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The #elderproject #7: Franco the tailor

Yes, I know it’s been a while and no, I haven’t given up on the #elderproject. I’ve just been busy and as it turns out it’s not that easy finding, interviewing and writing about people. That being said, I believe the wait will be worth it. 

Today’s elder is my London tailor of many years, Franco Santoro. Every few months, I enter the little door at 26 Kingly Street in Soho to adjust some trousers or a suit, knowing that no matter what time of day I’ll go or whether it’s a weekend or not, Franco will be there. At 72, he’s the hardest working man I know and this was the most intense and emotional interview I’ve taken so far for the #elderproject. I hope you enjoy it.

[RO] Expozitie de arta pentru Hospice Casa Sperantei

Marti, 21 Aprilie de la ora 19:00 organizez impreuna cu Hospice Casa Sperantei o expozitie de arta la Capital Plaza (Bld. Iancu de Hunedoara 54), cu obiectivul de a strange fonduri pentru construirea unui centru de ingrijire pentru bolnavii incurabili in stadii avansate, in Copaceni.

Vor fi expusi cinci artisti care au acceptat sa doneze 50% din vanzari catre Hospice. Preturile picturilor vor incepe de la doar doar 300RON, si dorim sa strangem cel putin 4500RON in urma evenimentului.

Detalii:
La inceputul acestui an Graham Perolls, fondatorul Hospice Casa Sperantei, m-a invitat sa fac parte din Honorary Patrons Committee al organizatiei. Intre membrii comitetului se regasesc Sir George Iacobescu, Printesa Marina Sturdza si Abasadorul Romaniei la Londra Dr Ion Jinga, iar obiectivul nostru este sa ajutam Hospice sa stranga fonduri pentru proiectele in derulare.

Hospice Casa Sperantei este o organizatie de caritate neguvernamentala infiintata la Brasov, in anul 1992, la initiativa britanicului Graham Perolls, cu scopul introducerii si dezvoltarii serviciilor specializate de ingrijire pentru bolnavii incurabili in stadii avansate. Este prima si cea mai mare unitate de acest fel din Romania si centru de excelenta pentru Europa de Est, in domeniul ingrijirii paliative.

Va fi o seara cu artisti talentati si lume buna, asa ca va astept acolo. RSVP in comentarii la acest post sau pe pagina de Facebook a evenimentului.

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Giving back

Those of you who’ve listened to my #elderproject interviews know that one of my questions is “What would you change if you could go back in time?” The most frequent answer I’ve been getting is that they would try to be kinder and more generous.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, so I was thrilled when Graham Perolls, the founder of Hospices of Hope, asked me to be on the organisation’s Honorary Patrons Committee in London. Other members on the Committee include Sir George Iacobescu, Princess Marina Sturdza and the Romanian Ambassador in London Dr. Ion Jinga, so I’m honoured to have been considered alongside such amazing individuals.

Today, I would like to announce that I have accepted to be on the committee and I’m very excited to be helping Hospices Of Hope raise money for their ongoing projects. 

I’m starting by organising an art exhibition in Bucharest, on April 21st from 7pm at Galeria IX (Bld. Aviatorilor nr. 9). Five up-and-coming artists have agreed to exhibit their works and donate 50% of all sales to Hospices of Hope, and Galeria IX have agreed to donate 10% of all drink sales as well. It’s promising to be a great event packed with wonderful people so if you’d like to participate please RSVP on Facebook.

Hope to see you there!

The #elderproject #6: David Moore

My 6th interview was with David J. Moore of 24/7 Real Media fame. Dave has been an ad man for longer than I’ve been alive, sold 24/7 Real Media to WPP in 2007 and is currently the Chairman of Xaxis. He is one of the most successful and at the same time one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure to interview. 

Our discussion was a bit longer than the others but it’s totally worth it, with lots of stories, gems, quotes and a pretty awesome response to my question about money. Enjoy! 

The #elderproject #5: Jeff Hutchinson

This week’s elder is the oldest one I’ve interviewed so far, and yet one of the happiest. Jeff is 83, British and has more charisma than Obama & Clooney put together. He had a wonderful, wonderful story about love which was perfectly timed as I interviewed him on Valentine’s day. 

