France, la honte…

Jour 710 Entre le FHaine qui s’apprète à diriger des régions, certains dirigeants de droite qui tiennent des propos limite ratissant aux extremes et les socialistes qui se comportent comme des gamins apeurés, on en est arrivé à une politique à la Trump: honteuse et dégradante.

La critique est aisée, l’art difficile, certes. Depuis 30 ans, les politiques ont tout fait pour dégouter la base, à la fois les Français qui gagnent le SMIC ou moins, ceux qui gagnent beaucoup plus et qui se sont massivement barrés pour ne pas être tondus (oui, je sais, les politiques nous disent que non, il n’y a pas d’exode fiscal massif, mais on sait maintenant que les politiques sont des acteurs menteurs), et tous les autres au milieu. Et maintenant, ils veulent tous du changement et sont prêts à mettre des poujadistes, racistes et isolationnistes au pouvoir.

Alors, toi Français qui vit en France et va voter dimanche. Une fois dans l’isoloir, rappelle-toi ton grand-père quand il te racontait 33, puis 39, puis 40, puis 41 et Pétain. Sens l’odeur du printemps, du café, du zinc d’un bistrot et dis toi que la France c’est celle qui a abattu les privilèges en 1789, celle qui a inventé les congés payés et c’est le pays que le monde envie par sa douceur de vivre. Alors Dimanche, ne transforme pas la France en un pays que tout le monde regardera effaré par ce que tu as mis en marche. Voter est un droit et un devoir, ne le fait pas le bras tendu, sous prétexte qu’un blonde souriante ça fait moins peur qu’un petit moustachu. Au final, ça va faire la même chose, en pire!

Embrace modern tools or be doomed to disappear

Day 700 Have you flown a commercial flight recently? If so, you probably noticed it’s a non-smoking flight. I think I have not flown in a plane where smoking is permitted for 20 years. Every time, the flight attendants remind that « this is a non-smoking flight, smoking is not permitted in the toilets… ». However, back in time, smoking was permitted, just not during take-off and landing. This is why we had the no smoking and fasten seat belt signs next to each other.

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But in 2015, soon to be 2016, why keeping the no smoking sign? Times have changed and there is something we cannot do only during take-off and landing phases: having our electronic devices on. So modern airlines have started to change their signs with an « electronic devices off » sign, replacing the no smoking one. It makes perfect sense. I started to notice this trend a year or two ago. The interesting point though I noticed is there seems to be a correlation between the new sign and the way the airline takes care of its passenger. In other word, if the airline embraces the new sign in its planes, the meals are better, the service is enhanced and the flight attendants feel more caring.

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But it reflects a deeper change: embracing modern tools. Those are the same airlines equipped with modern devices, both for the pilots and the flight attendants. Those are the same that provides power to the passenger at their seats. They have understood that if they want to be a trusted brand, they need to embrace new tools at the same pace as their customers. Companies who will not make the necessary decision to be modern are doomed to disappear not by going bankrupted, not necessarily. They will just become irrelevant and will be swallowed by larger ones and forced to change. Darwin was somehow right.

Plan only three goals and act!

J 687Day 687. Are you busy? Are you in busyness? Most of us want to achieve great things in life, however, when we reflect back, we sometimes do not see much! Do you know why? Just because we are busy and not focused. A busy person never has time to sit and focus. A busy person is running around creating the impression that he or she is important. But the important thing to do is to create results, whatever the result. It could be playing a wonderful piano piece, or reaching a sales quota, or just spending time with a person you love and care about.

I challenge therefore the busyness inside each of us. For the next 30 days, I challenge you to do the following everyday: sit in the morning at the time you want, grab a cuppa and plan three goals that you want to achieve in the day. Just three. They may require 10 minutes or 12 hours, I do not care. The important piece to respect is the rule of three! Three is the number. Remember Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The scene of the holy hand grenade from Antioch? This is the quote: « Shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. »

So make three your number, plan those three goals to reach during your day and act. The next morning, reflect on what you achieved and start again. After 30 days, you will have reached 90 goals, more than any average person does in one year. And if you continue after the 30 days, you will have reached over a thousand goals for the year. Simple, powerful. My goals for today:

  1. Write this post
  2. Put my calendar in order for next week
  3. Update the status of my goals for 2015

I will do more than this, but if I do those three important things at this time of my year, I will have had a good day. What will you be doing today ?

