One year in Paris | Stream of Consciousness #3

So it’s been already one year in Paris. One year that I decided to switch my life around, leave Belgium for France and to reboot several parts of my life. The decision wasn’t easy, but the bet wasn’t too risky. After one year here it seemed necessary to write things down and look at the road so far.

Professional Life

I can say that this was the best decision of my life. Moving to Paris allowed me to reboot a giant part of my life for the better. In Belgium, I always felt I was stuck because of my bachelor degree (blocking me from strategic possibilities) and because of the professional landscape. While I do love my country, there was something that I couldn’t wrap my head around, it was how so many people settle for something good enough. This lack of ambition and vision slowly killed me while being there, moving from the country changed that.

But France isn’t that much better I’d say. There’s certainly a kind of ambition lying here and there, but it revolves mostly about being the french version of something else. They can’t seem to open their eyes to the outside world, focusing solely on their local market and competitors. Fortunately some people start to move things around and it’s for the best. I also realised how much this country is focused on words instead of acts. Here you’ll find 100 people able to tell you how you should do things, be bitter, angry or resentful, but in the end very few will get their hands dirty and get to work. This is not a behaviour I want to adopt.

After several talks with the company I work with, I was awarded some responsibilities that could help it grow. I’m deeply grateful for this chance, as this give me the unique opportunity to help other people grow and develop another mindset. I’m still trying to figure things out, and I know that the way I act most of the time is not really business wise, but reaching 30 years old I decided it was more important to be true to myself than to act the way corporate people would like me to act. So I’ll still crack a joke here and there, I will still talk to people across the company whatever their positions might be, and I will still be bored as hell during a 2 hour Powerpoint meeting.

I’ll also be able to give a training on GV’s Design Sprint in September (and several other dates), a workshop I truly love and which can accomplish great things with the right people. This alongside with the chance to have taught at the Gobelins (a school I admired when I was younger) felt like crossing things on my bucket list and felt damn good.

In my previous stream of consciousness, I was expressing how my professional life took a toll on my mental state, I can now say that those dark clouds are over. I have so many things I’d like to accomplish and so many things to put in motion that I’m truly looking forward to get my hand dirty in September.

Personal Projects

Beginning of June I started a small newsletter project called Tranches de Livres. My purpose was to write each week about a book I read, what I learned from it and how people could apply it in their daily life. So far I’ve managed to write every week and got around 125 people to read it which is far more than I thought would be possible.

This little project allowed me to dive back in important books of my life and what they taught me as well as to be able to give back to other people everything I had learned along the way. It also helps me to decide what I should read next and made me talk a lot about deeply interesting subjects with various people. Something I missed a lot in my life from time to time.


I’ve just finished my 59th book for this year. I learned a lot of things through the books I read even if some were quite deceitful. This helped me wrap my mind around a lot of things and reach the goals I set to myself in the last stream : meditation ✅, push ups everyday ✅ (around 30 a day now, started at 5), cook more ✅ (ok, this is also because I want to lose weight), write more and launch the newsletter ✅✅.

During the last months I learned to structure a bit more my mind and what I wanted to say as well as when I wanted to say it. This helped me have meaningful conversations that lead to several life changing decisions concerning my professional life.

I also realised I had a giant problem with the way I was seeing myself. After years of battling dark thoughts (on which I want to write next), I thought the battle was over, but I realised that the way I was physically seeing myself was a big problem in my psyche. So I went back to therapy (CBT) to try to solve that, and I hope it’ll solve things out. I just never realised, hidden behind other problems, how I couldn’t stand the way I look, this grew to proportions I just can’t stand anymore : refusing to have my picture taken, refusing to see a recording, hiding my image feed on the screen when doing a video call, … This is not something I want to live with anymore, and certainly something that isn’t true. So I’ve got a big work to do on that, but I’m crossing fingers, I’ve battled worse demons.

Next Steps

  • Keep on the session with my therapist
  • Swim once to twice a week
  • Keep on cookin
  • Meditate (almost) each day (we all have very busy days sometimes)

Changes & Toll | Stream of Consciousness #2

So here we are, end of April, and a lot of things happened since the first stream and I’m still quite surprised about the magnitude of the changes, the impact on my mind and energy. As my mind is clogged again, it was time to relieve a bit the pressure and put things in perspective to be able to go ahead with a clear head.

