Thursday, August 29, 2013

Black Paris Profiles™ II: Kathleen Dameron - Part 2

Part 1 of Kathleen Dameron’s Black Paris Profile™ presents an in-depth look at Kathleen’s professional activities and philosophy. In Part 2, we look at some of the choices that she has made about creating and maintaining her business and what living in Paris means to her. She also shares advice for anyone who is thinking of moving to Paris and starting a business here.


Kathleen Dameron with Tannie Award
Image courtesy of K. Dameron

Kathleen chose to start KD Conseil as a solopreneurship (a single-person business) for the simple reason that it was the simplest way to do so. (She confesses that she hates paperwork and administrative tasks.) For anyone thinking of starting a business in France, she advises the following:

Have a great deal of patience and passion, a strong sense of humor and an ability to deal with ambiguity.

Then, hire a French CPA – called expert-comptable. Do NOT attempt to navigate the French accounting or administrative system yourself!

Attend a course on French business administration, especially to know that the laws and the rules CHANGE continuously. ONLY someone who is dedicated to it can be up to date and accurate. That is why you should not attempt to run the administrative side of your company yourself.

Business in France is even more relationship-oriented than in the U.S., so expect a lot of face-to-face contact with people to develop client relationships: get the business, get the deal, get paid, get the next lead. Americans I know always comment that they can do business on the phone and meet the client face-to-face the day of the intervention. That experience is highly rare in France. People need to eyeball you, to feel your presence.

When Kathleen first came to Paris, she fell in love with the city straight away:

I love the architecture; I love the feeling of the city; I love being a woman in Paris. I love the art, the mixture of cultures, the intensity of intellectual life and of having a good street event…

She settled in the Strasbourg-Saint Denis area, a crossroads among the 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and 10th arrondissements. She loves it because the cultural and socio-economic diversity is great in this neighborhood. It abounds with theaters and restaurants, yet the banking industry is represented there as well. Beautiful architecture triggers the feeling of really being in the city of Paris. In fact, her apartment building lies in the shadow of the magnificent Porte Saint Denis, a Roman arch built by Louis XIV in the 17th century.

Porte Saint Denis
© Discover Paris!

Kathleen is an active member of Democrats Abroad. “What drives her passion about American politics, given that she is a long-time French resident?” I asked. She replied:

I have met Asians (Indians & Chinese) who have this incredible energy that can make one believe this century is THEIRS. Investing in yourself AS WELL AS your country is the light they see for their countries. I have begun to believe that the United States will continue to have a leadership role in the world for a few more years only, and I have an inherent interest that it fulfills that role as responsibly and as constructively as possible.

Given the talk I hear in Asia and what I witness in Europe, the American people seem to have lost critical reasoning AND medium-term self-interest in making social / collective choices. Examples include sub-prime loans, gulf wars, pushing OGM’s, and no health care system. I want to contribute to creating a sustainable world with economic and social justice for all. I would like to contribute to the U.S. becoming an effective world-centered, more multi-lateral participant in a world that has multiple axes.

France is actively struggling with the increasingly multicultural nature of its population. Because Kathleen focuses on multiculturalism at work, I asked her how she views French politics with regard to the various populations of people of color in France. She replied:

In some ways it is much easier for me as a Black American: I am seen as OK because I am American. There has been a low tolerance for open discrimination in the business world for Blacks like me. However, to be of North African origin is to live in the corporate world of discrimination closer to that Blacks experienced in the 1960s in the U.S. I fear that the tolerance level for difference is decreasing as “fear” becomes more acceptable as a political discourse in France.

I have witnessed that corporate opportunities for French-speaking Blacks and North Africans are low, few, and far between. I feel a need for inclusion work in French business to maintain a vibrant and diverse workplace.

Regarding the possibilities for equal opportunity employment, higher education, etc. for the young people of color in France, I feel sad for France as a country every time I read in Le Monde that bright West Indian and North African youth are enrolling massively in Canadian schools so that they can fulfill their potential. I believe that getting to the top of a corporate organization is highly unlikely for them, so the path to success for “visible minorities” may well be “Succeed abroad and then come home to Paris.” Maybe . . .

