a great story from St Tropez…

I took my two daughters to St Tropez for the weekend. We stayed about a 5 minute drive from the village at a wine vineyard that has been turned into a cool hotel.

Normally, I do not like going to St. Tropez because it is very small and in the summer there are thousands of people, however, right now, it is still not crowded.

Sophie was in Cape Town for the week, and because I am often away from my girls, traveling for work, I wanted to do something fun with them.

We left Monaco around 5:30pm on Friday and arrived to our hotel by 7:30pm … an easy, gorgeous drive.

We went into St Tropez village the next morning and walked around.

For those that do not know St Tropez, it is a small, beautiful port about 2 hour drive from Monaco/Nice. In the summer, the rich and famous go there to be seen.

After living in Monaco for the past 5+ years, big flashy cars and boats no longer impress me – but St Tropez is gorgeous, esp. when there are not many people.

On Saturday we walked all around the port and village – not many people. We walked right next to one of the most beautiful mega-yachts I have ever seen. I think it was the biggest boat in the port because it was parked on the side of the port.

I was smoking a cigar as we walked by this boat….. and an british gentleman in his 60’s, wearing the same uniform as everyone cleaning the boat, I assume the captain or deck hand walked in front of us smoking a cigar and boarded the ship…. as he walked in front of us, he turned towards me, smiled and held his cigar up without saying a word, as if to say “hello…”

Saturday night, I took the girls to an early dinner (7:30pm which in St. Tropez is considered early) and we sat facing a large square behind the port (I cant think of the name) but it is the famous square.

Our hotel recommended a small Italian restaurant, Cafe Milano, and our table faced, and was diretly on the square.

Immediately, Giovanna joined a few girls around her same age, I would discover later they are british.

The meal was very good – but what I enjoyed the most was watching Giovanna, who speaks only french playing with 3 british girls who did not speak french…she would yell over thoughout the evenng to me and ask me what a word was in english or how to say something …. it was funny.

After dinner, I enjoyed a cigar as I sat chatting with Marie and watching Giovanna run around the square with her new friends.

The man that I had seen, I assume the captain of the massive, gorgeous mega yacht walked over to me …. once again he was also smoking a cigar. He looked like he had been working all day on the engine, he was very dirty.

We would learn that one of the three little girls that Giovanna was playing with was his grand daughter…. so he sat down next to me and we small talked a bit.

For those readers that know me well, know that I am not a big “small talker “…. so we sat mostly, in silence as we enjoyed our cigars and watching the girls play.

We did talk about cafe’s …. and how enjoyable the french cafe culture is. We talked about cigars, and he commented that when his boss is away, he smokes up to 8 cigars a day. Very interesting man.

Although I was dying to ask him questions about the boat and who his “boss” was …. I did not.

30 minutes later, after he suggested a cafe for breakfast …. he left with his grand daughter.

Marie laughingly asked me if I thought he was the captain of the boat….. by all the grease on his shirt and face and hands , I assumed most probably.

The next morning, Giovanna, Marie and I woke up early and went into the village for breakfast at the cafe the british man had recommended. It was around 7:30am when we got to the port….and there were very few people around. It was gorgeous.

Within 10 minutes of being at the cafe, the man and his grand daughter also showed up. Giovanna and “Leena” went running off playing. “Phillip” sat at the table right next to mine … we both smoked cigars, drank coffee — and the sheer coincidence of seeing each other 3 days in a row had both of us giddy and talkative.

Over the course of a couple of hours, we sat and spoke about everything, he asked me a lot about my life…naseba, my travels, etc. he asked me loads of questions ….in fact, our conversation, I will remember for the rest of my life.

He had overheard Marie tell me that in her magazine it says that 50 Cent just bought a 2 million dollar watch….

Phillip said to me in a beautiful british accent:

“the problem in the world today is that 9 out of 10 people, especially your people (he was refering to americans) think that owning a 2 million dollar watch is the ultimate achievement. The tv shows that your daughter watch are selling her dreams that do not exist. 2 million dollar watches! when I was a young man, people looked down on such foolish spending …. now our world tells us that owning a 2 million dollar watch is the pinnacle of success.”

(I got very interested in what he was saying because he was saying something that I say all the time in this blog)

He went on to tell me that when he started his first company….. the work ethic was completely different than it is today. He also told me how people try to steal from him all the time … even just small amounts of money…. He told me how loyalty today is nothing like it was when he was younger….and jokingly coughed in a thick british accent…. “2 million dollar watch!”

