Pam Williams: Founder & Lead Instructor at Ecole Chocolat
YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED A GREAT DEAL OF SUCCESS IN YOUR LIFE. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT, AND WHY?
Looking back, I would probably have to say that Ecole Chocolat has been my greatest accomplishment. It grew from a germ of an idea to help a stranger into a viable and thriving business. I’ve got to know so many wonderful people along the way and hope that we have helped many of them to achieve their goals.
LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS SMOOTH. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A SETBACK OR TRAGEDY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED, HOW YOU DEALT WITH IT, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS HAD ON YOU?
No, life is not smooth, especially in business. I’ve had many setbacks over the years but thankfully I don’t consider them actual tragedies. I’m an optimist so I tend to bounce back from adversity with hard work. This may sound trivial but in my first real job in my early twenties, I worked as an assistant buyer for a major department store. I got a wonderful raise for my efforts and shared that news with my best friend who was also an assistant buyer in another department. She promptly went to her boss and asked for the same raise – which got me in a lot of trouble. That was my first adult experience with a friend violating my trust. A lesson I will never forget. So I pick my friends carefully since then.
DO YOU SET ASIDE “ME-TIME” IN YOUR CALENDAR, AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME TO RELAX?
While both my husband and I are workaholics – we love what we do – there are times when you just have to decompress. I do Yoga or Pilates most mornings – that is my “me” time and helps me to unwind while preparing for the day. We love to eat – food is our lives so to relax we cook or talk about cooking or read about cooking or plan a trip around food.
WHAT’S THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE YOU’VE DISCOVERED WHERE YOU CAN GO TO CHILL OUT?
I lived in Hawaii for 8 years of my early adulthood and it has remained a magical place of rejuvenation for me. I am lucky that I can do my business from anywhere so we spend some time there in November and May to shorten the winter.
DOES PHILANTHROPY PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR LIFE, TO WHAT EXTENT AND HOW?
Yes, I always have some sort of philanthropic project on the go. Sometimes it takes over my life for a while but I’m happy to give back both time and money to the causes I support.
WHO IS ON THE GUEST LIST FOR YOUR IDEAL DINNER PARTY?
If I could invite anyone still with us or not, it would be Julia Child (who I had the pleasure of knowing) to dinner with my niece and my nephew as I would love them to have a chance to get to know her over a meal and a glass of bubbly. If we stick to real life – my ideal dinner party is 6 people we love at our table for 8 with us cooking and them drinking great wine and chatting away.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY WORDS OF WISDOM TO YOUR FELLOW THROOMERS?
Keep your passion for people and life alive with optimism and laughter. Look beyond the bad news – as Scarlett said “tomorrow is another day”.