Season 3
40 Minutes

107 | Eve Simon | The Rewards Of Leaving Our Bubble

Eve Simon is an Expert in Leadership Transformation, Igniter for Innovation and Inclusion, Executive Coach, Author, TEDx Speaker, and Serial Entrepreneur.

German by nature, Californian by heart - that defines an unusual approach in everything Eve does. Eve works as a creative and systemic business builder with corporations, executives, and start-ups all over the world to empower radical self-awareness and agile leadership for a more sustainable business approach.

Prior to starting her own company ‘Inspirations Without Borders’ in 2005, Eve managed national marketing, communications, and change at telecommunication giant E-Plus, as they transitioned from start-up, through rapid growth, and into the maturity phase. She regularly travels between Dusseldorf and Silicon Valley.

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Eve Simon  00:00

California has really a soul home because my soul feels so at home there that I can just be who I am and that is a curious Wild Free Spirit. Which questions probably often the status quo but also believes in so much beauty

Achim Nowak  00:24

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. If life is a FIVE ACT play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started. I am just delighted to welcome Eve Simon to the MY FOURTH ACT podcast Eve as an expert in regenerative leadership. She is an igniter of innovation and change and executive coach and author and TEDx speaker and a serial entrepreneur. Eve likes to say that she is German by nature and Californian by heart. And this in a way display finds her unusual approach to things and the essence of how she shows up in life. Prior to starting the first venture inspirations without borders in 2005, Eve managed national marketing communications and change a telecommunication giant e plus, she is the mom to a beautiful 10 year old daughter, and has fashioned a life that has her spending loads of time and disel Dorf, and loads of time in the largest San Francisco and Silicon Valley area. Welcome Eve.

Eve Simon  01:59

Thank you so much after you it’s such a honor to be here.

Achim Nowak  02:04

I’m happy that you’re here. For our listeners, even I ironically met in California at a professional event. We were the only two German one people there and they immediately found each other and we’ve since become friends. And then many, many, many reasons why I want to speak with you, but also the question of how we navigate an international life. If we are drawn to that, you and I have both experienced that and are experiencing it. But it’s also something that I think many people dream about. And you have a very tangible experience on top of it as a mom of a girl who has to go to school, and you have to navigate all those realities. But let’s start in Deutschland in Germany. And I wonder when you were a young girl growing up and you were thinking about oh, what do I want to do with my life? Or what do I want to be? What was in your head?

Eve Simon  03:06

I would say not so much were in my head. But I was more driven by wild curiosity, which probably drove my parents crazy. I always thought like, hey, what’s behind the next bush? Or I love talking to people. So I feel there was not so much planning, but rather go with my heart. And I think this continued throughout my life.

Achim Nowak  03:34

When you say well, curiosity, I love that phrase. I think of and I could be wrong. Like you know, the kind of child who runs around like wild drives mom and dad crazy. They always have to rein you back in. Were you that kind of a daughter?

Eve Simon  03:49

Yeah, pretty much. I got also through this very strong socialization process, I would say right, become the good girl when I needed to. But there were always underlying something, oh, I could do this. And I could do that. So definitely I had a very often very open knees because I was climbing on every tree and love to play soccer outside in our courtyard with the boys in our neighborhood. But to be honest, the really wild was more allowed when I moved first to California. And I think you mentioned born and raised in Germany and California is really a soul home because my soul feels so at home there that I can just be who I am and that is a curious, Wild Free Spirit. Which questions probably often the status quo but also believes in so much beauty and reflecting on your question. And it was very interesting because I always thought I want to become a doctor. And really, in my studies went for that, and my parents didn’t like it, because very long studies very expensive. And they thought, I’m way too soft for that. Because I was also at a young age or was very empathic and in tune with others and others pain. But looking back what really was behind it, there was something where I wanted to help and make the things better. And that was related to another passion I had, I really love, interior design and beauty, also natural beauty. And both of the sides were really unleashing very much in, in California, the helping spirit. That’s where we met right at the wisdom 2.0 conference where you are more in tune with what’s really important, what triggers us what holds us together. So I think they’re the wildcard coming back to you is unleashed more in an environment where more crazy souls are who dragging for something which might not fit in a box, as it usually is more here in Germany, where we look to something a little bit more control.

