Entrepreneur Andrew Pollard is known in the fashion industry for his unique blend of insight, expertise and enthusiasm. After launching popular brands from Diesel to Miss Sixty, he co-founded luxury lifestyle line, Kiki Montparnasse. In addition to being named executive vice president of Advanstar and president of PROJECT Trade-show, Pollard was appointed CEO of POPMarket, a B2B digital fashion platform. Recently he founded ICONYC, his own boutique agency focused on fashion, technology and cause related projects.
Here, Pollard describes how his strong curiosity for people and culture—rooted in his rural Australian childhood—led him to crave a deeper understanding of both his emotional and physical worlds, beyond his traditional Catholic upbringing. Here’s how he approaches life from a place of love:
Live The Process: Have you always been as health-conscious and spiritually connected as you are today?
Andrew Pollard: I was always a very active kid, as I lived in a remote region of North Western Australia. There was nothing to do but be outside exploring and playing, as we had only one channel on the television and no video games. Because this was an isolated area, we didn’t have any fast food chains nearby, so I managed to avoid the addictive allure of those nasty foods during those very impressionable years.
I grew up in a small country town and in a typical Catholic family, where we went to church every Sunday. I never embraced or enjoyed my experience with religion, but I had a curiosity about the universe and specifically about my purpose in life. I would look up at the big open sky at night and see all of the bright stars and think how magical it was. I would wonder about what was out there and, at the same time, what was inside of me. I was particularly curious about my thoughts and feelings and how it all connected.
LTP: What inspired you to change the way you live your life?
AP: One of the most transformational times in my life was when my uncle died unexpectedly. I was 22 years old and he was the greatest role model in my life—my hero and mentor. He was a successful fashion entrepreneur who was incredibly health conscious, a super athlete who competed in the Hawaiian Ironman a number of times. He would take me running, swimming, riding, surfing or to play tennis and push me beyond my limits, helping me realize that my limitations were mental and not physical. He taught me the importance of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. He also introduced me to meditation and the inward perspective of self. He instilled a sense of curiosity for the people and world around me, which eventually led me to New York.
LTP: What is your current ethos and how do you apply these wellness principles in your daily life?
AP: I believe in managing and improving three main areas of my life:
First is physical intelligence, which I interpret as what goes into my body (my nutritional program) and what I do with my body (my physical exercise regimen). I like to keep things very basic and simple. I try to eat fresh unprocessed foods with a focus on organic fruits and vegetables. I try to juice everyday and balance that with some lean protein, whether organic animal or vegetable.
I have been using supplements and nutritional products from a company called Univera for the past 5 years. It’s the most scientifically researched natural health company on the planet and their products have changed my life. I have experienced a lot more energy, clarity and focus, as well as less pain in my joints and muscles. And I am better equipped to handle stress.
I often experience an excess of energy, so I try to exercise every day. My daily exercise regimen is one to two hours long and includes activities such as running, Bikram yoga, surfing and going to the gym. I try to add in other sports like bike riding, swimming and tennis, as it keeps things interesting and shocks my system a little.
The second area is intellectual intelligence, which is the way I feed my brain the knowledge I need to be successful in life. That also includes motivational activities that drive curiosity and build self-esteem and confidence. The best way I have found to develop intelligence and knowledge is by embracing a more inductive learning approach. I learn by doing and this often involves a lot of failure before I experience success. I like to read biographies, as I am inspired by the stories and experiences of great men and women [who took such risks].
I have also been fortunate in my life to have some truly incredible people mentor me, sharing raw and unfiltered knowledge directly from their personal experience. I am a big fan of storytelling and listening to other people’s experiences. I have found over the years that becoming a mentor to others is also a great way to learn and “pay it forward.”
The final area is emotional intelligence, which, in my opinion, is an area that is not given enough importance in our modern culture. I have spent the last ten years exploring the field of human potential and have become extremely interested in how we as humans operate. I have experienced how emotions often limit choices and cause undesirable effects in life. I have begun to understand that our bodies control many of our choices—specifically the feelings we experience as opposed to our rational intelligence.
I have had a number of business and personal coaches over the years and participated in many personal development programs, communication courses and meditation retreats. I have and continue to read a diverse array of books that explore the concept of human potential. The most compelling results and understandings have come out of the Executive Success Programs. This is human potential and goal setting program has provided me with real tools for success in life.
LTP: What advice would you offer people who are looking to deepen their understanding of their own spirituality, but struggle with the superficiality of modern life?
AP: I consciously try not to give too much advice. All I can really offer is my own experience. From what I have discovered, I believe that the most important thing is the realization that we all have complete control over the way we think. With this understanding, it becomes very difficult to deny our own responsibility for the way we experience life, as we really get to decide how we react. I know it doesn’t feel like this in the moment, but that’s just our body, not our intellectual mind. It usually feels like other people or circumstances make us feel bad, but, in reality, we have the final choice on how to feel. This mentality has enabled me to limit and—hopefully at some point in my life—eliminate any form of blame, which gives me the power to create what I truly want.
I feel, as humans, that we have regressed emotionally over the past 100 years. We have developed an addiction to the “need to feel good” and an attachment to “stuff.” We are conditioned to want so much from the world outside of us, and this has restricted our ability to find authentic happiness within. Many of us can intellectually understand the concept of happiness not coming from the possessions we acquire, but it often doesn’t feel like this. These feelings are not long-lasting and, when they start to fade, we often feel we need to acquire more to fill the void. It becomes an endless pit.
Most of us are well-equipped to deal with the many challenges life brings, and it is this struggle that inevitably helps build our inner happiness. It’s like going to the gym: It often hurts to work our muscles, but afterwards it feels amazing. The same goes with life. We have become addicted to things that stop us from feeling: drugs, food, sex, work, alcohol etc. We are taught that many of the feelings we have inside are bad. It is normal to have pain inside, but we give meaning to that pain; that is suffering. By having the courage to look at our pain, we develop more empathy and love of self. I feel superficiality is a modern epidemic that is an avoidance of embracing our true selves.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
AP: There’s been a lot of research on people who rock climb and a state of mind they are able to reach called, “flow.” It is a mental space during which there is just enough adversity that they are challenged physically and emotionally. In essence, “flow” is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. It feels like time stands still. I feel life can be like this. When you have just the right amount of struggle, it sets you down a path of motivation and effort to overcome challenges. The feeling of overcoming any obstacle is always one of joy and happiness. Setting clear measurable goals gives purpose and direction to your life. The measurement part is incredibly important, as it allows you to see how you perform against your objectives.
Happiness is a state of mind. If Viktor Frankl, the author of Man’s Search for Meaning, could find happiness in Auschwitz and Nelson Mandela found happiness while incarcerated for 27 years, then most of us can find this state of mind in our everyday lives. We are distracted by too many shiny objects in life and by the constant search for comfort all around us. I suspect we could find more pleasure in our everyday lives by embracing all the feelings we have and developing a stronger sense of self.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process” and how do you do that every day?
AP: “Living The Process” for me is embracing everything we are as individuals—having the strength of character to explore all that life has to offer, the good, bad and ugly. It is a moment by moment process that will only end the day we die. (I personally have no idea if it even ends.) I try to find gratitude and compassion in everything I experience, especially in the times I feel discomfort. I believe we can live from two places in life: fear and love. I have found coming from love gives you everything you will ever need to experience joy and happiness.