Health – Sleep science made simple

Sleep science has been taking Social Media by storm in the recent years. The new school of thoughts praises hustlers who clock-in 8 hours and still enjoy their power naps, far from the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality that prevailed not that long ago. Abundance of sleep related publications led however to a new source of stress linked to “sleep optimisation”. My conviction is that sleep does not have to be an over-engineered process. While marginal gains are interesting, they remain second order priorities and they can cloud the process toward restful sleep. After few years of experimentations, I believe the key to restful sleep lies with those four simple factors:

1 – Find your wake-up timing and stick to it

We often read that waking up as early as 4 or 5 am is the ultimate key to performance. That might be case, provided you get enough rest by this early time of the morning. In my experience, the most efficient decision I ever took was to work on finding the wake-up timing that works for me and sticking to it as much as possible. Finding your own timing is simply a try-and-error game. I found mine by observing the earliest time in the week I needed to be at work, then factoring in the time I need to prepare for a normal morning. That becomes your fixed wake-up timing. As for bedtime, simply reverse engineer  your estimated sleep need, this will give you a daily target bedtime. I encourage you to stick as much as possible to your wake-up timing: even if you don’t need to wake up early some days of the week, try to set your alarm clock at the same wake-up timing. Shall you need to increase your sleep duration to recover from any lack of sleep, I found it more efficient to incorporate variability in the bedtime

2 – Count cycles

Our body does not count hours, so we need to learn how our body-clock works. Sleep science established that average sleep-cycle takes around 90 minutes. During one cycle, different phases will come after another, and thanks to these phases the body finds some rest. Why is it important to follow such cycles? Because the cycle timing during which you wake up determines how rested you may feel. This means a longer rest is not necessary what you need.
I am not qualified to advise you on how many cycles your own body needs, but I found that 5 is my peak performance and 4 is usually enough to function normally the following day. Unless I accumulated some sleep debt, I don’t observe marginal improvements from 5 to 6 cycles. This is how I determine my bedtime: factoring the number of sleep cycles I target, based on my fixed waking-up timing.

3 – Get ready to sleep

Setting up a sleep routine significantly helped me to increase sleep quality. I did not develop an esoteric routine around  intense meditative practice or ice bath. Instead I rely on 5 simple steps:
  1. Dim the lights – use reduced lights with warmer tones. You don’t need to redecorate your place, simply use bedside lighting with warm colours bulbs and avoid direct lighting. Be mindful of the lights in the bathroom and kitchen that are usually cold. I added candles and small warmer light to the bathroom to avoid relying on the bright lighting before going to bed
  2. Switch off Tech – conscious effort to remove screens in the 90 minutes prior to target sleep time
  3. Read – few pages of a good book help my mind to shift away from work-related stress
  4. Drink – making and enjoying a hot drink sets the mood. The range of caffeine-free drinks is wide, simple chamomile works for me.
  5. Smell something familiar – especially while traveling, lavender essential oil proves an efficient way to put my brain into sleep mode
These steps evolved over time, with different experimentations.

4 – See the big picture

In the early stages of my sleep journey I was obsessed with achieving a “perfect” sleep every night. I was tracking and analysing each night, looking for the rational beyond non-standard patterns. This created an anxious mindset that disturbed my ability to rest and which forced me to drop all experimentations. As I kept reading more about sleep, I shifted my approach to an overall improved sleep quality. I focussed on building healthier routines and more pragmatic framework, accepting that my sleep-spreadsheets did not stand a chance versus real life. I now believe that quality sleep lies in understanding the 3 principles we discussed above and in my ability to stick to them over the longer run. My current target is to achieve 4 nights a week of 5-cycles.

If you wish to read more about sleep, I would advise to start with The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington, and Sleep by Nick Littlehales.

Book references here.

WISDOM – The 5 Most Difficult skills to recruit in 5 books

As I read the 2018 Financial Times Skill Gaps Survey, I was surprised to discover what are said to be the 5 most difficult skills for employers to recruit. Although this study focuses on MBA graduates, I believe anyone would benefit from developing such skill set. Yet, it is not mandatory to get back to Business School to significantly improve your performance in such areas.

Here I wish to highlight 5 books that will definitely build up capabilities in what top recruiters consider today as the 5 most difficult skills to recruit. These books have so far been among the most influential ones to me. I encourage you to spend time to read and study them. Such books are also frequently quoted among most recommended books by successful entreprenors and investors such as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or Tim Ferris.

1. Ability to influence others

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

This book taught taught me more than Organizational Behavior module. Its principles, although sometimes simple are the second to none to establish empathy & meaningful conversations, which are the two pillars of trust. What Carnegie teaches is influence lies in one’s ability to listen and develop empathy. It is not, contrary to popular belief, a manipulation playbook.

2. Strategic thinking

Sun Tzu, The Art of War or The Prince by Machiavelli, pick one!

These two strategy masterpieces will not be a straightforward “how to”. Yet, with time to pounder and translate the learnings into your daily situation and reality, they can provide powerful reasoning maps. The main learning outcome remains to focus on second and third order consequences of any action, or absence of action.

3. Drive and resilience

No other than Drive by Daniel Pink offers insights about what truly motivates us. The trilogy Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose provides a useful tool to reframe our job description. Ability to reframe the job in those terms will contribute to a genuine motivation.

4. Big data analysis

Factfulness by Hans Rosling.

This may sound far stretched as Rosling will not actually teach you about Big Data but I believe he builds the most important piece of the data analystics puzzle: the ability to suspend your pre-existing judgement, gather new sets of data, and then take a fresher look the situation. This is a pre-requisit to immerse yourself in the Big Data culture and supersedes to me all the technical elements.

