051 | Becoming Precious After Being Broken | The Kintsugi Perspective of Life | With Celine Santini

Welcome to this episode of Bootstrapping Your Dreams. I'm Manuj Aggarwal and I will be dialoguing with Celine Santini. Celine has written 20 books for adults and children, published in 10 languages. 175,000 copies sold worldwide so far. Her last book “Kintsugi, finding strength in imperfection” was translated in 10 languages and won the Professional Resilience Award 2019.


A very warm welcome to our show. 

Thank you very much for inviting me. I’m really thrilled to be here.


Awesome. So let’s start with your latest book ‘Kintsugi’.  Can you tell us a little bit about that? What is Kintsugi all about?

Well actually.  It’s an ancient Japanese art which dates from the 15th century and consists of highlighting the cracks of broken objects with pure gold. It’s also a great metaphor for human beings because it means when you have had failures or cracks or a broken past in your life, you can still put gold on your cracks and sublimate your failures. Let me show you so that everybody understands. This is a bowl. It’s a normal bowl. Actually, it’s quite perfect. It’s beautiful. Now I’ll show another one. This is a Kintsugi bowl. You see it’s broken and repaired with gold. A bit like my dress actually. That means, when we really compare, it depends on people but personally, I think this one is more interesting because it shows its suffering and the past.


That’s awesome. That’s great. 

Thank You.


Okay.  Can this principle be applied in life? How do you apply this principle in human life?

Well, the thing about Kintsugi is that you can apply it to any kind of suffering, whether it’s mental, emotional, or physical suffering. The people watch a Kintsugi and it works by just watching it. Even if it’s a picture, it’s a kind of art therapy and it creates something inside of the viewer. It’s like something is repairing inside. When you watch it, it gives you hope of being repaired. It gives you the hope that you are worth it. And you need and deserve to put gold on your cracks. So first looking at Kintsugi is very powerful. And then what is interesting about it is that there are six steps to create a Kintsugi and each of these steps is so meaningful because each step can be transposed to the human being and the self-growth.


That’s cool. That’s great. And, you know, in our audience, there are a lot of entrepreneurs and professionals. And as you know, in these scenarios where people are trying to make progress in their careers, they meet and run into a lot of failures and disappointments. So can this principle of Kintsugi be applied to professional lives as well?

Of course, it can be applied to anything. And especially, entrepreneurs. I’m an entrepreneur myself, so I know the subject well.  In one of my past careers; I’m saying one because I had so many turns in my careers so it’s just this one I’m mentioning now; I used to be a wedding planner. And it’s a new business in France. So I trained a lot of wedding planners who wanted to create their own companies. I always used to tell them, what could be the worst-case scenario? That your business never takes off? And what would happen then? Whatever would happen would be good though. You know, even if it’s a failure, you’ll still learn. You will learn accountancy, marketing, most importantly self-confidence. And I think that when you read biographies of successful entrepreneurs, they have had failures before being successful. So I don’t consider failure as such. I really considered failure as a first step. It’s an opportunity to learn. So this is what Kintsugi can bring into entrepreneurship. Yeah.


That’s great. Awesome. So now let’s get into the nitty-gritty details a little bit. And maybe you can walk us through the process of how one can apply it in their lives in their personal lives and their professional lives.

Sure. So do you want me to go through the six steps? 


Sure. That’ll be great. 

Yeah, each of these six steps is really interesting. The first step is when you break the bowl, for instance. And in that state, what is interesting is to take a step back on the situation, to evaluate it as a whole, so you don’t forget any broken shards, you see. And you also admit to the situation, because you know, if you are in denial, if you don’t understand that you’re broken, then you cannot progress.  You cannot go on. So this is the first step to acknowledge that you’ve been broken, and then you can take the active decision to repair yourself because you are worth it. And of course, this can be applied to personal life as well as in business. So it’s about making the decision that’s worth it. So the first step is; Break. 