Achim Nowak  06:28

You describe it so beautifully. And I think even within the United States, you know, I live in South Florida, California. And this could be a stereotype but it has a reputation of, you know, being on the forefront of things of being an experiment, mentation sort of place, where Silicon Valley comes in where places like Epsilen, which are about personal growth comes in and the forefront of all of those things that that you are also very interested in that since you have to chuckle that you immediately took us to California in this conversation. But I’m curious how how did you first get to California from disel. Dorf? How did that happen?

Eve Simon  07:13

That’s connected to the story I just shared, because my parents didn’t want that I became a doctor. And I did not want to become a banker. When I opened a magazine, newspaper, at that time, still available. And I looked through this and I was like, Oh, this is an interesting add up here needed in San Francisco. I’m cool have never been over there. Sounds interesting. Just let’s do it. That’s how I ended up I looked for a little boy. And I studied English and marketing in Berkeley and got to know the Bay Area and fall in love with this beautiful and very fun and crazy place.

Achim Nowak  08:00

Now I’ve been to San Francisco many times and especially I mean, there are my memory is that it’s the magic is the air and the views and the things you see. But since you recall recalling your soul home, in this conversation, what in your soul, you know, came alive. When you first went there as an au pair? What happened inside of you?

Eve Simon  08:32

Well, it was definitely the unleashing of what was inside of me. And whatever that is, in my case, it was this very curious, wild, Free Spirit wanted to make the world a better place. I feel also in my experience, that is what the Bay Area does, it unleashes something which is deep inside of us a need wish, an urge our talents, whatever that is. And you are mentioning, yeah, whether it’s fabulous scenery is fabulous. And I often reflect on that if this is really what draws me to this place. But I have to say Portugal has great weather to or Spain or Italy or Bali or other places. All very beautiful with beautiful people. But there’s something in the energy of Silicon Valley of the Bay Area, which is so unique. And people really feel that when they step into that it’s not just the beauty of the beautiful color painted Victorians and the sunshine. There is an energy which is unleashed. Maybe it’s Rosa andreas fault, which is always in this town. insha, Allah leashing and unleashes something in us, which lets us take the world to another place in a good and and in a bad way.

Achim Nowak  10:13

I’m interested in two things that I know are really important in, in your current life, which are your focus on regenerative leadership, and some of our listeners may go, what the hell is that, so we’re going to talk about it. But also you became a mom, relatively late in life, you are already in your early 40s, you’re in your early 50s. Now you have a beautiful 10 year old daughter. So you’re navigating a professional passion, you’re navigating being a mom, and you’re navigating a life that goes back and forth between where you were born, and what you call your soul home. So there’s a lot of balls in the air there. And I think many people have, they may not have a 10 year old daughter, but think about oh, how do I create a life that can really encompass all my passions and interests? Fred, I know you had a career for a while and more traditional corporate career. And these days, because you’re a sought after executive coach, you’re often the outsider who comes in to facilitate programs or coach people in that world, but you’re not in a traditional full time role. So let’s talk about those years that you were an insider. And I’d love to talk about in two ways. One, if you had to think of a moment we go, that was amazing. This is what I loved about being inside in that world. But the follow up would be is, this is a moment where I went, I have to get out of here. Maybe this is too confining This doesn’t feel right. So take us to both extremes, if you will.

