Happy Startup Stories from Dream Valley: #3 Jon Barnes

The third in our series of stories from Alpselerator, a week-long startup experiment in the mountains of Morillon.

In the middle of October 2015 we took 6 teams out to Morillon in the French Alps on an experiment to see whether the mountains could help us accelerate our ideas.

The theory was that by being together in an inspirational setting with likeminded, driven people, we could make much more progress than if we just worked separately in our offices back in the UK (more about what we did over that week here).

We had invited Jon Barnes to come out with us to help facilitate the week long experiment. Jon is a Partnership Director at Hyper Island and here’s what he had to say about his experience over the 7 days.

Watch the interview with Jon here (5:30 mins):

Or read the transcript below:

Who are you?

My name is John, I’m a freedom seeker and pseudo rebel. I’m trying to break out of every silo and constraint that I come across in life. I spend a lot of my time working with a company called Hyperisland. We try to empower individuals and organisations to seize their potential in the best way they can. To help them really follow their passions and make all the changes that they want to create. In organisations this means creating amazing cultures where human beings can really blossom and fulfil all the creative and innovative potential that they have.

Why are you here?
Why am I here in the Alps?! Because it’s the Alps!! It’s completely beautiful and the more time I spend here the more my mind is expanding and more of the neurons and synapses in my brain seem to be connecting. So much is happening this week! Doing business in a boardroom or a workshop seems so weird now. In this place I’m doing all of my best talking and all my best ideas are coming from great conversations I’m having with people whether walking up these beautiful mountains or exploring these beautiful rivers and valleys. I’m almost slightly overflowed with things to do when I get back because of all the inspiration I’ve had from nature around me and from amazingly ambitious and purposeful people that I’m getting to hangout with at the moment.

What has shaped you?
Many, many things have shaped me but what I can say, is that the environments that I’ve been in have definitely shaped me. Both negatively and for the good. Traditional education and traditional businesses, run in really hierarchical ways with all the sort of structures, policies and politics that I’ve had to live by have shaped me in a negative way. This has given me a very clear picture of what I think work or life “shouldn’t” about. The separation of work life and life life seems a bit weird. I think that’s something I’ve learned from all the businesses I’ve worked for and with.

The other thing that’s shaped me is experiencing the complete flip side of that coin. Working with people in amazing surroundings has made me realise what’s possible. Working for a business like Hyperisland has made me realise what’s possible. I’ve learned about how we can work in completely empowering ways if we create environments where we’re just seeing each other as human beings, without all the nonsense that can be added on top through the years of artificially constructed nonsense and silliness. We are capable of amazing things.

Both the good and bad in the business and education world have shaped me.

I’m always quite proud when a friend quits a job following some advice I’ve given them.

What are you most proud of?
This is one of those more cringey things to talk about. I’d say I’ve been really proud of myself for trying to break out of systems and norms that aren’t letting me be my authentic self. These systems have constrained me in the past and prevented me from flapping my wings. I’m proud of myself for embracing an alternative way of living and am having an amazing experience by living nomadically and out in nature. I’m also proud of some quite strange things too. For instance I’ve helped a few friends leave the systems that they were in. I’ve helped them follow their passions and purpose by lighting a little spark in them that lets them get some air and see more of the world.

I’m always quite proud when a friend quits a job following some advice I’ve given them.

How can their be an alternative to businesses being happy.

Being part of the Happy Startup tribe
What excites me about being about the Happy Startup school? I shouldn’t really be excited. How can their be an alternative to businesses being happy. I kind of seems a bit crazy to even imagine that. The reason I’m really excited is because empowering employers and employees to create environments where people are happy will allow so much energy to flow out of those people and for some really wonderful things to happen.

The way for businesses to be efficient and effective is to harness the energy that people have inside them and to let them use their talents. How can you not be into happiness as a really core principle to why your doing what your doing.

So I’m excited about the Happy Startup School because hopefully I’ll learn a lot about myself and how to bring happiness to myself but also being able to bring happiness others would be something nice to be proud of too.

Find out more about the teams

The Alpselerator teams were, in no particular order:

Also thanks to RorieKate and Chalet Badney for our wonderful home for the week.

Read next: Alpselerator - an interview with the Ribot brothers ››