Fabian Pfortmüller on What Makes Work Meaningful

In Chapter 3 of 15 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, community builder and entrepreneur Fabian Pfortmüller answers "What Makes Your Work Meaningful?"  Pfortmüller shares how he finds meaning making product experiences in his HOLSTEE work and also in hiw Sandbox Network work.  He notes why scale matters to him and how it applies differently in products versus experiences.  Pfortmüller is co-founder of the young leader accelerator, Sandbox Network, and HOLSTEE, an apparel and design firm that sells meaningful products to mindful shoppers.  Pfortmüller graduated from Columbia University and its school of General Studies. 


Erik Michielsen: What makes your work meaningful?

Fabian Pfortmüller: I feel that I really have an impact when I see two things: on the one hand, how much scale have the ideas that I work on and on the other hand what is the feedback of people? What is the reaction when they use the product that we’ve made for them? And I’ll give you an example with HOLSTEE, we created the manifesto, we wrote the manifesto and at first we just wrote it for ourselves. It was truly -- there was no impact, it was just for ourselves and the scale that we’ve reached, now we have over 80 million views today of the manifesto and we get feedbacks from people all the time, how they actually changed their lives by reading this.

The combination of those two things really, really gives me a strong feeling that I create something meaningful but it doesn’t need to be a concrete product. I feel also -- In the case of Sandbox, it’s more about the type of relationships that we build. When I know that people that might not have been friends before, now are building something together, that also gives me really a feeling of creating something meaningful and there the scale is not 80 million, there might be just 2 or 3 but I think the scale can be very different. On the one hand it could be a product that spreads a lot but the other hand it can just be a relationship between 2 people. It doesn’t need to be a huge, huge number. It can just be a very deep, deep relationship.