The story of An De May and Wouter Torfs

A mentor does not ask many questions, he asks the right questions. In that mindset Wouter Torfs, CEO of Schoenen Torfs, kicked off his journey with An De May. It took both of them along a spiritually profound journey, that has been life-changing for An and was an utterly enriching experience for Wouter.

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“I figured reading the book ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle would be the perfect start of our mentoring journey”, Wouter recalls. That estimation turned out to be wrong.

“I was curious for new professional experiences”, says An, who participated in the Young Leaders – Inspiring Mentors programme in 2010. Wouter was keen on passing on his wisdom to a mentee outside of his own company.

“I figured reading reading the book ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle would be the perfect start of our mentoring journey”, Wouter recalls. That estimation turned out to be wrong, as reading this bestseller on personal spiritual development swept An out of her comfort zone. That insight immediately gave An and Wouter’s journey a profound focus. Their conversations led to an elaborate  reflection on An’s professional life.

One question changed everything

An: “When Wouter asked me the simple question “Why do you go to work?”, that changed my life. It made me realise that I was very unfulfilled with my  professional path at the time.”

She switched jobs and recently started her own company called Butterfly Moments.

“Participating in the YL-IM program has had an impressive impact on my life. It made me very aware of the fact that as a business leader, one has a responsibility to help others grow personally, professionally and maybe even spiritually. You can do that by sharing reflections on your own personal growth. I had lots of contact with my mentor Wouter, as well as with my peer Young Leaders. I still  have regular meetings with some of them today.”

Wouter is convinced that his responsibility as a CEO transcends leading his company.

Wouter: “A leader cannot pretend to be living on an island. As an opinion maker, I talk and write about societal topics, but I don’t express my opinions on political topics. Yes, sometimes my personal opinion does intertwine with my professional opinion, which channels the visions held by my company, Schoenen Torfs. That’s inevitable. ”

It only shows that Wouter is walking the talk.

Love and friendship

An focuses on love and romance with her company, Butterfly Moments. By focusing on romantic love  she’s positioning herself as a leader willing to strive for a better society.

An: “Pronouncing the word “love” was difficult for me in the beginning, but I started to own that soft vocabulary thanks to Wouter.”

Today, 8 years later, An & Wouter still meet frequently. It’s a journey that they’ve started with the YL-IM programme and that hasn’t stopped ever since. It has turned into a genuine friendship.

Photos Wouter Torfs & An De May © Trends Magazine