Anne-Laure Herrezuelo is an artist, facilitator and community engagement expert. She supports inspiring teams to develop their unique culture through collective art experiences.
What’s your story?
- Me at 8 years old: “I like trees! I like drawing and dancing and I like brains”.
- Me today: pretty much the same things.
It just took me 35 years to remember it and really have all my actions converge!
I am a trained engineer and former change management consultant working for 500 companies.
Today, I support CEOs to unlock the creative confidence of their employees and drive culture change, with my own unique design framework. I use a lot of creative techniques -visual & movement. I specialized in communities and companies making a shift and wanting to create a greater impact on the world. I love it! Understanding what motivates people to change, energizing them, keeping focused on the big picture and what is significant for us on the whole… is really what makes me jump out of my bed every day! I also coach my clients through creative storytelling so that they can promote their own vision with impact.
It took me a long time and like all first-time entrepreneurs, it is a ‘wavy journey’!
Before starting my creative x consulting practice, I was the first Community and Program Manager at Found8 (previously Impact Hub Singapore) – Singapore’s largest co-working community and Google for Entrepreneurs’ first tech hub partner in Asia. I was elected as one of the Top 10 Community Builders for the Tech Ecosystem in Asia in 2017.
I am an engineer by training. Formerly I was working with NGOs and local populations across South America and Africa as an agronomist engineer – and later as a Change Management consultant supporting MNCs and Governments through organizational shifts. That is where I got all my facilitation skills!
I am happier now, focusing on the future. I find the alignment of my interests in involving other talented designers, consultants and experts from the innovation, art and tech community across Asia for client projects.
In February 2018, I was part of the first “Art x Tech for Impact” exhibition at Artscience Museum. The following year, I was appointed Technology Seeding Programme Ambassador by MeshMind, an impact investor in creative technology for good. I really like that. Bring Nature x Tech x Impact x Art together for myself and at the same time doing something significant for the community.
I feel that if something is missing in my life, I will simply focus on creating it. I have co-founder Art Night Singapore; a free, open-to-the-public creative monthly event and We Dance; a community of ecstatic dancers. I most recently became a certified Contact Beyond Contact facilitator, a contact improvisation dance.
What excites you most about your industry?
I love those industries – creative, tech, environment – do not feel like boxes anymore. They are starting to feel like bridges.
And this is also how I see my art business today, as a way to bridge science and creativity, business and impact. I believe Art can invite people to reflect on change at a greater scale.
I can clearly see these changes happening, and not only in hyper-urban settings. Sometimes it seems it will take ages.
If we take the example of creating art installations. In a space restricted country like Singapore, the habits around most art installation designs were in the past years to scrap everything right after. Imagine…you invest your brain and creativity, your sweat, some budget, you involve friends and community, to build a meaningful piece together and it is just scraped away. I am happy to see the mindset is slowly changing. More artists and partners are moved by the necessity to be mindful about the provenance of the material we use and what happens after our creation.
And if we take the example of companies: it is the same. We can see that companies invest more on the creativity of their employees and the alignment of their mission with a greater purpose. For me, it is so exciting to work with companies and organisations like that. They really care about making their people connect with both their inner creative power and the bigger vision so that they understand why they work. I love it!
Churchill said, “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” Yes, I am quite an optimist for the evolution of the industries I work in.
What’s your connection to Asia?
That is an amazing question. I came here on an adventure. And now I feel I am literally at the center of the future. 80% of the population lives around us and is making life happens every day. I love that. Everything we create here will have such a huge impact on the future.
On a personal basis, I found alignment in my scientific beliefs and my spiritual beliefs here in Asia. As an engineer, I know that the molecules of water in my body might have been molecules of water in the body of a dinosaur, or a tree, millions of years ago. Everything is reused and transformed through space and time. And this is what I have found in many of the Asian cultures. I like this feeling of being a part of everything and linked to the past and the future. And that connection, I have found it in Asia;
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course! The level of diversity of the people, their skills, their culture here is incredible. Sometimes it feels too much of a bubble and doing business in Asia means going out and exploring the world outside of Singapore. However, as a business base, it is truly an amazing place.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I’m not sure it is the best. I can share one that moved me for sure. However, sometimes, only the future shows what was the most significant, even if on that moment, it did not felt that way.
I was having dinner with a man who became a very good friend after that discussion. He started the dinner saying “You are stupid”. That was a good start as you can guess!
I was sharing my struggle to tame the fire in me, as sometimes, some people around me expressed they felt it was too much.
My new friend said that only babies get burnt by the fire. The adults know and have learnt how to respect it and enjoy it.
He told me people who love me, know they just have to feed the fire a bit, leave some space around it and the fire will bring them light and warmth and care.
My responsibility, however, was not to try to tame it. “Tame it too hard and you might kill…it or make it explosive. Just let it shine and the rest will come”.
He was right.
Who inspires you?
Commandant Jean-Jacques Cousteau: for exploring the Ocean, innovating to explore further (material, content creation) and bringing back to the community all his and his team knowledge to help people connect with the Ocean, be in awe, know we are all part of it. He is so inspiring to me: innovation (the progress we made in diving equipment), creativity (the documentary) x education x environment x nature. All is there
Another quote, from Melville this time:
“Consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?”.
And well Elon Musk, because the power if his convictions is so strong that they are shaping the world, because he convinced himself he could do pretty much anything by living off a dollar per day and because he is changing entire industries (not just one).
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Dolphins have a sort an extra organ in their brain that allows them to perceive deeply and clearly through the body of other species; they can actually sense and feel when you are stressed or when you are experiencing fear thanks to this appendix. This is why they have so much altruistic behaviour, because of true, physically felt, empathy.
Also, they seem to need to think about each breath…they are intentionally breathing all the time. That got me thinking. Sometimes I am stressed and I forget to even breathe 🙂 Perhaps I should be more like a dolphin 🙂
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would spend less time wondering if I am good enough and what if I feel and more time doing the things I love. Just doing the things I love because if I love them, I will do it so much and work on them so hard that I will become good at it.
Moving my focus outwards earlier. The day I cared less about what I would be and more about what can be as a whole, I got moving. I would have loved to understand that earlier.
How do you unwind?
Hiking in wild Nature and dancing with friends are super recharging for me. I love running also, especially in mountains and forests.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Anywhere in a mountain (Himalaya, Marka Valley in the very North of India) or deep in the Ocean (Indonesia for instance). Well for that exact same reason we mentioned above: I can recharge there, feel that sense of connection like I am dissolving in Nature; I am in awe there.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“The Subtle Art of not giving a fuck”, by Marc Manson.
“How to lose at almost everything and still win big” by Scott Adams, the famous creator of Dilbert.
Shameless plug for your business:
If you are a leader who knows that people are your organization’s most valuable resource. If you know they’re even more powerful when they are energised behind your big vision to create a positive impact on the world. Then let’s work together to make that happen. I support inspiring teams to develop their unique culture through collective art experiences. And I specialized in communities and companies making a shift and wanting to create a positive impact on the world. And I can create a greater impact because I involved your employees and community in the creative process! Let’s harness the power of art together.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.