Gavin Sharpe

“I felt trapped in my corporate success,” says Gavin Sharpe. “However corporate life had seduced me, it controlled me rather than the other way around.”

His recruitment company, SSQ, was independently ranked by The Sunday Times as one of the best companies to work for and was placed as the most profitable in its sector. “I was losing my identity. Something was missing and that something was me,” he states.

Having grown up in a small village in Hertfordshire and studied in London, once Gavin sold his company he yearned for a different lifestyle and kinder climate. “My parents had lived in Monaco and it felt familiar. It was one of those defining moments and the start of an adventure that began some six years ago and which feels like it is just unfolding,” he describes about relocating to one of the safest countries in the world.

Gavin jumped off the corporate bus and into a career that “allowed me to be authentic and congruent. I had enjoyed my own therapy and developed a passion for the field of psychotherapy.”

As a counsellor, coach and therapist, he is now on his true life path. “The calling had always been there. When I was ready to listen, it spoke to me. I wish it was less of a cliché but it is true,” he admits.

Comparing the amount of time and money we spend on our physical wellbeing (yoga, Pilates, breathing, healthy eating) versus our mental wellbeing, Gavin observes, “I bet we are more comfortable telling the boss that we are leaving the office early for a Pilates class than for a therapy appointment. Men are certainly more likely to say they have a personal trainer to lose weight rather than a therapist to help with their erectile dysfunction!”

He believes the taboo arises from a lack of awareness and education about mental illness. “Sadly, some people do not seek out treatment due to the self-perceived stigma. Perhaps one good thing to emerge from the Covid pandemic is that there seems to be a willingness to talk about the cost on our mental health. Who knew that when you lock up humankind and hide the key, it impacts our emotional wellbeing?”

Gavin wants to make mental health more accessible and is excited by a new partnership with Rivera Radio. “Wellbeing Window” will be an hour on the first Wednesday of each month at 9 am CET addressing a topic on mental health and inviting listeners to write in with their questions.

“It was brave of Rob Harrison and Sarah Lycett to have me on the Full English Breakfast Show back in 2019. We broke new ground. I think there was a fear that people would be drowning in their cornflakes, and as a result, listeners would tune out. Instead, we found them tuning in. When I appeared last on New Year’s Eve, I ended up staying for longer than scheduled as the number of listeners writing in rocketed. Rob and Sarah have an amazing talent in being able to discuss deep and meaningful subjects that touch us all and seconds later they have us roaring with laughter over something meaningless and mundane.”

For Gavin, there is another dimension to wellbeing that has been forgotten. In his upcoming book on how we can follow our true life path rather than the one we find ourselves on, he has dedicated a chapter to Financial Wellbeing. “We all have money scripts, a set of beliefs or values about money. Do I deserve money? Is money good or bad? What does money represent to me?” he asks. “When a couple argues about money, it is never about the money per se. It is about what the money represents. I have studied financial disorders and run money intensives with individuals and couples to help them explore these deep-rooted issues.”

On Covid
Gavin’s appointment calendar was already pretty busy before a pandemic forced us to face unprecedented issues as couples. “You could have been the most solid couple in the world but if you are in lockdown in a small apartment with three children and home schooling, your relationship will likely have felt the strain. Couples who were struggling before the pandemic have unsurprisingly felt the cracks widen.”

He adds, “I think it is unhealthy for couples to be living and working together with this level of intensity. Relationships need to breathe and need spontaneity and creativity to fuel ongoing desire. The pandemic has the potential to kill desire – unless you are single in which case, you might not know what to do with your desire! There is usually hope for struggling couples. The key is to seek help before contempt sets in.”

For Gavin, the popular media is full of titillating stories informing us that the divorce rate will spiral while others indicate the opposite. “The truth is probably somewhere in between. What we do know from studies of past pandemics, such as SARS and Ebola, is that psychological reactions such as panic, depression, loneliness, anxiety, stress, grief, anxiety and PTSD are common. This obviously has entered into our relationships during the Covid pandemic.”

On Expats
A study released this year showed that US expats were two and a half times more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their US-based counterparts. “I am sure it is the same for expats based in Monaco and the South of France,” Gavin insists.

“Expats sometimes tell me they feel trapped and long for their roots. Many have moved around in childhood and coming to the Riviera is just one more notch in their portable bedpost. When we move around, we experience loss. We leave behind family, friendships, rituals and routines. I think the wellbeing litmus test for expats is the extent to which we allow ourselves to grieve those losses or do we just move on?”

For Gavin, expats can also suffer from “I should” syndrome. I should be happy. Look where I live. I have no right to be miserable. (He once replied, “If I was married to your husband, I’d be miserable, too.”) “The point is that we have to allow ourselves to experience our emotions wherever we live. Living by the sea is not a passport to happiness. We still have to work at it.”

In this part of the world, he sees men and women facing different challenges. “There is a power dynamic which troubles me. Many women move to join their breadwinner husbands. The men carry on largely as before while the women often find themselves dependent and isolated. That sometimes leaves the door open to control and abuse. Even without this dynamic, I think Monaco can be an intimidating place for women to integrate.”

He advises that if you are going to live in or around Monaco, it is helpful to know your relationship with money. “This is not the place to compete. There will always be someone out there with more. More money. More cars. More wives. I’ve worked with many successful business people who are trying to heal a childhood wound with the purchase of a larger yacht. It’s not going to happen. Heal the wound first and then think about the yacht.”

On Group Therapy
Gavin works with individuals and couples who are looking to make profound changes in their relationships and lives. “As a therapist, I wear many hats. Alongside my Masters in Integrative Psychotherapy, I am also trained in addiction, trauma and relationship and sex therapy. My services and workshops reflect this.”

He currently runs three weekly online groups – one exclusively for men, one for women and, as he is the only certified sex addiction therapist in the Riviera, the third is for male sex and love addicts.

He also holds intensive weekends throughout the year for people coming to terms with addiction. “One of my most popular workshops is my two-day couple’s wellbeing intensive. I love this workshop. It’s not so much about resolving problems – although it can be – but more about rediscovering love and building deeper intimacy and connection. We are all craving connection, pandemic or not.”

Connection is also part of what makes a good therapist. “I could have a hundred initials after my name but if we don’t have chemistry and click, I am likely to be the wrong therapist for you. Only work with me if you connect with me. That’s my mantra. The relationship is key.”

