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 😉

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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.

Love Makes the World Go ‘Round    

It’s mid-February. The week of Galentine’s and Valentine’s days. The week that the price of red roses goes up. The week that reminds us to say I love you…

It’s mid-February. The week of Galentine’s and Valentine’s days. The week that the price of red roses goes up. The week that reminds us to say I love you. It’s also (almost) Random Act of Kindness Day (yes, this is a thing, and it is February 17th), a reminder to always be kinder than we feel.

I am not a huge fan this “Hallmark-created holiday,” but I am a huge fan of celebrating love, in all of its forms. Self-love. Friendship love. Family love. Sexual love. And every love in between.

This week is a good reminder to:

  • Call a loved one just because. Tell them you love them, say thank you.
  • Buy yourself some fresh flowers (once the prices are back to their post-Valentine’s day normal).
  • Visit a grandparent, if you are lucky enough to have a grandparent. Or write a letter to an elderly person through Love for the Elderly.
  • Surprise a co-worker with their favorite coffee or treat.
  • Forgive yourself for something.
  • Smile to strangers. Uber drivers. Cashiers. Baristas. People you cross walking the street.
  • Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
  • Reconnect with an old friend.
  • Smile at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful.
  • Compliment a stranger.
  • Fall in love with life. All over again.

Our New Year’s Resolutions

When we were children and still spending New Year’s Eve with our parents, they implemented a tradition of discussing our current year successes and New Year’s intentions and…

When we were children and still spending New Year’s Eve with our parents, they implemented a tradition of discussing our current year successes and New Year’s intentions and resolutions over New Year’s Eve dinner. We did this for so many years, all four of us still live a version of this tradition ever 31st of December.

Here are each of our 2020 resolutions.

 Roxane: Be ok alone.

My husband just started a new job that requires him to be away during the week and home only on the weekends. This is a wonderful opportunity for him, but a challenge for me. I have never learned how to spend time alone nor do I like it. My 2020 challenge and resolution is to be ok when I am alone. I’ve come up with a number of tactics and strategies to set myself up for success:

  • Getting to know my neighbors and having dinner parties with them.
  • Becoming a regular at the local diner.
  • Having friends over and/or test new restaurants with them.
  • Going rock-climbing once a week with a colleague.
  • Engaging in local activities: Thursday evenings in Nax (the village I live in) I can do yoga classes or ski under the stars.
  • Working late or going to bed early (instead of binging on TV shows).
  • If I am eating at home by myself, I will try reading a book, listening to an audio book, watching a good movie, calling family and friends or Skyping with my husband and having a virtual dinner with him.
  • Creating evening routines: turning music on when I walk in the door, starting a fire, lighting candles, doing 30 minutes of yoga, taking a long shower and treating my body with many Alchimie Forever products.

I think there is a slight change I might actually start to enjoying spending time with myself, by myself.

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Rachel: Let go of my fear of taking risks.

In 2016, when I became CEO of Forever Institut, I took a big risk to launch our first expansion project, Forever Boutique. This risk has paid off as the Boutique is break-even and showing growth every month, yet more than ever I am afraid of failure, and plagued with too many doubts. Yet, to succeed as an entrepreneur (or as a seasoned business leader), you have to embrace risk. Calculated risk, yes, but risk nonetheless.
This year, I feel sufficiently serene to be able to take a leap forward and embrace a new risk. We will be looking out for our second Forever Boutique, and I trust that my change of mindset will be like a message to the Universe who will answer with the perfect location for our expansion.

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Cyrille: Continued affirmation of (my)self.

Last year I tried yoga nidra for the first time, and it was like a revelation. The practice starts by setting a powerful intention for yourself; creating in your mind of a precise sentence that helps support your heart’s wishes. This intention (or sankalpa, the Sanskrit word for resolve) should be positive, short, and stated in the present tense. Sankalpa is not about achieving goals or fixing something that is “wrong”. Instead, it’s about connecting with your emotions and beliefs. I learned that my sankalpa already resided within me, as a heartfelt longing. And I repeat it to myself everyday “I am a conquering queen, creator of my own life”. I think of it as a vow between the Universe an me.

While this may not be a traditional resolution (I have never embraced these as much as my sisters LOL!), I vow to continue to repeat my sankalpa daily, as I have found it to be a powerful tool, a gateway to positive change and personal transformation.

Cyrille

Me (Ada): Feel (be) healthier.

This may be the most non original and common New Year Resolution, yet it is not one that I have made in the past – so it is new and interesting to me. I am working to feel healthier, to be healthier, despite traveling 100,000 miles per year, sleeping five to six hours per night, mostly in hotel rooms. To start off strong, I am doing a 21-day cleanse that entails no alcohol, no sugar, no carbohydrates, limited fat and limited dairy. As I write this, I am on day 5, and feeling good. To me, this is as much about the physical cleanse, as it is about the emotional breaking of bad habits, such as relying on wine to de-stress, and on food to feel better.