The second step is: Assemble. So you’ve got your shards and then you assemble it with a ‘Sabi’. It’s the same word as in wabi-sabi. The ‘Sabi’ is like a mixture of flour and lacquer and it holds the bowl. Here, the symbol is that first, you have to look at the patterns of your bowl since it’s been broken, there are some lines, some cracks. Each of them is unique. In our life, we tend not to take the time to really look at our patterns, you know, and sometimes we reproduce the same mistakes again, and again. But if you do take the time to be attentive to your own patterns, you can begin to repair them. There is a very famous quote from Einstein, I don’t exactly know the quote, it goes something like, ‘the definition of craziness is doing the same mistakes over and over and hoping for different results.’ So yeah, just take the time to look at your patterns. It’s very important in entrepreneurship, and also in this step, another very interesting thing is that sometimes when you break a bowl, you might miss a shard, probably because it’s broken too finely or you’ve lost it. So what is very interesting is that instead of trying to recreate it, you can actually take it from another object. Let me show you so that everybody understands better because I’ve got a picture here. To see what I mean. You see here is this bowl which was repaired with a turtle shell. And the result is actually more interesting. So of course, the symbology here is that in entrepreneurship, and life in general, you can benefit from the outside, you can benefit from the blending of culture and it becomes more creative and interesting.


Yeah, just one quick thing here for listeners, who are not able to see what Celine was showing: you can always go to the YouTube and have a look. It was basically, you know, a piece of bowl taken from another bowl, and it repaired the one that was broken.

Thank you so much. I forgot that some people are listening rather than watching the video. 

So, the third step is called: Wait, and why? because if you don’t wait till the Sabi is dry, you have to start again. So it’s a perfect metaphor that we tend to go so fast in our life and not take the time to reconsolidate everything that we do. I was probably the first person to do this mistake. I wasn’t really a patient person at all.  Now I hope I’m progressing every day. I hope I’m better than before. You know, for instance, when I wanted to create my wedding planning company, I took the decision to quit my job in one day and my husband argued and asked me to wait for a month. But I could only wait for three days because I’m that person. And when I decided to start this company, after 10 years, I took the decision in one second. And it took me four years to close a 10 year’s business. So just to let you know that I’m not the patient kind of person. But I’m working on that using Kintsugi. Kintsugi is really infused in me now. I practice it. I talk about it. I can see that it’s so interesting to take the time to integrate things by meditating. You know, that this trend of meditation, I think, is not growing by chance. It’s because everything is so rushed and we’re not patient anymore. And we really need some time to take pauses. Sometimes it’s really important whether in business or personal life. Each of them goes together. And after that, I will go on with the next step. 

The fourth step is: Repair. So in this step, you’ve got the Sabi on the shards on the cracks, so you sand it and so that the surface is very smooth. And again, this is symbolic, because by sanding it, it’s like you get rid of what is not important anymore, like getting rid of your past. So sometimes in entrepreneurship, or in personal life, it’s important to take the time to get rid of what is not relevant anymore. Then, on these cracks when they are smooth, we put a fine line of bright red lacquer. And this bright red lacquer is so symbolic as well because that creates something like veins, just like red blood veins on the beautiful object. It symbolizes the life coming back to the object.  Like, you know, repaired nights ready to take a new life, but in a different shape in a different way. 

Then the fifth step is putting a polish on this red lacquer-like nail polish. So you imagine putting some dust gold powder on this kind of nail polish material and it will go inside and merge within the cracks. Like that, it will recreate a Gold Line. And obviously, here, it’s symbolic too because this is the moment when you realize that you are worth like gold. Gold is not an ordinary metal. This is one of the most precious metals in the world. So putting gold on the cracked object is kind of symbolism of optimism. 

And the sixth and the final step is that gold is metal so you can polish it with a special tool to make it shine. So here, it’s about accepting your past and telling the world that you’ve been working. You don’t hide your cracks anymore. You display, highlight, accept and celebrate them.


Awesome. That’s beautiful and insightful. Thank you so much for sharing this. Now, one question that comes to mind is, you know, being fearful human beings we are afraid of lots of things such as the judgments, our own fears that we picked up from our childhood memories and all that.  Once something breaks, it’s very hard to look at it and say, “Okay, I’m going to do something about it, I’m going to repair it.” So right at that first step, how do you overcome that desire to just give up, let go and not do anything about it.


Unfortunately, the interesting thing about Kintsugi is that it does not speak to everybody. In my experience, it generally speaks to a resilient person. In French, the subtitle of my book is called ‘Kintsugi- the Art of Resilience.’ And that’s really true that only resilient people get Kintsugi because they already have the idea of repairing themselves and awareness that their trials make them grow. But being resilient doesn’t mean that you don’t need help. You know, sometimes when you’re broken, and you keep the Kintsugi in your mind, that really helps you. A resilient people who have the kintsugi spirit in mind can rebuild themselves and then help other people, maybe with other techniques that would be more appropriate to them. But I think that’s how it works. Kintsugi is not for everybody. From my own perspective, maybe 10% of people really get Kintsugi. But those who get Kintsugi go very deeply into it.


