As Chairman, Poul is passionate about balanceincluding the Earth's

The boiled egg is perfectly soft, his smile warm, and the view from the dining table in Assens has remained unchanged for decades—overlooking Lillebælt, Bågø, and the landmarks. Yet, Poul Bertelsen always sees something new. It's in his nature. In fact, his curiosity and courage shine through, especially when it comes to finding balance.

Poul is the son of a farmer, a former elite athlete, now a yogi, forest owner, CEO, investor, and active in various boards, including as Chairman of Our Units. He has an impressive business career, but he rarely boasts about it. Instead, Poul travels far and wide, looking inward and forward on Earth Day.

The balance between connectedness and improvements

We start our journey in Africa, where 'Ubuntu' comes from. Directly translated, it means "I am because we are," For Poul, it signifies something essential in being human and doing business: 

"When we come together for something, we should help each other in what we do. Lift each other up and support one another. We are not done until everyone's task is completed."

This kind of humanity and empathy applies both in daily workplace interactions and concerning the changes we create in the world. We must understand that what we impact also affects ourselves. Everything is interconnected.

"The common good is your own good," Poul says slowly and definitely, so we understand that we do not fully comprehend the depth of these words. Or, more accurately, the consequences of them when we act as humans and do business. As Poul's gaze wanders over the waves and returns to the dining table, he states firmly, "It's about something as old-fashioned as love." 

The world needs more 'Ubuntu'.


The balance between love and economics

As Poul elaborates on love, it suddenly sounds like a regenerative vision. His message is that when we nourish love towards each other, it is implicit that we do not want to harm anything for others—including future generations and our planet.

When our love for how everything is interconnected permeates us, we will automatically take care of it all, including the economy: "We need to make money because, without it, we cannot create the change we desire."

With his years of experience in business, Poul's advice on investments is simple yet effective: "If you want to make quick money, invest in stocks. Invest in people to make long-term improvements."

Money is needed to create positive changes—if we go bankrupt in the attempt, we're not making the world a better place, are we?


The balance between security and freedom

Poul lovingly slices an apple and shares it. It reminds him of the breaks he had on the farm as a child, helping his father with the farming. His smile grows warmer; his childhood has given him a sense of fundamental safety and perhaps even essential courage:

"I can get scared just like any other person, but I am not controlled by fear. I would rather do something newand you need courage when choosing the path you want to take."

Poul's philosophy of life is to walk out onto the frozen lake until the ice begins to make noise... and then take a step or two further. Boldness must not turn into foolhardiness, but he doesn't believe in rushing to safety as the first and best option:

"The world we want to live in and pass on to others will not be achieved by doing things as usual and staying within the lines. It requires the courage to have an unstable footing for a while.”

The balance between patience and returns

Poul has always chosen paths that lead to change and freedom. He believes that we can only choose which way to take if we are free individuals—and for him, economic freedom includes the opportunity to invest in a better future. But he also knows that transformation can be fraught with danger:

"Just when we think we're ‘both and’, we risk easily becoming ‘neither nor’ as a company. That's why we must keep the long view regarding economic returns."

Therefore, the courage to be patient is essential in Poul's world. He practices patience himself when tending to his forest and ensuring diversity year after year. Or when gradually adding new soil to the plants in his greenhouse, so they don't get too much or too little nutrition and eventually yield the expected returns; Tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes ...

We must dare to be patient, dare to stay with it, dare to wait, dare to believe in it. If this kind of patience didn't exist, there would be no oak trees on Earth.


The balance between landmarks and answers

Just below the view from Poul's dining table lies the jetty that leads out into Lillebælt, where he swims all year round. Out in the deep sea is a large rock hidden beneath the surface, but Poul knows precisely how to find it when he needs a rest during his swim. He uses four landmarks: The "window" between the outer pillars of the jetty, the windows of a red patrician villa to the southeast, the roofs of another villa to the northeast, and the middle of the chimney of a third villa further up on land.

These landmarks work as a philosophy that Poul holds on to and navigates by to maintain his orientation and courage, even in the face of headwinds and long, tough stretches. As he says:

"We may not necessarily know the right answer, but we must be mindful not to correct our course to a degree where we can't maintain it and lose ourselves."

Poul believes that individuals and businesses need landmarks on their journey, and he proudly admits to being a philosophical chairman of the board. This aligns perfectly with Our Units as a philosophical company with a higher purpose beyond selling trousers.

The balance between the path and the pace

When Poul is directly asked whether a green transition is a landmark, he has no doubt about the answer. He sees only one way forward: the path to a regenerative world. It's the pace at which it happens and how it happens that he challenges:

"It's about riding with gentle reins, like when you ride a horse. We will move forward, but not without vulnerability and sensitivity, both the masculine and the feminineand a business that can keep pace."

Poul has no horse but two dogs that need to go outside, and he insists on clearing the table himself while concluding philosophically in his distinct Funen accent:

We need to find those who believe in the same things as us, remember the interconnectedness, love, and patience—and never forget to make some money along the way. Then we will be able to maintain balance together.


The portrait of Poul Bertelsen, Chairman of Our Units, is made concerning Earth Day 2023.

Tags: Planet