We don’t know what we don’t know, accept and stop the BS

Day 626. We are all humans, so inherently limited in our abilities and designed to act in groups. With this, there are billions of topics we barely know anything about. However, a majority of people has an opinion on those topics. Strange isn’t it? Not really as we have been taught at school to know and we were « punished » with a bad grade if we did not know. Hence our skewed reaction when we do not know, we at least have something to say. The reality is that it’s much better to admit there are things we don’t know when we don’t know them, because it gives us an opportunity to learn.

However, sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, the unknown unknowns. Those are the most dangerous unknowns to people with certainty. Experience is the best learning tool to uncover unknowns. Unknowns remain and are the main reasons we should always keep an eye on what may happen. Not to freeze action, but to be ready to act if something unexpected happens. It’s important to accept the unknown unknowns and to be ready to act on them if and when they happen. Nobody knows everything, accept to not know everything and especially that you do not know what you do not know. A little bit of modesty keeps our humanity livable.

4 simple steps to make your dreams real

Day 567. The best dreams are those that can become real. We live in a real world, being happy and fulfilled requires to enjoy the life we live. A lot of people tend to think dreams are meant to stay dreams. I believe dreams are made to become real. This gives a purpose to our efforts, guides our steps, and pushes us to grow. Of course, if you dream humanly impossible dreams, like walking on Pluto for instance, you need to rethink your dreams. However, you can scale them down to stretch you while providing a goal to reach.

So how do make your dreams real. It’s simple, although it may not be easy:

  1. Ensure your dream is achievable. If you dream to walk on Pluto, rethink! A dream can be huge and it has to be achievable, otherwise you will live an unsatisfied life.
  2. List the steps to reach your dream. If you want to fly a jet, look for the possibilities, find the expert, and write the necessary steps you’ll need to go through.
  3. List resources required to make each step real. Go deep, define time and money needed. Once again be realistic, and bold! Once done, you will be light-years ahead most people.
  4. Start now. Imagination without action is hallucination. You did not come that far just to look at the plan and not execute it. It may be hard and long, but it’s worth it! Go!

Achieving your dreams is a worthy endeavor. It pushes you, it propels you and it gives your live a purpose. If life has been tough, dreams can help make it sparkle. Of course, there will be hard times and setback. Failure is necessary for any success as it provides learning. But as it’s been said, succeeding is failing a hundred times and getting back a hundred and one times. Do not wait any longer, each of us deserve to realize our dreams, just create the ideal dream catcher and run with it!

If you are not scared, you are not growing…

Day 552. Taking risk is an inherent part of our lives. Unfortunately, society has become complacent and education has moved generations of kids in a « no risk » zone, due to increased lawsuits. People are therefore considering risks as something to avoid at all price. However, not taking risks is the greater risk of all. Not taking risk is putting yourself at the mercy of those who will take risks. Not taking risks is wearing the shoes of potential victims. Not taking risks is leaving the best opportunities to others.

Taking risk does not mean betting your house or jumping from a cliff without any knowledge and experience of base jumping. Taking risks is all about moving out of the comfort zone, expanding its borders. Taking risks is jumping into the unknown, leading your life. Of course with risk comes fear that we may fail, fear that we may not be up to the game, fear that we may get hurt. With risk comes potential success, potential win, and potential growth. There’s a price to pay and rewards to win.

With risk comes fear, meaning taking risk is a scary endeavor. The only sensible way to get rid of fear is to confront it, not to ignore it by turning your back. The first skydive will scare you, may be, the second will be smoother. Fear will keep you on your toes, will require that you are always walking on a high wire. Without a little pinch in your belly, you will become complacent and will stop growing, taking the risk of becoming obsolete. Every day, check if you are scared, at least a little, if not, you are just not growing. It’s a choice, but not taking risk is the greatest risk of all!