Okay, I see. But the but the point is that, you know, when you see that beautiful bowl, after it has been repaired with the gold veins in it, I think that gives you the inspiration to be resilient and, and, you know, pick up where you left off and, and start your work all over again, and make sure that you can repair whatever has been broken in your life, isn’t it?

It’s totally true, Manuj. Thank you. It’s very optimistic. Kintsugi really gives you hope. Because you know, you hesitate of breaking this bowl. It’s so perfect. But this bowl is beautiful and interesting. Now you know that if you break it again, it doesn’t matter, because it will just get a few more lines and a few more cracks and that will make it even more beautiful. So that’s the beauty Kintsugi. It’s that you won’t hesitate to take risks and get out of your comfort zone. You won’t think of life the same way. For instance, let me give you a personal example. I have been divorced twice. I was never present to get to work. I won’t say that during the second time, I was like “whoa”. But the first time was I was really crushed when it was one of the first tries on my life. It was very intense. And the second time, actually, I kind of knew that I would be able to get through it. Because I did it once before. It’s like the famous proverb, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you makes you stronger.’ So that’s the proverb for Kintsugi.


Awesome. That’s great. And then you know what one thing I noticed that the lines are so irregular like you cannot expect them to be very clear and perfect. And so the drama of life that unfolds is unexpected. So life creates a lot of, you know, anticipation, I think, in a way that ‘let’s break it and see what happens.’

Yeah, it’s a very interesting thing with Kintsugi that each Kintsugi is absolutely unique in the world, just like every human being is unique in the world. Because even if you took two processed items like IKEA bowl, for instance, which is basically processed bowl. They were similar in the beginning. But if I break this one now, I will obviously not get the same pattern. So yeah. Kintsugi is another level of understanding. Like the one you mentioned, is that when you watch a Kintsugi, you remember how unique in the world you are. And that’s your history, and your past is unique in the world. It is what made you.  Nobody has the same past.


Yeah, exactly. Alright, so now let’s get into some, you know, more nitty-gritty details here. So tell us about your entrepreneurial journey and how did you implement Kintsugi in your professional journey?

I am a resilient person from the beginning when I was born. I know how to rebound all the time. I always see the glass half full instead of half empty, and that goes very well with the Kintsugi message. My past is all about change. I have always changed careers. That’s because of two reasons, one is when it was not comfortable anymore for me, or when I felt it like intuition. So to tell you a bit more, I started my studies with International Business School. And then I found out that there was this great B2B industry which was called flavor and fragrance industry, which nobody knew about. It manufactured the fragrances that you wear. Yeah, so I was very much into fragrance since I’m from trance, you know. So I wanted this job so bad. There are only five companies would do that in the world. And I got what I wanted because I put my I create my own reality, you know, so I put all my energy to create it. But here too, there is a bit of Kintsugi spirit. And then it didn’t feel right anymore, because it was a kind of a superficial fashion style atmosphere, which I didn’t fit into. So I quit one from one day to the other again, because I’m quick, when it doesn’t feel right, I just follow my intuition. And then I went to the design industry because I’m very interested in everything which is related to beauty in general, which again, relates to the state of Kintsugi. And then I change again, because I actually I got married, and I enjoy the organization of my wedding so much that I saw that it was so right for me, because I am a perfectionist person, when you like Kintsugi, you have to be a perfectionist because it’s kind of paradox. It’s very imperfect, but you do it in the perfect way with gold and all this. You know you take so much time to do it. So it speaks very well. To me this was perfect. So I was a wedding planner for 10 years. And then I had to change again because my mother died and it was a very traumatic experience. She committed suicide and I found her body. So I had no other choice, but to quit the wedding organization business. So I stopped my company. And again, it’s some kind of paradox. When my mother died, it happened only for good, that is terrible to say otherwise but it was good in a way that it opened new doors for me towards of spirituality, self-growth, self-help, and Kintsugi. So I think that every failure is an opportunity. And then I went deep, very deep into self-help and writing. And this brings me here to my current job, which is a writer.


