Allnomading (57)product (58)productivity (51)tech (23)thoughts (74)writing (71)

    Re: Power November on 200WAD

    This month is going to be significant in 200WaD’s history. Our community will celebrate its first birthday on November 22. @keni is organizing our first community event on November 15.

    Today is also my 365th day of writing 200 words a day. I’m currently writing a retrospective to process what happened and inspire others to do so too. Writing literally changed my life.

    I had a lot going on over the last few months, which delayed the release of 200WaD V2.0. I wrote articles interviewing entrepreneurs. I’m currently working on my first paid writing gig as a freelancer. I experimented with new digital products and teamed up with new people.

    All those opportunities helped me become a better maker and writer, which I think will be highly beneficial to this website in the long run.

    There are still so many things I want to do with 200WaD in terms of features, community, and marketing. This month is the month to deepen my focus.

    I just moved to a new apartment in Odessa today, closer to the city center. The old one was at the top of a huge tower and had a low ceiling, I didn’t like it much. The new one is much brighter and more minimalistic. It’s a better environment to work and take breaks from time to time.

    I’ll be staying there till December 7, which is my mental deadline to make significant progress on 200WaD before taking some time to enjoy my family back in France.

    Are you ready for this?

    The Alarm Clock Dictatorship

    My biggest privilege is not owning an alarm clock.

    My time is flexible. If I want to go out, I can party all night. If I don’t feel like working, I can postpone my tasks. Nothing stops me from trying new things or jumping on impromptu opportunities.

    I can go to bed when I feel tired, and wake up when I’m rejuvenated. My circadian rhythm can be messed up sometimes, but I’m free to do whatever the hell I want. I can just listen to my body.

    I have absolutely no schedule whatsoever. I developed self-discipline instead. There are days where we are more productive than others. It’s natural. Instead of acting busy, I can just rest and take care of my needs.

    Most lives revolve around an alarm clock. Waking up. Snoozing. Clocking in. Taking breaks. Clocking out. Preparing your alarm clock for the next day. Welcoming the sandman and his hourglass.

    It’s an alarm clock dictatorship.

    I’ve always hated alarm clocks. Especially during winter, when you’re forced to wake up early while the sun has yet to chase off the cold. The morning shower never fails to trigger deep feelings of nostalgia and I don’t like it.

    Alarm clocks are dream killers, striking right in the middle of your REM sleep. There is no success without proper rest. Do you want a healthier life? Smash your alarm clock.

    Growing up, I hoped becoming an adult would mean not having to listen to my alarm clock. The dream became a reality.

    How early you wake up doesn’t matter. What matters is how effectively you use the time you’re given.

    The Cookie Jar

    David Goggins’s Cookie Jar technique is a motivation technique using visualization. The cookie jar is a mind palace filled with mental images of events and people triggering a strong emotional response, both negative and positive.

    The idea is to use this mental imagery to force a hormonal response within your body that will act as a lifeline throughout your hardest moments.

    It’s not as wild as it sounds. It’s been proven that playing tennis, watching someone playing tennis or imagining yourself playing tennis triggers the same parts of your brain called mirror neurons. Imagining a past event and how it affected you is no different.

    There are really two kinds of cookies: the sweet ones and the bitter ones.

    Sweet cookies rely on positive emotions: gratitude, compassion, love, victory, joy. On the contrary, the bitter ones originate from negative feelings: anger, frustration, pain, sadness, fear. It might remind you of Star Wars’ concepts of the light side and the dark side of the Force.

    Personally, I know I’m much better at being a passive-aggressive Sith Lord. Adversity has always been my greatest trigger to surpass myself. The mix of anger and frustration is particularly explosive. I shine best when I’m told I can’t do something. I can become a great prick when I’m trying to prove people wrong, and I take great pleasure in playing the role of the underdog.

    This is not a great mindset though. Negativity is a synonym of bad health. Replacing bitterness with sweetness is key, but I’m not pretty good at it. It’s something I’m working on by walking and meditating.

    Publishing my First Youtube Vlog

    I published my first Youtube video yesterday. I wrote about going from blogging to vlogging a month ago, and I finally made it.

    My motives remain the same: I want to improve my speaking skills and experiment with new ways of expressing myself.

    The format appeared to me right before sleeping. I didn’t want it to be too time-consuming, it had to seamlessly integrate into my daily life. I also wanted it to support my business goal to grow 200 Words a Day.

    That’s when the idea of centering my vlog on my writing process hit me. I already have developed a daily writing habit. All I have to do is to document my thought process. The possibilities are endless since I’m not tied to any particular topic, and I’m already putting in the work anyway. I just need to record myself, explain what I’m doing at loud, and edit the result to make it easier to consume.

    I could vlog daily. I’ll eventually get there. For now, it’s too time-consuming and I plan to do it once or twice a week. I need to improve my workflow. I’ve started improving my setup to increase the video quality. Now I need to learn some tricks to increase my editing speed. Vlogging is an entirely different skill set than the one I’m used to.

    I definitely see vlogging as a tool to improve my work. Watching myself working gives me a different perspective. It’s highly introspective. Curious to see the impact in a few months.

    Seize your Time

    I started working on MindfulPomodoro.com, a tool to help people make the most of their time.

    How so? Mindful Pomodoro combines the Pomodoro technique and a bell of mindfulness in one browser extension.

    A bell of mindfulness is a practice inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh from the famous Plum Village, for the monks and pilgrims to practice mindfulness. The idea is to ring a bell every 15 minutes to remind us to breathe and to bring back our attention to the present moment.

    The Pomodoro technique is a productivity tool used in time management. A timer is set to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. The objective is to dedicate each unit of time to one single task, to improve the practitioner’s focus.

    Mindful Pomodoro combines the two concepts to come up with a way to help you become more aware of how you spend your time. As Seneca puts it in On the Shortness of Life, it’s not that we don’t have enough time, it’s just that we use it poorly.

    It’s going to be a product I’ll use on a daily basis myself, so I’m going to improve it over time. I want to quickly release it, so I decided to go with a browser extension.

    Then, I’ll slowly move toward a Progressive Web App at the crossroads between RescueTime, a Pomodoro app, a website blocker, and a mindfulness bell app.

    I’m still not sure about the business model. Either a one-time payment with a free trial, or a freemium model (pay once to go premium).

    If the idea interests you, go check out the website and leave your email address!

    Strong

    As a teenager, I started working out because I wanted to look stronger. Not be stronger, look stronger. What does it mean to be strong anyway?

    We think having a six-pack is the epitome of strength. The main protagonist of Fight Club jokes about how art directors and advertisers define masculinity. A toned body and visible abs are the marks of beauty and everybody should look like a sculpted David.

    The archetype of the fighter is also how most people imagine strength. A fighter doesn’t want a six-pack, a thin skin would leave an opening for the enemy. In the French army, the ideal soldier is depicted as a “thin cat” (chat maigre), strong yet agile.

    More than physical strength, mental strength is what makes someone strong. Physical strength is acquired by developing mental strength, but the contrary isn’t always true.

    Mental strength originates from stress, pain, loneliness, rejection, frustration, adversity. Once you accept what’s happened to you and you manage to go past self-destruction, you can focus on growth.

    Strength is the ability to overcome any external stress. When a Christian says, “Lord, give me strength”, he probably doesn’t want a bigger triceps. In a sense, strength, for human beings, is Darwin’s definition of adaptability: the capacity to go through change, unharmed.

    Childhood Vision

    A clear mental picture appears to me when I try to imagine who I want to be: a man in a private office, sitting at his desk, surrounded by books, flying paper sheets, laboratory equipment, and mysterious inventions. I feel like I had this vision since forever, which intrigues me. I wonder where it comes from.

    Growing up, I idolized characters displaying a form of eccentric yet great wisdom, whose strength was known, yet hidden. I can trace it back to movie characters like Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings, Merlin from the Arthurian legends, and Dumbledore from the Harry Potter saga.

    I was 7 when the first LotR movie was released. The first HP movie came out in 2001 as well. I grew up with stories about Merlin and Brocéliande.

    Wise characters advising kings and queens, but sort of crazy. Not mentally deranged, but showing a different perception of reality. Feared yet respected.

    The first Iron Man was released in 2008. Tony Stark’s lab must have been a huge inspiration as well. Same with Emmett Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Mad scientist surrounded by their own gadgets. Science has a magical aspect to it, which is probably the unconscious bridge I built between Gandalf and the Iron Man. Using the invisible laws of Nature to create something out of your mind is akin to magic.

    I think the core idea behind the mental picture I described is a general depiction of a scholar surrounded by his own creations.

    Now, I guess my vision could be translated into a maker surrounded by his own tech products. Maybe my sole goal in life is to make more things, and it’s during this creation process that I blossom. I guess it’s a sign I have to persevere. The key to my happiness is not money or fame or love, it’s the act of turning ideas into a reality.

    Entrepreneurial Animal

    Trade has been a pillar of most human societies throughout the ages. Owning some sort of business used to be as natural as getting married. In Vietnam, it’s still common to have a side-hustle helping the family business while working a full-time job. The same happens in most developing countries. Only in rich countries do we perceive entrepreneurship as a risky path only a select few can pursue.

    Truth is, anybody with a few bucks to his name can become an entrepreneur nowadays. And it’s not even hard, thanks to technology. There is just nothing glamorous about it anymore.

    Worse, any person with an ounce of ambition to succeed in the professional world needs an entrepreneurial mindset. The talent pool keeps getting bigger and it gets harder to compete for attention. The bigger the objective, the bigger leverage you need. And launching a successful side-project is just that, a tangible proof of value tested against reality.

    Success has never been about climbing the corporate ladder, it’s about developing the creative freedom to work whenever, wherever and however you want on whatever you want.

    I see so many friends struggling with passion and meaning, when in fact what matters is to just do something. Constantly experimenting, pursuing our interests, getting better, and combining it all to come up with our own answers. Time is only lost when we are not giving it our all.

    Disciplinatus Flexibilitate

    How would I describe my work ethics in one expression? Leonardo Da Vinci had Ostinato Rigore. Stan Lee proposed Excelsior. I decided mine would be Disciplinatus Flexibilitate.

    The first article I ever wrote online is called Chaos Routine. It already set the tone of what I’m aiming for in my professional life: kaizen and habitus, but also adaptability and an absence of dogma. That is, disciplined flexibility.

    Flexibility is analogous to adaptability. Adaptation is the single factor for survival in Darwin’s evolution theory: ”it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself”. As such, adaptability is a prerequisite for any project’s success. We need values, but we can’t be afraid of questioning them. Reinventing ourselves is mandatory.

    Discipline implies focus and tenacity. It’s not the same as blindly following a path, an order, or a process, as in “military discipline”. It’s more about consistency and the idea that you need a certain rigor and intensity to do hard things.

    I prefer using the Latin version of this motto. I didn’t choose the Latin version just because I wanted to put my three years of Latin studies to use. I find it more poetic to use a dead language, it adds an extra layer to the formula - a memento mori reminding me to keep my word before it’s too late. Words remain dead organisms if you don’t act according to them.

    Disciplinatus Flexibilitate. That’s what I stand for every day.

    Vulnerable

    I woke up this morning with weak aching muscles. Then I felt cold and without appetite. It was the flu.

    It’s not funny to be a sick digital nomad by yourself in a foreign country.

    Growing up with asthma, I was often ill. But I could count on my parents’ devotion to get better, and eventually, the symptoms weakened as I grew up.

    I am reminded of this period of my life. I am reminded of my mortality and how limited time is.

    I also remember last time I got sick. It was in Penang in November last year, and I just started writing 200 words every day. The website wasn’t a thing yet. The fever lasted two days. I had just broken up with two co-founders, I was physically and mentally exhausted. And then, I hit a new high. What a journey it’s been so far.

    I am still wrestling with myself. The headache isn’t strong and I can write a few words. Outside, Odessa is cold, rainy, and unwelcoming. My first impression isn’t good, but the illness is a good reason to spend time inside watching movies I’ve been longing to see. I need some rest and a warm cup of chicken soup. Winter is approaching, fast.

    Notes on At Eternity's Gate

    I just watched Vincent Van Gogh’s biopic, At Eternity’s Gate. I don’t like most biopics. They are more focused on the drama and the love stories than the actual individual’s thought process and mastery of the craft. It was different this time, I enjoyed how the director portrayed his life by focusing on his art and philosophy. It even gave me a lot of food for thought.

    You’re never really creating if you’ve never experienced great solitude. There are things you can only express through your work, but sometimes your work just doesn’t resonate with others and you enter an existential crisis. Creation is an act of sharing, a gift people can refuse.

    Van Gogh was also a great example of what I have in mind when I hear the word traveler - someone in a constant search for the beauties this world has to offer. The movie shots perfectly illustrate how traveling, both physically and intellectually, is part of the creative process. Creation is a movement.

    What is the frontier between relentless discipline and madness? Developing a passion is developing an addiction, in a sense. Van Gogh couldn’t live without painting, and his genius is the result of countless hours of practice. A spiritual quest to catch the perfect light in a canvas.

    There are but a handful of movies which actually managed to depict this well the journey to mastery. Whiplash is another one. I’m glad I can add this biopic to the list of movies to regularly come back to for inspiration.

    Da Vinci inspired Resume

    How to convey your diverse skills and interests to your audience when you’re selling your expertise to potential customers or employers?

    A sales pitch is reader-centric, focused on the identified needs of the customer. Resumes are no different. You can shower the reader with keywords, job titles, achievements, and personal projects, but it’s not directly telling the person analyzing you what you can bring to the table.

