Along with Willemijn Verloop, Mark Hillen is the co-author of the new book Social Enterprise Unraveled: Best Practice from the Netherlands, which was published in early June.
Here, Mark Hillen talks about writing what you want and need. But more than anything, however, writing is a practice that allows thoughts to process and solidify.
Four Questions with Mark Hillen
1. How did the idea for the book come about?
Social Enterprises are the best model for innovation and a better economy. Thus we need many more social entrepreneurs. So we decided that we need to inspire people. And beyond that show that it is in practice possible to be successful, to make an impact and earn a living. The book has 22 inspiring success stories. It’s not only for entrepreneurs, everybody can contribute and help the enterprise in a different way. The simplest way is to buy the products. We haven’t found the book we needed, so we wrote it. We hope it provides inspiration to people and act, whatever way fits best.
2. How did you decide to join this sector?
I was a managing partner at Accenture, a 300,000 people consulting firm, where I spent 22 years. I worked for the best companies, all focused on maximizing shareholder value. A certain profit is fine, it serves a purpose. Other things are more important at the end of the day. I have always been engaged [with] societal issues next to my commercial career. It was a rather natural move. I left Accenture to ‘do nothing’ for a while and think about a future, and in little steps landed at the social enterprise as the core of my time spend.
3. How do you get your inspiration?
Mostly through meeting people. The more diverse, the better. Entrepreneurs, people who are disadvantaged, impact investors, politicians, professors. It helps me to stay in touch with reality and get all the different viewpoints and attitudes. But also writing helps me to digest, conclude, formulate.
4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
Brew a good cup of coffee in the office to get going. Sometimes I need to take a walk and let all the impressions surface. And be in the garden and watch the birds in the weekend and get peace of mind.