About manuel

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34 Things I Have Learned In 34 Years

Last Friday was my birthday. 34 feels pretty nice to me. I had some great life experiences. I met amazing people. I laughed a lot. I met my soul mate and I married her. I moved to another country. I left my 9-to-5 job and started working for myself.  I got desperate and then back on my feet more times than I can count. Sometimes life feels like a roller-coster. I hope it continues like that…

Here are 34 life lessons, opinions and observations I have learned on the way. They all work for me. Will they work for you?

1) You learn more by experimenting than by studying.

2) Listening is an art.

3) You can laugh at everything, particularly at yourself.

4) Be persistant, not stubborn.

5) If you want to get flexible, stretch all the time. I still have to work A LOT on this one. (It’s also valid as a metaphor).

6) Sleep at least 7-8 hours every night and get a power nap of 10-20 minutes everyday. I tried to sleep 6 hours or less to have more “work” time. In the end, yes I got more awake time but I wasn’t productive at all.

7) Don’t trust your brain, get a to-do list app with reminders to get stuff done. Follow it religiously.

8) Sweat (a lot) everyday.

9) Life is like doing the dishes. If you wait too long, it takes forever to scrub the pan.

10) Your gut is always right (even if it’s not always the easiest path). Trust your intuition.

11) Meditate 5 minutes or more everyday. You don’t need to make this complicated. Just sit, close your eyes and observe what happens like a scientist observes their experiment. Don’t judge. (Alternately, use my meditation app 😉 )

12) Try the shittiest job you can do. Once upon a time I worked throwing bags of mail in trucks from midnight to 6 in the morning. It sucked. Every time I think of it I’m grateful for all the other jobs I had after that. (Actually, a good friend of mine worked as a janitor in a liposuction surgery clinic. I just wanted to throw up when he was telling me about his work day. He should get a shitty job award).

13) Question everything. Most of what you think is probably wrong or will be proved wrong sooner than you think. Read books you don’t agree with, try to understand political ideas that you are against, etc…

14) If you get criticized or if people judge you, you’re doing something that matters.

15) Connect with nature. This one goes along with meditation.

16) You don’t have too much to do, you just need to make a decision.

17) Make mistakes, this is how you get wise.

18) I learned the most from projects I thought I would never be able to accomplish.

19) All religions are beautiful and have the same teaching: LOVE. Don’t listen to those who try to manipulate them.

20) When someone says TGIF, I hear “I spend 5 days out of 7 doing something I hate”. (I used to know the feeling)

21) Karma works. Everything is connected and what happens to you is 100% a consequence of your actions. Nothing is random.

22) Learn how to code. Start with html, then learn a bit of PHP, some javascript and even some C if you feel like it. It’s really not that complicated once you know one language. Of course it’s easy for me to say since I studied to be a software engineer (actually I learned to code before that). But think of it this way: technology is shaping the world we live in. You might not like or you might deny it but it’s happening. You can choose to be part of it or be passive.

23) Everybody has a bullshit detector and most of them work perfectly.

24) There is no diet that fits all. Paleo, vegan, raw… They all have pros and cons. Find what makes you feel good, learn what the food you eat is made of and observe how it makes you feel. Also you will be more aware of what you’re eating if you learn to cook (not just pasta).

25) Breathing correctly is essential. Yogis believe your life is determined by the number of breaths you take. Basically, breathe deeper and slower, live longer. Plus breathing has a direct impact on your digestive, circulatory and nervous systems. Breathing correctly helps regulating all of them.

26) If you can’t find the product that you need, it means you have a business idea. Build it.

27) Try to understand art. Especially when you think it sucks. You’re probably missing the point.

28) Discipline creates freedom.

29) If you can, put “freedom money” on the side, (I’m sure you can, just a little). Use it as an investment in yourself. I put a little more than one year of salary when I was working at my previous 9-to-5 job (it took a while). Thanks to this freedom money I was able to quit my job and start working for myself. My freedom money went down during the first year, now it’s going up again. If I’m fed up with doing what I do and want to start over again, I know I can.

30) Surround yourself with people who inspire you. (Bonus point if they are weird.)

31) If you are scared, you’re on the right path.

