Meet #OurStoryteller China Drewitt from Worcestershire, UK. This is a special one for us as whilst working on the initial set up of Storyteller, our founder Bhav, spent a lot of time working from the same offices as China. He simply describes her as an inspirational individual, oozing with positivity, the type of positivity which makes anybody around her feel they can achieve anything and simply, a breathe of fresh air!
China is the Creative Director for an incredible start-up called FounderMade, who are based in New York and Los Angeles which does mean that if there is a summit, a trip to the office is 3,000 miles away!
Having travelled and worked around the world, China really understands how constantly meeting new people and being in new environments can be challenging, but learning about how she overcame this will definitely help us learn about how we can also overcome such obstacles.
Super excited to share this inspirational journey, so let’s get to it!
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and FounderMade!
Hi, my name is China and I am the Creative Director for an incredible start-up called FounderMade. Based in New York and Los Angeles, FounderMade is an entrepreneurial summit that helps startups build the business of their dreams through connectivity to retailers, investors & partners in their space. It does mean that I have to travel a lot for work and often I feel as if I am living two lives, my safe zone here in Worcestershire, and my unknown out there stateside, buts it’s an amazing experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world! Besides of my many trips to the states, I have visited 12 other countries.
2) Everybody has a moment, which inspires them to start travelling, where and what was yours?
I am naturally a very inquisitive person and I always have been. I love learning. It makes me nervous to imagine coming to the end of this precious life without having experienced all of the magic this earth has to offer. My desire to travel doesn’t come from the need to escape or even have fun, it’s much more about getting uncomfortable and having experiences that widen my comfort zone, to the point that I can go through anything and tolerate the extremes that life will present to me.
I’m currently reading a book called Principles by Ray Dalio and one of the things that it teaches is a good life is a fine art of ‘struggling well’, and reaching for something or going on a journey that grows you is the preferred human state. So yes… my trigger for travelling is discomfort and new horizons. Expansion of the mind!
3) Do you have any particular memories of your travels that stand out and how do you collect and remember them?
I keep everything. I keep scrapbooks chronologically ordered from since I can remember, containing every detail of every memory that meant something to me, including diaries of my travels aboard. The memories that stand out are always those that contain particular people and I can’t wait to preserve those memories, and have them always by my side with my very own personal Storyteller FlagMate!
“I am a strong believer that it’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with. The places you get to see are only as significant as the people you got to share it with, otherwise, the meaning is different. I really believe that experiencing things together has a richness beyond anything else.”
One of my fondest memories more recently was visiting Cuba with my family. We stayed on the beach by the bluest water I had ever seen! There was an evening ceremony of traditional Cuban music where everyone from the hotel came together and my brother & I met a group of guys from Toronto. We all spend the evening together and honestly, I’ve never laughed so much. It fortified my belief that you can be in the most beautiful spot in the world, but ultimately it’s the people you get to share it with that make it unforgettable.
4) What is your favourite city/country that you have visited and why?
My favourite city is Los Angeles. The first time I went there, it honestly felt like I was coming home. It was like everything just fell into place. It’s got this vibrant aura about it and you can almost feel everybody’s hopes & dreams hanging in the sky above you like a mystic haze. I know it sounds crazy… but from West Hollywood to the sweetheart boulevard of Abbott Kenney and Venice Beach, I am in love with this city!
Not a day goes by you when you don’t meet a real STORYTELLER, who has a real and genuine story. Meeting people who have lived such creative lives really opens your heart & makes you feel like it’s possible for you too. I would move there in a heartbeat. As I am pretty much a local in LA, I highly recommend taking a surf lesson with Kapowui Surf Club. Not only was my surf instructor the beach babe of my dreams… but he even gave me a sunset tour of Venice afterwards on his scooter. I can’t promise you the same fortune, but hey it’s worth a try ;). Anything’s possible in the city of angels!
5) Favourite food and place for food!
What a question, wow! Favourite food is definitely Thai. I can’t get enough. A king prawn Thai yellow curry, or my absolute favourite, the banh mi. Ok, so the banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted hands down. The crunchy vegetables, kimchi, tender pork, hoisin and loads of cilantro all in a French baguette- amazing!.
One amazing foodie experience I have to share was catching mackerel in the sea of the coast of Devon and eating them on the beach. The taste of fresh fish is totally different when it’s only just left the ocean. A little lemon & a bottle of beer to wash it down… welcome to the good life!
6) Event or festival that you would highly recommend everybody attends at least once!
Such a difficult question! I guess I have to leave out the dozens on my wishlist (Burning Man, Coachella, Summit At Sea, Art Basel, Kalu Yala, Ondalinda, sorry – Tony Robbins Date with Destiny has to be in there even if not strictly travel!)… as for the one I’ve been to and recommend, that’s so tricky I’ll have to pick two. One is the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire. Never in my life have I witnessed anything like this… a wild forest carved out into a mile wide pit, literally shaking with thousands of people dancing with luminescent umbrellas & face paint. One of the best nights of my life.
Second has to be the Cannes Lion festival in Cannes. Brands from all over the world, set up the most incredible experiences! I got to do brunch on the Vayner yacht… socialize with the Girls Lounge in their rooftop club and hang backstage at the Twitter Beach- the dream!
7) What life skills do you feel you have learnt whilst travelling and how has it helped shape your life and your career as Creative Director of FounderMade?
