Quick news

Hi everyone!

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!

Stay busy!

B

How I failed in so many different ways

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.


  1. When I was a kid I almost died through drowning in a public fountain.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. I hid many things on purpose to my girlfriend and got into serious troubles when I finally told her everything.
  5. 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.
  6. I got seriously sick in Nepal because I wanted to believe that my body could heal naturally itself from anything. Things went really bad.
  7. I accidentally erased most public votes from a somehow important competition while administrating it.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. I failed my first driving license exam by bumping into another car while parking.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Once I thought that Valentine’s Day was a great day to discuss relationship problems.
  17. 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.
  18. 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,

Bastien

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!

How to get the most out of the startup world?

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

Realizing your full potential

In this article I share with you the key ingredient that nurishes my constant optimism and work dedication from these days. This is about unleashing your potential. This is about strategy. Enjoy!


Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

This is one of my favorite quote. When I was volunteering in Nepal last year, it was extremely motivating. Sometimes when I realized how big were the problems that the people in the Himalayas were facing daily, I felt powerless. But then I would remember this quote and start doing something. It was not much, but at least it was something. Often, it would also remind me this other beautiful quote that I love:

You can not do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good you can do.

So, I would keep doing my little things, thinking that it was all I could do, but also the best that I could do. I had no money, no network of influential people, no building skills. But I knew quite well how to turn web technologies to my advantage and thus worked on improving the NGO’s web communication strategy.

But I was frustrated. Was this really all I could do, with what I had, right here?

I could not accept that. I could not accept that I could not do more. But I could not find any other way to do more. I had sleepless nights thinking about that. Until I found out the missing ingredient: time.

Time was the key. I was completely focused on my immediate resources, the things and skills I possessed right at that moment.

But there was something huge that I also had, and that I forgot to consider:

Potential.

Because I was stuck in projections of my immediate future actions, I completely overlooked my own potential to achieve amazing things.

A good strategy will alow you to realize the whole potential of a situation.
It was like playing Tetris and trying to make one line whenever it was possible. But we all know that we should prepare the field, one piece at a time, such that in the end we have one column ready for the big bar that would eventually come and make a huge combo that would maximize the points received!

So I started reconsidering my action plan, getting back to the original idea of “doing all I can, with what I have, where I am”, but this time considering a bigger timespan. What is the best I can reach in 5 years? 10 years? 25 years? How am I going to realize my full potential?

And furthermore, what should I start doing immediately to reach that?

There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

It took me a couple more sleepless nights to figure it out, and I am not going to share the whole thing with you here now, but I can tell you: it changed the way I woke up every morning since then.

With ambitious love,

Bastien

PS: I would appreciate your thoughts on this article. Please leave a comment!

The Available Time Wall

Long story short: It’s Baghdad in my agenda, but I still meditate.

 


Gosh, already one month since I last wrote you. Time is flying like a potato in a potato cannon (that is: super fast). So fast that I can hardly follow actually. I won’t review my progress with you now, I think it’s kinda long and may not be of utmost interest. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

One interesting thing is that I have finally hit the Available Time Wall. That is, now I can’t say “yes” to anything without it having a direct consequence on my sleeping time or social life. Two months ago when I came back from Thailand I was like “Hey let’s say yes to everything without much thinking and see how things evolve, better be doing something than nothing”. I still don’t know if this was a great idea or not but let me share the results with you:

As an immediate consequence of all these networking events I attended recently, in the past two weeks I was offered 3 co-founding positions in very promising start-ups which I had to decline. I am already actively involved in 4 start-ups now and passively involved in 6 other projects. My to-do list contains 41 tasks, 8 of them being already overdued. On the other side, it forces me to optimize my time, refine my sense of priorities, brings me to heaps of events where I meet fascinating people and other inspiring peers.

And it’s incredibly exciting.

Thanks God I still meditate, more than one hour a day now. Interestingly, keeping my meditation practice is on top of my priorities, like, everything is built around it. It’s like it’s part of my everyday teeth-brushing/sleeping routine: you wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth because you are busy, would you?

Note: I am studying the opportunity of publishing a couple of home-made videos quite soon. Let’s see how you’ll react to it.

PS: I’ve hidden a couple of interesting links here and there.

With entrepreneurial love <3

B

 

Every journey starts with a single step

It’s been now one month since I came back from Thailand. And what a month! Long story short, I already attended 7 entrepreneurship events, I won two ticket for this weekend to go to one of the biggest start-up event in Europe. I am now working on setting up my own web service and collaborating on two other ones, possibly three. I am working 10 hours a day on average, grew my LinkedIn network by 20% and learned new programming skills. Very exciting also, I am about to move out next to Lausanne by the end of the month with some of my best friends. On top of that, I have decided to work on my public speaking skills by following the Toastmasters courses, which is a consequence of my meeting with public speaking expert John Zimmer during one of my entrepreneurship course. This guy is really great (and he featured my story on his blog). I set up a daily routine that integrates two meditation sessions morning and evening, which I am super proud to have been able to maintain at 100% success for the last 30 days. I am increasing by 5 minutes the duration of the meditation sessions every week, and thus tomorrow’s sessions will last 25-min. At this rate I should reach my objective of 60-min/session twice a day by the 2nd of May 2016. My last attempt failed at 45-min/session 2 years ago when I broke up with my girlfriend. I am determined at least to beat that. Aside, I am reading Warren Buffet’s biography which is quite interesting. That’s all for today. Keeping you posted. Kiss flex.

