Eric-Theodore Yepao is the founder and CEO of Nordland Holding Europe GmbH, a company that focuses on the construction and investment of private cities. Private cities are regions owed by organizations or individuals who provide all the necessary services to the residents. This model of government allows the region to have its own taxation, administration, and financial systems.

Eric-Theodore Yepao graduated from Harvard University and launched his career in investment banking. He later discovered a passion for corporate social responsibility after witnessing how companies often do not give back to their communities. Eric believes that companies have an obligation to contribute to the wellbeing of all their stakeholders including but not limited to, employees and surrounding communities. Today his business has grown to include dealings in many countries and cities, including Paris, France.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

I love the contact that I have with people- I am always learning from them. I never pretend to know everything or try to lecture everybody.  I am very eager to learn from the people that I meet.  I am always encountering new ideas through my interactions with people. 

What keeps you motivated?

The goal I want to achieve keeps me motivated.  I set a target for myself.  I want to change the world and make it a better place, not only for me but everyone. The vision of the world I want to live in pushes me to do my absolute best on any given task.

How do you motivate others?

I motivate others by empowering them.  When you empower people, they will be motivated.  They will feel involved, inspired, and encouraged to achieve what ever it is they set their eyes on.

How has your company grown from its early days to now?

My companies have always been innovative.  We always look for new ideas to put into practice.  We always come up with new investment strategies.  We have been at the forefront with new investment ideas, such as investing in green technology, renewable energy, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.  We think about the long-term future.  We think differently. Our strategy is not to make a quick profit. Our strategy has always been long-term profits. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am often inspired by researching. I read a lot, but I do not just get the formal information. I want to do my own investigation. I gather information from a variety of sources so I can make my own decisions free of any previous bias. 

Who has been a role model to you and why?

My role model is Richard Branson – he definitely thinks outside the box.  He is very creative.  I met him when I was in the UK and I was drawn to how strong a believer he is in what he does.  He is such a positive person about his business ventures, and he does not get discouraged. 

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

Even when I am working, I am still having fun and enjoying myself. Thus, I never mind how many hours I am working. This is often the case with entrepreneurs who are passionate about their work.  They work a lot, but they really enjoy it.  I also do not to sleep more than four or five hours each night. 

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?

To be a successful leader, you need to have a vision.  You should take responsibility for any success, but also any failures.  Be sure to learn from any mistakes that you make along the way, so that you can avoid the same pitfall next time. 

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

Sometimes it can be very hard to convince people about the value of a business project or a business venture.  People can be very conservative in the way they do things or handle their investments.  Some people are not open to new ideas.  When you come up with a new solution and try to show them it will be efficient, people may be very reluctant to do business with you. It can be quite difficult to convince people when you have an idea that is innovative. 

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

The advice I have never forgotten was to be persist and to educate myself because knowledge leads to freedom. Learning a new skill or piece of information allows people to think of their own solution, therefore stepping out of any innovational standstills.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?

I love to meet interesting people and see historical locations. Thus, the advice I would give is to always educate yourself and travel the world if you have the opportunity.  You may even find your next inspiration along the way. By exploring the world, you may come across a long-forgotten solution to a persisting issue or find motivation to better the world by seeing how beautiful it can be.

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

In the next five years I expect that our company will be changing the world positively and making the world a better place. Our mission as a company is to improve the life of all those that we have dealings with, whether it be employees, investors, or citizens of the cities we build.