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PowerYou at the Core: Our Story

When I was a little kid with a front tooth gap and a booming laugh, my parents always sent me to do errands at the smokehouse on our farm.

My curiosity was endless – as was my energy. 

Running without stopping for a breath in my dirty jeans and worn-out sneakers surrounded by the Austrian countryside. Endless dark-green forests, fresh air, and zapphire-toned rivers. That was and still is my jam.

“HARRRYYY, the truck has arrived! Help us unload the truck and clean the red plastic crates and pallets” my dad usually bellowed from across the yard. No TV afternoons – just a lot of grit.

I was known for my speed, so I got picked for hard chores all the time. Cleaning the truck, unloading boxes, vacuuming the excess sausages that did not get sold on the farmer’s market on Saturday – you name the chore, I was there.

As a little boy, “hands-on and exciting” was truly for me – standing still and reading a book in a corner was never really my thing. I just wanted to figure out how everything worked.

Growing up in the smokehouse

When I jumped off the school bus at 2pm every day, I strolled into my house and threw my school bag into a corner, not looking at it until I had to leave for school the next morning.

Instead, I would sneak into the smokehouse moving like a squirrel at high speed. It was my hidden kingdom.

Think Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory. That’s me – without the sugar and the fancy purple coat. I visualized myself working in an apron slicing pieces, smelling like a fine cut of charcuterie, and preparing food for people all over the world.

I spent endless hours inspecting the trolleys, observing all of the products in every miniature detail – picking up, smelling, and lovingly inspecting everything with my hands. In these moments, time just froze and stood still for me.

I still have this habit to this day – I stick my fork into a delicious piece of steak, analyze the texture, bend my head to the right, and inhale the delicious aroma – I smile and celebrate every bite with appreciation and excitement before they nourish my tastebuds.

It brings me back to my trolley-smokehouse days.

The smokehouse was a dangerous place for a little boy – there were lots of machines and knives lying around.

I was regularly chased away by my dad with his dirty white apron screaming at me “Get outta here!” – his thick, callus-covered right index finger waving in the air.

He had rugged and tough worker’s hands from all the hard physical chores on the farm.

Naturally, I did not listen – I snuck in and stayed for many, many hours, even after dark.

I’ve loved meat since then.

The smokehouse was the playground of my imagination. I had no idea that I had found a golden ticket for me – yes, true gold! – between all those bars and trolleys. A ticket I would discover as a grown man more than 3 decades later.

Finding my ikigai

“Hey, I’m Harry,” I introduced myself in a new classroom again.

I stood with my hands behind my back, looking down at the worn floor, counting the different scratches to keep my mind off the dozens of eyes staring at me.

Am I gonna make some new friends? My mind was racing.

I was forced to change schools all the time. It was the only way to avoid repeatedly failing my grades and I had to sacrifice my friendships for that.

My mom’s heavy depression and drinking took a toll on me as a child. That spark and joy from my wonder years in the smokehouse were long gone, like a candle in the wind – a tiny spark that had lost its capacity to shine brightly.

At this point in my life, one question was always in my head: What am I really good at? Did I have anything good to give?

The answer certainly wasn’t school. What is it then?

I could see my mom locked in her tiny office with tons of paperwork. She often chased me away to focus on work. Her joy slowly but surely drifted away from her spirit and gave me the sinking feeling no child wants to feel: I wasn’t welcome.

I was just too much for her.

One day at school the bell rung for the food break. I lifted up my bag, opened it and peeked inside “Oh no – I forgot my sandwich!”

There was nowhere to buy anything – no school cafeteria – if you didn’t bring your lunch from home, you walked into math class with a rumbling tummy. Period.

It suddenly dawned on me. I felt this surge of joy coming from within. That same feeling I got when I was Willy Wonka of the smokehouse.

Why not create something delicious for my peers from the great ingredients I have access to at home every single day?

