1. What age do you feel right now and why?
I feel positive 35, it is a good age. Honestly, I am 52, and the 35 seems to be the best decade.
2. Which book are you reading now?
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari who wrote Sapiens. It is about when the mankind try to pretend to be God and invents plastic surgery, artificial intelligence, to fight against age thus mortality.
3. What are your top 3 favourite books and why?
The man who planted trees by Jean Giono. Very short book of a shepherd who planted one tree every single day and at the end of his life he has a full forest. I think this is a beautiful story about what one man can do by himself without any outside help, just by perseverance and discipline using what nature can do, and can change the landscape in one life. The War Memoires of Churchill, I like the story and the man. I like the multiplicity of the challenges and the fact that you shouldn’t be overwound by the apparent might of the enemy, and the enemy could be anywhere or anything. Roman Gary, A European Education. He is a French writer, pilot and diplomate with an interesting life. The book is simply a beautiful story.
4. What is your definition of elegance?
As a man I will picture Mastroianni with a Kashmir suit and a tie. He could also be Lino Ventura who was the same type of person.
5. What are you the most passionate about?
6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I would go to Provence. It is a perfect balance, not only beauty and weather, but brings me the perfect life balance.
7. If you could only keep 3 possessions, what would they be?
A pen, some papers and my credit cards.
8. What is your philosophy towards your work, or role, or life?
My first philosophy is that you don’t have private and professional life, you have only one life. So, you can’t say you succeed in one and fail in the other. Therefore, I believe in Spinoza the definition of Joy. Because Joy is something accessible, easier than happiness, you can build it, even to work on it to reach it many time a day.
9. What do you worry about, and why?
I am worried about the wellbeing of my love ones because I am impotent. Impotent in the Latin way of if, because you can’t protect them, in fact you can try to encourage, cherry them but you can’t be with them every time. So therefore, you are not capable to protect them and this is obsessing feeling for me.
10. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
I have names of people you don’t know so no need to mention them, but those people manage to go through age, and manage to be happy with what they have. I think of one right now, who is 79 years old now and started last year a new business. And he is enjoying life despite of all the troubles that everybody goes through, so I am inspired because I would like to age like that.
11. What was one of your most crucial moments in life?
I think of one which is when I started my company in 91, but then there more moments as well which were crucial like the birth of my children or when I went to South Korea for the Army, when I enter Science Po University and more. They were all breaking points for me and I cherry them.
12. If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?
This is a thought question and I have million answers… so if I try to narrow and because we are here now, would have loved to see Mozart composing something here at Pachtuv Palac on the first floor. He was here, that’s really something…
13. What are the 3 things you need, to be successful in your job, or role?
The first thing I need is to be joyfull, I need to be in a good mood. Then to be surrounded by smart people/team and the third one is the conviction that what I am doing is the right thing.
14. Is there a skill you would like to learn and why?
One of the skills I would really like to learn is to be able to conduct a philharmonic orchestra and read the 9 lines at once. This must be one of the most exiting feeling to have to conduct an orchestra and to have this simultaneous 9 conductions of this 9 parts and the creation of one sound out of it.
15. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
I have few good ones. One is ‘if you are lucky with a little luck you will miss this deal’…. meaning there are a lot of others.
16. What does a perfect day look like to you?
To wake up with my loved ones, it is a sunny day. I am inspired by something to do, to go to get it done, then a fantastic meal with my family, friends, with the feeling you have achieve something: a day ‘enjoy and achieve’.
17. What cheers you up?
A hug from my kids.
18. How do you define success and how do you measure it?
It goes with the previous question, success is when you have a perfect day. This is my point with Spinoza: Enjoy! Success is to reach joy out of your day. I measure it with emotion in my view, with the feeling you have achieved something. That you love others and they love you too, and you have really enjoyed the day. And this is not only about achievement, because achievement in our business sense is limitative.
19. What part of your job would people find most surprising?
I am not sure, I don’t do anything surprising… Maybe that I start to work every day at 5h30.
20. What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired?
I read. I read anything. I have a pile of books by my bed, which is my permanent challenge… to read them all!
21. In which order (most important 1st) would you classify these 4 A-words: Accuracy, Acceptance, Achievement and Appreciation
1 Accuracy because it is fundamental as it is when you ask what time it is, it has to be an accurate answer. Or what you want to do or what you are about to do, so it is very important. 2 Appreciation because you have to appreciate your reality then Achievement for the reasons which are obvious, it is nice to achieve something. And 3 Acceptance is my last one because this is the conclusion of the previous 3 ones. After dealing with the 3 previous ones, you have to accept the reality of the situation if you want to move forward.
22. How would you define leadership?
It is probably not only to have a vision but to be able to articulate it and to make it everybody else project. Maybe to have also a strong dose of perseverance, persistence almost to the edge of abnegation.