Going Viral

Covid-19 seems to be in everyone’s mind and conversation… It has been a great opportunity to learn more about my team and business.

Covid-19 seems to be in everyone’s mind and conversation. What started as a “far-away” problem suddenly became an anxiogenic reality very close to us – even more so now that cases have been declared in Geneva. Being an optimistic and rarely anxious woman, I was not alarmed nor did I judge it necessary to act upon this situation. I felt however that my father took it very seriously and needed to be reassured. That is why I took things in hand at Forever; and I am glad I did, because this experience has been a wonderful opportunity to learn more about my team and my business. What have I noticed so far?

First of all, that we are quick to lose our sense of judgement. Let me share an anecdote to illustrate this point. I entered our common room while one of our laser-hair-removal therapists advised her colleague to double-check her client because she had just come back from Mexico. The former, looking surprised, replied “but there are no cases of Corona virus in Mexico”! Actually, what her colleague meant was that the client’s skin might be tanned, and therefore react more strongly to the laser treatment. This did make us all laugh… even though it shows our brains function differently when we are preoccupied.

A very positive consequence of the Covid-19 situation is that – contrary to my presumption – it brought our team closer. We have all been more caring with one another, sharing good advice and news, asking whether we’ve taken our daily vitamin and echinacea supplements to boost our immune system. Those staff members that are less anxious naturally took it upon themselves to reassure their more hypochondriac colleagues.

Our clients have also been very grateful and appreciative of how thoughtful we have been in the situation, offering them hand sanitizers and Alchimie Forever’s Dry Skin Balm in every treatment room, reception, and waiting areas. The timing is actually pretty fitting since we have just launched our new packaging on this product. I told you I tend to always see the positive in life 😉

IMG_1592

Lastly is the first time in my life as a CEO I am confronted to the possibility of a major external risk to the business, challenged to find the appropriate dose of prevention and empathy towards those who are more scared than I am, without over-reacting and generating useless panic. I am finding the exercise extremely interesting and enriching, and my next read will be about crisis management. There’s still a lot to learn.

Happy & Sexy Countdown

In 5 months, my partner and I will be celebrating our love and commitment to one another; an outdoors wedding in tune with the summer solstice. Obviously, I want the whole experience to be as magical as in my childhood dreams: the sunset between the vineyards and the lake, the gathering, the dress, the music, the love declaration… And I wish to feel my most beautiful self, to honor and dazzle my man, our families and friends. Do you see what I’m getting at? 😉

chateau lacoste

So here’s my Forever beauty countdown program to get ready for the D-Day

  • Laser hair removal: already done!
  • D-5 months (now): start using Alchimie Forever’s Advanced Retinol Serum twice a week at night
  • D-4 months: laser facial with Picosure Focus to fade away brown sunspots and tighten my skin (I’ve already done 1 session, so 2 more to go over the next two months)
  • D-2 months: A light version of the Softlift , performed by my dad Dr Luigi L. Polla. A very subtle and natural way to enhance my facial features (cheekbones, jawline), reduce the under-eye circles and nasolabial folds, and most importantly generally rejuvenate my skin
  • D-7 weeks: Hyaluronic acid filler to plump-up my lips (not the ones you think; see my blog on the injection of the “other lips” ….)
  • D-6 weeks: Get a Hydrafacial Boost and start using the Pigment Lightening Serum of Alchimie Forever to complement my treatment
  • D-2 weeks: get a Hydrafacial Pamper to have the perfect skin tone and enjoy a little bit of pampering on top
  • D-3 days: my sister Cyrille has advised an eye-lash tint. Knowing me, for sure there will be tears! That way no mascara leaks 😉
  • D-2 days: a lymphatic drainage should help me relax and detox
  • D-day: my Forever Beauty program being over, I will get my make-up and hair done by Le Bal des Créateurs, the crème de la crème in Switzerland

I’ll keep a beauty journal to share my experiences, as well as before and after pictures. Stay tuned!

My key CEO-takeaways for 2019

I am sure you all know about the concept of “3 take-away messages”. I often use this method in my life, to synthesize and integrate the learnings of a class, a workshop, a book – any relevant experience really. So I decided to apply it to my 2019 business year as a CEO of our family business.