Eve Simon  11:57

Yeah, the first years, when I came back to Germany, I did not go for the bank in Korea. But I did go for the economic studies, which then lead me into more the industry, corporate life, which you just described. And I do have to say the really good part is that I started in advertisement, so still very creative environment. Even I was in account management, and really consulting our clients into the right setup for their marketing activities. And I continued this when I was then working in telecommunication. At the time, I went into telecommunication and was still a startup, which was really cool, because you were like growing and expanding. And they were totally different things. I mean, at that time, not many people had a handheld like this one. So this left, again, room for a lot of potential and creativity. And when you look a little bit into my career, what I really love is starting I start projects, I start departments. And I start different initiatives which are needed. And so here I had this full landscape of not just being in charge for the marketing division, but we also needed internal communications, which wasn’t their innovation, executive development, all of that, and, and being in this growth phase. And what was really beautiful. Besides being able to be so creative, it was also working in a team, I really love that. And that is something which I probably most missed. Now being on the pendant, I love working with my clients. But at the end, you come in, I feel a little bit of like the bee who comes in, you know, does this feel and goes to the next flower. When you’re in corporate, you can build long term and with a team in a bigger sense, and this is still something I miss and I would probably still consider taking when the right opportunity comes around. But when it comes to too much confinement, and the creativity goes or the politics take over. That was very painful for me because at one point I was also the spokesperson internally and when you have to say one week oh, we go right. Oh, no, we go left. Oh, no, we go right, right. And this was not standing up was my integrity and my values. And which is often the case why people leave because they don’t feel that it is in sync with their with their values where they can put their talents to the plate and at that point, it was just time to move on. And to be honest, I started my own business because I wanted to move back to California and one part was I just went for an investor visa So I opened my own business. And that brought me back to California, it was a way to adjust my life, to my career to the life I wanted. And that is something to what you describe beforehand, also, which I feel is very different to many. They follow a career step and more adjust their life, to their careers, where they move, how they work, how many kids they have, whatever that is, my approach was more I have a lot of talents and expertise, but I use it in the way that it fits also to my lifestyle. And you mentioned my little one, her that is American, we have two families on two continents, right starting with that, I also want that she is aware and grows up with these two talents. But it was funny, because when you think about it, because you’re asked this question about the youth, and I really didn’t thought about this. But one of my biggest dreams was when I was young, you know, in the Barbie kind of age. I always thought if a full soccer team asked my children, adopting a child from every continent, long time before the celebrities did that. It didn’t work out that way. Life had another plan with me. But then when I was almost 42, I still was such ELAC bed, I had the little one. When you make different conscious decisions also for the child, I feel.

Achim Nowak  16:50

Word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast, fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. We’ll talk about the two family lifestyle the moment because it’s a two family but two continents, it’s in two very different cultures. It’s a big two. But one thing that struck me as you were talking, you know, is I think I had not known that you came back to the United States to start the business. And that was one reason that you could be in a place that you love. And if I remember correctly, your business was called Inspiration without borders, which is like the epitome of soul language, right? And soul definition and the things that you personally aspire to. Am I hearing that correctly?

Eve Simon  18:06

Yeah, absolutely. I think out of my own experience within the corporate setting. What I really felt was that when you leave the startup phase, and you get more into maturity, you have to obviously make hard decisions as a leader which are not always easy, but long term also needed to keep the company and was that lot of jobs afloat. But I also believe with more consciousness, and more awareness about how we enter your interact with each other, how we make decisions in what kind of perspective we make decisions, we could create a healthier environment in these corporate settings. And so inspiration without borders and my work, then independent with my own boutique consulting firm in California was very much based on that part of let’s have more consciousness, we can create something which is very thriving and create fabulous, exciting, innovative solutions, but still have a little bit more of a human side and

Achim Nowak  19:19

that I want to talk about regenerative leadership, which is a future forward term that has a lot of layers of meaning behind it. In this language that you really like to use right now, when you talk about what you value in leadership and how you support leaders, and I wanted to just throw in one other thought I had before we go there’s you’re speaking about the beauty of teamwork, you know that you miss it. But I’m sure many listeners are going. I’ve been on many horrible teams and teamwork can just be draining and just ox, and I want to do my own work because I’m exhausted from these constant meetings, constant negotiations, chasing people who don’t get deliverables done on time. And, and I think my hunch is regenerative leadership is also, in some ways an antidote antidote to like, older ways of doing things that maybe don’t work so well. So with that, take me where you would like in this conversation, but I’m really curious about what regenerative leadership is.