From attending social events at Kathleen’s home, I know that she loves belly dancing. So I was inspired to ask her about some of her other favorite pastimes. She lists them, in order of importance, as follows:

    1) DANCING.
    3) Hosting network exchange events and parties.
    4) Meditation: both silent and active. Feeling joy in all that I do.

Finally, I asked Kathleen what advice she would give to those who are considering moving to Paris and working in business. Here are her words of wisdom:

The city is beautiful. The cultural life is awesome.

  • Learn to talk about wine, food, and current events in the world intelligently—this is the basis for business networking.
  • Learn about what makes French culture great – high value on expertise, excellent technology, and a passion for good food and wine.
  • Learn the activities where French companies lead in their markets and in their fields. To know the names of key French and European companies is essential. To know the names of the great French and European business leaders & inventors is also a way to establish your credibility as an international business person.
  • Open your mind, to creating success in a way different from the U.S. Actively let it penetrate your way of looking at the world, living, and doing business.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Black Paris Profiles™ II: Kathleen Dameron - Part 1

This Black Paris Profile features Kathleen Dameron, a long-time African-American resident in Paris, business owner, and winner of the 1st Tannie Award for Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013. Kathleen is an active member of the African Diaspora community, bringing Blacks together to energize mind, body, and spirit at events she hosts in her home. She has a great ability to integrate her French-ness, her American-ness, her Blackness, and her curiosity for other cultures. Kathleen invests in her two countries, the USA and France, with love and passion.

In this era where France is attempting to come to grips with its increasingly multicultural identity, I found it fascinating to learn about Kathleen’s work as a cross-cultural coach and trainer in the French corporate world. Part 1 of her profile delves into this aspect of her life in Paris.


Kathleen Dameron with Tannie Award
Image courtesy of K. Dameron

Kathleen Dameron is the owner of KD Conseil, a cross-cultural training, coaching and advisory-consulting company that she founded in Paris in 1992. Born in East St. Louis, Illinois and spending her childhood there and in southern California, she came to Paris after two years in college and never left. Her penchant for exploring how members of social groups define their boundaries and treat “out-groups” differently than themselves led her to embrace her line of work.

Kathleen coaches, facilitates, and trains in companies that are experiencing cultural change through internationalization and/or through mergers and acquisitions. She is adept at working on an individual, team, or organizational level and relies on a group of senior bi-cultural consultants to assist her with providing services to corporations such as BNP Paribas, Heinekin, Pfizer, and LVMH (Louis Vuitton). Her support network includes trainers, coaches, facilitators, colleagues, mentors, and an extraordinary assistant who has worked with her for 13 years. She cultivates people who are successful and passionate about what they do as well as people who are continuously searching out emerging trends and ways of working in organizations.

Kathleen is certified as a professional coach by the International Coaching Federation and holds certificates in Team Management Systems©, Situational Leadership II©, Coaching & Modeling, and Self-Relations (Ericksonian Hypnotherapy). She has a Master level in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a discipline that has created new ways of understanding how verbal and non-verbal communication affect the human brain. Kathleen defines NLP as the science of observing peak performance and excellence, then creating a model of it so that individuals can model high achievers to easily acquire similar peak performance as well as to apply their own excellence in one area of their lives to another.

In addition, Kathleen has taught at ESSEC (the leading business school in France) for over 15 years in the Executive MBA, General Management (MG), and Specialized Master in Strategy and Management of International Business (MS SIAI) programs, as well as in programs specifically designed for individual companies.

No two work weeks are ever the same for Kathleen as she regularly spends time within different companies providing one-on-one coaching and in-company training sessions, working with co-development groups, delivering presentations to large groups, and running team seminars. She often attends seminars and workshops to stay on the leading edge, so she generally spends only two days in her office per month. She is passionate about her work, dedicated to the individuals / teams that she serves, and committed to excellence in motivating and coaching individuals and teams to achieve excellence.

