A man of many passions: from communications to chocolates, this multitasking entrepreneur embraces the big picture.

Position::Charles Znaty - Interview

In this issue we hear from Charles Znaty, CEO and co-owner of Orion-system, a corporate communication agency, and co-owner and co-founder of Pierre Herme Paris, a high-end pastries and chocolates company, both based in Paris.

What historical figure do you most identify with and why?

Napoleon. I'm taller than he, but I love the fact that a complex is named after him. In the U.S., napoleon is the name of one of my favorite pastries, which was originally called a mille-feuille. When I launched the Pierre Herme pastry and chocolate business in 1997, The New York Times published a piece about it titled "The Pastry Emperor Who Marshals Napoleons."

Which word or phrase do you think is overused right now?

"I hear what you're saying." People just do not listen to each other. We too often follow our own ideas but ignore dialogue.

How would you explain your profession to a child?

Maybe something like "I tell stories that make people feel good and happy." Or "HI make your chocolate dreams come true," which in a way is the same job. Kids often have questions that are way too difficult. I'd probably tell them, "Listen, I love what I do so it doesn't matter. Let's go outside and you can show me what you can do with a skateboard!"

What did you have to learn the hard way?

That I may not have all the solutions all the time and the ones that I do have are not always the right ones. I have learned to take in the whole picture, not just my end of things. I have learned to work in a team and have felt what a true democratic vote can mean.

What do you sing or hum when you're alone?

"Catch Me If You Can" comes to mind first, but my favorite songs are "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" and "I Wanna Rock with You" by Michael Jackson, and sometimes "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen. And, of course, a little Edith Piaf.

What talent would you most like to have?

To schmooze like the French actor, author and filmmaker Sacha Guitry. For instance, he said, "The little I know, I owe it to my ignorance."

If you could choose another profession, what would it be?

I'd love to be a writer, a music producer or maybe also a lawyer. My profession would have something to do with conveying messages to the world.


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