fD Interview

Beate Chelette, Beateworks, Corbis

fD Interview: Beate Chelette

August 01, 2008
by Isabel Cowles
FindingDulcinea’s weekly feature offers interviews with intriguing people on the cutting edge of business, the arts, technology and journalism. This week, we talk with Beate Chelette, German-born photography editor, designer and blogger.

Despite becoming the youngest ever photo editor of Germany’s Elle Magazine, Beate Chelette knew she was destined for a more adventurous life. In 1989, she moved to the United States, where she developed the photo and design company Beateworks. Chelette’s love of entrepreneurship and creativity inspired her to begin writing a blog and a book called “ego-RHYTHM,” a guide for smart women who know how to get what they want and live in the moment.
fD: Do you think the Internet is changing entrepreneurship?

BC: Yes. Learning how to utilize social media and social networking to reach new customers is a huge part of my work now. Traditional advertising is dying. Instead, I have a Twitter account, I have a blog, I am on Facebook—all things that I never utilized before.

fD: Did those social networking sites seem intimidating at first or did using them come naturally?

BC: I have a teenaged daughter, so I have noticed firsthand how the use of the media has changed. The way young people communicate is by making an image out of who they are. If I want to do a good job marketing, I have to learn how to sell myself like that.
fD: What do you like most about the Internet?

BC: I remember when the Internet first came out, people thought my daughter’s generation would become incapable of social communication. But actually, the Internet has leveled the playing field. Every geek with a weird specialty now has a place to go and share their experiences. People can connect all over the globe. This is better than what we thought it was going to be.

fD: Why did you leave Germany and come to America?

BC: I have always believed that there was a great adventure out there for me. I left Germany because the Germans are very conventional and by-the-book. I was just fascinated by the United States, by the fact that there was a whole country that believed that anything was possible.
fD: What is your favorite part of your work?

BC: The part where I put my ear on the ground and find out the pulse of what’s happening out in the world. I love to observe what’s going on culturally. What do people respond to? What do they want? What do we need to make to be really successful?

fD: How do you keep up with the cultural pulse?

BC: I am an information junkie. I recently downloaded documents presented at a conference on social media. And although I don’t necessarily understand all of it, it gave me an idea on how much movement exists in the advertising and marketing and PR communities. I just read and listen and follow links and ask questions and try to figure out how to put it together.
fD: You’re writing a book called “ego-Rhythm.” Can you explain the concept?

BC: The book is about teaching women to look at their life and to acknowledge that it has a specific rhythm. Most women do get what they want in life, but maybe not all at the same time. I’ve defined it this way: K.A.R.L. (Know, Accept, Relax and Live). Know your rhythm; Accept where you are today; Relax because you know things will move forward and Live fully in the moment, enjoying your journey.

fD: Can you give me an example?

BC: So many new mothers sit there thinking, “I just had a baby, and I don’t want to have sex now, how can I? I’m still breastfeeding and I still haven’t lost ten pounds.” What they should be saying is, “OK, this is just part of motherhood now. I’m going to fully devote myself to this.” If someone had told me that my little baby girl would turn 16 and stop talking to me, I probably would have enjoyed her absolute dependency on me a lot more.
fD: What is your best advice for young entrepreneurs?

BC: Have staying power. I’ve found that most people that fail have the right idea, but they give up too early. There’s always the final question: how badly do you want it?

fD: Was there a moment when you wanted to give up?

BC: I ran out of money and nobody would give my business plan funding. At the same time, my father was diagnosed with cancer and died. While I buried my father in Germany, I was served an eviction notice in Los Angeles. Before I left for Europe, I had written a letter to President Bush out of desperation. I came home and there was a letter from the White House, and within three months, I got funding.
fD: Do you believe that we can will things into being?

BC: I do believe in the law of attraction. But I don’t believe that it’s about overnight, spontaneous healing or overnight spontaneous success.

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