Kathleen frequently travels abroad as well – working with clients, attending workshops, speaking at conferences, and interviewing people about work place practices & values in their country. She works primarily in Europe and less frequently in the U.S. and Asia. This year (2013), she was fortunate to have spent three consecutive weeks at home in Paris for the first time in four years!

I was curious to learn about Kathleen’s certification in Ericksonian Hypnotherapy (Self-relations) and how this discipline applies to cross-cultural leadership & teamwork training. She gave the following explanation of the technique and how it works:

This approach to making maximum use of the range of one’s levels of consciousness provided me with an articulate scientific link between the magical African/Native American world and the linear, Western Anglo world.

This approach is useful since success in the business world comes from hunches, insights, visions, and ‘magical’ encounters as often as from logical, linear thinking and action-oriented planning. A leader’s presence—his or her ability to be centered, to read/feel weak signals that indicate future trends—can be developed and trained.

To create success in today’s paradigm-changing world of business, one must be able to manage two very different mental states:
This approach to making maximum use of the range of one’s levels of consciousness provided me with an articulate scientific link between the magical African/Native American world and the linear, Western Anglo world.

This approach is useful since success in the business world comes from hunches, insights, visions, and ‘magical’ encounters as often as from logical, linear thinking and action-oriented planning. A leader’s presence—his or her ability to be centered, to read/feel weak signals that indicate future trends—can be developed and trained.

To create success in today’s paradigm-changing world of business, one must be able to manage two very different mental states:

    1) Being intensely focused, staying in-the-flow, and maintaining a state of minimal stress while remaining highly focused
    2) Observing large amounts of data, absorbing it, listening to it, and allowing the patterns to emerge

A key skill for highly effective people is the ability to create a centered, attentive, relaxed inner state so that the right questions appear and the appropriate solutions emerge. I use Ericksonian hypnotherapy techniques to help my clients attain this level of skill and integrate it as a practice in their working life. Related names for this practice are: mindfulness, leadership presence, in-the-flow, and embodied leadership. (See* for a similar program that Google created for its employees.)

When leaders and team members have integrated these practices, these two ways of working create breakthrough moments for the individual, the team, and the organization. This is conducive to innovation, to effectiveness, to keeping pace with change without inducing stress.

Because Kathleen works in French, English, and Spanish, I asked how this affects her thought patterns. She replied:
Being multilingual is a vital part of my life. I am attracted to expressions in a particular language that convey a concept differently than in other languages. An example is Weltanschauung in German: a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world, especially from a specific standpoint (welt=world).

There are some things that are much better said in a particular language. Because it’s important for me to express myself in that language, there are situations when I find myself going back and forth between languages.

I am fascinated by how the world can be so different—the political and cultural issue non-existent—when you change languages. For example: am I a black woman or woman who is black? In French it is all in ONE word, noire, so the long debate in the U.S. community seems a moot point.

Then there are the words “hero” and “history” that have “sexist” connotations in English that do not exist in French.

Spanish is a very affectionate, complimenting language. And American English can be exceptionally supportive, encouraging, pushing you forward.

So I like learning and changing languages to get different perspectives.

Kathleen says that the understanding of cross-cultural differences impacts her personal choices on a daily basis. She is ever curious, asking questions all the time. She feels the importance of being in her comfort zone and at the same time challenging herself to go outside that zone. While she is demanding, she is also fair with herself, knowing that there is always more than ONE right way.

*SIY (Search Inside Yourself) Core Program is the 16-hour course that was developed and refined at Google. The program focus is on the five key domains of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills – with mindfulness practice, science, and leadership applications fully integrated at all levels.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

If you like this posting, share it with your friends by using one of the social media links below!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Racial Discrimination and Lynching in the U.S.: Conference at Dorothy's Gallery

Barack Obama (as Illinois Senator) and Doria Dee Johnson
Image courtesy of Doria Dee Johnson

Doria Dee Johnson began life as a working-class little Black girl from a suburban enclave of Chicago. Her great-great grandfather, Anthony Crawford, was lynched in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1916 because of an altercation over the price of cotton seed. This was followed by the illegal confiscation of the family's property - 427 acres of prime cotton fields, homes, a school and businesses - and the family being forced to move off the land. Many became maids or laborers, and the pain of the banishment would live on for generations.

