The most effective way to solve complex problems with Barbara Soalheiro

Where should we first look to find solutions to a problem?

What is one of the most effective ways to unleash a person’s potential?

What happens when benchmarks disappear and new normals are created?

Today’s episode is going to show you just what is possible when the right conditions are created for people to thrive.

Barbara Soalheiro is the founder of Mesa Company and the creator of Mesa Method. Mesa is a team based work system designed to solve complex challenges by unleashing human potential to process more and execute faster.

We talk about the power of building a team based on having every bit of knowledge and skill needed to solve a specific problem. And then how time constraints being at the core of the team design make it possible for people to come up with extraordinary, paradigm changing, tangible solutions.

Barbara’s company, Mesa, is all about creating a new timespace where solutions to big problems are built. She tell us how it works, what's they've done, and why it's so powerful.

We talk about the importance of working towards an objective that people connect to.

Why people need to work at a place where they feel they are always learning, as well as truly accomplishing something, for them to blossom.

And Barbara explains her vendetta against collaboration. As she says, “the more you focus on it, the less you get of it”.

This is all about real solutions. Changing paradigms. And not following any predesigned formulas.

The energy is electric on this episode, and I certainly left the conversation feeling ever more inspired to just get things done. I hope you feel that too.

So grab that favourite beverage or throw on those running shoes, and here is Barbara.

Please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

To learn more about Mesa Company click here.

If you would like to be reminded of future podcasts and other inspiring stories from TIE, join our newsletter here.

00:00:03:15 – 00:00:32:07
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we expose new perspectives on our ever evolving world through the lenses of various industries, cultures and backgrounds. Our guests are disruptors united by a common goal to bring their purpose to life, whether they’re from the commercial world or third sector, from the Global North or the Global South. Expect an inspirational journey that will transform your perspective on just what is possible.

00:00:32:18 – 00:01:00:24
Philippa White
My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed. So how can you find solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems? Well, you can get a group of people around a table that have the information to find the answers. You have a clear objective and a short time frame. Then you will find solutions like real solutions that change paradigms.

00:01:01:14 – 00:01:29:22
Philippa White
This is what Meza is all about. And today I had the opportunity to speak with Barbara, the founder of Mesa Company, and the creator of Mesa Method, who brings this to life. Hello and welcome to Episode 82 of Tie Unearthed. In this episode we’ll be talking about this team based work system that is designed to solve complex challenges by unleashing human potential to process more and execute faster.

00:01:30:10 – 00:01:52:18
Philippa White
Barbara’s daily work consists in working side by side with some of the most extraordinary professionals of our time people like Mark Echo and Cindy Gallop, Naomi Watts, Kobe Bryant and Fernando Morales. And with some of the largest organizations in the world, such as Google, Facebook, Coca-Cola and Bayer, all of them calling on Mesa to help them move forward in a world of constant change.

00:01:53:07 – 00:02:19:08
Philippa White
We talk about innovation, purpose, manifestation, self-aware business and the power of space to create potential and what is truly needed to make the world a better place. There is so much here and honestly, I’m still buzzing. You do not want to miss this one. So draw on those running shoes or grab that favorite beverage. And here is Barbara.

00:02:19:08 – 00:02:33:06
Philippa White
Amazing. Barbara, it’s such a pleasure to have you with me today. I’ve heard your name for years and it’s such a pleasure to finally meet you. Obviously, we met the other day, but thank you for joining us. It’s a huge honor.

00:02:33:21 – 00:02:38:02
Barbara Soalheiro
Thank you. It is an honor to me to be having this conversation for you.

00:02:38:20 – 00:02:48:19
Philippa White
Yeah. So tell me, I because I speak to people all over the world from so many different backgrounds. Tell our listeners where you are sitting right now.

00:02:48:20 – 00:03:06:24
Barbara Soalheiro
Right now, New York, which is where I call home now, since August this past year with this, me and my entire family and in my case, when I use their words entire, entire I minute because I have three boys, three kids. So it’s a lot of people. It’s a family of five. Easy move.

00:03:08:03 – 00:03:10:14
Philippa White
Quite an exciting move for the kids, though. How old are.

00:03:10:14 – 00:03:32:01
Barbara Soalheiro
They? One is ten, one is nine and one is about ten. Seven. So they are in elementary school. It’s an interesting age. It’s it’s it’s intense. It’s exciting, but it’s also scary. They also feel like they lost a lot being away from so many people they love. They gaining a lot and learning how to celebrate that. But it’s intense.

00:03:32:13 – 00:03:52:05
Philippa White
It is intense. I’ve got children similar age. Obviously, my home is the other side of the world. You’re obviously Brazilian, so it’s almost a switch. And we actually just went to England for Christmas. And of course, a trip to England to go and visit family is very, very different to an actual move. But there’s real pros and cons, right?

00:03:52:05 – 00:04:07:10
Philippa White
Like great opportunity to learn another side of your soul, to discover things that you didn’t even know where possible. For them to start to see the world through different eyes and different opportunities. And, you know, but of course, Brazil has a very strong culture. It’s hard to say goodbye.

00:04:08:11 – 00:04:33:21
Barbara Soalheiro
Well, you know, they’re not losing it. And I think that’s what you describe is also one of the reasons I feel this is such a gift to them as well. The world is such a vast place and so interesting and just the fact that they can practice this method of going places and feeling they can belong to many different places, you know, to me was a big part of who I am as well as I grew.

00:04:33:21 – 00:04:44:02
Barbara Soalheiro
I did travel and study and lead in different countries for periods of time, and that’s had a huge impact on me. And I just I’m glad that they can experience that soon.

00:04:44:08 – 00:04:50:10
Philippa White
Definitely. Definitely so. The million dollar question, what language are you speaking at home now?

00:04:50:10 – 00:05:12:09
Barbara Soalheiro
Portuguese. Yeah. No, it’s like, yeah, I think they’re at the point that I’m actually having to push them to speak English. So we’re not yet facing that hard phase when kids want to speak a different language and parents have to force them with their mother tongue. They’re not there yet. But yeah, I see that happening a lot to know that for sure.

