Several thousands of (mostly) women get to read my content every month. I've seen readers come from all over the world and I am grateful for the support. In the meantime I have also become very curious about you. I thought it would be fun to do a Q&A and answer some of your burning questions. I’ll update this section from time to time, so send me your questions! You can ask me anything, no question is too big or too small.
If I asked you at age 5 what you wanted to be when you grew up - what would you say?
First I wanted to be a book writer, and later I wanted to be either a journalist or in business. In many ways it was the kind of life I wanted to live. It was the ultimate dream for me – meeting new people, going to new places, getting paid for reading books or trying to improve the world and leave it a little better than how you found it.
Do you write with an audience in mind, and if yes how do you make sure it´s unique and personal?
As Oscar Wilde says, “a true artist takes no notice of the public. It’s hard to not care.” And I think that’s true. If you want to create something meaningful and fulfilling, something that lasts and speaks to people, the counterintuitive but really necessary thing is that you must write for yourself first.
So for every story that I put out and every project that I commit myself to I have to be excited about the material. I have to care about it in some way, or I need to be unable to fully grasp the topic which makes it interesting to put in my time there. So its a very necessary thing to sit with myself first, before I start to think about an audience, agents or y he people I work with.
In some ways writing is like a message in a bottle that you throw into sea. You’ll never know where it arrives, how it’s going to be perceived and by whom. And that’s actually the fun part, because You want to give people something to explore and discover. Something that sparks a conversation rather than a way of working. After so many years I’m still intrigued by a painting of Michael Basquiat because I still discover new things. I feel like it’s not my job to determine how the work needs to be perceived. It’s up to the audience to feel for it or not. So the end goal might be to shake things up a little bit and to create something of value. Something fulfilling, so that if that bottle is not going to be received at all, it was still worth writing it. In this weekly you can find the long answer to this question: Message in a Bottle.
Do you ever get intimidated by people you admire or get to work with? If yes, how do you deal with that?
It always helps me to focus on the role I’m asked to fulfill and then try to figure out what it requires from me. I’m always trying to serve the job as good as I possibly can and I seek to make improvements every single day. I’ve been in many rooms with people that I admired or looked up to. When I’m invited in a meeting or board room with people I admire I try to see that as an invitation adressed to not just me, but to me because of the role I have. Because they hired me for the role, I belong in that room like anyone else. We are all hired to take a seat at the table and to deliver expertise and bring the best we have to the table. That applies to the people we admire as to ourselves as well. We all have something to add, that’s what I believe.For example, what would be the worth of a good idea or plan without reality check? The feedback from the people that normally don’t spend much time in board rooms but know exactly what’s happening on the ground on a day-to-day basis is of tremendous value. So whenever I sense something like awe, I try to check-in with myself and change course. That check-in is useful not only because it reminds me of the fact that my voice and all of our voices matter, it also helps me not be taken off track. I want to make sure that I deliver the best I can. So let’s use our voices. Let’s make it count.
What is the most useless thing you ever bought?
My answer: My bed makes almost every other thing I ever bought useless. I truly love to sleep.
If you could give 3 pieces of advice to kids what would they be?
Know when to listen to other people, but also be a little deaf sometimes.
In my experience people like to give advices. Especially when they like you and care about you. However, most of our experiences are unique. What has worked for me, does not have to work for you. If I had listened to the naysayers I crossed paths with in my life and allowed them to project their fears on me, I wouldn’t be here today. So know when to listen, and try to be a little deaf to others sometimes.
Spend your time to things and people that lift you up, inspire you, or give you positive vibes.
Our time and attention are our most valuable assets in life. Be mindful to what kind of things or people you spend your time to. If you want to find some meaning in what you are doing, then put the way you like to spend your time first. There are many occupations or careers that may look great from the outside and sound great as well, but it’s worth nothing if in the end of the day you don’t like to spend your hours doing that. So give yourself some space to figure things out. Energy flows where attention goes. So great things can happen.
Change what you can control, and let go of what you can’t.