Life in prison

Recently, I had the amazing privilege to spend some time with the director of one of the biggest prison in Thailand. The woman is in charge of facilities housing 4,000 female prisoners. It is the common size of a village in Switzerland! We discussed about the differences between male and female prisoners. About the challenges of running such kind of establishment. The prison even offers vocational and meditation courses, grows fruits and vegetables and sell handicraft.

I started wondering. What is a good prison? Is it a prison where the prisoners feel good? If so, does it remain a punishment? Or is it a place of suffering, in which case why would we criticize prisons with poor living conditions? The answer I was given is that prisons are places where freedom is removed, and where respect of the rules and discipline towards authority are taught. And almost no prisoner goes through this without suffering, otherwise they would not be there. There is no need to bring additional suffering. There may not be any other purpose for imprisonment.

I was wondering more: These places are so well organized. Prisoners are given tasks for the community. Everyone has a roof, friends, food and work. Even meditation courses. Like a small village. Better than a small village? I was thinking, isn’t it similar to a monastery, except that in a monastery, the integration in the community is chosen voluntarily? Jean-Paul Sartre was saying that freedom of choice brings suffering. What if we offered alternative villages where people voluntarily choose to serve any task that is given to them, force themself to work a certain amount of time in exchange of food and accommodation, and peace of mind. Peace of the absence of responsibility. Volunteer total subordination.

Now I am thinking: This “alternative village” pretty much looks like our society. Except that we have freedom of choice, which is good, but not everyone has a roof, nor food, nor work, which is pretty bad. So in a sense, we sacrificed the potential for great peace for the sake of freedom.

But who really is free in this world? What does freedom mean? What more should it bring, that worth the sacrifice of a comfortable life in prison? And do we get it?

Maybe I am thinking too much.

Rebirth

It’s been more than a month since I arrived home. People are asking: How do you feel about going back to real life ?

And the answer is: fucking good. For real life has no constraining meaning to me yet. My real life was first about going to weddings, Christmas parties, new year parties and celebrating reunions with friends. Still, I haven’t had enough time yet to meet all the people I want to see.

But this is not what my idea of real life is really about. If I was so enthusiastic about coming home, it is because I had great plans that needed a stable, rock-solid environment to build on. I want to achieve great things in the forthcoming years, and for that I need a top-notch daily routine that does not let me waste my time. A virtuous routine encouraging introspection and action, that motivates me to do nothing less than my very best and work hard every single moment. That’s why I came back to Switzerland. Because here I can get that. Here I can build that. Together with all of you.

So I took eight days of almost complete isolation very recently in order to make a deep clean of my environment here: cleaning the room, cleaning the long-awaiting administrative tasks that stacked upon my shoulders. Cleaning my spirit with meditation and yoga exercises. But also cleaning the body: I fasted four days. I abstained eating. I only drank juices. This was an amazing experience about myself that lightened my relation to food and hunger. I prepared for two days prior to fasting by progressively removing some food. Then I took one day for readaptation.

During these days, I also spent time considering my future. My values. What I want to be, and what I want to do. For that, I read a very interesting book on self-development by Robin Sharma and also answered these 27 questions to find your passion from Live Your Legend, an online community of people actively working on living their dream. I applied and was admitted to a weekly three-months-long entrepreneurship program funded by the government. I met start-ups and companies to discuss job opportunities that helped me identifying more clearly my interests.

This leads us to today, Saturday the 23rd of January. In four hours, I will be in a plane going to Thailand with my father. For three weeks, I will have the opportunity to rediscover my own culture, which I haven’t experienced for ten years. Back in those times, I was a sixteen-years-old kid. A baby. It’s now time to get to know my roots. Get to know the source of my father’s life teachings. With him. And get to know the color of the blood that flows through my veins. I expect this to be the last chapter of this great journey I started almost one year ago. The closing chapter that will offer me the opportunity to start writing a new book immediately afterwards: the book of my entrepreneurship life.

 

On the way home.

There we are. After nine months of travelling, I finally wait for my last connecting flight for Geneva at Istanbul Airport.

I see all these people around me sleeping on benches, waiting for their connecting flights. This is beautiful. The poor and the rich connect. In front of the most luxurious shops, people wearing suits sleep on the ground. Money does not seem to make the ground softer though.

I am happy and peaceful. Today – or was it yesterday? – I spent my last day wandering in Taiwan. Nothing special to do, I already ticked all the must visit places on my to-do list. That’s the moment when you start considering these interesting places that you decided to sacrifice from your original plan. The moment when you decide to spend your last afternoon in a teahouse recommended in your travel book. The moment when you happen to meet some of the most interesting people because they sit next to you: an elegant woman with fine manners producing high quality tea, a graphic designer who studied in Tokyo, a young graduate in textile industry, and a Korean journalist willing to explore the tea universe.
We chat. They invite me to visit remarkable tea ceramics shops in Taipei’s old streets. They offer me gifts to bring home, snacks for the flight and bring me to the airport shuttle bus station by taxi.

Everything is natural. This is Taiwan. This is Taiwanese friendliness and hospitality expressed at their best. In which other country in the world do locals express so much kindness to foreigners?

And it is not an isolated case. Every Taiwanese person I met was exceptionally open-minded, careful, welcoming and generous. I’ve stayed at people’s homes. Been invited for lunches, dinners and breakfasts. Driven by car all around Taipei just to show me the most amazing sights and vegetarian restaurants. They organized mountain hikes for me. They booked tables in the finest cafés. Introduced me to their families. Regularly, they would write to ask news from my trip and offer me again to answer any question I would have. Always friendly. Always generous.

Never have I been welcomed so well in a country. Thank you so much.

Posted from Istanbul, İstanbul, Turkey.