I spent last saturday with both my kids, their mother, and a few families from their school in the biggest park in downtown Lyon, named 'Le Parc de la Tete d'Or' [or in english: 'the golden's head park' -- I never realised but, what a name!].
I randomly listened to 2 different podcasts this week that actually ended up talking about the same thing: consumer apps and subscription businesses.
Last time I've posted here was more than 2 years ago, late Feb. 2021 exactly. I'll dig into the why, how, 'what happened in between' in another post. Meanwhile, I find it quite funny to come back and pick up on the latest article published: Listen to the experts.
I've contemplated all the recent frenzy around the vaccines. Well, I should say the 2020-all-year-round frenzy in almost every thing, area and topic but let's breathe & stay calm for the moment. My birth country - France - was proudly last in the 'intent to get a COVID-19 vaccine' rankings. What a vote of confidence.
Meanwhile I was reading a good book - which was first a documentary - called: The Media The World And Me. A common theme was: how to (re)build trust?
I feel 'trust' might be the most & biggest missing component in today's society. Who to trust? Why? What to trust? How to learn to trust? How to regularly check where our trust is going?
I came across Arnold Schwarzenegger's comment when he got his vaccine.
I said this to someone in the comments, but I think a lot of you need to hear this.
I always say you should know your strengths and listen to the experts. If you want to learn about building biceps, listen to me, because I've spent my life studying how to get the perfect peak and I have been called the greatest bodybuilder of all time. We all have different specialties.
Dr. Fauci and all of the virologists and epidemiologists and doctors have studied diseases and vaccines for their entire lives, so I listen to them and I urge you to do the same. None of us are going to learn more than them by watching a few hours of videos. It's simple: if your house is on fire, you don't go on Youtube, you call the damn fire department. If you have a heart attack, you don't check your Facebook group, you call an ambulance. If 9 doctors tell you you have cancer and need to treat it or you will die, and 1 doctor says the cancer will disappear, you should always side with the 9. In this case, virtually all of the real experts around the world are telling us the vaccine is safe and some people on Facebook are saying it isn't.
In general, I think if the circle of people you trust gets smaller and smaller and you find yourself more and more isolated, it should be a warning sign that you're going down a rabbit hole of misinformation. Some people say it is weak to listen to the experts. That's bogus. It takes strength to admit you don't know everything. Weakness is thinking you don't need expert advice and only listening to sources that confirm what you want to believe.
This is beautifully written. I agree. My only concern goes towards people, institutions, systems that have a big audience and don't care about lying. They don't care about trust. They don't care about their impact long-term on other people's minds. They are dangerous. I don't think it's a good tactic to fight them directly. Our best option is to educate each others, giving our trust sparingly and staying alert. Utilmately, not being afraid of a 'I don't know' or another 'I changed my mind'.
Few recent examples that made me laugh [kinda].
My wife is pregnant. She needed a drug for something specific. I went to the pharmacy, explained what she was going through, told them she was pregnant and they gave me drug X. Few days later, she was still suffering. We called the doctor and told her everything, she recommended drug Y. I went to the pharmacy again and got it. We read on the package later that day that this drug wasn't recommended for pregnant women. We called the doctor again: "yeah but no worries the drug company just has to put this on the package for the insurance company, but of course in your case, this is harmless and exactly what you need". Hmmm. Interesting. Great way to build trust for sure [towards the pharmacy, the doctor herself, the drug company & the insurance company].
Politicians are the best at this. Sorry the one below is in french only. But @ 1min04, french minister literally declared "risk of importation - of coronavirus - from Wuhan is close to 0" & it goes on like this. Even worse @ 3min54: "the blue mask protects from nothing". Well it didn't age well [original footage was from late January 2020].
So, I'm all in to listen to the experts but honestly, it's getting harder & harder to know who's one.
I think I've found my perfect reading rythm: 2 books a month. I might read more but I don't want to feel any pressure to do so. Moreover, I do enjoy reading stuff online so I spend a fair amount of time on Feedly to go through my 170+ sources - be it blogs, newsletters, publications, mags. If you feel we might have some common interests by the way, feel free to reach out, I'd be happy to share them.
On the other hand, I don't want to read way less than that. Reading long-form content like books puts me in a deeper, thoughtful and slower state that I enjoy tremendously. Hence I kept that yearly goal of 2 a month for 2021. Since I did my own tail end, I realized I'd still have 1350+ books to read during my entire lifetime [at least if I read until my 90th birthday] which is not too bad.
