Identity

Need a diploma?

Need a diploma?

I drafted my first official diploma a few weeks ago.  

I took a piece of white paper out of the closet, got out my favorite fountain pen and chose a canary yellow marker for the “official stamp” that I drew above my signature. 

I spent some time on that stamp. I really wanted it to look like foil. The kind glued to passports and birth certificates that screams THIS IS OFFICIAL BUSINESS!

No, I haven’t started a side hustle as a notary public or an administrative assistant. 

I just decided right there in my office that my client deserved an official something to move ahead despite her fears. 

You see, French culture believes in certificates. In official stamps. In procedure. 

If something comes easily, that means you’ve done it wrong, cheated your way to the top, gotten a free ride, missed an essential piece of knowledge along the way.

It’s got to be painful to be worthwhile.

And that goes for pretty much everything— from getting into a top-notch business school and opening a bank account to returning a T-shirt at Monoprix. 

Anne-Sophie Roquette finds her "pelote de laine" at L'Atelier13

Anne-Sophie Roquette finds her "pelote de laine" at L'Atelier13

Pelote de laine


It means “ball of yarn” in French.


And it's crazy how often my clients use that expression in our sessions. 


Not because they’re knitters, or obsessed with sweaters, or particularly manual. 


But because unraveling their web of fears and desires feels a lot like untangling a jumbled ball of yarn. 

You know what I mean, right? When you're searching desperately for that little thread at the beginning of the spool so that those tight intersections can start opening up and letting loose?


And when your fingers finally it everything starts to settled down —your shoulders relax, your eyes soften, your breath calms down. The relief and satisfaction is huge. At last, you can start getting on with your stuff!

I'm fascinated by the “pelote de laine” stories of everyday women who figure out how to loosen up their tangled web of interests and doubts and confidently put their ideas into action. 


That's why I’d love to introduce you to Anne-Sophie Roquette, founder of the French fashion and accessories brand L’Atelier13, who found her career calling by listening to what her fingers were telling her as they worked through a real “pelote de laine.” 


Read my interview with this super inspiring women who went from corporate life to entrepreneurialism while raising three small kids. 

Tools in Your Pockets

Tools in Your Pockets

Pockets. They’re designed to keep useful tools close by. Against the body. Like an appendage. So that when you need to jot something down. Remember a task. Fix something. Hold something for later. You don’t have to scramble around like a basket case trying to find it. 

Or rely on someone else for help. 

In short: they help you be better at being you.

Up until the French revolution women had large pockets tucked under their voluminous skirts that were large enough to hold books, mending materials, writing devices, and even lunch. 

But as fashion became more streamlined, women’s pockets moved off the body and into handbags. 

More distant. Easier to misplace. Or have stolen. Making essential tools harder to find and more difficult to access in need. 

Pockets speak to this question of preparedness, and your ability to move in public and to be confident. It’s really difficult to get around if you don’t have what you need, and it’s about, I think it’s about mobility and movement in public,” says Hannah Carlson, a lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design who was interviewed about the politics of pockets in the awesome podcast, Articles of Interest.

So what do pockets have do you with you?

Introducing the wonderful world of Chez Cameil and the woman who built it

Introducing the wonderful world of Chez Cameil and the woman who built it

Following your gut. Listening to your dreams. Building your fantasy business. It’s wayyyy easier said than done.


You could be the most creative and focused person on the planet but when self-doubt, fear and insecurity pop up those dreams will scatter away to some safe little corner of your mind, or deep down on a to-do list that you’re sure to forget. 

That’s why I’m totally fascinated by people who find the clarity and confidence to follow through with their dreams, even when it scares the hell out of them…

Which is why I’d love to introduce to my friend Cameil Kaundart.

I met Cameil years ago while I was working for Yelp. She was running around the kitchen with a floral headscarf and a couple of trays of American cookies, testing recipes weeks before the launch of my friend Marc’s cafe, Bob’s Bake Shop. She greeted me with such an insanely warm vibe that I loved her immediately. 

Fast forward to today.

I’m officially the luckiest coach in Paris because I get to see Cameil (and her cookies) three days a week at the cozy new space she launched this Fall. Located in central Paris, Chez Cameil is a cheerful, colorful loft where people come for healthy food, yoga classes, lectures, events and other well-being services, like coaching and hypnosis. It’s where I see my clients three days a week and I absolutely love it!

But Chez Cameil was lodged in Cameil’s head for years as a “maybe-one-day-I’ll-finally-get-it-together-to-make-this-happen” kind of dream. 

I had Cameil on the phone this summer the day she had to tell the landlord whether she was going to take the space. It was not a light decision to make for loads of reasons that I’m sure you can relate to (self doubt, money, and the huge responsibility that come with following through) but on top of that she was also just separating from her French husband and reconstructing her identity as a single American on French soil. 

I so, so admire her for finding the clarity and courage to just go for it! So I’d thought I’d share her story with a little Q&A with her below about how she made it all happened. Hope you find Cameil as inspiring and fascinating as I do!

Creepy Stroller Stage Prop

Creepy Stroller Stage Prop

The red-headed drag queen with the never-ending legs, gold glitter eyeshadow and pointy stilettos kept appearing on stage with a khaki-colored baby stroller from the 50s. 


Just like that creepy Rosemary’s Baby stroller with the devil’s baby inside. 


What the hell was that stroller doing there all of the time? 


Were the songs all about babies? Collateral from previous relationships? Reflections on responsibility and independence? The pursuit of liberty? Growth and transformation?


I had no idea. 


All of the songs performed that night were by an old-school French composer named Jean-Jacques Goldman that none of us American expats in my entourage had ever heard of. (side note: a friend chose the campy drag show as a fun offbeat activity for a birthday celebration, and it was a BLAST!). 


When the stroller appeared on stage for the third time, my friend Ajiri leaned over and whispered the exact question that was running through my mind for the last 45 minutes: “What’s the deal with the stroller?”

Using Your Full Frame

Using Your Full Frame

Adults are amazing at respecting limits that don’t really exist. 

 

And kids are amazing at disrespecting limits that do really exist. 

 

Cries, tantrums, arguments, flattery, debate, negotiation. There’s no shame to their game. 

 

They’ll use whatever they’ve got to see how a limit can be toppled, overturned and redesigned. 

 

As we get older, though, and move along in life we adapt to the limits that the world throws back at us. 

 

Conditioning, rules, beliefs — all of these boundaries become a part of the way we perceive the world and operate within it. 

 

But as our habits and expectations become more and more entrenched, we start seeing limits where they don’t exist, eventually boxing ourselves into tighter and tighter spaces. 

 

The truth, though, is that what’s not explicitly forbidden, is technically allowed. 

When Ideas Get Under Your Skin

When Ideas Get Under Your Skin

I had a very intimidating social studies teacher in High School named Mr Savage. 


He would walk into the classroom, silently go up to the blackboard, scribble a provocative open question, like “What is democracy?” in his chicken-scratch handwriting and then stare back at the class with his beady little eyes. (can you tell how much of a fan I was??)


He’d smile slyly with pinched lips revealing a little scar alongside his mouth. Then he’d gesture to the class to let the debate begin. 


I dreaded that moment. I was a shy and insecure adolescent and that kind of intellectual dogfighting made me shrink even further into my shell. 


Mr Savage didn’t give homework, but he did assign two big writing projects per year that were famously tough. For one project we had to propose our ideal presidential candidate and then argue and defend why we thought he or she should win.