Pavi: Our special guest speaker is Philippe Simonin and someone who really embodies today's theme - “A dream to share a dream”. I'm going to hand over to our moderator Shiv Jayaraman who is in the tech field and whose background is in tech. He works here in Silicon Valley engaged in some of service based activities and is a vibrant storyteller as well. This is his first Awakin call as a moderator so we are excited to have him with us. Shiv - please take it away
Shiv: Thank you. Good morning good afternoon good evening everyone. It is really fascinating that we're talking about dream. Surrounding us is the world starting to ask questions of what would happen to their dreams. It is without question that all of us acknowledge that when we are alone that it is dreams that drive us to do things that you would eventually achieve in life. But it also true as some of us suspect that in today's world most of us seem to be caught in our own dreams. And while that might be OK to a certain extent, it also runs the risk of being disconnected with the rest of society. Dreams are important but fostering dreams might be even more important in today's world and it is at this juncture that I had the fortune of talking to Philippe Simonin, our guest today who seeks to foster human connections in today's world of technology by spreading hope and inspiration through the sharing of not just his but other people’s dreams.
Philippe is originally from a little village in France and he lives in the Bay Area now. He started out as a mechanical engineer and used to work in the automotive industry in France, Sweden, Thailand and a few other countries. He has more than ten years of experience in the automotive industry as a technical program manager and an engineer. And he's worked on several award winning trucks. He also holds an M.B.A. degree from the Lyon School of Management and while all of this is fascinating, we're going to talk about something very interesting to me. Because when Philippe moved to San Francisco something happened and we'll hear more about it today that compelled him to start h
dreemit.org. It is a platform to record and share the dreams of people from around the world. So if you see a person going around San Francisco, with a camera in hand asking you to share your dreams - it most probably is Philippe or a ripple effect of what Philippe is doing. Before I share what dreemit.org is, I would rather have Philippe talk about it. So it is a great pleasure that I introduce Philippe Simonin and dreemit.org to all of you. Good morning Philippe.
Philippe: Good morning, good morning. Hello everybody. Hello and thank you so much for inviting me and I'm very very grateful. Thanks so much.
Shiv: Thank you Philippe. Now, we definitely want to talk about dreemit.org and your multitudes of experience as you have heard people’s dreams but what is most interesting for me is like what is your own dream? . Everybody has their journey so what is Philippe’s dream. This is what I wanted to hear. Philippe: Thanks for asking. And I think my my own dream that I'm trying to achieve actually I realized it was my dream when I when I really moved to San Francisco and what I found here as I was writing and as you introduced me here is that there is an incredible sense of being positive and and having big dreams here and doing things and being engaged in life as well and serving your community. I was really deeply moved by all of that here. I lived in many countries in the world, I was living in countries in Europe and Asia and when I moved to the Bay Area, I was really shocked actually. I was I was really I was not expecting that at all that everybody was like so positive and so trying to do things in life and so engaged and and then I got started thinking about that and that the two big things that I found here were an incredible sense of hope for the future that not being people are still aware that things aren’t perfect but there is still a belief in the ability to change and that's where there is some deep sense of community in San Francisco. You know I was not expecting that either because you know for me America was a country of capitalism, the country of being individuality and so on but I really found the stronger when we need to be inclusive, when we need to try to take care of a community and serve our community and so I think my big dream is to find a way to share that kind of magic ecosystem that is here - to promote hope and to promote community and the way I'm trying to do that is by collecting those dreams.
And practically if I had two dreams, you know, one of them would be to collect like a million of dreams and the reason is because I think those dreams and I share a bit more about that but those dreams of people are just simply beautiful and this may be the best part of people that are of us that which is in our dreams and so you know there's a lot of things that are collected in the world. There are a lot of museums, there is even a seed bank. You know somewhere on a small island close to the North Pole where they collect all the seeds of the world, and I think actually some of the most precious thing that could be collected are dreams, because that is the best part of people, the best part of us. And so if we could collect all those dreams a huge number of dreams from somewhere, for me that would be a wonderful testimony about what is life and what is the best of life and what are the hopes of us people? So one is about trying to cherish and collect those dreams, and then another one that I have is when I talked to a man called Tree in SF he created a community garden here and he told me you know Philippe, “Dreams are like seeds we need to take care of them but as well we need to plant them and help them to grow”. And so as well if we could find a way to design some kind of a system where together as a community we could help a few and later maybe a lot of people achieve their dreams, get closer to their dreams that would be amazing. That would be beautiful. So these are two of my dreams - collecting them, making a snapshot of the dreams of humanity, and then helping some become reality too.
Shiv: Thank you so much. That is fascinating but I am not able to understand how it actually happens. We live in a world where we don’t talk to the person sitting next to us on the bus or train. We don’t even say Hi to our neighbors and here you are talking to random people stopping them and asking them about their dreams! Something so close to their heart. How does that happen? How does a dream conversation, if I can call it that, begin?
