Category Archives: Learning

Insight from Tech Entrepreneur Mathieu Thouvenin

The other day I met with Mathieu Thouvenin, a tech entreprenuer who’s accomplishments range from starting GSM Online, one of the first French portals about mobile phones to launching iPhone applications like Voila. He is also the three time recipient of a scholarship to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. Today he is a project manager at Seesmic, a social software company. The Bay Area transplant from France has much insight, so I have cut the interview down to the version below that includes his successes and advice for strivers.  Although I urge you to read the full version–which features valuables like his talk about social media, by clicking here.

Either way, enjoy!

You received a scholarship to attend one of Apple’s conferences, the Worldwide Developer Conference, three times—how did you do that?

I don’t know. When I was doing programming I subscribed to the program that Apple is doing, it’s basically a membership to get access to special resources to code for Apple and it’s cheaper because it’s for students and then that year I received an email they were like “oh you can apply, tell us why you are motivated and why we should invite you to go to the conference.” And I just filled out the form and explained why I was motivated and I guess it worked–I got invited the first year and then it was pretty easy to go the next years.

How many applications have you launched for the iPhone?


And can you tell us a little bit about them?

Yeah. The first one is called Voila and it allows you to share your location with your friends online so it seems pretty basic right now because all those apps like Four Square or Twitter allow you to share your location, but a year and a half ago there wasn’t much applications to share your location and that’s why I decided to create that. And it was a great opportunity for me to learn how to code for the iPhone, so that was the first application. And the second one, it’s called Serenade, it [launched] almost a year ago and it allows you to share on Twitter and Facebook the song you are listening to right now on your iPhone, from your iPod. And so it gives you a link to your friends so you can say “hey I’m listening to that song and I really like it” and your friends can click on that link and immediately listen to a preview of the song and buy it if they like it. And we give you the lyrics for the songs too, so you can sing on the bus, if you want.

And did you launch those by yourself or did you have some friends you launched them with?

Yeah I worked with some friends that did the design, the logo, and the website. I was focused more on the code of the application and I worked more with other people who were great designers.

How did you launch GSM? And would you say it was the foundation for all you’ve done?

Kind of. When I first got a computer with internet I started to play and see what was happening and quickly I really wanted to be part of that and create a website myself. And so at the time you could create a website with Microsoft Word and export it as a website and so I started with that and I thought it was limited and I learned how to code webpages and it’s kind of how I started. And so I created that website for mobile phones, like ringtones and stuff because I liked that at the time. I’m still really involved and passionate about everything that is mobile and that’s my job right now, so I guess it helps.

How did you get the job at Seesmic?

I knew the CEO because I did an internship at his previous company when I was in Paris so it was like three years ago and so I knew him and in the meantime he left that company that he founded and created a new company here so when I arrived here for my internship I just talked to him and I pinged him and we stayed in contact. And when I said I wanted a change of job he proposed to me the job.

So what is most challenging about being in your field?

It’s really interesting because lots of things are happening all the time and also in our field at Seesmic we have lots of applications and it’s really interesting because we all go really fast, we adopt ourselves into the market, and to what customers want, and so you don’t know what you’re really going to work on in a few months. You can’t really plan ahead because you have to adapt to that real time so it’s really interesting and really challenging.

What is most rewarding about what you do?

Working in a startup is really cool because since you usually don’t have a lot of people working with you, you have a lot of responsibilities–you can work on pretty much anything you want–and that’s what I like the most because if I tell my boss I want to work on that project and there is benefits from that and it makes sense then I can get that project and work on it and take care of it. So, it’s not like you’re always focused on the same thing compared to I guess if you work in a big company–I have never worked in a big company but I hear that you do pretty much the same job all the time and that’s definitely not the case in the startup.

So what is your typical work day like?

So when I arrive in the office I catch up with the teams that are pretty much all over the world: we have engineers in Europe, in Singapore, all over the U.S., so in the morning everyone usually is up so it’s the end of the day for Europe, beginning of the day here, so we catch up on the work that has been done during the day, answer any questions they have, ask them questions, then I answer my email, have meetings, etcetera. And then in the afternoon everyone, all the engineers, are pretty much offline so I can work on planning, planning the resources, and specs and mockups for new features on products. So the morning is more social with the teams and the afternoon is more thinking.