32) It’s not about what you get, it’s about what you give.

33) The biggest quest of your life is discovering who you are.

34) We live in an amazing world. There are so many reasons to be thankful. Learn to say thank you and mean it. Like this: thank you for taking time to read this, it really matters to me! 🙂

 

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What is Ananda?

(une version française de cet article est disponible ici)

[UPDATE: the app is now available on the iphone app store. You can get it here.]

Ok, I’m super excited! It’s time to talk to you about my latest project…

I may already have talked about it with some of you. Actually the facebook page and the website have been online for a couple of weeks now, so if you saw them you probably know already. And since many of you are interested and asked me questions, I’ve decided to go a little more in details before the project goes live.

For starters, Ananda is the first iphone app I’ve conceived and distributed by myself… And this is just the starting point to many evolutions around this concept.

This project comes from an issue I’m having every day: I’m always looking for the calm I need to work, focus or even sleep efficiently. And it’s not always easy: I’m always interrupted by some exterior stimuli when I’m working in a café or even at home when my neighbours decide to listen to an extra loud track from Skrillex. I also spend a good amount of time in public transportation and it seems like a lot of wasted time I could use to relax or meditate. And I’m not even talking about social media… I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one in this case, right?

Actually I need serenity whatever my environment is. The answer is Ananda, my personal sound sanctuary that helps me to reach this serenity where and when I want. And I sure hope Ananda will become your sanctuary too!

Every time you use it, Ananda generates a fresh soundtrack made of natural sounds, mantras, zen gongs and much more… And on top of that a binaural program of your choice helps you to reach the state of mind you wish, whether focused or meditative mood (and much more other ones…).

If you wonder what a binaural program is: it’s a group of sound artifacts which train your brain to reach a desired state of mind. These sounds are actually made of two distinct frequencies played in each of your ears. The difference between these frequencies helps your brain to reach a desired working frequency. For example if a 200Hz frequency is played in one ear and a 205Hz frequency is played in your other ear, the perceived “beat” would be 5Hz and your brain will try to synchronize with this particular frequency which is associated with a meditative state.

Ananda has a new approach: it generates tailor-made binaural tones depending on the duration of your session and the program you choose. The background sounds are selected randomly so you never hear the exact same session twice. Every time you use Ananda you’ll hear something new and fresh.

I worked hard to make this app as efficient as possible. It’s as simple as this : plug in your earphones, choose your program and enter your personal sanctuary wherever you are: in the metro, in a café, at the office or at home.

But here you go, an example is better than a long description. Here is a small excerpt of what Ananda sounds like:

Ananda will be soon released on the Apple App Store (the app has been sent to Apple and is being reviewed). The full version will be sold for 2,99$ (2,39€). Seriously, this is the price a cup of coffee and you will be able to access the app when you want from your iphone for as long as you want.

New sounds will be added to subsequent updates so you can get even more original sound backgrounds in the future (of course, updates come at no cost).

I’m also working on a free version if you want to test the app before buying it (and trust me, so far all the early testers loved it).

If you want more information, visit the Ananda website and like the facebook page.

And talk about it around you, it really helps… Thanks a lot, really!

If you still have questions, leave a comment or send me an email. I’ll be happy to answer you 🙂

ps: for all of you who helped me, supported me, gave me ideas during the programming of this app, for all the testers who helped me find the bugs in the app: I can’t thank you enough! Without you this project would never have worked out… And special thanks to Julien from Appartement 303 who particularly helped me to make the interface smooth and simple to use. Seriously the app looks awesome!

ps2: Best wishes for a peaceful and successful new year to all of you!

[UPDATE: the app is now available on the iphone app store. You can get it here.]

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The autopilot

I know a lot of people who think they are acting consciously but they keep doing the same mistakes that make them miserable. I understand. I do it too. And it’s because I’m on autopilot. The autopilot is the contrary of consciousness. It’s all the things you do and you have no idea why.

  • Why do you live in this country?
  • Why are you drinking this glass of wine?
  • Why are you watching this show?
  • Why are you eating the same stuff all the time?
  • Why are you always hanging out with the same people?

