Interview: Edite Amorim


Name: Edite Amorim

Where do you live: Porto, Portugal

Known for:
Trainer, speaker, storyteller, entrepreneur, writer, traveller, curious.

Working on Applied Positive Psychology, through workshops and talks about teamwork, positive leadership, creativity, among other things.

Being in a “drift-mode”, permanently travelling and looking for encounters and life experiences that can lead to meaningful life stories.

Using these travel experiences both at work and at writing.

Currently actual with:
Owner and Coordinator of THINKING-BIG, specialized in the co-design of tailored training projects for companies and education institutions, focused on Applied Positive Psychology themes and using group dynamics and storytelling.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this?
It has been a work-in-progress,a natural consequence of who I am: a mix of interests between body (Expression) and mind (Psychology) where Creativity has been the key.

Professionally speaking it started in 2004, as soon as I graduated. I had this clear idea of how to integrate the two passions mentioned above. So I invited a good friend of mine to be my partner, and we created a project together: Jogos de Corpo e Voz (Body and Voice at Play), that lasted for 7 years (till September 2011). With this project I found my way of working with these two areas and use creativity both as a tool and a goal to be promoted.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
Moving is quite easy for me. I think that the places I’ve been living have been depended basically on my needs in different life periods. I’ve called many places “home”, such as Barcelona (Spain), Limerick (Ireland), Malmö (Sweden) and now Porto (Portugal), my hometown. But I guess that, as long as there was a nice excuse to go and live anywhere else, I would do it. It would only have to be a place where I could walk to most of the places (walking is fundamental for me) and I could feel safe doing it.

Right now, Porto is a great living experience for me!

How would you describe your creativity?
“One idea every 3 seconds”; “collaboration with different people and fields”; “organized craziness”; “smooth restlessness”, “thinking big and feeling more”.

Usually, once I have an idea for a project, the final result already appears in my mind, in a way that I can already see its general final shape (physical or theoretical). After that, my process is to work on the needed steps to make it real, to make it happen.

I would say creativity for me it’s not properly a process, but a way of living my life: inventing days and ways.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
Since my first project, Jogos de Corpo e Voz, I realized that the mix of Psychology (the knowledge about Human behavior) and Expression (creative group dynamics through which people could interact) was a powerful combination.

At the beginning the project was focused on children, and my main concern was on the promotion of their well-being, enhancing the best in them, changing the usual “problem focus” into an “abundance focus”.

Eventually, in 2010, I realized that this approach from Psychology actually had a name – Positive Psychology – and I started applying its knowledge into different contexts, still using my own dynamic and creative way.

I started working with companies and Educational institutions, taking theory into practice. That was the creation of THINKING-BIG, my own brand, in 2011.

Each project was showing amazing results. Companies were really satisfied with this approach. We were working on how they could improve their leadership skills, the atmosphere in their teams, the ability of their departments to question the obvious and start creating differently. The engaging atmosphere in the groups and the fact that “serious themes” were being developed in such a personalized way made the word slowly spread.

I have started working with very different contexts, from a small company in Lisbon wanting to align their vision, to an International company’s office in Moscow, developing their leadership skills based on strengths.

What do you do at the moment?
My professional life is currently divided in two parts:

70% of my time is dedicated to THINKING-BIG: managing it and working on the workshops and talks that I teach around the world, especially in Barcelona. The tasks are as diverse as meeting clients; co-designing the projects with them according to their needs; developing the projects and running the workshops.

I also work as a teacher for two Spanish Universities (Barcelona and Coruña), teaching the Creativity Master class for their Master’s students.

In 2015 I’ve developed an online course called “Creative thinking: opening perspective and thinking big” (a new challenge for me) that I now coordinate online, replying to students’ questions and updating information.

The other 30% of my time is dedicated to writing articles to online magazines (Fenther.Net, PANTA, LeCool Porto, among others), to my own writing projects and on my Medium account.

I write mostly about what happens on my drifts: encounters, learning from others, special places and the connection between those aspects and my area of expertise.

My life has also the “dance” department. Thought I don’t assume myself as a “dance teacher”, I have been facilitating Body Expression sessions, based on Contact Improvisation for some time. Dance, improvisation and free movement are a big part of my expressive path and it influences a lot the way I dynamically work with training groups.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Well, I guess I would above all recommend what I keep saying to myself every day while managing my own creative business: follow authenticity and coherence. Adapt and adjust, of course, but follow and keep your core creative sparkle and voice.

Besides that, I would say openness. Openness to collaborations, to learn from others, to share your work, your ideas and your doubts.

Persistence, ability to laugh about oneself and huge faith and hope, are also very useful tools for bad days. And bad days happen a lot, so these things will eventually come handy!