00:05:12:11 – 00:05:15:12
Barbara Soalheiro
I want them to be like perfect Portuguese speakers, right?

00:05:15:15 – 00:05:43:13
Philippa White
Yeah. It’s important to hold on to that. Yeah, definitely. I mean, I’ve always had this problem where we we have anyone who’s listening to any conversation with my children is like, what is going on? Because it’s 100% me speaking in English and then responding in Portuguese, and that’s just how it’s always been. So we had our secret language where sometimes if I’m sort of people say fuzzy and you know, and if I speak in English speaking Portuguese, I’m speaking Portuguese.

00:05:43:24 – 00:05:45:18
Philippa White
Does what you’re saying anyway?

00:05:46:03 – 00:05:49:20
Barbara Soalheiro
I love that. Yeah, it’s a secret language.

00:05:49:22 – 00:06:02:03
Philippa White
But tell us your story and a little bit about you before Mensa, because your story is amazing. There’s so much there. We will be talking about Mensa. That’s a big part of what we’re talking about, but it would be really great to just know what brought you to that chapter.

00:06:02:10 – 00:06:29:01
Barbara Soalheiro
So I’m a journalist. My background is magazines. And it’s interesting because I’m from Zone, which is a city in Brazil. Not so many people know and it isn’t. You didn’t have any magazines until the moment I was at university and they had this magazine. There was this Geraldo who’s a very important writer in Brazil. He partnered with Global Chains and they launched the magazine.

00:06:29:09 – 00:06:54:00
Barbara Soalheiro
When I was at university, that only lasted three years. Basically, it was just during the time I was there and so I worked there. It was my first like job that I loved and magazines are such a wonderful thing to build. You work with a lot of different people. To do a magazine, you need graphic designers. You don’t need illustrators and photographers, producers, writers.

00:06:54:07 – 00:07:17:03
Barbara Soalheiro
You know, it’s just such a wonderful environment. And I fell in love with it. Then I moved to Sao Paulo to work with magazines at age to wrap video, which was the biggest publishing house in Latin America at this point. I ended up having quite a successful career. By the time I was 26, I took over at the teen brand Competition, which was huge in Brazil.

00:07:17:06 – 00:07:38:07
Barbara Soalheiro
We had a set of events, we had merchandizing that we saw our brand, we had a magazine, we had a website and for me it was a big step in to understanding like a business and you know how you deal with so many things happening at the same time. And it was quite successful. We doubled the magazine readership while I was there.

00:07:38:10 – 00:08:04:13
Barbara Soalheiro
The magazine website became the biggest teen content website in the world. Daily users bigger than our main benchmark, which was the American brand 17. This happened like one year after I’ve had already left, but it was Juliana that she me running the website was actually in our class notes me as a so you know, it’s this moment in our life where we did a huge jump and successful story at Instagram.

00:08:04:23 – 00:08:27:16
Barbara Soalheiro
I had like a proper job. I was 26 and I had to I was an executive in a company and then I got an invitation to go to Fabrica, which is Benetton’s Communication Research Center in Italy. And Sabic is a very special place for many reasons, very unique. And one of the things they do there is Collars magazine, which was always a reference in my life.

00:08:28:02 – 00:08:49:24
Barbara Soalheiro
When I was at university, the editors kind of came to Brazil and gave this interview to her, the Viva TV show. That was very important. And, you know, everyone’s so in love with what he was saying. It was a big deal, you know? And so Colors had that for me. And I ended up going to Fabrica, but it was also it was doing collars and I ended up becoming editor in chief of collars while I was there.

00:08:50:10 – 00:09:15:08
Barbara Soalheiro
But it was more, I think fabricates, sells had such an impact on me because it showed me how amazing the world is. I lived with a girl from Afghanistan and some of my best friends were from Japan. And then you have like this Brazilian and Ugandan, South Africa and India, you know, like there was so beautiful in terms of.

00:09:15:08 – 00:09:15:22
Philippa White
Rich.

00:09:16:02 – 00:09:36:12
Barbara Soalheiro
So rich. And I think that’s your right. That’s the right words. It’s so rich when you see how the world actually is in fabric. I had another element that was very important to me, which was basically they just throw you there. It’s a little bit like you have this place, you come now show me what you can do.

00:09:36:22 – 00:10:05:18
Barbara Soalheiro
No one taking your hand and saying, Oh, you’re going to do this today. And not only everyone’s lives at these environments, like I learned that a lot of people cannot work really well if they are not even a little bit more structured steps to to follow. For me, it was a revelation. I was like, Then I have to be my own boss and my own guide and my own thing and the right place to look at is inside me.

00:10:05:22 – 00:10:27:10
Barbara Soalheiro
So like, paprika gave me this whole freedom and I understood that the right place when you have total freedom to look for answers inside yourself. I remember joking with friends like Africa has this library, which is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, and they have every single book or every single magazine, anything that is being produced in terms of thinking, you know, it’s there.

00:10:27:23 – 00:10:49:05
Barbara Soalheiro
And we visited it very little. It was way less about to understand what other people were thinking and way more about understanding what was it that I uniquely and only me being who I am with this, coming from this specific place and all the things that I had. So I think Fabrica, I’ll be forever grateful for the fact that it shaped me in that sense.

00:10:49:16 – 00:10:58:01
Barbara Soalheiro
And I think that’s a sentence that I see very often to anyone who I work with. The best answer is always inside. You know, the way forward is inside.

00:10:58:01 – 00:11:23:06
Philippa White
Before we go on a call, I had a call with one of my clients and we’re figuring out our next big work this this year. And a huge, huge part of it is rooted in self awareness. And the importance of leaders to just have that ability to look inside them and one, understand what they’re all about, understand what gets them excited, the importance of being able to live your life with intention.

00:11:23:06 – 00:11:43:17
Philippa White
But also it’s confidence, isn’t it? And it’s being able to sort of know like what you bring to the table and why and what gets you excited. Because I think it’s when you know that, it’s then that you’re able to really blossom, right. And sort of really come into your own and to have companies that one understand that even being a thing but also giving people the space to to discover.