    I stumbled upon Leonardo Da Vinci’s resume the other day, and I was fascinated by its clarity. It’s not a resume per see - resume originating from the Latin expression Curriculum Vitae, “life’s course”, it’s supposed to be a sort of auto-biography by definition - but it’s impactful, memorable, and it pique the reader’s curiosity at a glance: exactly what we expect from a good resume.

    I decided to give it a try on my personal website, so here is my first attempt. Let me know what you think!

    Dear reader,

    Let’s skip the part where I shower you with job titles and achievements to go straight to the part where I tell you how you can benefit from getting in touch with me.

    1. I can develop any sort of static website that won’t cost you anything to host, with built-in search engine optimization while remaining lightning-fast to load.
    2. I have the means to build any web application you might need, be it to increase your revenues or decrease your operational costs, independently of the legacy architecture surrounding the delivery.
    3. I have devised a method to make a writer out of anyone, to serve both personal and professional aspirations.
    4. I can help you reach financial independence faster or access a bigger talent pool by sharing with you what I know about sustainable digital nomadism.
    5. If you are in dire need of testing a business idea, I can fast-prototype minimum viable products in a short amount of time.
    6. I can help kickstarting additional income sources by developing and launching online businesses that won’t necessitate external funding or a prohibitive budget.

    (… to be continued?)

    Ostinato Rigore

    I’ve been feeling tired and bored over the last two weeks. Burnt-out, one could say. But it wouldn’t be entirely true. I just needed some rest and some me-time to think and get some fresh air. We all have low periods throughout the year, it’s just normal. There are moments where I feel like starting a business was a mistake and I would’ve been better off living comfortably with a stable wage.

    What do I tell myself when I feel like quitting my life as a maker? I just remember what led me to this point.

    Leaving college, I gave myself two choices: I could either become an employee, live frugally, and invest the majority of my income in Vanguard index funds to reach financial independence during my thirties, or I could become an entrepreneur and dedicate 100% of my time to develop skills and a brand until I can make a living or I run out of savings.

    In both cases, I always wanted to make my own software products. I received the opportunity to launch my first startup with two co-founders just before graduating, and so I decided to opt for the second option. There was no need to live a deferred life.

    I remember reading Paul Graham’s How to Make Wealth essay right before taking my decision. I’ve been obsessed with time since middle school, and I was afraid that working in a company after a six-month internship as a software consultant would slow down my personal growth by locking me up in patterns and cognitive boxes. I barely know who I am and what I want, entrepreneurship was a way to start figuring it out: it’s only when you’re free to do whatever you want you can focus on what deeply attracts you, at the most primal level.

    I’m grateful for where I am today, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. A maker, this is who I am at the core. I have to accept I’m just a human: I’ll always experience periods of doubts no matter what I do, but those are temporary. Take the time to live, but be relentless and rigorous when you decide to act: ostinato rigore.

    Surround Yourself with Hungry Fools

    Being a maker is a career. If you want to increase the probability of success of your project, you need people. The more people, the better. Owning a business is not hard anymore, anybody can be an entrepreneur, but it got way harder to compete for attention: how can I attract people to rally my cause?

    Most people go for the big fishes in the pond: influencers. If you manage to get people with a huge following to become your ally, you can speed up your growth - in theory at least.

    The reality is everyone is self-interested to some extent. Influencers have higher leverage, they don’t have an incentive to help any nobody. They are obviously harder to reach out to and convince.

    Don’t chase influencers right away. Wait for your work to do the talk, your reputation has to precede you.

    Instead, surround yourself with fools - underdogs whose work ethics are similar to yours, if not higher. Individuals who are crazy enough to get uncomfortable, make mistakes, and learn fast.

    Find those hungry fools, help each other, make stuff together, experiment.

    Even if you manage to onboard a great thought leader, a power relation will inevitably establish itself. When you spend too much time pleasing someone else, you’re not making progress on yourself. Find your own unique voice, it’s the most valuable thing you can offer.

    Friendly Advice to New Makers

    I’m in no position to give guidance, but here is a piece of advice I wish I knew when I started out as a maker: marketing is an integral part of making, don’t avoid it and give it as much attention as shipping features.

    Marketing is a frightening word when you know nothing about it. As Jason Fried from Basecamp wrote, just understand everything is marketing: it’s not a secondary activity, it’s almost a lifestyle.

    Marketing is simply about sharing every day: choose a format (podcast, blog, videos, tweet, Instagram post, etc.) and create content on a daily basis by documenting your journey - what moves you, what you are doing and what you learned.

    The tool/platform/community doesn’t matter. Just pick the ones you know, or the ones you prefer. Consistency is more important.

    Once you start sharing, you can grow your audience. Keep in mind the number of followers doesn’t matter: you want people who interact with you or who actively come back to you to hear more - an audience.

    You also have to interact with others: imagine everyone is a co-worker you can help to make great things together. You won’t make it by yourself: help, and you shall receive help in return.

    Your first products will probably suck. You can’t have a successful launch without an audience, but you can’t build an audience without credibility. Your work has to speak for yourself: words without acts are meaningless.

    Start today. Making 12 products in 12 months is a great thing to learn, but you know what’s more powerful? One blog post a day for 365 days.

    Let's stop separating science and art

    It’s commonly assumed there are two kinds of people in the world: those who do science and those who do art.

    The dichotomy is ingrained in our minds as early as primary school. You have a math class, then a plastic arts class. The former weighs more in your trimestrial evaluation.

    Then, in high school, the best students go to the Science branch while the marginal ones are told to integrate the Literature branch or to drop out to find a specialization program.

    In college, the inequalities grow even more apparent. You assign yourself a label and a tribe you proudly proclaim. Differences are mocked, and it goes on throughout adulthood. We all probably know someone who likes to label himself a pure-blooded scientist and never misses an opportunity to mock liberal arts majors. The opposite happens as well: self-proclaimed artists taking immense pleasure in denigrating nerds and technologists.

    This artificial border between science and art, between the rational and the creative, is utterly ridiculous.

    I always loved both literature and maths throughout my formative years. You can learn a lot about maths by reading the philosopher Spinoza, how he uses a demonstrative approach in his writings. Similarly, you can learn a lot about linguistics by studying mathematics. Unlike English, a “natural language”, maths (just like programming) use a formal language, a subset of our natural languages, to reason. Separating the two is just destroying opportunities for cross-domain thinking.

    We can find similar examples with biology and art, or philosophy and physics. The maker/hacker community embodies this duality perfectly: making is half engineering, half art. We like things that look good and allow us to express ourselves (art), but we also like to understand how things work to answer a particular problem (engineering).

    I have a picture of a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci in my bedroom. Da Vinci was probably among the original makers, a great example of a mind who completely ignored labels to let his curiosity guide his steps. What if we stopped focusing on the differences to build cross-domain expertise instead? We need this diversity to grow further. This one-dimensionality is the death of the soul: we can do so many great things by combining two distant domains to come up with a new one. All it takes is enough courage to abolish those cognitive walls.

    I'm joining Makerlog's staff

    I love Makerlog. It’s been one of the main inspirations for 200WaD with the free streak-based community model, and I use it daily to journal my deliveries in terms of content (200WaD posts) and software releases (updates and bug fixes). The community is an integral part of my work from both an operational (tasks performed) and a strategic (personal marketing, motivational support) point of view.

    I already support Makerlog financially by donating $5 a month to his creator Sergio and I’m an active user featured in the leaderboard, but I wanted to help it grow further because it’s a product I believe in and I want to give back.

    This is how I ended up proposing my help to the Makerlog team a few days ago, which Sergio accepted. I’m joining Makerlog’s staff as a content creator.

    The situation so far:

    Makerlog already has Shipcast, a live-stream account, and Makers Spotlight. Indie Hackers does in-depth podcasts and short Instagram portraits of indie entrepreneurs. Most maker interviews are usually shallow, the Q&A kind with a focus on the product and personal entrepreneurship tips. Makermag is the only publication not doing Q&A and I find it way more interesting, it just feels more genuine and gives the reader new perspectives. Most publications focus on the wildly successful makers.

    According to those points, we are going to release a new long-form format in parallel of Maker Spotlight called Making a Maker, focusing on ambitious yet not-so-well-known makers with in-depth interviews. No Q&A format articles, I schedule a video call with personal questions about the journey to indie making, the maker’s life philosophy, the struggles, the daily operations… how it all ties up together and come up with original long-form articles. I wil make in-depth background checks to really get the whole picture, at the crossroads between philosophy, psychology, and entrepreneurship.

    Right now I’m working on releasing a minimalist blog using Gatsby.js (static websites) since I already finished researching my first interviewee.

    I’m ready for my first video call interview and feel excited to help more makers develop a sustainable shipping habit!

    Living in the Future

    It is commonly assumed great leaders and entrepreneurs live in the future.

    They are expected to be some sort of oracle whose job is to guide mere mortals to a land of prosperity. Or at least, that’s what the common startup hero narrative tells you.

    I couldn’t disagree more. The best entrepreneurs live in the present. The problems which matter are happening now, not in 10 years.

    An entrepreneur’s success doesn’t primarily stem from his ability to think ahead, but to deeply observe what’s happening now in the world. It’s those observational skills that will lead to the right predictions, if such things exist.

    Look at Elon Musk for example: he wants to live on Mars by 2050!

    A common misconception would be to say: “What a visionary!“. And it couldn’t be further from the truth. Musk is not just imagining the future, Space X is his very own answer to a present problem: how can we become a sustainable species? You can agree with him or not, all I’m saying is you should focus on honing your own perception of reality as it is today and act in the present. In Elon’s words: ”reason by first principles“.

    Living in the future - living a deferred life - is the best way to miss the most important aspects of it.

    Alignment

    What is alignment between who I am and what I do? If I were to represent it on a piece of paper, I wouldn’t draw a line between the two. Alignment is best represented with a circle.

    When you work on what you love, it feeds your enthusiasm, then you work harder and it all adds up. Throw in just the right amount of fun and you obtain a virtuous circle called a passion. A roller coaster loop that will propel you to the most exciting aspects of life, that’s what alignment is.

    At first, fear and self-doubt will prevail. It’s only temporary. There is no more transcendent feeling than overcoming hardships. It quickly becomes addictive. As soon as boredom presents itself, you just have to go on a new adventure.

    All you need is a trigger. Someone’s love, an inevitable fate, the call of glory, a morning cup of coffee. And a clear direction - truth. Truth is both the path and the destination. Love fades away, money vanishes, fame burns out, but truth forever remains.

    When you reach a state in life where you are thoroughly excited to wake up, clock in, and share with others the fruits of your labor… that’s what winning at life is.

    There is no time to waste. Alignment won’t come at you, you have to start walking to stumble upon it. It’s an introspective work, the result of countless hours of research and repetitive practice. Alignment, or as other people call it, happiness, is a fundamental human desire. The one you can spend your life looking for with confidence.

    In a sense, looking for alignment is learning to die. It’s the assurance of a day well spent, the answer to the ultimate philosophical question: why do we live?

    Cheap Thrills

    I find the best things in life to be either free or cheap: Bolognese pasta, a bike ride, friendship, knowledge… anyone can enjoy those at an affordable price. But we are wired to focus on the things that are out of our reach.

    Do we even know what it is we already have? I don’t know what’s exactly in my bag right now. I don’t know how the nerves in my hands operate. I don’t know if I feel excited or tired or caffeinated.

    Modern humans are deeply individualistic: we want what’s best for us. Yet, we always experience outside of ourselves - existence, from the Latin words ex (out) and stare (to stand), to live outside of your head. It is in our very nature to imagine what’s possible and what’s out there in the world for us to take.

    The problem is, most people end up living deferred lives. Not enough in the present, not enough introspection, too much leaving reality in a spiral of escapism.

    We have to re-learn to enjoy the cheap thrills. The apparently-small details we can act upon now which always end up having the biggest impact.

    We can only do so by nurturing a habit of mindfulness. Writing is a part of it. So is exercising or meditation. We only need to remind ourselves to open our inner eyes.

    Re: Designing your dream life

    To be honest, I don’t know what’s a dream life. I’m just 25, my life barely started. I don’t know how you yourself can design one either.

    The only question I’m asking myself is: am I living the dream now or am I daydreaming? I don’t have time to think about a dream life, I can only live.

    The things you deeply want to do are either actionable right now or out of your control.

    What kind of lifestyle do you want to pursue? If you want to go vegan, you just become a vegan. If you want to be a millionaire, this is not for you to decide. In both cases, there is nothing to design.

    Is society getting in the way? Society is an illusion also known as the social contract. That’s all it is, a contract that can be broken.

    Are you getting in your own way? Most likely, yes. Because it’s all staying in your own head.

    What will you do next to turn your dream life into reality? Just do it already. Take your first little step. Then another, and another, till you eventually get there or die trying.

    Just do or do not. There is no planning to make.

    Living the deferred life gets you nowhere: there is no distinction to make between the dream and the reality.

    A dream life is something you stumble upon by accumulating a variety of experiences: how do you know you want to live in Paris if you never lived in Paris before? Act upon your most pressing inclinations, the ones bursting out of your very being keeping you awake at night. Or try new things. Just jump already.

    Inner Calling

    In his book Mastery, Robert Greene talks extensively about the need to reconnect with your inner calling to reach mastery. His message is not to find a “passion” but to reconnect with what we were naturally intrigued by as children. A visceral desire that will fuel and guide our life’s work.

    Is there such thing as an inner calling? The author pinpoints aspects of the lives of famous masters to illustrate his claims. For example, Einstein was fascinated with a compass, the invisible force known as magnetism probably triggering his future interest for physics. As Freud says, ”the child is the father of the man”: our childhood impacts our adulthood to a great extent.

    A typical childhood memory of mine would be me staying in the family camper van with my brother to play video games, read mangas, and write down stories while my parents would visit Iberian towns.