 

  1. COACHING rather than COPING

My first stress trigger was when I realized we didn’t start the year according to the set budget. I tried to cope by myself using various strategies, but by April, I felt powerless to reverse the trend. That’s when I entered panic mode. Luckily I had just started new coaching sessions.

In just a couple of sessions Eva Cruz guided me towards asking myself the right questions – which led me to find the right solutions. Much more useful than panicking! Most importantly, she helped me find my “WHY” – the famous Why of Simon Sinek. Since our coaching sessions ended, I feel like everything kind of fell into place. Even my anxiety level has reduced quite drastically.

Understanding the power of the right type of coaching at the right time, I tried a second approach towards the end of the year. I started Krav Maga with Thierry Colomb, a self-defense and productivity coach. These sessions help me feel more powerful and in charge.

  1. FACE rather than FEAR

This year I have really worked on my tendency to avoid difficult discussions. My coping mechanism was usually to hide in my “cave” (my office for example) rather than face them with trust and strength. It was particularly challenging for me to change this behavior, as it is rooted in my childhood.  But I’m getting there. And the most recent discussion to date I had with a dear colleague has been a relief for both of us; we were able to tell each other what we needed to move forward into a more constructive, and successful relationship. When I received a heartfelt thank you note for what I felt was a tough discussion, I realized how facing issues is key.

  1. ASK rather than ATTEMPT

Lastly, I realized how important it is to ask for help sooner rather than later. As a young CEO, I kept feeling that reaching out for help would hinder the image others would have of me. My eldest sister Ada and her husband have kept trying to change my mind about this. I don’t know if it’s their persistency or simply my growing maturity. But definitely, 2019 has been a year of calls or emails to the Chairman of our Board of Directors (Gilles Bos, a wonderful mentor), asking him for advice. Looking back – and ahead towards 2020 – I feel that I have grown because of this new and positive perception of the act of asking.

 

Photoshoot des #Pollasisters

Depuis 2013, mes sœurs et moi organisons des séances de photo de nous quatre. J’ai eu le bonheur d’offrir ma nouvelle maison comme décor de notre dernière séance en date. Ce fut un moment très privilégié car cela nous a permis de faire tout ce que j’aime avec elles…

Depuis 2013, mes sœurs et moi organisons des séances de photo de nous quatre. On joue le jeu, on se pomponne, on se met en scène, à chaque fois dans des lieux différents et avec un style particulier. D’un sacerdoce (je l’avoue, au début, je n’étais ni très à l’aise, ni très patiente), à un moment de partage joyeux et qui nous rapproche, ces moments ponctuent nos rencontres à quatre.

J’ai eu le bonheur d’offrir ma nouvelle maison comme décor de notre dernière séance en date. Ce fut un moment très privilégié car cela nous a permis de faire tout ce que j’aime avec mes sœurs… et je sais déjà que les photos nous rappelleront cette journée extraordinaire.

Cyrille, en charge de l’organisation de nos shootings (la pauvre, gérer ses sœurs dans ces moments-là n’est pas toujours évident !), avait prévu plusieurs tableaux :

  • Nous préparer ensemble dans mon dressing : choisir nos vêtements et accessoires pour la soirée, nous maquiller et nous faire belle. Ce fut la prise de vue la plus compliquée, d’une part parce que c’était la première (il faut toujours un tour de chauffe), et d’autre part car mon dressing n’avait pas une profondeur de champ nécessaire au cadrage. Note à moi-même: demander au père Noël d’agrandir mon dressing 😉
  • Cuisiner ensemble. Un menu tout simple composé d’une soupe, de pâtes et des tomates fraîches. J’adore recevoir ma sœur aînée lors de ses visites à Genève. Le fait qu’elle choisisse de loger systématiquement chez moi est un réel privilège qui redouble mon plaisir à préparer nos repas. C’était donc un tableau que j’ai particulièrement apprécié ! Surtout quand on rajoute la cerise sur le gâteau… à savoir du champagne.
  • Boire un thé chaud (eh oui ! J’adore le champagne mais il faut savoir diversifier les plaisirs) et bouquiner autour du feu de cheminée. J’ai été conquise par la maison car je la trouve magnifique, mais aussi parce qu’il y a une cheminée. J’ai donc eu le bonheur d’allumer mon premier feu avec mes meilleures amies (mes sœurs), et nous avons passé un doux moment à regarder les flammes danser dans l’antre de la cheminée.
  • Faire du sport. Le sport fait entièrement partie de nos vies ; même Cyrille qui n’était pas du tout sportive s’y est mise ! C’était donc assez naturel qu’on promeuve le fait de prendre soin de soi et de sa beauté, pas uniquement au travers des crèmes et des soins, mais aussi par l’exercice physique.
  • Enfin, profiter d’un moment de détente dans le jacuzzi… après l’effort nous avions droit à du réconfort. Le petit plus de ce moment ? Quand ma fille Sasha est arrivée et s’y est glissée avec nous pour inaugurer nos premières photos à cinq !

