HEALTH – Building a diet that supports your ambitions

Work in progress

I owe my initial interest for nutrition to my mum who happens to be a nutritionist. Yet, it’s mostly after graduating that I started to put much more thoughts into my diet and also started to experiment. Overall idea is straightforward: building an efficient diet to support my active lifestyle. Requirements are that it needs to be practical and efficient.

Rule number 1: learn to cook

Rule number 2: learn to count

MONEY – Business travel essentials

I used to run a blog dedicate to Business Travels best practices. Although I stopped working on this project for quite some time, I keep on using regularly some of the materials I published then. That’s why I have decided to use this more recent project to republish some of the information.

The #1 reason we travel

Whatever the industry, wherever the destination, there is a common root to most Business Trips. Despite being constantly challenged by technology, this reason shall remain the primary ones for the decades to come.

We travel to meet people.

Understanding and being reminded of this focus is essential as most Business Trips are usually overstuffed with meetings, presentations, conferences and additional transport time, all on top of your daily tasks. Consequently Business Travellers must set their priorities right to ensure the genuine success of these travels: creating rapport with the individuals you will then have to collaborate with from distance.

This means that  you most likely won’t be as productive as if you were in your usual environment and that people should not expect the same availability from you as they usually do.

That also mean that you shall try to free yourself as much as possible from the daily tasks. This requires indeed a rock solid back-up plan, but which is also an amazing opportunity to empower your colleagues with new challenges. On top of that, you also must be able to channel the ad-hoc requests (especially if you are in a client facing role) to trained staff so this minimizes productivity disruption.

Being with people requires to be present in the moment, which commands the ability to switch your brain off the ongoing topics, without creating stress and focus only on the ongoing discussion. The back-up plan is even more essential.
Being present in the moment means also to have the relevant level of attention, which can be indeed tricky as Business related travels prove quite tiring: see below, The 2 Essential Commands of Business Travellers.

There are some basic tips to make the most of your discussions with colleagues and clients you meet during the business trips (which can indeed be applied to any meeting).

Don’t forget the reason for your journey, that is the simplest way to make it a success.

The 2 Essential Commands of Business Travellers.

Travelling for Business is a privilege but also a goal for a lot for fresh graduates from the most prestigious Business Schools and Universities around the world. Nowadays, having the experience to travel and to be confronted to an increasing number of business experts, best practices or ways of life is highly regarded by HR and Head Hunters.

Travelling for Business carries also responsibilities. As a company representative, your actions and speeches will be scruted carefully by your peers, clients and colleagues.

While the Goal of your Business Travel shall be clearly expressed there are 2 Essential Commands that will help you to make your trip a success.

These 2 Essential Commands are to look after 2 precious things:
1 – Your Sleep
2 – Your Health

In the busy world of Business, Sleep remains one of the most overlooked elements of success. Sleep is an essential pillar of Athletes development, to the same proportion as Training and Diet, with top performing athletes notoriously famous for getting extensive hours of sleep – Read The Seep Revolution by A Huffington for more details. This shall come as an inspiration for all of us.
Absence of sleep causes devastating effects on our attention ability. This proves a recurring issue for Business Travellers who are required to spend long hours meeting with people and getting to build rapport with them. The higher the attention level, the more effective will prove the meeting.

Here are our Sleeping Tips for Business Travellers.

Being energized and open for communication requires usually to be in the best possible health conditions. Keeping up with regular (daily if possible) physical exercice, healthy diet and resonnable quantities of coffee and alcool will provide you with a high level of energy along the trip.
Be also attentive to weather conditions: travelling weakens the body and germs abroad are likely to be different from the ones your metabolism is familiar with. Make sure to have the appropriate cloathing (if not, please rush to the nearest Uniqlo to get your hands on this additional layer – especially ahead of flights).

Others basics include:
* Washing your hands along the day (#1 route for germ spreading)
* Drinking enough water (Travellers tend to drink less when they are out of their normal environment). Tip: get a couple of small bottles in the morning (2 x 500mL) and be sure to finish them before leaving for diner.
* Stacking up on fruits and nuts to maintain high intake of Vitamins

As a conclusion, true to our motto, the reason why we travel is to spend time with people hence we wish to give them the best possible attention, which requires to be on top of our game, rested and fresh.