Tell us how it all started.
I think I was very lucky to have a clear idea about my wish or “mission” since the beginning. I just had to find the way of implementing it, of putting it into action. I have been working for 12 years already, following that initial sparkle, which means a lot to me.

Many things have changed along the way, but not the core of my work, that focus on creating a better world, on focusing on the best aspects inside ourselves, on the ability to go further, to find more, to be more. Feeling more, all the time.

At the beginning it was really hard and challenging because I was young and knew nothing about business, or the amount of resilience I would need for the process. But I have been learning immensely, and I’ve been enjoying so much the discovery of all those different worlds. Actually, all the different things I’ve done and learnt in my first project are now the basis for my current personal business.

The spark continues!

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
Working very often at coffices (cafe + offices), I mostly need a good Wi-Fi connection, a place with good warm light or direct sun, a wooden table and an infusion. I always use paper, so my journal, some colorful post-its and a black pen are also mandatory.

What is your favorite film?
I love documentaries that take me to different real lives. Wim Wenders’ work is a nice example about it. Recently, “The salt of the Earth” had a good impact on me, since it took me again to the importance of people. People are, indeed, the “salt of the Earth” and it is inspiring to see how, despite all the terrible things that we are capable of, there is still a hidden and powerful hope among us.

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
A very powerful heartless person. I’ve always been very curious to understand these kind of people, so maybe over a nice dinner I could learn more about it. And maybe give him/her a nice dessert, to sooth his/her heart.

How do you like to spoil yourself?
Getting the nicest paper items (travel journals, postcard collections, special paper for letters). Traveling to visit my important people.

What is luxury for you?
Having a big empty studio, with wooden floor and cozy lights in which I can dance, dance, dance.

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
A Brazilian good friend and colleague of mine who told me once: “You are good at panning for good people.”

What do you fear most?
Losing my physical health or anything that would mean cutting my wings to fly freely around.

What is a happy life to you?
A life in which I can improvise most of my days, in which I have quality time for my people, and where I can freely explore pieces of the world about which I am curious.

(And if I can dance, read, color books and walk for hours it would also be nice).

What does a regular day look like for you?
I wake up early, I have some time for my body (stretching, Yoga), I have a good breakfast with porridge and fruit while reading and then I go out for a coffee, where I already start to work. No matter which country or weather outside, these are the usual common things in my days.

Then, it depends: meeting with clients; a plane trip; a morning of trainings or conferences; a day spent at the computer organizing information, systematizing readings, contacting people, or writing.

In the process I have to find time for balanced meals, a long walk around (urban walks are common in my days), and writing a postcard or a letter to a friend, where I relax and connect.

Encounters – may them be professional or personal – usually have priority on my personal schedule.

Reading and writing usually close my days.

Tell us about your dream project.
Traveling/drifting around the world for a year following spontaneous encounters, allowing time and space for each one. Focusing on each encounter’s way of showing the strong and beautiful power of humankind and registering all that through writing. Focusing, for each encounter, on the beauty of what still makes us humans, reinforcing hope.

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
I cannot say I have one specific role model… Different people in different aspects have been inspiring me.

My Argentinian teacher and friend Ruben Segal has had an important influence on the way I perceive and develop my work with groups; some of my friends who have their own businesses inspire me with their way of managing and developing them; some researchers on areas that are difficult to seem “researchable” (such as Brené Brown on Vulnerability, Barbara Fredrickson on Love, Helena Marujo and Luis Miguel Neto on Positive Nations) inspire me to keep working as a practioner in these areas…

These are some of them.

How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?
Practitioner and passion-follower.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
Paper to write (a notebook, post-its and postcards) and music.

What inspires you?
Anything. Mostly people, random people. A movement, a colorful door, a familiar smell, a cozy café, a nicely written text, a powerful photography…

When I am specifically looking for inspiration I usually use two specific things: music and powerful images (both artistic photography and photojournalism make my mind fly higher).

Some books that have changed/made the most impression in your life?
Steinbeck’s “The grapes of wrath” for its wonderful focus on Humanity.

Pina Bausch’s biography, for her approach to the Creative process based on “feeling more”.

Flow”, by M. Csikszentmihalyi, for bringing scientific basis to a life that’s worth living.

Nobility of Spirit: A Forgotten Ideal”, by Rob Riemen for its powerful approach on the theme that gives the name to the book.

“The other”, by Ryszard Kapuściński, for its simple and direct approach to the importance of the others in our individual and collective path.

And finally I would list any book from two Portuguese authors; José Saramago and Tolentino de Mendonça, who have opened doors to broader perspectives over life.

Connect with Edite via LinkedIn and Facebook
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