There are many activities I do and I don’t really know why. Sometimes I feel that I wake up and I feel “What the fuck am I doing here?“. It doesn’t mean that what I do is wrong it’s just that it may not conscious. Sometimes it’s actually great I don’t even realize it. Bonus point, you can be grateful.

I’m trying this little exercise. It’s easy, it doesn’t take too much time and it helps me simplify things. I ask myself why over and over.

So I’m in the bus and I stress about a client’s project I’m working on. Instead of entering the panic mode I ask myself:

  • Why am I working on this project? – Because I want to have more experience with this subject.
  • Why do I want to have more experience with this subject? Because I’d like to work on other similar projects.
  • Why would I like to work on other similar projects? Because I want to become an expert in this domain.
  • Why do I  want to become an expert in this domain? Because I want to be respected.
  • Why do I want to be respected? Because I want people to love me.

Actually, most of the time, the “Why?” comes down to “Because I love [insert person] (e.g. my wife, my Mom, my friend, etc…)” or “Because I want [insert person] to love me“. I wanted to find something more manly than that but this is what I really feel…

Some times the “Why?” leads me to “Because I hate something/somebody”. It makes things easier, I can just give up. I don’t want to waste my time on anger.

And when it comes down to “I want more money” I can simply see if I need more money to invest in something that makes me better (learn something, exercise or even pay the rent) or because I want more stuff. Even if this is rarely the case, I’m human, I’m not perfect and sometimes I think that, yes, money and more stuff makes me happy. Then I ask myself why and I act accordingly.

Whatever the answer is, it’s interesting to look at alternative method to get to this goal. There’s probably most efficient way to be loved or love than “earning more money” or “being an expert in this domain”.

Or perhaps not… I don’t know, it depends on you. What do you think? What are you doing what you do today?

 

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Different paths

I went to see the Avett Brothers, 2 days ago. I’m not really a fan of theirs, but we had a friend who had tickets and couldn’t go… So we went.

I always feel good in concert venues. I don’t really know why. Perhaps it’s the crowd energy. I guess this why for a period of my life all my budget was dedicated to going to all the concerts I could technically go to. Or perhaps this is why I feel good in concert halls. Because I’m really familiar with them and they just feel like home.

But anyway, the Avett Brothers is not really my kind of music. I’m more an electro/hip-hop kind of guy, that’s it.

So why did I like this show so much? Seriously, I want to listen to the Avett Brothers all the time now, what is happening to me?

This is the answer: this concert opened a little door inside me. And ideas started pouring. This is how I felt during the whole show.

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Really!…

I figured out so many things and came up with so many new concepts, I had to take some notes on my phone when we went out of the concert venue. In fact, I really needed to step into this zone that I’m not familiar with. Simply because this is not me. And I need to extend my parameters, otherwise I get stuck.

And you know what? This happened when I went to see this impressionism exhibition, when I went to this chamber of commerce social event I really didn’t want to go to or when I visited the house of Green Gables… All of these, I was really not interested in.

Every time I experiment something really different from what I’m used to, every time I meet people who are really different form the people who are close to me, this same feeling happens.

That’s how creativity works. When I just listen to same music, when I read the same authors, when I spend time with the same friends, nothing really important happens.

Innovating ideas won’t come to you magically. The only way to have a fresh vision is to experience something really different as often as you can. You probably feel it’s not interesting, that it’s wasted time but it will extend your parameters. If others are curious about it there must be a reason. Different paths exist but we are often too stubborn to see them. If you’re an explorer, you need to experiment them too. Understanding why these paths exist will make you more curious. And also you will learn how others see the world.

And this is how you will figure out your path.

Later this week I will visit an architecture exhibition. I don’t know much about it.

It seems boring. That’s exactly what I need.

 

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A simple motivation mind trick

There is not a really big difference between people who are awesome and people who are just normal. Actually awesome people are really normal. If you don’t know them you just think “great guy, he’s nice”… that’s it. And after you realize is the CEO of some great startup or a guy who traveled the world while you were playing Candy Crush.

