This article first appeared in our Love issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 09 April 2021. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
I had popped up to Broughton Hall – 3,000 acres devoted to transformation – to chat to its owner Roger Tempest about running retreats there for women in midlife.
I’d just got back from a glorious, if freezing, swim in a tarn on the top of the Estate when Jarvis – a bushy bearded, gently spoken chap – accosted me in the Grand Hall of the main house. We started chatting and couldn’t stop.
He said he was running a Spirited Business retreat at the Hall – a chance for business owners to work out their purpose and their vision. I signed up on the spot.
Changing the world
Now Spirited Business is not the kind of thing I would ever have contemplated doing in my old life as an editor at The Sunday Times.
Jarvis described it as a group of conscious founders, people who were in business to make money, sure, but who also had a higher purpose, who wanted their businesses to change the world.
This isn’t just talk; Jarvis himself practices what he preaches. His own company, My Green Pod, is a kind of sustainable version of Amazon, sourcing and selling greener versions of everyday goods.
He’s been at it for years. I was complaining that I’d had to stop twice to charge my electric car on the way from London to Broughton. He laughed at me, saying he’d had an early version of the Nissan Leaf; it had to be charged every 45 miles – mine did 150 (in theory) – so it used to take him 14 hours to make the 185-mile journey. Jarvis has been enacting his own green purpose for years.
It was important to me that my new company, Noon (a platform and community to empower women and help them find their next chapter), had purpose in its DNA. But I’d never run a business before, or been a founder, so I didn’t really know what that meant, or what it might look like.
Unfortunately, the in-real-life retreat was postponed, once and then twice, due to Covid. But Jarvis had the genius idea of creating an online group of those who had signed up; rather than meeting in the splendour of Broughton, we assembled on Google Hangouts every Monday.
This group was a revelation to me. I’d been using online video conferencing for business meetings, of course. We all have. But I had no idea how intimate and supportive an entirely virtual group of strangers could become to each other.
Over the past five months, we have met religiously every week (sometimes more often). In that time I feel like my Spirited Business compadres have become my friends and allies. We’ve shared our hopes, fears and deep concerns, and have even meditated together while Jarvis holds the space, standing by the Yorkshire river near where he lives so we can hear the water, see the birds. It sounds crazy, but it has really worked.