Changing the Rules

Episode 62: Stepping into the Unknown, Three Times!, Clemence Scouten, guest

Episode Summary

At age 10, Clemence Scouten's parents moved the family to France, where she had to adapt to the French school system with all its "foreign" rules. After graduating college in the US, she returned to France to garner a graduate degree at the Sorbonne. Clemence returned to the States and took a "temporary" job in the auto insurance industry, another step into unknown territory. This career lasted more than ten years when Clemence decided once again to up-end her life and enter the world of philanthropy. For several years she learned the ins and outs of "giving money away" and during that time evolved her duties to include managing and archiving family documents for the foundation owners. Her third leap into the void was to turn her expertise and talents into helping clients manage their archives and write their memoirs. Learn more about these courageous career changes on this podcast. Learn more about the Luckiest People in the World at

Episode Notes

For more info visit:

Reach Clemence Scouten at:


Unknown Speaker  0:02  

This is Changing the Rules. A podcast about designing the life you want to live, hosted by KC Dempster and Ray Loewe, the luckiest guy in the world.

KC Dempster  0:13  

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Changing the Rules. I'm KC Dempster, and I'm here with my co host Ray Loewe. In the wonderful Wildfire Podcast studios in beautiful downtown Woodbury, New Jersey. And Spring has sprung, the trees are starting to bloom. And since I'm not somebody that suffers with allergies, I can enjoy it to the fullest. Good morning, Ray,

Ray Loewe  0:36  

a spring has sprung. Yeah, I remember a poem

KC Dempster  0:40  

I knew you were gonna say,

Ray Loewe  0:41  

spring has sprung, the grasses is riz. I wonder where the birdies is? So with that, how are you gonna recover from that one?

KC Dempster  0:50  

Well, I've heard it so many times. You didn't set me back with it.

Ray Loewe  0:54  

Okay, so we have with us today, one of the luckiest people in the world. And, and it's interesting, you know, we're getting a pattern here. And and we know that the luckiest people in the world are those people who kind of reinvent their lives, who who sit down, they personally decide what it is they want to do. They lay it out for themselves. And then they step into it, and they live life the way they want to live. And there are some patterns that come up in terms of the kind of people that are likely to do this. I mean, it's available to everybody. Sure. But but but some of it, you know, just kind of works its way into our lives. But you have to be willing at some point in time to change the rules.

KC Dempster  1:38  

That's correct. And that's why we call this Changing the Rules.

Ray Loewe  1:40  

Yeah. And the problem with changing the rules is you actually have to change. That's correct. Yes. So we have a young lady today, her name is I'm going to I'm going to worry about this Clemence. Scouten Perfect. Perfect. Okay. Perfect. And and that's because I had lessons on this. Okay. And I Clemence is really as an interesting background. Yes. Okay. Yes. And she is Philadelphia based. And she writes memoirs for people.

KC Dempster  2:16  

But there's so much more going on than that.

Ray Loewe  2:18  

Oh, it's incredible. It's a you know, the it's it's memoirs, but it's archiving documents. It's all kinds of things. So, so Clemence Welcome to Changing the Rules, and say hi, everybody

Clemence Scouten  2:30  

Hi, good morning. Thank you for having me. It's so exciting to be here with you guys.

Ray Loewe  2:34  

Okay, so So let's go back into history. And and the reason I want to do that is your background is so incredibly interesting. And I think there's some some things that we need to learn as to how your journey evolved into where you are now. So you were born in the US, is that correct?

Clemence Scouten  2:58  

That's right, right here in Philadelphia,

Ray Loewe  3:00  

and here in Philadelphia, and then you became a foreign nationalist in a way.

Clemence Scouten  3:06  

I didn't give up my citizenship.

Ray Loewe  3:13  

You left us right. And you move to where?

Clemence Scouten  3:18  

Well, my, my family moved to the suburbs of Paris.

KC Dempster  3:24  

I'm so envious.

Clemence Scouten  3:27  

So we had our very own castle in my little town.

KC Dempster  3:30  

Oh, how wonderful.

Ray Loewe  3:31  

So so Okay, so here you are, you spent the first 20 years of your life here. And then you're kind of moved to a different country. And tell us a little bit about the experience of growing up overseas.

