Finding myself

Finding myself

I have always been passionate about freedom of expression but it took me 24 years to realize it

I used to organize weekly free expression parties, where people could write and draw on the walls of my garage (which delighted my parents).

But I wanted to take my involvement with freedom of speech further. My life changed when I discovered an association promoting freedom of expression called Esprit Critique. I joined the video reporting division. I also organized moving debates about "money and happiness" confronting social sciences university students and business students ;)

Still, i had doubts about my choices because of typical french common beliefs

  • "Always choose the largest option to give you the largest chance of success"
  • "You should study finance and begin your career with consulting to succeed"
  • "You need to have the name of a big company on your CV to succeed"
  • "You cannot create value with your talents because you don't have an obvious one"

The more I was expressing myself in what I love to do (in my association for example), the more I was becoming confident about my academics and professional choices.

Little by little, I decided to make my choice according to what I valued the most in the deepest of my heart instead of what was the most reputable

One of my favorite courses at EMLYON was about "ethos economic and religion" with Philippe Portier, a great strategy teacher:)
It was really important for me to continually open my mind. I thought inviting and debating with great personalities who observe and shape our world was a good way to do it. There is one sentence from the writer Francois Begaudeau that struck me. "Never be complacent with experts ! Challenge them, they have been students once". The most audacious - and stupid - thing i have done was to perform a one man show in front of ... the most successfull one man shower in France : Gad Elmaleh.

My conversations with Isaac Getz, author of “Liberté & Cie, Quand la liberte des salaries fait le bonheur des entreprises” in an organizational course supported my way of thinking. I knew then that I wanted to join an organization where I can find and choose my mission.

Defining my mission in the organization by myself enabled me to discover where I was good at

When I joined WikiStage, plateform for sharing knowledge with videos, it was a young and open organization. I discovered that coordination and planning was very difficult for me whereas finding new organizers and speakers, implementing new concepts, managing and growing a community was easy and enjoyable. That is how I became responsible for WikiStage Paris. I spent one incredible year leading the production of more than 200 Video Talks giving voice to the most innovative and creative people of Paris !

I became inexorably attracted by innovation spaces in Paris because they enable me to constantly open my mind and creativity

I began involved in various spaces in Paris : Numa, start-ups accelerator ; Freespace, a temporary space for a lasting change and creativity ; La Paillasse, open community lab for DIY Science&Tech ; Sensespace, third places for social innovation developped my MakeSense community … So much that I decided to initiate partnerships in order to give voice to these communities and in the same time get closer to them. One of the event I organized is the WikiStage La Paillasse. Next edition will happen in November.

Here are the things that I love in these places :

  • Understand & think & act on 21st century biggest challenges
  • Give life to any ideas without having someone say that it is impossible
  • Get an answer about a topic your are not familiar with (design, code, law) in 2 minutes by asking someone just next to you
  • Be at the edge of innovation by speaking with passionate people around you
  • Feed your mind with new ideas and topics
  • Organize & design your own timetable and move as you decide ...

Of course, these places are experimental, they may lack a clearly-defined organization, governance, value creation, but they offer a different experience of learning and working. They are acting as "school labs" or "fac labs". Paradoxically, it is where I felt my truest self

I started a community enabling people to express their own talents

With my sister, Anne-Elise Lenne and backed by my friend Hadrien Glasel, we started a community called On Top Of Hills For a week-end, each of the participants can express a part of themselves to the community. Each participant shares his/her talent with others during a 1H30 workshop in which everyone is welcome to bring their contribution in an open and energizing atmosphere. This one event gave place to 5 open week-ends organized in one year. From it, we collected a database (work in progress) of all kind of creative workshops to be used for educational and training purposes.

I realized that the ultimate stage of freedom of expression is the freedom to choose one's life. Start leading your life means freeing your mind from limiting beliefs and opening your hear and listening to your consciousness.

For 3 months, I will collect stories of people who freed their mind, heart and power of action and how they did it

I will then explore various cities and places for 3 months (Paris, San Fransisco, Atlanta, Denver, NY, Prishtina, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Istanbul, Berlin, Cork) to collect stories of people :

  • Youths who creates their own model of working
  • Pionneers in creative education and training
  • New leaders who are transforming their organization

I will come back with 24 portraits exploring why they defined their path and how they overpassed their own mental limits.

The portraits will be published on my blog and on Without Model and in a book in December 2015.

sunset at top of the hills meeting, (c) Robert R.