Thank You For Saving My Life

Hi Sebastian,

So first of all, it was really nice to talk on Hangout yesterday. Watching this young dude flip out during the interview made me realize how much I have changed since we first met, one year ago.

I was going to get an internship at a big audit firm. I was going to wear a suit and work long hours for a small pay with guys who were probably as skeptical as I was at the idea of filling spreadsheets and drawing Powerpoint presentations all day long.

And when I got back to Paris, I was going to work for a consulting firm. But then I saw this guy, my interviewer, at the firm’s offices. He was amazingly bright. He was so sharp that I felt like a total idiot. But he looked bored, he looked dead inside. And I couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t. And I failed the test, obviously. I wasn’t hungry enough.

I wasn’t because I am not the person I was last year. My life has changed so much that I am no longer able to follow the path. I can no longer accept the undisputed evidence that we have to walk in line and wait for our turn because it is safe, because it is what people do. I want my turn to come now.

This is also the reason why I refused the startup job. The one where the CEO wanted to pay me half the minimum wage for doing his work.

Since I decided not to work in audit, there hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t learned something fantastic.

Right now, I am an unemployed student. I have zero fucking euros on my bank account (jeez, even less than this). I have no title, no official skills, no company to back my unknown name. I have no 5 years plan, definitely no 10 years plan. (How can you plan the next ten years without having a stroke?)

But every day I wake up. I see the sun through the window, I feel this raw morning energy and I feel like I own the world. And nothing can break this feeling. Because I do what I love, and what I love is to live my own life.

Remember when you put me in front of this Chase VP banker to negotiate a line of credit? I had barely stepped foot on the US soil, my English was terrible, and so was his. I wish I had recorded this conversation. It was pure nonsense for fifteen minutes, as none of us understood what the other one was saying.

But that was fun.

You don’t need to be a 40 year old VP to talk to a banker. Nor do you need to be an expert to start a company, write a book, dance or just be good to people.

Since last year, I have learned how a company works. I have learned to know, respect and understand people. I have learned that they can be happy after all, and that the models that I got were not representative of how life can and should be.

I have started a blog, I read two hours and write tens of ideas a day, I am learning how to code and I have workout every single day. I have cleaned the mess in my personal life, to get closer to the person that I want to be. It took time, and pain, but it’s for the best.

I have so many ideas of things that I want to do that I would like to have ten bodies so I could do them all.

I am no longer afraid of anyone, for no one can take back the fact that I love my life. I fucking love my life.

I started giving to people without keeping score, just like you did with me. And people give back, they do.

I started helping young people to find jobs like the one you gave me. I want my generation to break free from the path they’ve been walking on their whole life. There is no point in waiting for things to come, because timing will always be wrong, and the world is changing.

There is a point, however, in doing whatever we want to do, without regretting the past or worrying about the future. Without time travelling. There is a point in questioning the undisputed evidence and walking away from the expected path.

It’s funny how small decisions can affect your life.

For all of this, I wanted to say thank you, Sebastian.

For the trust and confidence you put in me when I needed it, for the smile you manage to keep when piles of shit are raining from the sky, and for the genuine help you provide to people. I am sure they will give it back to you in a thousand amazing ways.

You might not be the best at micro-managing, but you are the best macro-manager that I ever met with.

I will be eternally grateful, for you helped change my life forever.

Go Scalr!

OpenStack summit with Scalr

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Why Working Alone Sucks

For the past year, I’ve been so obsessed by the idea of founding a startup that I rushed into it as soon as I got back to France. I didn’t take the time to find a team because I thought it wouldn’t matter. It did. Working alone sucks.

It sucks on the technical side

When working alone, you can only rely on your own ideas. If you’re lucky, you are a genius and pure gold is coming out of your brain every time you gather your thoughts. If you’re like me, you are jotting random shit on a piece of paper and changing your mind every five minutes about what needs to be done and why. Working alone means that you can’t play ping-pong with other people’s ideas. You can’t challenge your own thoughts (that’s a limited process) and you can’t benefit from other people’s skills and knowledge. You can’t delegate. You’re a hundred times less intelligent, less effective, less motivated.

Founding a startup is a lot about convincing others. It’s a very hard thing to do when you are the only believer. Potential customers would be more likely to trust you if you had other customers. Potential employees would be more likely to join you if you already had employees. It’s Catch 22. Convincing someone takes much more effort than it would if you had a team. You quickly reach a point where it doesn’t make any sense.

It sucks on the personal side

Have you ever tried to kick yourself in the butt all week long? When you don’t answer to anyone except yourself, it’s easy to be a very nice boss. I’ve been amazingly creative at implementing loose management methods and I can proudly say that my company has the best office hours in the country. Seriously, there are days when you are on fire and days when you feel like shit, but it’s tough to be productive all week long. When you’re part of a team (two people is a team!) you can’t let the other ones down. You need to prove that you’re worth working with and that you’re worth leading.

In the end,  there’s no fun in carrying a project alone. I learnt that the people matter way more than the project, the company name, the prestige or the money. I would probably be eager to join a paper company in Scranton if its employees were as amazing as they are in The Office. There’s no joy in succeeding when you can’t high-five anyone after a success, be it small or big. Trust me, high-fives matter.

So if you had the foolish idea of starting a business on your own because you still haven’t found the right team, please don’t! Good things come to those who wait. Summer is here, and sitting in a park with a nice book is a good way of waiting for them.

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