Clemence Scouten  3:45  

Sure. So it was very different than here. I mean, talk about change, right? I was in a little lovey dovey, everybody gets hugged and as a sweetie pie, elementary school, and you know, in bluebell, and lovely, happy little place, and we move to France into the and I put in the French school system. And the French school system is very different than the American school system. You march in to buy to use it when you're told to sit if an adult enters the classroom, you stand up without being told, right? These are all things that happen automatically. I didn't know any of those rules and was kind of the only kid sitting when an adult stood in the room thinking why is everybody standing up? Yeah. And so it was a big, big, big difference for me. And for my parents too, but my mom was French she got it. My dad was American. So lots of change early on in the life.

Ray Loewe  4:44  

Okay, so what do you consider your primary language or at least back then what did you consider your primary language was?

Clemence Scouten  4:52  

English has always been dominant, though. During my high school years, you really think you're perfectly I was perfectly bilingual. I still am perfectly bilingual. But it my French has taken a hit now that I don't speak French anymore.

Ray Loewe  5:06  

So you grew up overseas and then you came back to the US. You went to college here.

Clemence Scouten  5:11  

Correct here in my hometown.

Ray Loewe  5:14  

Yeah. And and Philadelphia, you went to Penn, right? Yeah. Yeah. And then actually, you went back to Paris.

Clemence Scouten  5:23  

I did. My father died a few weeks before I graduated from college. And I felt it was important to spend some time back home with my mom. I didn't actually go to graduate school for the sake of going to graduate school. It's kind of something I did while I was back home. And which is a huge benefit of the French school system, of course, that you can just register for classes and you're in basically, wow. Yeah.

Ray Loewe  5:46  

Okay, cool.

KC Dempster  5:47  

I always wondered what I, you know, we didn't really go into that. I didn't know how you got back to the Sorbonne. So that's

Ray Loewe  5:55  

okay. So now, now we get to the heart of the matter. You came, you came back to of all places, Boston, right? Yeah. Yes. And you went into the car insurance business?

KC Dempster  6:09  

Is that bizarre or what?

Clemence Scouten  6:12  

wasn't meant to be my career? I mean, who do you know, that actually grows up to say, you know, I've always wanted to work in car insurance. Well, no, I have a lot of friends like that.

KC Dempster  6:22  

Well, I have two cousins. But that's because their father had his own brokerage firm. So they went to an insurance college.

Clemence Scouten  6:28  

Oh, interesting. Yeah. But only business. Yeah.

Ray Loewe  6:32  

But part of this. Now this, this was actually a key point in your life. Because I think you told me that you spent 17 years in the car business and you hated most of it is that

Clemence Scouten  6:42  

well, so I was meant to be the job to pay the rent, why I found a real job. And I stayed there for 15 years, and I didn't hate all of it, I will say it was a great place to learn and grow. It was a young entrepreneurial company, I was young and love to learn. And so for a long time, it was a very good fit. It just, you know, I don't care about car insurance. So at some point, you really say to yourself, why am I devoting my, you know, all the talents and energy I have to something I really don't care about? Hmm, okay, so

Ray Loewe  7:12  

now, now enter the next phase of your life, because this kind of just took you in, in a direction that you capitalized on, just put it that way, I'm not sure it was the right direction, initially, but you made it the right direction. So So what happened, you kind of migrated out of being in marketing and the car insurance and you started working for the owner of the company in a different way?

Clemence Scouten  7:37  

That's right. And this is, you know, when I hear you talk about taking control of kind of the events of your life, and you know, make it making change happen, as opposed to being the subject of change that others are imposing on you. This is where it really resonates. Because So by now, my mother dies, and I'm not interested in car insurance. And I'm thinking, Well, you know, and I turned 40. And, you know, all the I don't live in Philadelphia, which is, as far as I'm concerned, the greatest city in the nation and where I want to be. And so, you know, I had to, I felt I had a choice to make, like, was I gonna keep plugging along and in, in this industry of insurance, or do something that excited me, and that made me feel like I actually was a lucky person? And the answer was, yes. And so I, I quit my job. I emailed the founder of the company, who I knew because, you know, had been a small company wants now it's quite large. And he said, wait, wait, wait, don't go, I have a better idea. You're going to come and work in philanthropy with me and run my corporate foundation here at the company, but also my personal family foundation. So huge pivot, got very lucky, but I think that luck was due to me taking a huge risk. Absolutely,

KC Dempster  8:52  

absolutely. And I think that's where people stumble, is that that that first step into the unknown is terrifying. Oh, yes.

