"WEAR LIFE LIKE A LOOSE GARMENT"
LIFE ON YOUR OWN TERMS
I worked with the United Nations in Asia for about 10 years. Originally, I wanted to become a Country Director by age 38. But I didn't see a lot of Country Directors who had the type of life that I wanted, so I decided to quit the UN. We moved to Bali and I still did some consulting work based in Bali. But after a couple of years, I launched my own businesses.
I started a vegan restaurant, then Hubud, a co-working space in Bali, then CU Asia, the Coworking Unconference that brings together actors from the coworking industry in Asia and the Pacific. I am passionate about helping people connect with their purpose and I do that through different avenues. I am now in London with my family, where I help real estate companies to “humanize” the workplace.
Living a life on my own terms means spending as little of my time as possible doing things I don't want to do. The definition of what I don't want to do changes over time. Yes we have to pay the bills and do the things we have to do, but I try and spend as little “wasted time” as possible. As I get older, I am even more aware of that. Life can change in a moment and you don't get your time back.
ROOTS AND SEEDS
I'm from Canada and lived in Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Taiwan, Venice, Brussels, Bali and now London.
WHAT YOUR FOUR YEAR OLD SELF WOULD TELL YOU TODAY
“I thought you would be richer!”...I promised my mother a mansion when I was a kid, she's still regularly asking about it...
There's what I call the “Forrest Gump Theory”. I don't plan my life a lot. If I do, things actually don't necessarily turn out great. I always follow my instincts and make the most out of what life offers.
I also don't dwell too much on the past, or agonize over failures. I am very accepting of myself and others. That hasn't always been the case. In recent years, I've decided that success is about setting the bar lower. For example, when I have a shity run, I first beat myself up about it, but then I think to myself: at least I got my shoes on and went out to run, even when I really don't want to do it.
Finally, I think I am a good story-teller. It's helped me a lot in all the things I've done. You have to be able to tell great stories to get people excited about things.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH MOMENT
This happened gradually when I was working with the UN. It felt like an existential crisis. At some point, I felt like I was at a crossroads: either I would continue doing what I was doing for another 30 years, or I would do something else. I decided to do something else.
MOST EXCITING HIGH
The second year of CU Asia, I got up on stage to open the conference attended by 200 people. I was a bit nervous but I felt a great sense of achievement. I knew there was nowhere else I wanted to be in the world at that moment.
MOST CHALLENGING LOW
Having to leave my first business, the raw food vegan restaurant. After 2 years in, my business partner and I were quite invested in it, but we had to let go of it because it didn't take off. There was a lot of shame around it, and I felt that I was disappointing my partner.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE
A friend told me once to wear life like a loose garment. Don't take life too seriously, it's only life after all (from the lyrics of Indigo Girls' song "Closer to Fine").
WORST PIECE OF ADVICE
Finish university early. Some people are better off starting late, others should never go there. We are all different and have our own paths and rythms.
BOOK OR PEOPLE THAT HAD AN IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE
My wife, Renee. She always keeps the North Star in view and encourages me to do the same.
BIGGEST LEAP OF FAITH
Starting my own business after quitting the UN. It took me two years to recover from the UN and aid work, I really couldn't imagine doing anything else.
IF GIVEN A CHANCE WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY
I did a Masters degree in human rights and democratization, but I should have probably done an MBA.
Start running. Find a community of people that helps you get through life. Life is a lot better when you have the right support (from friends, family, groups, therapy, etc.).
HARDEST PART ABOUT BEING A PERSON WHO LIVES ON THEIR OWN TERMS
On Facebook, my life looks amazing, but sometimes being too different or making different choices creates separation and distance with other people (the “tall poppy syndrome”). This happened over the years, especially when I was going back home.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO LESS/MORE?
Being less reactive and more discerning about how I wan to spend my time.
I have no idea.
I'm in London right now, and we like it here, so I think we are going to stay for some time. I will do what's next when I know what's next. I'm satisfied with being in the NOW.
WORDS OF WISDOM
Wear life like a loose garment.
I will do what's next when I know what's next.
WHERE TO FIND HIM