Philippe: So you know I had no idea about that either. So out when I started it was just a big unknown for me too. And I started because of friends that I met that you know I brainstorm with and like how can we do to share that idea I met two Japanese friends in the bay area here like we are in a core young couple who shared the same feeling. About tech and school and the energy here and together with them came the idea critically people's dreams and so we thought we would do some kind of online collaborative network here but then another friend of my wife said “Philippe, why don’t you just to try the idea? Why don't you just go in the street and ask people. Ok, I said that maybe I will try it. Each time I do it, I am actually bit scared. I have done that a lot and I have interviewed over four hundred people and each time first time of the day is scary. I just have a thirty second pitch in or even less than that wherel I think someone in the street or a cafe and so on and I select someone that obviously is not in a rush and not engaged in a conversation with a friend and so on and somebody who seem to have a bit of time and then I come in and I say, “Hello friend. I'm Philippe and I am doing a new project and it's about people's dreams in life, typical goals. I like people a lot and I got really inspired by the positive energy of SF and I just want to share that because I think people's dreams are good and I just want to do something good. Do you mind if I ask you about your dream?”, and so that's my thirty second pitch. You know I don't pretend not always always say the same thing. So what happens here is that the communication is just not words for me. Of course there are words but there's a lot of the body language and so on. So I've learned about that. I've learned that it'll be hard to work so I know what happens next. So many people will look into my eyes and I'm ready for that and I opened my eyes big and I let them look into it but they won't. So I definitely avoid wearing sunglasses, hat or things like that. You know I want them to see my face, I want them to be able to dive into my eyes because that's what they do. That's what they need to see if I am serious. Sometimes they look at me with a grimace on their face like, “Are you really trying to do that?” and and so we have a few seconds of eye contact and actually those few seconds can be beautiful. It's really those few seconds are really precious and I love those few seconds. And as well I smile. I invite them with my smile when I try to do a little bit. I don't know, I don't pretend to be like that but I try to be loving and inviting and caring in my body language. A little bit like Nipun you know? Surprisingly it works a lot actually. Maybe fifty percent of the people I ask will say, “OK I'll do it”. Some ask a little bit more questions and then I show them on my smart phone - “This is the blog”. Some are like, “I’m sorry, no.” Nobody has ever been mean to me. People are always correct because they obviously feel like even if they disagree they are like , “I don't want to harm them. I don't want to do anything bad to nobody to me and then a lot of people dive into it and that is very surprising and just in the Bay Area something that I love in the Bay Area, here you know just I say hello and people turned to me with big smile and they say something like, “Hey what“, and I know that with them you know they're going inviting you like yeah come into my life. You know I'm here, I’m for you and that I love that in the Bay Area. I've not experienced it before. I don't mean it's only in the world but that's something I've been doing it.
Shiv: I'm sure we'll definitely talk about how it's different in different parts of the world and let's continue with the conversation itself. You made your pitch and you said that sometimes people react in a very welcoming way maybe sometimes people are busy but what happens next? Do you have a set of questions? Ten questions? twenty questions that they answer?. How does it flow?
Philippe: Yeah. So I explain them very briefly and that they are OK with that I record their voice. I tell them that I will ask them two questions and it's very simple questions. What is your dream something you really would like to achieve in life you aspiration for life for the future and and why? Can you please explain why as well? And these are my two questions. It's very simple and then actually you know I didn't know all of that I've been just experimenting by doing those two questions is really really powerful and enables a deep reflection in people. This seem to inspire people, to open people and it can last from five minutes to twenty minutes. I would say the average is around ten minutes where people just love sharing and love being heard. I'm showing them that I care. I do care a lot and I don't know what happens but people trust and just open up. I had a lot of surprises you. First, I did not expect people to be so nice and open and second I was not expecting the answers to be as good and were very positive. Nobody told me about negative things. Third, I'm very surprised as well by how people tell me very personal and profound things and I'm a stranger. I come from a country France where people are really reserved a little bit and private. So I felt a little bit uncomfortable but after a few hundred or five hundred times I actually learned to love those moments I get tears and I peer back. I don't judge anymore. I just accept, invite and embrace it. This has been creating amazing moments. I got hopes from people, so many smiles, hugs. I didn't know any of that but I've just been discovering by doing. This seems to be very powerful to share and share.
Shiv: I really love the way you say I got tears and I peered back. I presume most of these conversations are happening in public places and cafes and for two strangers to actually meet and to discuss something really really intimate and tear up after that I'm sure it should be a very powerful moment and for all our listeners we will definitely go into specific conversations that Philippe has had and I’m sure you'll find it fascinating. But now that we are clear of how it works and the process and the reason I wanted to touch upon that is so that people can visualize how this conversation happens. Let's go into the conversations themselves Philippe. Do you remember the first dream conversation? Because it must have been special for you. You might have your own insecurities like you talked about. What was that first dream conversation like?
