Five years ago, Yann LeMoël decided to break away from the proverbial “golden hamster wheel”, after spending 20 years in corporate. Seeking to have more freedom and purpose in his life, Yann quit his job in the aerospace industry with close to 20 years of experience to start over and build purposeful startups full-time.
Today, Yann runs three organisations, two of which are focused on sustainability and environment, and enjoy helping the next generation of entrepreneurs and university students – which he finds more fulfilling.
While he is relatively new to the startups world, (he founded Living Labs in January 2020, and only started his managing director role at Pufferfish Partners in 2019), Yann brings a wealth of experience from his decades in the corporate sector to the three organisations he is overseeing.
Upon quitting his job in the corporate sector, Yann, who is an avid outdoor sportsman, spent 2019 crossing the Pacific Ocean in a 51-feet catamaran with his business partner. The sabbatical gave him some much-needed time to recuperate and figure out what’s next for his career.
Yann shares what he has learned as a newly-minted founder and manager.
Tell me about the organisations you are running and how they seek to improve the status quo?
I run 3 organisations and I’m also a board advisor for entrepreneurs in their startups. I’m the managing director of Pufferfish Partners, a strategic and go-to-market advising company to help western tech companies enter Asia.
I also founded Living Labs Federation, which builds tailored acceleration programs matching innovative startups with local environmental projects bearers (government, non-government, and corporations). We build blended financing programs to help Zebra companies focused on sustainability gain traction.
I believe our current methods of innovation are not suited for sustainability and can be improved. As such, I co-founded the Innovation for Sustainability Alliance, a community of professionals and experts believing that we need new values and methods when it comes to sustainable innovations.
How has Covid-19 impacted your company, and what measures did you take to rise above the crisis?
For PFP, we had to shrink to minimum to fix costs to pass the storm, now we have new contracts coming and are growing again since 2021.
The sustainability ventures we launched during Covid progressed well as they involve passionate people with a true intention and purpose.
What is the biggest takeaway from your experience with the pandemic?
Working remotely adds great value to work-life balance. While it has done us a huge convenience, we have also realised that real-life interaction is key. Face-to-face interactions are the best for transmitting your passion.
How do you define success?
Success to me is being happy and making sure I have had a positive impact on the people around me.
Who is your mentor or your inspiration and why?
While I’ve had several mentors in the various stages of my life, I value passion over age. I admire the young people who decide to backpack around the world before starting their careers. I admire my dad who has the most brilliant mind I have seen, as well as adventurers and explorers who go beyond the average human capabilities.
What are some activities you do to rally your team in difficult times?
I have never been a fan of “team bonding activities”. My rule is that the daily work environment has to provide shelter and inclusivity. The rest is up to individuals that everyone can enjoy this environment. Even if work gets tough, it’s just work. That’s all. The ones and the things you love is what matters. When there are very tough times at work, I just strive to keeping everyone focused looking ahead to pass the storm. I often say “We will laugh about it in five years.”
What rituals do you have to prevent burnout?
Spend time with my wife, sailing around the world, sports, and maintaining strong boundaries between my personal and professional lives.
Lastly, what is a mantra or principle you live by and why is it important to you?
Carpe Diem. I lost my best friend when I was 23. Tomorrow might never come, so enjoy your life today. Life is short. We don’t have enough time to spend with all the nice people out there. Don’t waste it on toxic relationships.
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