I spent the last Holiday weekend (May 8th, we’re celebrating the victory of 1945 by not working – yay France!) in South of France. And instead of hitting the beach, I hit the library.
A real, old school, one. Not an iPad in sight, but books. Hundreds of them. I was able to touch them, open them, smell them… and it filled my heart like a Proust madeleine. As I was in the train back to Lyon, my neighbour stopped me upon arrival: “I noticed,” he said, “you are reading La Nuit des Temps (The Ice People). Is it your first time?” Of course not, it probably is the 15th. We stroke a conversation.
Had I been reading the book on my iPad, he would have not known what I was reading. We wouldn’t have talked. I wouldn’t have missed much, but, the more connected I am, the more this quick human exchange with a stranger is the type of interaction I’m craving. So, indeed, yes I would have missed a lot.
In another one of Barjavel’s novel, the world goes nuts with technology until it succumbs to a huge fire. The few survivors are safe until one of them invent the wheel. Let’s hope we never get there, let’s grab a real book instead!
Once upon a time, I had an anger management issue. I took everything personally and felt devastated every single time someone had something negative to say about my work. It hurt. It hurt bad. Oh, I wasn’t beating up anyone but myself, but still my manager at the time felt like I needed help and he advised that I read Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Guess what… the book made me angry.
Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood [Use empathic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you.] was the hardest one for me. I felt misunderstood and I couldn’t fathom the idea of understanding others first.
My manager was a good man. He didn’t give up. He sent me to seek help… and that made me angry. Yep, I’m serious. I remember getting in catfights with the shrink about how I was reacting to things: in a raw, violent and hurtful manner. That was the only way I knew how to react.
Despite my manager’s best tries, my time in the company ended shortly after that. And it took me another few month to wake-up one morning and realize… Duh…
Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
Since then, my life has changed for the better. I’m a much happier person. But I don’t wish to anyone to feel the pain I did. So if I can spark your lightbulb with this post, I’m happy to.
Yesterday I went to the movies.
I saw Avengers – Age of Ultron. I know: not the indie-smart-obscur-but-romantic piece that you would think a French person, woman with that, would want to see to blow some steam. But hey, I had a long, exhausting, week, don’t judge, I also like a good testosterone-filled, super-heroes, story once in a while.
The movie is doing the trick: nothing more or less than the expected: fights, special-effects, more fights, a little bit of romance, did I mention the fights? And, my all time favorite IronMan humour. Plenty. Can’t help it, I’m a total fan of Tony Stark.
But, what really happened, is that I got an illumination: we are all Avengers.
I can see you wondering: “did she fall on her head?” Bear with me for a minute here. Truth is, the best about the Avengers is that while being the best, they’re also the worst…
There is only perfection in imperfection
Take any group of people: your colleagues, your family, or an association you belong to. Imagine that group has a common goal. It might not be to save the world, but it could be to launch a product, to protect the amazonian forest or to organise grand-ma’s 85th birthday party. Now observe. I’m guessing you picture a room packed of well-meaning, loud mouthed, ego-tripping individuals whom spend as much time fighting with each other than they are toward the common goal. Right?
Last week I participated to a strategy meeting for an association that I belong to. And I guarantee, we spent more time disagreeing or questioning the questions that we did actually answering them or moving decisions forward. But beyond all that, we found ourselves working toward the common goal: to make something better.
Together, our imperfections are not what is slowing us down. Together, our imperfections are what is making us unique. The super-heroes of entrepreneurship in a way.
In summary, allow me to quote my “friend” Tony Stark:
I don’t trust a guy without a dark side. Call me old fashioned.
A few weeks ago, MerciAlfred, published a fun infography about French cities. Of course, Lyon was one of them and its description was hilarious. Hilarious because when you live a city, you learn to love its flaws as much as its strengths. When I lived in Philadelphia, I never understood how people from other cities could appreciate It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, as much as someone from Philly could. It’s only REALLY funny if you can laugh about yourself.
Reading this chart, it appears that MerciAlfred had forgotten a slice of the pie, and there are only 90% of Lyon completed… Here are a few suggestion for them to fill the blank:
Lyon according to MerciAlfred
- 10% the capital of gastronomy (no doubt about that)
- 10% the capital of Gaule (history has spoken, we were indeed)
- 10% the capital of quenelle (local delicacy, capital we are!)
- 10% the capital of province (that’s the never-ending fight with Marseille for the place of “second city after Paris”… no comment)
- 10% the capital of printing (not sure why but we have a museum to prove so)
- 10% the capital of movies (the first one was made here after all, call us Lyonlywood!)
- 10% the capital of fishing (?!?!??!??!??!?????!?!)
- 10% the capital of silk (well, living in Croix-Rousse, I know all about that – and we have a museum to prove so as well)
- 10% the capital of Resistance (big history in this department, as well as a museum)
That’s 90%… so what else? Suggestions:
- 10% the capital of museums (if you read the list above you’ll understand)?
- 10% the capital of soccer (French Champions seven times in a row!)?
- 10% the capital of FrenchTech (well, at least we’re part of them…)?
- 10% the capital of music festivals (hello Nuits Sonores, Nuits de Fourvières,… shall I go on?)
- 10% the capital of swing (not the dance, nor the music… nope… you didn’t know that did you?)
Which one do you prefer?
Once in a while, I like to give a little client shout out…
Last summer I was contacted by Alpro, a Belgium company with a dream: to distribute their plant-based products in France’s mass-market. But not anywhere, they didn’t want those products to go in the organic aisle, they wanted them in the dairy aisle. Knowing a little how hard mass-market buyers can be and how strict the rules are, I was not betting on their success.
Little did I know… With the help of an excellent distributor, it took some time but they got their products where they wanted them. And we were able to start animating the French community with delicious plant-based recipes, and other inspirational stories to better our diet.
What I admire about this client: they know what they want and they go for it. They believe in their dreams, they show tenacity and strength but they never push too hard. So when I read on their website: “Alpro is a company with a vision; a vision of a world where more of what we eat comes directly from plants – planet friendly, sustainable and healthy.”, it gives me hope for a better world, and I’m very glad to play a little part in that.