Eve Simon  20:30

Yeah. So in my mind comes is yes and no. And and because it’s definitely it’s complex. Right. And I feel this is really the question, you’re asking us a very systemic question we see right now. And this is also related to more regenerative leadership or business approach and a little sidestep, when I moved to the US, and started this very conscious leadership approach, I also got connected to the conscious capitalism movement, and which also has the same mission to make businesses more sustainable for the future building on an approach which works for people and the planet, and the profit. And I always thought, well, this is such a marketing gimmick, right? It’s like, why are they even talking about it, because coming from Germany with all the hammers and copes and Busch, even saga, there is always a component of these things in it. Because these companies are 200 plus years old, they are not for short term results, they are for long term results. And they had a lot of responsibility towards the people who worked for them, but also the society they were at. And when I came back to Germany, suddenly, I was only booked by because of the reason I worked with a lot of startups and worked in the agile movement and a new one, what innovation were out there. And I was like, Hey, where’s our old thinking? Right, our old, more solid, long term thinking and instead it was gone. When I came back to Germany. So bridging these, I think both is important. We need to dare for progress, right? So AI, quantum physics, and all of these things which are out there are important because they are part of evolution. On the other hand, it’s also the why, why are we doing that, we are not doing that, because it’s so sexy, right? Or we make a lot of money or we have a bigger house. At the end, we do this to sustain society, and that is lost. And so this comes back to a regenerative mindset understand that we are in sync with cycles, just as nature is. We cannot just strive and go up for you to go in circles, we have to integrate what is happening in that change in that innovation, do we integrate our personal development, or we integrating the phases of learning of recharging as an example, you cannot just run sprints after sprint after sprint, or we can also not run many marathons after another there is always a part of it. So a regenerative mindset to summarize it in short, obviously, it’s a longer conversation is really the thinking about, you know, half the next five generations in mind when you make decisions. Take time to stop before you run again, and integrate a more systemic approach, which is not just good for one, but for many in this way. And I mean, I see that there’s definitely a lack in business. But I also see many leaders who are really urging for that. And so it’s, it’s pretty cool to see that and it’s, in my opinion, also the only way how we really can sustain humanity, not just on Mars, but here. Because if we continue this, we also eff up Mars, when we continue with this consciousness was this mindset.

Achim Nowak  24:33

I appreciate that your Mars dig. Thank you. And as I was listening to talk about regenerative leadership, I went well, of course, that we need that it’s not. It’s not even radical, but I know it’s not nearly practiced enough. Now you have you just use the word systemic approach and you use the word systems before And I’d like to relate this to your personal life and your personal choices. But because a traditional systemic choice for your life would be as the father of your daughter’s American, you two are married. You live either in Germany or in disel. Dorf. And that’s not how you live your life, you are not married to the father of your daughter, you have a very cordial relationship. You live in Germany, he lives in Silicon Valley, your daughter is bilingual. You talked about two families, two cultures. That can sound on one hand, very, very sexy and cool. And not only are they gonna go, Wow, that’s a lot to navigate. So maybe just give us a snapshot of how you navigate this international parenting life.