Professional Life

Things went to evolve in unexpected ways and I’m glad they did. I’m taking a new role as real Lead in my professional life, having to manage 5 people and ensure their well-being. While it’s quite interesting, I’m a bit concerned about the fact that all those people are quite great. Don’t mistake me, that’s a great team to manage, but I learn to grow through difficulties, and I’m afraid I’m not learning enough without at least one black sheep (but when I’ll have one trust me I’ll hate myself for writing this).

I also gained a supportive role in my company, being able to welcome newcomers, set a nice welcome path, but also to create growth opportunities for them and anyone who’s not afraid to grow. Working hand in hand with others, we started to create a growth e-mail course to be able to maximize the potential of our new recruits and we’re going to implement it quite soon (still beta testing some of this).

I gave a talk about the impostor syndrome, something I’d never think I’d do. It went really nice, in fact I wish I had the ability to duplicate myself regarding all the discussions that this talk sparked. So much great people, so much shared experiences, this was really a great moment (even if it was frightening at first). The talk is available here. I also had the chance to write some articles for my company, but there’s still a lof I want to write about.

As for the company, I still love it quite deeply and don’t regret being a part of it. However, as for all companies, there’s some things I’d like to change, see evolve, and aim for a better. But this time I have the chance to make a change, so I’ll do my best to invest myself in proposing and implementing those changes for a better. And I really hope this will do a lot of good and improve a company I already respect quite a lot.

However, I have to handle a lot of politics and related topics, so this is taking a toll on my mental state, leading me to be quite exhausted. I’m slowly trying to distanciate myself to be able to take back my energy and jump back on my feet. While being an empath is great and transform you in a touchpoint for everyone in need to talk, I still have to find a correct way to declutter my mind and distanciate from other’s problems. Ongoing…

Personal Projects

I’ve got a lot of ideas in my mind. As I’m reading quite a lot of books during the year, and keeping notes in a common place book (in fact it’s more of a file), I’m wondering if there was a way I could capitalize on that. So far I’m thinking about either a newsletter (… and it’s done !). I’ll give it some thoughts, it’s something I could work on this summer.

On the side, I’ve decided to go back to code, so I’m trying to learn how to handle javascript in a better way and aim to start a framework just as Vue.js. I also started to experiment with UI to improve my skill set, but both those are for my personal life. Unfortunately, I discovered that the more skills you have, the more roles are expected from you and this is something I don’t want. I had parts of my life where I had to work several roles, and it lead to not being able to do any of those correctly because of a lack of time. This is something I won’t do again.


I read a lot of things lately that help me grow and made up my mind on some things. A new cardinal rule I set for people is now Acta non verba, meaning that if a person doesn’t act and just keep on a talking, his words aren’t worth shit. Same goes for talking about values and not living according to them. I’m tired of people spending their days giving by morality lessons on how society / government should behave while not implementing those changes in their personal life. Be the change you want to see in the world, is still the biggest motto ever.

Same I don’t believe in society as a separate entity. Society is a set of people, therefore it’s important to implement changes on the people scale. Expecting the “society” to implement it is reliving some unsolved daddy issue. If we want to change society, we have to do it on our level, than go all the way to the top.

Skin in the Game — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Love life

Things happen when you don’t expect them too, and I guess this is true. While I decided to stop worrying about dating and things like that, I met someone really great. The start of our relationship hasn’t been the best, we both hoped for a cleaner start, but I must say that the last 3 months have been really great and this relationship is everything I could expect (kudos to him ❤).

Next Steps

Some things I want to implement for the next months

  • Meditate again everyday
  • Push ups everyday (Kaizen way)
  • Start the newsletter
  • Cook more instead of eating outside
  • Learn to distanciate myself through meditation
  • Write more when I need to empty my mind.

Changes & conscious choices | Stream of Consciousness #1

I’ve been living in Paris now for more than 6 months. The reasons that made me leave my country were multiple: lack of intellectual stimulus, feeling of getting stuck in a career path too soon, uninteresting professional landscape and way too much memories everywhere. After six months, my mind is a bit clogged and need some relief to structure things a bit.

