Sunday 4th November 2018
By Michelle Hammond
Q1 - How did your childhood influence your work ethic and attitude towards business?
I’d like to think I haven’t grown up yet, so hope I can continue to learn every day!
I was born and raised in Belgium, a small, but pretty complex country let’s say. I think that influenced me in a sense that we have to be able to look beyond our own borders and strive for compromises. My parents always have given me the freedom to make my own choices. That is how I approach business also: test your boundaries to be able to find your passion. That will lead into creativity, for me the basis
of how I approach business.
Q2 - What do you believe the principles of a successful business are today?
I was introduced to Jim Collins by Gary, a coach who guided a corporate executive team I had the chance to be a part of. The first thing that stood out to me to create a successful business, is that you have to set your BHAG, your Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I truly believe that having such a goal, how far fetched it may seem at this point in time, aligns the business, inspires it and does make a good business a great
And, to continue with a concept from that same book, we’re also working on finding our Hedgehog, the understanding of what can make our business great. We’re finding that intersection of 3 circles:
- What you can be the best in the world at?
- What drives our economic engine?
- What are we passionate about?
These concepts bring understanding to a business and help a good business to become great.
Q3 - Looking back, what was your best business decision?
Although we’re still on a roller-coaster, it has to be the acquisition of Thalgo USA now a year ago and the decision to become a “business owner”. I’ve learned a lot already, including that it is definitely not the same as the corporate life I was used to! But, I wake up every morning motivated and ready to go. That says it all for me.
Q4 - Who has influenced you the most through your career?
I think there are many people who had a big influence on my career. My first real “boss”, Roland, from whom we learned all sides of creating and running a brand new technology and building a business around it. Then Nick, with whom I have worked for 12 years, worked hard traveling the world – if visiting 96 countries sounds glamorous, we may have a different opinion – which made me very comfortable
negotiating across borders. Gary, the coach I already mentioned, who worked with Nick and his executive team. And, finally, my wife, now also co-owner, and my 2 kids, who support and inspire me every single day.
Q5 - What was your most difficult / worst business decision?
Oh, that’s a trick question for me, as that is definitely one of my weaknesses I am now very conscious of. I tend to postpone difficult decisions, which makes it sometimes a bad decision! So, I’m sure there have been many bad decisions I have made. So, my most difficult decision is actually making a difficult decision. Organizational changes, even though I feel these will set us up for greater success, are the most difficult ones for me. But, as I said, I’m very aware of this particular weakness now and I hope I’m
getting better at that.
Q6 - What would you say was the single most advantageous character trait for success?
Watch, learn and make it your acquired skill. I try to learn every day, learn what my weaknesses are and what I’m strong at. Be willing to look then for people who are better than you, each maybe with a particular skill, but the sum of such a team will always be much more than just the sum of individuals.
Q7 - What happens when you’re stressed or overwhelmed?
Oh, as I referred to, I definitely get stressed when facing difficult decisions. So, let’s say I’m also still learning, but try to take a step back, understand what’s going on, and look at the options. Even pausing for a minute is enough to do that, but a nice dinner date often does the trick for me. If only I don’t have to decide on the restaurant!
Q8 - How do you invest in your own wellbeing. How do you look after yourself?
Cycling is my passion. My wife would tell you it was an addiction. I used to spend hours and hours on my bike, going like 1,500 to 2,000 miles a week.
Unfortunately, I lost my motivation a bit, also because of lack of time, or at least that’s what I tell myself. I do spend more time with my family and make it a point to meet up with my friends. That is a huge help to my mental wellbeing!
However, I will have to make it a point to go out again for some rides, re-start some pilates, and maybe pick up boxing together with my son.
Q9 - If you could change one thing about the spa and wellness industry what would it be and why?
Don’t be afraid to customize and definitely don’t be afraid of change. Every end-user, every spa manager, every therapist is an individual with different concerns, expectations and above all how what experience he or she is looking for. I understand we all have to have certain procedures and guidelines to base our business on. Don’t get stuck in those though. We are in this to deliver or help our partners deliver a wellness experience for a broad audience. If we’re afraid to customize, we exclude demographics and people from the start.
Q10 - Finally, what’s your favorite quote or the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Seek to understand before you seek to be understood”
― DR. STEPHEN R. COVEY
FLASH FACTS - FOR FUN SECTION
1. What’s your favourite book?
This will probably sound pretty heavy and I dreaded reading them in high school, but Dostoevsky is probably my favorite author.
2. What’s your favourite film of all time?
I don’t really like going to the movies, but Tarantino movies did get me there. I like most of his movies, with Pulp Fiction being one of my favorites.
3. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
I’d say Barack Obama. But, dinner together with my wife and 2 kids is definitely as good. Maybe the answer then is the 4 of us and Barack Obama!
4. You get taken to your favorite place to be, where are you taken?
5. Your perfect dinner is?
A fillet steak, preferably S-African, with homemade béarnaise sauce and fries.
6. Your go to drink is?
Gin and tonic, no doubt.
7. Your favourite sweet treat is?
Just one? Belgian chocolates!
8. What’s your favourite essential oil / scent?
9. You go for a treatment - what do you have and why?
Mmmm, I think I’d still choose a massage/spa ritual. The wellness experience I usually look for is relaxation.
10. What is your favorite flower?
11. You want to sleep deeply, what do you do?
I have to “decompress” if I want to have a good night’s sleep. It used to be riding my bike in the morning to be energized for the day and healthy tired in the evening.
12. You want to energise fast, what do you do?
Sports, even for just for half an hour or so.
13. The theme tune to your life is?
That’s a hard one! Maybe calling it the tune of my life isn’t exactly right, but “Changes” by Tupac is about things I care about and that can be applied to many aspects of my life, personal and business.
14. What makes you laugh to your belly?
My son has exactly the same humor as I do. Just to see my wife’s and daughter’s reaction to our lame jokes just cracks me up.
15. What’s your favourite season?
Euh, I live in Florida.
16. What’s your favourite colour?
17. Your favourite time of day is?
18. What’s your current TV guilty secret?
Vikings. Amazing show.
19. If you could have been anyone or anything else, what/who would you be?
A wine farmer.
20. Magic dust - you can learn one new skill instantly, what is it?
Play guitar or any music instrument really
Christophe joined the wellness and spa industry only in 2017. Prior to finding his new passion, he worked for different public technology companies, having lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East and the US.
Together with the Thalgo USA team, he is looking to bring the Thalgo brand to the next level in the US and Caribbean.
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