Philippe: It was next to my house actually there’s a super nice view behind me. I love to go up there for sunsets. And there was a young man sitting on the sidewalk. He was together with some kids maybe from primary school. He was taking care of the kids and took them to see the view up there and so on and I thought okay maybe I will try with him. I was obviously not ready at all. I had not planned it or prepared and so I just definitely a bit scared and awkward. So I just did my pitch and that was my first time. The guy, his name was Michael was like, “You do that? I love it. I love it. Yeah I want to do it.” And so that was definitely a big help because had the first person been not so positive that would not have been encouraging. But Michael liked it right away. So then I was not ready, I didn’t know how to use my phone that was messy I remember. I didn’t know what questions to ask. I asked him about the dream but didn’t dare ask the why or try and go deeper. He gave me his email I thanked him a lot and was very happy but then I went home and thought, “That’s not enough I should know more about his story. So I emailed him afterwards. And said, “Thanks so much but this was my first time, and I would love to know more about you know why you have that dream.” His dream was to travel the world and he had a plan to go to South East Asia and so on and to move from there. And so he answered beautifully telling me that he was just in love with people, with culture, with the rivers and mountains and he just wanted to explore as much as possible and to connect with as much as possible. He encoutraged me so much and recommended some readings on Dreams. He’s been really supportive and I followed up with him he actually went to Thailand -- that was my first one. That was my call. I owe him a lot.
Shiv: There was something very important that you said. When we are trying to do something we have our own insecurities. And you said, “I don’t know what would have happened if Michael had not reacted positively.” So we don’t know where Michael is right now but wherever he is I would like to personally thank him for holding space for you. Which made dreemit.org happen. Thank you Michael. And now Philippe -- this is probably the more interesting part of the conversation. You’ve met so many people from around the world. And i’, sure you’ve had a whole bunch of interesting conversations. Any specific ones that come to mind?
Philippe: Yeah. I'm thinking for example of one day I was in England in a beautiful garden of an amazing city, Cambridge. And it was on a Sunday morning there at ten o'clock, beautiful light the sun was rising and there was a man on a bridge he was maybe sixty something and he was just looking around and enjoying the sun rise and the early fresh morning and I did my pitch, “hey I’m Philippe and I collect dreams”. That man he looked at me, “You ask people about their dreams? You’re asking the right person!” So I said alright I’m ready! So he explained to me that some thirty years ago he created a music band with two friends of his and they released a few records, and then they split and that was the end of that adventure. And from then he became a vagabond and then he became a cleaner for thirty years. He’s been cleaning offices and places for thirty years. And then just two years ago he said, “Why don’t I try again?” So he called his old friends from thirty years ago and said And we should try again to make music and so they did it and they recorded a new record and they sent that to a few record labels and they loved it and so now Michael and his band they got their new record released and they’ve been touring and playing in concerts in the UK in some of the biggest festivals of UK, in Holland in Russia in NYC and even he cannot actually believe what is happening to him and he was telling me that he was actually living his dream and he was so grateful for that and he was actually extremely grateful for the guitar player of their band because he’s convinced he’s one of the very best guitar players in the world and that guy as well had been a cleaner until they started again. So he’s so happy for his friend as well that this changed their lives for the better. So he finished his talk by telling me that if you work hard, if you have something to offer and if you believe in yourself your dream will come true. Obviously it was so inspiring to hear that. So that was Michael. Can I give like maybe two more examples?
