[quote style=”boxed”]Take change as your only constant. Do not take the world, your business or even yourself for granted. Make constant adaptation a way of life. Don’t live in the past but make something of the future. For me, that is true entrepreneurship.[/quote]
There are 2 definitions that characterize Jean-Paul Close: “a colorful personality” and “a person with a mission.” Both characterizations came from people who listened to his speeches about his personal decision to help transform the world because he did not want to hand over society as it is to his 2 children. He has expressed his findings and views in working models, published books, public speaking events, as an executive coach and as a university teacher. He also initiated various purpose-driven, new age enterprises in which local government officials, technological innovators, scientific educators and civil representatives take responsibility for complex local issues, based on his definition of sustainable progress.
Close was born in the Netherlands in 1958, grew up in Spain, studied maths and computer science in England, studied international business in Holland and speaks 8 languages. For many years, he worked in executive positions for multinationals until his life was affected by 2 broken marriages and the decision to raise his 2 small children. These circumstances, to his surprise, brought him into conflict with authorities that opened his eyes to the cold, self-centered, individualistic society dependent on an artificial, money-driven system that neglects human values that once existed in society. He became motivated to study the phenomenon that societies can change in a few decades from warm, social, values-driven communities to cold, bureaucratic and money-driven dictatorships. He found out in 2004 that the world economies were on the verge of a total collapse and entering a true global paradigm shift.
What are you working on right now?
I spend a lot of time explaining the logic of all that is happening in the world of economics, recessions, crisis, etc. to individuals, executives, the media, authorities and institutions. I show them the other reality, the transformative one, to compensate for the fear and panic that most of them feel personally or professionally. The other part of the day I try to get people to work together on the paradigm shift by addressing very small, simple issues like trusting each other around a common values-driven objective.
Where did the idea for “the global paradigm shift” come from?
That is a complicated story, of course. It is like asking “what made you want to change the world?” or “what makes you think you can do anything about the world?” From a world changing perspective, it is not that difficult. I realized that when I changed myself the entire human world changed a little bit. I used to be a money-driven career freak like many of those of my generation because we were educated that way. At the age of 20, we all wanted to be millionaire by 30. For more than 27 years, I lived and worked abroad mixing entrepreneurship and executive positions with such ambitions, blind to the consequences of such behavior.
I decided to move back to the Netherlands in 2001 to give my daughter a taste of their father’s cultural roots. To my surprise, I found a totally different society than the one I had left in the 70’s. The culture shock was tremendous, not just for me but especially for my Brazilian wife. It destroyed my marriage and brought my personal life into a state of chaos. I even had to hide with my 2 children, lost my executive job, my house and everything of material value. The bank and government officials that had to deal with my case would not accept that a highly educated, mid-aged, multi-lingual, international executive decided to concentrate on the safety and stability of his children instead of contributing to the tax and debt system through some high wage job. They started to use every legal instrument of pressure against me, trying to force me back into the dominant financial system. It was an eye opening lesson for me that made me wonder how a society could become so demanding, authoritative and in my view, highly immoral. For the sake of my children, I decided that this was not the type of society that I wanted to hand over to them. It became clear to me that this was not just a problem of the Netherlands, but of the entire human world. I decided to challenge the system with my own instruments. My transformative paradigm views developed gradually as I became aware of the evolutionary logic behind all of it; the systems, the choices humankind had made and the crises that the established world is suffering due to the global shift that is occurring. This resulted in books, speeches, columns and coaching initiatives. At first, no one accepted my views but when the credit crisis struck the financial world, people started to take me seriously.
I am now convinced that we are living through the most significant decades of humankind since we learned how to dominate fire 250,000 years ago. It is great to have the consciousness to be able to contribute to the potential well being of human evolution, even though we will not be able to avoid an important period of collapse and suffering. We already have the option to take early steps in establishing the new formats of society, if the old one will let us. And that particular mission feels positive and very rewarding.
What does your typical day look like?
My day is divided between the care of my 2 daughters and my work to create purpose-driven ventures. When the kids are at school, I have all kinds of meetings. When they are at home, I write articles, books and blogs while addressing their needs, too. Those combined responsibilities make every day excitingly different, challenging and rewarding.
How do you bring ideas to life?
