70 Questions With Everest van der Zwan, Co-Creator of KidQuest: From the Art of Listening and Mount Everest to Backflips on Skis and What Adults Get Wrong About Kids

By Elham P.Mohammadi

I start the Zoom meeting and there they’re. Ariane de Bonvoisin is standing behind her son Everest van der Zwan, putting her hands on his shoulders in the most comforting and encouraging way, as if to say, “You’ve got this!”

Not that Everest isn’t strong enough. He’s named after the highest, mightiest mountain on Earth, and at eight years old, you can tell by his posture, attitude, and tone of voice that he’s head and shoulders above many children, and even adults, in terms of self-confidence. 

I know he made ME nervous.

Almost all of my interviews have been with adult professionals, and now I’m sitting in front of a kid almost 25 years younger than me trying to figure out how this works.

Ariane tells me they got back from vacation about an hour ago, so I ask Everest if he’s tired. And I realize immediately that it wasn’t a good question when he tells me he NEVER gets tired!

After his mother, an elite coach, leaves the room for an online coaching session, I ask Everest if he wants me to share my screen so he can see the 70 questions I want to ask him.  

But like a pro, he says, “Only if you want to,” and goes on to say that he’d rather not see them.

I know that I myself might have preferred to see the questions not only in advance, but also on the screen during the interview, to give “perfect” answers.

But not Everest.

He even asked me not to cut the interview short and said he was ready and willing to answer all the questions when I suggested that he could answer some of them in writing later.

And it should come as no surprise.

This boy LOVES to ask and answer questions. That’s exactly why he and his mother created KidQuest—a new, award-winning card game that helps kids get to know the adults in their lives by asking them fun, cool, but also important questions.

When I asked Everest one of my questions about how to give better answers, he said it’s a matter of practice.

And from his answers and delivery, I can see that practice does indeed make perfect. I was impressed by the insight he’s gained into different aspects of life at such a young age, and also by his tremendous sense of authenticity, which made me want to be a more authentic adult. 

I was also inspired by how Ariane and her husband Alfie—who was sitting next to Everest out of the camera’s view to help him if needed—let their son do everything on his own, in what I like to call an environment of “supervised freedom”.

You should have seen how graciously Everest, with the help of his father, handled a technical issue during our call that could’ve easily freaked out an adult. He also confidently and respectfully asked if he could complete the answer to my previous question, while I’d already moved on to the next question after the interruption.

What I saw in the frame of my screen was a “picture-perfect” display of trust, love, confidence, and joy, even if Everest did mess up his father’s hair a bit at the end of our hour-long interview—a heart-warming father-son moment I’m grateful to have witnessed. 

Everest van der Zwan with his parents Ariane de Bonvoisin (L) and Alfie (Photo: Supplied)

Kudos to Ariane and Alfie for instilling such beautiful thoughts, values, and perspectives in Everest, and kudos to Everest for being as special as his name. Just like Everest, he really stands tall, but, as his mother says, he “really is a pretty normal kid too most of the time.” 

And that’s the way it should be. Kids should be kids. 

Read on to find out what Everest has to say about KidQuest, life in Switzerland, Mount Everest, the art of listening, tips on giving better answers, how to express our love for others, the best money tip, what adults get wrong the most about kids, and, of course, his 18-month-old dog Waffle that makes him smile. Enjoy!

Everest van der Zwan (Photo: Supplied)

1- Everest, what’s KidQuest?

KidQuest is a fun game where kids get to learn more about the grown-ups in their lives.

2- How would you describe yourself?

Cool, funny, and curious.

3- What do you think about your unique name?

I like it. I think it suits me because I pursue my dreams, just like the people who climb Everest.

4- What similarities are there between you and Mount Everest?

I’m tall. I love doing things in the snow. And I love having fun in nature.

5- If you could choose a name other than Everest for yourself, what would it be? And why?

It would probably be “Extreme”. I think it’s quite a unique name, and I also love doing extreme things.

6- How tall would you like to be?

Around 190 or 195 centimeters.

7- How can we start asking better questions?

Play KidQuest! Also, have conversations you wouldn’t normally have. For example, instead of asking someone what their favorite color is, ask them, “When did you have so much fun that you exploded with laughter?”

8- The secret to giving good answers?