A good therapist will most likely have trained at a reputable educational establishment, ideally up to or beyond a Masters level. Therapy is an unregulated profession in the UK, so Gavin choose to be a member of several professional associations to ensure he is held accountable to the highest standards.

He underlines that a client also needs to feel that therapy offers a safe and confidential space, offline or online. “And comfortable chairs help!”

Attending a group is usually less expensive than attending one-to-one therapy which can be why some people chose only group sessions. “Let me say at the outset, I am passionate about groups. There is a lot of research which has tested the efficacy of groups. They can be transformational. Sometimes what we seek is an acknowledgment from others who have walked in our shoes and groups provide this collective empathy. Participants are able to see their pain in others and vice versa,” he emphasises.

“I don’t see group therapy as better but more as a therapy tool in the whole wellbeing toolkit. Many people find it helpful to participate in both group therapy and individual psychotherapy.”

Being a therapist on the French Riviera is unique. “I can go out for dinner and see three or four clients. My clients know that I will ignore them and respect their privacy. Sometimes we laugh about it in session.”

ON GAVIN
Like many of us, Gavin learned to mask his inward lack of confidence. “Growing up, we all experience attachment wounds – for example abuse, neglect, betrayal, loss or abandonment – and those wounds impact how loveable and worthy we believe ourselves to be. For a long time, I didn’t feel worthy and for a while, I disguised my wounds even from myself. I became what I thought others expected of me. It led to my success in the corporate world that I mentioned earlier but left a sense of emptiness inside,” he relates.

His upcoming show on Riviera Radio on March 3rd will address that inner critic and voice inside our head that often undermines our accomplishments leaving us feeling guilt and/or shame.

“I’ve learned to silence my inner critic. Of course, it crops up every now and then but like my clients, I, too, am always evolving,” says Gavin Sharpe. 

Remember to post your Pink Ribbon Monaco photos holding
a sign with a message of support this Sunday, February 14.
#seinvalentin #Pinkribbonmonaco

Marketa Häkkinen

Marketa Häkkinen. Photos Danny Meier Photography.

It was at a 2007 golf tournament in Cologne when Markéta Remešová met her future husband, Mika Häkkinen. It wasn’t long after that the two-time F1 World Champion invited her to move to Monaco.

“Monaco was overwhelming at first,” Marketa confesses. Born in the western Czech Republic countryside, the Pilsen native spoke only Czech and German, later learning English and some basic French. “I have always been very low-key and worked hard for everything I have so it was not easy to step into Monaco society. Over time, though, I have developed a real appreciation for living here.”

A former dancer, Marketa graduated as a fashion designer in 1996 in her home country and at her winter wonderland wedding in Rovaniemi to Mika in January 2017, she designed her wedding dress. That same year, she started her own label Nordic Angels and showcased at Monte Carlo Fashion Week.

Now Marketa has launched Love Fertility Coaching in Monaco. “Trying to have a baby with my husband was not so easy,” the mom of three shares. “In school, they only teach you about not getting pregnant – “if you stop the pill, you’re going to get pregnant” – but no one speaks about what happens if you can’t get pregnant.”

She and Mika decided to see a doctor, did the necessary tests and were told that everything was in working order. “The doctor’s message was to keep trying but after a year and no pregnancy, IVF treatment was suggested and that failed. All those doctors just kept sending us for test after test without ever finding anything and then when IVF didn’t work, they didn’t know what to say.”

Marketa decided to take matters into her own hands. She signed up to online university to study a holistic and medical approach to infertility, to research and study how the human body works. ‘I was able to understand what was going on with me and was truly sad that not one of those doctors was able to help me,” she admits.

Creating her own holistic fertility program to follow with her Finnish husband, she got pregnant after four months. “I was overwhelmed with happiness and today my lovely Ella is ten,” Marketa radiates.

Two year later, her “beautiful twins” Lynn and Daniel arrived. (They are now seven). “When I became pregnant, my friends and their friends struggling with the same infertility problems came to me, and I was so pleased to help them with my holistic fertility approach. All of them got pregnant naturally or I helped prepare them for IVF treatment,” she explains.

This was the beginning of her business idea. “Infertility is mentally and physically painful and I would like to help every woman who is going through this, to give them information that can spare them from pain and frustration. There are many environmental reasons as to why the world is getting more and more infertile coupled with, unfortunately, little knowledge of women’s general health.”

During spring lockdown last year, Marketa used the time to finish her studies and create her company Love Fertility Coaching. “With my ten years of infertility experience along with many happy pregnancies, my business had an easy start. I hope many other future couples will also get pregnant with a healthy baby.”

Love Fertility Coaching offers a one-on-one three-month program – to get your body balanced and ready for conception naturally or for those undergoing IVF treatment – as well as an intensive 8-week Wake-Up Fertility group coaching program for up to four women. She also just added new pre-menopause and menopause programs.

Working mostly online from home, Marketa has been able to connect with women around the world. “Every nationality is different and you can see how each country educates women on general health, mostly missing out on quality information concerning infertility. I hope over the years we can bring a more holistic fertility approach to Europe because it would be easier for different cultures to accept the issue. Some countries, like the US, are so advanced with fertility education so it is easier to communicate with women about how they are feeling.”

Marketa says that women are still really shy about talking infertility. “They are hiding behind the pain and waiting for a miracle to happen but if they know that I understand what they are feeling, they start to open up and are ready to take the next steps. There is no shame in being infertile; the shame is not finding the root of the fertility problem.”

Does she have any advice for couples who are struggling with infertility? “Don’t give up and don’t be ashamed to ask for help if your pregnancy is not happening after six months of trying, especially as the quality of your eggs decreases massively after age 35. Trust a holistic approach, we are able to find the root of your fertility issue whereas doctors can only treat your symptoms,” she emphasises.

Covid hasn’t really impacted Marketa’s new business as she works remotely for the most part but she has noticed an increase of interest from clients in group fertility over private coaching. As a result, she has decided to launch “One Go,” a personalised plan but without follow-up. “My goal is to make fertility programs affordable for everyone,” says Marketa Häkkinen.

Photos by Danny Meier Photography courtesy of Marketa Häkkinen.

Remember to post your Pink Ribbon Monaco photos holding
a sign with a message of support this Sunday, February 14.
#seinvalentin #Pinkribbonmonaco

Natasha Frost

Natasha Frost, founder Pink Ribbon Monaco.