This is the big difference between normal and awesome. If you want to be awesome, do awesome. And this doesn’t necessarily means you must travel around the world. Actually there is so many travel bloggers right now that it seems kind of crowded. You know what? Every week I find a new blog of French expats in Montreal talking about how they opened a bank account and asked for a new driver’s licence. Montreal probably became one of the most French populated city outside of France. So, no… The world doesn’t really need more travel bloggers (and it doesn’t need more mommy bloggers either by the way). Or if you really need to travel, stop going to Canada or Thailand like everybody. Go in the middle of Zimbabwe or cross Antarctica. Wow, I’m rambling…

But anyway, you don’t need to travel the world, you just need to make something great. And it can be working on your health, creating a company, be an inventor, I don’t know… Anything! Just do it and let people know about it.

Now, I’m sure you are pretty awesome at something. Everybody is. Perhaps you cook better, or take pictures better than the average. But the difference between you and the person who will succeed is that you have to cut down the distractions.

And this is what ruins the world right now. Distractions. You know what I mean: TV, internet, facebook…. It’s poisoning us. It’s an addiction. Really, it’s like crack. It makes us feel good in the moment but it really doesn’t help on the long term

I was watching this video yesterday.

Yes, you can watch it again. This is not new but we need this to be repeated over and over again because nobody seems to understand.

Everything is made so we can run the easiest life possible. And we think this is cool. But easy is just making you lazy (and fat). And that is actually why somebody get in front of you. Because some don’t care if they have to make the extra effort. Some understand that life can’t always be glamorous. and that it has to suck to get things done.

I know, it’s hard. You know what? Even writing this is hard, I’d like to just lay down and daydream right now, but instead I keep working on my laptop. It would be so easy to just take breaks all the time and let life roll. It’s hard to keep the motivation when you know that watching a movie or talking about your holidays with your colleagues again won’t make a big difference.

Ok this is great, but if you’re so smart Manuel, why don’t you tell us how to keep motivated? Ok… I’ll share it with you. I found some mind trick that keeps me working. When I want to stop, it makes me work extra hours. And I don’t need someone to push me, I can do this by myself. I call it…THE 10 YEAR RULE

Ok, this is simple… Your distractions are ruining your life. Procrastination ruins your life. You know it, I know it (trust me). But you can’t find something that makes you act better.

The 10 year rule is: Will what you are doing right matter in 10 years? That’s it… This is the most powerful question I ask myself every day. If you have a phone or a laptop, put this in your reminders so it fires 2-3 times a day. Put it in capital letters and make it bad-ass: >>>>>WHAT AM I DOING RIGHT NOW? WILL IT FUCKING MATTER IN 10 YEARS?<<<<<. Stop reading and put this in your reminders now… Actually I should make an app to have this reminder pop-up randomly and blink in red several time during the day.

So why 10 years and not 2 or 40? It’s really personal. I used to think that what I will benefit from what I worked on when I’m old. This is what the system wants us to believe. You are working so you can have money to retire, meanwhile you pay for your parents retirement (this is over simplified but this is how it works). And you know what? It doesn’t work for me. I don’t think I will ever really retire and also thinking about life in 35-40 years seems really far. It was even farther when I was 20. But 10 years work good. It’s something you can relate to. Perhaps 5 years work better for you. I don’t know, take what makes heart pound.

Now, I don’t mean you have to constantly remind yourself where you want to be in 10 years but rather if what you are doing today will matter in 10 years.

This, my friends, is the only motivation I need. This is what makes me work when I could watch TV. This is what makes me practice yoga when I could drink a beer. This is what makes me code when I could scroll Facebook. And this is what makes me write this when I could do nothing.

So what are you doing today? Will it matter in 10 years?

Answer and act accordingly.

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Who do you want to be?

When I was 14 at the end of junior high school, I was asked to decide what job I wanted to do after school. Like that: enter a class room, sit down, take a pen and a piece of paper and write down who you want to become.

I remember I asked the teacher if I would be able to change my mind after. She said “maybe”.

I was so fucking stressed. I haven’t thought about that this seriously. So since I liked watching stars I wrote astrophysicist. The teacher took my paper, filed it and the next year I studied more science. That’s it.

A couple of years after before getting to university, same question: Who do you want to be? What? again? Can’t I just figure this one out later? I had several friends who wanted to study electronics so I said electronics. And I went studying for two years in the electronic department of the university.