Looking back, this is when I stumbled upon my ikigai for the first time – something that I cared about, could be good at, may potentially earn me a living, and could contribute to the world with.

My first venture, my first obsession

My knees are shaking and my armpits are super sweaty leaving a dark stain on my blue sweater. I am standing in front of the headmaster’s polished, mahogany-colored desk. His stern face told the story.

It was a familiar place to be, although this time I wasn’t there because of my behavior. I was there for a completely different reason now.

Before I could say anything, I remembered my mom’s voice saying “you gotta do this all on your own. And you have to pay for the products too. You are not getting a free ride.”

I finally managed to stutter out my request. Would I be allowed to set up my sandwich-selling business to help the other kids at school?

Time stood still as I held my breath. I did not want to miss a beat of his reaction. The headmaster reacted in slow motion. His head moved from left to right with a slight patronizing look on his face.

Then, I realize I’m in my own head – he’s actually nodding, so it’s a YES!

I thank him and promise he won’t be disappointed, all while giving myself a pep talk – let’s go, Harry!

My mission starts and gives me high energy. I set my alarm at 5 am every day – a big deal for a lazy teenager!

I started slicing the fresh, crispy bread rolls with a humongous knife in our freezing cold kitchen every morning before my school bus arrived.

I felt purpose. And, for the first time, I was excited to hop on the school bus.

I was shaking the first time I stood there with a huge smile and my signature front tooth gap beaming.

Before starting, I quickly washed my face with cold water in the bathroom, looked into the mirror and gave myself a pep-talk “You got this, Harry”.

I high-fived myself and walked out with my huge bag full of products right as the familiar school bell started to loudly ring in the long school corridor.

Rrrrring, Rrrrrring Rrrrring…now it’s happening.

Two of my friends were the first to come, then an avalanche of new kids. Everybody was super curious about my huge bag in the middle of the corridor.

I was in awe when I saw the queue starting to build. I was so excited. My peers were placing their orders. I had found my place where I belonged. Finally!

Giving my peers exactly what they needed and seeing their faces light up filled me with pride and gratitude.

I started to obsess about the quality, so I cut each bread roll fresh, 5 minutes before the school bell instead of at home so they were crisp instead of soggy.

Helping has always been in my nature

Fast forward one year.

Philipp, one of the only friends I managed to keep while changing schools, was always dropped off by his parents.

He loved my school venture and was desperate to gain some independence. This meant finding his own transport to go to school.

His parents refused to give him the money. He lived in a villa in the middle of a vineyard, something that looked like a picture from Architectural Digest in Tuscany.

One day, Philipp parked in the driveway of his house. His mom heard the noise of a motor vehicle.

“Where on Earth did you get the money to buy THAT?” she yelled and pointed at the brand-new blue Vespa-style scooter with silver accents and a black leather seat in the middle of their pristine cobblestone driveway.

“Ummm – I borrowed it from Harry.”

His mother immediately drove to our place and smashed the money for the new blue scooter on my dad’s desk. Back then it was a small fortune.

Philipp’s plan had worked. And mine did too. I loved helping my friend.

Rediscovering my why

I never managed to graduate school with the other kids. There was too much turbulence in our house – my household was a difficult one to stay the least.

It all culminated when my father frantically called emergency services after he found my mother unconscious in the bathroom surrounded by empty pill bottles.

She survived, but was never the same. It was like her soul somehow left, leaving me alone.

It’s Murphy’s law from then on. My parents separated after that incident and our farm went bankrupt – 5 generations of family business disappearing into thin air. I saw firsthand how you can lose everything in a minute.

It didn’t matter how much we had done or controlled over the last century.

I picked myself up and got my degree in an evening school. During that time, I looked at my parent’s business leftovers and through careful analysis realized that the only money-making part was selling and purchasing trucks.

The trucks and those red crates that I used to unload as a kid to get some pocket money to buy comic books. I felt excited and hopeful, finding meaning in the pain when I immersed myself in the world of science fiction.

