How to live a meaningful life ? – Sophie Chiche
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– [David] Hello, achievers. Today, I am with a new amazing woman. She's the Renaissance Entrepreneurs' Renaissance Woman. You will know about her, because she's doing a lot of things. I will ask her about education, entrepreneurship, so follow this in value. How are you?
– [Sophie] I'm well. Thank you.
– Because you are doing a lot of things, I would like to let you introduce yourself.
– Wonderful. I'm Sophie. I'm actually French.
– But I was born in Paris always feeling like it was a bit of an accident that I was in Paris. My brother was going to school in the United States in Stanford, and I went to visit him and I fell in love. I literally was, “This is it. I want to be here.” I was 17 years old.
– Oh, the same age of me.
– Seventeen years old, and I bought a pair of Nike shoes which you couldn't find in Paris. You couldn't find them there, because it was a few years before your time [inaudible 00:01:11].
– I bought a pair of Nike, and I made the promise that I would wear my shoes when I was coming back to live here. So my shoes were in my closet in Paris, and I would never wear them. I would just look at them and it was kind of like my battery of, “I will wear them and I will move to the United States.”
– A kind of vision.
– Kind of a vision, and then Nike shoes, of course, “Just Do It”, so it was a perfect little symbolic. It was a good symbolic for my life, because I'm very much a just do it type of person.
– Yeah. Can you share what you are doing today, [some of the things]?
– Okay. Well, this very moment I'm talking to you, I actually today run a company called Shape House, which are spas. There's one on Larchmont, here in Los Angeles, and there's one in Santa [[00:02:00]] Monica, and we have a plan to open the next 15 in the California area, and then go up north and then all the way to New York, and probably in Paris as well.
– The purpose of it is to help people sweat. So you lay in these beds, and while you are sweating you watch TV. A lot of people watch TED Talks, make it kind of an interesting experience on an intellectual side as well. But while people are there, they sweat for an hour and they come out. They come out literally like they took a shower, like so much sweat. Sweating is a very important symbolic, because sweating is removing toxins from the body. But it's also removing the noise from inside of you. Like a lot of people want to do something and they don't do it, because their teacher said they couldn't do it, or their mother said they weren't good writers, or something happened when they were younger that someone said “no.”
– You can't do that.
– “You cannot do that.” [inaudible 00:02:53], “Who was that? Who said that? Are they right?”
– Did you hear that in the past?
– Yes. I come from a very critical… I mean, obviously, I was born in Paris. I'm sure you're familiar with the traditional way of raising children is to be very critical, [is] my experience.
– Actually, they say that even in the United States, a child gets told 120 negative things for about 5 positive.
– So, “Don't do this. Don't say that. Don't go here. Don't eat that. Don't feel that,” all day long for five that maybe are, “Oh, that was good.” People just don't emphasize the positive in children. So I was raised in that culture.
– Yeah. It [decreases] self-esteem.
– It does. I mean, it makes you think that there's things you can do. It's like, if I want to do them, there's probably a reason. It's coming from somewhere. It's coming from my inspiration. For instance, I don't want to be a doctor. That's not my thing. But someone else, that's his thing. But it's like, if I wanted to be a doctor, I could be a doctor. It's like there's something bad… We all have different passions and different interests in life, and if we have the courage to follow them, often we find that we're good [[00:04:00]] at them. I like that.
– So you were in Paris and you started to coming… In France, you have this business to help people to [view] their spirit and body at the same time.
– According to you, why is it successful?
– I think it's successful because it actually helps people. It really does. I think, I naturally really care. So I created a company that I care about my staff, my staff cares about my clients, my clients cares back about the staff, they care about me. There's kind of an exchange that I often have exchanges with my clients that are a little bit surreal. It's like I seem to care about them so much, and somehow they respond by caring so much about us and the company. So everything is very successful because it's coming from a genuine place of helping people, and wanting to help each other. So it's the first time in my years of being an entrepreneur. I've never actually run a company that's breaking water with a store, with a place.
– I've always done businesses online, and I've done a lot of other things, dealt with a lot of staff and a lot of people. We have about 150 people today that come every day. So we have two locations. When we have 20 locations, we'll have thousands of people coming every day. So that's a lot of energy and stories, and people come in with a lot of desires. Really, we are a step in their journey of discovering who they are.