At the end of that again, same question: what do you want to do? work or study more? I got an appointment with one teacher there. He told me: ” you’re not ready to work but you don’t have the mentality for engineering school”. It was a nice way to say “you’re fucked buddy“. Anyway I applied for an engineering school in my hometown. They told me I had no chance to be selected because I sent my file too late. It was basically that or nothing. I was a little desperate… But in the end they took me. Seriously engineering school was hard but not that hard. Basically sometimes, I couldn’t party for 3-4 days because I had to study. This kind of hard. I got my engineering degree, I honestly think I did a good job and also I  went to all the college parties and concerts I could during these three years.

And after that, nothing. I went out of school and nobody asked what I wanted to do. Hey guys, where are you? Are you kidding me?

I looked for jobs in high-tech companies, the kind of companies who judge you on the way you tied your tie, not your qualifications, I did some interviews… I couldn’t stand it. I had no desire to work for people who wanted to make me a robot. I wanted to create stuff, not being told what to do.

So I worked in a hardware store. I was being told what to do from 5 am to 1pm and after that I was free. I’ve always been a morning kind of guy anyway.

One day I met a friend in this hardware store. When I was in engineering school I did an internship in the company he worked for. He told me the company decided to hire an engineer. The next week I was working for them.

And the same thing happened every year: What do you want to do? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I want a raise. I want more responsibilities. I want to go to Canada.

So they sent me to Canada (in case you don’t know, I’m French). I worked for them for three years in Montreal. But, hey… I was still not free. I was still doing what I was being told to do. I was not creating stuff at all. It was not the company’s fault, it was mine. I was not doing what I wanted. I was a robot. And in some ways it was comfortable because I just had to follow, tell some people what to do, tell other people what I had done. And it was ok but not really.

The worst was that I could see myself doing the same job in 20 years. And I got scared. So I quit.

And now I’m on my own.

It’s hard to know what you want to do. When you have no clue, people decide for you. You think you had a choice because people asked you but in fact no, choices are really limited… What if you want to be a fisherman in Alaska or a shaman? There is no school for that.

Now I know who I want to become. I know that I want to be on the edge. I don’t want to be comfortable.

And I’m the only one who can make it happen. It’s liberating.

I’m working on this right now.

Do you?

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This app business project

Hello, and happy Labour Day weekend if you’re in US or Canada (or any country that celebrates Labour Day now)!

Since it’s a time to reflect about work, I thought I had a little word on where my business is going and mainly my app business project… It’s kind of a long post so grab a cup of green smoothie. Actually I was writing to a friend and I thought it would be a good post (excuse me if there is any typo).

I was on vacation for 2 weeks in August and honestly I did not do as much as I expected this summer. Actually I really focused on my yoga teacher training this past year and it was one of the best decision I ever made. I really did it for my own personal development. Seriously, if you are still wondering why all these self-help development books and blogs haven’t work, try a yoga teacher training (really!). I won’t teach though, but in a way I believe that if you are a better person you end up showing a good example to others which is a good teaching.

So, now that I’m not studying and writing yoga reports (I think I was too much of a perfectionist on these sometimes), I have more time to invest in my business. I opened SPARQ Studio a little more than a year ago. It was really more a way to do all kind of freelance work, mainly websites and consulting behind a business name ( I could have name it Manuel Loigeret Consulting Company but SPARQ sounded better…). Now I want to step up my game a little because website and consulting can be great but it’s definitely not my dream job.

This App Developer thingy

For a long time I said I was an app developer. It’s true and false. It’s true because I’m a computer engineer, I programmed quite a lot of desktop applications (mainly image analysis / artificial intelligence softwares). I also did a lot a php/mysql programming and also other network, linux and web stuff. And yeah, I also worked on a lot of stuff not at all related to computer science. And it was great but not in term of “apps”… So when I say I’m an app developer it’s not completely true because, people automatically think iphone apps (and this is what I wish I meant too). I worked on many “test” iphone apps but I didn’t publish any yet. And I feel bad about it. I always had a “good reason” to do something else – because website design and consulting pay the bills faster than trying to understand the App Store business. So in the past year I spent a lot of time on some short-term projects that didn’t bring me much instead on focusing on the app programming. Now my goal is to make this app thing work. That being said, I’ll still dedicate some time to work on some side web and consulting projects on the way because it’s not too difficult and it pays the bills.

