A “citizen of Europe” as he refers to himself, Adrian Mohr takes us on a fascinating journey where the discovery of physical places and of his own passionate soul are intertwined.
In fact, one nourishes the other. Having spent his childhood in Normandy, France, in a pleasantly calm and secure home raised by his German parents, Adrian sets off as a young adult to Paris to study law and commerce. The beginning of his professional life in a multinational company is a rather typical one. Despite his rapid career successes in the fields of sales and marketing, Adrian feels that there is something else to be lived and experienced. His curiosity, love of art and thirst for adventure take him from France to Russia and Ukraine. Far from the comfort and stability of what he had known so far, Adrian spends five fascinatingly challenging years of his life fully absorbed by beauty, passion, humanity and all sorts of extremes in Saint Petersburg and Kiev. An awakening to himself and to his love for various kinds of artistic expression takes place in a very tumultuous setting. As the region opens up to the world politically and economically, Adrian awakens to his passions and humanity. These passions guide him upon his return to Paris. Adrian’s love for diverse cultures, exchanges, freedom, art, and, above all, people becomes the essence that leads to his total life transformation.
Emerald Jaaz has the privilege to interview Adrian Mohr, a sensitive soul, a romantic, who – today based in Paris – combines his vast sales and marketing experience with his love for beauty and artistic creation to empower and to generously share the vast benefits of culture with others.
“A person is empowered when they become capable of properly expressing themselves. Their self-confidence dramatically increases.”
– Adrian Mohr
Emerald Jaaz: Adrian, what do you enjoy the most about your current lifestyle?
Adrian Mohr: The most precious thing for me today is to have the freedom to do what I love by linking my past experience in the corporate world and my love for the arts. Not only does it give me immense joy, but it also allows me to have the flexibility I want to spend valuable time with my family and to take care of my baby son.
Emerald Jaaz: What does your current professional activity consist of?
Adrian Mohr: The services that I offer are three-fold: Firstly, I provide consulting to theatres, festivals and all cultural establishments about the behaviour of current and potential audiences, i.e. theatregoers, so that the cultural organisations adapt their strategy to effectively respond to society’s habits and needs. In other words, I help them to better know their audience and to develop it. In the end, the objective is to make culture accessible to as large a public as possible. I also lecture at universities, which I find purposeful and enjoyable, especially since my field is completely new. I am also working on developing my own teaching activity for professionals. Coming soon! Secondly, I help various artistic establishments and festivals such as La Villette by advising them about their marketing strategy. The focus is to provide a “voice” to arts and culture. And thirdly, I am actively engaged in the community by organising various events such as classical music concerts or plays. For instance, I help to obtain financing, find an audience and set up the communication. I love it when my work enables people to discover something new and be personally moved by it.
Emerald Jaaz: What made you choose to live the life you do today?
Adrian Mohr: Like many things, it was a process. I decided to go to Russia and Ukraine as a young professional when I was in my twenties to get away from all that was known to me at the time. Here in France, I didn’t want everyone watching me, observing my “progress” and more or less openly commenting on it. I felt the weight of being judged and compared at the time when I was living close to my family and childhood friends in France. With all their best intentions, my family’s and acquaintances’ constant eyes on me were at the time relatively limiting for me. I was also pretty much in a comfortable situation. I wanted adventure, to challenge myself, to find myself. I absolutely needed to get away form it all to breathe. Yes, I guess escape sums it up well. Russia and Ukraine gave me the luxury of distance, the possibility to construct my own path. The “neutrality” that this new environment represented for me at the time was the biggest gift that I could have given to myself. It was liberating – like an escape from a golden cage. Before that “adventure”, I found that everything was so conventional and I didn’t want to be a part of that system with all of its unwritten rules and expectations. I went to Russia and Ukraine without knowing anything, except the language and some Russian novels. I had no direction, no plans, no goals. My only “stability”, so to say, was my corporate job of setting up a subsidiary in Saint Petersburg. The rest was a blank page. It is in Russia and in that – for me – unknown land that I started to put ink on that blank page. I discovered myself and my passions. I was touched by the cultural richness and enormous beauty of Saint Petersburg. I was confronted with all sorts of extremes and challenges. The neutrality of being in a foreign country represented salvation for me. Then, when I felt that I have absorbed all I could out of my Russian and Ukrainian experience, I returned to Paris. I was glad to be back and free of so many psychological restrictions. Upon my return to Paris, I worked another eight years in a multinational company, which was not so exciting, but it enabled me to prepare myself for the lifestyle that I am now leading. At the same time, I compensated the dullness of my corporate job by going out a lot in Paris. I spent most of my free time in theatres, listening to concerts and in cafés meeting people from all walks of life. Then, five years ago, I decided that it was time to put together these two aspects of my life: culture and marketing. It was like joining the dots. I made this choice because, for me, it has meaning. It helps others. I simply I love it. Living purposefully gives me joy and satisfaction.
Emerald Jaaz: Apart from your passions, what causes are close to your heart?