As an adult, Johnson and her cousin Phillip Crawford set out on an endeavor to write and petition local and federal civil politicians to make amends to this family, the community and the ugly history of U.S. race relations. Among her activities, Johnson worked tirelessly on the historic United States Senate Steering Committee that pressed the senators to acknowledge and apologize for the Senate's unwillingness to enact federal legislation against lynching over the greater course of a century. Resolution 39, which was supported by then Illinois Senator Barack Obama, was passed on June 13, 2005.

In 2009, Johnson was approached by a passionate French scholar of African American history and culture, Nathalie Loison, after Loison read about her in a feature in Le Monde. The French newspaper covered Johnson when she participated in the annual photography festival Rencontres d'Arles. At that time, Johnson visited France for the exhibition Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, with which she has traveled as a lecturer for many years. Among the places she appeared with the exhibit is the National Park Service Martin Luther King Historic Site in Atlanta, Ga. The day that she spoke there, she delivered her presentation in the very pulpit that Dr. King preached from at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Johnson and Loison struck up a friendship and talked about Johnson coming back to France to speak at the invitation of the scholarly group and academic journal Revue Africaine and the University of Rouen, where Loison is a PhD student. Loison has finally secured a date and space for the presentation, which will be held at the university on September 25th at 5:00 PM. She told Johnson about Dorothy's Gallery, which she described as an exciting venue of American culture. Loison and gallery owner Dorothy Polley worked together to plan an evening where both Loison and Johnson could present their research and views on race in America.

As a result, Johnson will discuss racial discrimination - from lynching to the murder of Trayvon Martin - at a conference to be held at Dorothy's Gallery on September 26, 2013. Loison will present her work on the representation of black multiracialism in the American press at the turn of the 21st century.

Johnson believes that giving her presentation in France is important because she is following a long list of African Americans who "have been given opportunities to speak to French audiences about our experiences as Africans in America since the early 20th century." She believes it is always important for Black women to speak about our history, culture, and political experiences from our vantage point because our history has been examined mostly from the Black male perspective. As a cultural historian specializing in African-American 20th century culture, she constantly contemplates the lure to Europe for so many important African-American figures.

Crucial to her visit to France is her great-great grandfather's legacy. Johnson related that her cousin, John Crawford, always says “Grandpa’s blood has never dried” and she views this visit as further proof that it has not. She says that her family is only beginning to appreciate the vastness of "Grandpa Crawford's" legacy, and that his public murder is a huge stain on U.S. history.

Doria Dee Johnson
Image courtesy of Doria Dee Johnson

I asked Johnson what, if anything, she thinks has changed with regard to “extra-legal justice” in the U.S. since the passage of U.S. Senate Resolution 39. She replied:

I don’t think much has changed except the complex relationship between African Americans and other folks of color, the courts, and “authority.” In other words, the trajectory of punitiveness surrounding Grandpa’s murder was that he died as the "hands of persons unknown" although I have a copy of the governor’s inquest which names many, many citizens. With the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, there was a trial, but no conviction, although both murders were considered "illegal." Now, with Trayvon Martin we have a trial, but the murderer is deemed as having acted legally — a significant turn in institutional hegemony in U.S. courts.

Dr. King said, "It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important." I wonder what he would say now, with the backdrop of Trayvon Martin.

When asked how her topic relates to race relations in France, Johnson responded that she hopes her talk offers a bridge for those who seek repair, restoration or a forum to speak honestly about race because it under girds the social structure of much of the world. She sees American and French people as being wired and socialized differently and she tries to look at societies within their own context to get a clearer understanding of what people find important, acceptable and respectable. Noting that France has a contentious and peppered racial history, she evoked the post-colonial and revolutionary scholarship of Frantz Fanon and his attempt to help shape the outcome of the French/Algerian conflict. As a cultural historian, she seeks to approach and analyze societies by their own definitions of social codes, behaviors and values—without judgment. She looks forward to meeting people in Paris who can help her understand contemporary race relations in France.

