Mon amie Garance et moi-même avons eu l’idée de faire une expérience: Elle écrit un poème, et je le commente. Voici donc le premier résultat! Dites-nous ce que vous en pensez!
As 2018 is starting, I wanted to take this opportunity to write a quick retrospective of the year that just happened, going through the highlights and the lessons learned. I hope you can benefit from it.
I wish you all a happy new year!
The year started super messy. I was in charge of an important project at BestMile, and I faced several challenges I wasn’t used to: high stakes, ever-changing requirements, critical colleagues leaving, all at the same time. Altogether it wend kind of OK, but with a lot of sweat. I took this opportunity to work with Adrien Dalang, a personal coach, to help me structure my work, priorities, relationships and overall energy. I learned how useful it is to plan every day the day before. How to improve efficiency in chaotic environments by protecting important time periods, applying techniques to reduce and postpone context-switching to appropriate moments.
I participated in the recruitment of fantastic profiles that joined our company during this year. People that I simply enjoy working with. But I also had friends in the company that I saw leaving. The “problem” with great colleagues is that they also make great friends, and then, it’s hard to see them leaving. I saw that in an environment where colleagues are also friends, collaboration is fostered, but the system is more fragile: one single colleague feeling bad can have a much significant influence on the rest of the team than if colleagues kept a professional distance. There is no judgement here. I think we just need to be aware of that.
In terms of roles, I started the year as product manager, but after six months I moved back to a developer position. I felt the need to keep on programming some more. I wanted to keep on improving my hard skills. Thanks to a great team and a supportive management, the transition happened fast and well. The lesson I learned here: do not underestimate the time it takes to strengthen your technical foundations, and even if you feel that management is the direction for you, then make sure you’re not leapfrogging stages.
Lately, I wanted to have more interaction with the outside world, and got some responsibilities in partners support and integration. I started working with people working in different time zones, with different backgrounds, and especially, different goals. I learned about negotiating win-win objectives with partners, and got a glimpse into the “political” strategies behind apparently innocent moves. Lesson learned: everyone has its own agenda, and not everyone cares about win-win solutions. It’s always your job to make that happen for sustainable relationships, especially if the partner doesn’t want. Sometimes it’s simpler, because the partner cares, but sometimes it’s harder.
In love relationships
There is a lot I could say here, as this year has been pretty intense. But I’ll summarize it in two lessons, which may sound silly, but that were pretty
fun interesting to experience:
1) The more girlfriends you have, the more break-ups you’re going to have to go through. It’s plain maths. However, it’s been a hell of a ride and I would definitely not change anything. I learned a lot.
2) If you are in an open relationship, there is a significant likelihood that either:
– Your partner(s)
– Your partners’ partners
… will face terrible jealousy. And if only one of these person is not ready for it, it’s going to be a mess for everyone. I’ve gone through this twice this year. And it wasn’t fun at all. I didn’t learn much, and it was mostly just… frustrating and painful.
In my spiritual life
On the 31st of December 2017, I had a very special meditation. Not because of what I experienced, but because it was my 365th consecutive day of meditation. And with that, I achieved my new year resolution for 2017 to meditate one hour every day, kept my commitment 100% steady, and succeeded with the promise I made to myself.
I did that in order to establish strong foundations for my practice, and I can really feel that I have reached that. Meditating one hour every morning has become simple and effortless. Even better, I now feel the desire to meditate in the evening, and I am happy when I have an opportunity to meditate more than once during the day. A year ago, it was not like that.