00:11:43:17 – 00:11:51:09
Philippa White
That brings us almost to the next question, actually, because, I mean, the thing is, is you are almost like this budding young I mean, 26 is young. Right. So I mean, sort of I.

00:11:51:09 – 00:11:52:24
Barbara Soalheiro
Was just young. You know, there are 20.

00:11:53:08 – 00:12:01:23
Philippa White
Okay, so 28 and you’re sort of this budding flower and it’s almost just blossom. Right. And and it’s interesting when you understand the power of looking within.

00:12:02:05 – 00:12:19:07
Barbara Soalheiro
I hadn’t thought of that like that way yet. It’s interesting the way you put it like this, maybe everyone should be able to like, just go somewhere. It’s it’s a privilege as well, right? To be able to do the way I did that to just like they will pay me to be there, you know, learning all these things, rights and such a privilege.

00:12:19:11 – 00:12:25:07
Barbara Soalheiro
I think you’re right. It’s like having that time. There’s so much you you only realize if you if you.

00:12:25:08 – 00:12:43:03
Philippa White
Do, if you’re forced to do it. Yeah. I mean, that’s a big part of what we do. My, my work is basically that I think it’s very easy for professionals of any level. The more expert you become, the more silent you become. But even still, even even in ad world or any kind of corporate environment, you become quite silent, don’t you?

00:12:43:09 – 00:13:00:00
Philippa White
But you know, account person or strategic person or creative person, whatever it might be, a producer, but it’s, you know, people are desperate to step out of that hierarchy and desperate to step out of those boundaries, because it’s when you do that that you start to realize what you’re all about and what else you can do, you know.

00:13:00:00 – 00:13:16:23
Philippa White
And the more that companies I talk about that in my book, but with my work, we do that all the time because it’s sort of that’s when we force people into environments where it’s basically and go do it. Yeah, my god, I’ve never no training. We are all, you know, what was the catalyst then to doing what you’re doing now?

00:13:16:23 – 00:13:22:11
Philippa White
So I mean, we’ve sort of seen this trajectory and obviously this budding flower and then and then Mazda.

00:13:22:23 – 00:13:45:09
Barbara Soalheiro
It’s so funny because it’s hard to to say it’s one thing, right? Like so this is me at this moment, like looking, understanding. Also, I went to work at Colors was my Dream magazine. I became editor in chief of Colors. There was a little bit of like, okay, I’ve played this game, right? Like it’s done magazines and I wanted to invent my new work.

00:13:45:09 – 00:14:04:14
Barbara Soalheiro
That was something that was a little bit clear to me. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and I always felt I would have my own business like I you know, my parents have their own business being an employee. It was something that felt transitory to me, you know, temporary. I was like, Yeah, let’s see how we really sweat for someone else.

00:14:04:14 – 00:14:30:05
Barbara Soalheiro
But I always had this and so that moment I kind of starts like giving myself this best of like, okay, so if you want invent something, you want to do one thing, what is it? Right. And at the same time, this is 28, the financial market was collapsing. I remember clearly feeling that there would be no more benchmarks if you come from Brazil, even at editorial worlds, we worked so much with benchmarks and all the business.

00:14:30:05 – 00:14:55:02
Barbara Soalheiro
Like if you were working at corporations, we’re actually responding to global decisions right where you were. You need that. You work to work for Unilever. The Unilever, the decisions were being taken in London to work for Nestl√©. The decisions are really being taken in Switzerland. So a lot of times when you were a professional in Brazil in the 1990 and 2000 where I was coming into the work market, you were working with benchmarks.

00:14:55:02 – 00:15:12:03
Barbara Soalheiro
You would look at something that worked somewhere else and with the price. But this the collapse of the credit markets and then the financial crisis taught me that there would be no more benchmark if even the credit markets can collapse and change. And now we had to redo it, then everything is going to be have to be reset.

00:15:12:03 – 00:15:38:20
Barbara Soalheiro
So Mesa is kind of like the first way I would explain it’s it’s this answer to we need to be able to create a time space where you you’re actually building new solutions. You are not going to have formalized. You just go and copy. Then you need a time space to build new solutions. And for me, Mesa means stable in Portuguese table for me is this perfect is an object that combines pleasure.

00:15:39:00 – 00:16:03:00
Barbara Soalheiro
It’s where you drink and you wait with your friends and family, especially for you are from Minas Gerais is where I am from. We living in little like I was where people come to me a lot but mesa’s a tables are also where you sign contracts right like where you produce work what I was creating, what I wanted to create, had to have this really balanced relationship between pleasure and commitment.

00:16:03:04 – 00:16:24:16
Barbara Soalheiro
And that was always what work meant to me. So I would see a lot of people complaining about work and that never really made sense to me. My body always responds like, How weird do you think work is not great. For me, work is the tool that humans have to interfere in the world. So of course it’s great.

00:16:24:18 – 00:16:51:00
Barbara Soalheiro
They wanted me to be this answer to to the world, right? Like something’s a time space where work can be extremely pleasurable and extremely result driven. And then one of the first things that for me, I realized what I was saying was very unique is that in general, people break these two things. They feel that if it’s very something that is very rewarding for humans is not result driven.

00:16:51:08 – 00:17:09:01
Barbara Soalheiro
There was a speech on like if you were very resistant ideas that are very results reason they they are horrible to human beings to the point that in 2008 the big banks were building their campuses and they were giving people ping pong tables in order to make them like work. And for me, I was like, What are you doing?

00:17:09:02 – 00:17:35:04
Barbara Soalheiro
Ping pong tables free. They have nothing to do with work. Work is the thing itself that you want to give people, but of course work that way that people feel they have authorship work where people feel they are learning something, work where people feel they are actually accomplishing something at this point. Imagine I’m very naive. I’ve only worked for magazines just kind of up and then I’m not understanding why people think work is so bad.