Eve Simon  25:46

It’s funny you say that? Because I always feel like in Germany, everyone thinks I’m super crazy. In California, everyone thinks, oh, that’s normal, right? So here we are, again, with these different mindsets. Obviously, that’s a bias. You can find these kinds of mindsets everywhere. But I would say it is what it is, right? I am, who I am. And then situation is what it is. What makes a difference is that consciously you have to make decisions. And this decision is not forever, but it is the right thing in this moment. different phases are coming up. And I think this is where really bringing up a child really teaches us because every time I think, ooh, here’s a nice routine, everything is going smoothly. G is going through the next growth sprint or has to change a school, right? Coming to gymnasium or whatever. And there’s a chaos again. And so being in routine, being in your comfort zone, which is more related to the tradition is a false understanding, because we all saw how it is with COVID. Yeah. So I feel now it’s actually not that exhausting for me to have the slides. Because maybe naturally, I already have a systemic system mindset, I know which ports to need to pull. But it’s very exhausting to always have to explain myself somewhere. But I also learned, maybe just for one addition is I at one point, I stopped explaining myself to the people where it’s not worth it. But there’s also parts where you will need to explain it, maybe shift some things through that. And in Germany, we have the law that children need to go to school, they cannot miss a day, not even for vacation or celebration or anything. And it was really hard to take my daughter out of school for a longer period, which we did for since she’s in school. But when you talk and you will make an understanding that this is actually really good for a child and you’ll find that they’re actually more gray zones to be colored than we think you’ll find solutions together with the people where you think they say no all the time. So obviously, if I work over there, if the father’s over there, it’s great for the child to be over there. Additionally, she’s not just feeling good, she is multicultural. Yeah, right. She adjust to different friends for different environments. She is very curious in many ways, as well. And she learned so much through that which no classroom can offer.

Achim Nowak  28:51

you contrast that these two beautiful things routine and chaos, and both can be wonderful. And both can be stifling. Right. So there’s a even in each of those polls, that can be a plus and a minus. Now, I’m struck by the fact that this year you you got a visa that it’s actually very hard to get it’s a professional visa. There’s only really given in the United States for people who are perceived to have be extraordinary workers thinkers in their field and have value to add to the United States. And you can suddenly if you chose to just live in California for a while. No, go No. Go back to Germany. I remember asking you so now that the legal stuff is not a barrier, and you could just be how do you navigate having these options that even a year ago you didn’t have?

Eve Simon  29:44

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I got this visa and took a while obviously, to get this expert status. And when I traveled now with this passport, the custom officer said to my daughter Oh, My God, do you know what your mom is an extra ordinary alien. And it totally hit me. I was like, what? I’m an alien. And it was so funny, you know, it is wordings. And for some people, it seems normal. But for me, it was like, I don’t feel myself extraordinary. I’m so so normal like everyone else. And I also don’t feel myself as an expert. Obviously, I have tons of expertise in business transformation and leadership development. But it was really interesting, it really hit me and not so much about the option now to maybe settle back to California for good for more time than just the three months, it was more about, okay, what am I doing now? And then which phase am I and talking about phases, which I think everyone needs to reflect on how we make our decisions for this phase, but especially as a mother, they are always phases where you can work more, and where you can work less or where you can be away, or where you can when you need to be very present for the child. And this goes really in waves, which most companies has have not understood yet. Because otherwise, they would have a lot of great talents in the workplace, which they’re missing out now. But to your question is, I feel for me, it’s a lot about this bridge building. So it’s not so much about where is my subtle tone, right? The subtle tone is within us, what we are what we want, and the people around us. And I am blessed with a lot of beautiful people all over the world. But the going back and forth, let’s say is also something where I leave my bubble. And I have a new horizon. We all live in a bubble. Now wherever we go, if we live in California, full time, we are in a bubble too. It’s not reality. And I always see that I just came back. And my daughter loves to count the self driving taxis, which are now. Yes, it’s like, if I tell this to the German mom here, or the teacher, they think I’m crazy. Now she we are out in San Francisco and you see them on every corner. And it is still pretty weird to think about that. People are sitting in the back. They’re not in the front. But it’s still a bubble. It’s still a bubble, right? And so me we going back and forth and having this open, not just a visit, right? But open understanding, knowing people looking behind the scene, seeing the pain, seeing the game allows me all to to do the work and steer with my clients in the right direction. Because it’s always yin and yang, everything good has something bad and everything bad has something good in it. And it’s good if we have a more open perspective. At least it’s my answer for right now. But who knows, right school comes along a great offer. Maybe I make San Francisco my home, solid home for the next years again, if it fits, if it fits our needs.