However, keeping this commitment wasn’t easy at all. I had to meditate in crowded trains, while being sick in bed, or waking up an hour earlier before everyone else while trekking after an exhausting day. I almost failed one day, and I learnt a precious lesson at the same time: funnily, this happened on a totally normal Saturday. I was at home, I wasn’t sick, wasn’t busy, and I was alone. I woke up and didn’t have much to do during the day. As I was a bit sleepy and hungry for breakfast, I thought about postponing the meditation to some later time during the day. But then, as I was having breakfast, a friend called and suggested an activity. “Ok, I’ll meditate after”. The day went on, and finally, when I went to bed at 11PM, super tired and ready to sleep, I just remembered that I forgot to meditate this day. And I really, really didn’t want to meditate at that moment. I just wanted to sleep. I realized how much the routine and regularity protect the practice. How chaotic is the day, compared to the first moments that follow the wake up. How difficult it is to find the energy to fight against your habits when you’re tired at the end of the day. If you want to do something regularly everyday, do it in the morning, and don’t postpone, unless you’re ready to take the risk to forget or skip your duty.
I’m stopping here. I could have gone in much more details into any of the above-mentioned topics. I could have written about my experiences with polyamory and open relationships, my zero-alcohol-consumption challenge, all the CouchSurfers I’ve hosted, learning how to play accordion, my 8-days volunteering in a Vipassana meditation centre, or even my opinion on the future of autonomous mobility…
Is there something you want me to write about?
Check out my 7th Toastmasters Speech video! In this speech I explain how to change bad habits into positive habits. It’s inspired from a chapter of the book 2H Chrono pour mieux m’organiser (2 Hours to better organize myself) written by my friend Julien Gueniat, author of Organisologie.com specialized in self-organization.
I am glad to present you my recent Toastmasters International speech! It was my 5th speech focused on body language. In this speech, I share with you some suggestions on what to do when you’re lost in your life by telling you the story of a young boy you may have known. Huge thanks to Adrien Dalang who helped me preparing it!
And you? What do you do when you’re lost?
Mid-January. Not a common time for a look back at the past year and the setting up of resolutions. I’m a bit late. Usually people do it in advance. Either they do it in late December or they don’t do it at all and postpone for the next year. I read today that 70% of those who took new year resolutions have already failed in keeping them by now. I decided to wait for the proper moment to do this. It makes no sense to take big decisions under pressure or frustration. Let’s not build our resolution based on our frustrations of the past year. So how will we plan and make the best use of 2017?
Focus on your visions.
I think that one can only achieve challenging goals if they are part of a clear, broader vision. How to keep the motivation running without purpose? That’s why we need visions. We need long-term projections of our inner and environmental states that are exciting and have a true meaning.
Doing sport twice a week, or sleeping 8 hours per night is not a vision, it’s a mean. It’s a tool. Being healthy and energized your entire life to spread love is a vision. It describes a state that has a meaning. When you picture your own visions, you should have the feeling that it makes complete sense to you. That it is in line with your core values. When that happens, you start benefiting from an everlasting source of energy that will help you in taking continuous action.
But don’t set a vision for 2017. It’s too late and makes no sense. You would be running after the time and you will start with nothing but frustration and dissatisfaction to fuel your resolution, and this is not the way you want to live.
Set a vision for 2018 and see what you need to do in 2017 to reach that state.
Your visions are your goals. Your actions are your means to reach those goals.
What did I plan for myself?
Let me share with you my own visions for 2018.
In one year, I want to be completely anchored in my spiritual practice. I want to have solid foundations for deepening the understanding of my inner truth and leveraging my ability to spread joy and love around myself for the years to come.
For this reason, during the entire year of 2017, I will meditate 1 hour every single morning, with no exception.
For this reason, during the entire year of 2017, I will abstain totally from all intoxicants, with no exception.
In one year, I want to feel both energized and stable to start a new exploratory process with regards to the next big moves I should consider to reach my long-term goals.
For this reason, during the entire year of 2017, I will focus on establishing and maintaining sleeping, eating, and physical activity routines that fit and protect me.
Don’t try. Be realistic, and commit to your decisions.
