Inge De Dreu- Founder of InspiraTé, Manager of Touch of Love

Originally Dutch, Inge de Dreu now lives in Bogotá, Colombia. She’s a Business Consultant working on projects with companies and educational institutions, is now 27 years old and lives with her boyfriend and his two daughters.

Ever since Inge was very young, she only wanted to work with horses. She’d been riding from the age of 7, when she was 16 years old she started to work riding and grooming these beautiful animals in her high school vacations. After graduating she went to the U.S. to work for a jumping barn. This was a time for reflection; was this really what she wanted in life? No, there should be something more than just this world, so full of people pretending, having masks and consequently all inequalities. Heartbroken and missing the horses, she went back to the Netherlands to study Business Economics and afterwards Management.

A big influence in her way of thinking has had Kaospilots NL (now Knowmads), a ‘business school’ focussed on creative and social entrepreneurship. She learned about having dreams, expressing herself in the world and being authentic, but most of all she learned not to be so tough on the world and on herself. Her youth and her work had caused a tough attitude, that wasn’t natural for her. She learned to relax and let go, developed her sensibility, her ability to deal with emotions, to be forgiving and thankful. She learned to be conscious about herself and her behaviour, and how to change it to be the person she wanted to be.

During and after her Bachelor (Business Economics) and Master’s degree (General Management), this tendency was continued by working with Family and Organizational Constellations. Originally a therapy developed by Bert Hellinger, Constellations work on a deeper, systemic level with people and organizations that bring a lot of insight and problem solving.

Having done two theses in Colombia, Inge fell in love with this country and its people. From organized, flat Holland to rocky and often chaotic Colombia. Somehow the mountains bring magic, people are more outgoing and friendly and learning about a new world is fascinating. So after finishing her studies, she decided to move and build her life up there. At the moment she is living in Bogotá with her partner and his two daughters, learning about Colombian culture and business and starting up her businesses.

What are you working on right now?

I really feel it my mission to bring a bit of happiness and harmony to people. I do this in several ways.

I’m a consultant on Creativity and Innovation and Business Identity. As I’m still new in this country, it has taken me some time to really take off with these services. It has been a process, especially as in Colombia personal connections are extremely important and this is a relatively new thing to bring to companies here. Step by step I’m accessing the business and educational world to share creativity, new ways to do business and authenticity, amongst others. Business Identity is about stories and leadership. In a very practical and situational setting we look for the best way that this specific business can be, just be, and then express itself in the world. Reinforcing the identity, as long as it is very real and pure to everyone involved, makes the difference of committing people, employees, customers and making things especially great.

At this moment I have a new project, which is called InspiraTé. It’s a place where professionals that work in offices and often have a very stressful life, between work and family, can come in and have a moment in which they experience harmony and can clear their minds. They can have a great tea or coffee, enjoy a moment for themselves or meet people, maybe have a little massage, and go out the door a lot more relaxed then when they came in. It’s a physical and virtual place taking of in 2011.

Apart from these two activities, I’m working on a social project called Touch of Love. This is an NGO from the US that works with microloans, originally in Egypt and now expanding to Colombia, amongst other countries. We are at the moment in a test-phase, we work in a place called Altos de Cazuca, just south of Bogotá. People that live here are mostly displaced, very poor and affected by the violence in this neighbourhood. There are little opportunities for work, studying and a lot of problems with drugs, alcohol and a lack of long term plans in general. Quite a few NGOs have presence in this area, however, it still seems extremely hard for people to rise out of the situation and live the life they want to live. With Touch of Love we try to stimulate people to create their own lives and we only give, or actually borrow, them the means.

3 trends that excite you?

Spirituality and consciousness in business. People that become more aware of who they are, what they want to do with their lives and find ways to apply that to their work or company. It’s allowed to open up, be yourself and believe in something more than just material things, whatever the philosophy, religion or beliefs. Without soul we wouldn’t be human beings, we might as well integrate it completely in our lives and live with purpose. Examples of this success are the popularity of Deepak Chopra, in Europe the Organizational Constellations, schools like Kaospilots and Knowmads and many many more things people apply in business every day. It feels great to be a part of this trend.

Sustainability is definitely big. We all know we’re destroying this planet, both environmentally and socially, yet the real big change in thinking and acting is still to come. It’s time for us as consumers to just take responsibility and not accept things that do too much damage. I love practical idealism; to have great intentions and enjoy life meanwhile.

