Vie Française | Interviews
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Why would I ever give up the best job in the world?

Judy MacMahon Fondatrice MyFrenchLife.orgI’m often asked what I do, and why I do it. Then I’m asked what I actually do – “for a real job”.

There’s no catch: this is what I do everyday. And I love it.

First and foremost, MaVieFrançaise® – is my passion.

You’ve probably heard me say it before, but I never dream of doing anything else. I can’t even begin to describe how valuable MaVieFrançaise® is to me. I give it all my mind, and even more of my heart.

Some ask: “is it all about the website?” Others even call it a blog!

No, to me it’s all about the people. The people and their stories!

I’ve never been as happy as since I started following my new-found passion.

“So, when do you plan to retire?”

Judy MacMahon Fondatrice

I was asked this once by someone who clearly doesn’t know me well at all.

I was quite taken aback! I had to pause and think how to answer – it was obviously going to require different language as I felt they were on another planet. They were looking at my world very differently to me.

“Why would I retire from the best job in my life?” was my eventual response.

They persisted… “But you could retire from running the magazine.” They were still on another page!

So I continued: “But… That would mean that I wouldn’t be meeting all the wonderful and inspiring people I meet and interview and write about.”

“It would mean I wouldn’t be working with fabulous inspiring people: young and d’un certain age. I would not get to experience the high of helping to unlock unrealised talents of others working with me. 

“I would be able to sleep though – now it’s often impossible because my brain is exploding with ideas for how we can do what we do better every day.”

Oh my – why would I ever give up the best job in the world?

And then it dawned on me: the person who asked me that question is a corporate headhunter. We come from different planets now that I’m following my passion.

Judy MacMahon Fondatrice

I’ve been in that corporate world – more than that, I’ve actually been a high performer in that world. So I know it well, and now I’m out of it I see it differently. More importantly I now also see life differently.

In the corporate world many people work towards one end – that end is often retirement. When they enter retirement they have their bucket list, but after that there is often a void.

Since I discovered my passion and worked out how to build a community and site around it, I now indulge in my passion every day and night. It’s not work, it’s  fulfilling my passion! I will do this until the day I can do it no more. It is my life.

No wonder that person didn’t understand me…

Now don’t get me wrong, my life is not a breeze. It’s hard work, but for me, it’s so rewarding. I just love it to bits.

The next thing you should know about me: my curiosity is insatiable!

You may have also heard me say how curious I am. My curiosity is my weakest and my strongest characteristic. But, it’s the unbeatable combination of curiosity and passion that has lead me to this place.

Christmas 2008 was when my life changed.

I discovered a passion for the best of all things French, and I began to study the French language. It was tough, embarrassing, hilarious, and something I became proud of.

Then, I became frustrated with my progress and felt inhibited when speaking French. My self-analysis was that I needed practice. So I started a French conversation group for my friends in 2009.

Our first French conversation event Melbourne

We could chat away, hang out in chic French bars and restaurants, drinking French wine and eating French food and laughing uncontrollably as we shared news and gossip with each other in French – or what was supposed to be French! We were having a ball!

There were 10 people at our first event. Now in Melbourne alone there are more than 1800 French-speaking members and eight events each month. It was not a plan – it was and is my passion!

Then in 2011 my curiosity got the better of me.

Judy MacMahon Fondatrice MyFrenchLife.orgAs my conversational French improved, I became more and more intrigued by France; the history, culture and language.

But what captured my imagination most were the intricacies and paradoxes.

It was the unanswerable questions: why Paris is the most visited city in the world, with 15 million visitors every year? It’s beautiful, I know, but why are so many people drawn to it? And why are so many drawn to France as a whole? What is all this romanticism? Whilst I love the beauty and the luxury, I’ve always been more of a realist. I can see France without the rose-coloured glasses. I love the paradoxes.

To me, it’s all about the intrigue.

My curiosity and passion have meant that I now speak French – well, not as well as I could and should!

I now have the most diverse range of friends and acquaintances around the world: all ages, nationalities, professions and creative talents. And such inspiring people! It blows me away.

In 2013, I was so proud when we really came of age.

We learnt how to work with partners and retain our independence.

Finding a viable model for a publishing business whilst still maintaining integrity and independence is always tricky – but even more so in a time of such rapid change and disruption.

Judy MacMahon Fondatrice

We’ve become storytellers, and good storytellers at that. We find the stories where others don’t see them. We love to discover the passion in the people behind the brands. Best of all is watching our community then discover these stories.

But you know what? It’s still all about people & the stories!

I love the people we interview; the people who share these stories – stories they often didn’t even realise were important.

Through these people, we’re telling the stories behind the products and services. We want to communicate their commitment to quality, their passion and craftsmanship. Then we plan to help many of our members to discover our partners’ products for themselves.

Judy MacMahon Fondatrice

You see, we’re all Francophiles who really want to live in France. And when we’re not in France, we’re looking for ways we can add the style and chic of the French lifestyle to our own lives wherever we live. Our partners can help our members do this everyday.

The best partners will help us to grow. We’ll be their storyteller, and they’ll help to fund our development, so we can share their story in new and innovative ways, to more and more readers and members.

Did you know that when you follow your passion you learn about yourself?

judy.I’ve learned that I love to learn. I also love to mentor and guide and help others to grow beyond their dreams. Some call it teaching but I see it differently.

I’m proud of the culture I’ve built: people are at the centre, surrounded by constant stimulation and learning and sharing. As a result we have a generous caring culture where people are absolutely committed, proactive and driven and they don’t think it’s work at all!

We say we love to have fun and we do, but when I think about it we don’t down tools often, we don’t have many parties, but everyone says they’re having fun. Team members are learning how to build careers around their passion. I don’t feel proud of this because it’s not about me, I’m just helping them find what they already have, but I do find it fulfilling… it feeds me.

I found myself wondering lately if helping people can be a strategy for success. I believe in this more and more every day.

After all, the best work is when it doesn’t seem like work at all!

Photos by/courtesy Henrietta Richer, Cynthia Chaves and Judy MacMahon. 

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  1. Debra Luccio
    4 years ago

    Incredibly inspiring! Congratulations Judy! I truly do love the stories of your team members, developing and following their own passion with your help in Meet our team ‘Where are they now?’