I think it’s practicing. And also doing your best to have fun.

9- Your favorite word?

Skiing.

10- What do you like most about KidQuest?

I love that it brings families and grown-ups and kids together.

11- Why should kids and parents buy and play KidQuest?

Because you’ll ask questions that you would not normally ask.

12- Why a game where children ask adults questions instead of children asking other children questions?

Because when kids ask other kids questions, it’s not really the same way. KidQuest mixes up the questions in a way that you wouldn’t normally do. Also, kids learn a lot more by asking adults questions than they do by asking other kids questions.

13- What was it like working with your mom?

It was a new fun experience for me, and I learned a lot.

14- The best thing you’ve learned from your mother?

Always be honest and be in the present moment.

15- And from your father?

Always explore and have fun.

Everest van der Zwan with his parents Alfie (L) and Ariane de Bonvoisin (Photo: Supplied)

16- Who in your family gives the most interesting answers?

My dad. He has funny stories.

17- Your father goes by the name “Alfie”. But his full name contains the word “Arie-jan” which is pronounced like your mother’s name, Ariane. That’s an interesting coincidence. How does it feel to have parents with almost the same name?

I think it’s quite cool, and it’s different.

18- The best feedback you’ve received about your game?

That it’s an amazing game and that families love to play it.

19- The top three things you like about yourself?

I love that I have lots of fun and play outside very often, especially biking. I love that I’m fun. And I also love that I can think of others and be honest.

20- The naughtiest question in KidQuest?

“What’s a really naughty thing you did at school?”

21- How can we become good listeners?

If you don’t think about something else, like yesterday or tomorrow or planning or dinner, and just really be in the present moment.

22- The game questions are divided into eight different categories (School, Home, Friends, Emotions, Work, Humor, Personality, and BigLife.) What does BigLife mean?

BigLife is mostly like the really big questions, such as: “When did you first experience death?” or “Did you want to get married?” or “Did you want to have kids?”.

KidQuest (Photo: Supplied)

23- Your mother is a coach. How would you describe her job?

She helps people with problems in business and in life.

24- If you could ask a famous person any question, who would it be? And what would you ask them? 

I’d ask the Queen of England, “What was the naughtiest trick you played on your parents?”

25- Do you prefer to live in Europe or in the United States? Why?

Probably in Europe because when we were living in New York, there wasn’t that much nature. 

26- The best thing about living in Switzerland?

You’re very close to animals, trees, and nature in general.

27- Three things your friends would say you’re really good at?

I think they’d say that I’m really good at just being myself and not trying to be someone else. That I’m good at sports. And that if I say something, I then do it.

28- If you could be a parent for a day, what rules would you have?

You can’t jump off the roof. You can’t eat too much sugar. You have to try to have fun. And you have to be honest.

29- What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen someone do lately?

I saw one of my friends, who is 13, do one of these really big jumps on a bike.

30- Your favorite question in KidQuest?

“Did you start a business as a kid?”

31- The last thing that made you smile?

Seeing my dog Waffle running in the water and being in the mountains.

Everest van der Zwan and his dog, Waffle (Photo: Supplied)

32- If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

To be able to talk to animals and understand them.

33- A movie you recommend kids watch with their parents?

Yes Day. It’s about a mom and dad who decide to let their children make the rules for 24 hours and they have to say yes to their requests.

34- What would you ask your parents to do if they gave you a “Yes Day”?

I’ve actually had a “Yes Day”. I went to a video game center. I had ice cream two times. I went to the beach. And I had pizza for dinner.

35- If you ever wrote a book for children, what would it be about and what would it be called?

“Pursue Your Dreams.” It’ll be about encouraging them to do whatever they want to do.

36- Did you know that some scientists estimate that Mount Everest is 50 to 60 million years old?

I didn’t know that.

37- Can you tell us a fun fact about Mount Everest?

The kids of the 36th British climber to climb Everest are studying at my school.

38- Shark Tank is my favorite TV show, which sometimes features kid entrepreneurs or kidpreneurs. Have you ever watched it?

No.

Cassidy Crowley and her mom, Lori, pitch The Baby Toon, their soft spoon for babies and toddlers, on Shark Tank (Photo source: Shark Tank Blog)

39- The best thing about being a kid?