5. Ability to solve complex problems

Ray Dalio’s Principles is a good start.

Complex problems require methodology to be solved, then can not be taken-on head first. Thanks to Dalio’s reasoning system, we are better equipped to face complex situations. The books offers a detailed framework that one can study and adapt to its own personal situations. The main learning element is to develop systematic approach to problem solving.

How did this list help you to identify gaps in your own skills? Share your thoughts in the comments!


The Unusual Books That Shaped 50+ Billionaires, Mega-Bestselling Authors, and Other Prodigies

Tribe of Mentors — Recommended Books from Mentors and Top Books from Tools of Titans

WISDOM – Learning Chinese, materials

***🚧work in progress🚧***

Learning Mandarin Chinese has been a journey since Business School days. Least is to say that my study has been irregular but it gave me the opportunity to try a bit of every possible method! In this post I will propose some tips, based on my own experience to make the learning journey more enjoyable.


Apps are an efficient way to get a daily Chinese practice. Although you may not achieve fluency by only relying on such medium, it will contribute to memorisation and to increase your vocabulary. Given these two aspects are fondamental roots of language learning, I strongly recommend you include the App in your Chinese toolbox. My preference goes for Duolinguo.


I like to use podcasts to practice languages hence I have looked for useful ones when it comes to Chinese

  • Talk Chineasy is my favorite one. This daily podcast helps to learn new vocabulary. The format is very short and it work by idea association, linking the works you are learning to some of the participants personal stories. This facilitates memorization.
  • Coffee Break Chinese is a very well build ressource. It’s based on dialogues in basic situations. It’s actually much more demanding than the previous one but will do the work if you are serious about learning actual Chinese conversations

Flash cards

This is my go-to language practice.

WISDOM – Business bookworm top tips

Countless people want to read more or to get back to reading yet it can be a difficult process. Here are some tips that help me to stay on track with my reading appetite for non-fiction books.

#1 – Know your classics

The more you read, the more you realize that business books tend to build on top of each other. It does make sense, as, in every discipline, people tend to drill down on the experience they gathered. As global knowledge progresses, people tend to absorb extra new knowledge and then to experience on the back of such knowledge. More recent books consequently tend to focus on most recent knowledge addition, on a specific topic. This indeed applies to business books.

Although I don’t recommend for the benefit of time that you read every single book in a chronological order, I would advice to follow two simple rules: build first overall knowledge in the discipline, second read the milestone publications. After these two steps, you shall be ready for the more recent specific books. Let’s say you wish to build up your marketing skills; instead of going straight to the latest digital marketing book, I would advice to spend time to read a couple of general marketing books and a handful of milestone more specific books (already recognized as of major influence) before you consider anything else. This process will help you to make the most of the new and specialized book, as you would already have significant background on that discipline.

#2 – Keep reading lists

Either a Favorite-Read, a To-Read or any kind of topic orientated list will do. Such list, first, gives a sense of achievement, also it helps you to pause and reflect on your reading and learning journey. Given the brain relies heavily on idea association, seeing the book names together facilitates memorization of key concept and cross-checking of learnings. I also use reading lists to answer the recurring question: “what do you think I shall read?” or “where shall I start?”.

My personal reading lists have now been shared across thousands of curious readers, namely thanks to social networks. I am personally a fan of that offers an intuitive and attractive interface to store your reading lists. Sharing my reading lists also helped me to gather new reading suggestions.

#3 – Take notes

Although it slows down your reading journey, I encourage that you take notes while reading non-fiction books. This contributes to idea generation, reflection and memorization. It also saves a lot of time when you are trying to get back to a concept you encountered. I usually take notes both directly on the books and on notepads (or iPad) depending of the use I have in mind. I encourage you to write directly on the books the initial thoughts arising while reading. It’s been of invaluable use for me, namely writing down real business situations that could be relevant to the concept I was reading, then I can carry on the reading and come back later to reflect on this experience.

#4 – Talk about your readings

I used to remain discret about my non-fiction reads. I had the idea that most people are not interested in such topic and have only remote interest for any kind of business related pages you read last night. Yet, I started to realize that as people would see me carrying books that tend to ask questions about the book itself or my reading habits. This is powerful ice-breaker, including in business situations and made me realize that there are much more readers around me that I imagined. Talking about my readings also helps me to practice my summary and synthesis skills. I also tend to get challenged on the concepts from the books – while I would sometimes simply accept the books as wisdom raw material – which contributes to build up my personal thinking. Finally, I got fantastic book recommandations from very experienced readers by the simple fact of talking about books.

#5 – Gift books

One of the reasons I write is to express the need to share this wisdom with my friends. Regularly I experience during my reading the urge to share a great piece of knowledge because I genuinely believe it could help the people I deeply care about. Yet, life teaches us that unsolicited advice is usually detrimental to both the adviser and the advisee. To bridge this gap, I started to buy several copies of the books I really consider useful for me, and regularly gift them to my friends, business relationships or people who helped me. Not only the action of giving a book tends to be regarded as a very generous gesture – as you not only provide an item but also the wealth of the content – it nudges the receiver of the gift to pay attention and maybe prioritize this book. For instance, when my girlfriend gift me books, I will tend no only to try to read it soon (to show gratitude) but I tend to pay extra care as someone I care about and that knows me considered it was worth my time and effort.

I hope you enjoyed this short pieces of advice!

#keepreading & #keeplearning