Look at the present :)
I turned 40 on the 25th of August. I’ve been reflecting on this symbolic milestone over the past few days and weeks. But nothing really came to mind naturally. I was maybe waiting for a sign or a lightning realization. I didn’t play the lottery. I didn’t organize any kind of party yet.
I could write a post-mortem on why I didn’t invest in the pre-seed round of Hugging Face back in 2016 when Alban wanted to make that intro or when I met with the team in San Francisco the same year. I love that team; only great vibes transpired from all my interactions with Clément and Julien. I actually missed it again in 2017. I focused too much on their AI Girlfriend/Boyfriend thing as it was the end game… Such a rooky mistake. No regret. I have learned my lesson.
Anyway, back on the matter… Today isn’t an opportunity to look back and think about what I would say to my younger self through a Twitter thread that I would print out for my kids. I’m not going to write a plan for the next 10 years, either. As someone told me once… You’re not looking at the present in the eyes if you’re focused so much on the future. However, I can share three things (Yeah, I like that number…) that have always served me and that I believe would serve anyone pretty well…
Give by default. Recently, during an interview, we were discussing happiness and success. I do believe that by giving, we receive a lot of gratefulness, which makes us both happy and successful down the road. Happiness is how good we feel deep inside. Success is how great we make people feel. To give is to receive. It is the universal currency of those two states.
Don’t get me wrong, you can’t give to others if you don’t take care of yourself. It’s important to do things for yourself. However, when in a relationship, whether it’s a friend, a spouse, a partner, a customer, or, in my case, often an entrepreneur, I do believe that giving by default makes you happy because it calls for trust, for the best interaction with the other person.
It’s not unusual to cross people that will use that position in their favor and screw you over, but I prefer to give 100% of the time and see what happens rather than playing some games or trying to figure things out in advance. I get fucked now and then. That’s ok.
Positive always. I understand that we can get irritated by a late train, poor service, incompetence, lack of involvement, you name it… I get frustrated when I see some patterns repeat themselves with some entrepreneurs or when I can’t win a deal because a founder gets dazzled by some shiny artifact well-engineered by other investors.
But again, I refuse to become pessimistic and cynical or to let critics diminish my motivation, my excitement, and my unbreakable faith in the organic circle of things. I don’t say we shouldn’t be realistic and bring people to their senses, but with the best intentions and a lot of faith, we create a better environment for fruitful interactions and success. And sometimes, things aren’t bound to happen. Let’s not force them and create a negative flow; it’s much better, even for our own sake, to turn our good energy somewhere else.
Voluntary attitude. I think this trait is quite universal to describe energy, motivation, competitive mindset, and willingness in general. I talked about giving by default. Here, it’s the same but with the tasks at hand.
Whether it’s when you prepare breakfast for someone, train for a competition, play a game, or anything really, you must demonstrate a voluntary attitude. People must feel that you bring your best self to the field. This mindset really contributes to how much you will enjoy doing that thing and to its success for sure. Sometimes, we don’t have the motivation or fall short when it comes to delivering what was expected. You can’t bring your best self all the time, but keep pushing to find this sparkle that people recognize when you do things.
I could probably go on with many other traits, but the reality is that we’re expected to leave for dinner in exactly 10 minutes, and if I don’t click on continue and send, this will hunt me the whole evening, I am sure :) Just like the 261 emails in my inbox right now…