Professional Life

On this part I must say that I got everything that I expected. My career evolved in the most interesting way and at an incredible pace those last months, and the coming months promise interesting challenges I couldn’t expect to find in Belgium. It seems that in order to evolve you have to break things and dare to jump. While it has been a bit frightening, I’m really happy with the results.

Concerning the French professional world, things are quite different. I think the main part is how much the personal side affects work and how everything is tied to human relationships (and no clear division between work and its producer). From time to time I have the feeling of being stuck in a Game of Thrones episode, which isn’t quite pleasant as I’m usually the kind of person that tend to avoid conflict when it’s unnecessary and who try to be honest. Politics and powerplay makes navigating into the French professional landscape quite strange.

Colleagues & friends

While I always thought myself as more of an introvert, I discovered that I needed people around me way more than I thought. And on this side I’ve been quite lucky, the people have met until here, mainly thanks to my work and social networks have been both intellectually challenging and profoundly humans. I discovered tremendous people and some of them already play a big part in my life and in the span of 6 months became really important for me, some of them I can really call close friends. I’ve also discovered friends with whom I can be totally myself, without any needs for barriers or anything, which felt quite as a relief when I lived most of my life using a fake self persona to go through social life.

However, there’s a dark side to this. While work helped me to connect easily with people in an interesting way, I found the way people behave here in Paris quite strange. I tried to connect outside my circle but always felt that you somehow need to gain the right to talk to some people. After some time trying to engage into unilateral conversations, I decided to dedicate my time to my friends here and colleague and avoid some areas (I’ll develop).

Gay places, apps and lgbt life in general

I’ve always had troubles getting into the LGBT life, and wrote quite a lot about it. But after some years of trying, I’ve decided to take some radical decisions and cut the ties with anything related to it. I’ve deleted both the dating apps (which helped me rebuild my self esteem and personal energy) and quit the LGBT associations I was part of.

The main reasons were both the fact that I didn’t felt I needed to keep on trying to have conversations where I had to gain some divine right to talk to the person. In fact, I was exhausted to always be the one leading the discussion without any feedback. This hit me after meeting a friend’s friend for the 4th time and when he realized he didn’t knew a single thing about me… because he never returned any answer.

The second reason was the perpetual drama. As I said I hate conflict, especially unnecessary conflict. I couldn’t take anymore the relationships drama going all around, keeping in mind who wanted to talk to who, who was deadly enemy and things like that.

This also lead me to leave my main Twitter account and focus on my professional one. Since then I feel like I’m able to breath and feel generally better about myself.

Rebuilding a social circle

With all this I’ve rebuilt a social circle of what I consider to be people both intellectually challenging but also benevolent people. Being with them makes me grow, evolve and learn. And I’m assured that any drama coming my way won’t be unnecessary but something that requires time, dedication and help to grow.

I’ve taken steps to remove all the toxic people from my life, but also the people who hurt me even not willingly. I have enough good and close friends to keep on hurting myself.


I’ve deleted the apps to give myself a bit of breath but also because I realized several things. The first one is that the reason that make me synchronize with a human being are quite blurry, and hard to define. This lead to a lot of search on the dating apps to find those special people I could connect to. But spending a lot of time on those apps takes a deadly toll: self esteem destruction, constant comparison toward society ideals, rejection, … The fact was that I was investing a lot of time on those for maybe 1% return of investment. Not a great idea.

The second reason was that I realized I needed time for myself. The previous years haven’t been kind on the sentimental level and I was barely able to stand up again. While I think I have a lot to offer, it’s time also for me to meet someone who’s ready to invest into a relationship as much as I am. I realized that those things would come in time, but that now, I didn’t have any energy left, nor the capacity to handle another failure. I can accept to welcome things as they come, but can’t invest in this area of my life all by myself at the moment.

In contradiction, I’ve realized that I was ready for someone to enter my life. While it’s still healing, my heart finally stopped aching. I’m still in defensive mode, so the next one will have some battles to fight, but still, I’m ready to accept someone for who he’s and not because I’m in pain. And that’s quite an evolution. The thing I expect from a soulmate became also quite precise which helped me quite a lot.

