Starting a successful business comes with trial and error. Fortunately, there are plenty of books about business that can help you along. In The Golden Reading Tip, entrepreneurs talk about the book that brought them the most. This week Leonne van de Ven, who founded PR and communication agency De Wolven.
- Entrepreneur: Leonne van de Ven
- Company: De Wolven
- Reading tips: De meeste mensen deugen by Rutger Bregman and What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action by Per Espen Stoknes
Digging up stories at companies and bringing them to the attention of journalists, Leonne van de Ven has been doing it for at least fifteen years. Even now that the media landscape has become so much broader and more digital and her business partner emigrated to New Zealand three years ago. In 2015, she expanded the scope of De Wolven’s work to include sustainability.
Why did you choose Bregman’s book as your golden reading tip?
“It is an affirmation of the way I do business. I believe in the goodness of people and would rather go into something full than be risk-averse and miss out on great things. At 99 pleasant interactions, I take the one annoying one at face value. The book has strengthened me in that conviction.”
And Espen Stoknes’ book?
“I read that in 2015, when I was very surprised that the world is on fire and we are doing nothing. Climate change is a huge problem and yet we are not managing to deal with it adequately. The author offers an explanation for this. He states that the problem is so big that we distance ourselves from it, put it aside and do nothing with it. Only when you make it smaller and more manageable can you get people moving.”
What does this insight mean for marketing and communications?
“Many companies are reluctant to communicate about sustainability. They are afraid of being accused of greenwashing, of pretending to be greener than they are. But if companies show what they are doing and what steps they are taking, it has a much greater effect. Then the outside world, and sometimes also their employees, can see what they are already doing. From there you can continue to improve.”
How do you apply this to customers?
“A major client of ours is bol.com, which is the most sustainable e-commerce brand again this year according to the Sustainable Brand Index. This index is based on consumer estimates. We first looked at what they were already doing about sustainability and started to draw attention to it. By continuing to do that structurally, through big media and smaller platforms, you connect sustainability to a brand.”
“In times of war and polarization, it doesn’t hurt to read that people also do and have done good things.”
Leonne van de Ven, entrepreneur
“There is also more attention for the subject in the meantime. For example, we do the communication for the Week of Circular Economy, which takes place every year in February. For the first edition six years ago, we had to explain to everyone what circularity is. Now many more people know the concept and understand what a circular economy can mean.”
Who would you recommend these books to?
“I would actually recommend Bregman’s book to the whole of the Netherlands. In times of war and polarization, it doesn’t hurt to read that people also do and have done good things.”
“The book by Espen Stoknes I recommend to all entrepreneurs who are working on sustainability and doubt whether they will communicate about it. My tip: don’t wait for it to be perfect, but show what you are doing and also what you are up against. Communicate openly about things that could have been done differently and about progressive insight. This often has a more positive effect than not communicating. And perhaps others can learn something from it.”