Because Johnson has no personal connections in today's African-American community in Paris, she has followed the Entrée to Black Paris blog since her first visit to France in anticipation of coming here again. She looks forward to exploring the city with her partner, Michael, and her host and friend, Nathalie Loison. She doesn’t plan to do the tourist areas—she says that she is more interested in sitting in the cafes that inspired James Baldwin, walking the halls of the Sorbonne where Anna Julia Cooper earned her Ph.D., and visiting places where Black Parisians hang out to eat, shop and have fun.

Dorothy's Gallery
27, rue Keller
75011 Paris
Telephone: 01 43 57 08 51
Metro: Bastille
Price: 12 € / 8 € for members
Time: 7 PM until 8:30 PM

To read the proceedings of the U.S. Senate on June 13, 2005 regarding the "Senate Apology" as reported in the Congressional Record, click here.

Doria Dee Johnson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her dissertation focuses on racial violence, the Great Migration and 20th century history, labor, culture, and activism of Black women, in particular, in domestic service suburbs. She is also an Adjunct Professor of History and Humanities at Strayer University in Washington, D.C., an activist, and an international lecturer.


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

If you like this posting, share it with your friends by using one of the social media links below!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chef Michael Poole – Summer Sabbatical

A few months ago, I was pleased to learn that Seattle Fire Lieutenant and Chef Michael Poole was coming to town in July for his summer sabbatical. He visits Paris every year and often spends time in a professional culinary establishment to perfect techniques and to learn new ones for his catering business and chocolate-making activities. I arranged to meet him and his life partner and Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Hot Chocolat, Dr. Michele Simms-Burton, at a café to find out what they have planned for their stay this year. It would be our first face-to-face encounter!

Michele Simms-Burton and Michael Poole
© Discover Paris!

For the next several weeks, Chef Michael is working at a bread, chocolate, and pastry shop called Pascal Pinaud on rue Monge. He spent his summer sabbatical there in 2005 and again in 2012, working with owner Pascal Pinaud. Chef Pascal was once a pastry chef at the Cordon Bleu, the cooking school where Chef Michael graduated as valedictorian with Le Grand Diplôme in 2003. The network of contacts that he developed at the school has proved invaluable. This summer he has come to Paris to improve his macarons, which are already making a big splash in the U.S.

Image courtesy of Chef Michael Poole

After receiving his diploma, Chef Michael began his quest to become a master chocolatier with a fellow Cordon Bleu grad, Virginie Duroc-Danner. He worked with her in 2003, 2006, and 2008. Last year, he continued this pursuit during his stint at Chef Pinaud’s pastry shop. This year, he carried a sample of his most popular flavors to Paris. Shown below (from left to right), they are Raspberry, Coffee Caramel, White Chocolate Lemon Meringue, Macadamia Nut Caramel, and Honey-infused Lavender.

Signature “Hot Chocolats”
© Discover Paris!

I was tempted to devour the White Chocolate Lemon Meringue ganache but had to restrain myself – these samples had a more important purpose that day.

As well as meeting Chef Michael, I was excited to meet Michele Simms-Burton because she has handled much of the correspondence that I’ve had with the Chef. Michele is a Certified Instructional Systems Designer who consults with businesses and the U.S. federal government to improve organizational and human performance through designing and developing training. Prior to consulting, she was a university professor for 20 years, ending her teaching career in African-American Studies at Howard University. She met Chef Michael at Malika’s, a former Senegalese restaurant in Paris’ 6th arrondissement in 2008. As soon as Chef Michael presented samples of chocolates that he had made, she realized that he might be an interesting person to get to know. The rest is history!

Michele and Chef Michael maintain residences on both coasts of the U.S. (in the Washington, D.C. area and Seattle, Washington, respectively), so they do a lot of cross-country travel. In addition to her own professional activities as a consultant, Michele handles the organization and administrative responsibilities for Chef Michael’s events. She even trims and boxes chocolates for the events, relieving him of this time-consuming task! Looking beyond their chocolate-making activities, she and Chef Michael have designed an online training module for culinary students who wish to intern with Chef Michael.