As you can see, 2017 will be a year of establishment and stabilization for me. Some of my resolutions look challenging, but I know I will be able to keep them. I am not going to try. I commit to my decisions. I refuse to fail, and I know I won’t. I believe it is important to feel confident in your ability to reach your goals. I could not have set such goals a year ago. It took me years to find which spiritual practice I wanted to deepen. It took me years to strengthen my will to support my regular practice on longer periods. Years to understand that committing to 98% is worse and harder than 100%.
Now, I invite you to take the time to think about your visions for the years to come. Forget about the means to achieve your visions for now. Don’t let that constrain you in any way. Once you identified one of your vision, the necessary short and long-term actions will follow. And if you are already in action, make sure you know why you are doing what you do.
May 2017 bring the most beautiful changes in our lives.
Let the future begin!
Last week I wrote and presented my 4th speech from my Toastmasters Competent Communicator exercise book during our local club meeting. I recorded it and was quite satisfied with the result, so I decided to share it with you. I would appreciate your feedback! The speech’s transcript is available below.
A couple of years ago, I read a book that changed my life. In 2012, Nicholas Nassim Taleb published Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder. In his book, the Lebanese-American author redefines the opposite of fragility. Let me introduce you to antifragility.
What is antifragility?
Some things benefit from shocks. They thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness and disorder. This is antifragility. It is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.
To dig further into this concept, let’s first define fragility. Fragility is the quality of being easily broken or damaged. Spaghettis are fragile. Trust is fragile: a single lie can break it.
The income of a small ski resort is also fragile. It depends on the weather and the amount of snow.
Antifragility is the exact opposite. Yet, it is not robustness nor solidity. Not the ability to resist failure.
A wooden chopstick is solid, but not antifragile. It resists shocks or stress, but up to a certain point. Then it breaks. Multiple shocks do not make it stronger.
Antifragility is not resilience either. It is not adaptability, or the ability to recover from failure.
Friendships can be resilient. Someone hurts you. You forgive and feel good together again. Resilience.
The income of a computer scientist is also resilient. If I lose my job, I can easily find another one. But not necessarily with a higher salary. The shock does not make me better.
Antifragility is the quality of improving when exposed to volatility, randomness or disorder. Things that are antifragile love adventure, risk and uncertainty.
Consider a glowing stick you find at parties. If you must picture antifragility, remember this kind of stick. At first, it is nothing but a pale piece of plastic. But if you try to break it, bend it in all possible directions, shake it… not only does the stick recover and returns to its initial position, but it will become colorful and start glowing. It becomes a better stick.
Some ancient kings and emperors used to ingest small doses of poison to develop immunity.
A man looking for a girlfriend starts proposing to random attractive women to go out on a date. He is applying an antifragile strategy. Why? Because he strengthens his ability to accept rejection. At the same time, he opens the possibility of meeting his soulmate by accident.
How to become antifragile?
Balance your life with some reliable and safe strategies on one side, and risky or uncertain strategies with potentially huge benefits on the other. They may most likely fail, but the safe side will protect you.
You can have a stable job during the day, and write a book or develop a small business idea during your spare time. Who knows what could happen?
J.K. Rowling was working as a researcher and secretary when she wrote the first Harry Potter. Mark Zuckerberg developed Facebook while studying.
When playing with antifragility, expect the unexpected. Expect to be surprised. Leave space to randomness and disorder, so that amazing things can happen. Stop trying to control everything. Get shaken, and start glowing.
This post is going to be short. Just keeping you posted about the things that happened recently or that are about to happen:
My new job at BestMile started last week, it’s really nice, I have a great colleague spending plenty of time teaching me all he knows about everything before he leaves the company and I already learn a lot.
I have two ongoing freelance contracts + the final presentation of my entrepreneurship course that I have to finish by the end of the month. It sounds a bit weird but I should have more free time when I’ll start working full-time (I’m at 30% now).
Also, I had a weird feeling when my HR director asked me to plan when I wanted to have my four weeks of holidays this year. Four weeks. It sounds like 3 days after having done a sabbatical year. Plus, I am not the kind of person who plans things so much in advance.