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What are your New Year’s intentions?

“Let it slow, let it slow, let it slow… down”

En hiver, la nature se tait. Comme un arrêt sur le temps jusqu’au printemps. Ce silence, cet instant de repos, devrait nous inciter à nous aussi, ralentir un peu. Prendre plus de temps pour s’écouter, se chouchouter, favoriser son bien-être et préserver ses ressources.

  1. Reconnaître ce dont on a besoin pour briller

Dès le mois de novembre, les journées se font plus courtes et la luminosité décline. Ces phénomènes se reflètent sur notre visage – teint pâle, cernes prononcés, traits tirés – et aussi sur notre moral – on est un peu plus sensible et d’humeur morose. Une solution serait de s’harmoniser avec le rythme de la nature en ajoutant une heure de sommeil à nos nuits hivernales. Et pour ceux – comme moi – qui ont de la difficulté à dormir, il faut trouver d’autres manières de pallier au manque de soleil. Réveil imitateur d’aube, soins du visage à la lumière pulsée, vacances au soleil, beaucoup de câlins… Le but est d’attiser son feu intérieur, de faire rayonner son sourire, sa peau, ses pensées, de faire briller sa lumière sur les autres et le monde.

  1. Manger en conscience

En hiver on a tendance à manger plus ; pour se réchauffer, pour s’égayer, parce que les plats de saison sont souvent plus riches en graisses, parce que les fêtes de fin d’année sont gourmandes. Oui, nous sommes dans une période d’excès ; alors prenons le temps de choisir ce qui nous régale vraiment et contentons nous de cela. On attend des aliments qu’ils nourrissent notre âme autant que notre corps. Alors détendons nous, profitons de chaque minute de partage et faisons de chaque repas un moment précieux empreint de plaisir.

Polla sisters cooking
Cyrille, Rachel, Ada et Roxane
  1. Slow beauty

Il y a déjà 10 ans, le Dr Polla introduisait la notion de « Slow beauty » à Forever Institut. Ce concept implique une vision consciente, réceptive et durable de la beauté. On choisit des traitements qui respectent l’intégrité corporelle et émotionnelle ; on décide d’avancer dans l’âge de façon digne, en prenant soin de sa personne. On s’accorde le temps de réflexion sur ce dont on a besoin pour s’épanouir, en construisant une vision de soins esthétiques à long terme. On combine les techniques, on séquence les séances, pour un geste plus doux, pour un résultat naturel et progressif.

Alors rendez-vous en 2020 !

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.

 

Thanksgiving and Spinach Madeleine

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and I am feeling thankful for so much. Next week, I will celebrate this American holiday in Louisiana…

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and I am feeling thankful for so much. Next week, I will celebrate this American holiday in Louisiana, with my husband’s side of the family. We will connect, we will laugh, we will watch football, and we will eat.
One of the things we will eat, my favorite side dish, is Spinach Madeleine, something akin to creamed spinach with a lot of cheese. This was invented by a lady in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when she had guests over unexpectedly and had to make something out of what was in her pantry… You will notice the 1950s food sensibilities, yet trust me, you can’t argue with the taste.
Add this to your menu for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for a Fall or Winter birthday party. Below is the recipe for this amazing dish, edited (in terms of ingredient availability in Swiss grocery stores, and spice) by Marty, my Louisiana-born sister-in-law who lives in Switzerland.
Enjoy!


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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!

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  • 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.

La beauté de rester un enfant à jamais

Ce jeudi, c’était le 1eraoût, la fête nationale suisse et bien que j’aie trente ans, je l’ai vécue comme un enfant de cinq ans. Je ne me souviens pas, étant petite, avoir fait des feux d’artifices le 1eraoût. Premièrement j’habitais en ville, donc difficile de faire ça sur le balcon au milieu des immeubles et deuxièmement j’entends d’ici mon père dire : « c’est dangereux ! ». Mais mon mari me raconte que passé le 25 décembre, lui et son frère n’attendaient qu’une seule chose : le 1eraoût, pour pouvoir faire des feux d’artifices dans leur jardin. Cette année nous avons fêté le 1eraoût chez mon beau-frère qui a maintenant deux garçons de cinq et huit ans et, grâce à ma belle-famille, j’ai découvert combien incroyable peut être une fête nationale.

