Philip Oude-Vrielink – culture and leadership

This is the second in a series of interviews with not-for-profit leaders in partnership with Better Boards.

Better Boards

Philip’s mission is to bridge the gaps between authenticity, purpose, culture, engagement and leadership, and to bring them together. His books help people clearly understand the essence of two commonly misunderstood aspects of life and work — responsibility for culture and leadership purpose. He works out of his home office in North Warrandyte, Melbourne.

I’m here to help others know what they’re here for. @oudevrielinkP



Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

I help people identify their unchanging leadership purpose and values, and be informed about their continually changing choices to be in alignment with that. In essence, this work is about helping people answer the question of their life purpose.

I decided to take the plunge and make it happen after spending a decade trying to answer my own form of this question. My criteria for a satisfactory answer was unwavering self-recognition. I somehow knew that the ‘answer’ would evoke a “wow, that’s me!” I’d read every book on the topic and attended every seminar and workshop I came across. In frustration of many ‘lovely though insufficient’ workshops, I decided to invent my own process. When I came to my answer, I cried with a sense of recognition and laughed like I’d just gotten some kind of great joke.

I’m here to help others know what they’re here for. Go figure. I’ve spent the past 15 years refining my work and the IP associated with it. For example, a CEO of a large multinational recently said, “I naturally do this. That’s just who I am. It all makes sense now.” That is a typical and delightful response from people who experience this work.

My culture and conflict work are specific and practical applications of the same ideas. I am irresistibly animated when doing this work as they all relate to my changeless purpose.

Please explain your business model.

My work spreads primarily through word-of-mouth. People I work with tend to be remarkable advocates. My primary interest is helping people truly empower themselves in a way that honours their uniqueness. All of my programs and books are my own IP.

I work with individuals face-to-face or on skype in a coaching and mentoring capacity around purpose, values, conflict, and influence; run workshops with intact teams; train the trainer with in-house leadership and organisational facilitators; deliver keynotes on leadership purpose, masterful authenticity, and strategic culture; and partner with in-house facilitators to deliver the topics I specialise in.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months? 

Right now I’m gearing up to run a public version of my life and leading on purpose program, and will be running it in Melbourne August 9/10. In June I’m presenting a couple of complimentary seminars on the topic that will cover:

  • Why ‘success no longer satisfies’ is a common experience that’s inevitable for most of us
  • The 3 attributes that need to be aligned for fulfilment
  • The 5 things masterfully authentic and fulfilled people know and do
  • The one thing that releases exceptional motivation
  • How to avoid the common pitfalls of existing methods

Registration and more about these complimentary seminars is available here.

It’s open to anyone interested in this topic.

How do you make ideas happen?

I have many trusted clients that I’ve worked with over many years. When I have new ideas I share my new thinking with them. It’s always something novel and a different way to understand a pressing topic or relevant issue. Our conversations are invariably lively. I quickly learn what ideas resonate with people, in what way, and why they do. More importantly, I hear about and learn the issues and language that best positions the relevance of the ideas. I tend to give away value in the form of helping people better understand the problems they’re grappling with and share deeper, more insightful ways to understand why those issues and unmet aspirations exist in the first place. This positions my funded programs which show people how to answer what they’re after — how to meet the aspiration they have and how to deal with the problem they’d like to address. Once ‘why’ is clear and refined, I can quickly and easily develop approaches and programs that answer ‘how’.

What does your typical day look like?

Every day I’m up a little before 5am for espresso and exercise. Where I can I tend to chunk my days into similar kinds of activity — I tend to be more effective that way. I’ll spend a day just meeting people, sharing ideas and developing business; a day just of paid one-on-one work; a day delivering keynotes, and so on.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

I create new and deeply effective approaches to culture, engagement, leadership and purpose (individual and groups). I promote work only when I believe it works and will serve. Many Australians often seem to have an ambivalent relationship to creations by Australians until those creations become popular overseas. As such, this quote by Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860) describes the main challenges I face:

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

Our life purpose, our greatest source of fulfilment and our ‘true north’, is both changeless and continually changing. Not one. Not the other. Both. The challenge is in identify and clarifying what that changeless aspect truly is, so that the continual choices, changing actions and forms that reflect that aspect, can be informed and made more easily. Get that unchanging aspect clear, and the rest is clear.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry at the moment?

There are too many to mention. A great example of what I appreciate is the example and social enterprise of the folks at The Hub. True innovation is usually born from the unexpected combination of unrelated ideas in solving a problem. These experiments help bring people with great ideas together.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

I think true change in the world will be brought about by businesses and NGO’s, not by governments. Government can be great at fostering stable environments conducive to businesses effectively playing their part in creating change. Though we can debate their relative effectiveness, at their best, businesses have the imperative towards change and government has the imperative towards consolidation and stability. Both roles are important and complimentary.

Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?


Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

The people I work with on life purpose invariably have their version of “Wow, that’s me. That’s me at my best and me at my worst. That’s what I’m wired to create and what I’m wired to address. This reflects the work I’m doing and the work I’d like to be doing.” If that idea interests you, get in touch. If you know others might be interested, let them know.

We’re aiming to build a community of Australasian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?

Why do so many people seem so reluctant to distinguish themselves by commercialising their dreams?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Yongs Green Food, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (Melbourne). Fantastic vegetarian food and wonderful staff.

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

If the winner is interested, I’d be willing to offer a sampler session around identifying and clarifying their ‘message’ or changeless, defining values.

Learn from over 100 Australians making ideas happen.

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