    Writing and traveling are the two most prominent parts of my “inner calling”.

    Writing down stories would lead me to subscribe to online forum-based role-play games. Then I would start programming because I wanted to make my own RPG website. Programming always felt like writing to me, except your words are materialized under your eyes by a computer, like magic, out of nowhere. It still fascinates me, I’m never tired of coding.

    After reading Mastery, I unconsciously reconnected with this inner calling of mine by becoming a nomad tech entrepreneur. Then I started 200 Words a Day and it somehow all came full circle.

    It was my instinct, but I don’t think my story is unique. One of my childhood friend used to want to be a professional gymnast. He competed at a high level, won some prestigious prizes from what I understood. Then he wanted to become a kinesiotherapist, probably because he didn’t think he could become a top gymnast. Assisting athletes was a way to balance his interests and his talent. After much hardships, he ended up becoming a brilliant nutritionist in one of the best educational program France has to offer. He could have given up on his inner calling, but he decided to push through and find a way.

    And you, what do you think is your inner calling?

    What's good teaching?

    I love sharing what I know or what I’m trying to learn.

    Sharing is part of teaching: done right, it’s a highly rewarding activity. You get to have a lasting influence on the lives of others. Good or bad, I wouldn’t be who I am without my teachers.

    Then, the following question comes to mind: how can I be a good teacher?

    As Montaigne describes, great teachers are compassionate beings. They can put themselves in the shoes of their students. If teaching is about bringing out the potential of his/her students, a teacher has to be familiar with their needs, and since the tutor shouldn’t make a distinction between their personal and professional interests, she has to keep both close to her heart.

    Teaching is not merely about cross-referencing papers and articles to come up with some presentation slides. It’s about getting personal while remaining detached.

    Good teaching is not just the responsibility of the teacher, students carry an equal weight. A student cannot expect from a teacher to think of everything, he has to develop a plural vision. Similarly to a journeyman going from master to master, a student is expected to seek the teachings of a variety of mentors.

    Team Work

    The thing college fails at most, no matter where you are from, is its approach to team work.

    Being academically successful in college depends on a single metric : not grades, but ranking.

    If you are ranked well, you get access to the best programs by selection. It’s a twisted system clearly favoring competitivity over collaboration. And yet, we are expected to know how to “team work” when we enter the job market: how can we flip this?

    First, team work is not just a nice-to-have. It’s the very fabric of any human endeavor: you make something with others, or you don’t. There is no self-made.

    You can work by yourself and on your own projects, but it’s always with and/or for others. Developing a personal website? You have to think of your audience first. Getting a degree? It’s a piece of paper used to signal your expertise to potential employers.

    What does a student do then? A student studies. Studying is not memorizing, it’s understanding. And understanding things is just a matter of perspective. If a student doesn’t understand a material, his best bet to unlock the hidden knowledge is to diversify his sources. You can learn anything, as long as you find the right teacher, be it a professor, a book, or an online tutorial.

    It’s commonly assumed students receive their teachings from professors. This is called vertical education, a top-down approach to learning. We barely talk about horizontal education: students teaching each other. In this approach, the frontier between teacher and student becomes blurred: any student can alternatively give and receive.

    Guess what though? The real world is just a bunch of students teaching each other what they think they know. That’s what team work is: people sharing their expertise to build things together. It’s not a race to the top in your own home-made vehicle, it’s carpooling.

    Making the most out of college is not about being the best in class, it’s about being social. You become social when collaboration becomes an integral part of your work ethic: sharing notes, explaining concepts, exchanging points of view… Everyone has something valuable to teach, not just professors.

    You can’t be forever the best at what you do, and you can’t work alone. You might as well accept it. The best way for everyone to pass a class is by lifting each other: create student-owned knowledge repositories, organize social events, and develop your own communication channels. Study, together!

    The Age of Makership

    The age of makership is barely getting started.

    Craftsmanship gave birth to a whole new set of businesses with their own distinct codes and sub-cultures. Similarly, makership is a new paradigm.

    The means of production are getting increasingly distributed: 3D printing, no-code tools, free online services, mass artificial intelligence… it’s never been easier to create wealth.

    Today, anyone can make a tech product.

    Degrees won’t matter as much as having a portfolio when it comes to get a job. It will be expected of employees to have built something on their own - a community, a tool, a website, or more generally an online business.

    It’s an age where you can create your own unique path in life, independently of your status or place of birth. More importantly, we are free to work with anyone on anything we care about.

    Yesterday I received an email from Revolut, my online bank, telling me about their new pricing plan: it’s now possible to own a business account for $0. In other words, anyone can build a monetized side-project for less than a dollar month. You can generate a free website without knowing how to code, host it for free on Netlify or Github Pages, and monetize it with ads and sponsors once you release enough content to get decent traffic.

    Anyone can become an entrepreneur nowadays.

    Pain Threshold

    My pain threshold has dramatically increased over the last two years.

    I barely procrastinate anymore, I stopped complaining, and I stopped feeling discouraged when I receive negative feedback.

    Is it a good or a bad thing? I’m not sure.

    I have little empathy for people who never stop whining. I’m becoming a tad robot-like, more stoïc when it comes to getting things done. It has become so obvious to me I’m starting to forget where I come from.

    I don’t know how I got to this point honestly. Probably the accumulation of experiences. The mockeries throughout middle school. The first time I got rejected by a girl in high-school. Being a nerd. Getting lost in places far from home. Going against my parents’ will to get a well-paid stable job as a consultant. Being expelled from engineering school. Closing down a business. Breaking up with lovers. Witnessing the death of my grandparents.

    Only when you no longer feel pain can you truly be free, Buddhists say. It’s true, but the moment you stop feeling pain is also when you start to relinquish your humanity.

    It’s considered a good thing when entrepreneurs have a high pain tolerance. I disagree. We should instead decrease our pain threshold, to learn to take it all in as to transform it into something positive. You don’t want to forget pain, you must accept it as a necessary part of life. Avoid suffering whenever possible without being afraid of it.

    Expertise Validation

    Most workers spend their life trying to climb the corporate ladder. Since I worked as an employee for only six months, I am not an expert, but I think it’s quite obvious most people are bad at it. Working for one year to get a 2% raise? Seems pretty fishy if you ask me. There is so much you can do in one year to grow as an individual - I can safely assume you can deliver at the very least 10% more in value if you set your mind on it.

    People aren’t lazy, it’s not the issue. We are just bad at selling our expertise to gain leverage. Good news: it can be learned.

    How do we demonstrate this expertise then? You can get a college degree or a certification, that’s the most mainstream approach. You can also hope someone will give you a chance at a prestigious company and leverage your newly acquired title to navigate the corporate world. However, the simplest and most actionable thing you can do today is to create something on your own.

    I’m not telling you to become an entrepreneur, I’m merely suggesting you should demonstrate your skills with concrete pieces of evidence. You don’t get a promotion, a raise, or a better position at another company by writing a motivational letter. You want something that is tangible, that can be quantified.

    You can, for example, build a side-project: a small product, a community, or an event.

    Even simpler: create content. It literally takes $0 to publish content on a regular basis. On the Internet, content is king: it attracts people, and thus opportunities. Developing an audience is incredible leverage to increase your quality of life: an expert is someone people listen to, it increases your perceived value to a potential employer.

    One piece of advice I’d give my younger self: build a personal website, write a blog, actively and publicly collaborate with others on projects you are passionate about… the kind of leverage you can accumulate in a sustainable fashion is the one which actually compounds.

    Resting

    Today I’m 25. I took the day off to visit Hoi An with my family and two friends. I couldn’t say no. I’m not a cave man yet. Days off have been pretty rare over the last year and a half. I don’t really need days off, there is always something I’m excited about that’s closely related to my work. That’s just how I designed my life: a constant alternance of working and resting phases that’s sustainable for me.

    Steven Pressfield would say a pro doesn’t need days off. I agree: no days off, but plenty of rest. You don’t have to be at 1000% all the time. It’s better to go at 80% every day and keep going forever. Peaks are always followed by abysses.

    Not just sleep, proper rest. You can rest by enjoying a coffee at 10 AM, or by writing down your feelings. Anything that isn’t rushed or ordered is an opportunity for rest. Be mindful, listen to what your body tells you.

    We act in extreme ways when it comes to rest or work, it’s always either one or another. However, the goal of a balanced life is to merge the two, to integrate daily life to your craft. Rest is not escapism, it’s something to work on.

    Reasons to make

    We all have our reasons. We do everything for a reason. Quite often, this reason is someone else. That’s just the way humans are: we are social animals. When you ask yourself why we act one way or another, it’s probably because we have been told to do so by someone else, directly or not: family, friends, lovers, bosses, colleagues, teachers… All of our acts which are not requested by nature are social constructs. Do they matter? Does free will truly exist? That’s the question I have in mind after remembering Camus’ Myth of Sysiphus.

    I wanted to write about makers and entrepreneurship, but I ended up down a rabbit hole of philosophical questions. I wonder, why do we make things in the first place? The reasons all seem futile. I feel a nihilism growing inside me.

    That’s when I shut down this inner voice. When you are an entrepreneur, it’s easy to start over-thinking. I constantly need to remind myself to dumb down, because thinking too much leaves room to doubts. There is no place for self-doubt. A saying in the startup world proclaims successful CEOs are idiots, meaning, stupid enough to believe they cannot fail, and stupid enough to brute force their way through any situation.

    There is only one thing we must ask ourselves when we manage a company: are we doing things that matter to someone else? The moment what you made stops being useful, you must detach yourself from it. There is no in-between, no need to spend countless hours being paralyzed by a self-inflicted fear. If it’s useful to one person, just make it.

    Meaning of Life

    I came to the conclusion “know thyself” is both the way to live and the meaning of life. The how and the why.

    My existence is centered on learning about myself: my place in the universe, what makes me human, what are my strengths and my weaknesses, what makes my DNA so unique. Only by exposing myself to new experiences can I know what’s best for me, then act upon it accordingly and deliberately.

    Alignment between who I am and what I do is what I define as happiness.

    It can be linked to the Japanese term ”ikigai”, the “reason for being”. It is believed ikigai originates from the intersection between what you do with passion, what is useful to others, and what you can earn a living from.

    My question is: can we truly define what is ikigai or not with objectivity?

    I’m not sure passion is innate. You can probably develop a passion for anything you work on, as long as you keep digging deeper.

    What is useful for others is relative as well. You can be a consultant, be useful to a company while remaining foreign to people with different interests.

    Similarly, the border between what is monetizable and what isn’t remains blurred. The Internet makes anything possible when it comes to your career.

    The lesson here is we should probably stop over-thinking to live more instead.

    Minimalist Entrepreneurs

    The market follows its own version of natural selection. Companies which adapt best to their environment are more likely to survive.

    The surviving species are the ones who can do more with less. T-Rex had claws, thick skins, an imposing size, and dense bones. It can easily crush a cockroach, and yet, cockroaches are not going extinct any time soon. Even humans are not nearly as prosperous as: cockroaches are at least 320 million years old, whereas the Australopithecus lived around 4 million years ago. The reason is quite simple: a cockroach doesn’t need much to live and reproduce. In a sense, minimalism is the key to strive.

    A good founder wears many hats during her early days: marketing, programming, finance, maintenance, support… acquiring information is the best way to stay afloat. If you start hiring people right from the start, your burn rate will soon grow too big to sustain. Stay frugal, as long as it remains sustainable for you. What matters is not how much revenues you make, it’s how much profit you can keep. Sustainable growth doesn’t happen when you consume too much or too little, an healthy balance is required. The more you spend, the harder it is to cut those costs. On the contrary, learning to quickly grasp new information and to move fast can only benefit you on the long run.

    Huge mega-corporations are no different. They attract and hire top talent who can produce much more value than what they cost. In some aspects, Google-sized companies are even leaner: it’s well-known the code base at Google is stellar for example. The iteration speed is not bad either: 13 products killed in 2019, 26 (!) in 2016.

    Big Evilcorps

    There was a time where I wanted to work at a big tech megacorp. 6 digits paychecks, a good employee package, respect, a good line on the resume, and important challenges to solve. A “Dream Job”.

    Then I read about what’s a typical day at Google/Facebook/Apple/[insert relevant company] and I wasn’t so excited anymore.

    Then I watched Mr. Robot and the question of ethics came out.

    I wanted to rebel, I wanted to become a counter-power with a strong moral compass.

    Startups appeared as the antithesis of the typical evilcorp. At first.

    After co-founding one and going through an incubator, I understood 99% of the 10% surviving startups are fated to become evil: to grow too big for the sake of their users, or to be acquired by a megacorp.

    Startup founders are no rebels, they are destined to feed the vicious circle of venture capitalism.

    We live in a tightly-coupled system where everything is linked: there is no living independently from big corporations.

    I am tempted to say “only the strong survive”, from a purely Darwinian perspective, but it’s incorrect: only the really big or the really small strive. Humans cohabiting with bacterias.

    One might argue indie businesses are different from VC-backed startups in this regard. Not true. Any service you use is somehow linked to a global country-sized company: you depend on Google for SEO, or Amazon for infrastructure, or Apple for the iOS app market, etc.

    When you buy from a business you participate in the growth of its partners. It’s especially true for B2B and B2B2C businesses.

    How to break free from big corporations to become truly independent then? Is it even possible to be free? These are questions worth living for.

    You might be tempted to try changing things from the inside. It’s a pretty naïve statement I often hear. The reason why it doesn’t work is pretty simple: companies are no democracy. An individual going through a particular environment for a long stretch of time always ends up molded by it, even unconsciously. Decisions are taken by those who lead, and reaching the top of the ladder is a matter of amoral politics, not the result of a strong ethic driven by virtue and wisdom.