I’m going to segway and ask: what is the role of money in your definition of success?

The role of money, I don’t know… it’s just, I don’t think it’s that important. I mean, it’s a nice reward but I think it’s not as rewarding as liking your job and working on patience and being with your friends, your family, I think that’s the most rewarding. Money is nice to have, of course, but I think you can be really happy without having that money as a main reward for your job.

So what advice do you have for strivers?

I would say follow your passion, whatever you like, whatever is your passion, just work on it, do stuff  around it, create a blog, do videos about it, create a podcast, that kind of stuff–and show the world what is your passion. And ultimately, you will find people who have the same passion or that are interested in your passion and based on that you can maybe do a live-in or get a job or get hired by a company that is working that field–I think it’s really important. And feel free to just do it, whatever you like–just follow your passion, I think that’s really important.

Want more? Check out Thouvenin’s blog here, his Mac OS X dashboard widget Time Machine Launcher here, and his About Me here (which includes links to more of his work).



Filed under accomplish, Advice, Entrepreneurship, Insider Insight, Inspiration, Interview, Leader, Learning, Mathieu Thouvenin, Positioning, Rising, Success, Tech Field, Technology, Vertical, Voila, Working Hard

Guide to Getting the Most Out of Shoes

Whether it’s regarding quality, quantity, or something else, everyone wants to maximize the benefits of their purchases. To help strivers do so in the footwear arena, here are five tips for maintaining a healthy collection and financial budget:

1. No duplicates

Unless you are buying multiple colors of cute, comfortable, and versatile ones like from Joan and David’s luxe series for seventy-five percent off, stick with one of each pair. The logic: with the unlimited supply of new styles there is plenty to buy that are unique enough to have you wearing them a long time and never missing out when you want more.

2. You must see everything

There is no point to having something if you cannot easily spot it. That means see through containers are necessary—or at least have labels on each shoe box with the model, style, and color. You may do this as easily as through affixed post-its, but be sure your writing is bold enough to read and also that all of the shoes are easily accessible.

3. Venture into Repair Land

There was a time well after the dinosaur age when we had an instinctive response to fix things rather than buy anew. With the economic downturn and environmental concerns, reverting back to the shoe maker is becoming more attractive—and is a great way to rescue favorites. Just choose a merchant wisely and consider even testing a sample first.

4. For every one in, take one out

Many people stuff their closets with an unhealthy amount of footwear. So unless you have realistic sparing room—as in all are neatly in boxes or at least are in separate spaces, then for every new purchase give one away. Note: making space for new items by taking over your spouse’s closet is not an exemption to disposal.

5. Know your market

Chances are you never need another pair, but when you do likely get one, be smart. This means invest in line with both your budget and the occasion for use. Staying with Joan and David’s as an example, only purchase them if you a) will still have enough spending and savings money, b) will get multi-use from them and c) you absolutely demand them.

Want more? Explore these relevant links: eHow’s How to Prolong the Life of Your Shoes (and be sure to scroll down for more parts to the series), About’s How Do You Organize Your Shoes? and HGTV’s Organization Tips.

Also, what strategies work best for controlling your shoe collection? Help the community by sharing your ways below.

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Filed under Advice, Insider Insight, Learning, Organization, Overcoming, Shoes, Shopping, Success

Learning How You Learn

With work, personal, and many other demands, it is critical to be as productive as possible; and understanding learning styles can help maximize efficiency. Below is an outline inspired by a class so you too can learn how you learn—to most effectively tailor to it.

Note: this is a recap of Learning Styles and Strategies by educators Richard Felder and Barbara Soloman and is reproduced with permission.

