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Richard Christiansen: Where Dragons Live

1 month ago by

Welcome back to Pardon My French! Kicking off the new season with my good friend Richard. Since the day I met him, I’ve always been curious about the way he makes things happen. Richard is the owner of a wonderful creative agency, Chandelier Creative, but he is also much more than that. I feel like he applies creativity into the way he lives his life. From his excursions to the North Pole to the houses he shares with his employees and the people he chooses to work with, there is always something new, something surprising, something exciting.

Today Richard welcomed me in his new house in Los Angeles, a true wonderland if you ask me. How did he get there? Let’s listen to his story…

podcast cover

Richard Christiansen: Where Dragons Live

Pardon My French with Garance Doré
Richard Christiansen: Where Dragons Live

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On believing in hard work…
My parents believed in the power of hard work and they manifested that every day. I have a great respect for people who start things. I love people who started their own businesses. I think the future belongs to people who can start the engine. I’m very excited when people come into the agency who’ve tried things, especially if they’ve tried things and failed, and then got back up on the horse. I respect that a great deal.

On his family farm turned tourist attraction preparing him for his future…
It was nonstop creativity. Of course at the time, I was in high school and didn’t think much of it, but I’m so grateful for it because that was years of training. Years of thinking creatively on my feet. “What do we do next? How do we make money?” I have no doubt that had I not gone through that as a kid, I would not be a creative director today.

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On knowing what he wanted to do when he was younger…
I always knew how I wanted it to feel. I wanted it to feel like I was being creative every day. And creating things every day.

On the luxury of a good bath…
I originally lived in the East Village with like 12 people. I lived different apartments with lots of people with one bathroom. I was still working at bars for a long time just to save up all the money I could. I would save up all of my tips and once a month, I would get a room at a hotel with a bathtub and I’d order a cheeseburger and I’d watch a movie and have a bath. Which was the greatest luxury for me!

On his idols…
Walt Disney. I loved him because I thought he was someone who created his own world on his own terms. Monetized his love and created a world around him. Richard Branson. We are working with Virgin now, and it’s just a childhood dream to work with him and I’m super grateful. I have a great respect for people who have crafted their own story. And outsiders. I think I’ve always felt like an outsider, very self-conscious and insecure, originally, about being a creative person, because I wasn’t trained for it. I’d never gone to school for it. I knew nobody special and so I think worked twice as hard because I was fueled by that insecurity.

On needing to get out of his comfort zone…
Our company had really grown, and the stress it takes to pay that many people, for a company you own and relies on you going out every day and selling it, that stress had really worn me down. It had left me beaten. So I was turning 40 and decided I needed to do something completely outside my comfort zone. So that’s when I decided to venture to Mount Everest and then the Golden Triangle which is Everest, North Pole and then the South Pole. And I had never even been into a Patagonia store!

Richard Christiansen: Where Dragons Live

On needing to connect and be small…
I’ll never forget this moment. I thought everything I’d been trying to do before this moment was wrong. Because I’d spent my career trying to be big. I wanted a big career, a big house, big impact, and a big name. Then I realized what I really needed to do was be small. I remember laying there and I know this is going to sound super cheesy, but thinking I’m part of this big world, all of these stars, I’m cradling this rock, I’ve met all these people climbing up this mountain who’ve got their own stories, probably more interesting and smart than mine. Until then I was sort of the only character in my own film. And I thought wow, I need to get small and get connected again and get human.

On the impact visiting Mount Everest had on him…
It really sort of shook me up, that trip. I decided when I came back down I was going to use my skills to do the things I believe in. To change the world, to create culture. I used to say this and I still do, but the agency I created is about jazz hands and middle fingers. It’s about sparkle and color and fun, but we also deeply care about the environment, politics and human rights. There’s a tension there because we make money on one thing and we spend our resources on another. So, I came back determined to do more of that.

On what the body is capable of…
I trained very hard for that trip. But it’s interesting when you listen to your body, and what your body is capable of. I literally climbed for 12 hours a day and I used to sit at a desk for 12 hours a day, so your body does change. I’ve never looked as good as when I got down off that mountain! I took so many selfies!

On the importance of exploring the fringes…
On old pirate maps, there is part of the map that says, “here be dragons,” which is that part of the world where monsters lived that you never went to. That’s the part of the world we need to run to now. When those maps were drawn, everyone thought the world was flat, and then we discovered the world was round. But what’s actually happened is the world has gotten flat again because of social media. Everything is the same and it feels flat. Every airport is the same and has the same stores. Hotels feel the same. It’s so hard to find the fringes anymore. It’s hard to find that part of the map where dragons live.

Richard Christiansen: Where Dragons Live

Other things discussed…

Walt Disney
Benetton
Jane Goodall
COLORS Magazine

Special thanks to Richard for letting us record at Flamingo Estate in Los Angeles. Be sure to check out Chandelier Creative and their Instagram!