00:17:35:04 – 00:17:59:23
Barbara Soalheiro
Right. And once I started working with companies ever since 2013, middle sides doing solving problems for companies, I have full respect for what it is to grow a company to the point that Unilever, for example, or Nestl√© or Coca-Cola grow their companies. And in order to do that, it’s very hard for you not to make the process reading for to right?

00:18:00:00 – 00:18:32:14
Barbara Soalheiro
Like if everyone feels that it shouldn’t be so siloed. But it’s hard not to make silos because you want specialists to be talking to specialists. It’s so bizarre. It’s interesting because the more I grow as well, the less naive I become. I also understand that A is a tool to be used at certain moments when you actually need to take a step where you need different perspectives, different pieces of knowledge, different layers and components, right?

00:18:32:22 – 00:18:54:21
Barbara Soalheiro
Sometimes a company needs to get everyone who’s good at Lego and then they just do good contracts. Know. But sometimes I need a legal person to be sitting at home is to be thinking of a new solution and then design a contract that is going to drink from all the knowledge that that the company already built. But it’s going to be able to take a step forward.

00:18:55:08 – 00:19:19:07
Barbara Soalheiro
And that’s the thing that visa is really good that when you when you have to take a step forward and you don’t want to waste the knowledge that you have already built or and that’s a beautiful thing about me is that you don’t want to waste the knowledge that is already out there in the world. Because what we do is we believe that in this thing, this time space, that is just as much pleasurable as it is results driven.

00:19:19:13 – 00:19:38:24
Barbara Soalheiro
We get people from wherever they are. So I will let the problem tell me who the problem needs to be solved. And sometimes it’s the CEO of that organization. Sometimes as a graphic designer who has been doing amazing work for a startup, can you.

00:19:38:24 – 00:19:52:12
Philippa White
Just explain in a couple sentences just how this works? So who hires you? So and maybe with that explanation, can you give us a couple of projects that really stand out that can bring us to life?

00:19:52:16 – 00:20:16:05
Barbara Soalheiro
Okay. So I think the easiest way to explain is we will build assemble teams and build solutions in five states. We will beforehand assemble the perfect team perfectly. I mean, every single piece of knowledge that you need and then we will work towards a solution through things that are very important for me, that it’s not an ideation process we’re not debating.

00:20:16:05 – 00:20:39:03
Barbara Soalheiro
Only 10% of the time is dedicated to ideas. It’s a building process. It has to be something concrete. When I as a finishes, we don’t tell people the solution. We show people the solution. So if it’s technology, we’ve built the technology not using like in vision and other prototype. No, we built the technology. If it’s a gym facility, we’ve built the gym facility in five days.

00:20:39:03 – 00:21:03:07
Barbara Soalheiro
And I know it sounds crazy because you’re like, No, we can’t build a gym facility in five days. Well, you can and we can do that because actually it’s not such a short period of time. And then there was one element that is fundamental to me, which is the person leading. It is amazing that it’s not a facilitator, a facilitator in our understanding is someone who is committed to the process.

00:21:03:17 – 00:21:26:14
Barbara Soalheiro
Amazing leader is committed to the result. This changes the dynamic completely. As I’m as a leader when I start to be, I am responsible for the solution, even though I’m solving a problem for Nestl√© or Coca-Cola or Google or Netflix. And the problem owners are inside the Maison, right? Like we don’t solve it without them. They are in there.

00:21:26:19 – 00:22:00:11
Barbara Soalheiro
Also, like the external participants that I brought, they are all in there. But I take the responsibility of driving everyone towards a build solution and that is rare and it’s very efficient because for example, mazes are not exactly democratic environments like my goal is not to make everyone feel really good. My goal is to deliver excellent solution and then everyone feels really good because they know that they are being they are there because they need to be there.

00:22:00:17 – 00:22:23:24
Barbara Soalheiro
They know that every decision that I’m making is driving all of us towards something concrete because one of the things that when I understood that imagine like I’m a journalist and that I think of me as a this formula, a leader, a team with every single piece of knowledge still that it’s needed, a concrete mission. I didn’t even know there was a whole world of like workshops in design sprints or design thinking.

00:22:23:24 – 00:22:53:22
Barbara Soalheiro
Like, I didn’t know this existed outdoors course. Those things influenced me. It’s one of the beauties of leaving is you understand that nothing is created from you, right? Like it’s there is an environment where we’re all drinking from. And you know, I’ve always my ideal, for example, is such a reference to me just because they were doing things that allowed people to stop for five days, for example, which, you know, I when I created me as I had no idea it even existed.

00:22:53:22 – 00:23:21:24
Barbara Soalheiro
But I know that the fact that they were doing this somehow influenced the world and therefore, you know, like so there was this, I have this full respect, but these environments are usually made a lot of these environments, they are made for exercise. You’re like going to see a possible solution. This is not what we wanted me to at me as a my respect for people’s time is so big that I think you are going to stop for five days.

00:23:22:15 – 00:23:43:24
Barbara Soalheiro
It has to be to make final decisions and take a step and, you know, make final decision making. So Mesa is like final decision making. I don’t think there is a better environment to make a decision. So sometimes our clients, when we’re reaching clients, they’re like they feel like it feels like five days, no weights, too little. And they’re like, no, I will take this decision on Monday.

00:23:43:24 – 00:24:00:13
Barbara Soalheiro
We can research this and the leader has to say no. Why on Monday? And what do you need? What? What can I get you now so we can make the decision now? And usually the person is like, no, I just need to talk to legal. Oh, the person from legal is here. I just need to talk to this, the person from distribution here.

00:24:00:13 – 00:24:16:12
Barbara Soalheiro
So you need time with them. Okay, let’s sit down. You guys have 30 minutes, let’s try and pitch and then we help them also move away from like long debates. The long explanations is like, okay, you, you guys sharing this information that you already share, giving something complete.

00:24:16:23 – 00:24:21:18
Philippa White
So can you give an example? I love stories. Stories help me picture things.

00:24:21:19 – 00:24:50:22
Barbara Soalheiro
We have a project with Google which we often tell explains music quite well. Google Earth was launching a future where you could see content. So up until 2016, Google Earth was just a map. You navigated the world, and then they were launching a feature inside the product that was you can now see content. The Google Earth team in the US decided the Amazon forest was going to be their first one content when they launched it.