You never thank too much

Day 550. The most two powerful words of the English language are thank you! You never thank other enough or too much. Nobody’s forcing anybody to be kind and nice, to spend time cooking a good meal, to welcome you, to take care of your home when you’re away, to give you a helpful hand to finish a project, just to name a few things. Always take the time to thank others.

I take this occasion to thank you for being my readers. I know some of you are reading every post, some are coming once in a while, and others come and go. Whatever you do, wherever you stay, whoever you are, thank you! With no readers, no bloggers. With no followers, no tweets. Do not hesitate to let me know if some topics resonate more than others, if you want me to write about some questions you have in your mind. I am serving you with my words. Once again, thank you for the depth of my heart..

The Greek crisis and the game theory

Day 548. Greece and Europe are arm-wrestling. Yes, Greece needs to repay its debt, we all agree, including the Greek government. Although I am no subject-matter expert in the Greek crisis, I have read tons of articles on the whys and the hows of this crisis, and no one mentionned the fact that Yanis Varoufakis, the Minister of Finance, that everybody seems to like to hate, is one of the best experts in game theory.

Read in Wikipedia: « Game theory is mainly used in economics, political science, and psychology« . Interesting that the first three topics are the one listed here. I would be a member of the famous troika, I would be worried playing chess with one of the best masters that exist. Imagine trying to beat Kasparov. You would probably gather all the best chess experts to get the best player to play. But still, there will be some uncertainty.

Varoufakis and Tsipras seem to place a big bet on organizing the referendum this coming Sunday, but I bet this esteemed professor knows what he’s doing and knows the odds are in his favor. This is what probably worries the troika: what they saw as a dwarf they could command may actually be the David who defeated Goliath with his sling. The story’s not over and our game theorist is certainly enjoying the game.

The simple demonstration that proves debt makes people poorer

dollar-163473_640Day 546. The promise of credit houses makes is to treat yourself now, pay later. The problem is this promise makes the bank richer and the debtor poorer. What? This is not what your banker told you. No, because your banker has a direct interest to lend you money: to make more money. Nothing’s fundamentally wrong with that or with debt, but depending on what you are purchasing with debt, it will have an effect on you wealth. Want a demonstration? Here’s a simple one.

If you have a car, it’s almost sure you paid it with a credit. If not and paid it in cash, bravo! But for the sake of the demonstration, let’s say you have (or will) paid with a credit. The car of your dreams costs 20,000 dollars (or euros, or pounds, chose your currency). Your financial institution proposes you to purchase it with a 5% interest credit over 6 years. You are lined up to repay 322 dollars per month for 72 months, a total of 23,191 dollars. 6 years later, the value of your car will have drop by close to 65%, and if sold will bring you, let’s say 7,000 dollars. This means this car will have cost you slightly more than 16,000 dollars over 6 years.

Now imagine you set aside 322 dollars per month for 6 years at 2.5% interest annually (less than the 5% for sure, but easily found anywhere). After 72 months, you will have 24,985 dollars interests included (in this case you gave your money to the bank who in exchange pays you interest). With this amount you pay cash your 20,000 dollars car, while having earned close to 5,000 dollars. The question of course is yes, but during 6 years if you needed a car, what did you do? You could have taken public transport, rent a car when needed, or carpool. If you spent less than 16,000 dollars, you have started a virtuous circle that will put you in control and will have your money work for you!

However, beyond the fact that you are now in control, your financial institution will start a different dialogue with you. Yes they paid 2.5% interest on the money you left on your account, but rest assured it will have used this money to lend it to somebody else, generating more than the 2.5% it served you, so net, it has made money and can count on a good customer.

Of course in the example above we should have factored inflation and other factors on car pricing, but even if we complicate the example, the math will stay the same, and it comes to a simple principle: the lender gets richer, the borrower gets poorer. There is one, and only one, exception to this principle and it’s when the loan is contracted to purchase an assets that generates more than it costs. In other words, if your car will allow you to make money, is necessary to make money and the sum you will make covers the price of the repayment, then this debt is a good debt. This is the principle number 2 of the 3 rules I explained in a previous post.

We will see in a following post that this does not apply only to cars or houses, but to other goods, that should always be acquired in cash!