When asked about what’s new with Hot Chocolat, Chef Michael’s artisanal chocolate brand, the Chef reported that he now has a line of spicy dark chocolates consisting of Firehouse Chili (a white ganache with his award-winning chili mix), Habernero Caramel, and Cayenne Caramel. He has also created a line of vegan chocolates made with 70% cocoa, coconut or soy milk, and coconut butter. The five ganaches that comprise this line are Coconut, Raspberry, Coconut Caramel, Mt. Rainiers (Marcona almond), and pure Dark Chocolate. I was intrigued to learn about his dark-chocolate-enrobed Bacon Cayenne Caramel bar – it has a piece of home-fried, apple- or maple-cured bacon in every bite! Unfortunately, he did not bring a sample of this creation with him. In other news, Chef Michael told me that his Hot Chocolat ganaches and bars are now available at six retail outlets in the Seattle area.

In terms of shows, Chef Michael was pleased to report that he won a gold medal for his toffee at the 2012 and 2013 Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salons. He plans to participate in the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle in September 2013 and the 7th Annual Los Angeles Chocolate Salon in October 2013.

After our conversation, we left the café and meandered up rue Mouffetard to Mococha Chocolat, my favorite chocolate boutique in the 5th arrondissement. After I introduced Chef Michael and Michele to proprietor Marie Gantois, he presented his chocolate samples to her. Some stimulating conversation ensued and as a result, there’s the distinct possibility that Chef Michael will be a guest chocolatier at Mococha next summer!

A suivre… (To be continued…)

To view the previous ETBP articles on Chef Michael, click on the links below:

Chef Michael Poole – Firefighter and Cordon Bleu Grad
Chef Michael Poole – Artisanal “Hot” Chocolat

Check out the Paris Insights blog post about Chef Michael here:
Meet Michael D. Poole – Chocolate and Pastry Maker


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

If you like this posting, share it with your friends by using one of the social media links below!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Shop - African Accessories and Cosmetics in the Metro

While venturing up to the neighborhood of Parc de la Villette to ride the new tram line T3b and to see the stations named after Ella Fitzgerald and Rosa Parks, I stumbled upon an interesting discovery.

New Shop is a boutique that has recently opened in the Porte de la Villette metro station (Line 7). Run by Samoura Adama, it features artisanal handbags, jewelry, interior decor items, and cosmetics from Senegal, Mali, Egypt, and India. Samoura hails from Mali.

Samoura Adama at New Shop
© Discover Paris!

Most of the handbags are made of 100% leather, while others are made from leather and bazin (waxed cloth). The home decor items are hand carved from calabash (bottle gourds). The bracelets are hand beaded or carved from ebony or carob wood.

Leather handbags and jewelry
© Discover Paris!

Calebash decorative items
© Discover Paris!

Beaded bracelets
© Discover Paris!

Some of the cosmetics are produced in France. But items such as shampoo and hair oil made from nigella (black cumin) seeds, granular preparations of aloe vera, and shea butter (beurre de karité) are imported.

Nigella seed cosmetics and Essential oils
© Discover Paris!

Somewhat incongruously, New Shop also provides a cell phone repair service. Detailed prices are listed on the wall near the cashier's counter.

Cell phone repair prices
© Discover Paris!

Samoura has plans to lend a helping hand to street merchants selling quality wares by featuring them in his shop from time to time. His prime location in the station will undoubtedly serve him and his guest vendors well. At the time I visited, he did not have a sign in the store window. But you cannot miss his sizable shop on the left side of the corridor once you enter the station from the tram stop at Porte de la Villette (Line T3b) near the intersection of boulevard McDonald and avenue Corentin Cariou.

New Shop
In the metro station Porte de la Villette (Line 7)
Sortie 2
Open every day from 10 AM until 8 PM


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

If you like this posting, share it with your friends by using one of the social media links below!