HEALTH – Meditation – my practice

I started to meditate for two reasons. At first an ongoing restless feeling, second as I realised the overwhelming number of people I admire that have integrated meditation to their lifestyle.

Journey then started at the crossroad of as curiosity and necessity. This page is used as a journal for record keeping of practice and observations.

How I started

To integrate meditation to my life, I used once again my Priority concept, initially focusing on a 10 minutes daily morning session. I made the conscious effort of keeping up the absolute Priority to stick to this practice until I started to genuinely observe the benefits of meditation – more than 5 weeks in my case – and it is now a genuine habit.

I use meditation as an opportunity to reset my emotional compass. This helps me to tackle the daily challenges with much more attention which leads to an measurable increase in productivity. Meditation also helps me to keep a more relaxed mind. This leads to two measurable improvements: improved focus (ability to stay on a task despite ongoing thoughts) and sharp drop in irritability (I had similar observations, namely on irritability following reframing of sleep – future post to come).

With practice I observe thoughts patterns that occurs whenever I don’t take time to meditate. Some recurring “stress points” – usually work related – would tend to come up and disturb my actions and thought process. I tried to tackle this restlessness a few years ago by increasing the intensity of my physical practice (boxing, running, cycling…) yet although the tiredness helped to put me asleep, it did not offer genuine peace of mind. Whenever I discuss my meditation practice with non practitioners, they tend to identify with those patterns.

Should you start to meditate?

I would recommend to anyone to give a try to meditation. The ground for this is the immense benefit it has been bringing to my everyday life. However, I am not convinced that meditation is for everyone and you may find your peace of mind in other activities, be it physical (running for instance) or more creative (like music practice).

Note: this post in an ongoing work and I plan to edit it on a regular basis, as & when my mediation practice evolves

When: morning, first thing after I get up and evening (either before diner or before reading); everyday

How: focus on the breath

Props I use: Headspace app, a good yoga mat, and a towel to sit up more comfortably


WISDOM – The Priority Concept – Resetting priorities to achieve goals

I have spent quite some time reflecting and studying organisation & lifestyle design for close to 10 years – corresponding to the time I joined Business School. Reading Tim Ferris’ The 4 hours workweek was an eye-opener. (I remain a Tim Ferris fans today I can’t recommend enough Tribe of Mentors, who is part of my absolute #mustread list).

As I stepped into the adulthood, I was confronted with the necessity to shift my focus from dreams to goals. Although this doesn’t mean renouncing to my dreams, it meant for me to take a step further into my ongoing self-discovery journey. This requires introspection and self-questioning, as well as time to reflect. Yet, as real life knocks on the door, I had to face two main realities: an overwhelming necessity to take responsibilities (get a job, behave as a normal social-being…) and constant social stimulation (friends, families, events… or simple the human necessity to gather and interact with each other). That resulted in a fairly busy lifestyle, constantly playing catch-up with life. It was not long before this fast-pace way of life got the best of me – if not all of me. I was not going anymore toward my goals but was carried away by the daily events wave – both work and social related. Probably this feeling is common to many.

Yet, I had no intention to give-up on my goals (and dreams) and decided to take on the challenge of integrating them into my daily life. That’s how I came up with the Priority concept, my tool to stay on track with my own plan. This works in a plain & simple way: on a regular basis I would reflect – usually in writing – on my ambitions, aspirations and desires. Once I am able to make sense of these, I try to turn some of them into simple & achievable goals. The goal being set, I them start to integrate short regular timing dedicated to taking actions leading to that goals, into my daily life. I then review such goals on a regular basis (as often as monthly), using if possible measurable input.

Let’s take an exemple, I aspire to keep progressing in my current career (ambition), hence I will set myself on track to meet experts or new people in the industry on a regular basis as well as reading a certain list of books in the next months (two measurable goals). This being done, I can work to integrate meeting plans and reading times (actions) into my schedule.

Another example could be sleep. I realized few years back I was simply not getting enough sleep and that was starting to affect potentially several aspects of my life, starting by my mood. I set to myself the target of 7 hours a night (measurable goal) and decided on a target bedtime that could allow me to get there (action). What I realized is that telling myself that I needed to sleep more had no effect, yet as soon as I was able to set a goal and action framework, it became reachable.