So after reading 21 books in 2019, below are my 26 ones of 2020 [from the first I read to the last]:
- Libres [fr]
- Ce livre devrait me permettre de resoudre le conflit au Proche-Orient, d'avoir mon diplome et de trouver une femme - Tome 1 [fr]
- Ce livre devrait me permettre de resoudre le conflit au Proche-Orient, d'avoir mon diplome et de trouver une femme - Tome 2 [fr]
- Le petit livre rock [fr]
- Boxe [fr]
- Le bonheur etait pour demain [fr]
- Une autre fin du monde est possible [fr]
- Human machine [fr]
- Une vie choisie [fr]
- Deployer [fr]
- This could be our future [en]
- Confessions d'un assassin economique [fr]
- Le gout de Lisbonne [fr]
- Propos de O.L. Barenton - Confiseur [fr]
- The Startup Playbook [en]
- Startup Guide Lisbon [en]
- Silo [fr]
- Essentialism [en]
- Silo Origines [fr]
- Silo Generations [fr]
- L'art de la simplicite [fr]
- Le gout du vrai [fr]
- Lecture rapide [fr]
- Rayures et ratures [fr]
- The consolations of philosophy [en]
- Everything that remains [en]
I only read 6 books in english. I'm always surprised by this; even though it's still 3 times more than the year before. I read 4 comics. I haven't read comic books for a while and I actually enjoyed it a lot. Since most of the books I read are non-fiction it makes it harder to get on comics. I definitely want to read the Sapiens version by the way. 5 books are novels; compare to 6 in 2019. 3 of them are among the books I enjoyed the most: the Silo trilogy.
I use a french website named SensCritique to keep track of everything and give a rate out of 10. My average rate last year is 7.03; which is way better than the year before, 6.33. I rated only one book below 5: Une autre fin du monde est possible with a 3/10. I distributed 11 rates at 8 & higher [which is why the average got so high]. I gave one 10/10: Silo Origines & four 9/10: Propos de O.L. Barenton - Confiseurs; Silo; Essentialism and The consolations of philosophy.
If I had to choose my top 3 recommendation, I'd say: (1) the whole Silo trilogy (2) The consolations of philosophy (3) Essentialism.
I typically added Essentialism to our Objet Library; along with some other titles I did enjoy a lot like This could be our future. And since I decided to own 30 books maximum at any given time, if you'd like to get one of these, ping me. I found that donating books was a very joyful experience.
Let's lay out properly few of my goals for this year [business excluded]. Most important thing by far remains: my wife, my toddler and our second baby to welcome in few months. Growing as a family of 4 and enjoying everyday altogether is a challenge I embrace fully. Taking that situation into consideration, I'll try not to be over-ambitious this time.
- publish 24 blog posts - I finally started to write again on this blog and I enjoy it a lot [about writing] - I'm currently in my longest streak so far with 12 posts published last year.
- read 24 books - I read 21 of them in 2019 [details here] and 26 in 2020 [details here].
- 30min daily exercise - I currently commute by bike everyday [dropping & picking up the toddler at kindergarten] which counts for around 30min total, 11km+ across Lisbon hills - it's not enough though so I might start running instead in the evenings.
- reach an average weight of 71kg - I started tracking my weight every monday morning for almost 3 years. In 2018 it's been 79.44kg [yo-yo between 81.3 & 77.5]; it's been 81.61 in 2019 [yo-yo between 86.3 & 78.6] I felt miserable; it's been 75.84 in 2020 [yo-yo between 82.5 & 71.7] I felt way better. I'm currently at 74.9 which is a win following the whole Xmas holidays. I wouldn't usually recomend any read about weight loss but Mark's one is very good. Beyond the whole weight thing, this is a great reminder towards addiction, habits and how to be intentional about becoming a better version of yourself [which is - not surprisingly - our main thing with Objet].
- limit my meat consumption to 36 meals - I proudly was 95% vegetarian in 2020. I'd like to increase my ratio this year.
- own less than 500 objects - I'm currently at 800+ and I feel way too heavy. And yep, this screenshot below is from our app.
I remember the first time I saw the human lifespan laid out in weeks by Tim. I wouldn't be able to describe exactly how I felt but I was intrigued nonetheless. Then I saw the pdf printed out on a friend's fridge. Somehow, I found it cool. Like a good reminder you only live once, not for so long, so you better make it count.
Later, I read The Tail End [Tim's work again]; what a slap in the face. I wanted to visually lay out few of my own tail end for a while. I finally took some time this weekend to do it. I took 90 years as my own lifespan.
Below is my own life in weeks.
Green cells: weeks I've already lived. White ones: weeks I've left. Darker green ones: weeks I've lived with limited freedom [i.e I was still living at my parents home]. Lighter green ones: weeks I've lived with unlimited freedom [living by myself; I was literally able to do whatever I want].
