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Interview With Leon Aarts

Bio picture of Leon Aarts from extraordinaryones.comLeon was born in Maastricht, Netherlands. After Hotel management College he became a chef working in some of Europe's finest restaurants. Later he ran his own restaurant called Bellefroid. In 2001 he moved to London to set up a fine food wholesale company selling to the top restaurants in the UK. In 2006 after becoming member of a club of social entrepreneurs Leon decided it was time to give back and use his skills to serve his vision; Nobody to bed Hungry. In 2009 he founded Extraordinary Ones a simple concept where every time you eat you feed a child at the same time.

Extraordinary Ones was launched in Holland and the vision is that for every meal sold a child gets fed. Imagine we all do that and what that means for hunger in the world.
Leon has now published a book called ‘Feeding people' and spends much of his time as an author and speaker inspiring people to live a life of purpose and to become more connected with each other. This message is spread via a new initiative he is setting up together with some others called Ollin Opes. Ollin Opes shows people how to connect with their hearts, live a life of purpose and how we can solve the problems we face on this planet.

 

Please tell us a bit of your earlier years – 20 to 35

 

When I was 19 I became a chef by ‘accident'. I attend the hotel college to do something in management. Since a child I had been looking at something I could excel at: be No. 1 and when I found cooking I intuitively knew that was it. The next 15 years are history and I worked very successfully in some of the best restaurants as chef and head chef. It taught me many things, not just cooking but also how important it is to achieve mastery in everything you do and how you can use that in other areas of your life.

The importance of having mentors and working in teams. In schools, we have learnt we have to do it all on our own. To be successful, you have to do what you are naturally good at and find others around you to do the other things. Work as a team – a kitchen functions just like that.
When I was 33 I realised that I achieved my goal as a chef and it was time to do something different. That is when we moved to England from Amsterdam to start a wholesale company. We started passionately with an idea and lots of energy and just made it happen.

 

Please share any rude awakenings or revelations around your midpoint of life

 

That was an interesting time. I was running our fine food wholesale business and decided to life a live fully in my purpose. In our industry that was difficult as I realised my values had gone to the next level. It was a time when I looked who I really was as a person and the legacy I like to leave. Be the best dad I can be for my children.

A question a friend asked me: He said what do you see when one day your children ask you: Dad what have you done about the state of the planet and the people living on it? That was a wake up call and I decided to really look at my life and stop with everything which doesn't serve me and only focus on things which would help me serve my purpose. Nobody to bed Hungry.

 

What did you change in your life around this ‘midpoint of life'?

 

We sold our wholesale business, did a lot of development and started working on social projects and eventually setting up Extraordinary Ones and now also Ollin Opes.

I decided to only do the things which would help me to achieve my purpose. Things I love doing, enjoy and want to achieve. In other words, work on the legacy I am going to leave.

 

Any lessons learnt during this time?

 

Many many lessons which is very interesting, the most important one, everything you need is already there for you. It is in You.

And it is in ALL of us, just allow yourself.

 

Have you seen other guys making your errors that you'd love to talk to them about?

 

Errors is not the word I normally use. I see people having life lessons. Most of the time this is because they are stuck. When you are stuck you try to hold onto something and the more you hold on, the more something gets stagnant, you block flow. When you hold on to things desperately you cant move forward and things don't happen for you.

In fact this happened just recently to a business partner and unfortunately we had to part ways and I hope he has his lesson out of this.
The only way we can help others is by giving and keep giving to them. The only way you as an individual can receive is when you open up. Guess what happens when you open up to receive what somebody wants to give you, you have to let go of whatever you are holding on to.
Just look at children when they are playing.

 

How is your personal life different now than to what it was on your 20s?

 

My life is a lot richer now, we have 2 children, a great family and circle of friends who fulfil and challenge me.

 

What are you most active in now?

 

I am most active in fulfilling my life purpose Nobody To Bed Hungry and building Extraordinary Ones and connecting with great people.

 

Which part/s of your life is different now than when in your 20's?

 

I believe it is all at a higher level as I understand myself now better and allow myself to be me.

 

How is your business and/or professional life different now than to what it was on your 20s?

 

Then I was a chef and restaurant owner now I also do what I love but I run my life – my business or job don't run my life.

“do you have different values?”

I believe my values are still the same although I have refined them, worked on them and brought it to a higher level and as I learned I have added a few.
I have learned to say no to things which take me away from my values or purpose and to only do things which serve me to achieve 100% my goals and live a life of purpose.
              
“if so, tell us about the differences”
Just in the last few years I realized that everything I have done has prepared me for what I am doing now. My role is to inspire people.
When you start to life a live of purpose and do the things you enjoy the most incredible people will show up around you, you will see many serendipity happen and the universe will bring you everything you need.

 

What are 2-3 life experiences you would love to share today?

 

The biggest lesson in life must be that every thing we need or looking for is within us. The outside world is a reflection of the world within us.

By truly looking inside you not only connect with yourself you are also able to really connect with other when we do that: truly connect with everybody around us we can solve all the problems we face on this planet.
You also learn that everything which happens is a gift.

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Enjoying newly found freedoms, Martin is a down to earth, honest, quirky humor, compassionate and upfront kinda guy. Easy going and love to laugh. Into good food, wine and great company. I’ll talk and try to help anyone.
Drop me a message and let's start there, OK?

Martin – who has written posts on GeekandJock.