WELL BEING AND THE WORK PLACE[:]

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Happy Sunday, everyone! Today I’d like to talk to you about entrepreneurship, and more precisely well­being as an entrepreneur. I know it’s a subject that speaks to you and it allows me to take a step back and take a look at my life. You know Make My Lemonade, Wear Lemonade, the Lemonade Studio... All this things that happen are not the result of thought­out, planned decisions, but rather from a chain of events whether or not I brought it on. In 2012, when I opened the first version of Make My Lemonade, I hadn’t at all expected that it was going to become a business, that would give people jobs, that would inspire others, that would raise funds to achieve even greater dreams. I don’t know if I had any idea back in 2012... Let’s just say that I was trying something else, I was testing a door to see if I could find the room to achieve my dreams behind it. I say it often, when I started to work in a ready­to­wear boutique, the morning when I got up to sell clothes, I wanted to run far, far away, to a place where I could sell the clothes that I would have created. But I was 19 and I quickly stifled the voice in my head saying “you’re going to get burnt out really quickly if you have to get up your entire life just to work for someone else”. Where was this voice coming from? I think that I had heard family friends, or even my friends go on about how my generation was going to have a hard time, that companies we’re going to be able to give us what they had gotten. I heard people complaining about bad things at work without any hope of improvement. Aside from days off work, they couldn’t wait for retirement! As a teen and young adult, I had a hard time telling myself I was going to spend my life wasting away in a company didn’t get me just to one day retire and then start enjoying life.
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It wasn’t nice, the idea of preciously keeping track of administrative papers of each student and summer job just for “retirement”... I’m a very messy person, I’m supposed to keep these for like 45 years? That means that no matter what, I’m supposed to get up every morning to work for someone else, hoping to get enough paperwork to retire. Oh yeah? Oh no. I quickly understood how urgent it was for me to find a creative job, one that I found luckily found quickly. I worked at three completely different companies, of different sizes and in different fashion sectors. I met lots of great people and others not so great. During these three experiences, besides earning a living and collecting precious papers for retirement pensions, I learned a lot of things about human relations at work.
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At my first job, I had a great time as a part of a large and happy team where everybody was friends, or at least worked together nicely, that really wanted to make everyday a good one since the hours were crazy and having a social life was complicated. At my second job, it was awful. I had left a happy group for a dictatorship. I was emotionally bullied which made me physically sick. But a learned an important lesson: Never again will someone treat me that way and never will I treat someone like that. I left the second company for the third, which was smaller and more like a family, which is where I found the time to make Make My Lemonade possible. Looking back today, there still were things that weren’t fair but I realize being now a boss myself that it wasn’t personal, it was just that the company couldn’t do otherwise. I won’t go into the details but you get the idea. Then one day Make My Lemonade started to take more and more time, and I made the jump and just started doing that. It was the best choice and even if this path is often long and winding, I don’t regret to have taken it. I don’t think about retirement papers to hold onto anymore, I think mostly about achieving my dreams. I left the world of office jobs to jump right into entrepreneurship, and to create from a collage of my past experiences, the business that I would want to wake up in the morning to go work for.
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With all the work experience I’ve had, I’ve tried to learn some things. I didn’t see it coming, but we’re a team, and in this team there are people who have different pasts and personalities, that must be taken into account, listened to, reflected on, observed in order to work together at the office in peace. I’m happy to see that friendships are forming, that we all care for each other. I’m myself at work, but I try to keep my worries and stresses from getting others down because in the end we spend most of our time together and therefore should live as a community, in “lemonade land”. And from what I’ve gathered from my past experiences, it’s that balance is a fragile thing but primordial for the well­being and success of a work place... I’d like us to do more things together that aren’t only at the office, to celebrate our little victories. Listening to those with whom you work and trying not to complain but rather finding a solution to your problem makes your days much better. And if the changes needed to make you happier at work are too structural, get out! Don’t wait for the next day off like everyone else; I’m not telling you to give everything up to become your own boss but if you’re not happy to get up in the morning to go to work, are you willing to go on like that until retirement while waiting to start fulfilling your life? Translated by Whitney Bolin
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