Kids don’t need to worry about anything like how much something costs or about taxes. And they also get to do lots of stuff that they want.

40- The best thing about being an adult?

They make most of the decisions.

41- If I were to give a child a board game as a gift, what would you recommend?

The Game of Life.

42- Your favorite question to answer on KidQuest?

“What’s the best advice someone has given you about making money?”

43- Would you share that advice with us?

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” I heard that from my grandfather.

44- Your favorite question to ask an adult?

“What is the best advice someone gave you about living a happy life?”

45- Your role model?

Bear Grylls. He is an amazing explorer and survivor. He has a great TV series.

* Edward Michael “Bear” Grylls became one of the youngest climbers ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest, although he’d broken his back in three places in a parachuting accident in Africa.

Edward Michael “Bear” Grylls (Photo source: Wikipedia)

46- How would you describe your mother?

Fun, cool, and adventurous.

47- Your next idea?

We want to do a podcast with KidQuest. Maybe we’ll translate KidQuest into other languages or create another edition.

48- Your mother once climbed to the top of Kilimanjaro and accompanied a group of students to Antarctica. What adventures are on your bucket list?

I want to climb Everest and go to Antarctica.

49- If curiosity were a color, what would it be?

Yellow.

50- What’s your favorite color? And if it had a smell, what would it smell like?

I really like red. And if I were to make it smell, I’d make it smell like lemon.

51- What’s self-confidence?

Self-confidence is believing in yourself. It’s like, “I can. I can.” 

Everest van der Zwan (Photo: Supplied)

52- Something interesting you learned about your family while playing KidQuest?

Something that I didn’t know was that my grandfather and my mom were quite naughty at school. Oh and that I had a relative who survived the Titanic!

53- Your advice for kids who want to turn their ideas into a business?

Never give up. And that it will be hard.

54- You received many prototypes over several months before deciding on the current KidQuest design and packaging. Why did you choose the current version?

One of the prototypes was a tin. I said a kid would never buy something in a tin. Another one was like these big cards. I couldn’t even hold them. We decided on this design because the cards are smaller. It’s very portable. You can take it anywhere.

KidQuest (Photo: Supplied)

55- The most important lesson you learned while creating KidQuest?

Never give up because you can’t start something, get it halfway done, and think you will put it on Amazon.

56- What do you think about video games?

I have some, but I don’t play them so often. I think they melt your brain.

57- What makes you happy?

I really love biking, skiing, spending time with my family, and playing with my dog.

58- Something you’d like to learn next year? 

I want to learn to do a backflip on skis. Also, I want to learn Swahili because we plan to go to Kenya.

59- If we love someone, how can we show it?

Be present with them and spend time with them.

60- What do adults get wrong the most about kids?

Most parents don’t let their kids do everything they want to do. I mean, they don’t really let them pursue their dreams. I wish all parents knew that they can really trust their kids and still be amazing parents. 

61- An activity you like to do with your parents?

I enjoy playing board games or card games with them.

62- What makes a child “cool”?

Dreaming, doing what they love, and being true to themselves.

63- The most important skill parents should teach their children?

Let them know that they have big potential.

64- Do you think everyone needs a coach? Why?

I think it’s good to have a coach. Like in sports, if you have a coach, you get better at what you do.

65- A tip for designing a website?

I like websites where you can easily find things easily and that you should not make it too complicated. 

66- And what is the best thing about asking and answering questions?

It develops a skill you wouldn’t develop if you didn’t ask questions.

67- Your message to the children who’re afraid or shy to ask questions?

That they should really just ask questions and say the things that they want to say, and not hide.

68- A question you’d like to ask me?

“How is it like being a journalist?”

* My answer is that I got to meet interesting people and traveled to interesting destinations that I wouldn’t have met or visited if I weren’t a journalist.

69- A question you’d like the readers of this article to ask themselves?

“Is there something I really want to make or start??”

70- A question you’d like to be asked but wasn’t asked in this interview? And your answer?

“What’s it like to live in Switzerland?”

And my answer: It’s really beautiful. We literally live right on the mountain. It’s a small place, but it’s really nice! 

If you want to find out more about KidQuest or buy the game, visit here.

Author bio: Elham P.Mohammadi is a journalist and the founder of ElhamX Media.

 

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