  • Active and/or Reflective
    • Active learners learn by doing things such as discussing or applying it
    • Reflective learners learn by thinking things through first
  • Sensing and/or Intuitive
    • Sensing learners tend to prefer facts, details, practicality, real world connections, and established methods
    • Intuitive learners tend to prefer discovering relationships and possibilities and tend to work faster and with more innovation
  • Visual and/or Verbal
    • Visual learners do well processing information through diagrams, sketches, photographs, and so forth
    • Verbal learners do well writing summaries, outlines, and listening to and explaining information, and the like
  • Sequential and/or Global
    • Sequential learners like linear steps that follow in logical order
    • Global learners like more random larger jumps to suddenly “get it”

Still not sure which style you are? Take this questionnaire to find out. Then become a part of the discussion, by relaying your learning preferences and what mediums teach you best.

Want More? Check out this article on “Technology as a Learning tool,” this index of “Seven Things You Should Know About” technologies and the like, and this three-part series of “100 Web Tools to Enhance Collaboration.” Just be sure to return and share your knowledge.

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Filed under accomplish, Advice, Barbara Soloman, Learning, Learning How You Learn, Learning Preferences, Learning Styles, Learning with Technology, Opportunity, Positioning, Richard Felder, Success

Q & A with NYOF Founder Olga Murray

A few days ago I had the good fortune of doing a Q & A with Olga Murray. Soon before her retirement from practicing law in San Francisco she was trekking the Himalayan Mountains when she broke her leg. A local porter carried her for days, which significantly touched Murray, and then she was moved again by the countless children at the hospital with such terrible disabilities and bleak resources. So soon after her fall—in 1984, she started to work with children in Nepal. In 1990 she founded the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation. NYOF’s mission is to empower the youth of Nepal—and already their successes include freeing over five-thousand girls from bondage. But even after around two decades of service, Murray says she believes that there is still much work to be done. The eighty-four-year-old Californian volunteers full time to lead her causes forward, even living much of her time in Kathmandu, where she was when I interviewed her. Below is her insight:

When and why did you get into service work? Because I was approaching retirement, always had an interest in children, and wanted to do something to help them.

Before NYOF how did you picture retirement? I thought I would work as an advocate for a child in court or tutor at a community center, but I fell in love with the children of Nepal when I came trekking here in 1984, and decided that I would work with impoverished children here.

How did you start the nonprofit? NYOF developed organically, driven by the needs of children in Nepal. We started out by giving scholarships to orphans, but expanded to other programs when we encountered children in dire circumstances who really needed help.

How did you obtain support? At first, through friends. Later, we became more organized, wrote grant applications to foundations, and increased our donor base through publicity.

Is the work what you expected? Why or why not? The work has far exceeded my expectations both in scope and [in] the amount of satisfaction I get every day from knowing that we are providing a better life to thousands of Nepali children.

What were the needs you were originally filling? At first, we started by giving college scholarships, but eventually [we] increased our scholarship base to disabled children, those whose parents could not afford primary school, those who had no homes, and poor children in villages so that today we support thousands of youngsters in school, from kindergarten to medical school.

How have those needs evolved? They evolved from our observations about the needs of children in Nepal. When many children were dying or became stunted because of malnutrition, we began a nutritional rehabilitation home to restore them to health and educate their mothers about child care. [Today NYOF has restored the health of more than five thousand children and has educated thousands.] We now have ten such facilities all over the country. When we learned that little girls were being bonded away for fifty dollars a year for labor, we began a program to eradicate the practice, which is now on the verge of success. [Estimates are that around 1200 girls, which is twenty percent of the former total number, still need to be rescued from bondage.] When we discovered children who had no homes and no hope for an education, we established two homes for children—one for boys and one for girls.

What are your largest setbacks? Lack of funds. We could do so much more if we had more money.

What, if you can distinguish one, is your most touching experience in Nepal? My relationship with the children at our children’s homes is the most touching experience here. I see them come in as neglected, malnourished little waifs and leave to go to college as confident, happy young people ready to give back to society.

What is your typical work day like? I spend a good part of the day on the computer keeping in touch with donors and our office. In Nepal I also do this, but I also spend time with the children at our children’s homes and visit our projects.