    There is only one way to be truly independent, it’s called self-sufficiency.

    Being indie from the start is impossible, it’s a constant effort. Self-sufficiency is the result of a maker mindset: the will and the ability to do things yourself with others.

    You can be self-sufficient by yourself or in a community. All that matters is agreeing on a common set of actionable values: privacy-first, openness, collaboration, etc. - considering carefully the business partners who will accompany you on your journey is of utter importance.

    The more you grow, the pickier you can become when it comes to taking business decisions. You can develop more features in-house, and the quest for mastery always pushes you to improve and know more of what matters to fulfill your business needs.

    Making a business is political. You need leverage. You need real customers who will help you to help them. Financial independence is indeed a central concept in self-sufficiency. I don’t think you can consider yourself independent when all your actions are driven by the need to please your investors. Investors can also be real customers, but they are incredibly rare and need to share your values, which is why it’s more of a matter of fate to meet the right ones. Looking for investors for the sake of raising funds is a dead-end: ramen profitability must drive the founders from the start to create a sustainable business. Then the right investors will come to you, not the other way around, and you will have the leverage to keep your vision in check.

    An indie product is a garden taking time and patience.

    Is it even possible to reach self-sufficiency? Ironically, I think mega-corporations show us it is, to a certain level. Contracts should never prevail over laws, and companies are always required to submit to countries. There is no living outside society. On the other hand, you can consider Apple or Google to be self-sufficient from a purely economical point of view. Apple doesn’t need Google to sell iPhones, it has enough leverage to attract others to their organization.

    to be edited and continued another day…

    Achilles' Dilemma

    Sometimes, when things get hard and I can’t help but feel lonely, I forget why I became an entrepreneur in the first place, and I wish I had pursued a more stable position.

    It’s hard to ignore your reptilian programming. To seek the comfort of a good job, before spending all weekends forgetting you have one. To lock yourself in an identity, a situation. To chase money and status. To cherish praises, to dwell in the everyone’s (and thus no one’s) approval.

    Most people want rest, stability, or happiness. Is it what we are here for? Why don’t we all just eat, sleep, watch TV, and f* all day then?

    First Principle 1: I am no religious or spiritual man. I don’t believe in doing good deeds for the sake of an after-life or a metaphysical being. I believe life has no meaning, and thus I’m free to create my own.

    First Principle 2: I can’t feel good if I cannot share what makes me feel good: ”happiness is only real when shared”. Consequently, I do not exist without others, and I shall dedicate my life to the sustainability of humankind.

    First Principle 3: I am unable to judge what is good if I do not understand what is bad: becoming wise is internalizing and seeking new experiences. Stability is needed to grow and build upon, but intellectual sedentism is a dangerous necrosis.

    Listen well Basile, and never fail to remember: those three principles are why you choose a life spent seeking mastery as an entrepreneur over a life of comfort.

    Building a House

    Building my own tiny house is a thing I absolutely want to do during my lifespan. I love making stuff with my own hands, and building a house is probably the most useful thing you can learn.

    I got the idea watching an uncle of mine living in a little cabin he made in his garden. Then I read Thoreau’s Walden and I knew I wanted to try it eventually.

    All I need fits in a backpack, so I guess I don’t need to build something big. I’ve been looking at this Youtube channel called ”Living Big in a Tiny House” lately, and I find it super inspiring. I’ve always been attracted to minimalism and this is definitely going hand in hand with it.

    Humans have a special relationship with their house. Architecture is not just about building cool skyscrapers, it’s about developing a bond with your surrounding space. In some cultures, it’s part of the rite of passage to adulthood to build your own place to live in. I find it fascinating. I remember taking a career test in middle school: engineering and architecture were both mentioned in my results, I ended up developing a passion for software engineering but who knows? Maybe I’m an architect in a parallel universe.

    Maybe I should document my search to build my own Walden. I don’t intend to start acting on it before I reach my thirties, but the seed is sowed.

    Why I liked GoT's ending

    Good art is not merely entertaining. It’s didactic, it broadens the mind, it makes you think. Similarly, a good ending is a resolution bringing a fresh perspective to a problem.

    GoT’s finale was incredibly subversive. Not a happy ending, but full of valuable lessons, which is precisely why it was a great ending.

    The last two seasons received a lot of hate, most of the time for the wrong reasons. No, the plot was good. Yes, the pace was too fast.

    GoT is not merely about dragons and zombies, it’s a political essay trying to answer a complex question: what is a great ruler?

    The series was a huge political campaign where each spectator wanted his/her own favorite to win. People who didn’t see their own fantasy come to life in the last episode ended up frustrated and blamed the “poor writing”. I can’t disagree more, I believe the series does a great job at mimicking GRR Martin’s witty, highly-politicized, writing style.

    Tyrion explained really well why Daenerys wasn’t worthy of ruling during his meeting with John in his cell: the mother of dragons was, and always has been, a tyrant. Daenerys’ twist is brilliant because it explains how people can be led to serve and praise tyrants: with emotions, Manichaeism and good storytelling. Daenerys only dealt in absolute - yes, like a Sith Lord - everything is either black or white to her. We were lead to believe all the murdering she committed were done rightfully so, but the truth is more complex than that and her underlying nature finally revealed itself in the fifth episode of the last season: Daenerys’ purpose is to dominate, as illustrated by her spirit animal. Dragons symbolize wealth and strength, but also greed and egotism. Daenerys didn’t hesitate to twist her own reality with a good story to fit her dreams of grandeur. She always lived in a dream, she died with her illusions.

    Daenerys’ blindness became apparent during her last encounter with Jon Snow when she told him of her motives and how he should better than anyone else, after all the events he went through. This line also illustrated his character perfectly: Jon is bound to know nothing, highlighted by two references to this famous line during the last episode. Ultimately, his story ends as it began, his cycle repeats itself, he will always repeat the same mistakes, learning nothing. Jon Snow is a hero, a knight ideal, he is meant to serve and protect others. Jon Snow is a natural leader because his virtue inspires others. He doesn’t want to rule because he acts out of necessity, out of emotions. He lacks the calculative mindset most politics display. According to Machiavelism, Jon Snow is not fit to rule, his heart is too pure, which is why he ends up hanging out with the wildlings: Jon Snow’s happiest time was with Ygritte - he is a simple man, so he joins a nomadic tribe of ingenuous “free folks”. When you see it this way, he had a good ending.

    Bran becomes king, why is that?

    GRR Martin depicts machiavellian characters as the aptest to rule, but Bran has something even more valuable than a mindset prone to politics: he has ultimate wisdom. His powers make him omniscient and the closest to truth/reality, the way things are meant to be. Bran is thus an allegory of the philosopher king, the ideal ruler “who possesses both a love of knowledge, as well as intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life”.

    Tyrion is not only wise, he constantly learns from his mistakes, which is why he is fit to become a great advisor: he is not afraid to do his best and fail, because he will always find a way to get back on his feet. All the people ruling Westeros are now the wisest of the wises, including Bronn who was the ultimate cynic and among the most pragmatic characters of the show, and with the exception of Sansa who became the new allegory of Machiavelism after learning everything from Baelish.

    The only problem with this season was its pace, which made things hard to understand. And yet, the message is still there, which is what matters most in a good show.

    Perfect Day

    Here is another thought experiment for you: what would be a perfect day?

    Lou Reed sang it, it was more of a call to escapism than a perfect day:

    Just a perfect day,
    You made me forget myself
    I thought I was someone else,
    Someone good.

    What’s a perfect day anyway? I’d argue it’s a day you can’t improve. And since days are the unit of life, they should fit in the bigger picture. A balance between delayed gratification and epicureanism.

    It’s 6 AM. The sun is rising, so do I. I reach my desk to shut down the alarm clock. Some sportswear has been placed methodically on a chair. I put it on and head downstairs.

    The fresh morning air clears my clouded mind. I move some weight plates to the garden and start my workout. A fire slowly builds up in my guts, it’s my metabolism soaring. I achieve my session with some stretching exercises. An hour went by.

    I take a shower, put some clothes on, and prepare breakfast. Origano eggs with salt and pepper. Some water and a banana on the side.

    I head back upstairs. I slowly sit on my bed, cross my legs, and switch on my phone to begin a 10-minute meditation session. I then make my bed.

    Both mind and body are now rested and cleansed.

    It’s time to get stuff done, to grow and reach new heights. I go through a deep work session from 8 AM to 12 AM. I do offline writing first, for about an hour. Then I push at least two changes to my git repositories.

    By 11 AM I’m done with the most important tasks of the day and I can start tackling the urgent ones. I open Slack. Then Twitter and my email account. Then my monitoring tools. I log all the tickets, answer any inquiry my users might have sent. I fix urgent bugs until hunger kicks in, if there are any. Otherwise, I just keep on shipping items from my to-do lists.

    It’s around noon and my stomach is crying for help. I have a light lunch, just enough to tame the hunger. I take news from my family.

    After hunger, sleepiness manifests itself. I indulge in a 10-minute power nap to feel rejuvenated, followed by another short meditation session. The clock displays 2 PM.

    The afternoon is dedicated to learning, reading, and experimenting with new technologies and ideas. I document everything. I tweet about it or wrote it down frantically on a piece of paper. I wrap up the day by pushing a change to a git repository.

    The hunt is over by 6:30 PM, I can rejoice in celebration and share the fruits of my labor.

    I’m going out with friends. Dinner is at 7 PM. French meals are notably long, we enjoy the food, the drinks, the conversation. It starts with predrinks, or “apéro”. Then we proceed to share a simple yet imposing dish. A raclette, or something similar.

    Somewhere between 9 and 10 PM, we move to a cozy bar to enjoy some live music, discuss life, and meet new people.

    I come back home by 11:30 PM. I’m grateful for the day and close my eyes with the thought. Tomorrow is full of promises.

    Mornings are meant to be spent in focused practice. Afternoons are full of discoveries. Evenings are festivities.

    If I knew I was to die tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t organize my day in such fashion, but at least I would die happy and fulfilled - doing what I love.

    Re: 5 years from now

    Thank you for the mention @santoshguru , great writing prompt.

    At first, I was tempted to talk about 200WaD. The thing is I have no idea if it will still exist. Most startups never go past a year, and even though I work every day on creating a sustainable business, there is no way I can influence the market by myself. This is why I decided to write about where I’m planning to be in five years from now on, because I can only have control over myself, not others.

    In July 2019 I will celebrate my 25th birthday, and I promised myself two years ago I would dedicate my life to the pursuit of mastery. I want to be a full-time entrepreneur making his own tech products while contributing to solving important problems with my skills. Mastery is a never-ending quest for truth and excellence, I see nothing more fitting to my personality, nothing more virtuous: I find great honor and immeasurable pleasure in honing my skills to serve others.

    This is why I want to be in a position where I don’t have to worry about my material comfort by age 30, to chase knowledge and experience over money. In other words, I want to reach financial independence five years from now on.

    Financial independence is mainly about decreasing your costs. My lifestyle is already designed for that: I travel the world, which implies I have few material possessions and less monthly expenses. I can live comfortably on $1000 per month.

    The challenge I’m facing now is to create stable income sources. I work my butt off to implement a sustainable lifestyle based on entrepreneurship. If I fail to reach ramen profitability over the next year, and since I’m living on my savings, I will run out of money by the time I reach 26 and I will have to abandon all entrepreneurship ventures to get a job. Fortunately, all the things I’m learning now and the people I met on the road will allow me to earn a nice job in software engineering, preferably the remote kind.

    If I reach ramen profitability I won’t feel pressured to reach financial independence by 30, since I will already be doing what I want.

    If this is not the case, I will aim to achieve a saving rate of 85% to be in a position to launch a new business in four years. A saving rate of 85% with a monthly burn rate of $1000 is equivalent to a yearly wage of $80k. It’s hard to obtain but still realistic.

    In all cases, I’m confident I’m growing useful skills and relationships that will benefit me for life one way or another.

    Five Movies

    I want to add a Fun Facts section to my website, so how about a list of the five movies I would take with me to a deserted island?

    A Fistful of Dollar, by Sergio Leone: Listening to Morricone’s music while watching Clint Eastwood playing the part of the unnamed gunslinger anti-hero never fails to reignite my desire for adventure. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly remains the most acclaimed movie of the trilogy - for good reasons - but I’m a big fan of this remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.

    Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, by Hayao Miyazaki: Apprenticeship, environmentalism, incredible animation… and the emotional soundtrack of Joe Hisaishi. I don’t know which one I prefer between Nausicaä and Porco Rosso, both are so good! This one is definitely ahead of its time in terms of message though.

    The Gold Rush, by Charlie Chaplin: A story of love and resilience, mingling comedy and tragedy in a poetic way. Chaplin doesn’t even need voices to trigger emotions, everything is already there.

    The Mystery of Picasso, by Henri-Georges Clouzot: I mentioned this documentary in my post Bye Bye, Resistance. This work of Clouzot puts the spectator in the shoes of none other than Picasso himself, to observe his creative process. I hate biopic movies/series, they always focus on the love life of the personalities instead of magnifying their genius, but this documentary does exactly the opposite: it’s all about the art, the grind, and the artist behind the canvas. The camera techniques and the soundtrack used in the movie to match the paintings are fascinating as well.

    The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers, by Peter Jackson: It’s not a great trilogy, but I’ve seen it so many times during my childhood it became a part of me. Those movies are my childhood. The second one always echoed more to me because 1) Gandalf is my favorite fictional character of all time and 2) the siege at the end of the movie always gives me goosebumps. I was so happy when I felt the same vibes in last week’s Game of Thrones episode.

