In Search of the frontrunners
What is playing through your head when you start a company named the ‘Dreamfactory’?
At least a few ambitious ideas about making a difference in the world must have been thought by founder and owner Ralph Zebregs. He studied Economics in Rotterdam, but only became enthusiastic in the lecture halls when he was given the option to add Psychology to his curriculum. After a couple of years of toiling for an employer, in 2000, he decided to fulfil his dream of becoming an independent entrepreneur.
“Sir, you are without a business plan, what do you hope to accomplish?
Chamber of Commerce
They reacted with surprise at the Chamber of Commerce: ‘Sir, you are without a business plan, what do you hope to accomplish?’. A lot of starters would have quit after such a confrontation, Zebregs did not. It took some time before he fully put his dream down on paper, but now a beautiful company with 14 inspired ‘Dreamworkers’ help businesses run in a socially responsible way. The ‘Dreamworkers’ encourage people to evaluate their purpose at their company; ask ‘why’ a company does the things it does, and how that contributes to a better and more valuable world.
Everything we undertake starts with a dream
“Everything we undertake starts with a dream”, tells Zebregs. “We come to many organisations where that dream has yet to be made clear. That means: getting an idea or change out of a negative context and translating it into a positive desire. Instead of focusing on fear because things do not stay the same, we look at new opportunities that arise and the energy that it yields. For example, when people eat less meat, that will drastically influence the number of hamburgers sold. Take advantage of this and consider to make a profit by selling a large amount of vegetarian ‘ham’ burgers instead and make many more people happy.’
The question is: Who is going to lead as soon as the dream is defined? Zebregs says: ‘… by the front-runners. They are the relatively rare type of people that do not need much to activate. The ones that dare to take the initiative, embrace change, and take the extra step where others fall behind. We are talking about 10% of employees in an organisation. People with a natural reflex to lead. This must be paired with good support from the top of the organisation. Without mandate, it is difficult to shape change. Leaders and front-runners need to be given the space to do their ‘thing’. In the next phase, others take over that baton to shape the dream, make it feasible, more efficient, more beautiful. Dreams eventually make the difference and activate people, making the change meaningful.’
That quickly brings us to the concept of purpose. According to Ralph Zebregs, it was a logical step for his organisation to start searching for initiatives that have a unique social impact to put them in the spotlight during the Purpose Day. During the annual event, supported by the Optimist as a media partner, the prestigious Purpose Award is handed out to the most accomplished concept..
“Companies with a purpose make a definite difference.
Ecological Sanitary Towels and Tampons
‘Companies with a purpose make an actual difference”, he tells us. “We help a vast number of large companies with pinning down their purpose. Do you want to sell a lot of soap, or are you going to do it in a sustainable way that customers approve of?” He gives the inspiring example of Yoni, makers of ecological sanitary towels and tampons. “Instead of crawling into a corner and complaining about the existing products which usually contain harmful chemicals, pesticides and chlorine, two women decided to develop a better alternative. A classic example of leaders running with a dream and purpose. Now girls and women can choose for healthier, biological products that are easily obtainable.’
On the home page, there are stories of the three initiatives that were nominated by Droomfabriek for the Purpose Awards last year (The Dutch Weed Burger, Mud Jeans and, Takecarebnb). “Each and every initiative are special projects with beautiful purposes,” confirms Zebregs. “This year we are taking it a step further. On the 17th of November, the next Purpose Day will take place in Amsterdam, and we want to try and reach out to even more people and organisations. In the end, it is not about dreaming with a purpose, but mainly about what you do with your dreams and what purpose you pursue,” spoken like a true frontrunner.