The next steps

I thought I’d stay 5 years here, but reconsidering some parts (mainly how the society works and things I’ve expressed here), I think I’d switch to 3 years then see another place. I realized there was much to discover still and places to go, and I’m too eager to stay in some place I don’t really love.

I wanted to tackle a master in management, but I realized that this was important only for the French society. The competences I’ve gained and will gain in the coming months will be more valuable than any paper I could gain, and the financial and time costs would be way too heavy for what I could gain. There are other ways to evolve that will suit me better, so I’m still giving me sometime to think about.

And that’s aaaall for the moment.

P.S. : Thanks to Yoan for this idea, it indeed helps a lot.

Being a reader in a world of speakers

Sometimes you encounter a book with which you realize a lot of things about yourself. This kind of epiphany moment was exactly what I had when reading Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker which shed a light on several things I encountered in my life and things I couldn’t do that everybody was at ease with and I couldn’t understand why.

When everybody’s listening to podcasts, watching endless YouTube video streams, when every recipe you can find is now presented in a video, when books are being listened too instead of read, … And that I couldn’t do any of those things. Put simply, if you make me listen to a podcast for more than 5 minutes, my mind will start to wander and I’ll keep nothing from it in my memory.

At 29 years old, I realized I was a reader, meaning that I was understanding things in a clearer way when reading them instead of listening to them. This might appear quite simple, but this really helped me understand a lot of things about myself, on how I should behave in my work, why I was desperate for meetings minutes and dreading hours long meetings but also that I shouldn’t force myself into things I couldn’t do. I had many podcasts I subscribed to, after reading this little book I had exactly 0 left. They didn’t suit me at all, why should I keep losing energy trying something I wasn’t made for?

I learned also that I was a writer more than a speaker, meaning that I had to write things down to memorize them. Something I already realized when I started to build my Commonplace Book. As I was rewriting quotes from my favourite books, suddenly I started to make a lot of connections, I could remember easily which author was linked to which one, what common theme several books shared, … I understood finally why I learned so much during the MOOCs I followed and where I was taking a lot of notes I didn’t even read back. I didn’t need to reread them, once they were written, they were clearly set in my mind.

Those two things made me realize why I had so much trouble going through school, where most of the teaching is bad on a listening-to-memorize mindset for which I wasn’t made at all. And why I had so much success going through lessons by myself, by reading books and rewriting things I needed, instead of listening to someone talking for hours.

“Schools everywhere are organized on the assumption that there is only one right way to learn and that it is the same way for everybody.”
 — Peter F. Drucker (
Managing Oneself)

This also helped me to understand why I’m so weary when Digital Evangelists tell everyone that video is the new communication media. This is not a bad idea per se, but doing so is forgetting half the population who is not at all at ease with a video / audio media (and I’m not even talking about handicap situations). Yes video are quite good when you want to present an idea to a board, and some text might look boring, but both are necessary in our world.

The only thing I regret now is having learned this at the age of 29. But now that I know this, it’s something I can build upon quite easily, and this already helped me reshape the way I was working in a more efficient way, suiting the way my brain is working and using my strengths. I still have a lot of palliatives to find as our professional work is deeply constructed on an speaking / listening way of working, but nothing is impossible now that I’ve clearly identified my weaknesses.

When non-doing is better

One thing I’ve come to realize more and more in our society, is our tendency to intervene all the time in everything, for the sake of the intervention. Things are being changed, teams are being shuffled, plans are being remade, … all the time, especially with a new-comer. While sometimes those changes can be good, most of the time they end up being quite a waste of time, energy, and human resources, while they give the impression that something is accomplished (when it’s not).

It’s interesting to find examples everywhere that, sometimes, the act of non-doing is better than changing things just for the sake of our ego. In Chinese, there’s the concept of Wu Wei, an important concept of Taoism which means non-doing or non-acting, to let things behave according to their nature, go with the flow. It’s interesting to note that the same thing was explained by the Stoics centuries ago, who put following nature as one of their core principle (if not the core principle).