Philippe: Once I was in a cafe in SF and I was working on a post for my website and you know I’m not a native English speaker. My English can be not so good sometimes. So there was a lady sharing my table sitting next to me. I didn’t know her I just thought maybe I should ask her what she thinks of my article. So I just said, “Hello excuse me I’ve just written one page of a post do you mind reading it?” And she was like “Sure sure “ And so she read. And i was waiting, and then she finished reading and she stopped that I wanted to put them on my website and and you know I'm not in a T.V. and in the speak you know my English going to be. Not good. Sometimes. So at that was the lady sharing my table and sitting next to me and you know. I just thought maybe I ask her what she thinks of my of my article you know she likes a lot so I just said you know excuse me. I'm writing on but I wrote one page. Would you mind reading it? And she said, “Sure, sure!” And so she read. And then I was waiting and then she finished reading. And she stopped and she stayed quiet, and not moving. And I was very disappointed. I was like Oh no she doesn’t like it. Man. I felt terrible. And then actually her eyes were still and she was looking at me and then there were big streams of tears that came out of her eyes. She was tearing and tearing and that was weird because she was not moving at all. First I thought yeah I moved her -- it’s good I was so happy. And then her emotions just took me and I couldn’t help it I felt it coming and I was trying to prevent it from happening but I just started tearing too. We were both strangers and we hadn’t even said a word we didn’t know each other's name. So we were looking at each other and then tearing and then we started smiling because we knew it was kind of special and funny at the same time.So we were in the middle of that cafe and just smiling and crying at the same time. That was so funny and special. It felt so alive. People around us were just turning around and thinking, “What’s going on here? That’s strange!” And I’m so thankful for this moment. It was a pure moment of light. So human. So we talked and her name is April and she gave me her dream as well and she’s a wonderful person and actually now we are very good friends I saw her this last weekend for two hours. I’m so thankful that I met her.And that’s another beautiful story of mine that I love so much. I met Maria from Sweden. I met her in an airport. And I asked her -- actually Maria is a black Swedish person. There are not many in Sweden so I was so happy that she was from Sweden and I bumped into her. She started by being a little generic in her answer and not entirely authentic but then she told me you know what I really want is to be a diplomat. I want to connect people and help and bridge cultures together. And actually I followed up with her and one day - she became a diplomat! And she’s based in one of the most difficult countries in the world to be a diplomat in - she’s based in Kabul in Afghanistan a country facing a lot of challenges right now. Just yesterday I heard from her that she’s so grateful for what she’s experiencing. I met as a Stanford professor as well -- an incredible story. I was watching a movie in France and in it I see a couple a Stanford prof and Berkeley professor who are husband and wife. I see them -- it’s about sustainable development and saving the planet in some way, and I’m like wow, I live in the Bay Area - maybe I can see them. So I emailed them from France-- hey Elizabeth and Tony I saw your movie here in France can we meet? I would like to record your dreams. And in a couple of hours they answered yes let’s do it! I was like Really? I see someone in a movie in France and email them to ask for their dream -- and that professor she’s a top climate change advocate and professor at Stanford she works with Governor Jerry Brown., she’s so busy and she goes everywhere, she’s been to the UN headquarters she’s given talks about the movie they made and so on- and she gave her time to a stranger. Even when I met her she told me you know Philippe I have no ideas how we can be together here because even my students they can’t see me because I’m too busy I don’t know how this happened that you are with me now. That was so funny and I was grateful for that. One thing she said was beautiful she said her dream is for everyone to find their purpose. And by purpose what she explained she meant was to find your purpose in life you want to know what you love to do, you want to know what you’re good at and you want to do something that you can make a living off that can help you sustain your life and you want to do something that the world needs. And by what the world needs - she doesn’t mean everybody should save the world -- just every little stone, every little step someone will take in the right direction is contributing, and that’s good. You don’t need to do more. If you’re doing one little thing that makes a big difference. I’ve met Jimmy who is disabled and on a wheelchair and he told me he wanted to become an actor on Broadway that’s been his dream since he was five before he was in a wheelchair. He strongly believes in his dream and that was beautiful. I don’t know I’ve met Scott from Oakland a homeless guy - I met him at a Farmer’s market and I didn’t know he was homeless but when I asked him for a dream he told me he is homeless and addicted to drugs and he has a family he loves his son and his wife and he just wants to be clean and provide what the family needs. He wanted stability and he struggles with that but he is trying hard. I’ve met Muhammad in France - and you know the sad story with the terrorist attack that happened and the tension that creates in society between Arabic immigrants and the rest of the society -- very very unfortunate and sad. Muhammad told me my dream is that everybody will lead a good life and then I will feel good too. Pure messages of peace and love.
Shiv: You talk about so many people. Have you seen a trend in people’s dreams? Is there a pattern? People in different countries dream differently? Of different ages dream differently? Any insights?
Philippe: Yes - there are trends. I am humble when I say that it’s just my personal experience. I don’t pretend to own the truth but in what I have received is that there are trends for example based on the age. Like the younger people teenagers and early twenties people are often a little bit more self-centered in their dreams. Like finding the ideal job pursuing the dream career. Traveling, like experiencing -- it’s about experiencing somehow -- which I totally understand when you’re young you need to build your life and find your way through life. So that’s one trend I’ve seen. And for elder people maybe 65 and more people are really wanting to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. That’s a big topic for elder people. And they also have dreams that involve being connected to other people, being part of a community not wanting to feel apart and separate because they are not active or working or studying. People want to have that connection. Not be left alone with other old people or just alone. A lot of them are into giving back. For example to their grandchildren to their families or to the broader community as well. There have been a lot of messages about giving back. Spending time with loved ones. Apologizing for having been too career focused.
Shiv: Wow. I definitely want to talk about the future plans for Dreemit. But please do go ahead with your story about Japan.