That’s awesome. That’s a great story. Thank you for sharing. Thank you know, just to share my own story, I had a very similar experience as my mom passed away last year as well. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of inspiration from that experience. And obviously, it was very sad and the thing, but I think, you know when you go through these traumatic experience, the life sort of shakes you up, as as you put it, like, you know, it breaks you. And then you know, if you’re resilient enough, you can put it back together. And it turns out, you know, in some cases, it turns out much better. You have many more experiences, I think you value time, much more, you come face to face with mortality, right? It gets lost during regular life. But if you go through this kind of experience that puts that kind of urgency to enjoy your life and, you know, be happy.

It makes you rethink your life. Right? Did you put gold on your scars yet?


Um, it’s it. This is the process, you know, this podcast is one way of putting Google in those cracks, right?

So which step are you? Are you at the break, wait, repair, reveal or sublimate state?


Umm, I think I’m at wait stage right now.

It’s good, so already in step three.


Exactly, exactly. So but you know, every day is different. Some you know, if you ask me tomorrow, maybe I’ll say I’m a repair state.

Right. It’s not a linear process anyway.


Exactly. All right. So, you know, we talked about a lot of things. Now, let’s talk about you know, you lead a tremendous life, you know, you have written so many books, and you have adopted this way of life, which is, you know, very conducive to the way that you think and you work and live. But tell us a little bit about your mistakes, you know, what kind of mistakes did you make early on? And maybe you know, that those are the things that broke in your life and walk us through how did you repair them and, and went through this process of Kintsugi.

When people ask me about my mistakes, I have a hard time to answer this question. Why?  It is because I think that I don’t do mistakes? Actually, not really. I’m not pretentious. I’m not saying I don’t do mistakes. But the problem is, which is an advantage too, that I don’t consider mistakes as such. I always consider mistakes as opportunities. I tend to forget them. I don’t do it on purpose. It’s like a process in my mind. For instance, someone interviewed me and I was telling my story with a big smile and telling him about my traumatic and then he was like ‘you’re telling me about the suicide of your mother, but you’re smiling, you see.’ So it’s just who I’m. I don’t do it on purpose, but I don’t consider these mistakes.  I just treat them as experiences. It’s more difficult for me to remember them. But I could say that one of my mistakes was at the beginning when I was not an entrepreneur, yet I was fitting in this company. And actually, I was not fitting, I’m certain that something you understood from what I said before that I’m the patient kind, you know, and this is what I love a bunch of entrepreneurship be that you can go directly to what is useful, you don’t have to waste time in meetings or other processes. But when I was working in the company, I needed to fit by the rules to go by the rules. And it didn’t comply with me. And I had to have time. For instance, I went to kindergarten to see my daughter and the teacher said to me, “Oh, you don’t know. It’s weird, because this box where they are, you know, some shapes like you know, triangles, squares, etc. and you’re supposed to, you know, fit the shapes. But your daughter just opens the book, and put the shapes directly instead of doing the process.” And I was laughing because I said to me, I said to myself that she is exactly like me. She’s really my daughter. I think actually in a way small, clever, she doesn’t lose time to do the process. But it’s kind of a problem when you fit when you have to fit in. So I have to, I had to learn to put a bit of oil. And after when I was made my own wedding planning company, I had this very upgrade client coming from the US or the UK wanted the big wedding, in French chateaus, and there I learned, you know, to be a bit more adept to achieve and smooth.


Yeah, sure. All right, that’s awesome. Now, you know, that’s, that’s an excellent point, we should not create mistakes, mistakes, but learning opportunities. But out of those learning opportunities, you know, we, we see that some things work, and some things don’t work. So, you know, we tend to Dr. Things that do work, and sometimes, you know, even bad things, and we call them habits. So what are your typical habits? What are the typical rituals that you follow?

I’m really into nutrition. I’m a vegetarian. I don’t like processed foods. That doesn’t shoot me. So I take the time to cook my own meals. And I’m lucky because I live, I work where I live, I work at home. So it’s easier for me to organize. So nutrition is very important. And also, I’m a very strong believer in the morning miracle. It’s really changed my life each time I do it. I must be completely honest with you. Actually, at the moment, I don’t do it. And I miss it. But it’s just I have too many things to process. And unfortunately, I don’t have the courage to start again. And the most difficult part is when you stop because once this habit is adopted, it’s smooth. But now I really need to work on that. But I still kept the affirmation part. Every day I do this affirmation process. It is very quick to do. In this, I would say, what I want in my life is already there and it’s kind of works. Because I see things that are happening magically in my life. I think that’s it’s a question of energy, the energy you put into something and then it arrives. It’s I say magically, but I’m not sure it’s magic. I think it’s just, you know, logical. When you put your energy on something, there is some return. People sometimes say, ‘Oh, my God, you are so lucky. But they don’t see the work involved.’ You know, the lucky part is the tip of the iceberg when you the doors open, but they just would not open if you didn’t knock on the door, you know.