– So yes, they come because it makes you lose weight and it makes you look younger, blah, blah, blah. But it also has this quality of bringing you closer to your bones. Literally, physically, you kind of come closer to yourself. So you come out of there and you don't know why, but it's like all of a sudden you have more courage and you have more energy. You don't have the voice that says, “Eh, maybe not.” You have the voice that says, “Well, maybe.”
– “It's possible.”
– “Go.” Yeah.
– I think there is a lot of things like that in Los Angeles. Did you have some criticism [[00:06:00]] before to start this project?
– I've always been criticized with what I do, always, because I'm a Gemini. I'm kind of a person that likes to try new things. I feel fear, but I don't let it stop me. So if I have a strong intuition, I follow it and often it's ahead of its time, like often new ideas happen to be. So I think it affected me more when I was younger. Now, I don't care. It's like, if you criticize me, maybe that was a good idea. Your criticism helps me. If not, I just put it on the side and I keep walking. I really don't let it… My daughter, years ago, had decided to quit school, and one of her friends sent her a letter that was one of the most aggressive, or whatever the word might be, I've ever read as an adult. They were 15 years old, and this friend wrote her this letter that was so, so put down and negative, and aggressive.
– To your daughter?
– Basically telling her that she was an idiot, that quitting school had… Just really very attacking.
– “You can't do that. You will not succeed. You will…”
– “It's never going to happen. You're never going to have a job. You're going to be a homeless idiot.” My daughter was really… It was the first time, and she's been raised in an environment that's very supportive and she had never encountered that. Mastin Kipp, a dear friend of mine who now runs a gorgeous company called The Daily Love, was putting out a blog every day and he was receiving a lot of criticism as well. So I come home and the two of them are eating popcorn. I'm like, “Guys, it's 4:00 in the afternoon. Why are we eating popcorn? What's happening?” Both of them tell me their story, what had happened that day. But Mastin said to [Leia] [sp]… I'll never forget. He said to my daughter, “When you do something that's different and that's new, and that's something that maybe has never been done before, if you were not criticized, that's not big enough. You have to go do something bigger.”
– I love that.
– I saw my daughter, she was [[00:08:00]] like a flower in the dessert, just like coming up [inaudible 00:08:03] and just be like, “Yeah. I am doing something really different, and some people it disturbs them.”
– It is their fears.
– Yes. They try to project their fear onto you, because if you stop what you're doing it's like, “Ah, see? I don't need to move my own boundary.” Because if you move your boundary and they don't, after a while it's like, “Ooh, what's happening?” You leave them behind. So if they force you to stay with them it's like, “All right. Maybe it's not so far.” But if you keep going and keep going, and keep going, it's like you move, you grow, you end up further than where you started.
– I love this subject. I have so many questions in my mind, so I have to choose my questions. So let's continue about your daughter. Why did she decide to quit, to leave the school, to [inaudible 00:08:54] school?
– I don't know that it was so much of a decision. A decision for me implies a [inaudible 00:08:59], and almost calling what she was doing before the wrong thing and it wasn't. It was more she was finding herself less and less interested. She was finding herself mostly working for the grade. Like she saw that when she had a good grade, the teacher was very positive and when she didn't, very negative. So it started to become not so much education, but rather a punishment or reward. So if she got a good grade, “Yay. You're fantastic.” If she didn't, which she never did, she always had really good grades, but she saw that…
– If she…
– If she was to have a bad grade, the kids that were having bad grades were judged for that. I think she was less and less interested. She was calling it… She would come to school and kind of turn off the lights. For the day, she would just turn everything down. She would do what was required of her to get the good grade. But she wasn't turning all the lights up inside of her.
