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My Client is Mother Nature

Interview with Ariadna Madrid |

Sustainable Culture Director, Publicis


Satélite, Mexico City

What does doing good mean to you?

It is doing what feels good to you in your heart deep down. The values that you learn, that your parents teach you, and the things that make you smile, make you feel good or make your chest expand…to me that’s doing good.

Walk the walk. Be confident in what you say and whatever it is you say, try to do it as well.

Words that you would use to describe yourself…

“Evolutionista”. It’s a term that doesn’t really exist, but I use. It has to do with progress, evolving, changing, and being happy with extreme circumstances. For me, it is about loving when you’re in a foreign airport and don’t really understand the signs, which is my natural environment most times. I also think evolution is not just about your own personal growth, but growing with your team, your family, your community. So evolutionista is the word.

What sparked the creation of the Sustainable Culture initiative within Publicis Groupe and your passion behind both it and “Heartprint”, your other coined concept?

I waited and waited for the “right” time to leave the company I had been working for on good terms for four years to pursue my dreams. When I decided to speak my truth — things changed in a really unexpected way. My director at the time, who I really admire, asked me to reconsider and instead pitch him my dream job and that maybe it could happen within the company. Next thing, inspiration and destiny came along. Publicis Groupe turned 90 years and to celebrate it they decided to support 90 pioneers from all over the world (Publicis90). I knew it instantly I wanted to create a sustainable agency for sustainable clients. A few months later I was accepting the Publicis90 award in Paris in front of my parents.

My other concept, Heartprint, is a huge passion of mine that I’ve been developing for the past 10 years. Heartprint stands for “the print or mark your heart leaves behind”. Everybody has an inner drive that gives them a reason to wake up in the morning, endure and be happy. Maybe it’s your family, maybe it’s love, maybe it’s wisdom or freedom. Everybody has an intent, and many times, especially in big cities, people almost religiously ask “what do you do” when you first meet. It is so impersonal because you are not your job — that’s something that you do. However, if people ask “what is your Heartprint?” and you respond “my Heartprint is freedom”, then I would know that you love going out of your comfort zone and that you would be a good partner for hiking and traveling. So, it’s a different approach. It consists of a four part questionnaire that takes only 20 minutes. From there we nail it down to just one word, which is your Heartprint.

What was your Heartprint?

Evolution. That’s how I came up with evolutionista. You can create your own brand based on whatever your Heartprint is. I Heartprinted around 300 people so far, and I found clusters or tribes such as “The Alchemists”, “The Linkers”, “The Knowers”, “The Nurturers” and many times there are ones that can’t be put into any category. I like Heartprinting my friends, because I can never predict the outcome.

Portrait: Tom Kubik

What sparked your passion and emphasis on sustainability?

I can sense that our generation is more concerned about what’s going on with the planet, and I remember watching this TED Talk by an American scientist called Jared Diamond, who talked about the collapse of a civilization and the extinction of a culture and a community, and how to avoid it.

He spoke about 2 things –

  1. First is, how fast does a society realize its impact on the environment and how and when do they reverse it?

  2. The second has to do with friendly and unfriendly relationships with your neighbors. What’s happening now with the refugee crisis is a symptom showing that we are going into the extinction path. A blueprint for trouble is conflict of interest between the people who are making decisions are isolated from the consequences of their actions and the rest of the community.

However, I also remember when I was a 5 years old little girl and people would ask me what I wanted to do when I grow up I would say, that I want to invent cars, but instead of gasoline, use flowers as the fuel. It was ingrained in me from early on.

What is the most memorable experience you have had throughout your journey?

Two things –

  1. While you’re developing your career, you’re also giving life to things that you may not have dealt with before or you didn’t know about before — it can evoke personal issues and fears. It can get very dark, but embrace it and don’t worry because it will eventually get very bright, and it will help you move forward as a person. That’s a key reality to accept for anyone that wants to be an entrepreneur.

  2. The second is that when you align yourself with your purpose or your Heartprint, everything will start moving in a beautiful flow where you start attracting the right people. Sometimes I feel like I have spiritual managers around me that I cannot see, but I know they are working for me.

Basically, all I do is align with my purpose. What I always tell people is that my client is nature. I just let her put me into people’s calendars, since it’s for the good of nature, and as a result I’m really growing a lot. So I thank nature for that. (Thank you Mother Nature).

Portrait: Tom Kubik

What is your client (Nature) telling you these days?

It’s really evident that Mother Nature is giving her opinion on human behavior. Wildfires, powerful hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, etc. more often than ever before in history. The next 10 years are more important than the next 10,000 years and if I could suggest a roadmap it’d be this: be mindful about your own behavior and footprint (food waste, plastic waste, energy waste…any waste), devour knowledge, pick a cause, vote with your dollars, be transparent, measure impact, build synergies and believe in the power of community. To me, communities are the new start-ups, because you are not only making a living, you are also constructing your life, your future and your legacy.

You are from Mexico and it recently got hit by a powerful earthquake. How are you?

The places where I used to live and hang around with my friends are ground zero. The earthquake shook me and every Mexican to the root. We came together as one, and showed each other what it is to be united for a big purpose: saving the lives of other loved ones, even if they were strangers. Every single one of my friends are now involved in some part of the reconstruction, they are now my personal heroes . We are launching a project called “Tu casa es mi casa” [myhomeisyourhome.mx], where you can adopt a homeless family and be their “angel” for a year for as little as $25. At the anniversary of the earthquake we will release a book with pictures and quotes of each family’s recovery journey. We are currently creating a family census to match them up with their “angels”.

We also want to extend it to the Caribbean Islands including Cuba, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, etc. If you would like to donate you could do it here.

Tell us a little bit about what a B Corp is since I know you are aiming to support it through Publicis Groupe.

B Corp is a certification that started no more than a decade ago by a non-profit called B-Lab. They have certified around 2000 companies including Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and Seventh Generation. The idea is to give these companies a mark that people can recognize that certify 4 major things:

  1. Good for the environment

  2. Good for the workers

  3. Good for the business

  4. Good for the customers

In order to obtain certification as a B Corp, you have to take a very thorough assessment, you have to already be an established company and sign up legally to be a Benefit Corporation. B Corp allows for there to be transparency and creates this beautiful community where there is an exchange of knowledge and goodwill. It’s beautiful to see the many companies out there that not only want to be the best in the world, but also be the best for the world.

Final thoughts or key advice for those that want to be in your shoes since you made the leap, and it appears seamless.

Look, there isn’t a map. What I understood early on is that when there is resistance out there or people advise me not to do something, that’s when I have to do it. Monitor that. Monitor the ‘no’s’, and think of them as ‘yeses’. Practice, practice, practice, and practice, because doubt is a big killer. So don’t doubt.

And also please work for my client (Nature) too, she has the best perks.

Portrait: Tom Kubik

Interview by London Wright-Pegs

Portraits by Tom Kubik

This article originally appeared on Curiosity Lab's Medium page for a project called Patrons of Progress here: https://medium.com/@curiositylab/my-client-is-mother-nature-9a0b7da0d79b

#patronsofprogress #socialimpact #arianamadrid #nature #editorialportraiture #interview #curiositylab

© 2019 by Tom Kubik