Our guest today is Damian Soong, the CEO and Co-founder of the British challenger brand, Form, a serial entrepreneur, and a “city-escapist”. In this episode, we talk about building a purpose-driven business, how Damian brought a social conscience to a self-obsessed industry, and why social entrepreneurship should be the future.
"The big takeaway for me is that as the businesses got smaller, as I could have more impact, I was much more fulfilled from a work point of view.”
Damian studied engineering and started working in banking right around the dotcom boom. It was an exciting time, and he learned a lot about how large organisation and the way they work. However, he always felt like he was just a tiny part of a big machine.
After doing his MBA at Imperial, he ran a small business and got involved in a lot of entrepreneurial initiatives.
Over the years, he moved to smaller and smaller companies and realized that he enjoyed this environment much more.
Damian was always passionate about nutrition and wellness. In 2015, he got interested in the vegan movement and did a lot of research on the topic. At the time vegan proteins did not taste very well or looked a bit esoteric and other protein brands followed the cliche of the ultra strong muscle man, but there was no brand that really spoke to him. He already had many experiences in startups, running businesses, and raising money and as he saw a gap in the market he decided to create a vegan protein brand, the kind of brand that “he was missing”.
Damian and his co-founders launched Form in 2017. The initial idea was to run it as a side-project, but the business started to grow really fast and the rest is history.
Creating A Purpose-driven Brand
“I personally don't see any kind of dissonance between thinking about the planet and thinking about people and it coexisting alongside profit.”
Damian and his team wanted to elevate the idea of nutrition to be more than just a protein shake before a workout, and brought aspects of education, meditation, and mindfulness to the brand, to nourish the whole self.
Form also wanted to give back to communities in need in some way and supporting a small charity has been woven into the DNA of the business from day one. The Form Feeding Fund donates a percentage of every purchase to the Bansang Hospital in the Gambia.
Damian’s company became B Corporation certified, which means they meet the highest standards of social and environmental impact.
Form is using the triple bottom line concept which means you don’t just consider profit, but people and planet as well. According to Damian, this is the future of corporations, as this is the most sustainable way to really create positive impact in the world.
Working In A Sustainable Way
Damian is a strong believer in the body-mind connection and regularly nourishes both.
He is not a fan of the hustle-culture. According to him, in order to be a successful and driven entrepreneur, you need to have some downtime and self-care as well.
While Damian starts his day with a short period of checking his emails, he is generally quite in control of his phone. He also believes in structuring his days into segments of 30 minutes where he focuses in an uninterrupted way on getting things done. Damian also has a business mentor with whom he can share his ideas and who holds him accountable.
He also carves out time in the morning for exercise and sometimes also journals or meditates.
At Form, people have flexible work schedules, and they don’t make 5 or 10-year plans. They rather have common objectives that everyone works towards. Everyone in the company has KPIs they can focus on. Damian says the key is in hiring the right people and says his team has a lot of personal drive and passion for the business.
Palma’s Reflection On Creativity
This week, we invite you to just pause for a moment and ask yourself, where do you have your most creative ideas? Where and when, and during which activities?
Most of the time, people have their most creative ideas not when they're sitting at their desk or trying to push harder. It is usually when they relax for a moment and stop trying for example in the bathroom, before falling asleep, in nature, on a flight/commute (pre-covid) or while exercising or meeting with friends.
So this week, try experimenting with switching off your email notifications on your desktop, and also the notifications on your phone.
We also invite you to experiment with the concept of flow.
Carve out an hour or a 30-minute slot in your diary where you work in a really concentrated way without distractions. Then just see what happens to your productivity and your fulfillment while at work.
About Our Guest, Damian Soong
Damian Soong is the CEO & Co-founder of the British challenger brand, Form - the market disruptor in plant-based nutrition. An experienced MBA educated entrepreneur, Damian has always run, started, and raised funds for businesses driven by social purpose. Men’s Health named him a Nutrition Maverick and Protein Pioneer. He has brought a social conscience to a self-obsessed industry, positively impacting the lives of some of the most underprivileged communities in the world.
A special thanks to Damian Soong for taking the time to share his inspiring story with us.
Resources Mentioned In The Show:
Blake Mycoskie - Start Something That Matters
Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim - Blue Ocean Strategy
Anthony de Mello - Awareness
Continue Your Journey
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