– I was watching her go from this very enthusiastic kid that just really liked to learn [[00:10:00]] and was very excited about everything, and then days and days, and days, I would watch her less and less interested. It was a private school and it was a lot of money to send your kid eight hours a day for something that really was not turning them on and not igniting something interesting in them. So the way it happened was very sweet. I had lunch with a friend of mine who told me about this process called “unschooling”, which is very different than homeschooling. Because homeschooling, you, the parent become…
– Try to replace…
– Yeah. You replace the school. That's exactly it. So instead of being the school that controls the kid, it's now the parent which at that age is no good. You don't want to be the one that brings the authority, because it's an age where they really need to be independent. [inaudible 00:10:43]…
– Just education, [inaudible 00:10:43].
– Yes, exactly. That's exactly why people then and now send their kids to school, because they don't want to deal with that thing that happens at that age. So I certainly did not want to become the one that tells her what she has to do at the very age where I should be the last one to tell her what to do, because she's a teenager. So I came home after this lunch [inaudible 00:11:05] telling me about it, and I was driving up the hill and I was thinking, “If I tell her, she's going to want to do it, and I don't know if it's good for her yet. It's like, I don't know. So this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to drive to the house, and I'm going to open the house and if she says… If she's in the house, for starters, and she says, ‘How was your day?' or anything like that, ‘What did you do for lunch?' or anything that was like her inquiring about my day, I will tell her. But if she doesn't, I will take that as a sign that I should basically shut up.” So I walk in the house and her room is three stories up, and I hear the second I put my key in the door, I'm not even in the house yet, and I hear, “Mom, how was your day?” I was like, “Fine.”
– “I have to say.”
– I had to tell her. So I told her the story of what had happened and I pondered with her the pros and the cons, and if she decides to do it what will that mean, in particular the risk of not being able to go to college, [[00:12:00]] which she really wanted to do. She did all this research on which colleges accept kids that have not gone through the regular channels, and which schools don't. She was really amazing. She did this PowerPoint presentation, which frankly would put to shame a lot of… Anybody that's ever worked for me never did that kind of presentation. It was a 50-page document spelling out what was the people going to criticize her for, and what was the response she was going to give, and what kind of things was she going to study, and…
– …what kind of [inaudible 00:12:29] she was going to… I mean, like a thing. She walked out of that room after three or four hours just like, “Mom, I kind of did some research. This is where I'm at.” I was like, “You could quit school and do nothing, and you'd still be more interesting than [inaudible 00:12:41] human beings I know. So her father was not as in support. There was a lot of the beginning of fear and, “We've never done this, and nobody has ever done this really. Where is that going to go?” I said, “First of all, that's not true. Let's do a little more research, because now that we know about this, you may find that there's a lot more than you thought.” So we did more research and little by little he came along.
– Did you have some fear after?
– I did have some fears. But I would look at her, and I would see that she went from starting to be this disengaged kind of kid to this alive kind of kid, and it's like…
– Yes, and excitement about life and meeting new friends. One other thing that Sir Ken Robinson talks a lot about that I love about schools is that the way that children today are grouped is because they were born on the same month of the same year, pretty much, when we should be sorting people more… Like you and I would never be friends in this theory.
– I'm 45 years old. You're probably half of that.
– Exactly, almost. We would not be friends because we would not have been… We happen to like each other because we're interested in the same things, not because we were born in the same month.
– That's kind of the lowest interesting way of sorting people. So my daughter at 15 was friends with people that were older, people that were younger, but they had something in common [[00:14:00]] and that made them want to be friends. As opposed to, “Oh, your birthday is in June? Me too. Let's [inaudible 00:14:05] in the same school. That's kind of the least interesting way to sort people.
– Wow. Amazing story. I love that. Did you select your own employees or did you train them to be like that?
– That's a really good question. I would say maybe a little bit of both.
– I think I picked people because they have a genuine care for the people. Like people that wanted to be nurses, maybe, or people that something would fall on the floor and they would just run to grab it, as opposed to watch someone else go grab it for them. Something that naturally, they seem to have this DNA of care inside themselves. Then, I foster that, instead of… I think a lot of companies, unconsciously probably, but they kind of suck the soul out of people. They don't invite them to bring the best of themselves.
– How do you do that?