    Entrepreneurship and Philosophy

    Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and ho boy do we need more wisdom in the tech startup scene.

    You don’t become a philosopher by reading philosophy, philosophying is the act of loving wisdom and thus consciously or unconsciously seeking the truths of this world.

    What is it entrepreneurs do? They own businesses. And a sustainable business solves a pain point, a problem. When Elon Musk tells us about his problem-solving method, he brings up First Principle Reasoning, which was coined by Aristotle.

    A first principle is a general truth everyone can agree on. For example, humans are social animals, and thus successful startups are inherently social: Facebook wants “to bring the world closer together”, owning a Tesla is feeling part of “the world’s transition to sustainable transport”, etc.

    Knowing the underlying truth of a problem is part of marketing, it’s making your product relatable and appealing to the people it applies. 200WaD was built because people are not writing enough (problem). We want to empower more people to write (mission) because humans have to express themselves to strive (first principle).

    So, how do we make room for philosophy in our life? We must become researchers, to balance books with experiences and our own independent thinking.

    On Ignorance

    If I knew right from the beginning how tough making your own startup is, it’s highly probable I would have been discouraged. Knowledge can be overwhelming, sometimes it’s best to just chase an opportunity by rushing headfirst.

    I think it’s a mistake to say you want to acquire more experience before starting your own tech business. The more you wait, the higher you set the bar for yourself. Nothing will go perfectly, you have to start lean. You can’t overdo things when you don’t know them, so stop planning, stop listening to successful entrepreneur’s podcasts, stop overthinking, and just make something. Confront your ideas to reality, or don’t do it at all. Intellectual wanking is a waste of time.

    Entrepreneurs, including me, don’t have a clue about what they are doing, they just try things and learn on the go. Listening to your users while staying objective regarding the needs of your product is no easy feat, but the true measure of an entrepreneur is his/her ability to learn hard things fast to keep growing.

    Ultimately, the success of a startup depends on its founders’ growth. No growth, no startup. But a startup is not just a product, it’s also founders. If you cannot grow a product, at least you have your brain to feed.

    Spinozadventure

    Baruch Spinoza fascinates me. The acts of the Prince of Philosophers were aligned with the ideas he preached - philosophy as a way of life is still rare nowadays - while keeping his material desires to a minimum, living a simple life dedicated to the pursuit of truth.

    I was reading his Ethics yesterday, or at least I was trying to: I read 10 pages before giving up and quickly skimming through the book to get a sense of the structure. I can still formulate a thought from having a quick look at the page: Spinoza’s reasoning is one of a mathematician, first principle reasoning. The author establishes axioms as references before elaborating propositions. Each statement is built upon one another with scientific precision. Spinoza’s way to persuade the reader is a form of maïeutic based on a mathematical demonstration. Blurring the border between philosophy and mathematics, how brilliant! I just wish his work wasn’t so hard to digest, but I guess any good read takes some time to process.

    What are the axioms of my own life, I wonder? I guess mastery is a quest for truth as well, but truth is notably hard to find. I learned from Spinoza that truth is both a gain and a sacrifice, so its pursuit is an exchange with Nature, or God.

    Adaptation

    Success is an equation between adapting yourself to the world and adapting the world to you, a sort of alignement between who we are, what we want to represent, and what the world needs.

    Darwin taught us adaptation is the cornerstone of survival. Similarly, individuals striving in today’s economy are those who can learn hard things fast: education is cultural evolution.

    Knowledge is not just any power, it commands wealth: respect, fame, love, money… truth is both destructive and liberating. Those who are right, or appear to be right, hold the world. Scholars and priests are held in high regards because their spiritual or scientific knowledge contributes to society. The Oracle of Delphi was revered throughout Ancient Greece. Gods are represented as omniscient.

    A humanistic education is meant to elevate humans, which is why it is encyclopedic. Rabelais emphasizes this need to open our minds to many topics when he describes Pantagruel’s education to become a wise giant. Rabelais implies education is not about memorizing many things - “science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul” - but seeking a diversity of new experiences.

    And experiences come in many shapes and forms. There is no unique path. All we can do is try and adapt. Maybe life is simply meant to try.

    In an Introspective Mood

    Book released, website migration almost over, the comfort of the family house… it’s the right time to pause for a few days before attempting to reach new heights of growth.

    I spent the whole day spring cleaning my bedroom - aka my temporary work office. It is now high-time to update my personal growth framework with the success of 200WaD at the center. I do not work in plans, only habits I integrate into daily life. Plans are meant to change frequently when you are a young indie business because flexibility and iterative learning are primordial, so why should I spend too much time writing one in the first place? Once I’m done with the introspective work, it will be time to hack my way through a product/market fit.

    I have approximately 12 months of runway left from my savings, so my first short-term objective will be to reach ramen profitability ($1000/month) to put the financial aspect of entrepreneurship out of the equation.

    The overall never-ending goal is still mastery, with 200 Words a Day posing as a possible masterpiece. I need to tweak my daily routine to keep constant my iteration speed while still leaving time to acquire more knowledge and to keep my health in check.

    My introspection work goes through three phases. This post was describing the first one: Definition. Tomorrow I will define the habits I’m linking to my goals and present the resulting Personal Growth Framework. Later I will talk about how I want to reach my goals by going more minimalist in some areas of my life (Elimination phase) and by automating other important yet repetitive aspects.

    A man's search for meaning

    There are two books I always have in mind when it comes to life and its meaning: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, and Albert Camus’ Myth of Sysiphus.

    Frankl proposes that humans need meaning to be able to strive, survive, and flourish. He then formulates there is no big or small meaning. Children, art, science… any meaning works as long as it has a positive impact on your life and others.

    Escapism is both humanity’s greatest strength and the root of all evil. Civilization is the ultimate attempt of humankind to avoid facing its own mortality. Camus talks of escapism as “philosophical suicide”, a denial of reality. Escapism is the vector for change. To Camus, life is meaningless, and that’s precisely what makes it meaningful. It’s only when we acknowledge the absurdity of life (“to imagine Sisyphus happy”) we can rebel and be free to create our own meaning: “What is a rebel? A man who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion.”

    A common idea between those two authors is the perception of meaning in a healthy life as something not to be obsessed about. Any will do, as long as it acts as a positive mana for humanity as a whole. Likewise, not having a meaning is fine. Just do something you feel good about, which benefits others, and get better at it. Do not relinquish your gifts. Do not escape. There is no other way but upward.

    Teaching Entrepreneurship in College

    I got introduced to entrepreneurship in engineering school through a school project. My classmates and I joined courses on topics such as finance or marketing. We had to deliver a minimum viable product and a business plan in 6 months, under the guidance of two tutors. The school project was fun and rewarding from a technical point of view. We won a small prize. But it wasn’t exhilarating. The way we teach entrepreneurship in school is still far from reality. It projects wrong perceptions.

    Writing a business plan is incredibly boring. Business plans are for fundraising: you don’t need one when you are just getting started in a software project. Making business plans mandatory implies entrepreneurs must seek funds first. It is not only wrong but also dangerous for a startup. Validation through monetization comes first. You have to talk to real people at every iteration of your product. Entrepreneurship becomes exhilarating once you understand it’s about solving real problems that real people have in an innovative way. Ideas are worthless, execution is fundamental. 6 months to build a software MVP is way too long. In hackathons, MVPs are built in a few days, one week top. The rest of the time can be spent iterating over the initial idea or pivoting, depending on the user feedback. We are not taught how to think fast-prototyping. In engineering, we tend to overly focus on the technical side of entrepreneurship, but making is only a tiny part of the overall experience. Marketing is not about studying Porter’s Five Forces, it’s about communicating why we do things, how we do them, and what we do. Casual talk with individuals like you and me. Studying accounting - true story, our Finance course teaches us accounting - is useless if you don’t know how to monetize a product, to create a healthy and sustainable business through cold hard revenue.

    If it wasn’t for Pieter Levels I discovered almost two years after this project, I would have never thought of entrepreneurship as a possible career for me. It felt way too unattainable, intimidating, and mysterious. Yet being a tech entrepreneur is at anyone’s reach: you don’t need a lot of money, you don’t need to know how to code, you don’t need to join an incubator, you don’t need cofounders. All you need is an idea to help others remove a pain point and be willing to learn how to make this idea a reality.

    Limiting beliefs in the tech economy

    You don’t need to know how to code to launch a tech product. You don’t need a network to make an app. You don’t need experience to start a business. You don’t need much money to create your own venture.

    Limiting beliefs don’t discriminate.

    Colleagues, school, friends, lovers, family… they come from anywhere.

    But we are in an age of digital wild west. For every problem, there is an opportunity. A cyberspace where the brave will prevail. What you need is a thirst for truth, that which is in accordance with reality. People who strive best in today’s economy are the ones doing hard things at the fastest rate. An ability to both learn fast and execute well.

    Teachers are plenty, both proteiform and substantial. Experiences are a currency. Online communities are the new universities. Personal branding is the new resume.

    Digitalization has pros and cons, yet it stays a tool whose sole purpose is to amplify mankind’s deepest needs and desires. Nietzsche predictedthe slow emergence of an essentially supra-national and nomadic type of man, who, physiologically speaking, possesses as his characteristic mark a maximum of the art and power of adaptation”. Digitalization makes reality negotiable. Once you internalize that, you can start breaking your limiting beliefs.

    Ethics and engineering

    Engineering is not just about technical mastery, ethics play a huge part as well. No matter your engineering field, you are going to make moral choices. Science and technology are powerful tools impacting our daily life. With great powers come great responsibilities. If physicians have the Hippocratic Oath, engineers need to make one for themselves. There is no such thing at a company level of course. Should we give up our values for a monthly paycheck and great benefits? I hope not. I do not want to. This is something you have to think about and discuss right from the start. Being stuck in a toxic environment is deadly to the soul. To me, becoming an entrepreneur roaming the world is a way to keep my moral independence. I do not abide by dark patterns. I want my creations to be purely helpful. To benefit mankind through the mastery of my craft. It doesn’t mean what I do is perfect, but I’m always striving to improve. My choices are mine. It is my duty to be as transparent as possible and to seek the truth. Tomorrow I’m officially graduating from engineering school. Tomorrow I’m going to write my own oath and swear on it.

    Freedom Guilt

    One of the aspects that attracted me the most in entrepreneurship is creative freedom. I can work on what I want, whenever I want. Of course, it’s still a romantic view of entrepreneurship — you still have to take into account the interests of your stakeholders. You are independent, but not entirely free.

    Tech entrepreneurship also feels like diving into the unknown. There is freedom, a form of transcendence in navigating past the known world. Product/Market fit is a quest for truth. When I think about truth and freedom I’m always remembered of Socrate’s Allegory of the Cave: if you happen to inadvertently break your chains and face the blinding sun, you are exposed to a new reality, hard to understand because fundamentally different from the one you experienced in the cave.

    What follows is speculation. You can feel unworthy of the freedom you’ve been granted. Maybe it’s part of the Imposter Syndrom all professionals experience at some point in their life. Let’s call it Freedom Guilt: the irrational feeling you owe a debt to the world for the freedom you are experiencing. In Plato’s allegory, the free man goes back to the cave to bring the new-found truth to his fellow men to make up for the guilt. In my case, I tend to push myself to work harder. It’s a vicious cycle that cannot end up well. I see a parallel with the concept of Original Sin: accessing new knowledge results in a collective guilt humans have to make up for.

    Independence is power, does it always imply responsibility?

    On Visionaries

    A visionary is someone capable of imagining the future while planning for it accordingly, someone who has a vision. It’s interesting to note that prophets and visionaries have been revered throughout history as carriers of great wisdom. The Oracle of Delphi was so respected it became a Roman institution. Elon Musk is highly-regarded as one of the most talented entrepreneurs of our age. All great leaders seem to have great visions, so it’s only natural to be lead to believe you need a great vision to become a great leader. When I reflect on this statement, I can only observe that most movements leading to huge advances originate in fact from both looking at the future and the past while acting in the present. Renaissance humanism sparked from a desire to bring back antique wisdom concepts to solve contemporary issues at the time, such as medieval scholasticism. I find it similar to how Elon Musk states using First Principles reasoning. Being a visionary is reverting back to fundamental truths, which are already known without being obvious, to innovate. Most questions we ask ourselves have probably been answered already. The job of a visionary is to build upon those answers with a fresh perspective. To create the future, one must go back to the past while assessing the present.

    On Thoreau

    Henri-David Thoreau is among my favorite writers and philosophers. He was not afraid of living an authentic life and stayed true to himself until the end of his own existence.

    Thoreau was a precursor. You might have studied Walden, his most famous book. It still fascinates me. Walden is a call to our animal side. Being one with our nature is respectfully living off nature, the essence of environmentalism. To do so, the author advocates simple living, which we rebranded nowadays as “minimalism”.

    Emancipator, he coined the term Civil Disobedience, which would later inspire Gandhi to lead India toward independence, or Luther King Jr to fight against racial segregation. Civil Disobedience is the root of nonviolence. Here is my favorite quote from the book:

    I am too high born to be propertied,
    To be a second at control,
    Or useful serving-man and instrument
    To any sovereign state throughout the world.

    Thoreau - Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

    HDT was not only a man of words but also a man of action who constantly reinvented himself: abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian… But what really stands out from Thoreau’s life, to me, is his thirst for self-sustainability. Thoreau was among the few last free men.

    French Engineering School

    The French education system is peculiar. Public universities are almost free: a few hundred bucks per year, paid by the government if you come from a low-income family. Most teenagers decide to pursue their studies after high school, for better or worse, but many options are available. Two paths are possible to obtain a Master degree: you can attend a regular public university, or you can go to a ”Grande École” (“Great School”).

