June 9, 2019|8 Minutes

Follow your heart

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

These were the words of Steve Jobs at the 2005 commencement ceremony at Stanford University. I only heard his commencement 5 years ago, at a time when I had to decide between a secure job and an ambitious vision.

In 2008, I completed my studies in England and moved back home to Greece to work with my brother in our family business; a third-generation publishing company founded in 1933 by my grandfather.

My first 2 years in the business were probably the darkest years of my life. The country was entering into a great depression and the company had to change immediately in order to survive. So, I came in with a great passion and new ideas on how to optimise production and operations, but the elder members of the family were not opened to change.

After a period of several conflicts, we finally made it. Within two years we managed to scale up the business and make it the second biggest in its sector, while at the same time the country had lost more than 25% of its national income.

We optimised operations and reached a comfortable stage where we could work 5 hours a day and spend the remaining of our time on the things we liked. Beach bars, swimming, windsurfing, travelling, MMA, drinks with friends and BBQs were the things I enjoyed the most.

After a few years of indulging in this lifestyle, and still carrying a bit of the burden of our initial conflicts, a feeling of emptiness emerged and both my job and the things I used to enjoy the most could not make me happy anymore. You may be wondering how a healthy, young man who owns a successful business, and has the time to spend on the things he likes… how can this man not be happy?

The answer was simple: I was working for a business that had affected my relationship with my family, and most importantly, I had not been following my heart… I was just living a life that my family had planned for me and my childhood dream of bettering our world was not part of that life. All these years, I was fighting an internal conflict. Every time my heart was telling me to move away from the publishing house and do something else, my brain was saying “stay there, your life will never be better’’.

Then one day, in 2013, I was sitting in my garden and while browsing on YouTube I came across Steve’s Jobs commencement ceremony speech. His words resonated with me and made it so easy to resolve the dilemma… There was no reason not to follow my heart!

All these years I was observing the dire situation in my country on both the economic and social fronts, but I had done absolutely nothing in order to help those in need. I was just enjoying my lifestyle. So, that day I decided to attach meaning to my lifestyle, while at the same time pursue business opportunities, which can be profitable yet impactful.

That’s when I came up with the vision of “Lifestyle Fundraising®” – the process of raising money for charity through hobbies and activities you love to do. In my case, it was beach bars, swimming and all the activities I mentioned earlier. With that vision in mind, I said goodbye to all the comfort and moved back to London in 2015 to start a new life.

I lived on a friend’s sofa for more than a year as I was unable to transfer any money from Greece due to capital controls that are active even today. Then in 2017, I built Chatraise; a community-based fundraising platform that enables you to create or join events based on your lifestyle – the hobbies and activities you love to do or have always wanted to try. Something like JustGiving and Meetup in one App.

We are launching Chatraise this July (2019) in both the UK and Switzerland, aiming to kickstart a global Lifestyle Fundraising movement, which will empower people to be the best version of themselves.

Although Chatraise is a new business and has not offered me the comfort that I was used to yet, I’m very glad about the decision I took. First, because I do something I truly love and has great potential, and second because I stopped seeing my family as business partners… they are my dad, my mum, and my brother again…

By Emmanuel Linardatos