He said that our focus today on materialism is crushing man’s spirit to succeed. He told me that he read an article in the FT that claims that a majority of people would rather “win” 1 million pounds instead of working to “earn” 1 million pounds…..

Very interesting.

Our conversation was very Ayn Rand like … but he told me that he had never read any of her books.

A good 2 hours had passed since we started talking …. A woman in her late 60’s, super chic’ly dressed walked up to us …. and Phillip said to me “oh no, the boss is back….” and we both laughed.

By now my suspicion was confirmed — Phillip is not the captain of the biggest boat in the harbor, he is the owner.

I told him about this blog …. naseba….this past 12 months and the massive learning experience it has all been…

We tried to access the blog from his mobile – but it was too heavy for the network — but he wrote it down and told me he would check it out later.

I had to go back to Nice to take the girls to Tata’s …. because I had to fly to Warsaw in the afternoon … so unfortunately, I had to end my conversation with this man….but my the 2 hour 15 minute flight to Warsaw I thought about everything this man said ….

I did not ask him about his boat …. other than asking where in Monaco he lives… I did not pry too much into who and what he was…
which is probably why he got so much involved in our conversation.

A very humble, down to earth man …. who summed up his life as “sticking to what he believed in, even when others did not….”

It is almost as if he said “stick to the pitch … and just f…ing sell.”

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5 thoughts on “a great story from St Tropez…

  1. Voice of Reason

    ” He said that our focus today on materialism is crushing man?s spirit to succeed. He told me that he read an article in the FT that claims that a majority of people would rather ?win? 1 million pounds instead of working to ?earn? 1 million pounds?..”

    Very interesting point that may deserve a bit of reflection.

    To be very honest, i would rather win a million than earn it as well. It is common sense – this capital can immediately be put to work earning more money. I think this is true of anyone. I jsut wouldnt want it to ‘define’ me.

    However, the greater sin, and perhaps more telling question: Which would make you more happy? At the heart of the matter here is whether or not you derive self-worth from the one million itself – and if you do, well then you have issues…

    Also I am not sure i completely agree that materialism is the root cause behind a decline in a ‘desire to succeed’. Moreover, you could argue that globally the desire to succeed is on the increase – it is, i believe, the rise of the cult of entitlement (I’ll steal your Nietzsche-esque term here: super bitch) in the West that has this insane obssesion with 2 million dollar watches. While an inordinate focus on material wealth/possesions is certainly a negative quality, it is probably incorrect to link it to a lack of desire to succeed. If anything a certain degree of materialism is a very healthy catalyst.

    I would posit that materialism is fine and a healthy component in the drive to succeed. The greater evil at work is the assumption that you dont – or shouldn’t- have to actually work for those possesions or be succesful. This coupled with the media’s constant indoctrination that you must have ‘X’ – and must have it RIGHT NOW – in order to be worth anything as a person (i.e. be successful) is more likely the root behind the sapping of the will to work hard and succeed.

    A two million dollar watch. Yes it is silly, but 50 Cent arguably has a talent in rare supply. If he wants to spend his money that way, so be it. Anyone remember MC Hammer? He made 35 million in one year, spent 35 million that same year. I wonder what high school he is doing guest appearances at to help pay the bills these days?

  2. my blog entry was not very good and unclear… and my point is misleading…

    phillip owns a 200+ foot mega yacht and a helicopter… i do not think he was focusing on material’s persay … esp. since he has a kick ass toy.

    however, what we discussed in great detail was the decline of an honorable; consistent; focused; and dependable “work ethic.”

    however,i absolutely disagree with your comment about “winning” instead of “earning…” what intrinsic value does 1 million euros have to you if it was begot by winning a contest…other than buying things that most probably we don’t need?

  3. Voice of Reason

    it would have an intrinsic value of one million pounds. you are talking about symbolic value. therein lies my point – as well as yours.

  4. …I like it how the frequent blog reader’s attention is always towards the words of “csr” highlighted in bright orange…
    it is a case of much to do about nothing here and there is no debate:
    straight from a popular rap song lyrics:

    “compare my accomplishments to my losses
    everybody wonder what the winner does..
    coz money kept is twice as good as money burnt
    and money earned is twice as sweet as money won
    either everything is working or you are working for everything”

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