    I always knew I wanted to become a software engineer. In France, the title of engineer can only be granted by engineering schools, and the best ones are Grandes Écoles. The Wikipedia page perfectly defines what a Grande École is:

    The Grandes Écoles are highly selective, elite, and prestigious institutions; their graduates have dominated upper levels of the private and public sectors of French society for decades.

    Not just decades. Centuries. The term was first coined after the French Revolution, circa 1794. The most famous ones are École Normale Supérieure and École Polytechnique (also known as X). I studied at INSA Lyon, which is a much younger, but renown, generalist engineering school. Now, I can’t say I’m a big fan of the Grande École system. It’s still an archaïc system extolling elitism, which tends to favor the students coming from wealthier backgrounds. Social Reproduction as Bourdieu says. My parents are not rich. My mother never went to college. My father was a stay-at-home dad. I was lucky they always made sure I was doing good at school, which eventually compounded into easing my access to new life opportunities. I had a childhood dream to fulfill, and a Grande École is still a gateway to better living conditions in France. That was a fact, so I got admitted into engineering school.

    Each engineering school has its own culture. INSA Lyon is a multi-disciplinary engineering school founded by a rector and a philosopher. The INSA Lyon model is similar to most engineering schools, with a focus on engineering disciplines. However, a non-negligible portion of the timetable is allocated to the practice of Sports, Creative Arts, and Humanities; which is unique in the French education ecosystem. INSA Lyon’s original concept was to become the embodiment of Rabelais’ maxim “science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul”. There is a mandatory assignement called Personal Humanities Project each student must pass to get their engineering degree. Most students take it lightly, almost as a joke, but I don’t discriminate between soft and hard sciences. This is how I came to write an essay called Nomadism as an Ascending Vector. As its name suggests, it was an essay on nomadism, which would lead to my book Alter-Nomad 3 years later.

    I completed all my courses one year ago, yet, the official graduation ceremony is happening in 15 days. I don’t really feel like going. It’s just to get a piece of paper and get a last drink together with my comrades. I decided because I owe it to my family. It’s my way to thank them. We are renting an Airbnb for four days, the ceremony spans over two. We are going to suit up and celebrate. One has to work hard, but also party harder.

    When are you getting a real job?

    I will have been a full-time entrepreneur for a year by the end of the month. Looking back, it’s been a bumpy road, but it was worth it. Probably my best year in terms of personal growth.

    When I told my parents I wanted to work on my own company, they thought it was a phase. I had just stopped a job interview process at a tech consulting firm in Paris. The company was prestigious. The salary was great. The benefits as well. In the eyes of my parents, it was a dream job. My monthly wage would have represented double the amount my mother was earning after 40 years of career. They respected my choice. I am grateful for it. I felt their pressure on me for several months, however. It was obvious they wanted me to “get a real job”, that they were hesitant about me building a startup at my age.

    I kept going. Life is too short to be delayed.

    The tech startup scene is still foreign to most people. It is a vast, complex, often misunderstood Wild West. Sometimes it feels like gambling. Yet, the more you try and walk into those troubled waters, the more comfortable it gets. You start finding patterns. At some point your pain threshold gets so high you start developing an immune system. One is not born, but rather becomes, an entrepreneur.

    It doesn’t mean you won’t fail in the end, but you already won many battles. Those battles are valuable marketable experiences. You will always be able to use them for your own benefits later on. In fact, starting a tech company is rarely risky: you can always find a job down the road thanks to the skills you acquired.

    It took me 9 months to receive my first dollar from making my own tech product, and it took me a year to figure out that my parents are my best accountability partners: only since I started writing, and thus clearly explaining my motives, did they stop asking me about getting a job.

    The "Stop Consuming, Start Creating" fallacy

    I often read the expression ”Stop Consuming, Start Creating”. Sometimes on Twitter sometimes on Medium. It seems it appears on every platform. It has some truth to it, but it remains a black-or-white fallacy.

    Those articles preach the idea that consuming is a bad thing and that we should all be “doers”. They are usually followed by a call-to-action inviting you to buy products that will enable you to realize your wildest dreams. Don’t be fooled, it’s oversimplifying motivational bullcrap.

    The truth is that there is no such thing as consuming and/or creating. What is the first law of chemistry you learn at elementary school? Conservation of mass: in nature, nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes. What we call creation is nothing but a transformation of what we consume.

    I’m not saying you should indulge in shallow consumption. You have to consume in an intent to create, or out of curiosity to open yourself up to new ideas. It’s not the same as consuming ephemeral content. You need content that will take your stomach some serious digestion work. Great creators are great consumers who managed to breed several ideas together to result in a new innovative one. James Altucher calls it Idea Sex. Picasso, Jobs, or Stravinsky call it Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal.

    Don’t trust me? Have a look at some masters we all appreciate. Tarantino watched tons of movies during his youth and regularly comes back to them for inspiration. When you watch a Tarantino movie, you can always find great ideas that often come from the work of other directors, but with his own personal twist. Picasso started Cubism after being inspired by African art. Bob Dylan was a huge fan of Arthur Rimbaud, you can feel the influence in some parts of his huge career. The list goes on and on…

    Senses are meant to consume content, external stimuli created by your environment. You have to learn to produce, and you have to learn to consume. It’s a balance. Only then can you truly create.

    You can be a doer. You can be a maker. It doesn’t mean your work will have any worth, so don’t auto-congratulate yourself, and don’t mock “consumers”. You won’t have anyone to create for otherwise.

    Out of Control

    This post is a personal reminder to let go.

    We all have moments of doubts. Sometimes those doubts turn into fear. The good thing with fears is that you can overcome them. You either learn to rationalize what scares you or, if it’s an irrational fear, you can meet a therapist when it gets debilitating. Rationalization is a great defense mechanism when it’s used to overcome psychological blocks - not when it’s used to create excuses that will sabotage your efforts or someone else’s.

    Take a good look at what frightens you. Ask yourself a simple question: is it something within my control?

    If you can identify clear steps to avoid a scary outcome, just take those steps right now. Setting a wheel in motion has a soothing effect. All you have to do is to keep going. This feeling of control, the confidence you gain by just sitting down and putting in the work will eventually vanquish the fear that was paralyzing you. Just repeat whenever it happens, and until you succeed. Fear of failing an exam? Just sit down and study carefully. Fear of not delivering your project on time? Plan, work.

    If a fear is out of reach, why should you worry about it? There is nothing you can do. Dread is not a solution, it only makes your life more miserable right now, but only possibly in a distant future. Epicurus didn’t fear death, because death is inevitable: non fui, fui, non sum, non curo. Similarly, I shall act upon what is within my control, and be devoid of care about what isn’t.

    Minimalism

    The engineer part of my brain loves optimizing, so I quickly got attracted to the concept of minimalism during my college years.

    Minimalism has been around for thousands of year. From Diogenes the Cynic to Marie Kondo, the core idea remains the same:

    Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

    - Wind, Sand and Stars (Terre des Hommes), Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    Perfection is an ideal state. You cannot reach it forever. It rarely comes. It will eventually go.

    Saint-Exupery was referring to the craftsmen who built his airplane. The quest for perfection doesn’t start with accumulation. It begins with simplification: when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness, when the superficial is removed to expose the core.

    Minimalism is a philosophy with many subcultures. I’m not a big fan of “Checklist Minimalism”. It’s not about how many pieces of clothing you own. There is but a step between minimalism and asceticism. Tending toward asceticism is missing the point of minimalism, which is to make the most out of your time on this planet. It’s about getting your life together.

    We only have so much time every day. Isn’t it better to spend it on things that matter? A minimalist is an individual who understands the finite nature of time well enough to make conscious decisions on a daily basis towards his own betterment without ever losing compassion.

    Minimalism is not a trend. It’s not even a revolutionary idea. It’s a mindset easily drown in the ambient noise and forgotten.

    Consuming is making a choice

    I like the expression “Purchasing power”. Not what it means, the amount of goods or services that one unit of a given currency can buy, but what it illustrates in a literal manner: having money is a form of power, and buying is empowering the company you are buying from.

    We are quick to forget that the way we consume has a huge impact on our economy at scale. I plead guilty. There is always a moment where you just buy something apparently harmless without thinking about the consequences, like buying a burger from McDonald’s out of hunger after a night at the bar. Do I want to empower McDonald’s business? Hell no. But I wanted instant gratification at this moment so I was happy to forget.

    I’m using a McDonald’s example because it reminds me of an event of my childhood. My mom has been an ecologist activist since as long as I can remember. She was the only family provider and didn’t earn much, but she never hesitated to pay slightly more for high-quality food, organic and fresh from the farm or the market. One summer we were visiting Barcelona and we ended up on the Barceloneta during lunch time. A McDonald’s on one side, a grilled sardine restaurant on the other. My brother and I wanted to eat at McDonald’s because there was a playground inside and it looked fun. My parents agreed to take us there, but they would be eating at the sardine restaurant afterward. We got so disgusted by the food served there that we ended up eating sardines as well. I didn’t eat at McDo again until much later during my college years.

    In retrospect, consumption is a matter of habit. Conscious living is a habit. Making conscious choices is not innate, but it’s possible to act upon them.

    More importantly, consuming is making a political statement. The way we consume is as impactful as the way we create, if not greater.

    Makers that inspire me

    Product Hunt kicked off an interesting discussion yesterday: ”Name another Maker that inspires you“.

    It makes an interesting topic to discuss today as well.

    @aidenbuis

    Aiden is not only a great mental health advocate but also a top maker. The very definition of quiet strength.

    @andreyazimov

    Andrey inspired my first project as an indie maker: Road to Ramen, a journey of 6 months to reach ramen profitability as an indie maker building his own products. It was the umbrella project that got me into a habit of making, and that led to 200WaD. R2R is now abandoned (focusing full-time on 200WaD) as I understood along the journey that revenue is not an end-goal in entrepreneurship, but a side effect of deeply caring about adding value to people through products.

    @anthilemoon

    Ha Anne-Laure! I stumbled upon her in Product Hunt’s Makers. Her online presence in the Maker Movement is so large I bumped into her in Telegram channels and Twitter as well. Always ready to give, she is the embodiment of the pay-it-forward philosophy. Leaving a well-paid job at Google to pursue her own vision, she is also what success means to me.
    The thing I appreciate the most about her is that she never lost her common touch throughout her journey. When I got started as an indie maker, I was lucky enough to receive her feedback. When my first startup started crumbling due to a lack of alignment between cofounders, she gave me the courage to become a solo indie maker full-time, which resulted a few days later in the creation of 200WaD during PH’s Makers Festival. Heck, she even offered me to contribute to her latest creation, makermag.com, which gave me the confidence to start writing my own book despite my poor English, because life is too short to care about such details.
    Her ability to make others shine is what defines her, not only as a great inspiration, but also as a great leader. Thank you!

    @booligoosh

    At 16, Ethan is one of the youngest programming makers, but it didn’t stop him from having not only a great product sense but also a real taste for personal branding. I learned a lot about soft marketing thanks to him, and you can witness his warmth and helpful nature through his interactions with the community. Definitely an example to us all.

    @corey_gwin

    Corey and I share the same perception of writing as an incredible tool to empower people. He is an amazing maker acknowledged by the community, and the food for thought his writings provide is priceless.

    @deadcoder0904

    Akshay is a great programmer, but what really inspired me about him is his no-fucks-given attitude. The dude just goes with his own flow and do his own things while still providing value when he feels like it. Some makers tend toward a yes-man/full-time hustler attitude, I find his refreshing (or at least this is my perception of him, but it still inspires me).

    @diannamallen/@tomaswoksepp

    Dianna is an amazing blogger. Her cheerful attitude helped me gain confidence when she joined 200WaD at its beginning. She is now helping people get the most out of their travels by making Outglobing while learning how to code.

    Tomas is one of the rare makers who doesn’t jump from one project to another. He just keeps on improving his baby venturecost.com, which makes him one of the most consistent shippers out there (top 5 Makerlog makers with 100+ days of continuous shipping).

    The two of them travel the world as digital nomads.

    @dinkydani21/@jamesivings

    Speaking of couples, James and Danielle are living the dream! Nomad makers, they prove that it’s possible to have a balanced life while owning a business. They have the best mascot too.
    The main lesson I got from them is that the digital nomad life doesn’t imply sacrifices, but conscious choices.

    @levelsio

    The guy that convinced me that indie making was possible, and showed me how. I am who I am now thanks to him.

    @m1guelpf

    16 and highly talented. You can benefit a lot from his bright mind here on 200WaD ;)

    @matt_lo

    Matt is an experienced maker always ready to share his knowledge. An article of his he later transformed into a 200 words post was really eye-opening for me, and I think it indirectly inspired a lot of ideas I have for the future of 200 Words a Day to help writers.

    @matteing

    Sergio uplifted many makers with his creation Makerlog and his presence. Not just a great product manager, he is a great community leader and a hard-working innovator. He also inspired half of the idea behind 200 Words a Day.
    Did I mention he is still a student? Incredible talent I’m telling you!

    @orelauwen

    French maker, Orel writes every day. Sounds familiar? :)
    He is one of the first makers I got to encounter on Twitter/Product Hunt Makers, and I guess he unconsciously inspired me to build 200 Words a Day.

    @paulg

    Paul Graham changed my perception of entrepreneurship entirely when I was still a college student. His book Hackers and Painters gave me the mindset I needed to vanquish my fear of failure and start my own business.