Adrian Mohr: I am very sensitive to tragedy in this world. In the future, I would like to be more involved in solidarity through culture. I would like to contribute to provide access to culture to the less privileged. For instance, I would like to take former prisoners, refugees, homeless people or victims of abuse to museums. I would like to enable them to have a role in a play, which also translates to a role in society. Art also has incredible healing power through which traumatised people – for whom it is often painful to speak about their terrible experiences – may evacuate their suffering through acting or music. It is a form of expression. A person is empowered when they become capable of properly expressing themselves. Their self-confidence dramatically increases. This capacity not only has a beneficial effect on the individual, but also on society as a whole. I would like to humbly contribute to that. A wonderful illustration of that in Paris is La Maison des Métallos. We had the opportunity to work with this public organisation with my company, L’Oeil du Public. I believe that much can be achieved by giving members of society the means to express themselves adequately and on all levels. Effective communication generally increases tolerance among people. It is incredible how much time and energy we waste by trying to judge one another!
Emerald Jaaz: What do you like most about Paris, the city you currently live in?
Adrian Mohr: I love the diversity of Paris. And of course its beauty – that goes without saying! I am attracted to the perpetual movement of this city, to its endless cultural possibilities, to the little bookstores found on almost every corner, the typical bakeries, the different restaurants… There are so many things I like about Paris.
Emerald Jaaz: What is the source of your inspiration and motivation?
Adrian Mohr: I love to discover people, opinions, cultures… Reading literary or play reviews transports me to another world, that of the critic. I am inspired when I have the possibility to get to know someone else’s point of view. After seeing a play or listening to a concert, I like to get together with the other spectators to talk about our fresh impressions. I like that kind of exchange probably as much as the performance itself.
Emerald Jaaz: Please give us an example of one of your typical days.
Adrian Mohr: I strive to have structure in my days. I like to alternate between working in a café, at co-working spaces and at home, close to my family. I have regular meetings in theatres, with people I advise or prospects. I work about six or seven hours per day which involves a lot of writing. Currently I have three people working with me. At the end of my work day, I relax by watching a film. I also like to play the cello and listen to music.
Emerald Jaaz: Please give us an example of one of your ideal weekends.
Adrian Mohr: I love to spend time with family and close friends with whom I go to the theatre or for a walk in the nature. I take the time to do some sport and also cultivate my “inner life” by reading.
Emerald Jaaz: Among the places you have visited, which one moved you the most?
Adrian Mohr: I have visited many places, but so far Saint Petersburg moved me the most. It was the beginning of a new life for me, like a romantic adventure. Saint Petersburg is an incredibly beautiful city. For me, it was like being on another planet!
Emerald Jaaz: Which place do you like to return to regularly and why?
Adrian Mohr: One of my favourite places is our family house in Provence, South of France. It is filled with beautiful memories of my childhood. It is almost like a sacred place where family and friends gather to spend simple quality time together. The house is in the nature, where it is calm, far from the city and noise. There I like to meditate and relax. Having said that, I remain a city person. I need the buzz and the movement of the big city. So when I have recharged my batteries, I look forward to returning to Paris.
Emerald Jaaz: Please share with us a couple of your favourite places to hang out, to eat, to mingle, to reflect or simply to watch the world go by.
Adrian Mohr: With my partner, Hayat, we love to spend time at the co-working space and café called The Beans on Fire. The coffee there is excellent. We also like to eat at L’Ave Maria, which is very close to our place. It is a cosy little restaurant with dishes from many different corners of the world. The seating there is communal which encourages people to mingle.
Emerald Jaaz: Being such a culture lover, could you give us some tips for Paris?
Adrian Mohr: Théâtre de la Bastille not to be confused with the big Opéra Bastille. It is a small theatre where the locals go. The programme is very diverse with international artists and often revolves around current societal topics. Another place I love in Paris is Le Lucernaire which is a theatre, a cinema, an exhibition area and a café-restaurant all-in-one venue. After a show, you can still hang around at the café-restaurant and discuss with the others.
Emerald Jaaz: What motivates you to achieve your goals and to get out of bed in the morning?
Adrian Mohr: It is simple: I love what I do and believe it is useful. I also want to progress as a person.
Emerald Jaaz: What are you most grateful for?
Adrian Mohr: I am grateful for having grown up in a country where I could realise my dreams. Did you know that France is one of the rare countries where the state strongly subsidises culture? The cultural spectrum wouldn’t be so rich and diverse here in France if it did not receive public funding. Without it, culture as I see it would not exist in France. There would probably only be Hollywood and TV! I am also grateful to my parents who transmitted to me their love of culture, art, pushed me to play cello at the age of ten, supported me in my endeavours and, among many other things, enabled me to move from Normandy to study at university in Paris. I particularly cherish sharing my life with an extraordinary woman, Hayat, who believes in my projects. She is a constant source of encouragement to me. All of this put together helped me realise my dreams. I am very grateful for that.
Emerald Jaaz: What values are key to you?
Adrian Mohr: Simplicity, the pursuit of beauty, freedom. And of course tolerance, respect for others, open-mindedness and diversity.
Emerald Jaaz: Please share with us an important lesson you learnt in life.
Adrian Mohr: I learnt how important it is not to waste your time. Time passes so quickly and that’s why it’s so fundamental to live in the present moment. On top of that, it is crucial to act fast, to transform thoughts and ideas into action!
Adrian, thank you wholeheartedly for being a part of this journey!