Who are your idols and why them? The usual caste of characters—Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, The Dalai Lama, because they have found a way to encourage people to live in harmony together.

What are your future goals? To expand NYOF’s activities. So much needs to be done in Nepal, and we have a local staff and organization that is able, passionate about children, and could provide for their needs.

What advice do you have for people who want to get involved? Go to our website and find a program they are interested in. If they wish to do so, they can donate money to help the children of Nepal.

Want to help Murray but don’t know where to begin? Go here. For additional nonprofits click here.

Need more information about NYOF? Read on here.

Concerned about legitimacy? Be assured NYOF is authentic by contacting them here or visiting their newsroom here.

Photos are reproduced with permission from Gregg Tully of NYOF.


Filed under accomplish, Advice, Altruism, Giver, Helping Youth, Insider Insight, Inspiration, Interview, Leader, Learning, mentor, Nepal, nonprofit, NYOF, Olga Murray, Opportunity, Overcoming, Service Work, Social Justice, Success, Working Hard

Five Must Read Job-Related Pieces

While I am flattered you are reading this—and I urge you to stay ahead by continuing to do so, please also explore other posts from other places. With job talk in such high supply, I am compiling five of my favorite pieces on the subject. See them below:

  • These tips target teen job hunters, but Schwartz Communications outdoes itself to benefit any job seeker. Some of my favorite advice is work in areas similar to your favorite classes—but this can be applied to activities too, and utilize your network. Discover more recommendations here.
  • Starting a business can be full of complexities, but Under30CEO has compiled ten steps to make the process much simpler. Reduce the stress of working towards your dream by reading their insightful guide here.
  • The blogosphere provides many interviews with insightful people, but Jun Loayza’s with Gail Cayetano, the founder of the PR firm Starfish Events, is worthwhile because it sheds light into the workings of successful entrepreneurship—and it does so through both video and a text recap. Check it out here.
  • This Ms. Career Girl post spurred from one of Sherry Argov’s books targets women, but nevertheless reminds everyone of the importance in developing healthy habits AND exercising them consistently. Read on here.
  • Once you land a job, you likely want to maintain it—such as by meshing well with colleagues. Of course, to do so you probably will steer clear from gossip, but Emily Bennington shares nine more points for avoiding becoming a “nuisance.” Stay in by clicking here.

Have more referrals for great tips, posts, articles, studies, or anything else regarding jobs? Please share them below.

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Filed under Advice, Getting In, Insider Insight, Learning, Positioning, Rising, Staying In, Success, work, Working Hard

Quick Tips for Multicultural Relations

Despite controversies, today’s globalizing world remains in effect. To stay with the times, I want to get some multicultural relations points across. Here you go:

1. Learn Some Basics

My boyfriend had a business teacher named Ms. Thomas who drilled this into her pupils’ heads, and for good reason. Learning how to say and show greetings and appreciations in multiple languages is crucial to showing respect. And we all know how pivotal respect is to a relationship—it can start it.

2. Evaluate Your Own Practices and Beliefs

If you have not been socialized in an environment of multiple ideologies, then take a critical look at your own. This is because while maintaining tradition is vital to diversity, feeling culturally superior is not. So show dignity in your heritage by being secure and proud enough to also embrace others.

3. Make Friends Outside your Comfort Zone

This is important because it allows you to see the beauty in everyone and can even prompt interest in beneficial practices and ideas. Plus, what can be better than making a new friend? Especially one who can teach you such unique information.

4. Consider Becoming Bilingual

While translators and second language speakers may be around to communicate with in foreign places, there is no substitute for speaking the language yourself. This both prevents common misunderstandings and also enriches cultural perspectives, which is priceless.

Have more tips for multicultural relations? Be sure to share them! Your advice could possibly be the impetus for someone learning your culture —and subsequently kindling you two into best friends.

Also, want to learn a language but don’t know where to begin? Checkout these fabulous articles on  “web ways” from The New York Times here and here.


Filed under Advice, Cultural Diversity, International Business, International Relations, Language, Learning, Multicultural Relations, Success