Natasha Frost was born in London to an American film producer dad and British mom with a passion for writing screen plays and playing the piano and cello.

“At the time he met my mother, my dad was working with United Artists on the Beatles films when he came to London and was involved in the signing off on the first Bond film with Sean Connery, initially to be in black and white,” recounts Natasha Frost. “In 1970, he was also the first American to produce a film for the National Theatre, Anton Chekov’s Three Sisters, starring Laurence Olivier, Alan Bates, Joan Plowright.” 

Flawlessly bilingual, Natasha, along with her brother and sister, learned French attending the Lycée Français in South Kensington. When her parents separated, her mom, who was re-writing a screenplay commissioned for TV, brought the kids to Beaulieu-sur-Mer so they could improve their French on holiday while her dad went to LA to produce two films. “My father ended up staying in LA and re-marrying a wonderful lady. Mom loved living in Beaulieu, where she put us into the local maternelle because she saw what a difference it was to bring up three children down here rather than in the centre of London.”

Natasha later became, literally, a kid in a candy store, when her mom remarried a Frenchman who owned (still owns) the family-run candy factory Nice Bonbon.

“While my bio-dad would send us cool things from movie sets and photos of our favourite stars that we would show off at school – a photo of him as VP of Universal Studios with my idol, David Bowie, when he sold the rights to Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, is still my prize possession! Needless to say, we also were quite popular thanks to our step-dad and the silly amounts of candy we would give out!”

Natasha admits she was an “unrepentant book worm who read voraciously,” devouring most of Zola and all Maupassant by the time she was thirteen. “I figured out how to speed read diagonally around 12, but I’m not sure I absorbed the meaning at that age! My sister and brother thought I was a real geek, back in the day when it was not cool to be a geek, but later on in life, especially when I went to LA to finish high school, I found myself quite comfortable with the curriculum. When I read Jules Verne’s Voyage au Centre de la Terre, I decided I needed to become an archaeologist-explorer.”

She was passionate about history and, in the early days of college at Humboldt State University in Northern California, “obsessed” with medieval manuscripts. “The idea had evolved to become a parchment-velum restorer,” she laughs. “Life clearly had another plan for me.”

After getting her degree in 1995, Natasha returned to France for the summer to visit her mom, step-dad and siblings for the summer. “I got a summer job at Stars’n’Bars in Monaco … and never left. I was having way too much fun to go back to school.”

Her plans certainly did change. These days, Natasha is widely known as founder and tireless campaigner of Pink Ribbon Monaco, a non-profit association to support cancer awareness. “I set it up for two reasons. Firstly, I felt there were too many cases of breast cancer that were going undetected for too long. I had family members and friends affected and I can easily say that most of the worst cases would have been easier to cure if detected earlier. I figured, let’s start doing something about it.

“Secondly, I had been to many Pink Ribbon awareness walks in LA, which were way more than a pretty stroll in pink clothes – it was a day of women’s empowerment, women supporting women and joyful sisterhood. I felt that Monaco needed some of that vibe. I thought I could bring something positive to my beloved Principality.”

Natasha was invited to speak at the United Nations in New York representing Monaco for a Breast Cancer event in march 2018. “I am still so proud to have represented Monaco in such a prestigious place,” she understates.

Over the past ten years, Pink Ribbon Monaco has gone from a small and relatively unknown local entity to a calendar event with their annual 5-km port-palace-port walk supported by the Palace (Prince Albert opened the walk last year), the government and Minister of Health and Social Services, Didier Gamerdinger, as well as the President of the National Council, Stéphane Valeri and the Commisson de Protection et Promotion des droits de la Femme (Natasha is a committee member).

“Our main events are the walk, sadly cancelled this year due to Covid, and our Pink October illuminations held on the first Thursday or Friday of October, when we ask key local landmarks to light up in pink in support of breast cancer awareness and the patients fighting the fight. We had to cancel last October, but in 2019 it was under the High Patronage of Prince Albert and attended by our special guest, Oscar winner Jodie Foster, who was awarded the Pink Ribbon Award for her positive impact on women.”

This year, the walk was scheduled to take place on Valentine’s Day, but was cancelled for obvious reasons. Instead, Pink Ribbon Monaco came up with the idea of a virtual support event on social media –#seinvalentin, a play on words as Saint-Valentin in French is pronounced the same as sein, the French word for breast.

“We are simply asking people to show their support on Sunday, February 14, by posting a photo of themselves in pink, holding a sign with a message of support, using the hashtags #seinvalentin and #Pinkribbonmonaco. We will repost everything in our story and hope to get loads of posts. This will show our support to our loved ones and remind everyone to get checked.”

Natasha does not mince her words. “Covid has had a terrible impact on our association, not only because our te10-year anniversary events have been cancelled, but, more importantly as we have been made aware of massively lower numbers of breast cancer screenings. Princess Grace Hospital reminds everyone that these screening appointments are maintained and there is no health risk in going to the hospital to get your mammogram.”

Her message is clear in reminding women that the Covid pandemic should NOT prevent testing. “Pink Ribbon in Monaco and its life-saving message is hugely important to me and I have full admiration for the devoted people at Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace doing everything they can to fight and cure breast cancer. It is safe and essential to continue testing and ensure family members do so.”

Natasha at theUN in New York.

Family is clearly a priority for Natasha, who gushes how proud she is of “my large, recomposed family and they are all part of the cool things in my life.” Her brother, Matthew Frost, is a double Clio winner (the Oscars of Advertising) and fashion photographer who has shot some of the biggest celebrities (Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Karl Lagerfeld, Cate Blanchet, Damian Hirst to name a few…) for Vogue, L’Officiel, Jalouse and others. Her step-brother, Noah Wyle, played Dr Carter in the American TV drama ER “for ages.”

Her fashion-designer sister Allegria of Balenciaga and ACNE fame is “an amazingly talented designer who also works tirelessly as an activist for the preservation of the planet.” Her youngest sister Victoria is a business entrepreneur while “my eldest, crazy sister Tabitha has amazing artistic and interior architecture talent which has influenced us all.”

Her siblings on the Wyle side are equally accomplished. “My sister Alex is one of the foremost equine vets in the US with three clinics to her name in California and my brother Aaron is a top executive at HEB in Texas.”

Natasha is currently helping her step-dad rebrand and develop his 75-year-old family-owned candy business. The confectioner has just signed a partnership with the Petit Prince-Saint Exupéry Foundation and has been granted exclusivity for a Petit Prince range of nostalgic, delicious and all-natural range of caramel sweets.

