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Words of Wisdom | Tenacity

Words of Wisdom | Tenacity

The hardest step is not necessarily the one we think. What was the hardest step in your entrepreneurial journey?

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.
–Amelia Earhart

Yes, deciding that time has come, we are ready to stop being afraid, and we can jump into a new world, the entrepreneurial world. That decision is the hardest one to make. No more safety net but well assessed risks, and boundaries as to when to stop. In between, it’s nothing more than tenacity.

Tenacity facing your well-intended entourage who’s starting to believe you have lost your mind. Tenacity facing banker, clients, vendors… Tenacity facing your loved ones whom might need to be the ones showing support for a while. And tenacity facing your parents whom suddenly realize that you have not chosen the easiest path, and, by definition, they’re parents after all, will worry.

Whom did you have to be tenacious with when you started your entrepreneurial journey? Care to share some stories?


The business of being a woman – Emma Berger

Because there are so many wonderful women entrepreneur… I’m having a blast introducing them to you and it warms my heart to meet more and more of them every month. This month, our guest was introduced to us by Charlotte. Meet Emma Berger.


Emma Berger and Mathilde Sothier

Who is Emma

The brand cae was born when Emma Berger and Mathilde Sothier met, during their fashion design studies. For three years, their dream to work on a common project lived strong and one of their last school project turned out to be the perfect opportunity. At that time, they work on the theme of industrial friche and decide to reinvent the blue work overall by declining it under all possibles forms. October 2013, school is finished, cae is launched.

Emma means business

What does being a business owner mean to you and why did you become an entrepreneur in the first place?
For me, being an entrepreneur is a personal commitment in many different areas: to put every ounce and fibre of your being into what your doing, to make decisions, to collaborate, but especially to share, while being able to save a little time to live those simple moments, to stay open to encounters and dig into arts…
For Mathilde and myself, the desire of entrepreneurship came naturally when the project matured in our heads and on paper. We were never scared, we launched and it imposed upon us, that’s it.

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
Our various internships, during our studies played a decisive role in our collaboration: they gave us trust. Added to that meeting incredible entrepreneurs, like Mongi Guibane, a designer from Lyon gave us a lot of support.

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
We learned how to communicate among ourselves and not to forget to be interested in others domains to enrich our project. Not to move forward with our head down but with our head up and our eyes, ears and heart open.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Our biggest professional victory so far is winning the competition “Fashion Talents”. But we do not plan to stop there!!!

What is the Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
Number one objective: to succeed with our first Who’s Next (ready-to-wear trade-show in Paris) in January in order to develop our brand in multibrands shops both in France and in Europe.

Interview by Charlotte Fayat.


Effectuation | The Pilot in the Plane Principle

After picking up where I had left it, last month, with the Lemonade Principle, it is now time to close this series with the fifth and last effectuation principle: The Pilot in the Plane. I don’t know anything more rewarding than living your life in the pilot seat. No one deserves to be a passenger, a second-role, in their own story. And it is the same with business. Entrepreneur shouldn’t have to look at an existing market and wonder what second role they can play in it. Not when they have an opportunity to create their own market.

The Pilot in the Plane Principle

PlaneBy focusing on activities within their control, expert entrepreneurs know their actions will result in the desired outcomes. An effectual worldview is rooted in the belief that the future is neither found nor predicted, but rather made.

Looking back at 2012, arriving in France, where digital marketing was only starting to become a thing, I could have called it a rising trend, jumped on the social media bandwagon and become yet another Community Manager.

But when I looked at what I had in hand, and when I opened up to opportunities, I created a service that is so unique there is not even a name for it. Which becomes a problem when people ask what I do…

I thought teaching people how to fish would be more effective than feeding them ; that the people I wanted to work with in the future were people educated on brand content, 2.0. and content marketing so I created my own breed of service. Something so unique that there is not even a name for it.

“Is it a bird? Is it a plane?”

But, back to effectuation…

There are two ways to look at a market:

The classic way:
By accepting that established market forces will cause the future unfold.

The effectual way:
By assuming that the future cannot be predicted, but entrepreneurs can control some of the factors which determine the future.

The story to prove it

Arguably the most influential fashion designer of all time, Coco Chanel revolutionized the way women wore clothes and paved a new way for the fashion brand, capitalising on the changing times she was living in and her status as a fashion icon. Had she accepted that the fashion industry was only a question of trends and established forces, we wouldn’t enjoy today some of Chanel staples:

  • Pants for women
  • Sun tan
  • Jersey
  • Branded fragrances
  • Costume jewelry
  • The Little Black Dress
  • The Chanel suit

The business of being a woman – Valérie Touraine

12 women entrepreneurs whom I admire and enjoy working with or alongside.