Grey cell: mid-life. Pink cell: when I started dated my other half. Blue cell: when our son is born.
Then I laid out few linear stuff. Like amount of books I still have to read - if I continue to read 2 a month = 1368.
If feels like a lot. Still - as Tim wrote it perfectly - I'll have to:
accept that I’ll sign off for eternity without knowing what goes on in all the rest.
I haven't played any video game for way too long [I used to be an avid gamer - and I collected a lof of video games systems as well]. I told myself earlier that 2021 should be the year I start to play again. A good pace seemed to be a game a quarter. In this scenario, amount of games I still have to play = 228.
Amount of soccer world cup finals I still have to watch = 14!
Now comes the most important part: relationships. Which is also the scariest one because nothing is linear here. I wanted to highlight 2 examples below. First one is with my mum. I can pretty much say I've seen her everyday of my life until a bit more than my 19. Then, I only saw her 5 days a year on average. If I'm lucky enough & she lives until her 90, it means I'll be 66. Below are the amount of times left to see & enjoy each other face-to-face.
That one was a shock. I'm in the last 3% of my time spent [physically speaking] with my mum. Tim wrote:
When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life.This made me realise one thing in particular. I better enjoy my time with my own kids as much as possible right now. By the time they turn 18 and decide to leave our house, we'd have spent almost 90% of our time with them!Last one I laid out. One of my best friend I met when we were 11 y/o. We pretty much saw each other 5 days a week from our 11 to 18. Then, we both travelled a lot and we're now living in 2 different continents. If I look back the past years, let's assume we see each other 3 days a year on average. Being the same age & lucky, we'll both live until 90. Our time together looks like this.
1. Living in the same place as the people you love matters. I probably have 10X the time left with the people who live in my city as I do with the people who live somewhere else.
2. Priorities matter. Your remaining face time with any person depends largely on where that person falls on your list of life priorities. Make sure this list is set by you—not by unconscious inertia.
3. Quality time matters. If you’re in your last 10% of time with someone you love, keep that fact in the front of your mind when you’re with them and treat that time as what it actually is: precious.
I started last summer to count my stuff. As beautifully written by Mathilde here "[...] knowing I have too much is something, knowing what is too much is something else". At that point, I was able to put an exact number: I had 187 books. It felt too much.
Right away I decided to tidy this up and started to screen them all. Few questions were in my head to help me pick up which ones to discard: (a) do I think there is a 90%+ chance I'll re-read it again in the future? (b) am I even able right now to 'sell' that book to anyone? [i.e I remember enough what this is about and/or the emotion it created in me] (c) if one of my best friend were to visit me today and ask for a book to read, would I be proud enough to recommend that one? If the answer was anything else than an easy 'yes' [to all 3 of these questions], I'd discard the book.
Result's below. I today own 86.5 books [.5 because I co-own some of them with my other half]. And yep, I also love magazines and I do plan to sort them out next [even though I bought a new one 2 days ago].
To get rid of them in an easy & efficient way, I chose to give all of them away for free. I put few pictures on our local Buy Nothing group and few days later, 3/4 of them were out of the house.
The smiles and happy faces I got from people who came to our flat to pick up the books and the few minutes discussions downstairs to share few anecdotes [if any] made the whole experience very meaningful. Overall, I felt great. Almost 3 months later, I still feel great about this but I also don't really know how I should buy and deal with books in the future.
I decided that - going forward - a book should be either a learning or an entertaining experience. Period. So I literally said goodbye to the books as a piece of decoration or furniture at home. In other words, no such room for me as Karl's one below.
Donated a bunch of books tonight. So much feelings at the same time inside myself right now. Overall, I feel happy, lighter, proud & freer. First day of the rest of my life.— Kevin Straszburger (@k7vin) August 3, 2020
When people are putting a photo on Twitter or Instagram of ‘look at my pile of books that I’m reading’, it’s a show-off thing, it’s a signalling thing. The reality is I’d rather read the best 100 books over and over again until I absorb them rather than read all the books.Now - even though I stand behind that mindset 100% I still find challenging now and then not to pile up a new book [or magazine] and to give it away as soon as I finished reading it - unless that specific title should enter my top 100 of all time. Then I wonder what that number should be. Should I hold on to 10 books at home? 20? 50? 100? Few days ago I realised how space played a huge role in this answer [in my answer at least]. If I live in a tiny house or a van, my answer will literally be different compare to a few floors mansion. That lead me to think about my kinda perfect home in terms of space. Do I really want to live in a big flat for instance? Why? To pile up more stuff at the end cause I'd need to fill up all this space? Should I intentionally dramatically limit the size of where I live [at least the indoor size let's say; outdoor would be different; I'd use a garden to play or relax; not to pile up stuff]?
