49 Days in Provence ...


No, Peter Mayle hasn’t written an abbreviated sequel. But I am feeling the pressure to write a post that’s “stylish, witty and delightfully readable.”

How about “simply readable?”

Anyway, the tweaked book title portends a looming personal adventure. My wife, Heather, and I head to Aix en Provence today for a seven-week assignment.Aix en Provence 09-15If the word “assignment” gives the illusion that orders came down from HQ, that’s not too far from the truth.

Our European managing director, Mike Sottak, lives in Aix splitting time between his home office and our European hub in London. By taking on this adventure, I can team with Mike in supporting our European operation as well as experience a new part of the world with Heather. Along this line, I plan to take some time off — HR will attest that I definitely have some vacation time coming to me — so we can explore the surrounding area as well as take an excursion or two (or three) to other parts of Europe.

The simple activity of chilling with the wife at a café, espresso within easy reach, watching the day walk by sounds pretty darn good.

The company’s per diem wouldn’t quite cover the Chateau Miraval, which I assume is available when Angelina and Brad aren’t in town.Chateau Miraval 09-15Still, we have managed to find a nice apartment in the city centre to call home base.

On the work front, I’m looking forward to parachuting into a new place. One lesson I took away from our “assignment” —  there’s that word again — in the UK from 2000 to 2002 is what I’ll call “the tuning of the senses.” Minus the cocoon that comes from working in the same place for 30-plus years, you’re forced to figure things out and prove yourself to new people with a premium on self-sufficiency.

In short, it’s healthy to be shoved out of one’s comfort zone.

There’s a reason that world-class athletes depend on personal trainers. Obviously, they’re not lazy. Rather, third parties can push athletes in a way that they aren’t able to do on their own. Looking at my own career and quest to keep improving, this trip serves a similar purpose.

I’m also excited about our future in Europe. Mike has done a great job retooling our European operation both in terms of capabilities and spirit. I think of our team as “the little engine that could.” While modest in size, the team produces extraordinary work.

As for the blog, I plan to continue publishing a couple posts each week. I’m thinking fresh fodder will find me.

Did I mention that fun fits into this equation as well? I’m lucky that Heather has a sense of adventure and a personality that can make friends standing in line at the DMV (unlike her husband).

So for now I bid, “Au revoir.”

And if anyone can recommend an easy translation app for French (emphasis on easy), by all means send it along.

P.S. Heather and I plan to capture our stay on Instagram. You can find us at @Lou4Heather.


  • Steve Pace

    Lou, your amazing and I love your new “assignment” it sounds like just what the doctor ordered 🙂
    I hope to drop in on you sometime soon!

    • Lou Hoffman

      Thanks Steve. You would definitely enjoy this part of the world. The natural beauty and culture make for a good combination.


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