Ray Loewe  8:59  

Yeah. And we're gonna get into what you actually do now, which is where you wound up, but I really think for the sake of our listeners, you know, we're all in this kind of a situation in life where we find ourselves often in places we don't want to be. And I think there was a Gallup poll out not too long ago that said something like 80% of people hate their stupid jobs. Now, I'm not sure that they really hate their stupid jobs, but I think they don't like them. Okay. Right. And and, and they they feel stuck because like you said it was a paycheck. So here you are, you've kind of you know, work your way into something. So So tell us a little bit about the foundation experience that you had and how it helped you to go into your next phase?

KC Dempster  9:45  

Right, because I think you even controlled that, did you Not?

Clemence Scouten  9:50  

A little bit. Yes. Let me just say one more thing before we move on because I think your listeners might find it interesting when I when I did this when I quit the job and I told everybody in the company, which by I'd been there for a dozen years already. so i knew a lot of people about a lot of people came up to me and about half of them said oh my gosh i'm so envious i could never do what you've done because i'm terrified and then the other half came up to me and said you're nuts you are absolutely nuts this is gonna fail you're gonna fail

KC Dempster  10:19  

yeah yeah those are the people to steer clear of

Clemence Scouten  10:23  

yeah i understood what they were saying i was afraid of failing to write i mean that's that's the terror that you just mentioned how terrifying it is right right you know it's so anyway so yeah so so now i'm in philanthropy and this was another you know thing i was grateful for it was a hugely humbling experience i had never been in a school that you have to walk through a metal detector to get in i had never spent time in a housing project and your eyes are really opened or at least mine were to to what you knew intellectually had been a nice life but you don't really understand the disparity until you actually see living conditions for people who have lives not as comfortable as yours

Ray Loewe  11:03  

so your job was to give away money basically and but yes but to do it to people that were underprivileged to people who didn't have what we were fortunate enough to have they didn't grow up in paris

Clemence Scouten  11:16  

right although i will say we moved to france for financial reasons but the the yes the foundation and the owner Jim and Kathy focus a lot on education so i spent a lot of time in schools and with principals and teachers thinking about how to try and help kids you know do better in school by you know various programs and projects and so on

Ray Loewe  11:42  

okay so at some point in time you severed your your relationships with the foundation and started your own business

Clemence Scouten  11:51  

yes well so there you go again this this having jumped off the cliff and having someone catch me with this wonderful opportunity made me realize that jumping off cliffs actually is something you need to do relatively often so i did it again i spent three years three wonderful years working in this foundation stuff but still i wasn't in Philadelphia which is my dream my dream was to come back to philadelphia and so one of the things i had discovered in this job was that people people keep a lot of archives and personal documents and records which i think we all know that intuitively that we all have archives and documents but that there might be an opportunity as a job as a business to help people organize those and save those properly and also transform them into books and other media that would be enjoyable for future generations and so that's what i decided to do

KC Dempster  12:49  

but you started doing that with Jim and Kathy correct

Clemence Scouten  12:52  

i did it yep i started doing with Jim and Kathy these these philanthropists and that's what opened my eyes to that it could be a business

KC Dempster  13:01  

right because you mentioned that we all have archives i think that if you were to say that to most people they would look at you like you're crazy because to me that that implies that it's organized i would say we all have we all have documents and we all have photographs but they're not necessarily archives yet

Ray Loewe  13:20  

it's called it's called stuff

KC Dempster  13:23  

stuff yes yes the

Clemence Scouten  13:25  

opportunity to have archives yeah

KC Dempster  13:27  

right yes

Ray Loewe  13:28  

okay so so here you are now you're back in philly okay with no paycheck right

Clemence Scouten  13:34  

that's right

Ray Loewe  13:35  

okay so tell us went through your what went through your head and kind of what came first you know that that was pivotal in making happen where we're eventually going here

Clemence Scouten  13:48  

well i mean i i'm not sure how to answer that it was it was an idea that i had that i knew that this you know there was a demand for this type of services i didn't understand that there are other people already do this i mean i knew that like if you're a Rockefeller or something you have several archivists who work for you because your papers are so extensive but i didn't know that an everyday person would hire someone to write their memoir or to create a family history book for them based on their family stories and so i i you know did that for a friend's dad i helped him write his memoirs as an experiment and once having done that i thought okay well actually this is going to be terrific this is this is let's go this is a business let's find more clients