I’ve never been such a fan of things that are too technological, however, lately I’ve developed a fascination for social media, blogging and in general how the Internet influences the way we interact. And it seems to work and actually have an enriching influence in the way we live! At least for me it’s really starting to make sense. The way information spreads, new connections are made, inspirations come looking for me… I’m quite new to this, but learning how to use it. It’s just amazing how knowledge, ideas and any other useful information spreads and make human connections richer.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Somehow oldfashioned pen and paper works for me. I work a lot with mindmaps, post-its, I go out to have a coffee and work meanwhile. Ideas seem to appear on the edge of working and relaxing. After that, making it real, it’s just plain hard work, organizing, improvising and a lot of common sense. I try not to hold on too strong to details of my ideas. It’s a good thing to know when to let go of something, question the ideas, change them, adapt them.

What inspires you?

Passion. People that follow their heart. Dreams. Reality. Flowers. Horses. People that think different. Good conversation. Meetings. Pureness. The world. Nature. People.

What is one mistake you’ve made that our readers can learn from?

There was a time in my life I was getting really tough on myself and the world around me, I was too moralistic. I had been working in an environment that felt really in-just, was heartbroken and in a long distance relationship, had very low self-esteem, economically things were hard… After that time in my life things got better, but I maintained a defensive survival attitude. My mistake was allowing this to happen and not letting go of things and attitudes I didn’t need anymore in my life. Not following my heart and how I feel, but forgetting about my dreams. When I talk about my heart and feelings it’s not about being soft and emotional, its much more about being myself, discovering my identity and feeling that decisions I make about my life are just. On the other side, I needed to live that part of my life in order to be who I am right now. I discovered a really essential persistent and rock-like part of myself, that I can now use for the good, even though it hurt at the time. I learned how to forgive myself and be ok just by myself.

What is one book and one tool that help you bring ideas to life?

Make mindmaps and draw. Express yourself and push your creativity to the limit a little bit. Most importantly, remember it doesn’t stop there. After generating ideas you need some structure so that the big picture becomes visible and you don’t get lost in details. And later putting your thoughts into action makes it all worthwhile, after all, we all want to see some results in the end.

A great book that can help is ‘Creativity Today’ by Igor Byttebier and Ramon Vullings. I use these techniques for my own creativity and idea generation, as well as for helping others to be more creative. It’s really practical, full of examples and with down-to-earth practices that are very effective and accessible.

What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Whatever you do, listen to your customers. Choose your customers and talk to them, or at least communicate with them with certain frequency just to know what is happening, try to find their needs that are hidden or unconscious. Improve, learn, improve and learn.

Here in Colombia there are so many companies and complete markets that can improve so much. Banking for example. Or retail, where companies basically do what convenes them and not what the customer needs. Another massively unattended market still are the lower classes and their needs, mostly basic such as health, public services and education.

Who is the one person you’d love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

I’d love to see anyone interviewed that has a great idea and the potential to inspire people. I like to see people that are making their own stories.

What are constellations and why are they useful?

Constellations are a tool we use to make blockades visible and to deal with systemic, more complex issues. Family and Organizational Constellations are most well-known, although there are some more variations.

In an Organizational Constellation we take a look at the systemic environment of the organization and its hidden dynamics. This way persistent, old and seemingly permanent problems become visible and understandable. Every constellation is unique, sometimes we find a solution, sometimes we just gain a lot of insight in the issue at hand. In all cases, after a constellation things are more clear for the people in the organization and the solution is underway.

Family Constellations are used as a therapy or as a personal development. We all have family ties, that might stimulate us or hold us back from what we want to do. Constellations give more insight and help dealing with the issues at hand, whatever they might be. Instead of holding you back, handling the dynamics in your systemic environment you can get more strength and wisdom out of it and let go of the blockades.

What’s with the horses?

I learned a lot of life-lessons from horses. Either working them or just being around them, they taught me how to stand my ground, give others what they need to perform, to be calm and stable, to be present in the moment and act upon the situation at hand. Horses are very sensitive and communicative animals, they like to make contact and ‘bond’. They’re not as judgemental as people, more uncomplicated and as long as you are in the moment working with them, they’re schoolmasters. It’s about making connections beyond just talking and pretending, about really making contact.

Inge de Dreu on LinkedIn: Inge de Dreu
Touch of Love: