned with Zebras Unite that we don’t know about yet? Who do you know possibly interested in building relationship with the movement?