It’s a simple one, but not always easy to live by. Yet, when we continue working on things that we can actually change, odds are that life will work out the way you want it more often than not.
What were things you often wondered about as a child?
I’ve probably wondered many times why adults generally seem to be so convinced about what they’re doing and where they’re going. We get to see politicians, spokes persons, popstars, people with strong opinions who strongly seem to know what they are talking about. As I got older I started to see that these strong individuals were just human beings with flaws and insecurities. You can actually find many people who are far from sure about what they are feeling or actually know why they are doing what they are doing. To a certain extent you could argue that we as human beings often have to believe that what we are already doing is the right thing because what else would be the point of even being there? Questioning our decision-making can bring uncertainty which many of us find uncomfortable. But when you are little and you look at all those confident adults, it can overwhelm you. It can influence you of what kind of person you want to be in the world. At some point it just appeared to me that no matter how things may look like from the outside, the main thing that matters in life is our willingness to ask ourselves the real questions of why we are here and where we aspire to go.
What do you think is the role of artists when it comes to social change?
Social media has given it’s users the power to write freely and to express personal thoughts and opinions. It opens the space for writers, journalists, bloggers, poets to express themselves creatively and authentically and to get their audiences introduced with topics that matter to them. I’m regularly fascinated by the incredible work so many men and women across the globe are doing in fields like philanthropy, business or the arts. Strong voices that are of service to their communities and just need to be heard. Through writing I want to embrace those incredible men and women, start conversations and find the right way to bring their work and those issues to a larger public. Every culture has areas of vast silence – topics that we don’t like to talk about. It’s the artist job to reflect the times. Starting conversations about those taboos or overlooked issues can be of incredible value, since it can remove shame and shows both parties that you’re not alone. Compelling and engaging art can visualise those stories and bring them to life. In many ways I think artists have the ability to connect their generation with causes that will both be meaningful and accelerate progress at the same time.
What drives you every day?
It gives me a lot of joy to discover something I didn’t know yet. I like new ideas and I like the sensation of “not knowing” because it gives me the idea that I’m moving forward. Asking questions can be a way to test gaps in my own knowledge. And like they often say; the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know a thing, which motivates me to keep on going. In a way it’s a drug to learn more and it can deepen your relationship with people as well. A conversation is like a dance in which you can discover how far you can go with people. I like that as well.
What would your friends say is your best quality?
I think they will say that I’m a good listener.
Do you think that we can always be honest?
The short answer: yes, I do believe that we can be honest and that honesty is a good thing, always. The longer answer might be that we need to be effective in communicating that honesty. If we want to be effective communicators, we need to think for a second to whom we’re going to deliver our message and when, how and where. We need to align our intention of being honest to the needs of the other person. Without alignment, there is no conversation. It will be an one way street of one person telling the other person what to do and how to think. Sometimes the conclusion might be it’s not necessary to say a thing. Sometimes you are not the person to say it, and sometimes it’s not the right moment and sometimes it’s not asked for. And sometimes a couple of things just need to be said so that everybody can move on.
What do you consider as a no-go in conversations?
I like it when everyone express theirselves and get the chance to say whatever they want to say. In many conversations, however, I often find opinions stated as facts. The tricky thing about moralizing is that it simplifies reality to what’s right and what’s wrong, which give certain people the invisible permission to say that their version of “good”is more valuable. I don’t necessarily thrive on that.
Do you have a spiritual practice?
I often remind myself that I never enter a room alone. You take your grandma with you, your grandpa, your mom, your sister, the people that meant something to you at a certain point in your life but are not part of your life anymore, whether they are dead or alive. People you loved or hated. All of those people learned you something. They are part of me, or you can say; they made me who I am today. So whenever I feel alone or confused, I make sure I go into silence mode. To that place inside myself that gives me the courage to do what I need to do, and to be who I need to be. The thing is: why not you. Sometimes you need to find ways to remind yourself of that.
I would like to answer more of your interesting questions and get a sense of your interests and what you would like to know about me. If you have questions to extend this Ask Me Anything section, please let me know. I like to hear from you. If you want you can add your questions to the comment section below.