    @rrhoover

    Ryan’s Product Hunt is the kind of community that inspires and enables others, which is obviously one of the main inspirations for 200WaD.
    The other thing that really stands out from Ryan’s online presence is how aligned he is with his creation. He is passionate about products and their makers. It’s just his nature. If Product Hunt was a person, it would definitely be Ryan Hoover, and I think this is a great lesson for all entrepreneurs out there: a venture should be an extension of its founder’s persona.

    @thepatwalls

    Patrick pushed the concept of startup to its utmost limits with his 24-hour startup challenge. Constantly innovating to break through the last walls (yes this is a Pat Walls pun) preventing anyone to start their own tech venture (Starter Story, Shipstreams, You Don’t Need WordPress), Pat is still the very definition of humbleness. He also writes a lot about his personal story and his struggles as an indie hacker.

    @thisiskp_ / @5harath

    KP and Sharath are not just great makers, they are also avid readers, writers, and best friends since childhood!
    KP helped me acquire momentum with my own project, and didn’t hesitate to reach out to me for a video call, which I found awesomely cool!

    @zyumbik/@alollou/@harowitzblack

    They taught me you can make great things, and still be goofy :) It’s not because you are a business owner you should take yourself too seriously.

    I don’t believe in heroes, but they are among the closest I can think of.

    What's a Maker?

    *Note: The title of my book, which is announced to be released by March the 15th, is Making a Maker. I guess it’s only fair to make a first attempt at defining the term Maker in this post. I will iterate over it later. Consider it a draft.*

    Makers are people who make things. If we consider this general definition, makers have been around since the dawn of time, and most individuals are makers. But words evolve. They are meant to, because societies change.

    In the context of the Maker Movement, a maker is a member of a culture.

    Cultures are exclusive by definition. It doesn’t mean that cultures divide people according to gender, race, sexual or ethnic criteria. It means that cultures are based on a set of exclusive values, beliefs, goals, and principles. Those values do not pertain to everyone, but to a specific social group.

    A Maker is thus an individual who adheres to the values of the Maker culture.

    Does it mean we should follow a Maker Manifesto defining a fixed set of values? I believe it would be self-limiting. This is the reason why it’s so hard to define the term Maker. Mark Hatch says it well in his own Maker Manifesto:

    In the spirit of making, I strongly suggest that you take this manifesto, make changes to it, and make it your own. That is the point of making.

    Mark Hatch - CEO of TechShop and Author of “The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers”

    It is thus more relevant to identify the core values of the Maker culture rather than a set of rules to live by.

    I will make an attempt at identifying those values in a future post.

    Imperfections

    Greeks believed men and women were originally not two but one single entity called Androgynous. Androgynous threatened the gods, so Zeus divided them to better conquer them. Soul mates are but two parts of the same Androgynous soul, and this is why humans seek their better half since the dawn of time.

    We seek wholeness. One could say, we strive for perfection.

    Everybody knows that nobody is perfect, meaning, humankind will always hope for a better tomorrow and perfection is a never-ending quest. However, what matters in the quest for perfection is the journey, not the destination.

    People who seek perfection turns to practices of gradual self-improvement.

    Self-improvement is a misleading term. In fact, self-improvement is not about being more, it’s about knowing yourself. Know thyself is old Greek wisdom.

    You improve yourself through self-knowledge because it enables self-control.

    Once you manage to discipline your thoughts and emotions, you can act more freely toward your goals.

    Thus, perfection is not about eliminating imperfections. It is about understanding and accepting them so that they can be turned into strengths.

    The quest for perfection is an attempt at minimizing the chaos of life, which is bound to fail, though it can still improve significantly the quality of said life.

    Mastery is my goal, and it’s perfectly human.

    Unpaid Roles

    Time to take on the weekly topic. I can talk about my childhood with a stay-at-home dad and a working mother, or, I can tell my experience as an NGO volunteer.

    Let’s consider with the latter in this post.

    I joined the Board of European Students of Technology in October 2015 while I was still studying at INSA Lyon as an aspiring telecom engineer.

    BEST is a European non-profit student NGO whose aim is to empower diversity through education.

    I started as a regular member in Lyon. I then took on some IT tasks (build event websites, manage the web hosting, create an official website etc.) and became the IT coordinator. I helped organize the Spring Course of 2016 (25 European students gathering in Lyon to attend a one-week course while learning about the city), the local round of the European BEST Engineering Competition 2016, a Start-Up Camp, and the Regional Meeting of Autumn 2015.

    I then went abroad as an exchange student in Stockholm and joined the local group over there as well. It led me to travel to Aalborg (Danemark), Bucharest (Romania) and Wroclaw (Poland) to represent the local BEST group of Stockholm.

    All in all, I had the honor to be an active member of BEST for two years. The unpaid roles I took on at BEST allowed me to make many friends and experience many cultures. It was also a valuable professional experience that played a key role in obtaining internships throughout my studies. More importantly, it taught me a lot about myself. When I entered BEST I was quite shy and introverted. As a member, I was confronted with new exciting perspectives that pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone: I opened myself up and found new virtues of traveling.

    If I had one advice to give to all students, it would be to join an organization. It broadens the mind. It gives you access to incredible opportunities. It allows you to meet amazing people.

    Living off the Clutter of Others

    One thing that attracted me to the nomad lifestyle, in particular, is how it presupposes minimalism.

    Wherever I go, people are always surprised at how small my luggage is.

    In Asia, I carry 3 t-shirts, 2 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, 1 pair of shoes, 4 pairs of socks, 4 underwears, and a blazer for whenever it gets cold. I never fail to bring a tie and a waistcoat. There is always a good reason to suit up when you travel. When I stay inside I use a sports shirt and a pair of shorts. Except for clothes, the only thing I need is my laptop and some electronics.

    What I carry fits in a medium-sized bag, and I like it this way.

    Anything else I need is at reach. From my rented apartment/hotel room. From the grocery shop by the street. From locals.

    I live off the clutter of others.

    One could say, I live like a cockroach.

    To me, it’s a compliment. Cockroaches can withstand any environment thanks to their adaptative nature. Similarly, I think it’s important to learn to live with less. It forces you to adapt. Only those who can adapt quickly can survive and strive.

    What happens to the individual who trained himself to carry on with his life, no matter the place?

    He becomes the freest man on earth, or as Kipling said:

    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Expelled

    Getting expelled from college was one of the turning points of my life.

    Looking back, I always had it easy. I was a top student throughout my whole boyhood, and got my high school degree with top grades. I was lucky enough to have parents who always made sure I was not slacking off at school. Well, maybe easy is not the right term since I still had to put in the work, but I had the right environment to prosper.

    After high school I passed the entry process of one of the top engineering school in France, INSA Lyon. In France, public engineering schools are in a different system than regular universities. More prestigious. Based on a selection process to ensure only the best can survive. Truth is, they are but remnants of a napoleonian heritage. Engineers in France were part of a special napoleonian army corps. The training was so good it spread around Europe.

    It is still a system based on elitism. 10% of the students at INSA Lyon are expelled within the 1st year. I was one of those.

    The shift from high school to college is tough. You are never taught how to learn. The newly-found freedom is hard to contain. No matter how hard you work, if your methods are not right, it gets harder to succeed.

    One semester passed. I tried my best to improve my grades. There was a slight improvement during the second semester, but the study committee still went for the expulsion. I didn’t receive any help. Actually, I didn’t ask for help. I should have. But I was an introvert from a far-away rural town who graduated from a regular high school. I was not prepared for that. I was closing myself off, trying to deal with my problems by myself.

    This event taught me not to fully rely on others for my success, but to work on myself while still being eager to seek external help when it’s right.

    In the second part of this story I will tell you how I made my come back to the very same engineering school that expelled me and how I graduated as a telecom engineer.

    Hardness, Tenderness

    “One has to grow hard but without ever losing tenderness.”

    I grew up with this quote from Che Guevara written on the wall next to my bed in the family house.

    I remember writing it as a teenager learning about politics and trying to act cool and contrarian. I didn’t quite grasp it at the time. I’m still trying to figure it out.

    The quote stuck with me for some reason, and a few days ago, it hit me that this is the perfect illustration of what a great leader is all about.

    A leader doesn’t seek a following or to be a leader. A leader is an individual who left the cave to experience the sun and be blinded by its intensity. Facing this cold hard reality head-on is growing hard.

    When you grow hard, it’s tempting to choose the easy path and grow bitter or to feel superior as well. To tell you the truth, it’s one of my dark patterns. I can quickly get arrogant and dismiss others. This is something I’m working on.

    The solution is to stay tender. In Buddhist terms, I would say ”to cultivate compassion“.

    For a person to become his own leader, it is important to balance self-development with compassion.

    Practicing mindfulness. Simple living. Aiming for what truly matters. Alignment between actions and values.

    The opportunities are many.

    On Education

    We often quote Montaigne’s essay as one of the precursors of modern education.

    If we have a closer look at how we handle the training of the young minds nowadays, this could not be further from the truth.

    According to Montaigne, the goal of education is to birth skilled individuals, meaning, people capable of judging, rather than mere scholars. Inspired by the wisdom of many ancient Greek philosophers, Montaigne proposes core educational values such as the absence of dogma and independent thinking.

    More than a theoretical essay, the humanist defines the role of a tutor. A teacher acts as a guide easing the learning process without ever resorting to violence, which, at the time, went against the common practices of medieval scholasticism.

    I find it ironic that we take pride in self-proclaiming us the heirs of Montaigne’s teachings, when in fact our educational system tends to the very thing Montaigne despised:

    But, amongst other things, the strict government of most of our high schools has always displeased me […] They are mere jails, where imprisoned youths are taught to be debauched, by being punished for it before they are so. Do but come in when they are about their lesson, and you shall hear nothing but the outcries of boys under execution, and the thundering of pedagogues, drunk with fury. A very pretty way this to tempt these tender and timorous souls to love their book!

    Institutional education is a huge step forward. It is trendy to criticize the schooling system, but mass education is still an amazing thing. We grow by interacting with others. Campuses happen to gather thousands of students. It doesn’t mean we can’t do better. We have a lot of progress to make. We have to re-learn how to learn. We have to favor free thinking, introspection, and collaboration. Science, with awareness.

    We still have many things to learn from Montaigne’s On Education.

    I want to work remotely from a monastery but I can't

    Today I decided to give @brianball ‘s formula a try and state a wish in front of a group of people to hopefully attract the right person to help me with it. Here is my statement, and one of my goal for 2019:

    I want to work remotely from a monastery, but I can’t because I don’t know how to present it to the institution.

    This idea emerged in my mind after encountering two travelers in Penang who performed a meditation retreat in Thaïland.

    Mindfulness is important for many endeavors. I believe building a company to be one of them. Growing a company is tough. It’s easy to get caught in the past or in the future without being in the now. It’s also incredibly stressful.

    Monks stay in monasteries, not to run away from the world around them, but to better reflect on the nature of things. What if we viewed entrepreneurship as a form of monastic practice? What could I learn from this experience? I’m agnostic, but this idea fascinates me. I want to learn how such monks live and join them for a time. If a fulfilled life is about living many, this might be one I want to experience first-hand. A modern version of Alexandra David-Néel perhaps?

    @jasonleow proposed me to visit the Plum Village, a Buddhist mindfulness practice center not far from my hometown back in France. I don’t see what I can bring them in exchange for some free time to work on my personal project.

    I thought about writing a book on the experience. It doesn’t seem they need any help with marketing either.

    I guess I will just go there and figure things out with them directly. Anyone who went through a similar experience in a retreat?

    The 1 Million Dollars Thought Experiment

    I don’t remember where I read about it. This is the kind of idea that sticks in your unconscious for so long that you forget about its origin. I tried to google it, without success.

    How would it impact your life to receive 1 million dollars right now?

    It’s a simple thought experiment to assess whether or not 1) your lifestyle is aligned with your aspirations and 2) you are effectively working toward your dreams.

    If you are already doing something you love, chances are that your life won’t be much affected. This is something we should strive for: a lifestyle fitting you so deeply that even all the money in the world would not be able to change it.

    Do you know what the best part is? You don’t have to wait to figure it out. Most people don’t want money, they want the freedom that comes with it. Financial freedom, also known as financial independence, is something we can act upon every day.

    What would I do if I received 1 million dollars tomorrow? I would travel the world while writing for machines and humans alike. Ho wait, I’m already doing that. Maybe build my own little house and grow a garden like Thoreau? Find a nice lady and grow kids too. Work from home and watch over them. Hit the road when we feel like it. Visit my friends and family more often. Keep life simple.

    I don’t need one million dollars. And I never will.

    Spending Christmas Alone: my Experiment

    This year I decided to spend the end of December in South-East Asia.

    The first thing I notice is that Christmas is celebrated here out of sheer western influence. There is no particular reason why people do it, except maybe for advertisement and social pressure. Santa sells more than it gives. The Christmas Spirit feels fake. Yet another attempt at pleasing tourists. This is why I don’t miss Christmas these days. It just doesn’t feel right. One week ago a sad looking middle-aged Bengali waiter served me food while wearing a ridiculous Christmas hat. He immigrated from Bangladesh to Malaysia to support his family and won’t see them for Christmas. I felt bad for him.

    I am far away from family and friends as well.

    It is not that I don’t love them. It is about training the mind. Everyone fears loneliness. I included. Yet I believe loneliness to be a part of life you need to face head-on.

    I have friends who can’t get things done by themselves. This dependence on external motivation is toxic. It doesn’t mean you should be a loner. It means you have to learn to be self-reliant to enjoy community life to its fullest.

    I am lucky to have loving parents and an incredible brother. I am grateful for my family and my friends. But one day we will all die. I can’t take anyone for granted.

    This experience of loneliness is part of my “death conditioning” process, as it is described in the dystopia Brave New World. Except that in my case it is not an attempt at escapism, but rather a jump into a cold reality that strengthens the mind and heightens the senses. When the worst will happen, I will be a little more prepared (you can never be prepared).

