Joyshree Reinelt on Helping Brands Grow in a Meaningful Way

'This was the start of something special, the start of humanizing business'

Reinventions profiles people who've made big pivots. Meet Joyshree Reinelt, who made the leap from clinical and organizational psychology to NGO board member and founder of Innate Motion, focused on creating a more inclusive world. 

What were you before? 

As a psychologist, I specialized in the fields of clinical and organizational psychology, and I started my professional life working with children and teenagers. In fact, working with youth was the key reason I pursued psychology in the first place.

When I was 15, I started tutoring children at a local NGO in Frankfurt. Most families were either refugees or had an immigration background. 

What started off as helping with homework and teaching German developed into something much larger for me. It made me aware of all the privileges I enjoyed growing up, and all the social inequalities that existed in the world. I was fascinated to see how children dealt with their situation in different ways, and this experience formed and shaped my path toward wanting to shift silos for a world that is more inclusive.

What triggered your reinvention?

I transitioned away from a career in psychology, as I felt that change needed to happen on a structural level to really have a lasting positive impact. I started to explore the world of business, and for nearly a decade I worked at a leading agency for motivational consumer psychology. 

My next "reinvention" happened when I co-founded Innate Motion to help brands and companies grow in a meaningful way. For me, this was about fully aligning my personal purpose with my work.

I was in my mid-thirties and felt I needed to give it my all as an entrepreneur. I didn't want to have regrets later on in life because I had chosen to travel the seemingly safe path.

I have always believed that I will eventually land on my feet, no matter what. This definitely enabled me to push out of my comfort zone and fully immerse myself in a new adventure.

What did the first steps look like?  

I was very proud when signing in the company at the notary in Brussels. I then swiftly needed to learn how to build an infrastructure that works, not just on a professional level, but with regards to human relationships, too. Another key decision we made from the outset was to go officeless; with a team living across multiple countries, it just seemed like a "no-brainer" to start this way.

The next key step was to focus on deepening bonds, creating a vision for the future, and crafting a strategy. I was exhilarated because I felt this was the start of something special, the start of humanizing business.

What was one hard obstacle to overcome?

There were the usual obstacles you expect when starting a company—managing cash flow, getting into new vendor systems, etc. For me personally, the toughest was gaining credibility without having a track record as a new company. 

The standard questions you would be asked those days were: How long have you existed? Where are your offices? Which companies do you work with? The fact of us not having a headquarters, or any offices at all, made us appear either very suspicious or not serious. It was going too much against the grain of how businesses were expected to operate.

Since then, perceptions have changed. Now we are seen as smart, innovative and sustainable.

What was easier than you thought?

I was raised in a world where you go to an office. It's the place where meetings happen, where you work at a desk, and where you catch up with co-workers at the coffee machine. It was quite a shift for me to sit at home alone at my desk. 

But embracing technology right away was a true enabler. I soon discovered that, while we were physically apart, we related in a more conscious, deep and genuine way. What I learned was that investing more into conscious moments of connection made it a whole lot easier to build a diverse team across continents that is happy, functional and performant. 

What's something you learned along the way that other people, hoping to do something similar, should know?

I believe the world, specifically the one of business, needs more empathy than ever. Empathy is often mislabeled as a soft skill. On the contrary, empathy is actually a hard skill that needs to be trained. For the type of company we built and the nature of the work we do, bringing empathy fitness to the next level is key to progress.

I was always fascinated by human nature, the diversity of people and mindsets. Sometimes it's hard to relate to or understand other people, in particular when they seem to have different values, perspectives or backgrounds. Trying to step into their shoes, and see the world through their eyes, always helped me bridge the divide and close the gap—or at least make it smaller.

Did anyone or anything inspire you along the way?

I am deeply grateful to my parents because they gave me such a high level of exposure to the world, to people and cultures in all its facets. Activists like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa. They all had a better vision for humanity, fought for their cause with kindness, had collective rallying power, and fulfilled their purpose in life.

What has this fundamentally changed for you?

Homing in on my empathy skills within my professional life, and the world of business, meant I need to embrace my vulnerability while at work, too. Showing our vulnerable side allows us to forge deeper connections for bigger impact; it doesn't work if you don't deeply trust and commit to learning from setbacks along the way.

Do you think you could go back/do you want to?

I must say that I love where I am now. The saying goes that the grass is always greener on the other side, but I feel like the grass is greener on my side—with all the ups and downs. I love all the business humanizers at Innate Motion. With most of my clients I have built a deep, genuine connection that is very rewarding. There is never a dull day of not discovering anything new.

Tell us your reinvention song.

Since my young years, it has definitely been Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All" and Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." And Emeli Sandé's "Read All About It, Pt. III."

How would you define yourself now?

I would define myself as an extremely happy person, because I can design my life in accordance with my personal values. 

In everything I do, I work hard to be intentional in my actions, to be present, and relate to people in a genuine way. I am grateful to learn from my mistakes, and feel gratified when I contribute to a brighter, more sustainable human future.

I also believe that daily laughter is an essential part of life. I can laugh for even the smallest, silliest reasons ... and it keeps my inner child alive.

Reinventions is a questionnaire series with people who are making pivots in their lives. If you're going through a reinvention and would like to be interviewed for the series, please get in touch.

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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