Philippe: Okay. I will try to be short. It’s hard because so much happened. It was maybe three weeks ago that I suddenly decided to go to Japan. Because I wanted adventure and I love that country even though I don’t speak Japanese. So I flew there in just a couple of days I bought my ticket and flew there two days after. I just went for a small week. With the approval of my wife who stayed in America. (laughs) So I arrived in Japan and my first day there I had a small phone call planned with Pavi the amazing Pavi who introduced our call today.I told her I’m in Tokyo and she said, “Oh I’ve got to introduce you to Maki!”. [Maki if you’re on the line I’m sorry to embarrass you -- it's just because I love you so much!] So Pavi said, “I think if you're in Japan you are meant to meet with Maki she is doing the laddership circle like you. I’ll introduce you to her by email.” It was my first day in Japan and maybe around she introduces me to Maki and her family by email and said Philippe has a project about dreams and so on -- it was a very nice email. And Maki responded right away, “Yes Philippe if you want it would be great to meet you and tomorrow you can either go to Mt Fuji where our peace sanctuary is [Maki and her family are running a peace foundation that has been initiated by her grandad who was a famous philosopher thinker and writer in Japan. To help Japan after World War II, which had been a disaster for Japan and the world. So that flourished in many ways and is now a foundation called Goi Peace. They have a monument in Mt Fuji] So she proposed me to visit there - or to join her at an event that she was co-organizing in Tokyo that was about people’s dreams and helping people go further towards their dreams. And there would be about 150 japanese people at that event. I was reading -- that it was my first day in Japan I got introduced to someone I don’t know and I’m a dreamcatcher that’s my job --and then I’m invited to join an event in Tokyo one day after with 150 Japanese people about dreams! I didn’t know what to think about that. I was reading that email and I was both happy and troubled it felt unreal to me.
So then I said, Yes definitely!” I met Maki and I was so happy to meet her. We met the next morning. Sunday morning at a subway station of Tokyo she was with her husband and some friends and she was so nice and so inviting and I was just so happy. She shines. She’s one of those people who shines. Like love and care and all those beautiful things. And I was in Japan I didn’t know anyone and I was so happy. And then we start talking and then she tells me there’s someone else from America who is coming here a Japanese man who lives in Boston and in my mind I am thinking I know that man but it’s not possible! I tell her Maki, “I think I know that person his name is Tsuyoshi Nishioka and he has a cafe called Yume Wo Katare and she was like - “Philippe you are right that’s him! How do you know?”And so that was so funny -- too much synchronicity! So I told her, “This summer in SF because of my project Dreemit I got put in touch with him at an event in SF as a man who has a cafe that encourages people to share their dreams so I contacted him and we connected over Skype and shared our passion for dreams. So Tsuyoshi flew all the way here to be at that event in Tokyo. He was like “Philippe what are you doing here?” And I didn’t know what to answer. I was like” I don’t know why I am here! I can’t answer the question. This is just happening. I don’t know the answer but I am so happy to be here!” So everybody was so nice at this event. It was the most amazing event I could see workshops and brainstorming everyone was so kind and smiling and full of greetings. And a man came and talked in Japanese to a woman next to me -- the amazing translator that Maki had arranged for me. And I understood they were inviting me to give a little talk in front of the 150 people who were there to share about the dreemit project so of course I said yes. So I went on that little stage with Maki who helped with the translation. And here I am Philippe a stranger I landed in Japan a bit more than 24 hours ago and now I am in a conference of 150 strangers and giving a talk in Japan to people who are just listening and smiling and so welcoming. And I felt it was absolutely magical. The magic was that I was in the moment I was there. I gave a very short five minute talk to explain what I had been doing. Connecting dreams and that I was so thankful to be here. And while all of this was happening, the beautiful thing was I had the awareness that what I was experiencing was just extraordinary. What it felt was extraordinary. It was pure magic. I was so grateful and thankful for everything. And so I enjoyed every second of that moment. I am so happy it happened. I gave my little talk and everybody was so nice to me and when I finished people came and thanked me again and again. And then came a young woman and she was one who could speak very good English.
They are very private actually. It’s not easy for them to be personal publicly. And that young woman she comes right away to me and she looks at me in the eyes and I think that as well for Japanese people is hard, I know a bit of Japan, and she looked at me and she told me Philippe my dream is to be like you because you inspired me and I want to inspire people too. So my dream is to be like you. And she stops there. And you know again, I was not prepared to hear that. I’ve never heard anything like that. I felt just blessed to be there. And I started tearing up obviously. I was tearing up and didn’t know how to react. She was far away -- the distance has to be a little bit big in Japan between people. And I just did what my heart told me to do. I reached out and gave her a big hug in the middle of all the people in that big hall. Which was very daring I guess. But she was totally fine with that. And then we talked a little but and it was a wonderful moment. It was just a blessing. So I went after that day - I went on to travel a little bit in Japan and I came back to Tokyo and that same wonderful Maki who is so busy with her peace foundation and many other beautiful projects gave me three hours of her time, taking me around Tokyo. Taking me for a beautiful lunch and sharing her dreams that I will most online soon. Just beautiful. And I cannot thank enough whoever made that possible.