– You're asking really good questions. I used to ride a lot of horses, and I was trained when I was riding horses to… There were two schools of thoughts. One is the horse that does something wrong and you hit him, or the school that the horse does something good and you reward him. Instead of spending too much… So I really liked the school of when someone does something well, you notice it. So every time one of my employees demonstrates something really that's the behavior I like, I'll notice that and I'll acknowledge them for that. If they do the other behavior, not so much. I mean, I may mention, “Maybe that didn't work too well. Maybe we can try a different way.” But I don't put very much energy… Like I don't focus on the mistakes. I focus a lot more, when they do something that's correct, I put a lot of energy and I don't reward them with something, but I just help them notice.
– [So as talk?]
– [[00:16:00]] Yes. Kind of, “Wow. That was really great when you did that. Did you notice how the client really responded?” and, “Oh, yeah. You're right. That was really great.” It helps them be awake to their own effect…
– …that they have on people. Because I think often, I don't know where it comes from. I don't know that we're taught as children to really realize the effect we have on other people. I think there is not enough emphasis put on… Like I remember when I was raising my daughter, when she would say thank you, I had a big vendetta when I was raising her with parents that say to their children, “Say thank you to the gentleman.” Because in my mind, that was not genuine, polite, caring response. It was obedience. It was like, my mother said that I'd better be nice and say thank you, or she's going to look at me like she's disappointed in me. [inaudible 00:16:52]
– Yeah. You don't feel what you are saying.
– You don't feel what you're saying at all. You're just saying what you know you should say so mommy gets off your back. It's like when you see these kids, they're like wee big, they're like two years old, “Say thank you,” and the kid is like, “Thank you,” they don't even know what that means. You know?
– When if you do it the other way around, and every time my kid would do something cool, I'd be like, “Thank you so much for giving that to the gentleman,” or, “Thank you,” to her and she'd be like, “Oh.”
– She's learning to thank people.
– She naturally learned to thank people when it was real. Like the other day I was crossing this kid, and I just walked by them and I don't even know if I did anything and the mother was like, “What do you say?” The kid was like, “Thank you.” I was like, “What did I do?” He's just a little monkey repeating words he doesn't even know what it means.
– Yes. Repeating a rule.
– Yes. He's following the rule, and if he doesn't follow the rule mommy looks really upset. So he learns that he should be doing that thing that doesn't make mommy upset. But then, when he wants to make mommy upset, he knows exactly what to do to make mommy upset.
– Yes. So it's not about the people. It's about mommy.
– It's all about mommy. It's all about [inaudible 00:17:58] mommy, and then the boss, and then [[00:18:00]] the boys, and then the whatever else. Oh, the teacher. It's taking out of the kid its own ability to read his own signal. Like, “Do I feel genuinely moved because this person did something? Yeah, I do. Okay, great. I'll express my gratitude.” But that's coming from a place that's deep and that's real. Not, “Oh, I'm supposed to say thank you if I want more cookies.”
– I love that. I was thinking of something that my mother was doing with me. I wanted to throw a stone, and she just asked me, “Okay. You can do it. What will you feel if you do that?”
– I love that. It's kind of the opposite of what I feel we do with children. Like there's a lot of attention on… Like the kid is not hungry, but it's time to eat and the dinner is served, “Come sit down and eat now,” and the kid is like, “I'm not hungry.” “Well, no. It's time to eat.” “But I'm not hungry.”
– Yes. So you don't learn to the children to listen to…
– You don't teach children to listen to themselves. Same thing with, “Put a sweater on.” “I'm not cold.” “Put a sweater on.” “I'm not cold.” It turns into a fight, because he's bigger and he probably is right, and I'm supposed to do what he says. But I'm really not cold. So I'll forget that I'm not cold, I'll put the sweater on, I'll probably resent him, and then later on I'll do something else as a retaliation. It's just not an interesting route for me. I don't find it interesting.
– I love this topic. You have also a website with amazing people in the website. Can you share with us, what is it?
– So it's called Life by Me, lifebyme.com, and it was born out of a conversation I was having with Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop Tutu from South Africa. I was alone with him in an elevator, because I was a translator at this conference in Columbia. Long story short, they lost his translator.
– You are a translator also?
– Yeah. I actually was raised in France, but I'd spent a lot of time in Spain. So I was in Columbia to speak at a conference.
– You speak Spanish also?
– I do. I do.