How come most of us feel always trapped between the past and the future? Emotionally speaking it means we constantly oscillate between regrets [what we've done or not] & anxiety [what will come]. Most importantly, we forget to focus on the only one thing we control, the #1 thing we can act on, the only thing that truly exists: the here and now.
Unless you're living in a cabin off the grid you might have heard of The Last Dance documentary lately.
I personally had very high expectations for that documentary and I haven't been disappointed. This is a must-watch. One thing I didn't expect though was the introduction speech of the last episode, emphasizing one of the most important Jordan's character trait: how he's a master of the present moment. Mark Vancil - author of Rare Air - is talking:
Most people struggle to be present. People go and sit in ashrams for 20 years in India trying to be present. Do yoga, meditate, trying to get here, now. Most people live in fear because we project the past into the future. Michael’s a mystic. He was never anywhere else. His gift was not that he could jump high, run fast, shoot a basketball. His gift was that he was completely present. And that was the separator. The big downfall of a lot of players who are otherwise gifted is thinking about failure. Michael didn’t allow what he couldn’t control to get inside his head. He would say, ‘Why would I think about missing a shot I haven’t taken yet?That last rhetorical question isn't to be underestimated. Mike Greenberg even calls that one 'one of the most profound statement I've ever heard' - full reaction below.
It's natural and human to obsess over past mistakes or feel stress about what may be ahead of us. Yet every second spent worrying about a past or future moment distracts us from what is important in the here and now.
[...] It is mind-bending to consider that in practical terms we only ever have now. We can't control the future in a literal sense, just the now. Of course, we learn from the past and can imagine the future. Yet only in the here and now can we actually execute on the things that really matter.
Everyday I go pick my toddler up at kindergarten. I fasten him on the back of my bike and we go for a ride. We stop in a different park each day and take time to play, eat, look at the fishes or turtles [sometimes]; we basically explore what the city has to offer.
From the time I leave home to when we're back, it takes on average 2 hours. I made the choice early on to always switch on the plane mode on my phone during that time. That looked simple at first. Now I realise how important it was. I don't blame the parents we see who're just on their phone constantly while their kids try to interact / tell / show them something. I definitely know where that comes from. I feel sad for them though. We have such a hard time connecting to the present, the here & right now. It's a skill we all have to learn & practice.
When we're eating and you look at your phone, you're telling me 'that notification - while not knowing in advance what it is exactly - is more important than you'.
When we're talking and you keep screening the whole room for something / someone else, you're telling me 'I don't care about you'.
Like any skill, the less you practice, the harder it gets. And at the end, without even noticing it, you're just letting anything else dictate your life and you lose everything & everyone that matter most to you.
Below is a story I read last month from Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less written by Greg McKeown. This is the Dad I want to be.
A woman named Cynthia once told me a story about the time her father had made plans to take her on a night out in San Francisco. 12 year old Cynthia and her father had been planning the 'date' for months. They had a whole itinerary planned down to the minute: she would attend the last hour of his presentation, and then meet him at the back of the room at about 4:30 and leave quickly before everyone tried to talk to him. They would catch a tram to Chinatown, eat Chinese food (their favourite), shop for a souvenir, see the sights for a while and then 'catch a flick' as her dad liked to say. They then would grab a taxi back to the hotel, jump in the pool for a quick swim (her dad was famous for sneaking in when the pool was closed), order a hot fudge sundae from room service, and watch the late, late show. They discussed the details over and over again before they left. The anticipation was part of the whole experience.
This was all going according to the plan until, as her father was leaving the convention centre, he ran into an old college friend and business associate. It had been years since they had seen each other, and Cynthia watched as they embraced enthusiastically. His friend said, in effect: 'I am so glad you are doing some work with our company now. When Lois and I heard about it we thought it would be perfect. We want to invite you, and of course Cynthia, to get a spectacular seafood dinner down at the Wharf!' Cynthia's father responded: 'Bob, it's so great to see you. Dinner at the wharf sounds great!'
Cynthia was crestfallen. Her daydreams of tram rides and ice cream sundae evaporated in an instant. Plus, she hated seafood and she could just imagine how bored she would be listening to the adults talk all night. But then her father continued: 'But not tonight. Cynthia and I have a special date planned, don't we?' He winked at Cynthia and grabbed her hand and they ran out of the door and continued with what as an unforgettable night in San Francisco.
As it happens, Cynthia's father was the management thinker Stephen R. Covey who had passed away only weeks before Cynthia told me this story. So it was with deep emotion she recalled that evening in San Francisco. His simple decision 'Bonded him to me forever because I knew what mattered most to him was me!' she said.