    I choose to be alone this year. I won’t do it willingly again. It is a catharsis to re-learn that those holiday celebrations are all about cherishing your loved ones. Today I am stronger, and I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

    Voiceless Majority

    There is but one truly serious philosophical question and that is suicide.

    - Albert Camus

    We are 7.8 billion human beings huddling around a small particle in a too-big-to-comprehend universe. In his book The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus asks: Has life a meaning? To which he answers that life is absurd and meaningless, but we shouldn’t give into fear and strive to make peace with this apparent fact in order to be happy. Life is meaningless, so we are free to create our own meaning.

    How do we create our own meaning? My take is that before creating our own meaning, maybe we should create first. Become makers. Code, paint, record, document, write… Anything, anywhere, every day.

    Becoming is putting your voice out there for the world to hear.

    Does a sound really exist if no one can hear it?

    Creating is becoming because creating is answering your own questions, solving your own problems. Creation is cathartic.

    This is why I write words every day. Coding is writing as well. It clears my troubled mind. It helps me think. It shapes reality. It gives me form. Not producing for a week could result in me going insane.

    We should not wait for meaning to come to us. Instead, we have to work on it. Only then can we escape from the voiceless majority.

    You Don't Need Co-Founders

    I am fascinated by the work of Paul Graham. He changed the way we build startups, but that does not mean I agree with everything he writes. His opinion of solo founders is one of them.

    PG argues that:

    1) A founder starting a company alone is a founder who couldn’t get his own friends on-board, thus proving a lack of leadership (“vote of no confidence”)
    2) “Starting a startup is too hard for one person […] you need colleagues to brainstorm with, to talk you out of stupid decisions, and to cheer you up when things go wrong”
    3) “The low points in a startup are so low that few could bear them alone. When you have multiple founders, […] Each thinks “I can’t let my friends down.” This is one of the most powerful forces in human nature, and it’s missing when there’s just one founder”

    Graham was so intransigent on the idea that you need a co-founder, he forced Drew Houston (Dropbox’s founder) into finding one in two weeks to get into Y Combinator. It went well in the end, good for him. What about the countless startups that shut down because of a co-founder breakup?

    My first startup failed after one year. It was time to scale but our visions were different. A great co-founder relationship is about 3 things: friendship, alignment, and dedication.

    It’s pretty famous that co-founding a startup is like getting married.

    Friendship: If your significant other is not your greatest friend, it won’t end well.
    Alignment: If one wants kids, but not the other, it won’t end well.
    Dedication: If you are less committed than your spouse in the relationship, the breakup is imminent.

    It is objectively hard to find a great partner in life. Finding a partner for the sake of it is the surest path to self-destruction.

    Not everyone has friends who have the exact same interests. Hell, that would be boring. Friends don’t necessarily have the right skill set or are too afraid to leave their situation. And who can blame them? You have to be a little mad to build a company. You can just work in an office without having to worry about tomorrow. The American mindset ignores the cultural specificities of the rest of the world. Not everyone is comfortable with risk or change, and that’s okay.

    Building a startup is like traveling: it is better to go at it alone, then find like-minded people on your way.

    You can be alone, but you don’t have to be lonely.

    Stay close to your users, stay close to your friends and family.

    Join communities. In the olden days, master artisans, who represented a big part of the business owners, had no co-founders. Instead, they could rely on a guild. Surround yourself with makers, doers, and enthusiasts.

    It is easy to give into fear when you feel lonely. Only cowards settle down for the first familiar face that offers them some sort of immediate attention. Work on yourself and others will eventually be attracted to what you want to offer.

    If not, your idea sucked in the first place. Don’t give up. Move on.

    The Hero's journey

    The monomyth, also known as the Hero’s journey, is a fascinating concept in narratology popularized by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).

    A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

    This pattern can be found in most tales depicting the adventures of a hero. Not only in tales, but also in most religions. All prophets went through a similar journey.

    Carl Jung observes that symbols from the collective imaginary take a big part in the development of our subconsciousness. Heroism is no different. It is deeply ingrained in our psyche.

    Now, an interesting thing to observe is that this Hero’s journey is still widely used in popular narratives. For example, advertisement exulting the inner hero of the consumer, or the origin stories of famous entrepreneurs.

    We all aspire to be heroes. ”We can be heroes, just for one day,” says Bowie. Yet, few are brave enough to set out on a quest for self-realization.

    He is no hero who never met the dragon, or who, if he once saw it, declared afterwards that he saw nothing. Equally, only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the “treasure hard to attain.”
    – Carl Jung

    Successful people are the ones who attained the treasure. This prize can take any shape, but it is up to us to find it. To do so, we have to go through every stage of this ultimate pursuit of self-discovery.

    Look for the opportunities. Dive in them. Go through every trial and tribulation with faith in oneself and others. Die. Resurrect. Reinvent yourself. Return. Share your treasure.

    Only by obtaining this new-found freedom can you face death with serenity.

    I believe however that the Hero’s journey is not a one-time process, but an iterative one.

    How I got into software development

    Sigmund Freud says in his book “A Life in Psychoanalysis” that the child is the father of the man, meaning that our habits from childhood end up defining us to some extent in our adult life. This could not be more true in my case. My parents, my brother and I used to go on vacation in a van traveling around Spain and Portugal.

    For as long as I can remember, I am a slow traveler, and a nomad at heart.

    My brother and I always loved playing video games (Game Boy Advance + Playstation 2).

    Travels and video games fueled my imagination. When I was not playing video games, I would either be drawing, playing with Playmobil, watching anime or inventing adventure stories inspired by my favorite characters. I wrote short stories too, mainly while I was traveling.

    At 12 or 13, I discovered play-by-post role-playing games, ”an online text-based role-playing game in which players interact with each other and a predefined environment via text”. The environment would be revolving around manga (Naruto or One Piece). Once in a while you had to log in a phpBB forum and write about what is happening in your character’s life. You could either choose a character that already existed in the predefined universe or invent a new one. Moderators would judge your text and decide whether or not your character could gain new powers or abilities.

    I was quite fed up with those moderators judging me, so I decided to setup my own forum with some other online “friends”. I learnt about Photoshop, forum engines. I learnt that marketing is hard: BOOM, 0 user. But now I was hooked on making stuff online.

    I wondered why my phpBB forum was not looking as good as some other forums, and I came to understand that there are many forum engines. Those engines are written in something called “programming languages”. I looked it up and ended up learning about HTML, CSS, C and PHP. I couldn’t actually launch a damn thing, but I was introduced to many programming concepts: what is a server, what is a loop, what is a pointer, how to draw a colorful box from my browser etc.

    I quickly came to love this. YOU CAN ACTUALLY ASK THE COMPUTER TO ASK YOU A QUESTION AND ANSWER IT YOURSELF???? :OOO

    I would take notes and read them again. I wanted to become a software engineer. I graduated from high school with top grades, got into engineering school, launched my first bad product, and graduated from telecom engineering in March this year.

    It’s been twelve years since I joined this forgotten online RPG forum. I am 24 and building a new publishing platform called 200 Words a Day now.

    What is financial independence really about

    Ask random people in the street about what financial independence means to them.

    Chances are, they will tell you they need X millions to consider themselves findependent, meaning, you have to earn a lot more than what you are currently making.

    There is some truth to it. If tomorrow you earned 1 million dollars, you would have enough money for the rest of your life, as long as you invest it correctly.

    But this quest for more is far from liberating. Money becomes your master. You will never attain any form of freedom. Instead, I say, learn to master your money. Money is an universal tool meant to provide a way to exchange goods and services. It should remain a tool.

    So, instead of asking “How can I earn more?”, you might want to think about “How can I live on less?” first.

    People don’t want money, they want the freedom that comes with having money. There are but two ways to gain this financial freedom: by raising your income, or by decreasing your expenses. Decreasing your expenses is easier than raising your income, because you can act on it starting today.

    Expenses result from daily habits. Consequently, financial independence is a lifestyle.

    Financial independence is the lifestyle based on frugality and anti-consumerism.

    Start saving. Invest your savings in low-risk funds (eg index funds). Learn about the compound effect.

    Chasing money is never a good idea in life. Helping people or solving important problems will not only benefit everyone, but also give you opportunities for revenues later on the road.

    Instant gratification is tempting. Work on the long-term.

    Why I gave in to entrepreneurship straight out of college

    The following essay is an edited version of an original post I published on my blog (now abandoned). I hope it will inspire you to start making.

    ---

    When I was a kid, I wanted to be an inventor.

    I liked pretending to build advanced technologies out of wooden sticks and crayons. Children like to babble about their future job titles, though mine never changed since I was ten years old. At the time, my teacher asked the class to write down some ideas about who we would like to be when we grow up. I vividly remember coming up with two titles, one of them being “architect”, yet only writing down the latter : “scientist engineer”. My adult self still wonders what “scientist engineer” actually even mean, although it was, at the time, the closest I could imagine to an inventor career.

    At thirteen years old, I stumbled upon some tutorials on “Le Site du Zéro” (now OpenClassrooms.com) concerning software development. That’s when I wrote my first Hello World program. I instantly fell in love with this idea of making stuff out of apparently nothing, much like drawing on a white canvas. I later did a bit of web development, but nothing extraordinary - mainly colorful HTML rectangles with some text. Still, my dream job went from “scientist engineer” to computer engineer. After graduating from high school, I entered INSA Lyon, a french engineering school. Two bumpy years passed, and I joined INSA Lyon’s telecommunications department.

    My time spent as an engineering student allowed me to experiment career-wise. I worked as a webmaster for two months in a humanitarian association. Next, I assumed the role of an IT manager in a student NGO for two years. I finished my degree inside a consulting company as a software engineering intern for six months.

    My passion for building useful things triggered my desire to become an engineer. The opportunities offered to me lead me to be an entrepreneur.

    Right before the start of my end-of-study internship, Pierre-Alexis, an engineering friend of mine, proposed coming aboard a startup project as a web developer. I quickly agreed to meet the team, and this side hustle project ended up becoming Justinien four months down the road.

    In the fifth month, the company was officially registered. I was in the middle of an hiring process at a consulting firm in Paris, revolving around a well-paid and interesting data science job, when I decided to put a stop to it. I realized that I wanted to dedicate myself fully to the entrepreneurship journey, that it was meant for me.

    I finished my internship two months later. It has now been 11 months since I have become a full-time entrepreneur.

    Starting a company, what more at a young age and fresh out of college, is often considered a bold and risky move. I think it is not, or at least, that it does not have to be. I rationalized my fear of starting in a simple manner.

    On one hand, the notion of a “most appropriate time to start” is more flexible than one might think. In my case, I make tech products, so I had no need for either a big network or a lot of money to start. I am currently living in Malaysia under $600 a month without sacrificing my well-being. I saved around $24000 over five years from previous scholarships and earnings. If I were to relocate to Europe, I could still endure another one to two years from this money. Heck, you don’t even need a perfect-thought-out idea to begin with. You can figure out the exact opportunity later. I started with a legaltech startup (Justinien) as a tech cofounder. We made some money but nothing extraordinary out of the 4 products we released. I built another 2 products as an indie maker, not with much success. Now I’m growing 200 Words a Day to make it a beautiful product and a wonderful community. If it doesn’t succeed I still have other ideas. All you need is to start doing : get the right issue to tackle, the right people to work with - or, maybe even none ! - and the right mindset to begin with. Not so easy, yet achievable. The moment I choose to go full-time is when I believed I had acquired all three - and I still do.

    I believe my products solve the right challenges, considering they solve an important issue, in a unique way, while creating value out of it.

    I believe I have the right partners, this community.

    I believe I have the right mindset : a full confidence in my skills. I am confident I can learn anything I want. I am fearless I can execute at will without the need for external motivation. I am convinced going all-out will ensure the success of this adventure. There is the fear of starting, and there is the fear of finishing. I wish I had neither of them. However, I can overcome them.

    What is the worst case scenario anyways. Having to find a job ? Running out of money ? Moving out with my parents ? Not so bad.

    I am positive I can find a job anytime I want, considering the skills entrepreneurship is teaching me. I solve problems. I become a proactive and independent craftsman. I know how to add value to the tiniest detail. More importantly, I am part of a community that is far greater than my own individuality. What kind of business would not want this kind of worker ? Surely not one you want to work for.

    If you consider starting a venture, I would give you the same advice Bukowski once wrote to aspiring writers:

    Don’t do it for fame. Don’t do it to get someone in your bed. Or to get rich. Don’t even think about it as a way to be free, owing to the fact that you will trade a form of slavery for another. Don’t choose it.

    Do it because it’s bursting out of your very soul, and you have no other choice but to give in to it.

    On practicing what you preach

    Most people think of philosophy as something abstract, which does not belong to everyday life but to formal dinners.

    This could not be further from the truth. Philosophy is an act first.

    You cannot preach something without it being already a driving force in your life.

    When I set out to make 200 Words a Day, I was already 18 days in the challenge. I experienced its benefits first-hand. And I knew how it could benefit others by adding new social dynamics to it.

    This was a belief supported by a personal philosophy. An act, no vain words.

    When your thoughts, your values and your acts are aligned, something extraordinary happens. A flow that allows you to be and do your best.

    This is why I strive to perform in accordance to my own morals, to my own feelings.

    I will never work for the nuclear or the agricultural industry. More importantly, I will never stop writing software, or at least as long as my body allows it. I will never stop meeting new people in new places, because I am a nomad at heart. I will never stop making, because this is who I am.

    If tomorrow I was to earn one million dollars, few things would change and many would remain.

    Find your alignment. This is my way to happiness.