Valérie Touraine

Who is Valérie

Valérie Touraine is the founder of Degust&Co, a new concept of funny and out-of-the-ordinary tasting experiences!
After graduating from an engineering school, a great deal of volunteering activities, and over two years of experience as Business Developer, Valérie felt like it was time to venture into creating Degust&Co, and trained for 6-month at EM Lyon to acquire knowledge and tools on entrepreneurship.

Valérie means business

What does being a business owner mean to you and why did you become an entrepreneur in the first place?
Creating a startup is a first but major step before actually becoming a business owner. Becoming an entrepreneur was for me the opportunity to put my ideas, vision and ambition into practice. For Degust&Co it was particularly about creating moments of joy and sharing, and seeing people’s true smiles in these times of crisis and gloom.
Moreover, being an entrepreneur and a business owner means sharing a vision within the company that will empower employees and their creativeness which will directly impacts the success of the business.

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
My last employer! The passion and dynamism he put in his job and his search for performance inspired me and raised my curiosity and interest for entrepreneurship.

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
It’s more a statement that I heard several times and that I truly believe in: a business is only a business if it has clients!
Clients are important from the beginning, when you build your offer but they’re also a major driver for continuous innovation and value creation. Listening to your clients is the best and only way to make the right strategic decisions. And above it all, a satisfied client generally becomes your best ambassador!

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
My greatest professional accomplishment to date was to turn my project into a reality; by transforming a meeting room whiteboard drawing into a real start up. But things didn’t stop here, once the firsts goals were achieved, they became the start point to new challenges and objectives!

What is the Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
My Number One Business Goal is to test and validate our business model in Lyon in order to replicate it and scale it up in other French cities. And maybe later worldwide! Beyond this year and this specific goal, my personal objective is to turn the startup, Degust&Co, into a great company.

Interview by Charlotte Fayat


Words of Wisdom | Excuses

Words of Wisdom | Excuses

New instalment in the Words of Wisdom series. What’s your recipe to success?

I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.
–Florence Nightingale

Tough cookie? Maybe. Definitely a difficult thing to wing when you’re working for a French company where everything is about being diplomatic, polite and mostly not… honest.

Turns out, I have been a wild card since I started my career 20 years ago. And a bit like Florence Nightingale, I never gave and barely took any excuses. This is probably why, over 6 years ago, I walked out of corporate life and into entrepreneurship. I consider this my own personal success. What is yours?


Effectuation | The Lemonade Principle

It has been a while since my last post on effectuation, back in February when I introduced you to the Crazy Quilt Principle. I could pretend that crazy is what my life has been… but I’ll be honest, it was only a glitch in my editorial calendar, and the subject dropped off the list. Too bad, especially since the fourth principle is one of my favorite.

When I lived in the U.S., one motto that particularly resonated with me was:

When life gives you lemon, make lemonade.

Which I quickly turned into:

When life gives you lemon, make limoncello.

Must be the Italian genes. As for effectuation…

The Lemonade Principle

lemonsExpert entrepreneurs invite the surprise factor. Instead of making “what-if” scenarios to deal with worst-case scenarios, they interpret “bad” news and surprises as potential clues to create new markets.

I created my first business on a Lemonade… My contract was ending with the company I worked for, and I had management issues with the new C.E.O. We agreed to call it quit. I could have freaked out since my work visa was depending on me being employed by this company (okay, I did freak out a little bit, alright, alright, a lot…)

However, this is when I realized I was now free to jump out of the nest and start something of my own. I was in the perfect country for that, after all. Life (and the U.S. immigration) gave me a big bunch of lemons. I made Raison d’Etre.

Today, I couldn’t be more grateful to the lemons life threw at me over the years. They allowed me to be where and who I am.

There are two ways to react to a lemon shower:

The classic way:
By trying to minimize the probability of unexpected outcomes.

The effectual way:
By embracing surprises that arise from uncertain situations, remaining flexible rather than tethered to existing goals.

The story to prove it

It is certainly not one of Coco’s most glorious moment (and also certainly not a form of approval on my part for the reasons behind the business deal, simply stating facts here), but World War II turned out to be lucrative time for Gabrielle Chanel in her battle against the Wertheimers to grab back the ownership of  No. 5.

“Ultimately, the Wertheimers and Chanel came to a mutual accommodation, renegotiating the original 1924 contract. On 17 May 1947, Chanel received wartime profits from the sale of Chanel No. 5, in an amount equivalent to some nine million dollars in twenty-first century valuation. Further, her future share would be two percent of all Chanel No. 5 sales worldwide. The financial benefit to her would be enormous. Her earnings would be in the vicinity of twenty-five million dollars a year, making her at the time one of the richest women in the world. In addition, Pierre Wertheimer agreed to an unusual stipulation proposed by Chanel herself. Wertheimer agreed to pay all of Chanel’s living expenses—from the trivial to the large — for the rest of her life.”

Source: Wikipedia