Ray Loewe  14:35  

okay so let's let's go back now and to all the objections you get from people when you say to them let me write your memoirs or let's write your memoirs i mean how many people actually sit down and say i want to write my memoirs

Clemence Scouten  14:52  

well i think a lot of people think it secretly and then there are a couple concepts that derail them and one of them is and they're all unfortunate because they're none of them are really legitimate. They're just irrational fears. So people think oftentimes that it's it's narcissistic, that it's a total ego trip to write your memoirs. And therefore, it's not worth doing because you're going to be thought of as a, you know, as a belly button worshiper.

Ray Loewe  15:25  

Okay, that's an interesting term. We're gonna we're gonna

KC Dempster  15:27  

I need to I need to think on that.

Ray Loewe  15:31  

Okay, so the ego ship and and you have a blog on your website, that's three myths sabotage her legacy, and that's right. And that was one of them. Do you remember the other two? Or do you need proper?

Clemence Scouten  15:44  

Good homework? Right? The others are very close, closely connected. A lot of people feel that their life isn't that interesting? Oh, I haven't. I haven't done anything special. I didn't invent anything. I didn't cure cancer. And therefore it my life isn't worth recording. And and I say no, that's absolutely incorrect. And if you think about it, in terms of one of your ancestors, so for instance, would you like to read 50 or 100 pages that your grandfather wrote, or your great grandfather wrote, even if that person had not done anything, as so described as interesting, of course, you'd like to read that document? Actually, it would be a treasured family heirloom. So why is that not the case? For you? It is in fact,

Ray Loewe  16:28  

yeah, I really think that that's the issue at heart. If you go back and you ask yourself the question, would I like to know more about my grandparents, or my great parent parents? And and I think mine were all horse thieves. But, but, but but they were interesting horse thieves?

KC Dempster  16:44  

Well, sure. What's more interesting than that? Yeah.

Ray Loewe  16:46  

And, and so the idea is that if you can go back and ask that question to yourself and say, Do I want to know more about a relative that I had in the past or all my relatives? Then why shouldn't you leave that legacy for your kids and your grandchildren?

Clemence Scouten  17:06  

Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, they're gonna, these your kids love you. And therefore, they're going to love what you write. I mean, it's that simple.

Ray Loewe  17:17  

Yeah. And and maybe they're not interested today.

KC Dempster  17:20  

Right. Right. That's right.

Ray Loewe  17:22  

But I think they're interested in, you know, I was talking to somebody else A while ago. And I remember the comment coming up, coming up that she wrote a book about her father. And one day she walked in to tuck one of her kids in, and I think the kid was 10 or 11 years old, and found him reading the book about his grandparents. Wow. And, you know, that's kind of an eye opening moment that, you know, people are interested, but they can't be interested if you don't provide them with the material. And so this is what you do, or part of what you do now, is that correct?

Clemence Scouten  17:55  

Yeah, it's the, it's the core of what I do this, this idea of helping someone or a family, identify the stories, the traditions, the values, you know, all these intangibles. You know, collect those, identify those, and then put them down on paper and a beautiful book that you're going to be proud to hand to your kids and grandkids and that they will treasure and cherish for the rest of their lives. I mean, you're right, the 16 year old may or may not be interested in family history. I mean, you know, 16 year olds care about themselves, just totally normal,

KC Dempster  18:30  

and only themselves,

Clemence Scouten  18:31  

and only themselves. But when they get older, when they have their own kid, when they become a grandparent, you bet they're going to be happy. They have that book.

KC Dempster  18:39  

Right, right. I mean, I'm sitting here thinking stories about one of my grandmother's that, you know, we as children, heard because, you know, my mother would tell these stories about her mother, but I'm thinking my kids probably haven't heard these stories. So I'm probably gonna have to do some jotting.

Clemence Scouten  18:57  

You should. And it's so easy. I mean, of course, I would love it if people hired me. But there are so many things that you can do on your own. I mean, just hit record on your phone, a story comes to mind hit record on your phone, it just keep a little notebook and say, Oh, the story about when Tommy fell out of the tree and broke his arm. Or, you know, you look at your old photo albums, and you say, Oh my gosh, that's Grandma, so and so. And she did X, Y, and Z and just take notes. And then it's much easier to like, get your thoughts in order because you're starting from a list.