Achim Nowak  33:50

So as you this was a wonderful bridge to sort of contemplate the future. And because of this expert visa, you have more legal options than you had before. And I think we covered some of the basics but on a soul level if we go back to that, and if you ask your soul what would make my life even sweeter? What are some things I would like to do more of or less of? And as you look to the future like what comes to mind besides a job you know?

Eve Simon  34:30

Well, definitely going through the redwoods. I love taking hikes through the redwoods. I love the trees. I am definitely a total tree hugger. It just fills my soul with there with them and I’m smelling that I love the love the ocean just as nature side. I definitely it recharges me and I would love to have more of that. The Ryan walks are nice too but doesn’t do this so much for my soul. It’s more for exercising. And I definitely very much miss my spiritual community with Spirit Rock and Marina as well. And the online is really good in so many ways through COVID, we have access to so much wisdom, but it’s something different when you sit with 100 people meditate together and contemplate about the Dharma talk, it just the physical energy does something. So I want to have more of my spiritual family and more of the major.

Achim Nowak  35:44

Because you’ve had such an international life, and you have, and you’re, as you said, beginning, you’re an explorer, you’re an inventor ism as you try stuff. And you have a 10 year old daughter, who I have had the pleasure of meeting was also a very curious child with lots of curiosity. So based on what you’ve learned, about yourself, if you had to give your daughter some life guidance and some life wisdom, like a compass to live by, what would you say to her?

Eve Simon  36:20

It’s hard, because there is so much on one hand, and also it is again about in what kind of stage is she so I hope I always find the right things to say to her, which she needs in that moment. Obviously, that is that she is very loved, and that her roots are very grounded in this love, but also that she always should spread her wings to fly to the places or whatever she wants to do, which makes her heart sing. But sometimes, tough mother love is also to say, do your homework, right? Because that’s important to get a good education, surround yourself with interesting smart people. So you have all the opportunities which are out there. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  37:19

As we wrap up what but and I want to just is just a comment for our listeners. As I was listening to Eve I appreciated throughout this conversation, your sensitivity to use language like cycles, and phases, which have I translate, and this is so important to the fourth act, which is life is not rigid. Knife wants to evolve and change. And our job is to notice it and not block it and, and be part of the change journey for ourselves as well. And in business, we can do it too. I’m sure people who haven’t met you before, will be curious and want to learn more about you and the stuff that you do. Where would you like to direct them? Where can we learn more about the work and life of each Simon?

Eve Simon  38:10

Well, it’s obviously on LinkedIn. Right, as every professional, I try to share my thoughts and wisdoms and concerns there. Otherwise, on my website, or just grab a phone, and let’s have a conversation, right. I love zoom calls and zoom coffees, because it is all about the conversation.

Achim Nowak  38:33

And your website is if

Eve Simon  38:36

if Absolutely wonderful. And it is so interesting, because I was really reflecting on the fourth Act and what it is about. And for me I can say, I mean, thinking about retirement is again a very defined social moment. Right. And I thought to myself, I have no idea of retirement. But one thing I really know is I love to find someone I can grow young with and that there’s always something to be part of. Right if it’s paid, not paid, and be more engaged until the end, kind of

Achim Nowak  39:22

thank you for that wonderful last message. And it was a absolute joy to speak with you. Thank you Eve.

Eve Simon  39:29

Thank you so much asking for everything you do.

Achim Nowak  39:33

Like what you heard, please go to my fourth And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao


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