You can find a related thing in chess, with the zugzwang, where you are forced to move one’s piece when doing absolutely nothing would save your game. Throughout history, we encountered a lot of times where our interventionism did more damage than good but still we learn nothing on our human scale. If you look into health, you’ll discover the iatrogenic effects, which occurs when your health is worsened by the medical care you’re receiving (One of the worst example? Decades ago lobotomy was considered as a great health practice.).

Ego isn’t the only culprit in this, depending on one’s position, the root cause could be also our own fear. Fear that people will think we’re not working, fear that not giving an advice will feel like giving up on someone or something, … Which is why, even when we’ll choose not to act, it is important to take the time to explain ourselves. Because even the act of non-doing requires some thoughts and thinking, and by being prepared to explain our non-actions, we’ll avoid useless fears and judgments.

Our tendency to intervene in everything, all the time, in a way that suits our egos more than the greater good ends up costing a lot in our lives, jobs, friendships, … and we are all guilty of it, even if we tend to persuade ourselves that the changes we’re making ends up, at best, changing nothing. Sometimes we need to take some steps back before making a decision and ask ourselves a simple question : Am I really doing this to improve something or am I doing this so people won’t think that I’m not doing anything?

“Ask yourself at every moment: Is this necessary?”
 — Marcus Aurelius (

Think, wait, fast

Some days ago, I finished Siddharta by Herman Hesse, a very strange and compelling book that immediately jumped into my life changing shelf of my library. One particular passage in this book hit me with the velocity of a full-speed train :

Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.
 Herman Hesse — 

In this small excerpt of the book, Siddharta explains that every man needs to learn how to fast. Because when you face hunger, when you miss something, being in a state where you wait for it might lead you to make a lot of bad choices. This resonated a lot with me as, being subject to anxiety from time to time, I have made several decisions in my past based only on fear of the future, the unknown, the loneliness, …

And I’m always surprised by how I could react, postpone things, decisions, ideas, based solely on those fears, those panics moments. I’ve bitterly regretted some of those choices, while some very rare turned out to be not so bad. Looking backward, none of those decisions ever led me to something good.

In fact, the only decisions I took that I consider now to be good decisions (and even life changing one), were all done in times where I wasn’t feeling a particular need, being it financial, sentimental, social. In this, I recognize Siddharta’s teaching when he says that learning to fast is the most useful thing a man can do.

And while it’s really hard not to take hasty decisions when I’m going through a panic attack, I now know that, for my own good, it’s better that I postpone the decisions to the next morning / week. But it’s something really hard nowadays, when people are always in a hurry. In times like this, when you’re pressured to take a decision, it’s just good to remember that you can always take time. If it’s not a life threatening situation, it can wait.

Those mistakes that shape our lives

Just as business tend to evolve thanks to failures and improvements, I strongly think that we tend to evolve through our mistakes, our errors and regrets. But I also strongly believe that not all errors are equal, and that in each of our lives, we’re making what I call some major formative mistake. Usually we don’t realize it when we’re doing them, but when time passes by and we’re looking backward, we tend to see them clearly for what they are.

Those mistakes are deeply formative in our characters, as making them make us evolve toward a greater human being. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb said, those mistakes are making us a bit more antifragile, as we’re building on them or rather, because of them. They are easy to identify when you’re a bit distanced from them, as they usually pack a lot of regrets. You wish you had taken another decision, another path, acted differently, … But when you look how you acted after those mistakes, you also realize that you learned a lot, you’re not making the same mistake.

Looking back, I’m able to count three major mistakes in my life. The first one was hurting someone I really loved through acts I deeply regretted. It took me 2 years to gain forgiveness from the other person, but 5 years to forgive myself. This mistake forever changed the way I envision and act into all my relationships since then, in a better way. It also made me gain a best friend and someone I don’t want to lose at all in my life.

The second was taking some distance from a friend as I felt it could endanger my relationship. Two years after I had the chance to make amend, talk with him and explain why I reacted this way and how stupid I was. Three days ago, this friend died. This mistake taught me to always be open about what you’re feeling and thinking but also, the hard way, that the people in our lives don’t last forever and that we have to act on our problem as soon as possible, when we still have the chance to.