“This is a big deal for me as I have always been passionate about Le Petit Prince, and it was sort of serendipitous to have this opportunity as, since his birth, my son Magnus has reminded me physically of the main character. Way before this happened, I was reading him the pop-up child-friendly version.”

Using local butter and sticks are made of wood, the exclusive Petit Prince range by Nice Bonbon – whose old-school website relaunches the first week of February – should be available in the early spring.

Natasha and Roberto at Blue Coast Brewing launch. Photo: Nancy Heslin

It was nearly nine years ago when Natasha was flying home from a holiday at her step-dad’s place in St Barts when Swede Roberto Savio popped on the flight at the Curacao layover. “He was seated next to me. It was a fun flight to Amsterdam,” Natasha laughs. They married and has Magnus five years ago.

The couple are also business partners. In 2017, the dynamic duo launched  Blue Coast Brewing Company, an idea that came to them after a trip to a friend’s brewery in San Diego the year before. “We shared the idea with some friends and investors – including 2018 Monaco Grand Prix champ Daniel Ricciardo, 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button and founding partner Shane Heminway, amongst others – without whom the project would not have taken off financially. Our plan was that should things go well and become successful, we would pass the show so to speak after a certain amount of time to a new team because we are entrepreneurs at heart.”

Natasha is still the CEO of the French company but is happily passing the torch in the coming month while CEO Predrag Krupez, a “young and super dynamic guy” who was one of the first investors, continues to take the Nice-based brewery to a whole new level. “Thanks to Predrag and the talent of our brewer Robert Bush, we have a great new collaboration beer with a UK brewery and, despite Covid, great things are coming.” The couple is still amongst the top five Blue Coast shareholders.

Meanwhile Natasha is in the process of setting up a communication company, High Octane Communication. “I’ve had so many requests to share my branding and marketing skills,” she says modestly. “And Roberto and I are working together on some exciting new projects together, too. We are a team.”

Post your Pink Ribbon Monaco photos on Sunday, February 14.
Remember to hold a sign with a message of support and hashtag #seinvalentin #Pinkribbonmonaco

Véronique Liesse

Véronique Liesse is a French-speaking Belgian who came to Monaco five years ago with her husband who was developing his business in the Principality.  

Véronique, who also speaks fluent Dutch and English, splits her time between consultations in nutrition and micronutrients at Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, teaching nutrition to health professionals and providing in-house training for companies to improve wellbeing and quality of life at work. Even with 20 years of professional experience and a company in Belgium, she admits, “It was a new challenge to start my work here in Monaco.”

She understates her credibility. Véronique is also an accomplished writer, having penned four books tackling health – on weight-loss mistakes, hormonal issues, energy foods and immunity boosters – all published by Broché and available on Amazon.fr. Her fifth release “Ma bible pour perdre du poids sans régimes” (My Bible For Losing Weight Without Dieting) is scheduled for release on March 16.

“The book is a summary of all the factors that can lead to becoming overweight – and it is not a question of calories. The plate is key but it is much more a qualitative aspect than a quantitative one. Other things that can block a weight loss program include hormones, microbiota, chrono-nutrition, way of life, stress, sleep … and I offer concrete steps to take along with a hundred recipes.”

Growing up, Véronique says that nutrition didn’t play a big role in her life although her mother paid attention to what the family ate. “Nutrition has been a reconversion for me,” she says. “Once I finished my studies as a dietician, I quickly felt that I was missing something and so I trained more in depth in micronutrients, nutrition for athletes, children and adolescents, and in gut microbiota.”

Véronique points out the different nutritional requirements for kids. “They are not just little men and women. Today we know the importance of adopting good habits from a young age because it increases the chances of success and good health in adulthood.”

She says the same goes for elite athletes. “There are so many different sports, with different constraints and objectives, and it is important to know what we are talking about.” 

Photo: Bettina D.

In Monaco and the French Riviera, people are fortunate to have access to a Mediterranean-style diet, which is synonymous with health and quality and with an abundance of choice in local produce. “Marrying health and the art of living is the ultimate goal for Monegasques who are very aware of their health and that precious link that exists between them and their plate,” she describes.

In fact, it is the plate that Véronique examines during consultations. She looks at what people are eating to determine any missing nutrients that could help reduce inflammation and provide the immune system with what it needs to function at its best. “I also have clients who realise that diets simply do not work and in order to lose weight permanently, or for other reasons, they need to be supervised.”

She adds, “Of course, maintaining immune system health at an optimal level is a key element in dealing with this Covid crisis. This can even help to b the effectiveness of the vaccine. Fortunately, specialists are starting to talk about the importance of taking vitamin D. It really could save lives and even for children who are not at risk of Covid, vitamin D is important.”

Véronique, who has her own YouTube channel L’Healthentiel, is adamant that the impact of Covid is largely underestimated. “Beyond the direct link with immunity, our mental and emotional health has also been strongly affected. I am afraid that the damage will not be noticeable until we come out of it all. Not to mention the people who have stopped exercising or who have gained weight …

“Since the pandemic began, doing sports has seemed normal, partly because we have had more time, and partly because we were locked up. But the majority of the population doesn’t see it useful to eat better, mostly due of a lack of information.”

Like everyone, Véronique’s consultations and training came to a complete halt during the first confinement. “We are lucky in Monaco to be supported by the government. Little by little, things have been put in place, even if the situation remains complicated. Obviously, face-to-face training is impossible and has to be done at a distance but learning to adapt and bounce back is always good,” says Véronique Liesse.

Anissa Mediouni

Anissa Mediouni. Photo: Carin Verbruggen

Anissa Mediouni began her career with Engel & Völkers Residential in 2007, where she played a crucial role in developing the franchising system and supported the expansion of over 20 offices. In 2013, she was approached to develop the yachting division in Monaco, and together with an expert with experience in the top five yachting brokerage houses, they developed a network of “unparalleled synergies to provide an extensive portfolio of luxury services all under one brand name.” Three years later, she was appointed CEO Engel & Völkers Yachting, located on boulevard Albert 1er.

“Engel & Völkers has been extremely successful for over 40 years and has built not only a wonderful brand reputation but an extensive database of international clients,” says Anissa Mediouni, who speaks English, French, Italian and Lithuanian. “And thanks to the opening of our head office opening, I had the opportunity to move to Monaco. There is no better place in the world to offer yachting services to clients than Monaco, the Yachting Capital, and we see that there is a lot of interest in yachting services coming from within our network.”