Sharing success

Saturday, it was Forever Boutique’s 2-years anniversary. What a journey! When I think back on all the work that brought us here, and all the energy that we have put in to make our business grow and bloom since October 6th 2017, I actually feel dizzy with amazement.

Early Saturday morning, in the train for Lausanne, I took a moment to reflect on the exciting day that was about to unfold… Forever Boutique’s 2-year anniversary.

What a journey! When I think back on all the work that brought us here, and all the energy that we have put in to make our business grow and bloom since October 6th 2017, I actually feel dizzy with amazement.

The idea of this Boutique had been gestating in our father’s mind for 4 years, but was finally created in 9 months. And just like a pregnancy, the experience was thrilling and exhausting towards the end; the “baby” developed slowly, its design taking shape progressively, until a few weeks before the grand opening when the anxiety of how it would really “look and feel” reached numerous peaks.

Admiring the scenery between Geneva and Lausanne – a landscape which is now an integral part of my business life – I realized that work, sweat, and tears were not the only reasons for our success; our capacity to work together as a family contributed a great deal. There’s the transmission of trust and leadership from the first generation to the second; the sharing of responsibilities between us 4 sisters representing the “next gen”; and the whole family’s support and desire to challenge one another with love, care, and respect, aspiring to make each other – and our businesses – flourish. The surprising beauty in all this, is that our family has actually grown too! Those colleagues who really share our values, work ethic, vision, dreams, ambitions, philosophy, and embrace them all as if they were their own – they are part of the “family”.

boutique2ans

One of these gems we were so lucky to meet is Marie. She has become my best friend, and my best business partner-in-crime. Our clients often ask if she is part of the Polla family; she may not be by blood, but she definitely is in spirit. She has my back and I have hers. What she has achieved over the past two years as CEO of Forever Boutique is amazing: she has given it a soul, a pulse, an aura. Marie has been exemplary in her commitment as well as in her positive and forward-thinking attitude. Today, our success is hers too. Trusting her with our “baby” is our family’s greatest achievement.

Marie, thank you for these 2 amazing years and the many more to come!

marie et rachel folles

 

Discovering a far-away culture

Last month, I spent two weeks of “business holidays” in China and Seoul. I had a wonderful time, even if it was everything but relaxing, and must admit that I fell in love with China. I think part of the feeling was due to the fact that I realized how uninformed we are when it comes to this fascinating country. Just two examples of what I wasn’t expecting at all: Chinese people are  welcoming once you take the time and heartfelt effort to engage with them; and the country is particularly clean – after the third picture of blue sky, I stopped… as it actually was “normal”.

I also fell in love with the complexity of the country: after these two weeks I have never been more convinced that life is never black or white – but rather made up of billions of shades of uniqueness (or blue, if you look at the sky)!

