There's something ultra about serving in the invisible. The ultra rest in itself. Ultra max cool. Throwing your commitment into something that just might succeed. On top of that, without having more than an advisory voice.
Lasse got my undivided attention when he said, "I think Denmark will miss out on gold" if we don't get you women on board. By implication, you might be a diamond in the rough.
My business idea had already caused several bankers to stand up in disdain or almost all men to turn to my husband and ask about his coffee adventures instead.
But not Lasse - he thinks very far ahead. If the future is an empathy economy, then there must be gold to be made by bringing women on board. And then boards have to get used to a completely different language and detours to reach conclusions that aren't just straightforward and logical. Lasse masters this rare combination. He is a talker but listens patiently while never having time to meet in person. We set calendar appointments and call about the next burning issue, big or small, and when the time is up, "Cinderella" has to go home with her pumpkin tub. Privately, we don't know much about each other, because it's clear that what we have in common is what we prefer to spend our time on. Our shared passion for making the bumblebee Coffee Beanies take off.
If we do, we have a key to help Africa help itself. How do you turn an NGO idea into a profitable business so it can live and grow indefinitely and provide jobs for all of Africa?
Lasse is an expert in budget and cash flow, strategy development for investment rounds, valuation and opportunities for employee ownership, communication and influencers.
However, empathy is probably the word that best encapsulates all the words about him. It's at the heart of the rest of his offerings. Empathy is the filter that allows me to shine brightest and my calling to be shaped. When your mentor is empathetic, there's a perfect balance between small pushes and patient repetitions of things you thought you'd already said. My next learning circle is exactly where Lasse has placed himself EVERY TIME. And it has truly saved both him and me time. I would go as far as to say that without Lasse's help over the past year, CB probably wouldn't be. A huge affectionate thank you from the knitters in Burundi and me.
Meet our advisor Tina Elvang from the worldwide designer company Elvang. She is also known as the Queen of Alpaca.
23 years ago, Tina and her husband Lasse started their company with quality cushions and throws in soft alpaca wool. At that time, Danes didn't know what alpaca wool was. Nor did they know anything about why alpaca is as good for the environment as it is. Tina laughs a little when she says that in the beginning people advised her not to tell when she used recycled. She says that back then, people thought it sounded like the wool was second-rate.
Tina's professional background is originally in human rights, which we studied together at university. Therefore, I know how deeply human rights and accountability resonate with her. Honestly, I almost dropped my jaw when she quit her good job at the Danish Center for Human Rights to focus on pillows and throws. It would be 10 years before I had experienced for myself how uphill and slow U-landshjælpen is moving. For a couple of impatient ladies like us, it was clearly more attractive to help developing countries help themselves through job creation. I was just a little slower on the uptake than my fantastic advisor Tina.
She is the most important person in the CB universe that I make sure I have within reach on rainy days. She's the person I can call if I'm in Norway, fumbling with questions about customs and shipping to customers, or if I'm unsure of how to help my sales agents in the most motivating way.
It humbles and touches me how, time and again, in the middle of her own race, she always makes my challenges seem important enough to take out a morning or weekend meeting. Always within reach and always with an ease and a girlish chuckle that makes me breathe deep into my stomach again.
Thank you sweet Tina - everyone should have one like you.