3 Minutes to read

Lilian Thibault, Founder & CEO of Awake

Learning Inspiration 🌈 #48

Lilian Thibault is the founder and CEO of Awake, the first eco-responsible French watch brand. Awake is committed to reimaging tomorrow’s consumption patterns by creating a new generation of products that achieve high aesthetic appeal and top performance with minimal environmental impact.

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Lilian Thibault, Founder & CEO of Awake

Who is your biggest inspiration? 

Many people inspire me in my daily life, but I will focus on the most famous for the sake of this interview.

Simon Sinek is one of the greatest marketing geniuses. Through his start-with-why approach in Start With Why, he helped me understand why I do things.

Bill Gates is one of the most successful people in the world who now dedicates his time to improving the world through innovation. With his foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he solves problems in Africa that no state has tackled.

Yvon Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia, a brand that is true to itself. From its start in the 70s, he built a brand extremely committed to sustainability.  They made change happen in a high-polluting industry long before the eco-responsibility became trendy.

Idriss Aberkane is a researcher who taught me a great deal about bio-manufacturing, drawing inspiration from living things and the environment. This approach to creating things requires minimal chemistry for minimum effect on the planet. Aberkane popularized the concept of Biomimetics to innovate sustainably with concrete examples of how to draw inspiration from nature.

Aurélien Barreau is a French astrophysicist specializing in general relativity, black hole physics, and cosmology. He is very connected to living things and Earth. I particularly appreciate his approach to people and the planet.

What are your favorite books, and why? 📚  

Strangely, they are not connected to the business world. I read few business books to my chagrin. Instead, I read many historical novels to escape.

I am a huge fan of Ken Follett. The Pillars of the Earth is his masterpiece.

Tim Ferris’s The 4-Hour Week is a fascinating concept, but I never managed to adapt it to my life. I appreciated Ferris’s push for us to rethink work-life balance.

What are your favorite podcasts, and why? 🎧

I don’t watch TV, listen to the radio, or listen to many podcasts.

I have subscribed to a few newsletters such as Frenchweb and Time To Sign Off (both French.) Sometimes, I listen to podcasts recommended to me, like Time To Sign Off’s  Silicon Carne, which is about a Frenchman’s life in the Silicon Valley.

The problem with newsletters is that you won’t start working until noon if you read them every day. Today in building my business, I am much more in the execution phase versus the learning phase, which is about reading and listening to podcasts.

How do you remember what you learn? 🧠

Currently, I don’t have any methods for remembering what I’m learning, but I would like to learn how to do it! This is the thing that annoys me the most about myself – reading something and then not remembering it. Today I have two methods of trying to remember what I am learning.

I always take notes; I’m a to-do list junky.

To avoid forgetting what I learn, I share it immediately with my team and my relatives. That’s what I love about Clind.

What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome this year, and how did you do that?

The challenges of 2020 were unlike any we had encountered, which cost us. Ultimately 2020 allowed us to reflect and to think about how to do things differently. It was challenging because the economy has changed and slowed down. For us, Covid held us back because we have a traditional business model. The biggest challenge has been readjusting to the new world. The crazy thing is that Covid is the result of human overconsumption. We are ultimately the victim of our actions.

What is the most important thing you learn over the last 12 months?

For the past twelve months, I have spent my life learning. What excites me the most is the concept of Biomimetics. There is nothing worse than someone telling me that recycling is the future because it’s just a band-aid. Today, we overconsume. The real challenge of tomorrow’s manufacturing is how do we draw inspiration from nature to create and how do we limit chemistry to reduce. pollutionNature is the greatest designer. We have many animals to draw inspiration.

\I have spent my time learning more specifically about bio-inspiration and biofabrication because I find them entirely revolutionary. Today, we are talking about environmental conditions and recycling, which is a short-sighted view of things. Recycling is not the future; it’s just a band-aid for what we are doing wrong. Biomimicry is about completely rethinking the way we do things. It’s about taking inspiration from nature instead of destroying it. Since the industrial revolution, we have been pursuing growth at all costs, whatever the cost. We appropriate natural resources by over-exploiting them without asking questions about the impact this will have. And then, we find ourselves with tons of waste every day in the oceans, all with a rather revolting indifference. 

It is science that will save the world through analyzing nature — for example, understanding how flowers become honey. It’s a natural process. Bees don’t leave behind any waste or pollution! The strength is transforming a renewable resource, such as flowers, into a product that we can eat. This idea is what excites me the most. This is the question to answer for tomorrow’s manufacturing: How do we get as much inspiration as possible from nature to do things and limit our use of fossil fuels or non-sustainable resources as much as possible.

What would you say to the 18 years old version of yourself?

This is a hard question to answer, but I think I would tell myself to take risks, challenge myself, follow my passions, and focus on what I want to bring to society. How do I create things that add value to everyone rather than just benefiting myself? Today we are too afraid of not making a good enough living, which prevents us from taking risks and doing things we believe are important.

If you were to stay alone on an island and only be allowed to bring one item, what would it be? 🏝

Certainly, I would not bring a smartphone but rather a photo of my family. This is the thing that would reassure me the most, a whole universe of memories.

One last word? 

Even though I work like crazy, my life ambitions have changed. I hope that I will soon be able to spend more time with my loved ones, including my parents. Finally, we realized that everything changes very quickly. We don’t know the next problem after the Covid pandemic, but we know that there will be more to come. Every minute that goes by that you neglect your family, friends, and loved ones, is sad. It’s better to spend five minutes with your friends than five minutes on Instagram. That’s why I would take a photo of my family to a deserted island.

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Marie from Clind

Marie has been in the EdTech sector for the past 4 years. She is COO at Clind. Clind is an EdTech startup building a personal learning assistant to help individuals grow and learn better on a daily basis.

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