00:24:50:22 – 00:25:13:12
Barbara Soalheiro
They wanted it to be about the Amazon forest. So the marketing team in Brazil got business right like they said. So they Google says, okay, marketing Brazil, you guys are going to work in its new locations and Lauren, bizarrely, this person was sitting at this marketing at inside Google. She calls us and says, okay, we need to launch it.

00:25:13:12 – 00:25:30:00
Barbara Soalheiro
I want to do it in amazing way. I want to make sure we have every single piece of knowledge and skill that we need and I want this land to be. It’s not my marketing money going to just marketing. It has to be like really understanding the product, really positioning the product, right? Really telling people what we are about.

00:25:30:09 – 00:25:53:13
Barbara Soalheiro
We built this team that had one of the coders, developers that worked on this project, everyone that we needed from within marketing in the Brazil, in Brazil, everyone we needed in marketing globally. Someone who was great, who is great for telling a story that is very Brazilian, but that is successful to a international audience. Right. Because it’s the Amazon forest, very Brazilian.

00:25:53:13 – 00:26:23:14
Barbara Soalheiro
But we want it to be relevant globally. So we called Fernando Meirelles, Brazilian film editor, the directors, city of God, no one else in the world. I feel the Brazilian story in a way that interests a global audience like him. We needed people to understand the Amazon from a social perspective. So we had this social lot. Sociologists of the political social sociologist has been studying the Amazon region for like three decades.

00:26:23:23 – 00:26:51:06
Barbara Soalheiro
Then we needed someone who actually understand what the native people of the Amazon forest are doing thinking. So we had Michi walk us. He comes from one specific tribe, but he’s also a leader. That is the organizing and together with a lot of different tribes, understanding the value that this richness, right? It is a wealth of culture, cultural and nature of wealth.

00:26:51:06 – 00:27:15:13
Barbara Soalheiro
We have in Brazil. We got everyone together for five days to launch this project. What we did was all this. We did six scripts of films that then later Google went and filmed. There wasn’t Fernando Meirelles doing like exercise of scripts. It’s all six final scripts that he says himself that he thought it would take six months in his normal life to do, and he did.

00:27:15:13 – 00:27:44:04
Barbara Soalheiro
In five days we were able to as we built the confidence because we were doing the content together with the guy who does the coding, we were able to do an enhancement in the product because everyone in the Mesa said, Listen, if we are going to watch a piece of wood that comes out of the middle of the forest and goes into Manaus, and then it’s shipped to to Europe, then I have to make the first move with this content.

00:27:44:04 – 00:28:03:01
Barbara Soalheiro
Right. And it wasn’t something that was predicted before. Of course, this is an investment that would eventually get to Google, where the fact that we were doing it together to launch the thing accelerated this specific investment that made a lot of sense. Right. And then we launched we finished Mesa with what we call prototypes, which like final decision making.

00:28:03:09 – 00:28:17:19
Barbara Soalheiro
When you present advanced, the team in the US would say yes or no, and they said yes. And six weeks later, Azure was launched. So the whole project, Amazon, it’s the whole thing that we had and I hope I didn’t know, but.

00:28:18:11 – 00:28:40:02
Philippa White
It made total sense because it’s a perfect way to be able to understand. I think when you put constraints at the at the core of something and a timeline and also the group of people who are all bought in, it just goes to show that you can make amazing things happen and you just need to be able to create those conditions for that to be possible and for everyone to be bought in, for everyone to to to want to see something at the end of it.

00:28:40:02 – 00:28:59:13
Philippa White
And I think it just shows that it’s actually a shame that I mean, the amount of time that companies waste and resources that are wasted on just conversations and and bureaucracy and what you show and what we show with with time is when you actually put your mind to something and have the right people all bought into something.

00:28:59:13 – 00:29:02:09
Philippa White
It’s unbelievable what you can make happen.

00:29:03:01 – 00:29:35:11
Barbara Soalheiro
Yeah, and you know what? What else? And I think it’s the most relevant part of what we are wasting when we don’t do things towards like something concrete is we’re wasting people’s energy. Yeah, people were feeling disconnected to work because they’re not getting anywhere. I often compare doing in amazing to baking a cake yeah feeling that humans have once you bake a cake when you take something out of it and you’re like I made this and I can see my outer shape and I didn’t do it on my own because you know.

00:29:35:11 – 00:29:59:16
Barbara Soalheiro
Well, so I mean different from a cake, the kind of things that we are dealing with. It’s complex and you know for sure you wouldn’t be able to do it on your own. So for me, there is this beautiful thing is a proof, which is people our results driven, we are all resolve. We’re not trying to run away from results, which I think a lot of corporations are like forcing things, processes and stuff in order to like no, let’s make sure people are working.

00:29:59:16 – 00:30:21:24
Barbara Soalheiro
But people want to work to give them a way of like delivering things that they can actually deliver. But then most of the time in big, big environments, you make people enter a meeting, they shouldn’t be there, and then they are on their cell phones doing the meeting, and then it’s taking away their energy from everyone, you know, like you just mistreating anything, this beautiful thing, which is our ability to work.

00:30:22:05 – 00:30:23:17
Philippa White
What gets you excited every day?

00:30:24:00 – 00:30:51:01
Barbara Soalheiro
I work with so many talented people, I have the privilege of interacting frequently with humans who are not thinking about things only not only debating. They actually beauty. And I am a fan of buildings. I am I have full respect for people, for making things exist in the world. And I invented a way to be surrounded by them all the time.

00:30:51:12 – 00:31:12:03
Philippa White
And it’s I just can’t even imagine because knowing that for so long and obviously the issues that these massive companies get, you know, they call you to solve extraordinary problems. And so as a result, you literally you have to find this the specialists in all of these various areas. I mean, so you just you really I mean, you mentioned film directors.

