Towards our mission of democratizing inspiration, it is our pleasure to share the leadership journey of TED Resident Paul Tasner. After working continuously for other people for 40 years, he got fired when he was 64 and started-up at 66, pairing his idea for a business with his experience and passion. He is the co-founder and CEO of PulpWorks, Inc., designers and manufacturers of biodegradable packaging for consumer goods.
Network Capital caught up with Paul. Take a look.
What do you do? What drives you? What is your vision?
I love finding sustainable packaging solutions that replace unnecessary plastic packaging. That’s the core, the mission of our business, PulpWorks.
I’m driven to see large companies turn away from unnecessary plastic packaging – even if they don’t turn toward us. So long as they make a sustainable choice. Large, public companies are very slow to embrace a greener future. It’s simply the nature of the beast, I imagine. It’s frustrating and disappointing, but that’s the reality, I’m afraid.
My vision is an end to unnecessary plastic packaging. The Holy Grail might be the end of the plastic water bottle.
If you were to reflect upon your career, what would be some of the most defining moments that have shaped your journey?
Ha, I’d say being fired from my last position was the defining moment if I look at the arc of my entire career. It was only after being fired that I decided – after a lifetime of corporate employment – to launch my very own venture. It took 40 years to make that leap, but it happened and I couldn’t be more satisfied.
Who are your mentors?
Sadly, I had no well-defined mentors. I’m a good observer, and I believe that I’ve learned bits and pieces from many good people over the course of my career. I’ve also learned a great deal about things that one shouldn’t do from, similarly, by watching people that I did not admire.
If you were to give your 18 year old self some advice, what would it be? Will the advice be different to your 30 year old self? If yes, what?
Frankly, despite whatever errors I may have made at 18 or at 30 years of age, I believe that I learned something from those mistakes, and the quality of my life thereafter was improved by that learning. Said another way, I have no regrets. The good, the bad – they all served a purpose and helped me to be a better person today.
What is the next big personal/professional ambition/target for you?
My TED Talk was apparently an inspiration to many people like me – that is, first time entrepreneurs as senior citizens. I would like to continue to speak out on issues of entrepreneurism and ageism.
What advice would you like to give to students and young professionals?
Recognize that there is much to learn from older colleagues.