– Wow. Amazing woman.
– I do. It's fun. It allows me [[00:20:00]] to connect with people. But they lost his translator. Well, she got drunk, it turns out. So they lost her, and they came to me and they said, “Would you be willing to spend the next three days walking around with Desmond Tutu so you can be his Spanish voice?” I was like…
– “Let me think about this. Yes.” So I spent three days with one of my… I believe that he's one of my heroes. He always was. I spent all this time in between things, which were the most interesting ones. The other ones were official speeches and conferences he was giving, and that was amazing. But to be alone with him in the taxi between things, and getting ready for the next important thing we were going to, and he would say these incredible gems and I would literally experience the, “Wait. Why am I alone? Why am I the only one who's hearing this right now? I need to share this. I really need to share it, because I'm blessed that I spend time with all these incredible people. Why me?” I mean, not “why me” in the sense of it should be someone else, but why me alone? Why not everyone is hearing this?
– Why not [sharing] that?
– Why not [sharing] that. So Life by Me was born, because I was having these amazing conversations and I wanted to have people be able to witness them and share them, and learn from them the way I was enjoying them. So I started with this from Tutu, which I will never forget interviewing him at 3:00 in my morning, because it was the right time for South Africa, and literally putting six alarms around my bed. [inaudible 00:21:24] I didn't even fall asleep to begin with, because I was so excited and so nervous, and so happy, really. He shared with us, with me, and very quickly with the website, he shared the importance of goodness. That was his… At his age, with everything that he had seen, all that mattered was for people to realize how good we are and good would always prevail. That if you looked at everything in the world that's happened that's the bad stuff, it doesn't win. It doesn't, in the end, end up winning. That really it was our blessing and our gift to help our children and to help ourselves to really [[00:22:00]] look at what's good. So I really attempt to walk my days often thinking about that [inaudible 00:22:06].
– To focus on what is good in your life, right?
– Yes. It's what is good in your life. But also, like if I spend time with you and I watch you judge yourself and be hard on yourself, to also remind you that you are good, that we all have this goodness. I think a lot of the…
– This is a kind of mission, you have to focus on what is good and also help people to focus on what is good?
– Yes. Because it's easy to… It's louder. Criticism is louder and it gets more juice going from people. But I actually just made a pledge a few days ago. I was talking to a friend of mine. I made a pledge to, for a whole month, I am not going to be reacting. When things happen, I'm really going to be reacting with giving people the benefit of the doubt. I don't know if you know this expression in French. But it's when something happens, instead of saying, “He tried to hurt me,” or, “He probably was trying to steal from me,” no, to go to the route of like, “Well, he probably didn't know,” or, “This person who just cut me off, he probably didn't see me.” Like instead of telling the story, “This was meant to hurt me,” to tell the story of like, “Well, this was good. Maybe this was good for me and for them, and I don't have to take it the way that kind of makes me feel bad about it.”
– You are changing the meaning, or the perception?
– The thing itself is not different. Someone may cut me off on the freeway. You know?
– Like, “Maybe he's on the way to the airport because his son had an accident, and he's going to get him. Do I want to be in the way of that? Do I want to be the person who stops someone going to propose to their bride? I don't know what's going on in his life.” I'd rather… So giving people the benefit of the doubt is this idea [inaudible 00:23:41] “I'm going to assume that he's doing something that's so important that I'm going to help him. I'm going to move my car so he can go faster, because I don't know what's happening for him.”
– It's nice. It's the best way to do my day.
– I love this mindset. So you don't know what you don't know. So let's imagine that could be positive.
– Yes, okay.
– [[00:24:00]] Exactly.
– You met a lot of amazing people with different mindsets. What could be the common points of all these amazing people?
– It's interesting, because the way you're asking it sounds that it's only from the amazing people that I don't think…
– …you mean by that. But, I…
– The people you find amazing.
– Yes, thank you. Because I have been… My interviewing in Life by Me was very exciting from that perspective that I would interview a very famous actor, and the next day I would interview a woman who has five children and is a receptionist in Ohio. She certainly was as interesting, if not more interesting than the people that are used to giving their little spiel, and used to talking about their story, because nobody had asked them why they had something to say that was interesting. So to answer your question, what I find interesting in people is their ability to be conscious, their ability to learn about themselves and therefore know themselves. I find that fear is often the result of not knowing. Like I could be afraid of you because I don't know you. I've never met you. I don't know who you are. I have no idea.
