People 16 January 2018
Marie de Foucaud and her husband moved their family of six from France to the US for a job opportunity that de Foucaud simply could not resist. It’s a monumental move, and it turned out to be a brilliant one. The story of what brought her to that truly life-changing event begins with an upbringing that reads much like a fantasy. She spent the first three years of her life in Paris and then moved to the countryside of France, in the Chateau de la Loire area, where her family had property. From ten-years-old on, she went to a boarding school in a city called Saumur.
After graduating, she went to business school in Angers. Then, she says, “Thanks to an exchange program, I moved to the States for the last year of school in Missouri at Truman State University. It was an amazing year in the middle of nowhere, where I benefited from the wonderful American pedagogy and way of life."
Studying hard majors she was passionate about - PR and International Communications while enjoying the stunning sports infrastructures of the campus, riding horses and swimming almost every night, de Foucaud became ingrained in the American dream.
"Since I did not want to leave the US with only a student experience, I strained myself to find a job in the country," says de Foucaud. "I ended up getting my first position in New York, at Nike Communications, a public relations firm specialized in luxury, where I was offered to assist the PR Director for champagnes and Art de la tables brands. An exciting first job, discovering the world of PR within Luxury industry in the greatest city of the world.”
After two years in the US, de Foucaud returned to her native France and it wasn’t until many years, one husband, and four children later that she was presented with an opportunity to move back. She was the Global Communications Director for high-end jewelry brand Boucheron when an exciting prospect presented itself. It was a huge proposition, moving a family of six to a new country, which, in some ways, ended up feeling like a whole new world. “Coming back sixteen years later, just a bit older and with a family, is offering me quite a different experience.”
Despite the magnitude of such a move, the de Foucaud family decided to take the leap. Now, she and her husband live in Brooklyn in the Carroll Garden’s area with their four children, Mayeul (10), Eloi (8), and twins Alma and Louis (5). She is the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Richard Attias & Associates and her husband works in high-end real estate at Barnes International.
When de Foucaud first got the offer, she was excited. “I was determined immediately to rise to this passionate challenge.” As for her husband, well, she says, “I had been telling him for years that I was willing to move back abroad at some point - for me, for the two of us, and for our kids. I wanted to offer my kids the possibility of becoming bi-lingual and multi-cultural. This is a minimum in the world nowadays."
"I wanted to offer my kids the possibility of becoming bi-lingual and multi-cultural. This is a minimum in the world nowadays."
-Marie de Foucaud
De Foucaud hopes the family will have the occasion to have them become tri or quadri-lingual. And the plan is to travel with them on a regular basis for vacation so they see the world and get some flavors from all continents beyond Europe and the States.
"Renaud, my husband, was very pleased with his life in Paris," says de Foucaud. "But, luckily, he is quite accommodating and above all, I think he was aware that he had no choice anyway. I had already decided and it was not an option to not seize the opportunity."
She was looking forward to telling the children about the move but their response was not the one for which a mother would hope. She explains, “We waited for a specific evening once everything was completely confirmed to gather them all and share the news. They all cried. The two older ones were bereft to leave their school and friends. The twins were probably crying because they were seeing the oldest siblings cry…. Inconsolable.”
Of course, de Foucaud wasn’t without at least a few misgivings herself. She didn’t like being dependent on Visas for one. And, she says, “We were afraid of the cost of living. For a family of 6, we wondered if we’d manage to afford it while still having a nice life.” But their experiences following the move have now far over-shadowed any of those trepidations.
“New York is such an exciting city,” she comments. “We were all excited to discover the new places surrounding this new chapter of our lives.” For such a grand move, the transition was an impressively positive one, especially for de Foucaud’s children. “And America is so kid friendly. Every place is welcoming to kids, everything is good to celebrate and have fun."
Marie de Foucaud. Photo credit: David Jacobs
"We are much more serious in France and the kids are annoying to many," she admits. "Arriving here, we have discovered what it is to go to a restaurant with our children and feel like we are not disturbing everyone and observe nice vibes all around. At school, my kids have an occasion every week to dress with costumes or to bring treats. This is a major change of culture which definitely helped the kids to enjoy their new lives."
Marie de Foucaud. Photo credit: David Jacobs
"Arriving here, we have discovered what it is to go to a restaurant with our children and feel like we are not disturbing everyone and observe nice vibes all around. At school, my kids have an occasion every week to dress with costumes or to bring treats. This is a major change of culture which definitely helped the kids to enjoy their new lives."
For her part, de Foucaud became very concentrated on work. A new country, a new industry, a job created for her with no team yet, meant immediate major challenging projects to jump into. "I wanted to succeed and knew I had to find the keys and be immediately operational," she recalls. "The only option was to work-work-work and catch up as quickly as possible, and build a team and a department.”
What de Foucaud and her family have gained from the experience has been nothing short of remarkable. De Foucaud explains, “After three months here, the kids were speaking fluent English. After two years, they are completely bilingual, switching from one language to the other with such ease. For all of us, diving into a new culture is tremendously rich. Again, I believe to best navigate into today’s complex world, you need the international perspective. And this is only something you can catch living in different countries – or travelling intensively.
From a professional stand point, Richard Attias & Associates, de Foucaud's firm has begotten her incredible experience, both in International Public Affairs and a precious knowledge in geopolitics. She has also had the opportunity to contribute to major initiatives worldwide. With a particular focus on digital and technologies especially in the Communications and Marketing industries.
And de Foucaud has a simple piece of advice for others considering a similar move. She refers to her favorite quote, which is from Xavier Dolan, “Everything is possible to who dreams, dares, works and never gives up.” De Foucaud adds, “Take the lead in your life. Do not wait for the opportunities to fall from the sky. Create your opportunities and go for it. This is what makes life interesting. Also, for those who want to grow in their professional life, if there’s a risk, take it”
After all is said and done, says she doesn’t have one single regret about the move. In fact, she feels quite the opposite she says, "I just feel lucky and excited about what’s coming next.”
4 min read
One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.
If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.
In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?
For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.
Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.
Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.
I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.
Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.
Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.