Je n’en reviens toujours pas. On a commencé par allumer des pétards dans une petite brouette, ça pétaradait de partout comme des pistolets au Far West. Puis il y a eu les Vésuve, des volcans miniatures crachant des étincelles de plus en plus haut pendant un temps infini, comme si le Vésuve lui-même était en pleine éruption. Enfin sont arrivées les fusées – les vrais feux d’artifices – et le bouquet final. Les dernières étincelles fusaient dans l’air avant d’exploser en couleurs et en sons. Excitation totale mélangeant émerveillement, appréhension et fascination. Je ne sais pas qui était le plus excité : les neveux de mon mari ou moi-même ? Et je n’arrive toujours pas à croire que toute cette magie, c’est nous qui la produisons…

Je me suis rendue compte, ce soir-là, combien c’est important de rester officieusement un enfant lorsqu’on devient officiellement adulte. Non seulement cela nous permet de continuer à être fascinés par la vie : ce qui semble être un rien pour un adulte nous fait rêver et nous rappelle la chance que nous avons d’être sur cette terre. De plus, lorsque nous sommes fascinés, nous transmettons ce sentiment tout autour de nous et cela fait du bien aux autres aussi. On rappelle ainsi à ceux qui auraient un peu trop grandi que la vie est belle et que si l’on regarde bien, chaque jour on a de quoi avoir des étoiles pleins les yeux.

Alors, restons enfants ! Et ceci même si certains n’ont de cesse de nous répéter qu’il faut grandir !

21 jours

“Dry January” et “dry July”; j’ai testé 21 jours sans alcool. Je recommande à tous cette expérience qui fait un bien fou au corps et à l’esprit!

21 jours

Pour la première fois, en janvier 2019, je me suis proposé le défi personnel de traverser 21 jours sans boire d’alcool. Une amie m’avait parlé du concept de « dry January »,  l’idée étant qu’après les « orgies gastronomiques » souvent bien arrosées de décembre, on met son foie au repos le premier mois de la nouvelle année.

En me renseignant sur le concept, j’ai appris qu’il faut 21 jours pour changer une habitude. J’aime les chiffres, les équations et les challenges ; j’en ai donc fait mon affaire.

J’ai rempli mon frigo de bière sans alcool, de Schweppes et de bitters pour avoir le choix d’une boisson attrayante en rentrant du travail. Je ne suis pas beaucoup sortie durant cette période, mais les quelques occasions d’afterwork entre copines n’ont pas été difficiles à gérer. Une fois lancée, je me sentais de plus en plus forte et heureuse de vivre cette toute nouvelle expérience.

J’ai commencé à ressentir les bienfaits de cette démarche dès la première semaine. Mes nuits étaient plus sereines et mon sommeil plus profond. Même en ne dormant que 6 à 7 heures – ce qui ne me suffisait pas auparavant – je me sentais reposée le lendemain au réveil.

Au bout de deux semaines, ma peau était plus lumineuse, et mes rougeurs sur les joues et le menton s’étaient estompées. Le matin je remarquais mon visage moins gonflé, surtout au niveau des poches sous les yeux. En revanche je n’ai constaté aucune amélioration de mes sensations de jambes lourdes. Ma fragilité veineuse à ce niveau-là doit être héréditaire. Je n’ai pas non plus perdu de poids – non pas que je le souhaitais ! Mais on parle souvent de la teneur calorifique de l’alcool.

Enfin, dès la troisième semaine je ne ressentais déjà plus l’envie de boire, même en sortant pour un apéro ou un diner en famille.

Le plus surprenant a été la confirmation de cette « règle » des 21 jours. Mes habitudes ont réellement changé, de manière très naturelle. Alors que pendant des années je consommais un à deux verres de vin tous les soirs, après ces 21 jours je n’en avais plus l’automatisme, ni l’envie. J’ai recommencé à boire quelques soirs par semaine, en bonne compagnie, et pour une occasion sociale.

Mon mental a également bénéficié de ce jeûne. Chaque jour j’ai perçu ma force et ma confiance en moi s’accroître. Je me suis sentie rassurée, et en ai tiré autant de satisfaction que de fierté et de gratitude envers moi-même. Une belle palette d‘émotions positives qui sont toujours les bienvenues !

J’ai réitéré l’expérience le 1er juillet, lors du passage à la seconde moitié de l’année, accompagnée de l’énergie dépurative de la nouvelle lune. Aujourd’hui nous sommes le 21 juillet, et je bois une evian aromatisée à la framboise en écrivant ce blog. La différence cette fois-ci est que je me suis permis un écart pour fêter mon anniversaire. Sans regret ! Je sais à présent que j’ai la force et la volonté nécessaires pour changer une habitude qui ne me convient plus ; et mon objectif est la maîtrise plutôt que le contrôle. Je continue d’apprécier les saveurs et la chaleur d’un bon vin, ainsi que la frivolité festive d’un cocktail de temps en temps.

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