Bringing Humanity Back into the Rat Race
Five years ago, Benjamin Blasco was working as a Global Business Development Director at PayPal and noticed that he was struggling to stay present. Like most professionals, his busy days consisted of nonstop multitasking and digital overload.
In an effort to break this pattern, he stumbled into the world of meditation. The effects of that discovery led to an entirely new career path and the launch of Petit Bambou, a meditation app with 1.2 million users and counting.
The fundamentals of mindfulness are woven into the fabric of the company and quietly contribute to its ongoing success.
According to Benjamin, meditation ultimately helps individuals reconnect with their humanity, positively impacting their professional lives as much as as their personal ones.
“Practicing mindfulness is a way to become a more inspired leader. Being able to listen more carefully with empathy to your coworkers greatly improves the quality of the discussions,” he explained. “The big problems at work are usually linked to the ego.”
Over the years he has focused on unlearning many of the destructive behaviors reinforced by society, such as overanalyzing and overworking.
“In the end, this stress can be propagated with our workers and change the culture. This is something we are very aware of,” he added.
When Benjamin first cofounded Petit Bambou, he recalled experiences in past work environments in which he often could not identify with his superiors: “As founders, we positioned ourselves as consultants or as coworkers. If you believe we can help you, ask. We don’t need multiple layers of validation and, in the end, that really helps performance.”
Humans first, business professionals second
The stern, serious image often associated with meditation made it important for the startup to avoid the trappings of communication and marketing norms that tend to hassle and push. Instead, it adopted an entirely different customer communication approach that was accessible and lighthearted.
“Meditation is presented as something serious, so we want to communicate in a fun and human way. Why should every email be written like it has been through three levels of an internal communications department. Let’s try to be as spontaneous as we really are,” Benjamin explained.
Their messages read like impromptu notes from a good-natured acquaintance, something customers appreciate.
Uniquely, Petit Bambou is not to trying to convince everyone to meditate, or to keep users logged in for as long as possible.
“We tried to create a zen experience. We had to resist the reflex to nudge them, even if it is counterproductive to not keep them on the app doing stuff. Let’s just provide them with what is good for them: meditation,” he noted.
As the company grows, Petit Bambou attempts to stay focused on its positive impact on people’s lives, something that brings a sense of fulfillment to the team. An internal message board allows them to regularly share favorite comments and testimonials left by happy users. In this way, they stay aware of the individuals that make up their massive user base.
Economic transformation from the top down
Eventually, meditation could help transform the business world as we know it. Through practice, top management can develop as leaders — becoming more human, more accepting and more open to discussing their own weaknesses. These leaders will then be equipped to help improve the world.
“What I’d like to see in business is more economic peace between companies. I believe competition is destructive and creates a lot of tension within a company. What’s more important is cooperating to create a better world and focusing on providing value instead of competing, and it is hard, even for us,” Benjamin said.
As far as walking the talk, the startup’s 10-person team in France meditates together every morning. With Petit Bambou catching on like wildfire, before long, these meditation sessions or business meetings that begin with two minutes of silent breathing could become the new normal.
Petit Bambou’s range of meditations reflects the realities of life: digital detox, stress eating, parenting and so much more. Its business-centric themes focus on decision making and creativity, collective harmony, self awareness and women in the workplace.
Perhaps most notable, is the recognition of humanity that runs through Petit Bambou’s entire approach — from its willingness to let employees make mistakes to how it brings value to its customers.