For sure. Now, that’s very interesting. Affirmations are very important, obviously. And I hope we’ll have a dedicated episode about that. But I’m thinking about your morning rituals. So can you tell us a little bit about that? Even though you’re not doing it, but maybe it will be good to tell the audience? What do you do in those rituals?

When I do it I can tell you. I adapted that from the book ‘The morning miracle’ which is the bestseller, it is indeed very good. I really recommend to those who might not have read it yet. They called it lifesavers because SAVER, the acronym to remember what it is about. So maybe I’m wrong, I think S is for Subscribing, A is for affirmation. V is for visualizing. I don’t remember the rest of it. Sorry, you will check.


Yeah, that’s enough for the audience so they can start to look for the term.

What I do is I start my routine with yoga. I do a 25 minutes session of yoga which suits me very well, I can’t do one hour, but 25 minutes is perfect for me. It’s very complete. And I end with abs. So that’s, that’s a very complete session, I have been doing yoga for like 10 years. So now I know how to do it. And then I do my meditation for 20 minutes. Then, at the end of the meditation I do my affirmation, the one I mentioned just before, something like what I want actually, I’m spreading the message of Kintsugi spirit all around the world and I inspire people. Affirmation may include ‘I’m luminous. I’m always in a good mood. I raise my two daughters with good mood and give them a lot of seeds for them to grow, etc.’ When I visualize something important. For instance, I’m preparing these conferences in English. It’s like, it’s not a TED talk. But I did a TED talk before. So once you do the TED Talks, you don’t go back. So now I will do all my conferences, the TED way. So it’s like a TED which in English. So it’s difficult for me because it’s not my first language. So I visualize myself like in a successful person. And they say that every people who do high-level sport do that and it increases their level. And then after I read the few minutes of inspirational books, like a self-growth book or self-help books, and I know note things down if it’s relevant. So that’s a very good start for your day because it gives you energy. And also it’s already fitting in whatever happens now in your day, you’ve already done that. So it’s like it’s covered. And then after I do another session of meditation after lunch, I tried different times. But after lunch, it really suits me. And then I do the MDSR process. You can find it by searching familiar Jon Kabat Zinn who give back the meditation to the occidental world. And he created a very easy way to get meditation in your life. So it’s like, on 10 or 12 weeks, they will teach you how to train to meditate, and then after you can do it by yourself. So um, it’s like meditation. Without any, you know, you don’t hear something. You’re just self-conscious, and awareness.


Awesome. And you said that MBSR 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction,


 I see. Great

They are training all over the world, it’s easy to find it in the US.


Okay. I’ll add that to the show notes so that people can find it easily. Well, is there anything else that I haven’t asked that you may want to say to the audience? Before we wrap up?

Thank you. Yes, I would love to say two things, if you don’t mind. The first thing is that I am coming at the end of July, in the USA for my book tour to present my American version of Kentucky. And they will be in two locations on 24th and 25th of July in Las Vegas for signings and conferences. And at the end of July 30, ones at the strand bookstore in New York. On the 2nd of August, doing a conference at Civic Hall. So if you are around at these dates in Las Vegas, or New York, I would love if you come by and also to contact me beforehand so that we can talk because as I said before, not everybody gets Kintsugi, but those who do I would be delighted talking about Kintsugi with them, so don’t hesitate to contact me. It would be a pleasure. And the second thing I would like to say is ‘never ever let anybody say to you that you are not worth it. Because you are worth putting gold on your scars.


Awesome. That’s a beautiful part. Thank you for knowledge and wisdom. Now before I let you go, do you have a website as well?

Of course, I have two websites. One is especially about Kintsugi. So it’s kinsey.com. So this is more for the Kintsugi effect. And for generalized specs. It’s my name. So if you type my name you can find me, but it’s santini.com. And of course, also on Instagram, Facebook, etc.


Awesome. That’s great. Thank you so much. And I hope you come back for another episode and teach us about some other aspects of life 

For my next book, definitely. Thank you very much Manuj.


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