00:31:12:03 – 00:31:32:18
Philippa White
And and for people who work in advertising, I’m sure they’re like, oh, yeah, well, you know, that sounds a bit like but I mean, okay, that’s just that example. But I mean, there are examples where you have like cyborgs. Yeah. Like, like in the tech world or you or even, you know, prototypes to health solutions. I mean, it’s like there’s it’s never ending and you just find the right people.

00:31:32:18 – 00:31:41:13
Philippa White
And then you are in these messes with people, you know, like invisible Nobel Prize winners know literally. Yeah, physicists or.

00:31:42:03 – 00:32:03:16
Barbara Soalheiro
No, that’s it. Like I think one of the most like one of the people I’ve worked with, you know, had a huge impact on me was this hydrogeologist. We worked a lot of Coca-Cola, and we were doing this for them. And and this guy has been extracting water from Earth for 40 years. And I worked with him for five days.

00:32:03:16 – 00:32:26:08
Barbara Soalheiro
You know, I saw how these guys think and what he deals with and what are the parameters and how he. So something it’s a beautiful thing also to be working with someone rather than just talking to them because you see them in a rough environment, you know, like it’s building is a little ugly. It’s not like people quickly move away from like perfect examples or hypotheticals situations, right?

00:32:26:09 – 00:32:33:09
Barbara Soalheiro
Like they’re mean and you see how someone behaves when they have to solve a problem they hadn’t predicted then. Yeah, I think it’s a very.

00:32:33:24 – 00:32:52:22
Philippa White
Amazing it is amazing. And I think what you said when we started talking, which actually has a lot to do with how we started this conversation about self awareness and, and, you know, giving people the space to kind of figure out what makes them tick. I am a firm believer that every single person on this planet has a purpose, but the challenge is a lot of people haven’t discovered what that purpose is.

00:32:52:22 – 00:33:02:08
Philippa White
But I do believe that everyone has their thing and obviously we hope that everybody can unlock that. And then wherever they’re working, they’re able to work in a place that allows them to do that thing.

00:33:02:16 – 00:33:02:23
Barbara Soalheiro
Yeah.

00:33:03:12 – 00:33:23:21
Philippa White
And it’s so invigorating when you come in contact with people who have discovered their thing, whatever that might be, they totally get off on it. Absolutely amazing. And then you’re surrounded by a group of people who are just tapped into their thing. I can’t even imagine the energy. The energy would just be extraordinary.

00:33:23:21 – 00:33:45:14
Barbara Soalheiro
The energy is extraordinary. That’s it. You know, when we started me is that I understood that the markets also looked at talents in a very weird way. For me, it was like as if talent was something that some people had and some people didn’t have. Whereas for me, it’s very clear that talent is something that every human being has you.

00:33:45:18 – 00:33:47:00
Barbara Soalheiro
You just have to tap into it.

00:33:47:00 – 00:33:47:10
Philippa White
You have to do.

00:33:47:12 – 00:34:18:17
Barbara Soalheiro
Right, like what is yours and what is the thing that that that you’re passionate about and given the opportunity as well to practice it. Because, again, if you you know, and it’s hard it’s hard to really give people clear missions, right? It’s to do it on a daily basis inside a large organization is very hard. But what I know is if you are able to you are able to tell someone, this is what I’m seeing, you’re great, that I need this from you and you and I need this from you.

00:34:18:17 – 00:35:04:04
Barbara Soalheiro
In order to use this, they will try. And it’s interesting because one of the things that we have made is a very collaborative process, but we have a vendetta against the word collaborate. Like I often say, never use the word collaboration because a lot of times I feel collaboration became a way for people who are assembling a team not to really deep and deeply understand why you need certain people are using the example that I already shared with Fernando, but if I were to call Fernando and say, Come for this collaborative process where we’re going to learn something about the Amazon, he would probably say, say no to startups, but imagine he said yes.

00:35:04:04 – 00:35:35:11
Barbara Soalheiro
What his brain is hearing is like, I just have to come. I have to be there. Something magical is going to happen in that environment. I feel the tendency is for compromising. The tendency is for middle ground because no one really knows where they can stand their ground. When I call Fernando and say, I need you because no one, I don’t know anyone in the world who can tell a Brazilian story in a way that a global artist like you, then he knows his responsibility.

00:35:35:17 – 00:36:02:03
Barbara Soalheiro
Whatever happens during those days, he’s holding that responsibility. And that’s how you achieve excellence. If everyone is holding a very specific responsibility and they will fight for it, right? Like there are moments in Amazon where people have completely antagonistic views and the right result is both of them feeling we couldn’t have done anything better. It’s not both of them feeling like, well, I compromised, so you can compromise too.

00:36:02:13 – 00:36:03:24
Barbara Soalheiro
That’s the thing.

00:36:04:08 – 00:36:10:23
Philippa White
So, I mean, it’s interesting because I mean, gosh, this is a whole other podcast, but I mean, you know.

00:36:11:06 – 00:36:12:15
Barbara Soalheiro
Like who there was no.

00:36:13:09 – 00:36:30:02
Philippa White
You know, I just I think it’s it’s it’s interesting, isn’t it? Like what is the definition then of collaboration? Because I’m a great believer that, for example, in the private sector, any sector, no one has all the answers to the challenges that we face in the world. There is not one entity that has actually managed is a perfect example.

00:36:30:02 – 00:36:43:20
Philippa White
You know, the private sector has, you know, a lot of great things about it, but it also does not have a lot of the information that the NGOs have. But the NGOs have a lot of great information, a lot of knowledge, but they don’t have the reach and they don’t have the resources and all that kind of stuff that the the private sector has.

00:36:43:20 – 00:37:01:16
Philippa White
And then you’ve sort of got the public sector and it’s just we need to bring all of these different brains together to solve the massive problems that we’re facing in the world. And if we don’t do that, we will not move forward. I think the question is how you do that. So I’m a huge believer collaboration, but I just I find it interesting.

00:37:01:16 – 00:37:12:19
Philippa White
It’s almost like what is that definition and how do you how do you get the most out of collaboration? And actually, I think Mayors is such an amazing example of that and maybe, maybe that’s you need to do some TEDTalk or something like that.