– Yes. You can be afraid.
– That's not the way I go about life, because I find that my fear is really good if I'm on the roof and I want to jump, and I don't have a parachute. It's a very good thing that my body goes, “I don't think we should be doing this right now.” Fear is a good thing, but not if you let it run the show, not as interesting. So what I like in those people, their commonality is often that they may feel fear, but they don't let fear stop them, which is really the real definition of courage. I was talking to my daughter the other day. The feeling of the fear is a very healthy thing. What you decide to do in spite of the fear and do it anyway, that's courage. I'm really into that. So that's exciting to me. Also, I think I'm interested in people that are not stuck. Let's say it in a positive way. I'm interested in people that are willing to reinvent, and willing to look at what they're doing and maybe [[00:26:00]] look at it and do it differently. Like I have a hard time being with people that are set in their ways, particularly young people. Older, I get it a little more. Maybe you have the little moment with them and you think you know what you know. But on young people, it's a little bit like, “What are you doing? You haven't even done much life, and you don't seem very open to trying new things.” So I get excited when people are willing to…
– Try new things.
– …try new things and look at themselves. I remember when I was first starting this work on myself, I had this visual of I was like a puzzle. There was all these pieces that were not together yet. They were just like a big box of pieces. I would put them on the table, then I would look and I'd be like, “Wow. This is not even part of this puzzle. I don't even want to be this,” and I would take it out. Literally, I would kind of reinvent the whole creation and create it differently, literally differently. So I like this idea… The commonality in the people I love is often that they have done the kind of work where they know who they are, and therefore walk around… Like someone like Gay Hendricks, which you haven't had a chance to meet yet.
– But Gay knows who he is, and he knows what he wants. When you're in his presence, it's very easy for me, because it's like there's a certain clarity and a certain, “This is what excites me,” and then you get to play or not play. But at least you know what you're playing.
– What would you like to share to women to achieve what they want to achieve in staying women?
– I find that particular debate very uninteresting.
– Because I find that often people use it as a way to, “It's harder when you're a woman,” or, “You have to give up who you are as a woman,” and I don't find that to be true. I think that a lot of the good stuff that has happened in my life was because I was a woman, and a lot of people in the business that I was in gave me opportunities because I was a woman.
– I love these answers.
– It's [[00:28:00]] true.
– Actually, I was watching… There's a woman in Hollywood by the name of Shonda Rhimes, and she's producer/writer of two of the most successful TV shows of all time, “Grey's Anatomy” and “Scandal”, which are two huge shows that are happening on TV right now. She was being interviewed, and inevitably because it always happens, in the room this woman says, “Hey. How is it that I… I want to succeed in Hollywood and I'm a woman. What's your advice for women in Hollywood?” She turned into… She was fire. She was so excited and she said, “It is so the wrong question for you to be asking. Write something that's interesting. I'm obviously not only a woman, I'm not thin and I'm also black. These are three things that would make me never, never succeed in Hollywood.”
– Like Oprah.
– Like Oprah. It's like, “I am not interested in the conversation. Is she successful because she has a vagina, or because she doesn't have it?” It's like, “I am not inter-…” She kind of went at it so intensely, and it was beautiful.
– It was just kind of like, “I am not…” She said to the girl, “I'm not interested in that conversation, and neither should you be. Go do something so interesting that people will not care if you're a woman or another species altogether. Just go do good things.” I believe in that.
– I love this answer, because I'm telling to the people who are following me everything could have advantage and drawbacks.
– You can use that to you. For example, it was my age. A lot of people said to me, “Oh, you're too young. You can't do that.” I love to say that my age is my best advantage.
– It's the same for gender.
– Yes. It's like, if you want to use anything, you can use it against you or you can use it for you. To me, it's kind of an uninteresting debate. It's like, “Do what turns you on, and then nobody will care.”
– I love this answer. It's the best answer [inaudible 00:29:59].