Jayne Van Hoen: ‘Stimulating Conversation With Interesting People’ Gives Me Energy

The executive director of events at the Milken Institute shares her outlook on failure.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Jayne Van Hoen: Stroke my dog who is always close by.

TG: What gives you energy? 
JVH: Stimulating conversation with interesting people.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
JVH: The Passion — Jeanette Winterson. I read it in Venice when I was studying at university in 1990. The book is inscribed ‘you have navigated far beyond the paternal home and now you inherit a foreign land. The way here was treacherous the way back impossible.’

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
JVH: Almost — I have an unhealthy habit of checking it way too frequently.

TG: How do you deal with email? 
JVH: Depends on the email. Tardy at worst, organized at best!

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it? JVH: Probably waste it!

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why? 
JVH: It’s happened a couple of times in my career. Many things caused it including, extreme stress, lack of appreciation, unhappiness.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it? 
JVH: I don’t look at like in terms of failure — if I did it would be focused on not being a good enough mother to my children.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
JVH: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Angela Angelou.