LifeGate CEO Enea is 34, and his smile conveys a warm, solid positivity and a vision of the world which many people don’t achieve until they are approaching 50.
I ask him to describe himself in one word, and after thinking for a moment, he replies: “Passionate”. He smiles with almost disarming simplicity, and continues to do so for the rest of our chat together. We’re in his office in the heart of Milan’s Brera district. Bright sunshine filters in through the windows, illuminating the greenery in the office space and all the little objects laid tidily on his desk and shelf, which reflect his personality. Light and nature: two elements that often pop up in his conversation. His favourite design? “An open space. That’s where I feel good”.
I start asking about the details of his working day, and he admits that it’s actually all about running. He runs, in every sense of the word: he runs to start his day, he runs to keep up “because I always have a thousand things to do, and I don’t stop until night”, running off some of the day’s stress in the park.
But running isn’t the most important thing for improving productivity. There are other important ingredients. The first is the working environment, which must be healthy, enjoyable and stimulating, and not only in terms of architecture or design. The team, the people you spend your day with, are a very important element in the ideal job.
“I worked in an open space for years, and I tried to stay there right to the end. Companies are made up of people, of the team behind them, and the more you can maintain a horizontal team, without hierarchies, only responsibilities, the more results you’ll get.” And then there’s passion: “If you are lucky enough to have a job that is consistent with your own values, your own ideals, you don’t get tired, and that makes you unstoppable”.
Despite his youth, he has already discovered the secret to reconciling private life with work: when he closes the office door behind him, his working day is over. At home, he unplugs – and weekends are strictly for private life, except in emergencies. Business dinners? No more than once a week.
His favourite city is London, however much he would like to say it is Milan. He finds it exciting in many different ways. Culturally, but also gastronomically – despite the fact that Britain is not exactly famous for its food! “Another thing I like is the city’s multicultural identity and peaceful coexistence. And sustainability, of course: I like to go jogging and be in contact with nature. London’s parks offer you an instant escape from the crowds of the big city, surrounded by greenery. This is not yet possible in Milan.” And above all, the British capital reflects the values Enea fights for every day: “London is one of only a handful of cities in the world to have set truly meaningful targets for reducing CO2 emissions by 2025. The city publishes its carbon dioxide emissions and the reduction it has achieved every year, and it has real policies for reducing water consumption and waste. Car sharing and bike sharing both began in London.”
I ask him what he could never give up, and he answers honesty, while he would be happy to give up his phone, even though it has become a part of his life, an extension of his own body. He wears blue, and he loves discussion and travel, for “digression and intuition, watching what others do and which way different markets are going.”
His favourite quote is “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Mahatma Gandhi, and I can believe it really is his daily mantra. So that when I ask him what we can all do to be the change, meaning the change toward sustainability, he answers that all we have to do is set a good example and “think every day, in everything we do in relation to other people and the planet. This doesn’t meaning being a fanatic, but it does mean doing your best. For example, it’s not science fiction to think that we could all use car sharing or take public transport to get around in the city. Or fly with airlines that have sustainability policies. Or be conscious consumers when we do our daily shopping. It’s our choice whether we eat more or less meat and whether we buy more or less sustainable brands.”
“Sustainability is not just a cost; it is above all a matter of optimising our productivity and our reputation, reducing risk, an opportunity we need to take advantage of. Climate change, diet and agriculture are both causes and possible solutions for improving the situation, using the lever of innovation. There was a lot of talk about this at Expo, and there will be a lot more. The key is cutting waste. For example, eating meat has an immense impact on our consumption of resources. It takes 15,000 to 25,000 litres of water to produce one kilo of meat, and acres and acres of grain grown as livestock feed. Whereas it takes only 1,300 litres of water to produce a kilo of grain. That’s a huge discrepancy. Without even considering emissions and pollution.”
According to the FAO, 50% of the world’s grain production and 90% of soy production are fed to livestock. Global meat production has multiplied by 4 over the past 50 years alone, and is now 25 times higher than in 1800. Beef production uses up about three-fifths of the world’s agricultural land, and produces less than 5% of the world’s protein.
“There’s a lot of talk about the circular economy, about social and environmental sustainability. People and companies need to realise that we live in a world of relationships. It’s a logic of give and take, and it applies both to individuals and to more complex systems, which need to give back to the community what they have taken away from it in the attempt to create value.
So what should we do to change the world? “Educate people about the importance of change, and of respect. This is true innovation for the future”.
Interview by: Francesca Zuffi