“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”-Muhammad Ali, the Legendary Boxer.
Being there and playing a leading role in any industry for more than half a century is one of the greatest experiences an entrepreneur can ever earn. Not only does it make one seasoned about the industry, it also makes the person ready to fight any battle in that field. In any business, one has to struggle every moment, dare to take risks and keep on fighting to survive the battle. One such daring business leader who is innovating new ways to help clients quickly turn global risks into new and sustainable opportunities is Erik Rasmussen, Founder and Executive Chairman at Sustainia, an international sustainability advisory group & digital studio working to accelerate action towards a sustainable future.
The world is fast-changing and every organization has to keep reinventing and changing itself to keep up the pace. With an enormous wealth of experience of being in the media and think tank business for 58 years, Erik not only knows the tricks of the trade in publishing, but also has a steady finger on the pulse when it comes to cutting-edge innovation that will build tomorrow’s sustainable society. Under Erik’s intense guidance, Sustainia is showing the world that behind every risk lies an opportunity, and they are themselves applying this mindset when they explore new markets through networks of hundreds of experts, thought leaders and business leaders.
“I like to challenge myself by taking risks. It’s part of my DNA to seek ways to push boundaries and people’s perception of what is possible. I have embarked on many ventures in my professional life, and every one were against all odds,” says Erik.
Taking Risks is what takes an Entrepreneur Forward
Constantly challenging himself, Erik continuously innovates, thinks out of the box and mobilizes all his mental resources to bring about new ways to work with sustainability. With a mission of creating a new narrative around sustainability and accelerate the transition towards a sustainable society, Erik founded the company Sustainia. With last year’s launch of the digital solutions platform, Global Opportunity Explorer, Sustainia is now striving to turn the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into new business ventures. The Global Opportunity Explorer is a joint project of Sustainia, DNV GL and UN Global Compact, created on the conviction that the SDGs offer a myriad of business opportunities with great value to companies, society and the environment.
Making a business out of saving the world is highly challenging and only a few people in the world dare to take such a daring decision. Erik is one of them. “I think we have had a good start and a magnificent journey ahead of us. But when you start ventures like this, you have to accept that failure is a realistic option,” he says.
Erik further explains that all industries face the same challenge: the speed of change. It is estimated that within just two decades, about 75 percent of the corporations on Standard & Poors list over the 500 biggest companies will be out of business, simply because they didn’t change and adapt in due time. This tells us that a business leader must have the courage to reinvent his/hers business if he/she wants it to survive in the long run. A motto in Sustainia has therefore become, “Kill your core or the core kills you.” Erik further adds, “That is the reality of today, and that’s why it’s so important to move out of your comfort zone as a leader.”
From a Curious Lad to a Leading Entrepreneur
Erik started his career at just 17 years old as a writer for a local Danish newspaper. He quickly became fascinated by how the news influences our society and our minds, and discovered communication as a driver of change and behavior – something that has guided him throughout his career. Furthermore, Erik’s curiosity earned him multiple opportunities to test, innovate and expand the notion of journalism. For example, at the age of just 27, Erik created a milestone in the media industry by becoming the editor-in-chief of the then crisis-ridden Danish business daily, Børsen, which he re-profiled and turned into one of the most influential and prosperous dailies. From redefining journalism throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, Erik went on to found one of Scandinavia’s leading think tanks and media companies, Monday Morning. Even now, he is leading his latest company, Sustainia, with the ambition of making it a global market leader. “For me it has been an ongoing motivation to challenge old standards and norms and expand the borders for what journalism and media can achieve,” he says.
Erik’s passion for journalism has earned him the membership of the international Media Council and has also elected him to be one of the world’s 100 most influential journalists by World Economic Forum.
Sustainia doesn’t fit into any traditional sector, but provides advisory and analysis to help clients turn global risks into opportunities. The company was founded in 2011 and provides extraordinary services including strategy consulting, building digital tools and impact communication – everything fueled by a conviction that solving global challenges is a strategic choice businesses cannot afford to dismiss. Based on analysis of thousands of real cases from more than 180 countries, Sustainia is helping companies transform into a new reality, which takes into account the deep social and environmental problems the world faces.
Erik’s advice to blooming entrepreneurs: “Define your dream and have the courage to act it out. Don’t be afraid of failures, but perceive them as an inescapable destination on your journey to success.”