Ray Loewe  19:27  

Yeah. Yeah. You know, one of the things that you have on your website, by the way, is a free memoir writing worksheet. Yes. Okay. So So, you know, that's probably a great place to start. If you don't know what you're doing yet. You don't know what you want to do yet. Go there. So tell us a little bit about what's in that worksheet and, and how you get people to start thinking about this kind of a project and then how it can evolve it to a self completed project or sometimes when people know they need you.

Clemence Scouten  20:00  

Sure, you know, writing your memoir is actually a lot of work. And I think people get discouraged because it's, you know, it just feels like an insurmountable project, right? We don't very few people go to school and take a class on memoir writing. And so with big projects, any big project in my view, and this applies for archiving and other family projects, break it down into small pieces. So, you know, start small, spend, you know, devote a couple hours to writing a story about your childhood or talking about, you know, what it was like going to school back in the day or learning to ride a bike or your first car? Your first car is a great one, it's easy to talk about your first car, What color was it what model was it? Was it new? Was it used? Who taught you to drive it? Was it a standard or an automatic, you know, there's so many descriptors, and just talking about something like that, that give a snapshot of a point in time, that doesn't exist anymore. And just to finish my thought, the just starting with a tiny little story, like that is a great way to gauge whether or not you have the appetite for, you know, writing 100 more pages.

Ray Loewe  21:14  

Well, and stories, you know, there's nothing better than a story well told, okay. And we and we all have them, it's sometimes you have to think a little bit about them. And, and I love your analogy about start small. I remember somebody asked me once upon a time, how do you eat an elephant? And the answer is I don't eat elephants.

KC Dempster  21:35  

The true answer is one bite at a time

Ray Loewe  21:37  

one bite the time so.So. Okay, we're unfortunately near the end of our time here. But

KC Dempster  21:44  

I wanted, I want to jump in and ask Clemence to give us her website so that people can access this wonderful material.

Clemence Scouten  21:52  

Thank you for asking. So the name of the business is memoirs, and more. And the website is memoirs and more calm.

KC Dempster  21:59  

Oh, that's easy.

Ray Loewe  22:00  

Okay. And more is the important part,

Clemence Scouten  22:03  

right? Sure. That's right. Because memoirs is one part of your, you know, your story. But you can do a family history book, too. We mean, you all these photographs, and these birth certificates, and these ship manifests and all the objects, we have all that stuff, scan it, photograph it, let's make a book and include that with the stories that makes you know, any photo makes the story better.

Ray Loewe  22:25  

And, you know, I think the thing that really hit home with me here is that, you know, if you go back and you ask yourself the question, do I wish I knew more about my parents and grandparents and great grandparents? And if the answer to that is yes, then you need to write your memoir somewhere along the way. And whether you do it yourself, whether you make it into a large project, whatever it is. So, again, we're nearing the end of our time. So Clemence, what, what other comments Do you need to make before we sign off?

Clemence Scouten  22:57  

Well, I just say you touched on something about telling a great story. That is actually one of the reasons people freeze up and are afraid to write because they feel they're not good writers or they're gonna make mistakes. And you know, the fear of the red pen is like, absolutely real. But don't be too hard on yourself. No, you know, we're not getting you on the New York Times bestseller list here. That's not what this is about. It's, people are gonna love it because they love you, you know, they're gonna hear your voice. I mean, it's an act of love. It's a gift of love to write these things. And so that's what you should keep in mind.

KC Dempster  23:28  

I think that really, that kind of sums it up.

Ray Loewe  23:31  

It sums it up. So Memoirs and More. Okay. Clemence, right. We have to pronounce your name right if we're going to work with you, right. And, and, yeah, sit down and think about what you don't know about your relatives and what your kids ought to know about you. Right? You got it. Great. So thanks for joining us today and KC why don't you sign us off and take us to next week.

KC Dempster  23:59  

Yes, next week we are going to be talking with and the timings perfect because it's spring, Mother Nature. So tune in because this is going to be amazing.

Thank you for listening to Changing the Rules, a podcast designed to help you live your life the way you want and give you what you need to make it happen. Join us next week for our next exciting topic on changing the rules with KC Dempster and Ray Loewe, the luckiest guy in the world.