Yachting is the fourth largest sector in Monaco, according to the national statistics office, IMSEE, with 1,561 offshore employees and 252 companies generating 5% of revenue – €753 million. In fact, a quarter of the world’s 100 largest superyachts fly the Monaco Yacht Club flag. 

For Anissa, Monaco is not only the capital of yachting but represents an international community in the heart of the Côte d’Azur, with the Monaco Yacht Show – aka “the event of the year” – bringing together all of the industry’s high-end players, clients, shipyards, and brokerage houses to the Principality.

“Many superyacht owners worldwide have memberships to the Yacht Club de Monaco and enjoy the social climate the Principality has to offer. Unfortunately, the pandemic has put a hold on things. However, it has not taken away the optimistic spirit of the lively capital and the feeling of security.”

Photo and feature photo: Arsi Sebastien.

Despite Covid, the yachting industry remains resilient. “It has affected primarily the charter sector,” explains Anissa. “At the start of the pandemic, we received many charter requests as clients were eager to spend their holidays onboard a private yacht in complete security rather than a busy hotel or resort. However, as the situation developed, most of the ports closed and, due to the travel restrictions put in place, we saw clients postponing their charter escapes and then, unfortunately, cancelling.”

On the sales side, Anissa relays that buyers postponed their purchase projects as their businesses were affected by the pandemic and, without a clear picture of when things would get back to normal, they were more reluctant to jump into sizeable financial commitments. “On a positive note,” she adds, “we have continued to close sales transactions throughout the year, even with the challenge of dealing with travel restrictions for visits, surveys and sea trials.”

Looking to the future, she sees that clients are already planning their next holiday onboard a yacht. “Chartering a yacht is for many clients a safe way to spend their holidays in the current situation. Those looking to buy might speed up the buying process to have the yacht ready for summer 2021 and spend their holidays on board.”

On the personal side, Anissa admits that she misses “the travelling side of the job” but Covid has allowed her to spend more time with her family, as well as to discover that virtual meetings could be as efficient as meetings in person. “I believe that a good balance for the future will be essential,” she remarks.

Anissa, who has a 4-year Language Interpretation and Translation degree from the VLEKHO Business School in Brussels, agrees that the yachting industry is “still known as a male-driven industry” but she believes in “a good balance between male and female presence,” as both have an added value to bring in personal and professional relationships.

“Men and women tend to view things from different angles. I also believe we still attach too much attention to gender and age – if somebody is good at their job, neither age or gender should matter. I have always focused on the added value I can bring to a company and always stay true to my values, which has brought me where I am today. I hope this will encourage more women to take a leading role in the Yachting industry,” encourages Anissa Mediouni.

Riva in the Movie 

The top floor lounge at the Yacht Club de Monaco – Riva Aquarama – is named after one of its original members, the inimitable Lia Riva. When the Monaco resident first joined the yacht club, it was a tiny unassuming cubbyhole along Quai Antoine 1er, just down from Monaco Boat Service, the business her father Carlo Riva opened in 1959.

Carlo was a pioneer in the development of Monaco’s boating and yachting industry. He helped transform Port Hercules with pontoons and it was his idea to build a 100-meter tunnel under the palace to store his iconic mahogany motorboats, like one would store wine in a temperature-appropriate cellar. He shared his vision with his friend Prince Rainier and when workers started blowing up the rock, “the palace windows trembled.”

Stars like Bardot, Loren and Clooney fell in love with the iconic motorboats with white and turquoise interiors while directors used Riva boats in over 60 films, from Nikita to Men in Black and from franchises like James Bond to Agatha Christie.

A new coffee table book, Riva in the Movie, gives behind-the-scene snapshots of the classic boats acting out their roles, along with photos, original film posters and stories told by the starts who drove them.

Alicia Sedgwick

Communications Coach Alicia Sedgwick. Photos: Nancy Heslin

You may know her as a host of TEDxMonteCarlo, a third of the Lib Day Darlings, a Public Speaking teacher at the International University of Monaco or even Alicia Sedgwick Communications Coach. 

Now Alicia can add published author to her list of achievements, as her book Communicating Through Change is due to be released on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format on January 19, the same day as she is throwing a Covid-safe ZOOM launch party.

“My book provides an insight into my life, and shares with the reader what I have learned through the experiences of change. I write in a way that whoever reads the book can deal with their experiences and come through them with strength and courage,” Alicia explains.

Having had a sneak peek of a few chapters in Communicating Through Change, Alicia powerfully puts herself out there without playing the victim or preacher. From trying to maintain a heterosexual lifestyle to coping with health uncertainties, she writes in a concise and effectively formatted style, written for real people who want to make real changes.

“We all go through change in our life and anyone at any age can relate to the experiences I write about in this book. Also, the practical guidance and applicable exercises enable the reader to communicate their way through the variety of different changes,” Alicia emphasises.

It is hard to imagine Alicia in her former life. Originally from Leigh on Sea in Essex – “I was actually born in the room in my mum and dad’s house, that was my bedroom!” – the professional blues singer and stage performer originally studied Law and Sociology at Warwick University “because I had more chance of getting a job at the end of my degree.” 

She became a solicitor, eventually specialising in Family Law, and having her own practice. “I loved being able to help people through very difficult times for them but I hated injustice. And I did not like being undermined by my male Partners!”

She adds, “When I came to the South of France, I knew I wanted to be totally true to myself, and that meant not being a lawyer and having to tolerate all the restrictions and regulations imposed that inhibited one’s ability to serve my clients.”

In the process of a major life transition Alicia “took strength and comfort in the good that I had in my life, as I always do. Making the most of life.”

Through two South African ladies living here, Alicia was introduced “to my beloved” Annette Anderson. She travelled back and forth from the UK to see her, until she finally moved here full-time and began living a more authentic life. “Having the incredible love and support of Annette helps me beyond words to believe in myself. Finding a love that is completely balanced, equal, and where each person can be themselves and independent gives tremendous strength and peace.”

Alicia, who is a Communications Expert for the Vitruvius Partners Group, continues to meet change head on. “I learned during the health pandemic that as long as we can stay well, and are able to work, I can be very much in the present, and see this change as an opportunity.” And, more than ever, people are needing her services to help them communicate effectively, and with impact, on camera and online.