See an example of the Priority concept applied to reading here.

Such Priority concept allowed me to develop a set of what managers would call best-practices, and that are effectively a new – more adapted toward my goal – set of habits. What this also means is that once the priority is properly integrated to your daily life, it becomes a second nature and you don’t anymore need to go through the regular review process. This prevents you from becoming an endless list of priorities.

I’ll touch again on the Priority concept and its applications in further posts. Indeed this is not a science based bulletproof concept, simple a method that works for me, and this post is meant as a personal reflection on this concept. Please feel free to use, transform, make yours!

Keep it up!

WISDOM – Reading list: my business books shortlist

Over the years I curated a shortlist of business books that had (and still have) the strongest impact on me. I keep this list fairly short to make it now overwhelming when I am asked for reading advices or as I like to re-read my top reads.

Over time, the list has skewed toward soft-skills, which reflects my personal journey, from Financial Markets theories to managerial skillset.

I have to say that some of the books have been on my short list for the longest time, such as Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People. For the specific book I make a point to read it again almost every year. As most of the guidance may seem like common sense, it is easy to overlook them. Re-reading helps me to identify situations along the last months in which I failed to implement the recommendations. Such “practical cases” are part of the ongoing self-improvement process.

Another long time favorite of mine is Keith Ferrazzi Never eat Alone which has transformed my approach to connecting to people and de-dramatized the networking element. I am a long term believer in the idea that your personal value has a lot to do with the cumulative value of the people you interact with. Thanks to Keith Ferrazzi’s book I was able to develop my own toolkit to build a personal and relevant network that has supported me much more than I would have ever expected over the last years.

You will indeed find on my lists books by Tim Ferriss who has been a strong influence since I discovered the Four Hour workweek while in business school. At that time my business school only had the French version and I recall completing the suggestion form to have the original version added to the shelves. This book could have been at the time a major anticipation of how digitalization would be able to transform anyone’s lifestyle but developing new types of carriers, breaking away from the traditional 9-to-5 jobs. It’s still a fairly relevant book but I you have never read Tim’s publication I would recommend to start with Tribe of Mentors which could be sum up by a digest of the “best in class performers advices” across hundreds of expertise.

List is published on website here. You will find additional reading lists on my kit page.

I use affiliated links – such links enable to the website to earn commissions if you were to order the materials that are described on this pages. Let me know if you have any question on this topic.

WISDOM – Finding time to read – where to start

I am an avid reader. Be it fiction or non-fiction, books or magazines, Monday or Saturday, I tend to carry with me some reading materials and find some moments to read – everyday. This seems highly fictional to a number of my friends who unarguably have busy lifestyles and hence struggle to find time to read. Yet, this is not despite a genuine interest for reading as I often get the “I wish I had more time to read” or “where do you find time to read all that?” comment.

My favorite answer is to compare reading with an healthy diet. To someone who is used to eating fast-food, takeaways or deliveroos on daily basis, the idea of cooking healthy food everyday appears out of reach. As the diet transformation, the reading habit-building does not happen overnight, its a long and difficult process, that needs to be maintained and treasured, before it actually bears fruits.

There is however, a simple trick to step into this “millionaire book club” of people who actually read more than 15 books a year, it all revolves around a simple concept, to Make reading the default option.

My personal observation is that very few people can have the luxury of dedicating daily set timings for reading due to their lifestyle. Hence ability to read becomes a prioritising matter. Make a habit of keeping your book on hand, no further away than your smartphone – for me that means hand-carrying it most of the day, wherever I go. With a bit of practice you will realise that you can probably find several 5 to 10 minutes slots while commuting, waiting for a meeting to start, taking a short break after your lunch (instead of checking social media) or flipping through a few pages while sipping your coffee…

Reading is all about gaining back control on your own time and building up the habit. Once you are on the correct rail, you can easily achieve a book a month.

The next level is to integrate reading as part of your “evening routine”. Ideally, dedicating at least 20 minutes, after diner or right before sleeping. I have to thank my parents for this habit as they gave me the bug as a kid. Not only the evening is probably the time of the day during which you will face least distractions, it can also help to put your brain on a sleeping track. People like Jocko Willink or Tim Ferris both integrate reading as part of their evening routine.

Please share your tips that help you make room for reading!