00:37:13:05 – 00:37:13:16
Barbara Soalheiro
I know.

00:37:13:16 – 00:37:20:06
Philippa White
I feel like the power of collaboration. Like what? That actually, you know, the not because of collaboration or yeah. You know.

00:37:20:09 – 00:37:48:16
Barbara Soalheiro
Because the thing is like Mesa is one of the most collaborative things that I’ve seen, but people collaborate in a way that they didn’t even know it was possible. They come out connected in a way. It’s just ridiculous. It’s like connection and really feeling like we built this thing together and it’s, for example, what’s one of the things they often say is there is only one thing that can make up for a lifetime of history of someone which is building something together.

00:37:48:16 – 00:38:10:17
Barbara Soalheiro
If you go to European weddings where you have toasts, usually you have a childhood friend and then you have someone who you build something with because right, like that’s what can make for like your entire life history. So yes, I am a firm believer of collaboration, but the way we’ve been talking about collaboration is just for me, collaborations a little bit like happiness.

00:38:11:01 – 00:38:32:06
Barbara Soalheiro
Yeah. Where you focus on it, the less you get of it, you focus can’t be it, because then you won’t get collaboration kind of jumping here, but just reacting. And what you were saying now about and Joe’s had certain things in private companies have other things and how do we address to all that in order for us to solve the world’s largest challenges?

00:38:32:06 – 00:39:00:09
Barbara Soalheiro
Right. And it’s a thing that we we think a lot about it, because even as a company, we made the decision in 2019 to open tomato because we decided that our growth wasn’t going to be volume. It wasn’t going to be if we wanted at a certain point, if we decided we wanted to be very big and have a lot of maisons, we could have focused on marketing services and said like, we’re going to be like the biggest ad agency, the future of ad agency, the world, right?

00:39:00:09 – 00:39:39:09
Barbara Soalheiro
Like there was a and we said, no, we what we want to do is solve the most complex problems of the world. So we’re going to open this method. Other people can use it for different things. And our our game is not volume. Our game is complexity. So we often reflect on the the greatest problems in the world and we are doing together with some clients things are American developing bank in Washington we do extremely complex stuff with them like reducing crimes in small cities in Latin America or with skill, which is the educational division for Emerson Collective, which is losing power jobs Foundation.

00:39:39:09 – 00:40:02:00
Barbara Soalheiro
You know, like they’re making a lot of investment to really change high school. So it’s like, how do you change high school? We all know that education should shift format, but there’s so much that you have to actually do if you really want to shift to that form. It’s like, How do you make credible learning? I like it because we all know kids are learning outside when they are watching TV, sometimes more than they in the classroom.

00:40:02:00 – 00:40:28:08
Barbara Soalheiro
But how do you credit this and how do you make sure you have everyone that you don’t lose go right like we are dealing with this problems in the one common denominator for me is having one person who says this is my problem and I’m going to solve it. So when it comes, for example, to hunger, Brazil got out of the hunger map while Lula was president on his first round president.

00:40:28:08 – 00:40:47:17
Barbara Soalheiro
And then we came back to it after a while. And I really feel what it takes for a country to come out of hunger with hunger is one president who is going to every day in every meeting where everything’s collapsing and people are saying we need more investment in this area, we need this problem, and we say we’re not going to change this one thing.

00:40:47:17 – 00:41:08:03
Barbara Soalheiro
So I am a believer that problems for which there isn’t one person, it’s tough because not every problem can have a good example. Climate change, because you can’t find one person who says, I will solve climate change, we are not able to solve it. Of course I want to solve it and we are very screwed. It’s like not solving it.

00:41:08:03 – 00:41:12:02
Barbara Soalheiro
But the truth is we haven’t been able to really find a solution.

00:41:12:08 – 00:41:30:24
Philippa White
And for once that right. And it’s it’s so fascinating because again, because so much of what we’re talking about is on the individual and the global community level. Right? So, I mean, you sort of got a wider corporate objective and that sort of within the Mesa, but you’re also we’re also talking about, you know, the actual individuals who are making all of that possible.

00:41:31:07 – 00:41:54:05
Philippa White
And it just makes me think, you know, with it being the new year and, you know, manifestations, right. And it’s as an individual to find your purpose this year or your purpose in your life or, you know, your next ten years and the way that you can pretty much to get that is through manifestation. So you have that that vision and you put everything.

00:41:54:05 – 00:42:15:06
Philippa White
And as long as you know how you know, you know what you need to go to and you know all the steps in order to get there might take a bit longer. It might be painful, there might be tears, you might, you know. But, you know, eventually, if you really do, everything about you will get there. And it’s the same thing with like these projects with Ty, the project with Mesa, it’s like you have a very clear objective, you have a very clear timeline.

00:42:15:07 – 00:42:28:07
Philippa White
There’s no question we’re going to get there because there’s no other way. And I’m very much focused on that with all of our programs. And you are, too. And I think you’re right. I think the problem is like who owns the kind of change issue, who owns the you know.

00:42:28:22 – 00:42:52:15
Barbara Soalheiro
It’s not the way you put it. Yeah, because I also think it’s like this. This idea of your purpose is actually something you can manifest is one of the challenges, I think when we’re trying to make many leaders understand their purpose is this possibility that you might fall into an idea that a purpose is something that very dreamy, a vision that you can’t really achieve.

00:42:52:15 – 00:43:01:23
Barbara Soalheiro
Right. And I think that what you’re saying is so accurate from my perspective, which is like it must be something you will manifest. But otherwise it’s it’s nothing really.

00:43:01:23 – 00:43:03:11
Philippa White
Like it’s just a dream.

00:43:03:14 – 00:43:06:06
Barbara Soalheiro
It is just a dream. Exactly. It’s not a.

00:43:06:06 – 00:43:23:00
Philippa White
Purpose. I guess as we’re kind of starting to wrap up, I cannot believe that we’ve we’re coming to the end, which is so crazy. I could be talking to you for hours, but, you know, tangible things to leave our listeners with. I just wonder, you know, reflecting on this conversation, what can you tell our listeners?

