CEO at Sisoo
1. If you could write a brief note to your 13-year-old self, what advice would you impart in it?
I know it’s tough.
Life is unfair. You did not ask for all of this but it’s here.
Back to the wall, you’re pissed.
You’re going to go out all guns blazing… I’m sorry, but even now, I can’t help you avoid it.
It’s going to change you.
You’ll get stronger and more fragile at the same time.
It‘ll be intense and get you through the first hurdles.
But heed this, when the dust settles, heal and learn as fast as you can. Forgive & make peace, with others and yourself.
Even if you move around often, keep in touch with the people you love. They are your Ariadne’s thread.
Equilibrium is in reducing the oscillations. Life is movement not a static state. You’ll swing.
From where I stand now, you don’t end up too bad.
PS: Wear sunscreen
2. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?
Externally that happened when I was a young teen. Legally, when I turned 18. Internally, I made a huge step forward at the birth of my first child. It was like an internal Big-Bang. I knew at that moment that it was not just about me anymore. I had embraced the lifelong responsibility of helping a child grow and become himself. That brought a whole new perspective.
3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?
My new habit: Going to the gym. Why: I feared death, now I’m getting used to endorphins 😊. I’ve lived a very hedonist lifestyle for long. That takes a toll on your body. I am now 45, with a family & two beautiful child. I want to be there for them as they walk down their path for as long as I can.
4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to
Can’t bring it down to three.
My advice: build the largest library you can, always have more books than you can read & read as much as you can. Here are a few I really enjoyed reading.
In the fantasy section: The Elric Saga by Moorcock, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, Farseer series by Robin Hobb, The Black Company by Glen Cook, The Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks & A Song of Ice & Fire of course.
In the Sci-Fi: the Foundation Series by Asimov, Dune by Frank Herbert, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams
In the history section: “Mushashi” by Eiji Yoshikawa: A romanced bio of the most famous Japanese swordsman: Myamoto Musashi.
“The subtle art of not giving a fuck” – Mark Manson: Most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many fucks in situations where fucks do not deserve to be given.
“Never Split the Difference” – Chris Voss: The beauty of empathy is that it does not demand that you agree with the other person’s ideas
“Thinking in Bets” – Annie Duke: Decisions are bets on the future, and they aren’t ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ based on whether they turn out well on any particular iteration.
There are so many more, I could go on for days, but I’ll stop here.
5. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?
People are usually surprised by the fact that I like to party, have fun and make silly jokes. They think, and I still can’t figure out why, that I have a stick in the ass. That wears off after a few chats, but it always surprises me. I remember people coming up to me at a party & telling how surprised they were to see me have fun and dance. *shock*
“They think, and I still can’t figure out why, that I have a stick in the ass”
6. What personality trait has got you in the most trouble? What kind of trouble does it get you in?
I like humor and joking about everything.
To quote a French humorist Pierre Desproges: ”If it is true that humor is the politeness of despair, if it is true that laughter, a blasphemous sacrilege that bigots of all chapels tax with vulgarity and bad taste, if it is true that this laughter can sometimes desacralize stupidity, exorcise real sorrows and castigate mortal anguish, so, yes, we can laugh at everything, we must laugh at everything. Of war, misery and death.”
It can sometimes lead to misunderstandings.
7. On what topic would you never make a joke?
8. In the last few days, what news has given you most cause for alarm? In the last few days, what news has given you most cause for celebration?
Kanye West’s run for President. West is asking blacks not to vote at all. It looks very similar to the strategy Cambridge Analytica set up in Trinidad & Tobago with the “Do-So” campaign. It’s aim was simple: create apathy in black voters so the opposing party could win. Sadly, it worked.
On the other hand I’ve seen also witnessed many positive changes during this time of crisis: solidarity on the rise, work from home and inclusion initiatives, local craft productions on the rise, even billionaires asking to be taxed more.
World can’t be all bad 😊
9. What is your most prized possession? What’s the story behind it?
My Bombers Original jacket. It is old and torn up, stained but it holds memories and marks of my teen years. It witnessed so many things that shaped who I am today. Graffiti artist friends tagged it front and back.
10. Cheese or Chocolate?
Impossible to solve for a French guy living in Belgium! I’ll go for the third option: Cheese & Chocolate paired with Beer | Wine.
11. Which fictional villain do you find yourself sympathizing with most? Why?
Neil McCauley, in Heat
His personal code made sense to me.“Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat”. I understand how one can choose to live with that motto.
12. If you could invite any 3 people - living or dead - to your final dinner party
before the end of the world, who would they be and why?
I’ll make it 4. It would be my grandparents and children. I’d love it if we could share and discuss the lessons learned across three generations.
13. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
Success can be a stroke of luck, lasting success relies on an optimal process.
14. What's a skill that isn’t on your resume, but your former bosses would recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?
Efficiency. Being lazy, I hate doing things twice. I’m always searching for new ways of getting things done in the most efficient way with minimum risk of failure. That pushes me to challenge processes and search for tweaks and optimization.
15. What’s the one bad quality you wouldn’t mind in a colleague? Why?
I prefer a colleague who takes initiatives and does, rather than someone who need permission to act. Why? To progress you need to learn. To learn you need to make mistakes. To make mistakes you need to take risks and do.
16. What hiring heuristic do you generally go with?
I tend to think that people who show resilience, take initiatives, and have sense humor will be at ease in the team. It’s a cocktail of many biases. I’m still working on it to fully understand it.
17. When it comes to our work and industry: what scares you most?
I’m afraid that craftsmanship could become a thing of the past. It’s happened in agriculture, clothing, food markets… a shift to short-term, cost based decisions could be devastating for recruiters and candidates alike.
18. What common wisdom in our industry needs to be debunked?
Recruiters think that developers have become diva’s and capricious rock stars. It’s false, these people are a minority and they are assholes. The rest are people getting the same copy/paste message 5 times a day. They are looking to find the best fit for them.
Recruiters tend to shift the frustration on the candidates because they can’t change their company policies.
“Recruiters tend to shift their frustration on the candidate because they can’t change their company policies”