Apologies for the pick hammer sounds in the background, I haven’t had time to remove them but will try to do so at one point. 

The #elderproject #4: George Betianu [RO]

Apologies for not posting an #elderproject interview in a while. I’ve been doing them at a rate of one per week but converting to mp3, uploading to soundcloud and writing the summary takes longer than I thought and work has been very busy. I’ll try posting a few of them over the next few days. 

My 4th interview was with George Betianu, a Romanian entrepreneur who moved to the UK in 1991 and started a group of businesses in London (mostly in the hospitality industry) that currently employ over 600 people. George used to be a professional boxer back in Romania and is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Unfortunately the interview is in Romanian as George felt more comfortable doing it in his maternal language.

The #elderproject #3: Ewan

Today’s elder is a 61 year old British national living in Surrey, named Ewan. There was a bit of nostalgia in his voice while he was talking about the past, as you’ll notice in the interview. He’s had a tough time over the years, Ewan, but despite that he was as joyful and happy as they come. I really liked that. 

The #elderproject #2: Jagdish Patel

I’ve realised over the past week that I don’t have time to post the elder project interviews every day, but I will try to the best of my ability to actually do one every day and post them at a later time.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Jagdish Patel, a jolly 67 year old British national of hindu indian origin. I met him at Piccadilly Circus, as he was gazing over towards the large billboards in the square. Sorry about the background noise, the iPhone’s native mic is not great. I’ve now purchased a better external mic so future outdoor interviews should be better.

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The #elderproject #1: my dad, Stefan Gal

The first person I interviewed for The Elder Project is none other than my dad, whom I love dearly and look up to in many ways. Asking him the questions was rather odd as I already know the answers to many of them, but nonetheless some of the answers were pretty surprising. So without further ado – here’s dad, Stefan Gal, 66 years old. 

Unfortunately my dad doesn’t speak English (yet), so the interview is in Romanian. If you speak Romanian and take the time to listen to the interview, please leave a comment with your feedback (thoughts on my questions, pace, order of the questions, etc). Thanks!

Experiments – the #elderproject

Almost every year for the past six years, I’ve taken on a new experiment. In 2008 I was a polyphasic sleeper for two months. In 2010 I lost 14kgs in two months. In 2011 I lived in London on £300/day for two months (rent included). In 2012 I read a book a week for a year. Last year I studied Mandarin. This year I trained my memory with a World Top 20 Memory Champion (for example, I can tell you the first 200 digits of PI or recite Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream speech’, for fun).

I do these experiments because I love learning and enjoy getting outside my comfort zone. They’re fun, challenging, and many of them become habits (for example – I go to the gym every day and read about 6hrs/week thanks to my experiments).

In 2015, I will interview an elder person a day, every day (except weekends), for a year. I think young people can learn a ton from the elderly, and we don’t spend nearly enough time with them as we should.

So for a year, I’ll be interviewing elder people. Friends of friends, people on the street, hopefully some entrepreneurs as well. I will post the interviews on this blog, every day, together with a photo of the person I’ve interviewed. I’ll be asking them a few questions about them (to get context), followed by 10 questions that are important to me. But before I start, I’d like to get feedback on my questions and get a couple of question from you.

Below, I’ve listed the questions I’m planning to ask, and I’ve deliberately left a couple of spots open. I’d love to get your feedback and, if you have a question that’s important to you that isn’t listed below, please leave a comment and it may go into the list. 

About you:
1. Name, age, nationality
2. What do you do (did, if you’re retired)
3. Are you married, with kids? How many? What are their names? What age did you get married? How old are your kids?
4. How many close friends have you had during your life, or currently have? Close friends, not acquaintances. How often do you speak to or see them? 
5. 

Questions:
1. Are you happy? Why? What makes you happy these days?
2. If you could go back in time, what would you change?
3. What did you think the most important thing for you was when you were young? What’s the most important for you right now?
4. Work and family. Which one’s more important? Why?
5. How important has money been in your life? How important is it now?
6. If you could live forever and could hold on to just one thing from your life (family, work, money, etc) what would it be? 
7. What do you want to leave behind? What do you want people to say about you when you’re no longer around?
8. Let’s say I’m your grandchild. What is the one piece of advice you’d like to give me?
9. What’s the meaning of life?
10.