Hard to imagine but she admits, “I have been without confidence for a lot of my life, especially as a lawyer. Only in recent years have I felt fulfilled – through teaching, training and coaching in public speaking, presentation and communication skills, all of which help people, give them confidence, empower, motivate and inspire – and come into my own.”

Communicating Through Change by Alicia Sedgwick is available in paperback and for kindle on Amazon from January 19. There are only a few more spots open for her release party here – sign up here.

Merrily Lustig-Tornatore

Merrily Lustig-Tornatore with friends Debbie and Mary Lynn at No Finish Line.

I first met American Merrily Lustig-Tornatore at Stars’n’Bars on November 3, 2016. It was election night in the US and MonacoUSA was hosting a party in the days when it was normal to have a room full of mask-free people sitting on top of each other, drinking from the bar and cheering on a country that was once synonymous with democracy.

“I decided that the only way Europeans and the rest of the world could know who Americans were was to be exemplary and bright and funny so they would not get the wrong idea by seeing Trump,” says the long-time Monaco resident.

Born in New York, Merrily moved in 1964 to Killington, Vermont – via boarding school in Switzerland with a couple of months in Karachi and also in Paris – to be a ski bum. “I got my Vermont real estate licence in 1971 … I think!” 

What a unique name. “When my parents were married, in the Forties, there was a cartoon in the Sunday paper with a little girl named Merrily who had long reddish-blond braids. My father liked her so much that I ended up being Merrily and having to live up to her reputation.”

Merrily comes from a line of accomplished women. In the Thirties, her mom started Airlines, the first in-flight aviation magazine, and was a speechwriter at NASA for the associate administrator for the Office of Manned Space Flight for the Apollo program.

In 1983, she had just received a “hard-earned” Emergency Medical Technicians accreditation in Vermont when she got a call from a family member in need. “My mother’s sister who ran Society Magazine for Société des Bains de Mer needed help so away I went to Monaco. It was really an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Working alongside her aunt, creative genius June Quin, and her financial guru husband Mark, Merrily replaced her cousin Vally who had left for London. “You name it, I did it. Having been brought up in the publishing business, it seemed second nature. I think I learned to read by helping the family proofread.”

In 1986, she met Rémy, her first aid instructor at the Monaco Red Cross and “after a long engagement” they wed in 2009. “You can never be too sure you have made the right choice,” Merrily laughs. (Rémy retired two years ago as director of First Aid for the Monaco Red Cross.)

Merrily has been a member of MonacoUSA for over 20 years and also serves on its Board. She has laid the memorial wreath for association to commemorate when the  517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team led the liberation of Monaco from German occupation on September 3, 1944.

She was also vice-president of the American Aid Association of the French Riviera, founded in 1948 “to assist American citizens who find themselves hospitalised, jailed, resident in retirement homes or facing other temporary financial difficulties.” For years, Princess Grace worked personally both with the association and with the former American Consulate in Nice, assisting Americans living in the region. The association, which shut down in 2019, had strong ties with the Monaco Red Cross and its social work and youth outreach.

Following the Bastille attacks in Nice in 2016, Merrily spent ten days in Nice as a First Aid volunteer with the Monaco Red Cross. “We were helping the psychologically wounded and sat with people until a professional could see them. There was an American woman who came in with an aura of pain, and I just sat apart offering to translate if necessary. If I ran into Americans, I would help them liaise with the consulate in Marseilles if they so desired.”

Merrily’s current claim to fame is to have received the Covid vaccine yesterday in Monaco. “It is absolutely fantastic, considering the world population, to be one of the first people to have the honour to live in a place where I am so well treated.”

Merrily getting Covid vaccination at Espace Leo Ferré on Wednesday.

She was contacted by letter from the Ministry of State (see letter), signed both by minister of state Pierre Dartout and minister of health and social affairs Didier Gamerdinger, explaining who, when, how and why to get vaccinated. The letter invited her to make an appointment if she wanted to get the vaccine. Additionally, there was a full page of information addressing “Les Vaccins à ARNm” – how it differs from a traditional vaccination, benefits, possible side-effects and so forth. It states that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna (EU-approved this week) are the vaccines that will be used in Monaco.

“The organisation of the campaign is fantastic. I phoned, it took ages to get through, and said YES. They called Monday and asked if I could come in Wednesday. I was so excited, I could hardly get the words out.”

Merrily says she becomes livid when people don’t wear masks. “Being really short and OLD, I occasionally walk into a grocery store and what not saying loudly, ‘SVP, mettez vos masques sur vos nez!’ It feels great. I’m too small to hit so they usually obey.”

Her vaccination appointment was for 9:20 am and she arrived 10 minutes in advance to check in and be interviewed by the doctor with the usual questions.

“I told Rémy after I got the Covid shot Wednesday morning that if I passed out during the day, don’t blame it on the vaccine. It could very well be because of the on-going election debacle in the US.”

2016 US Election Night at Stars’n’Bars.

Bertrand Petyt

Bertrand Petyt comes from a long line of scientists. The Monaco resident was expected to follow suit, as well as manage the family business, but after completing a Master of Science in Paris he moved to New York on a whim. “In 1996, I graduated from Long Island University with an MBA in Managerial Finance and that was the beginning of my career in hospitality.”

With persistence, and after a few years of learning the ropes in the American hotel industry (where he found a mentor in his general manager), Bertrand had his first opportunity to pursue his passion in the cruise line industry. “Don’t ask me why, but even as a little boy I can remember looking at cruise ship catalogues and I have collected more than 35,000 cruise brochures from all over the world, from all cruise lines, past and present.”

He says he will always remember joining his first cruise ship, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ flagship Seven Seas Mariner in Vancouver as a junior officer. “Stepping on the gangway, I cried. The HR manager thought I needed comforting but I told him they were tears of joy as I was living my dream.”

He worked for two cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises (formerly owned by Monegasque Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio), both at sea and on land, in various positions, including corporate HR manager and hotel director. “Cruising the world was amazing and I believe that travelling is the most precious learning experience. I left the industry in 2014 but I still carry that passion and, who knows, maybe one day the sea will beckon me again.”

Bertrand returned to Monaco and became Chief Executive Officer managing the professional assets of a prominent Chinese family established in the Principality. “The family’s wealth came from real estate development but by then Parkview World had become an operator of luxury sites and assets, including hotels, restaurants, yachts, luxury shopping malls, luxury residences and museums.”