These considerations set apart, here are the main highlights of my trip there:

  • It is a far-away country, not only due to the kilometers which separate us. First of all, 99% of the people I met during my business meetings don’t speak English; communication, which is the basis of engaging in a trustful relationship, is truly challenging. Then, our culture and traditions are estranged, which makes for awkward moments, but good stories to tell!
  • Dimension is totally dissimilar: when I met one of my business contacts, she wanted to show me some of her franchises. Only two shops, yet seven hours later (more or less a full tour of Switzerland; here though we never left Beijing!), made me realize how dissimilar our sense of distance is. Another stunning example is that in my country and industry, we talk of a “chain” when we have 2-3 clinics and are considered as a major player when we generate over 4 million revenues; every place I visited in China or Seoul had 25 to 40 different locations, each generating tens of million in revenues. It is more than attracting, I must admit; but back home, I doubt that we, Europeans, have what it takes to conquer Chinese clients in their homeland!

rap chine 2

  • Time is money: in their view, it is ridiculous that a Doctor does the consult; they have “beauty consultants” trained for that, leaving the Doctors time to perform the acts and the trainings – where their real added value lies. We don’t work like this in Switzerland; yet I was intrigued by the concept and I am relentlessly thinking of how I could implement this here, without being untrue to our own culture and mentality.

I came home with many business ideas and meetings to talk about, as well as a multitude of personal memories. On this more personal note, my main highlight was seeing the astonishment in my daughter’s eyes. And discovering the card she bought and then wrote, telling me how proud she is to see me work hard for our family business. sasha-et-moi.jpg

 

Be Positive. Be Strong.

I have always loved running and used to run at an average 12km/hour. Until my injury, running was the only for of exercise I enjoyed – and I need to exercise to feel good. Having to give that up (or so I thought) made me feel diminished, and it took me quite some time to overcome that feeling. 

I am known as a positive person and I believe everything happens for a reason. Weirdly enough, eight months ago I fractured my right foot. More important and the physical pain, I was overwhelmed by how vulnerable this injury made me feel. I have always loved running and used to run at an average 12km/hour. Until my injury, running was the only for of exercise I enjoyed – and I need to exercise to feel good. Having to give that up (or so I thought) made me feel diminished, and it took me quite some time to overcome that feeling.

After what felt like an agonizing long time, I finally started exercising again this past weekend: 40km of bicycle, 7km of walk and 7km of running. I finally feel like myself again, especially due to my renewed capacity to run. These months were hard on me, but I learned a lot:

  • Don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself. I did that for more than 2 months which was much too long! I wasted time and negative energy. The next time I have a setback I won’t let myself feel diminished…
  • Always remember that everything happens for a reason… Try to find that reason, and you will feel much better! This brings me to point 3…
  • Keep an open mind : once I took control of my life again I discovered bicycling and swimming, two forms of exercise I never tried for fear of being bad at it (biking) and a fear of water (which I overcame three years ago) (I was afraid of water until about three years ago). I am learning how to swim freestyle, with my mind focused on a single objective: soon I hope I’ll be diving! I thought I could only run. Now I enjoy three different sports and have a new goal – positive outcomes from this injury.
  • Be humble. Like my sister Ada would say: start with baby steps. Getting ready for 6km of mountain bike or 4km of running puts me in the mood. I know I will achieve more, but a 40km goal to start with is just too much!

Be proud. Every step is a step, even the baby ones. Celebrate them all. And keep going no matter what.

Tips to a (serene) move

At one point in my life, I moved five times in six years… so I had to master the art of managing a move efficiently. Thursday, I did it again 🙂
Here are my tips for a successful move

At one point in my life, I moved five times in six years… so I had to master the art of managing a move efficiently. Wednesday, after five without a move, there I was again, packing boxes, preparing to move the next day. I was excited, and overwhelmed – which I still am three days later… But the new home is so worth-it!

Here are my tips for a successful move:

