Passionate. Exuberant. Introspective. These are the traits that describe Sophie Chiche, founder of LifeByMe.com. They are also the traits that Chiche strives to bring out in others. LifeByMe, which began in 2010, focuses on one question: What is meaningful to you? Chiche—a native of France with an eclectic résumé that includes career and life coach, journalist, author, psychologist and mother of a teenage daughter—gets the conversation going. She has interviewed a wide variety of subjects, from media moguls and world-renowned philosophers to everyday joes, with the purpose of tapping into what makes them tick and relaying her findings via personal short stories on her site. During our invigorating chat with Chiche, whose own meaningful awakening came courtesy of a 160-pound weight loss after “a long, ten-year journey,” we learned about her quest to inspire meaning in all.
Let’s start by finding out what is meaningful to you.
SOPHIE CHICHE: What is the most meaningful to me is finding out what is meaningful for others, what takes people to the deeper part of themselves, and being able to connect there. I’ve never been able to quite describe it but there’s something that happens when people talk about what’s meaningful to them. They sound different, there’s a shift. I’m inspired by that.
Why did you want to create LifeByMe?
SC: I like to have meaningful conversations and was given an opportunity a couple of years ago to rethink my career and thought, what is a way that I can share stories? There was a moment where I was with Desmond Tutu, and he would say something brilliant and I thought why am I alone? Why isn’t everybody hearing this? I wanted to create a platform where all these nuggets of depth could be shared.
What were your goals for the site?
SC: The idea originally was to gather people and build a community with the core being “we care.” Part of what we were trying to accomplish, and are accomplishing, is making meaningful conversation less momentary and part of daily life. The idea is for people to realize what’s meaningful to them and to go out and live it. I’m not saying what is meaningful—what is meaningful to you is meaningful.
LifeByMe’s impressive list of contributors includes Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, Mariel Hemingway, Kenny Loggins and Jason Mraz. How did you get them to share their stories?
SC: I started with a group of people, like my friend Arianna Huffington, and then began meeting people either through others or on my own. For celebrities it’s a great platform because they are so used to being asked who they are dating and things about their personal life they are tired of talking about. I want to know what gets them up in the morning.
Facing tough economic times, what would you say to someone who is down and looking to find meaning in their life?
SC: First off, what I’m finding in this economy is people are more in touch with what’s important to them. More people are also supporting each other, like when an earthquake happens—something that you don’t expect. Introspection tends to come up more in difficult times and makes you focus on what you really want in life. My advice is in times like this it’s a good idea to really go deep within, get creative with what you can do with your family instead of, say, going on an expensive trip. There’s also something about regrouping. When I’m stressed, I breathe. When things get hectic, take a deep breath and sit with your thoughts. The world is not going to collapse without you being tuned in for 10 minutes.