Apart from this I am now officially facilitator of the homepage team from Dhamma Sumeru Vipassana meditation centre. I am also going through the process of being an official Live Your Legend Local Host and will be facilitating monthly meetings (if you’re interested you can just drop in during the next event). Together with the Toastmasters International club, I think it’s time to calm down
On top of that, I am most likely going to start next month a new start-up project together with the Swisscom Open Innovation programme and the Pirates Hub after winning a special award during the last Startup Weekend in Zurich. The project will be focused on Facebook Messenger chat bots in the context of learning new languages (and you can already follow us).
Finally next week I will go to Amsterdam for the Next Web Conference where I want to discover interesting startup ideas, listen to inspiring talks from the greatest IT entrepreneurs and meet other startup lovers!
Recently, I read an article about a psychologist who wrote a CV of failures. He listed all the failures and rejections he encountered in his career. It is interesting to see how we tend to remember or emphasize our successes and forget or hide our failures. So I decided I would try to remember all the failures, mistakes, misbehaviors and really bad ideas I had during the last 26 years of my life and share them with you, in no particular order. The list was quite long, so I filtered it out to keep the most brilliant performances I could think of. Some will make you laugh, other may make you cry. Anyway, there is no time for regret. What has been done is done.
- When I was a kid I almost died through drowning in a public fountain.
- Once I destroyed most of my favourite pieces of clothing by mixing the wrong colors at the wrong temperature in the washing machine. I am still afraid that this may happen again.
- I postponed the revising of critical university exams to the last moment and then caught a flu right when I should have studied. I failed 3 out of 4 exams and got my studies extended by 6 months.
- I hid many things on purpose to my girlfriend and got into serious troubles when I finally told her everything.
- When I was fifteen years old I started dating a girl whom I did not like while being in love with her best friend. One week later I figured out that her best friend loved me too, but then she refused to interfere with her other best friend’s relationship. Big mess.
- I got seriously sick in Nepal because I wanted to believe that my body could heal naturally itself from anything. Things went really bad.
- I accidentally erased most public votes from a somehow important competition while administrating it.
- When I was a teenager, I thought I would learn how to pick up women in the street. I studied it on the internet and approached several hundreds girls in the street over 3 years. I eventually managed to get some phone numbers and a couple of interesting dates, but no real girlfriend.
- At one point, a person very close to me was going through a depression and I did nothing to help. I still feel bad about this one.
- At some point in my life, I was doing too much sport and I knew I would get hurt if I kept doing that. I continued and while playing basketball I cracked my eyebrow open while knocking down one of my own teammate. I am quite proud of this one though.
- One day I went to university wearing pajama pants under my trousers. I noticed it when I went to the toilets around lunchtime. Morning is not my thing.
- I failed my first driving license exam by bumping into another car while parking.
- When I was 14 I broke my thumb while skiing on the first day of our school’s winter camp. I was thus sent back home the next day. That’s the moment when I decided to quit skiing for snowboarding.
- When I was a young boy scout we stupidly set fire to petrol barrels we found in the forest. No bad consequence fortunately, but this was very stupid.
- When I was 18, I invited a funny old woman we met at night in the streets to join us to the discotheque and pretended she was our grandmother. Until she started undressing herself on the dancefloor and sexually harassing the other men around before we all got kicked out by the security. This story still makes me feel uncomfortable.
- Once I thought that Valentine’s Day was a great day to discuss relationship problems.
- Once I thought that not sending a “Happy new year” message to my girlfriend while being abroad was a good way to get more attention from her.
- When I was between 10-16 years old I kept falling in love with my best friends. I always asked them out. I got rejected 7 times out of 7. Then I learned something called “The Friend Zone”.