The third one was both personal and professional as I let my ego get in the way and cloud my judgment, taking a non calculated risk that almost destroyed a lot of my relationships and career path. This mistake taught me to not let your ego get in the way and also to always listen to opposite advice. It also teached me to be more careful and consider every possibility before taking a decision. It also teached me to listen to my guts and to refuse something if it doesn’t feel right.

Those three mistakes shaped my personality and the way I’m thinking today by hitting hard on three major aspects of life: love, friendship and work. But I would say I have been “lucky” enough to have the chance to build on them, and to have the chance to make amend to both my ex lover and my friend before it was too late. Talking with a lot of people, I realized that everybody didn’t had this chance in their life unfortunately. Still those mistakes defined them, shaped their characters in a more profound way than everything else.

So if you have the chance, take a look backward, what are those decisions, those acts that you deeply regret? Can you still act on them and, if another person if involved, ask forgiveness? While those mistakes shape us, we don’t have to let them leave open wounds in our lives, scars are a way to keep the teaching while still healing.

Coming to terms with our world

Recently I’ve just finished the book The Path by Michael Puett, which gave me a lot to think about on life, its struggles, success and things I had difficult times to understand.

In today’s society, we tend to conform to a lot of labels. I went through a lot of them myself: HSP, introvert, INTJ, high IQ person, gay, at some point even borderline and depressive (I’ll take the chance to talk about this more in-depth later I think). We tend to conform to those labels at some point. While they help us finding our place in our society and help us understand who we are, often they end up blocking us or giving false excuses to some behaviors we may adopt.

Discovering asian philosophy through this book, I’ve come to understand how we’re forever a changing person. Who I am can’t really be defined by a label, especially because I tend to change from time to time, from the people I meet to the situation I find myself in. I’ve always had troubles to understand how I could be so extrovert in my work, being sometimes quite assertive, while on opposite being so introvert when I was meeting another guy, having a lot of troubles to engage in a discussion except in a one to one basis. Identifying myself as an introvert tend to make some of my best friends laugh quite a lot, themselves labelling me « the most social introvert in the world ».

But we’re forever changing, there’s no stable self, just as our world is not coherent nor unchanging. We tend to make plans, projections, based on who we are at the moment and who we think we will be in the future. By doing so, we’re cutting ourselves from the complexities of live and the real messy world we live in.

And while some parts of those labels have a deep meaning for me (I’ll always experiment deeper emotions than most of the other human beings, my mind is also working at a faster rate and behaving differently, those are things that supposedly will never change), lately I’ve felt some other labels blocking me. As I’ve always defined myself as gay, lately I found myself having some real crush on some girls, which led to a real struggle in my mind. Those things may change, and I’ve come to accept myself as a « work in progress ».

Same goes for my line of work. Having worked for 8 years now, the job I’m doing now is totally different from what I had in my mind when I finished my degree in graphic design. But I changed, I made choices, I decided to progressively change my career path depending on what attracted me at the moment I was encountering them. And for this I’m so grateful we live in a world where there’s so much possibilities to develop our potential. Too often I found people struggling with a diploma that wasn’t right for them anymore, feeling stuck in their life. Nowadays you have the chance to change, you can bend your life and reorient your path. I deeply believe that each one of us has the possibility to divert, to take another path at anytime. We’re only stuck in our minds.

Lately my life has dramatically changed. This is something I’ll take the time to reflect on by the end of the year, but those changes were fundamentally necessary and even if some things aren’t yet perfect (and some will never be I guess), I finally feel at ease with the path I’m travelling on. After years of trying to understand the logic behind the world, behind human behavior, behind relationships, I’ve finally accepted that our world and ourselves are not logical beings, as much as we’d like to be. We live in a messy and unpredictable world and while this might induce some fear, this also means that everything is possible. So go, grow, take the path you want to take, and become the person you want to be. Because time is flowing by and this might be the only true thing we can get behind.

« You eliminate your ability to grow as a person because you are limiting that growth to what is in the best interests of the person you happen to be right now, and not the person you will become. » — Michael Puett, The Path