So, I set up a small flat which became my office and created a meat trading business out of the pieces and leftovers from my family’s legacy.

My mom’s tough “you’re not getting a free ride” lesson paid off.

I rolled up my sleeves and started to get going with nothing but a laptop and a pocket full of dreams at age 21. I started to cold call and expand internationally when the local meat market broke down.

After 25 years, we are going strong today – feeding 5000 people a day. I can see the smile on their faces like when the kids were standing in line to buy my fresh-cut bread rolls with slices of prosciutto from my parent’s farm.

And yes – I am still obsessed with quality. I used to cut the bread rolls right before my friends started to queue up, and that has been one of my core principles since then.

Food brings people together and connects us. It’s a vital part of our community. And we do belong. All of us. And you too. That’s what we believe in at PowerYou.

PowerYou – Stefan’s great gift

Fast forward 20 years. 

I am wrapped in a white towel looking at the mountain skyline of the Alps, spending alone time to recover from the most recent tragedy. 

The Alps are forever connected to my back-country skiing friend Stefan. 

Stefan was battling with severe depression and lost his battle a couple of weeks prior to my trip. Unlike my mother, he could not be saved. 

It broke me. The mixture of guilt and grief is utterly all-consuming. 

I will never forget the cold, gray spring morning we got the call and learned that Stefan had passed. I was sitting at the breakfast table with a coffee mug in my hands and could barely process the news. The finality of it hits you like a wrecking ball and you learn to live with the pain. 

I remember the scene below as if it was yesterday. We were at the top of the world, celebrating life and everything that is good.

Backcountry skiing was our passion. When we walked up the snowy mountains together I listened to the pain he was experiencing without ever realizing how severe it had gotten. 

Now, sitting in the hot room and looking at the mountain line, I could see us there on the top, still together in spirit. 

My mind goes blank at that moment and I tell myself: I want to create something passionate in his memory. 

Something for all the Stefans out there who are struggling with their mental health. I want them to know that there is a way out. 

A picture emerges in my mind as I take in the snowy scenes of the forest around me. I put my head down and watch the sweat drops running down my ankles. 

I can see it clearly now – the vision, the dream. I remembered that mental health specialists recommend a protein-heavy diet for people with severe depression. 

Protein? As in, meat protein? That’s right up my alley. 

Eating right supports your brain chemistry. You are what you eat. Literally. 

I see the picture clearer and clearer. Clean and no sugar – no cheating to make it more tasty. Just the best for everybody out there. 

For all the Stefans.

For physical and mental well-being

Suddenly, I got it. 

I found a way to help get Stefans out of their pain. I rejoice, laughing out loud and getting a weird side-eye from the people sitting next to me. 

I imagine Stefan sitting in the hot steam room next to me, handing me a gift. In that moment, the pain from losing him to suicide becomes the fuel for my higher passion. 

My golden smokehouse past collided with my present in order to forge the future. Life started making more sense from this moment onwards. 

And with all this, the idea behind PowerYou was born. 

Getting to this conclusion was only part of the journey though. Many doors shut in front of me before anything materialized. 

I drove from factory to factory begging people to produce my invention, with Stefan cheering me on in the back of my mind and never giving up. He fueled my perseverance. 

To this day, that smell and taste transport me right back home to my dirty jeans with pockets full of adventure. 

That’s PowerYou, invented by Yours Truly for everyone.

I made PowerYou to help you get the best of you. Food is my love language and I want to share it with you, my friends. I want you to enjoy healthy food that supports overall well-being. I wanna see your face light up and feel like YOU belong too. 

I always wished I could find an honest, nutrient-dense snack packed with natural protein whenever I went skiing. Who knows, maybe that would have made a difference to Stefan.

I’d love to hear about the dreams you had as a kid. And whatever your mission in life, I am here to cheer you on along the way, one stick at a time.

So eat and get fit my friend, we’re on your corner cheering you on.

Powerful greetings from Vienna,

Harry W