What I’m working on now

Right now I’m working (almost) like a maniac on a meditation app I started a while ago. It’s a project I had for a year and along the way I came up with all sorts off ideas to make it really satisfying and yet simple. So what was supposed to be done in a couple of weeks took me a bit longer and I’m really happy with what it became…

I’ll write more about it and make a small promotional site when I’ll have a beta version, hopefully in September. The app should be on the store in October if everything’s ok. Since it’s the first app I will publish on the App Store, I have no idea how it will go with Apple review. I think I did everything right but perhaps they will come up with some coding norm that I wasn’t aware of. Surprise, surprise…

After that, I have a couple of other apps on paper. These should not take as long as a year to come. The more I code apps the more I feel comfortable to make them quickly. I also have some kick-ass designer friends who give me great insights. It helps… I can easily convince myself that what I do is awesome when in fact it’s total bullshit. Dear designer friends, you piss me off sometimes but I’m glad you do.

App marketing

I made some research and a lot of reading on app marketing. There’s a lot of ‘get rich quickly’ formulas around that sound more like big scams when you start to make research in this area. But I also found some stuff on how to make apps that make a difference and how to optimize your keywords, title, screenshots, etc…I’m really excited about that actually. The App Store is a close system so it seems a little more feasible to follow a couple of rules to get into the game. (oh yeah… when I say “App Store, I mean, the Apple App Store… I want to focus exclusively on iphone/ipad apps. The Android platform is kind of mess for developers from what I’ve seen and I don’t want to waste my time figuring it out)

Also, even if a revolutionary idea will make you rich, it’s really really (really!) hard to come up with one. And it’s funny actually because when you talk about app ideas with people, many of them think that it’s easy to have a really unique idea and get rich. But believe me, try to have an awesome app idea and then make some research and see how millions of developers already executed your idea. My plan is to make a good amount of apps during this coming year (what “good amount” means? We’ll see…) and test different kind of apps and marketing strategies to see what really works.

Getting better

Finally this App entrepreneur ambition might seem like a big dream, but I see a lot of guys who are not smarter than anybody and manage to make a decent income from the App Store. So I’m asking myself “Why not me?”. I believe it really is artificial limitation. I’m not really surrounded by truly awesome entrepreneurs who did it and it keeps my reference system pretty low (see this post by Niall Doherty who expressed it better that I can). Actually if I didn’t focus on this project it’s surely because the task seems kind of too difficult. But in the past I surpassed really difficult challenges and now that I think about them they were not that bad. I definitely need to put a little more energy into this.

So yeah… Will this App thing work? Will I be able to make some money from my apps? Will this project evolve into something else?

Keeping reading the blog if you want to know 🙂

Playing idiots

There is this trend that is semi-popular among personal development bloggers: some of us are awake and others are zombies. From my experience if I tend to think that someone is a zombie it’s probably that I missed something. Everybody has something great to share. Not seeing that is actually a sign that you don’t see others for what they really are.

That being said, many people are idiots. I’m probably the worst idiot I know. I’m naive, I make very stupid decisions, I miss huge opportunities all the time, I can be extremely awkward in social events and despite all this, I continue to believe I am a smart guy. Pretty funny, but I’m okay with all this. I’m at ease with being an idiot.

Not always though… I’m not okay with pretending I’m an idiot. And I feel I consciously play the idiot because this is what everybody does.

For example: I know that many businesses put profits before the quality of their products/ services. This is no surprise. But sometimes it is so obvious that they use their customer’s lack of intelligence to make more money that I have to question if they care even a little about them. This is what I saw earlier today in a Metro supermarket in Montreal.

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You don’t need to speak french to get it. But if despite this really easy translation issue, you still don’t get it then you are like all the people who bought this tropical juice (there was none left). This means that there is a significant part of Metro customers that can’t multiply 1.25 by 4. Or they simply didn’t pay attention and trusted that this supermarket act for their best interest.