In September 2020, Bertrand transformed his knowledge of the hospitality and luxury sectors into Vitruvius Partners Group, a business he launched with his friend Lilian Bougy, first in Paris and, later this year, in Monaco. This game-changing advisory firm with 12 expert advisors and six Business Ambassadors specialises in an externalised Change Management Office solution.

“In short, we offer small- and medium-companies in corporate hospitality the benefit of change management, leadership development and corporate eco-system redesign services, a business format similar to the one of a family-office or a legal firm providing a specific service at a cost-effective price,” explains Bertrand.

Vitruvius Partners Group advises leading organisations on the four dimensions of business change — people, processes, technology and risk control — identifying problem areas and making organisations more responsive to change in their industries and markets, equipping them to take maximum advantage of emerging opportunities.

“Our business model is highly relevant and also innovative in its approach to change but we are not consultants,” he emphasises. “We are expert advisors that bring a wealth of strategic and operational experience, as opposed to only the ability to audit and sell ‘off-the-shelf’ systems like most consulting companies.”

Although the idea of this venture had been brewing for a while, the first Covid lockdown gave Bertrand that final now-or-never push. He decided to leave his secure CEO position and jump into entrepreneurship with the launch of Vitruvius Partners Group.

In the same year, the academic’s Iconic In The Midst Of Chaos was published. “This book was written as an attempt to provide guidance to those who understand that chaos – like what we are experiencing today – can be an opportunity to become iconic. The approach is a very holistic one, albeit based on proven techniques to install great leadership skills in every manager.”

On a personal level, Bertrand reflects that 2020 was a year of empathy as he witnessed most of his friends in the cruise industry affected on so many levels – losing their jobs, stuck on ships for months, separated from families, and a few suicides as well.

“I felt powerless yet during this crisis, I witnessed such kindness, community cohesion and incredible support from colleagues and friends. It produced my motto, “to enable people to tell their true stories so they may inspire greatness in their lives and for others.”

Bertrand admits that when he left Europe in 1994 for the US he never thought he would return to the continent and relocating to Monaco in 2007 was with reluctance based on his experiences as a teenager. “When I was young, Monaco did not have much to offer except for glamour and tourist-oriented activities and it was difficult for a teenager to grow with a sense of what the world had to offer. I would often spend free days in Nice, where I felt more challenged intellectually. Monaco has evolved in a much more dynamic and open way. It is a place of innovation, creativity and education – the International University of Monaco is, in my opinion, a great success story for the country. Monaco is still a village but a vibrant village,” he comments.

Bertrand, whose surname evolved from its Dutch origins Petïjt, is not a natural networker and in a large group you’ll most likely find him in the corner of the room with the people he knows and trusts. “I network for business, mostly online through LinkedIn as it offers access to a wider array of interesting people.” In Monaco, he’s been involved with various associations like Skal Monaco, the Propeller Club and Global Business Owners.

While Bertrand would chalk 2020 up as a success professionally, over the past two months an autoimmune disease has been causing him debilitating inflammation. “Nothing to worry about long term but I could not even open a laptop let alone have the energy to think. I am an extremely positive person but I can tell you that when faced with such pain, your positivity disappears and you discover a darker side of yourself, one that does not allow you to see the future as bright as you should. For the time being, I have had to slow down all my activities and focus on fully recovering my health and energy. I talk about this in my book, how our abilities rely on four pillars – our health, spirit, mental and emotional state.”

Bertrand Petyt adds, “Sometimes life has a way of reminding us how important it is to take care of our bodies. Health is the cornerstone of everything.”

Anne De Hauw

Anne de Hauw has always loved discovering new places. “To me, travelling is like oxygen – absolutely liberating, inspiring and eye-opening. And aviation is the preeminent enabler for travel, a key driver in economic development and, pre-Covid, generating 13.5 million direct and indirect jobs.”

Born and bred in Belgium, Anne studied fashion marketing in Paris and Florence before moving to the Principality in 2004 to work for Misaki, a Monaco-based pearl jewellery company mainly providing travel retail and duty-free markets.

“After a few years, I was hired by a global airline catering and retail company, where I was in charge of innovation. Even though I became a mom to two boys during this time, I totally enjoyed the travelling this job enabled me to do, meeting new people and discovering new places in all continents across the globe,” says Anne.

And she always loved coming back home to Monaco. “I have been to many places, but none of them is comparable to here, a perfect mix of a cosmopolitan city and a charming village that offers a wealth of opportunities in business, culture and leisure.”

In 2018, Anne decided to quit the corporate world and follow her dream to create her own venture – IN Air Travel Experience, the very first boutique consultancy focusing on customer experience, innovation and sustainability for air travel. (IN stands for Innovation, Inspiration, Influence and In-flight.)

“During my corporate life, I noticed there was a significant shift in the decision-making power within commercial airlines towards customer experience,” Anne explains. “Historically financially and operationally driven, airlines started to increasingly put the passenger in a central position within their strategy. And this is where I saw an opportunity for them to externalise passenger journey analysis and get unbiased strategic advice on how to improve certain touch points.”

With her extensive network and passion for improving passenger experience, combined with an expertise in transformational innovation, in-flight catering and retail, it was an obvious choice for Anne to create a niche consulting agency supporting airlines to ultimately increase passenger satisfaction.

But it is hard to gauge passenger satisfaction on board when there are no flights, as the global pandemic caused unparalleled disruption in many sectors, travel and hospitality being in pole position. “Even if the Covid crisis isn’t over and although the immediate future will continue to be tough, it also presents a unique opportunity to rethink the future travel experience, accelerate business transformation and embed purpose and sustainability into business strategies and day-to-day operations,” Anne explains.

“As airlines recover, restructure and re-evaluate, they must seize this moment to unlearn old habits and embrace new behaviours and new ways of working, rewriting the rules of business that are fit for the future the aviation industry needs. More than ever, it is important for businesses to truly commit to a purpose and ensure they use it to guide their thinking, planning and decision making.”

The travel consultant says that the pandemic has accelerated consumer desire to seek out organisations that aren’t just talking the talk when it comes to supporting social and environmental progress. “People want to engage with companies that are contributing to a positive impact on society and the planet.”

