I recently celebrated my much anticipated 40th birthday (which is on 1st May) in the beautiful Beaune in Burgundy with a lovely group of 80 people who flew in from 11 different destinations: San Francisco, NYC, London, Paris, Brussels, Dubai, Qatar, Persia, Cyprus, Athens and Mumbai.
I feel truly blessed, humbled and honoured.
After months of preparation – leading to it being dubbed as my ‘wedding without the bride’ – I’m delighted to say that it exceeded all our expectations, even mine.
We created a website to collect all the photo and video footage which you can see here https://xenios40th.com/
Apart from the unforgettable memories this truly magical weekend gave us all, I’m most delighted to see how people who had never met before actually really gelled, bonded, forged new friendships and now even planning holidays together flying from different parts of the world.
I’m still getting messages from people telling me how nostalgic they are of that weekend and thanking me for their new friends. This makes me truly happy. There were tears of happiness, hugs, kisses, true bonding, friendships formed and strengthened, new business opportunities I’m sure, and, one or two break ups to spice it all up.
Once again, like I say in my speech which you can view here https://xenios40th.com/videos, serendipity, randomness, chance, are at the nucleus of the creation of great things – relationships, opportunities and memories. Life is a series of sliding doors. In a split second your life could take a completely different trajectory. I love this about life and have always lived this way, and frankly wouldn’t know how – or want to – live any other way.
Often confused, this is not to say we don’t set goals or targets in a structured way. I’ve always set high goals and expectations for myself in everything – be it my work, relationships friendships, sport or training. But HOW we get there is what makes all the difference.
Given a choice I’ve always opted to get to the destination with a compass rather than a map. Always keeping one eye on the clifftop and one eye on the climb.
There was so much happiness in these few days that I’ve decided to do a regular party of similar dimensions. The next one being over new years eve, probably on the mountains, so stay tuned.
Life is too short to be lived in a dull way. As I say in my thank you note to my guests, “in the end what we are left with, are good memories, with special friends and family. Everything else is actually overrated”.
(this line was taken out of a text message that I had sent to Sanu a while ago, and to my surprise he kept it and recited it in his amazing speech. That truly did move me Thanks bro, love you man.)
In the spirit of serendipity, off the back of this party I have made three new resolutions, including to have a regular big party in a new destination.
The second is to purse a life-long dream I always had of owning a small boutique hotel (much like the Cedre where the party was held) which can be a gathering point for good friends and family to have quality intimate moments in. Like Sanu recites in his speech: good food, vino, and conversation with your loved ones,
Some of my favourite moments over this long weekend which we don’t have on footage as the videographer only arrived on the Friday, were sitting around the fireplace the night before with a smaller select group of my closest friends and family, drinking exquisite Burgundy wine (Nuits St George 2014 to be precise), smoking Havana cigars and having charcuterie and cheese. That was a dream. I want to be able to do that every weekend, so I’ve started my search for a property as cute as the Cedre in the Cotswalds in Britain.
My third resolution is to start an events organising company which I’m planning on doing with Aylish considering what an amazing job she did (as everyone said) and how good the teamwork was.
In fact the level of detail was so out of this world that numerous people had said to her she needs to do this. And, ironically, they don’t even know the hidden stories of all the things that went wrong that she managed to fix last minute (like the luggage with all the merchandising getting lost at the airport, the Audio-Visual technical guys arriving one day late which meant we needed to find equipment last minute that they don’t have in a tiny town like Beaune, a power outage in the club just before the DJ was about to start playing and and I was being led to the surprise cake entrance – literally the worst timing possible – to the weather changing which meant we couldn’t use the garden and had to figure out a plan b last minute. Which in the end may have been a blessing in disguise as the venue inside was stunning as you will see from the photos
Not only did she sort all of these out, she stayed incredibly calm and didn’t mention any of them to me until the event was over. So I can stay cool. Simply amazing. Thank you once again for a superstar performance. The company will be a success no doubt
My last resolution – which is more of a commitment than resolution hence I exclude it from the count – is to carry on living life like a series of siding doors. Living in the moment. Embracing serendipity, randomness, the pleasures and surprises that the pursuit of chance brings into our life. This event would not be possible if I lived my life any other way, which is why, as I say in my speech its testament to the fact that “in the grander scheme of things, minus some setbacks along the way, in the end, it works”.
Always following my hunch, embracing serendipity, following randomness, celebrating life, living in the moment, seeing the glass half full. Otherwise life is just boring.
Rob’s speech (the third one in speeches video) – with a good pinch of wit, smarts and sarcasm, starts by describing me as a ‘larger than life personality’. I would never say that about myself but him saying it flatters and humbles me. But, ironically, one thing I always used to and still say, is that “the only way to beat death is to be larger than life”.
So let’s hope he’s right!
One story I wanted to say in my speech but had no time by the end was that, quite symbolically, Aylish is someone I also met very serendipitously almost 10 years ago now. She actually came in for an interview for a book-keeper, which of course she failed miserably J… but once again, in a very random turn of events, I followed my hunch and told her she’d make a great PR. Which was very random and out of the blue as she had no track record whatsoever in it or even knew what it was! She followed that and has been running our PR since for 9 years now – which has been a pivotal part of our success at PeoplePerHour.com, achieving virtually thousands of press mentions across all media, TV, press and digital.
And in another very ironic and serendipitous turn of events, we’ve now reinvented her again turning her into an Event Organiser, following the success this party!