Letter to my Children Emilie and Sebastien
By Philippe Bourguignon
I was very lucky to be born in 1948, just as you were lucky to be born in 1979 and in 1981. There is no bad or good year, no inherently dark or golden age. There is only life and what we make of it. Open your eyes and ears: our world, your world, is wonderful, even if we have a lot to do to achieve more equality and fighting poverty.
You are young: you know how to dream while still possessing the common sense we sometimes lose when our experiences and the demands of our job or way of life override deeper reflection.
I am not here to preach to you; you wouldn’t listen anyway. I am simply defending a thesis, which is that to every situation one must bring a thirst for change. Prefer new ideas over common wisdom; prefer daring over conformity; prefer dreams over ambition; prefer passion over business alone; prefer talent over skill; prefer speed over delay.
To use your imagination, never move in a straight line! Get off the highway and take the side roads, even if you don’t know exactly where they lead. An encounter, a discovery, a new idea, or simply a moment of happiness may await you there.
Rather than devise grand plans, seize the moment and what it offers. Learn to meander, not only when you’re out or traveling but, most of all, intellectually. I have always tried to find meaning in what I was doing. At first, try things, test things out, dare, but above all do. In my own case, I realized one day that I no longer needed to “do” simply for the sake of doing. So I left the action and life in the public eye behind in order to shift from doing to being.
I see so many CEOs who, like me, get sucked in by the demands of their jobs and, after rising to a certain level of power, don’t realize the emptiness of their ascension. This added to the dehumanization of work and companies, can lead one to believe that there is only one choice: get ahead or die. Not so!
A career plan with no other end in mind than the career itself is a warped plan. And all work is alienating if it is performed without passion.
We create our lives each day, often in zig-zag fashion, never in a straight line. So avoid orthodoxy.
Use your imagination by seeking paths that will lead you to the future and pushing back the envelope of what is possible. Bring your own reflections to things, rather than simply doing what you are asked to do.
I am deeply convinced that the best way to prepare for change is to always leave the door open for it, and to confront it with boldness. Reject certainty, invent your own responses to things, take on the adventure of being “different,” shake things up, risk being provocative; move quickly.
Your best asset is not ambition alone, but the ability to dream.
Experience is change’s worst enemy, because it encourages us to seek the comfort of habit. And yet, to live is to change; we wake up different each day. Some associate entrepreneurship with a taste for risk-taking. Nothing could be less true. The strength of the entrepreneur resides not in his love of risk-taking, but in his or her ability to seize opportunities where others see danger. It is better to create the future under a rain of criticism than to allow yourself to be talked into sticking with the models of the past.
Obstacles? They exist to stimulate us, just as conformity exists to be challenged. Difficulties or failures should spur you onward. After each of my setbacks — and I had them, of course — I had only one goal: to succeed next time.
In conclusion, hold fast to your values, and make sure your ego never gets the better of your brain. Ask yourself off-the-wall questions. Prefer reflection to reflex, imagination to habit. Never take yourself seriously. Stay humble, tolerant, respectful, and honest; qualities that are often forgotten by decision-makers and people “in the know.”
In the end, I really have only one message for you: be both idealistic and determined, feet on the ground, head in the stars. Above all, live with passion. No beige, no neutral; add color and keep the music in you.
Philippe Bourguignon is vice chairman of Revolution Places, a company that is creating a new model for travel and tourism that promotes and encourages a healthy lifestyle, Philippe establishes consumer brands that reflect those values. In addition, he serves as executive co-chairman of Exclusive Resorts, a carefully vetted collection of more than 300 privately managed multimillion-dollar residences in iconic destinations paired with highly personalized and intuitive service.