A few observations following my latest US trip

I spent 2 weeks in the US last month -first in NYC and then in SF. I've been surprised by a few things. In no particular order:

🌎 immigrants are everywhere. Like somewhere else you can meet them in low-status jobs but unlike somewhere else you also meet them at every other layer of the society -all the way to the top; and whatever that 'top' would mean exactly, you'll meet immigrants there. This is so empowering. I remember the story of a brown couple living in Paris for 15 years, they loved the city and their lives over there but when their kids were teenagers they realised that the only examples for them of people with the same color skin were in the kebab restaurants so they left. They now live in Boston. Their kids can still meet people with the same color skin in local restaurants of course, but also as researchers, big company manager, startup CEO, politicians, journalists, you name it.

Portals of the Past from the San Francisco Chronicle

Analog activities and their impact on happiness

When do I feel the happiest? I'm actually not sure 'happy' is the right word here. Maybe it's closer to 'feeling at peace', 'feeling complete', 'whole', a deep sense of 'calm and serenity'. I still choose 'happy' because there is a layer of joy, adrenaline sometimes, a genuine feeling of fulfillment.

Going back to the question itself, well, the straight-forward and instinctive answer is: playing with my kids, alone time with Mathilde, deep discussions with people -sometimes animated but not necessarily, building stuff -which might imply deep and animated talks with my co-founders, exploring outside, skateboarding, boxing, distraction-free reading -good coffee not optional. I could go on for hours. Typical example being: I hate running -the activity itself- but I would 100% put 'running with Mathilde' up there in the list of moments where I feel the happiest. I don't golf but again, I would 100% put all the mornings I spent with my grand-father 20 years ago on a golf court up there in the list. I'm not a foodie but again, well, you get the point.

Photography by Alisha Jucevic | For The Times

Working like Jean-Michel

As far as I remember, I've always loved Jean-Michel Basquiat's work. Something from his world touched me deeply. The apparent chaos, the multiple layers of reading, the proliferation of messages, the raw material of the streets as his canvas -- all of these resonated deeply with me from a very young age. As a skateborder, all of this looked like my environment. I got his crown tattooed on my front arm. 

A Panel of Experts

Assorted links from week11 to 14, 2024

👧👦 the title says it all and Mariana is delivering an extremely important read. It’s not for parents only. Why children need risk, fear, and excitement in play.

What kids are dying from today are mainly car crashes and suicides, not playing outside unsupervised with friends. Parents are worrying about the wrong causes of injuries and harm. In fact, the very strategies that parents use to try to keep their children safe – driving them around, maximizing supervision, and minimizing freedom – are unintentionally increasing the likelihood of injuries and even death.

The solutions are both simple and hard. We know what children need to thrive. The three key ingredients necessary for thriving play environments are Time, Space, and Freedom.

Assorted links from week10, 2024

🌀 There some extremely meaningful pieces of wisdom in this 40 life lessons I know at 40 by Mark Manson. #40: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE is quite powerful:

A friend of mine once told me a story about his grandmother. He said that when her husband died, she was 62 and for the first time in her life, she began to take piano lessons.

For weeks, she practiced all day, every day.

At first, the family thought it was just a phase, a way for her to process her grief. But months went by and she continued to play every day.

People started to wonder if she was crazy or something was wrong with her. They told her to give it up, face reality. But she kept going.

By the time she was in her 90s, she’d been playing piano every day for over 30 years, longer than most professional musicians have been alive. She had mastered all of the classics—Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi.

Everyone who heard her play swore that she must have been a concert pianist in her youth. No one believed her when she said that she took her first lesson in her 60s.

I love this story because it shows that even at an impractical old age, you still have more time left to learn something than most professionals at that thing have even been alive.

Kids playground inside trains

While 'Le Monde' [big french newspaper] was publishing a 'no kids zone' article two weeks ago, we were in Switzerland and discovered a whole kids playground inside their train. A proper family dream on wheels.

Exploring the moon as an astronaut, diving into a jungle wilderness or experiencing the world of dinosaurs – there is no boredom during a train ride in Switzerland. All InterCity double-deck trains are equipped with a jungle style family coach marked “FA”. Mid-upper deck, these offer a playground with fanciful jungle motives for children to play and frolic around as much as they please. Additionally, exciting board games such as “Jungle Hunt” and “Snake Game” have been installed on the upper decks of family coaches. The playing pieces for those board games can be obtained from SBB restaurant/bistro.

Assorted links from week9, 2024

💼 Hermės story is unique and Acquired did an awesome job to encapsulate it. Stewarded by one French family over six generations, Hermès sells the absolute pinnacle of the French luxury dream.

My own relationship with Hermès started very early since my mom’s best friend when I was young [from my 5 to 12 year old] was working in the atelier near Lyon, France where they were making silk scarves.