Dr. Relly Nadler: This week’s show features the best-selling author of the book, “The First 30 Days,” Ariane de Bonvoisin. Like many of you, Ariane is no stranger to change. Some of it’s expected and some of it caught her by surprise. Change is what we are going to be talking about today. Change has been an integral part of her life. While things have not always been easy, she believes that there are ways of making change a bit simpler. Starting off with the right beliefs, foundation, people, information and inspiration.
Today, Ariane will share some of her secrets for making change easier with tips from her book. Ariane told us that she appeared on the Today Show also talking about this.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Throughout her life and her career Ariane has continued to notice that the one constant in all of our lives is that change happens. The most, maybe not for everyone, exciting things happen when change happens. As strange as that may seem, we all have to be prepared because we know its guaranteed to happen.
Change if very much a part of her DNA. Ariane was born in New York to Belgium and French parents and from the very get go they were this international family that was definitely on the move. She has just been on six different continents, actually six different countries on three different continents and has learned to speak four languages and she went to five different schools; all of this before the age of 18. Interestingly enough, her last name de Bonvoisin literally translates to “good neighbor” in English. This is turned out to be quite serendipitous for her.
After graduating from the London School of Economics, Ariane joined the Boston Consulting Group where she worked in more than a dozen countries. After getting her MBA at Stanford she moved back to New York to work for media giant, BMG and Sony Music. In 2000 she was tapped by Time Warner to become the managing director of a very innovative digital media venture fund.
Ariane also spent some time in Africa as did I, that’s where I think our spiritual paths may have crossed, working for a non-profit. She had a short tenure exploring the world of television with Charlie Rose.
As a certified trainer for the Anthony Robbins Company, she has attended and helped at dozens of seminars on many subjects including health, relationships, finances, life skills and spirituality. On a personal front was also a professional skier. She is a tremendous person. I could just go on and on about her.
Ariane de Bonvoisin: Thank you Cathy and Relly, it’s a real pleasure.
Dr. Relly Nadler: Ariane, we like to usually start off getting into a little bit of who has been the most influential people or thinkers in your life and your career and how have they shaped your thinking about change as a positive experience?
Ariane de Bonvoisin: That’s a great first question. I would say the very first people that shaped anyone’s perception of change are your parents. As you said, change was very much part of my DNA when we were growing up. One thing you get really good at is change when you are being yanked out of schools and being thrown into different cultures and languages and religious environments, and even health traditions.
I would say my mom was certainly the rock and the foundation in terms of making change okay, making change acceptable, making change something to look forward to, and creating some safety around change. I think that is very important messaging for any parents that might be listening. Most parents do not teach their kids about change. If anything, they protect their kids from change and they try and have nothing change around their kids and they think they are doing them a favor. Creating safety around the concept of change certainly showed up from my mother first.
I would say other people that have been very influential; I do have a coach that I have worked with for about 8 years, and she has very high standards for me. She will not get in the hole with me, she will throw me a ladder and will get me up the ladder. So really allowing me to find my own strength, not giving me her own, and shining a light in the direction I need to go in. I’m a big believer in having someone there that you respect that thinks the same as you do whether it’s emotionally, spiritually, intellectually; whichever paradigm or framework that’s important for you; she certainly does that for me.
Another person that comes to mind, definitely Mother Theresa—a lot of selfless service. There are a couple of amazing quotes and whenever I do workshops I always open and end with one of these quotes. One of them is:
“God does not require you to succeed, he only requires that you try.” That’s just been very helpful for me because I am not the one that needs to judge my success of the ridiculously high standards and incredibly demanding of the next thing that I’ve got to do great at or survive. What I need to do is be human and try and show up fully and take it a day at a time. So Mother Theresa is definitely one for me.
I’d say another one is probably Wayne Dyer; he was one of the very first teachers to cross my path when I was a teenager. I was fortunate enough about 20 years ago. I think every one of his books is based in you finding something within yourself that does not change because everything around you is guaranteed to change. Making me go inwards and inside for answers and certainty as opposed to outside where there is always a lot of uncertainty and changes all around us.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Ariane, I cut your bio a little short in our introduction because I wanted to get into the meat of the conversation around the book, “The First 30 Days,” and now your company, you are actually the CEO of The First 30 Days.
You have reached the summits of Mt. Kilimanjaro and gone to Antarctica, you’ve done cage diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa. You’ve helped disabled runners in the New York marathon. So you’ve always done a lot of things in your life and it’s obvious that when you’ve thought about doing these things it’s taken you through self searchings, some self-propelling to get into those mindsets to be able to go to those different places and do those different things. Tell us a little bit about how you actually got the idea to write this book, “The First 30 Days.”
Ariane de Bonvoisin: The idea, it’s funny when an idea finds you or when an idea is born. I think ideas are within us all of the time. It’s really a matter for us to start thinking with awareness and start actually putting some water to them.
My background was the corporate world, very traditional sort of business track. I realized when I got to Time Warner, I was in a very prestigious job, I was running a $500 million fund at age 28 and I’d climbed a very high ladder and I was not convinced that it was the right ladder or that it was leaning up against the right wall.
So I really started allowing that inner voice, that inner microphone to be heard. I think for a lot of years I kept on convincing myself that I was happy, I had a big job, it was prestigious, I had a Stanford MBA, I should have been really happy and really fulfilled, and it wasn’t quite what I wanted to do.
I then began the journey of facing a career change without having the certainty of what was next; without knowing what job was next, what industry was next, if I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I had been told all of my life I was a business person not an entrepreneur and not a creative person. That identity shift was certainly not an easy one for me to go through. What I did was I left Time Warner eventually and I went traveling, and I took a couple of years really to find ways of giving back, find ways of really fully living and enjoying life.
I started working when I was 19—I thought it was time for me to enjoy a little bit. I spent some time in Italy, and read books, and then I did this non-profit in Africa for a year. Then I learned how to wind surf. Every one of those things sort of led to the creation and development of this current business.
What I noticed is that everyone I was meeting in any country at any time, morning, noon or night, was in one of three categories: they were either struggling with a life change, they were getting divorced, they had lost their job, they had been diagnosed with some sort of disease, or they were in a second category which is that they secretly wanted to make a change; they wanted to go back to school, they wanted to start a business, they wanted to have a child. Or they were in a third category which is that they were helping someone through change. They were helping a colleague, they were helping a loved one, a parent, a child. I kept thinking this is interesting that change is all around us all the time and yet everyone I’m talking to both formally or informally, hates change, resists change; everyone thinks that they are bad at change.
Everyone basically has very negative associations to this, even though it’s the thing that ultimately we are supposed to get good at. My belief is getting good at change is the number one life skill. Getting good at change is a competitive business advantage, more so than ever now.
So what I started doing was collecting these interviews I was doing with people while I was traveling and I ended up with thousands of interviews of people who had lost a loved one, lost a child, starting a business, gone bankrupt, adopted. I went looking for—are there ways to make change easier? Is it possible that one person gets through change a better way than someone else and why is that? Are there things they say, do, think, believe, language they use? I just became fascinated. I became fascinated to find out whether I was good at change, whether I had some of those aspects. I’ve always enjoyed writing. I didn’t know that I had a book in me, but I think most people probably do. I started journaling about The First 30 Days really as a metaphor to look at change differently. This is not a 30 day action plan. Your day 17 is not going to be the same as my day 17.
So it’s in no way a day by day plan, it really is the first 30 days of looking at change differently, of looking at life events, life circumstances differently. We are each going to get our fair share. My commitment was really to start a business and start a brand, and start a movement that got people better at change.
You can listen to the entire interview, above.