  • Timing is everything: Don’t start packing too early… I started about two weeks ago, and it was soon enough. Living in boxes isn’t that much fun (except for my cat)! Don’t wait until the last minute either. Even if you don’t feel like you have a lot to pack, believe me, you have more than you think! Packing all-nighters are no fun (speaking from experience).
  • Make sure you keep the weekend before you move commitment-free, appointment-free, completely free. This way, you can focus on packing.
  • Be organized:
    • Pack boxes by theme – the kid’s room, parents’ room, kitchen… don’t mix everything together, or you will go crazy unpacking!
    • Write details on all boxes – not just “kitchen” (how many “kitchen” boxes do we all have?) but “glasses & silverware” etc.
    • Being organized helps the movers, and you want the movers to be your friends. They will be grateful and happier to help you if they know where each box goes – rather than having to ask you for each one of them! This time, feeling creative,  I decided to name each room in my new house and put a note on each door with the correct name. You can also color code if you want.
  • Have takeout food the night before your move… so you can pack everything except for your coffee mug (and/or champagne flutes) for D-Day. And make sure you have a bottle of champagne or rosé wine – or anything you like to drink when you are on the verge of having a nervous breakdown – in the fridge, and a couple plastic cups. At some point, believe me, you’ll need it!
  • Finally, if you’re into clothes and feel like changing on a whim, or because of crazy weather fluctuations, pack a small carry on with clothes for the day of the move. That will also enable you to easily change for dinner, since everything will go so smoothly you’ll be able to go out for a nice celebratory dinner!

blog

We want it all!

Part of our vision when my sisters and I created Forever Boutique was to address the wishes of those who want it all… champagne & detox; career & family; busy & tranquil; aesthetic medicine & natural results. And I can definitely relate to that kind of woman! 

Part of our vision when my sisters and I created Forever Boutique was to address the wishes of those who want it all… champagne & detox; career & family; busy & tranquil; aesthetic medicine & natural results. And I can definitely relate to that kind of woman!

Balance is one of my core values and needs. In all aspects of my life I seek a subtle equilibrium, and more precisely one that enables me to enjoy the 3 facets of my being – the mother, the woman (by that I mean the lover & friend) and the professional. The treatments that we selected at Forever Boutique are what we call « lunch-time » beauty procedures: quick, non-invasive and super efficient. Thirty minutes for a wow effect that makes us look radiant, relaxed and fresh, in spite of our busy lifestyles.

We created our beauty menu as one that provides happiness to everyone. Whether you want super plumped, Hollywood-style lips or a natural sexy look; whether you want a smooth forehead or Botox that remains super light; whether you want a deep-cleanse or a chemical peel for an instant glow; we adapt our treatments and product concentrations to your needs.

Another way I find balance in my life is by alternating intense and productive schedules with moments of tranquility that replenish my inner energies. This summer, for the first time ever in my life, I will be moving to a house located outside of the city center. This will be a new environment for me, as I grew up downtown Geneva, where the hum of city life and crowds filled me with positive vibes. I will now discover the bliss of coming home to a quiet garden and the feeling that I am on vacation.

As for my champagne routine, I balance it with weekly workouts at my local gym … Sweating it out on the treadmill heals my mind and body!

What about you ? How do you find balance in your life ?

180 seconds to save the world

How would I change my world in 180 seconds? To that question, a very simple answer came to me: I decided to ban plastic bottles from my home. This is my personal first step.
What will yours be? 

In December I had the privilege of being chosen as one of the 100 business leaders who represent the future of Romandie in Switzerland (Forum des 100 event). This past Thursday, I attended the annual event organized by Le Temps to celebrate those who are selected. I was happy to meet other entrepreneurs and had the amazing opportunity to listen to conferences and roundtables on the urgency of an ecological transition.

I heard David Hochschild who chairs the California Energy Commission, speak. He shared the state’s positive experience regarding its ecological transition: transformation can be a source of wealth creation! Paul Bulcke from Nestle had the courage to speak on such a controversial subject for the company; and without surprise, he was questioned and challenged on the responsibility of agribusiness multinationals in plastic waste polluting our oceans. Marco Simeoni, who founded Race for Water, a fabulous Foundation that works on water and ocean preservation, was particularly strong in his questions and challenges. I was myself deeply moved by what this successful entrepreneur has worked on and created following the sale of his business. His message resonated in the mother, CEO, and woman in me.

At the end of the day, I was left with one question: in 180 seconds, how would I change the world? I have many ideas, of course. Ban plastic. Rethink low-cost travel. Change consumption habits. Inform ourselves better. Stop taking everything for granted…

I was discussing this with my sister Cyrille, and she suggested that instead of changing the world, I should start at home. She asked: how would I change my world in 180 seconds? To that question, a very simple, clear, immediate answer came to me: I decided to ban plastic bottles from my home. This is my personal first step.

What will yours be?