I think the most influential humans in the world are those who understand people. If you understand what drives people’s behaviours and actions, you can really understand how humans operate. It is only by spending time with individuals from all walks of life, you can gain this understanding, and that is the of the fascinating things about travelling. The more people I meet, the closer I come to true self-awareness. You cannot learn anything if you are limited to your own thoughts, which is why everyone has something to teach you.
This belief has allowed me to become very flexible in my relationships with others, especially when working with new co-workers at FounderMade. This practice also serves you well in relationships with people, because you learn to be pragmatic & communicative instead of irrational & emotional.
8) Whether it is speaking to new people, setting up a new business or travelling alone, we all fear or find some things difficult, how do you best overcome these difficulties?
Simple, you throw yourself in at the deepest end possible. There’s a philosophy by Mel Robbins called the 5-second rule. It’s self-explanatory, but basically, the rule is that you only have 5 seconds to make a decision. This overrules the flight brain state that we all default to when we feel fear because that’s the part that’s going to stop you from taking action. Either give yourself 5 seconds to decide, or go for my firm favourite, remove the option to fail.
An example would be, working out what body fat percentage you want to have in a year’s time, and reverse-engineering that goal into daily actions. Having clarity on your daily goal as part of an annual goal is a powerful tool to overcome fear because usually, that fear is to do with not knowing HOW vs taking the action itself. If you can overcome fear in one part of your life however small, it’s amazing how that habit will ricochet into other areas. In other words, don’t think, JUST DO!
9) Everybody talks about the limelights of travel, but have you been in any difficult situations, and how did you overcome this?
I personally take real issue with a lot of the social media content which show us that you can spend every day of your life having amazing experiences all over the world. Travel is happy, but it’s also extremely MESSY. And no one talks about the mess! When I was in Thailand last year, I got lost in a remote town at night, with no phone and not knowing how to get back to our hostel. A random male then tried to approach me but luckily I got away. It was a really scary time. By some miracle shortly after, a friend from the hostel came searching for me and we got back safely.
Having been through some tough experiences while travelling, I have grown to be very street-wise and most importantly, learnt how to say no. I was always a YES person before, even if it could have been unsafe, but now if it feels unsafe, I won’t think twice about saying no.
10) While travelling shows us so many positives, it also gives us a first-hand perspective on the world’s problems. Millions of individuals around the world are still unable to obtain access to a quality education, how do you think we can work together in resolving this issue?
First of all, I love that Storyteller wants to put this movement into place. I’m a firm believer that throwing money at the problem is not a permanent solution and that it’s only through education that we can dig out the root of the issue for communities around the world so that they can become self-sufficient & integrated into a reformed state of living. The dream would be that every human has equal opportunities & access to education to build their own future. I am acutely aware that here in the UK we are in a very small percentage of humans who are prosperous, at least in the monetary and opportunity sense of the word. It’s our duty to help everyone else.
I think that access to education starts with education, here, now. If the government were to implement a curriculum to teach & enrol our children into programmes to help support world education in communities, that would result in an influx of human hands & attention to give to these people. I think right now, education in our schools doesn’t focus on philanthropy or the importance of working together to bridge the divide. If philanthropy & serving others became a fundamental state of mind for children growing up in schools today, in 10 years time we’d be looking at a totally different society. One that was dedicated to lasting change for millions of people.
11) What’s the most important advice you would give to someone who wants to travel but feels too trapped by their job?
I am extremely lucky in that I can pick up my computer and work remotely from anywhere in the world. Because my job is based in New York, being here in the UK is inconsequential. Remote working is becoming a huge movement & one of the key things that candidates looking for while job-hunting today. Companies are having to shift their structures to make room for a millennial generation who want flexible working from anywhere. With the surge in young entrepreneurs starting their own businesses, working on your own time & in your own space is more common than ever.
If you feel trapped in a job, there are 100’s of other opportunities out there for you to move to a company that’s a better cultural and lifestyle fit for you. There will be a company out there that shares your values, wants your skills, and is happy for you to work on a flexible contract, from anywhere in the world. Finding this company fit (working for a startup is your best bet) will give you the freedom to travel & work at the same time. There is also a huge trend at the moment for millennials creating passive income. Influencers do this through advertisement revenue on youtube, business people do it through making investments. Start thinking about extra ways to make money outside your 9-5, and start taking risks would be my advice. That way you can have a separate pot for your travels!
12) What are your future travel plans?
So many places!
Next on my travel list is to book a surfing retreat, possibly in Bali or Ecuador and an ecological retreat like Kalu Yala to help save wildlife. There is also a place called Dunton Hot Springs in an alpine valley, Colorado that’s firmly on my to do list, check it out!
Having said that, at the top of my list is the open mic circuit in Nashville, Tennessee. I have a deep love affair with writing & singing country music, and so it will be a lifelong dream fulfilled to go and play over there. The rest of my plans? They’re secret! I’m a big believer that to say too much too soon is making too many bets against the universe!
13) What would be the title of your future biography?
“Self-love- the things I’ll tell share with my daughter”
14) 3 philosophies- If there was a major disaster and everything you had written, posted and shared got destroyed, what three pieces of advice would you share?
Be kind to others, even when it is uncomfortable for you or causes you suffering. Acting selflessly will unlock a piece of your heart that you haven’t found yet, and from this journey, you will gain riches greater than any you would find while self-serving.
Take care of your emotional health before anything else. Exercise for 30 minutes a day, eat healthily & avoid processed foods & sugar, with 7 hours of super sleep. This will allow your body & brain to act & think clearly.
Everything you do, do it with love, and you cannot go wrong. The universe rewards resilience, focus, so do everything big or small to the best of your ability.