00:43:23:00 – 00:43:56:20
Barbara Soalheiro
One thing that I heard this weekend, one of my partners, you sent me an interview with Obama, the former president of the U.S., where he’s saying someone asks him like an advice he can give to someone young who’s coming into their workplace and he says, get things done. I’ve heard so many people being so great at so physically explaining an idea and they will spend so much time really being sophisticated that explaining the things, either the problem or the idea.

00:43:56:20 – 00:44:17:04
Barbara Soalheiro
And I know it’s so painful, but that has no value. It doesn’t say that has a value. This is my add. Do I want to say that things then of course I know like and sometimes when I’m working with my team like someone Neo comes in to me as a company. It’s a shock because we’re very, very eager at like get things done.

00:44:17:04 – 00:44:37:06
Barbara Soalheiro
And other governments really just want you to really explain the idea beautifully and we’re like, No, we’re ready. If you we brought you in, we know you’re very smart and you can explain anything. But I think that’s so I think that’s and the other thing is what and I love that we had this conversation just today because I’ve been reflecting so much as well on this.

00:44:37:08 – 00:45:02:12
Barbara Soalheiro
When someone says I’m going to solve a problem like making things exist is so hard. And sometimes other we see other people, we see someone who’s getting things done. And we want to we want to criticize it. We want to. And I know it’s in our best interest. Like it’s not meant to just hurt that person. But in a way, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we should support people.

00:45:02:15 – 00:45:23:00
Barbara Soalheiro
We’re getting things that we have to really be a little more open, I feel, to serving someone who is getting things that it’s already so difficult to make things happen and exist. And a lot of times as people are also having to dealing with other people who don’t believe in other people who are bringing aspects that are relevant, they’re relevant.

00:45:23:16 – 00:45:46:07
Barbara Soalheiro
Of course, we can debate anything for years, but right now, like, why don’t we just give it a try? And and it’s interesting because I was actually thinking about it because of one person in Brazil, expressed Patrick Zulu Ancelotti, who is fighting hunger for many, many years. And recently there was like a congressman that sued him. Everyone in the public opinion in Brazil was shocked that we would sue him.

00:45:46:07 – 00:46:02:08
Barbara Soalheiro
But for me it was like, Oh my God, this guy who every Wednesday and Thursday feeds hundreds of people every night. And so, like, he’s trying to solve hunger by doing like the basic thing, which is like this Wednesday, 800 people would not be hungry, right?

00:46:02:08 – 00:46:03:24
Philippa White
Like, yeah, I mean, I mean.

00:46:04:13 – 00:46:24:21
Barbara Soalheiro
Bring really great someone is doing something instead of debating and then he gets sued and then it needs an amount of energy that that these guys get needs. The lawyer needs. So, you know, I was having this conversation this morning with a journalist in Brazil and I was like, so unfair, you know, why did we just learn that we just support someone who’s doing?

00:46:24:21 – 00:46:47:07
Philippa White
We saw like my book is coming out on the 23rd of April. You know, it’s separated into three sections. The one is like individuals, the other companies, and the other is the world. And it’s called return on humanity, leadership lessons from all corners of the world. And the last part is about agency. And it’s actually like I basically it’s just about every single person has the power to do something.

00:46:47:07 – 00:47:03:16
Philippa White
One of the sub chapters is this beautiful story from one of the organizations we work with, actually a in manager ice called It Can Be and they work with the Atlantic Rainforest. And it’s this beautiful legend that’s, you know, goes throughout the Americas. And it’s about this hummingbird. And this hummingbird is just getting this little bit of water and there’s all this fire.

00:47:03:16 – 00:47:21:10
Philippa White
And, you know, there’s fires and this hummingbird is going it’s just dropping this little drop of water on this massive fire. And the eagle came and said, Hummingbird, what are you doing? Like, are you mad? Like you’re not doing anything? He’s like, I’m just doing my bit. So what I can do and I think it’s like a beautiful legend of everyone can.

00:47:21:10 – 00:47:40:02
Philippa White
And it might be 100 people. It might be 100,000 people. It might be Lula. It might be a person setting up something somewhere. But I think we all just need to feel inspired by realizing we can. Everyone’s capable and everyone has the ability to do more than they get credit for. And now, is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?

00:47:40:13 – 00:48:04:00
Barbara Soalheiro
And I don’t know. I believe if a lot of our own months for us, you know, like one that I love is everything you need and only one. Because what can stop us also from doing things is thinking that we need a lot more than we would actually need. But I like it. Sometimes the solution is close to us and this idea that don’t try to prepare the whole everything before you take a step.

00:48:04:03 – 00:48:05:19
Barbara Soalheiro
I like to use everything.

00:48:05:19 – 00:48:12:08
Philippa White
With such such an honor and such a pleasure. You filled my heart. So thank you, Barbara.

00:48:12:13 – 00:48:16:11
Barbara Soalheiro
Me too. So, Nico is such good conversation. I wish you could stay for another day.

00:48:16:19 – 00:48:27:09
Philippa White
I know. Well, next time I’m in New York or in here or so. Or Angie will say to me, we will meet again. Take care. Thank you.

00:48:27:14 – 00:48:29:21
Barbara Soalheiro
Bye.

00:48:30:18 – 00:48:55:14
Philippa White
Hey, everyone, this is Phillip again. I hope you enjoyed listening. Now this is your chance to get involved with Thai. If you’re looking to create better leaders, better companies, and a better world, that’s just what we do by helping leaders tap into their greatest asset, their humanity. We have a number of corporate programs that impact a range of people from individuals at a company to 500 people around a business.

00:48:56:01 – 00:49:23:14
Philippa White
Or check out my book, Return on Humanity Leadership Lessons from all corners of the world, you’ll find the answers to how business can truly become a positive force while remaining at the forefront of competition. You can find all the information you need on all of this at Thai leadership dotcom. Get in touch and I can explain more. A huge thanks to Betina Vieira for co-producing this with me and for creating the music.

00:49:24:04 – 00:49:45:11
Philippa White
I hope we’ll meet up again soon.

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