They come alive by creating views, writing and talking about them and putting them into practice. This gets me in touch with people who think like me and want to join me in bringing these ideas further. We establish purpose-driven entrepreneurial activities. Some are very small, like a local club to strengthen local self-employed entrepreneurs. Some are very big like the joint venture between city government, technological innovators, scientific institutes and public health organization around the concept of clean air, public health and city development. The entire concept is based on purpose-driven cooperative ventures that are multi-disciplinary and based on equality of all participants. In fact, we can deal with any complex issue, but we need it to be free from fragmented economic power structures and hierarchies. This limits the opportunities right now, but the crises open up our perspectives more and more. Creating early references also helps to make people curious about the way we look at progress. Eventually it will all spread. The more crises the established world suffers through recessions, the more openings we get to develop the new society through purpose-driven cooperation.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The way humankind goes about the paradigm shift from a self-destructive society into one based on sustainable progress. It affects all individuals, world leaders and institutions. In fact, the individual is more of a world leader in the global paradigm shift than business and political leaders because the individual is not asked to uphold an old system that those “leaders” are. It is interesting to see that those who we call global leaders are not leaders of sustainable progress at all, but people who are asked by stakeholders to keep the past alive. True leadership and progress develops in the homes of people like you and me.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
General manager for a big multinational in an European country. They asked me to downsize the company no matter what plans we presented, simply because they were investing in China and not in Europe. I learned that I never wanted to work in such a destructive hierarchy where the human being is a disposable puppet. I prefer to see humanity as one single multinational of great individuals that all interact together to make progress in a sustainable way.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Nothing! My life eventually evolved like a mountain landscape, full of peaks and deep valleys. I learned to love both, including the struggles up and parachuting down the slopes. Even my 2 broken marriages taught me so much that I would not be me today if I had not lived through them and made the choices that I made. But the best teachers are still my daughters who opened up my eyes and made me make decisions based on love instead of matter.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Take change as your only constant. Do not take the world, your business or even yourself for granted. Make constant adaptation a way of life. Don’t live in the past but make something of the future. For me, that is true entrepreneurship.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I give all my ideas, business models, paradigm shifts and experience away for free via the Internet. My international publication is available on the Internet for free in 18 chapters. Only the hard copy will eventually cost money, if I find someone to publish it for me. What I have to say or write is not valuable if it gathers dust on the bookshelves. Using and implementing it makes the difference. I make a living on helping people understand and putting it into practice.
Tell us a secret.
When I put my children into safety, I was forced to let go of my house and leave all my possessions behind. I could enter a rental dwelling but I had nothing, including money to furnish it. My entire house was eventually decorated with the second hand leftovers of friends and family. Curiously, everything matched in color and style, I never got any doubles and when I thought of something that I was missing, the phone would ring and someone would offer it to me instantly. Even the carpets in the bedrooms came cut in exactly the right format. Unbelievable? No, I am convinced that I had some powerful invisible help and still have it.
What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?
- LinkedIn because it connects me with the professional world.
- Twitter because it adds another dimension of instant global awareness if used properly.
- Google Apps because I have all my stuff free online ready for access and use wherever I am in the world.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
My own, of course. The Global Shift, a quantum leap in human evolution because it will change people’s lives and give them new perspectives, insights and tools to conduct their own transformation. And it is still free of charge, available through www.stir-global-shift.com.
What’s on your playlist?
That depends on my state of mind. The art of music and singing reaches out to my emotions, which in turn make me reflect about life. I like all kinds of music.
If you weren’t working on the global paradigm shift, what would you be doing?
Probably still messing things up as an executive somewhere in the world without any awareness or consciousness of what I was doing.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Twitter is not about following particular people. It is about creating a cloud of instant connectivity between like thinking people and initiatives around your own that continuously enrich each other with ideas and information.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
My daughters make me laugh every day. As they grow up, they create their own world and confront me with it, surprising me all the time. Today I was worried about a meeting tomorrow and I told my little 11 year old about it while we were on the way to a funfair. I said, “but that is tomorrow, let’s first enjoy our trip today.” Her reply was an eye opener; she said, “wow daddy, you are changing! You become aware that you live todays, not tomorrows.” I laughed so hard and we had a great day together.
Who is your hero?
Jesus Christ, as a person, not the dogmas that have been created in His name. We share in many ways similar views even though I tend to be more of the belief that God is now inside each of us connecting us deep inside with that endless river of universal energy. We need to take responsibility for our own evolutionary progress every day within this huge universe that we have available to us to explore through our consciousness.
What do you take personal responsibility for in your profession?
My own decision one day to serve humankind and our planet rather than use it ultimately determined my choices. We all have unique abilities and competences that can contribute to our own wellness and to global wellness if we consciously evaluate our choices against sustainable progress.
What would you do if you had to choose between money, status, an executive career or material poverty and confrontation with the system for the sake of the safety and care of your children?
I made my decision whole heartedly, but realize through conversations afterwards that many people would not do the same. They admire my choices and determination, but in their hearts they think that I am a bit crazy. They would find a safe external solution for their offspring and continue with their own personal development of wealth. That is very legitimate. My decision was unique to me and provided me with personal satisfaction and a huge challenge that satisfies my personal development every day through a particular kind of commitment. For many, “poverty” is a very simplified term that refers mostly to the lack of financial means, just like the term “rich” refers to the abundance of it. In my view, being rich or poor is much more diverse and refers also to spiritual, emotional and rational awareness, consciousness and lifestyle. I never had the feeling of poverty when I had no money. In my previous life, as an international executive, I earned a lot of money but always had the feeling that it was not enough to cover my expenses or needs. Back then, I did feel poor very often, especially in a material sense. When you have a lot, you become aware that you can loose a lot and this makes you worry upfront. When you have nothing, there is nothing to lose and hence, nothing to worry about. This makes you feel rich in other values, opens your mind to beautiful things and in my case, creates the desire to work together on enhancing it. This I called my own revolution of the consciousness. I see that something similar is happening to many other people too.