25 comments

Add yours
  • Gabriela Y September, 18 2017, 10:43 / Reply

    I have missed this podcast so much. So excited you are back!!

  • Thank you for such an interesting interview. Richard is someone most of us would never have heard of, yet he has so much to admire and inspire.
    BTW, how can I get you on Stitcher? Or is there another non-Apple podcast app that carries you and that allows me to download for off-line listening?

  • Sunny Side September, 18 2017, 12:19 / Reply

    Je me souviens, c’est là (Mermaids ranch) où tu as emmené ton équipe l’an dernier. Et tu étais fascinée par son évolution et ce qui se tramait à L.A avec la permaculture etc … Heureusement qu’il y a des gens comme vous, qui habitent leurs rêves et les réalisent. c’est tellement régénérateur de savoir que vous existez. Mon rêve est d’aller au pays du Dragon, le Bhoutan !

  • Oh…my…god. Thank you! This is such a perfect timing and subject to me!

  • what a beautiful interview, we are all so glad PMF is back <3

  • I dissected this interview, with bullet points and all, so many crucial concepts. His own story makes me think and reflect on my own creative journey and makes me want to get out there and kill it! Thank you both, Richard and Garance!

    Mercedes
    @maisoncorazon

  • I’m so excited PMF is back. Been waiting a long time for a new episode. I love your outfit by the way!

  • Such an inspiring interview! I hope you don’t mind but I am pretending he was speaking directly to me and cheering me on my own efforts to grow my blog and business.

    Cheers,
    xo
    http://www.luxeodette.com/

  • That last answer is solid gold.

  • What a great interview. What a great friend .This interview helps to remind us all about being small . The Tao of Jandrew says small is small is small , what is small , it contains judgement to be small , let’s just be big or small . No judgements
    Jandrew
    Dress The Part
    http://www.jandrewspeaks.com

  • Loved your interview with Richard. He is really inspiring and makes you think what really matters in life.
    You two seem to really connect. I look forward to hear more conversations with you. Merci

  • Je suis contente que PMF est rentré. C’est un interview brillant. J’aime bien cette post

  • It would be so nice to see more pictures about how people live. This is always so inspiering.
    Rooms, furniture, fabrics and the character whom lives in. I wish you would show more of this :)

  • Oh, we couldn’t go to Richard’s Flamingo Estate and not take pictures. Coming soon :) In the meantime… have you seen his Art of Life story we published last year? x

  • Myriam Traore September, 19 2017, 12:59 / Reply

    Richard, Africa is not a country. It’s a continent with 53 countries! I enjoyed listening to your insights until you kept repeating “im going to Africa”…. how difficult is it to simply state the country (countries) you are going to?
    It’s tiring to hear westerners refer to Africa as if it were that remote tiny piece of land out there in the universe.
    You are well traveled, you have been exposed to diversity. Don’t make that faux pas of referring to our continent as one country.

  • good interview. Some great aspects even. But that tension between serving a firm that pushes sugar at developing nations and then going to that nation to serve the natives is old. It is called hypocricy. You serve a company that you know is making people sick. It may even be called being blind with open eyes. It’s like people promote fast fashion companies, like Zara, and old navy knowing they are running sweat shops.

  • This might be my favourite PMF yet…after Esther Perel. Your conversation is empowering, yet has so much vulnerability and humanness and raw honesty.

  • Great PMF
    The best is the luxury of a bath! What a soul to know true luxury and take the time and effort to truly enjoy – for me this epitomises luxury (a word used very loosely these days)

  • I LOVE THIS EPISODE!!!

    I forgot how many times i hit the rewind button just to keep on listening to that “here be dragons” part. And also how he discussed about going back to being small. It is so relatable and downright inspiring.

    I look forward to hearing more episodes like this one Garance!

  • Stay small – my new mantra! I Thanks for that! LOVED listening to you two. Maybe you offer a retreat together one day? Would love to book it. Have a lovely day in the future (LA), best, Steffi

  • So happy pardon my french is back! And this episode was sooo inspiring! Especially about monitizing your purpose in life; it was refreshing as many people claim to be idealist and don’t care about money.. (or people that don’t care about ideals and only about money) which holds back so many people that want to go after their their dreams and purpose but simply cannot take care after themselves (and there loved ones) without any income. You really can have both

  • Such a great and motivating conversation and the energy coming from Richard. I can feel his burning fire. I miss it a lot cause I simply don’t allow or trust my fire to go big. Thx a lot. I always look forward to your PMF episodes. This kind of information is not available anywhere else.

  • Yay it’s back! Garance, I have truly missed this. These were (and now are!) a part of my weekly routine! Thank you!

  • So glad you’re back!!! Fantastic, inspiring interview!! Thank you x

  • Priscilla Saravia October, 5 2017, 11:17 / Reply

    What a wonderful podcast! It makes me ponder on other aspects of my life.I love this and Violette’s podcast as well. :)

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