For IN Air Travel Experience, the announcement of lockdown in the spring meant “literally” all of its customer related airline projects came to a halt in just one week. Anne used “the unique opportunity” to accelerate a focus on innovation and sustainability. “To give you an example of one of our ideas, we developed the IN.bowl, a revolutionary in-flight dining concept that positively impacts the passenger experience. Unusual for airline food, this delicious and nutritionally-balanced dish that combats the negative effects of air travel is ultra-efficient in cost, space and handling. It is also environmentally sustainable in material use, weight and waste reduction. A triple win for the people, planet and the airline,” Anne describes.

Anne champions and defends waste reduction for air travel in order to support the industry in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. IN Air Travel Experience is a founding member of the International Aviation Waste Management Association, a non-profit organisation providing airlines and airports with a base of research and expert knowledge and aiming to advance circular economy knowledge and adoption in global aviation.

“In summary, 2020 was very different than initially expected,” she reflects. On the home front, Anne and her family went into lockdown in Monaco in March. “It was quite a radical change from our usual busy schedules, but I was grateful we were home together, safe, healthy and had food in the fridge.” Over the year, face-to-face business meetings, presentations and industry events have been replaced by endless video calls. “Despite the imposed social distancing and the seemingly people-less world out there, I believe an increased ‘togetherness’ matters more than ever and we stay connected with our customers all over the world through video conferencing.”

She admits that in terms of her bottom line, the year has not been brilliant, but her company is well advanced on purpose-driven projects and continues to build a solid foundation for the future. “As for 2021, I sincerely hope governments will cease to block travel – closing borders, quarantine measures, lockdowns – and people will be confident to fly again.”

Anne de Hauw pauses. “You know, I am still amazed how humans have managed to build a vehicle that can go up in the air and move! And I would love to learn to fly myself, one day, in a post-Covid world.”

According to Business Wire, this year’s passenger numbers are expected to drop to around 2.26 billion (similar to 2006) with passenger revenues tumbling from $612 billion in 2019 to $241 billion in 2020. Additionally, the ResearchAndMarkets.com report released yesterday states that total revenues for the industry look to fall from $830 billion to $418 billion over 2019-2020. “Despite generating around $590 billion in 2021, the industry is forecast to bear a significant loss of $15.8 billion. Restrictions on international travel and lockdowns evaporated passenger demand, with total passenger traffic estimated to decline by 52.7%.”

Brian Frederiksen

Brian Frederiksen. Photos: Nancy Heslin

“I’ve made millions and lost millions, and I’ve been homeless,” says Monaco resident Brian Frederiksen, “but I’ve always found my way back, believing anything was possible.”

Brian, a Fortune 500 executive who is considered one of the world’s leading change agents for AI innovations disrupting healthcare, moved back to Monaco in 2019 after he sold his last startup, a deep tech company founded in academia with sophisticated algorithms.

“I used to live in Monaco about ten years ago. In pursuit of another adventure in life I ended up leaving, however, it was one of those places I wanted to come back to once I had a family.”

When he returned, he volunteered as a mentor at MonacoTech, the government incubator, which is where he met then-director Fabrice Marquet, who had been heading the show since its launch in 2017.

“Eventually Fabrice and I saw an opportunity to create a business accelerator model with a hands-on approach that didn’t exist anywhere else, where we could use our experience to help early- to mid-stage companies become global market leaders.”

In January 2020, the pair cofounded Monaco Foundry. “It has gone better than either of us could have imagined. Most importantly, I have found in Fabrice an incredible business partner. We have had lots of fun so far and already have an incredible portfolio of startups, all with the potential to change the world and improve the lives of others.”

That’s a pretty bold statement considering Brian’s CV includes stints as former chief strategy & operating officer of Merck’s Healthcare Services & Solutions, and senior advisor on AI and innovation to several European governments, including in Finland where he oversaw half a billion dollars worth of startups.

“The one thing I’ve learned is that eventually everything in life, as in business, always comes down to people. My insight and, I suppose, emotional intelligence have allowed me to make new and disruptive deals in AI, for instance, for healthcare because I create strong bonds with people and they instantly understand that I would go to the end of the earth to not let them down.”

As a young boy in his native Copenhagen, Brian longed to see the world. “I visited California when I was 17 and found a kindred spirit that anything was possible. I returned to the US after finishing my engineering degree in Denmark and my MBA in Paris.”

He lived all over the country, from Santa Fe to Santa Barbara and from Miami to NYC. “Juxtaposed to the Denmark I left as a young man, where you’re expected to fit in and where sticking out is not encouraged, I was a born change agent. The US is the perfect playground to create the life you want for yourself.”

It was in 2004, while working for the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office (he was looking to become a sheriff’s deputy) that Brian began to write. “My first novel, The Blood of the Vikings was published in a few European countries. I continued writing more books for the series, The Valentina Chronicles, and now, more than 16 years later, I’m still working on it.”

But it’s Brian’s most recent book that is garnering attention. Published in November in print and for Kindle, UNIVERSO-i reached No.1 as a New Hot Release International Best Seller on Amazon. “After the birth of my son, I decided to write my life story for him. The goal with the book is to help others overcome the fear and anxiety we all experience – especially in the times of Covid – to live the lives we’ve always dreamed of. Everything we want in life is truly on the other side of fear.”

Brian is donating profits from the book to charitable organizations that he partners with to share the message that the “game of destiny is won by loving and giving.”

He explains, “The crazy thing is that I’ve met people of incredible talent, physical abilities or beauty that believe they are not good enough, smart enough or beautiful enough because someone once told them that in their childhood or in school to lower their self-esteem. The mind is very powerful and can be our greatest friend or our worst enemy.”

Has fear or anxiety ever paralyzed him? “I believe strongly in my intuition so when I feel good about something or someone then I tend to pursue it without worrying too much about if everything has been figured out yet. So far it has been an incredible journey. One moment, an entrepreneur starting a company from scratch with a few people and the next, an advisor to governments, then a Fortune 500 executive and then back to a startup. And, as I said earlier, I have made millions and been homeless.”

For Brian, Covid brings out the best or the worst in people. “It seems like a litmus test for humanity as a whole and for us as individuals.”

He has a unique take on how we have been spending our time during lockdown and the pandemic. “If you haven’t developed or created something new in your life during these times then it is not more time you need but more discipline.”

He adds, “For the disciplined, Covid has been an incredible time to progress innovations in healthcare and otherwise. Some people see it as an opportunity to take advantage and others as an opportunity to give.

“Life always seems to come back to the givers and the takers. I firmly believe that the game of destiny is won by giving and loving, not taking and seeking to be loved,” says Brian Frederiksen.