When I remember all these things I did (not all of them are listed here), there is something I can’t help admitting: some people suffered out of this. Past girlfriends especially. I’ve been quite far from the perfect boyfriend, which I dreamt being. But you know, paradoxically, trying to be the perfect boyfriend may have made things worse. Of course, one could argue that failure is a great teacher, there is no failure but only feedback, and blah blah blah. I am not here to write a new article about how failure can be good for you, everyone knows that. There is just one thing I really want to say to all the people I have hurt with my stupid mistakes: I am really sorry.
Take care and see you next week,
PS: Bonus fail: This is the third time I am entirely writing this article, because first I wrote it on paper, then I copied it on the computer, and then I had an internet connection problem and lost the entire article I wrote. The original article contained all the non-exhaustive but unfiltered list with 27 bullet points which I am too lazy to write again.
Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to register to my newsletter on the left to get my articles directly in your mailbox!
Two weeks ago, I was in Fribourg for a 3-days entrepreneurship workshop. I had the opportunity to spend some time with the most experienced entrepreneurs and investors around. I seized the chance to ask a couple more personal questions and gather some advice with regards to one’s career.
The first most valuable answer I got came from a business expert in the field of technology and innovation. I asked him:
When thinking about my career choice, I am very often hesitating. I see many partnership opportunities, but it’s either the mission is super cool, or the company growth is great, or the new experience appears extremely enriching. However, there is hardly an offer that goes in all directions at the same time. How should I prioritize career potential vs passion vs learning ? How do I get the most out of this startup environment and fully benefit from this fast-paced world?
And so was his answer:
Find a startup that is already selling a product and generating revenue. A growing startup with a small team where you would quickly get responsibilities. Focus on career potential and learning experience. Sometimes, you’ll have to put aside the idea of doing only fun things. Also, you may have to compromise on the salary and the equities in the beginning. Just make sure you are in the right place, that you keep learning things and getting new responsibilities, and that the company is steadily growing. Also, there is no need to absolutely go abroad. Life in a startup is tough, and you should take advantage of being surrounded by friends and a familiar environment. On the other side, if you go abroad, you will benefit from the fact that you are 100% there for work, and it puts you in a situation where you can dedicate more time than ever to your career development. Also, even though in Switzerland speaking multiple languages like German is considered valuable, in the innovation and entrepreneurship world, speaking English is enough to get you started.
Also, I had a very surprising answer from an experienced woman in the field of investment. After giving me great and detailed advice for ten minutes on how to study my market and my customers and turn these pieces of information into valuable feedbacks, I asked her:
So, do you think we could do this market study and business modelling ourselves or is it necessary to team up with a young business graduate ?
– You should leave it to the business guys.
But then, what do you think about all these courses that try to turn engineer and scientists into market analysts and CEOs?
– It’s bulls**t. You know, if a serious investor decides to put a couple of million dollars into your startup, the first thing he’d think about is how to make sure this investment will perform, and he’d better get rid of you as a CEO and put an experienced entrepreneur he knows instead. It’s good to know how both worlds work, but leave the business experts do the business work. Focus on what you’re good at. That’s where you are the most valuable to a company.
Surprising answer isn’t it? I loved her positive energy and honesty.
Apart from this, I get more and more experienced everyday. When meeting other startup founders, my questions are more precise: How did you perform your customer investigation? Have you done a pilot yet? What is your entry market? How do you know that the problem you are trying to fix really exists?
Also, cerise sur le gâteau, I just got hired in one of the most promising startup of Switzerland. I will be working with Bestmile as a software engineer and mathematician. This is amazing, because I will be working on all technological aspects of their fleet management system for driverless vehicles, from the user interface to the core of the traffic optimization algorithms, thus broadening my skills while developing expertise at the same time. The company currently has 19 employees and is completely self-funded. Perfect profile.
The electric and driverless world of tomorrow will reshape transportation while preserving the environment, and it is crazily exciting to join this adventure.
Let’s get the party started!
Photo credit: Erwin Soo