Shiv: Philippe, I have to warn you about one thing -- you have to get used to people coming up to you and telling you that you inspire them :) It’s not just that young woman in Japan. It’s truly inspiring that in today’s world we have someone who can just truly hold space for others. I personally thank you for doing this. Would it be right to say not all conversations are rosy? Probably there are some very difficult conversations, things you’re not ready for that you hear from people. Maybe something very very unhappy that’s happened in people’s life that they share with you. How do you handle that? You’re not ready for that right?
Philippe: Obviously not. I’ve learned to be - how to say -- I’ve learned that surprise is normal. So I’ve learned that the unexpected will happen. And I’ve learned to be maybe grounded? But yeah- I have felt especially from my culture. French culture is a bit impersonal we don’t get into private things so much even with your good friends- maybe it’s the men more. It’s stupid but men think they have to be tougher? So yes -- I’ve heard things like -- the first one was someone telling me her mom had a stroke and her mom is still so young and her dream was that she could just recover so that her mom could play again with her grandchildren. That was the first time someone had told me something deep and sad. And we have people facing disease and death. It is not easy. But people are very strong actually - which is amazing. Once I met a young woman named Danielle. Her dream is to become a professional soccer player what we call football in Europe. And she mentioned that her cousin who is also her best friend was so talented and he died very young. And she wanted to pursue his dream and make it for him. It was very very moving. And one day someone once told me her dream was to kill herself. That’s the only time someone has told me that, or told me something negative actually. People have only been telling me positive things except this woman. She was maybe sixteen or so in Berlin, Germany. I was of course not ready to hear that. And I’m not a psychologist I just talk to people and listen. And I guess I have a good heart but I'm not a psychologist but I thought maybe I will just try to talk to her and listen to her. She told me being old in Berlin is not always easy, when you are in France for example when people are unhappy they scream and they say it they demonstrate. In Germany you can’t. There’s social pressure to fit in and you can’t express so she was telling me winters are terrible in Berlin and long and dark. In California of course people are happy they have the sun! So she was telling me her thoughts. So I listened and talked and asked her questions. I had that little feeling that - maybe our conversation helped her. I kind of had that intuition so I ended up saying goodbye at some point. And on that day I met a psychologist friend of mine and he told me that he thought it was very healthy for that she could express and verbalize her thoughts and share them. So it was maybe part of a kind of healing process. I don’t know -- but here are some of the unexpected things that I’ve heard.
Pavi: It’s really powerful listening to the experiences that you’ve had as you encounter people in the world. For some of us whether we are waiting in a grocery store line or sitting in traffic, the tendency can be to look at other people as just kind of -- these bodies in the way of where you’re getting or people who just happen to be there sharing the same space and time as you. And looking at the world through your eyes you’re seeing these embodiments of dreams walking around. That each person is carrying this cargo of dreams and you want to see that and presence that. I think there’s something very beautiful just about carrying that lens. I feel like it must transform you. And having this dream I think changes who you are in a way. I just recently was reading this a quote from Vincent Van Gogh in a letter he wrote, and it’s very poignant and was written at a time when he was struggling to find his own purpose -- one of the greatest artists of all times. And he says “Someone has a great fire in his soul and nobody ever comes to warm themselves at it, and passers-by see nothing but a little smoke at the top of the chimney “. I feel like the work you’re doing is reminding us of that fire that we carry in our soul and we are more than what the surface shows us. And I was wondering how this journey has transformed you. How have you changed through this dream?
Philippe: It’s definitely changed me. It’s helped me to be less judgmental as you said, there’s this body this envelope that is surrounding us but we are a lot more than that. Everybody has a story and everybody should have a dream -- or had a dream before they forgot it. Just to tell you about being less judgmental -- I actually started doing that roughly at the same time when the first Paris Attack happened by Islamic extremists. Once I was in SF and I saw a young man whose face reminded me of one of the pictures of the terrorists in Paris. And I thought Philippe that’s ridiculous you shouldn't think that and you should just talk to him and see. And so that young man - he actually came to America to work and to be able to save money and then go home and his home was in Mexico where he wanted to study to be a nurse. My spirit had first told me man that guy could be a terrorist where in reality he was one of the sweetest men he had come here because things were difficult in his country and he needed to come here to make and save money and then he wanted to study to help others. That was one of the first lessons I got that taught me not to judge others. Another big learning is that yes we are very different. Cultures are very different, there are real differences. But as well deep inside we are all people and we have so much in common. If I go through the 400 answers that I got, there are a lot of things in common. People want to be happy, they want to serve their community they want to do some good they want to give back they want to get their dream job. There’s so much in common. And that’s another big thing that I’ve learned. I’ve learned as well that asking the right questions can be very powerful. And my questions are just very similar. Two questions: What is your dream and why? And this can lead to a deep connection and meaningful connection and apparently it helps people. So I’ve learned that dialogue and real communication - real communication not just talking about the weather can be so useful. And I’ve learned that we are complex creatures, and we all have some good and some bad and we try to deal with that. People have in them more good than our society in everyday life is using or is able to show. And that’s probably what I am trying to do somehow. To help this beautiful piece of us that’s sometimes kept inside as Van Gogh said -- I’m trying to make it more visible. And have that part of us grow and ‘contaminate’ other people. We can be influenced very easily both in terms of good and bad, and I think when you see sun and light and beautiful things around you that can only do good to others as well.
