ITW #5 – Habib Oualidi
Habib Oualidi is Kayak Communication’s CEO and Creative Director. After two books and a lifetime of personal challenges, he’s releasing “Kayak Mon Amour” (Kayak, My Love), his memoirs. He launches today his publishing house, Pomdam. We met this innovating brain of advertising who has an undisputed talent for touching storytelling.
Web marketing, intercultural communication, memoirs… You are no newcomer on the publishing scene. Is it an exciting project to explore different formats?
« Les outils de la communication digitale » (The digital advertising tools) were a personal challenge. I wanted to become an expert in the field in order to adapt my company to the digital era, and it worked! I even received an award for it in 2013 and that was everything for me at that time. « Pub & Cultures » (Advertising and Culture) and « Kayak, mon amour » (Kayak, My Love) are books like I absolutely love, it’s all about sharing and trying to inspire people around. The challenge is not about the format, it’s mostly about feeling what the reader wants to feel.
Your project combines sincerity and personal experience. Aren’t you afraid of misunderstanding and judgment?
When you write with truth and passion, criticism is unavoidable. France is known for being the country where half of the population never agrees with the other half, and that is what makes this country so rich and pleasant ! After 35 years of being in business, I’m at peace with myself and everything I say is coherent with my values. There’s nothing I’m not proud of.
You are a publicist before being an author. What about your literary legitimacy? Does one even need legitimacy in order to write?
Today, a teenager can have a knowledge as valuable as an old philosopher, if not more! Since the Internet is widespread, everybody has a voice, and a legitimate one. I have to admit that I don’t like literature for the sake of literature, we all want it to have an added value, and we all want it to improve our lives. That’s why I had the urge to share my experience. To avoid boredom, my career as a publicist is extremely helpful, since I can allow myself to write in one sentence what would take more than sixty pages in most cases. That’s what the world needs now, brevity and relevance!
The act of writing can be absorbing and risky. Weren’t you afraid of waking up old demons?
The whole experience felt like a wonderful time machine, I was finally able to take a moment for myself and measure my life choices. I went from nostalgia to joy to uncontrollable laughter. I have even known tears as I was writing about my father’s death circumstances. A whole range of emotions that gave strength and authenticity to the whole book. You cannot cheat with what’s real, and such feelings allowed me to extract my own being from myself to be able to see things the way the reader would.
You just launched your publishing house, Pomdam. How does the future of publishing sound like?
A French comedian once said during a stand-up comedy show: “I just hurt my finger, buy me a medical clinic!” and that is what happened here. My former publisher didn’t believe much in this project, and other offers were limiting me to a level of quality that is way below what we are producing at Kayak Communication, my advertising agency. Well, no worries! The book is selling well, and feels like another beautiful accomplishment among my other accomplishments. I told you I love challenges. I also decided to run my business only with people with whom I can become friends, so the next authors I will highlight will be people I love, with touching and real stories. Whatever happens, my greatest engine will always be pleasure, no matter the essence of my next ventures.
Compiled by Marc Louis-Boyard for Slow Culture.
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