Pavi: Well it sounds like you’re definitely succeeding . Here’s a comment that came in online from Mish in NY, she says, “Bonjour Philippe, you meet people with your heart open and your loving authentic energy is felt by them that opens their heart in return. I find here in NYC when i smile and say hello to strangers on the subway people respond to loving energy. You are sharing so much beautiful energy in our world through your mission. Thank you and Bless - Mish”
Philippe: Thank you Mish. The power of a smile is very important and that’s really part of my process as I told you -- I have to smile and it works!
Pavi: Rules of engagement - Smile! There you go. I was thinking about how you’ve done a very skillful job of talking very little of yourself on this call and shining a light on other people’s stories and dreams. I’d like to turn the light back on you. Maybe one way of doing that would be to have you answer the question of -- when we think of dreams we think of looking into the future -- this is what I aspire for or wish for or am moving towards. And I think there’s a practice of gratitude that comes from realizing that certain dreams have been fulfilled and are fulfilled in this moment -- and I wonder what you would say if you were asked the question what dreams of yours have come true?
Philippe: I feel really blessed because my life turned out to go far beyond anything I could envision.What I mean is that for example I grew up in a very small village in rural France. My village has 1000 people. When I was younger it was 800 people. I grew up on my bicycle. I was biking everywhere in my village. Next to sleeping biking is probably what I’ve done most in my life apart from working. And so my vision of the world has been my village for so many years. And then I’ve not been traveling. I was happy, that was enough for me. And then when I was a student I went to a college that was in the northern part of France. I’m from the South so it’s maybe like 7 hour drive just to give you an idea of distance. And there that was my world extended -- whoa that’s different! And I should definitely mention my parents who have been a ground for me. They gave me values, like respect, they gave me love, and they’ve been a key part of my journey/. And then when I was a student, Europe has maybe the best part of Europe is that it’s easy to go study for six months in a partner university in a different European country. So I went to study in Austria in Vienna. In German language. And that was really a foundation in my life. I discovered that I first of all -- that was the first time I was in a big city. I’d always lived in the countryside, and my college was in a very small town in France as well. So I discovered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I discovered that those people that we call strangers they are just like me. That I could speak a foreign language. I had no idea I could speak a foreign language I could communicate in a foreign language. I could make friends from different countries. I made friends for life there. I have friends from Sweden and Belgium that I’ve known only for six months there and we are friends for life even twenty years after. And then life took me all over from there. Life took me to Sweden, life took me to America life took me to Thailand. Being in Asia has been very opening to me as well. Living in a Buddhist culture. People that think very differently -- as I told you I’m an engineer so I have that rational part. But as well we are all more than what our job is you know. We are all more than that. So -- I’ve been amazed by all that I’ve seen and my life took me far beyond anything I could expect. My circle was really my village for so long. For 18 years of my life. I lived in my village. And now I’ve been living in six countries and I’ve traveled so many countries. I feel privileged. My wife is -- I met her in an elevator in Bangkok Thailand. She’s American and can you imagine the chance that a French guy who grew up in a village of 800 people meets his wife his Chinese American wife in an elevator in Bangkok! So things like that happen in my life so I - my only question is what’s next? Because I’ve had such a privilege and I hope I still stay adventurous and curious and full of uncertainty.
Pavi: I think it’s in your blood. I don’t think the dream is ever going to leave you. Or the dreaming is ever going to leave you. Speaking of the present moment,, I feel like what happens to some of us is that we compartmentalize - “Oh, this is my dream, and this is my life, and I have to get from here to somewhere else before I can start to live my dream.” And often times we’re not always dropped into the most perfect circumstances or what we think is the most circumstances. I feel like one of the most inspiring things about you is you’re an engineer, you’re in kind of a regular work frame and you’re also nurturing this dream on the side. And you have another beautiful project coming up in that you’re going to be a father soon. With all of these pieces do you have any advice or reflections for people about how to embody their dream even in circumstances that aren’t ideal?
Wow! Again I’m very humbled in that regard you know because I felt very privileged to be able to go through all that I’ve been through. And having time for example is a privilege in this super fast society that we live in now. And having the financial reserves to be able to travel and take time and so on. What I can say for example what comes to my mind is -- a psychologist friend of mine told me -- they made studies on people who are about to die, and they ask them do you have any regrets in life? And so the answer of people is that actually they don’t regret any of their failures at all, they get over that, that’s not an issue. The regret of people is when they look back on their life -- it’s about things they haven't tried. It’s about things they didn’t pursue or try to do. Failing is not the problem. It’s easy to say it’s harder to do it -- but it’s really the feedback of people is just to do things is full, rich, and not doing things is the one thing we could regret doing later. That’s just a comment. And then, really to think for example when I’m scared why am I scared? What are the risks? In some cases the risks are real, like putting yourself and your family at risk financially. Sometimes in life you can’t maybe afford to take a risk but sometimes it’s not the right moment. But just thinking is it really worth being scared? And often times the answer is no. And then what else comes to my mind? To just listen to your intuition. I know amazing people and we have intuitions we have gut feelings that kind of tell us if it’s wrong or right. And surrounding yourself with the right people I think having a community that can help you is very good. And surrounding yourself with people that can inspire you that can guide you can make you reflect is extremely valuable.
Pavi: Beautiful answer and a lot of gems for people to reflect on as they listen and tune into their own inner knowing and intuition and dreams. One of the things that I was reflecting on is I know that the industry that you work in currently in your day job, is related to driverless cars. Is that right?
Pavi: And I was thinking about the trajectory that we are on as society with more and more AI and all that’s ahead that is beyond our wildest dreams right now. And when you think about that trajectory and you think about your childhood the 800 person village that you grew up in, and then you think about the world that your soon to be born child is going to grow up in -- what is your dream for your child?
Philippe: I’m learning so much -- I’ve been talking about this with my wife and I think we agree on first of all that we want him to be happy. And that’s the first requirement. And then I would love him to have a deep understanding of how everything is connected, that life is precious, that Nature is precious, that people are precious, that we should care. That things matter. And people matter. And Nature matters. And find and understand the whole cycle of things. I would like that. And part of that is being open internationally. You can act local and that’s great, that’s definitely a way to make things happen. But having an openness and an awareness that there are people everywhere in the world that we are very connected to. So having that in mind as well. But about jobs and so on I don’t really care. I would just like him to -- it’s a boy-- I would just like him to be happy and to value important things.
Shiv: Thank you so much. Philippe one of the questions as I hear you sharing all of this is - what is the future for dreemit.org? I know you are going to be very busy. How if in any way can ServiceSpace and the listeners on this call, can we help you with your journey?
Philippe: That’s a very good question and I honestly don’t know the exact answer. Because I am currently in the process of asking myself those same questions. I can tell you certain questions that I have -- I have the feeling that this project is touching something that’s good and powerful and with potential, and that I don’t do that in the right way. I am not sure I am doing what should be done. I’m sure there are better ways to do this. And I haven’t found the ideal way to do it and I’m searching for this. So I’m really open to having people’s ideas and feedback on how to make it flourish. But it’s not for me. I don’t really care about it as my project. I want to spread hope I want to spread community. I want to inspire people and I want to help people. So it’s not my project. It’s the project of people and about people. So if anyone has ideas for how to scale it and make more impact how to inspire more how to help people more, so I am really really open to getting people’s ideas and feedback and to reflect with them, maybe take phone calls and so on., One idea of mine is to try and build something that's interactive and engaging. Right now it’s more of a blog and I really want something that’s live. So I;ve been thinking of trying to build some kind of online community where people could post their dreams directly and some of the people could connect with some people and propose their help or support. Definitely not in terms of finance but in terms of time and competence and ideas to do a little bit like a meetup platform but to help people with specific goals and dreams and ideas. So that's something I’m really interested to hear about and if ServiceSpace can help me there I’d be more than delighted to have that dialog around how can we design some sort of online community.
Pavi: Wonderful. Thank you. We did have one more question that came in: “What contributed to him having such a positive outlook on others and on life? How did he become this great spirited person? So in a couple of sentences can you answer that Philippe?
Philippe: How to say? A lot of things -- my life made me the way I am. My parents. My education, my friends, my wife -- she’s an amazing person too, the people I’ve met, traveling, seeing the world. I was blessed to be born in France I could have been born in the middle of the desert or not born at all. So when you see all that’s happening around you and listen and observe you probably become like that. (laughs)
Pavi: For all of those forces that shaped you and all of the people who contributed to your journey and all the invisible nameless forces of good that have contributed to your life we give gratitude to all of that and for you for giving of your time so generously this morning and your life for dedicating int in the way that you have. We have a person who wrote in she couldn't be on the call today but they wanted to share this with you that you remind them of the power and potential of all that is possible when we remember that we are all in this thing called life together Thank you for being you and for lighting up the world in the ways that you do. That’s a message from Audrey and a beautiful note to end this call on.
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