Sweet! This business that has absolutely no remorse to sell us tomatoes that taste like water, OGMs that we don’t have a clue if they are good or bad for us, expired meat covered with barbecue sauce and  plastic containers made in factories that barely respect human rights is probably trying to help me save money because its management cares for me!

I’m one of those naive guys… This is what I mean when I say I’m really an idiot. I wish businesses like this one tried to not insult my intelligence and tried more subtle marketing campaigns. But it works and nobody cares, so why not take the opportunity, right?

What terrifies me is that we still buy most of our food in stores like this one, that we continue to support a system that we know is wrong simply because it’s a pain to deal with smaller, honest but more expensive businesses. We are lazy and we are cheap ; that’s why we are okay with playing idiots. 

So you can continue to do that and blame it on the “system”. But in the end, the system is not the cause, you are because you are maintaining the status quo.

If you see me pretending to be an idiot again, please kick me in the balls.

 

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How to be smart

I’m usually disappointed by smart people. At first,  I meet them, I think they are awesome, I want to be friend with them. And then I realize it was just a show (or plain bullshit) and it takes a lot to actually be smart. That’s when I’m disappointed.

I used to think that knowledge was this thing that make you a smart guy. It’s not. Knowledge is the show. Knowledge was important before, not anymore. Because knowledge is free, thanks to google, wikipedia and your public library. You want to know something: use google, wikipedia or your public library. You can just gather knowledge from there when you want. Right now if you are reading this and you wonder how to change the belt in your dryer, you can google it. You may not be as quick or as a repair guy to figure out how to do it. But if you do it for you, for your neighbour and for your aunt, chances are you’ll be as smart as the repair guy in terms of dryer belts. And then you’ll be known as dryer belt smart.

For instance: I’m good with computer. It’s following me everywhere. I don’t even have to advertise it, it’s like people already know. They ask me where to buy their new laptop, if I can have a look at their printers, change the time on their bluray player, transfer music on their ipod, install or worse: “boost” their old Windows Millenium computer … Yesterday I was sitting in a mall doing absolutely nothing. I was just waiting. I was not trying to give any hint. An old man came to ask me how he could connect his laptop to the free wifi! I’m telling you, it must be written “I’m a fucking computer engineer. Ask me anything” on my forehead. So yes, I’m computer smart. That’s one thing.

How did I become computer smart? Google, wikipedia and public library… I also studied computer science during 5 years in college but what I learned was: be good at finding information, that’s what I did. That’s it. I have a nice paper saying that I studied 5 years for that. If you can figure how to use google, wikipedia or the public library before going to college, you’ll save 5 years of your life. When I have a computer problem, I google it. That’s it. When I ask people I help if they tried to google it, they say no.

I was talking with some friends the other day. We were wondering how many people live on Prince Edward Island. We all had smartphones. But I was the only one to google it. The reaction was “Wow, it’s wonderful what we can do with technology now!” Are you kidding me? Everybody has access to internet almost 24/7. It’s not even new, it has been years. You pay 60$ per month to have access to the whole internet in your pocket, what is your excuse for not using it? Candy crush saga? You’re “too old”? I feel literally blessed to live in a world where information is free. We should all be so glad for it… It’s insanely awesome, how can we not enjoy it?

Now a lot of people are smart because they went to college and they memorized a lot of stuff. I know people who can literally recite some equations. They can give you the exact definition of “fuzzy logic” or “computer-aided manufacturing”. The guys were always first at my engineering school. They used to piss me off… But these are the same people who asked me if I can help them set up their new computer. See what I mean? They were trying to be wikipedia but no one needs another wikipedia or another google. If you can recite a super complicated programming algorithm but you’re not able to install the computer it’s going to run on, you have a problem.

Knowledge is just the surface of things, it has nothing to do with how things work. Worse, knowledge is constantly changing, it’s changing fast. Memorizing stuff like a monkey only makes you good in the past. Too bad, you are not living in the past.

What really matters is your capacity to adapt and figure out a solution to a problem. Basically being smart is trying that at least…

If you can’t find the answer on google, wikipedia or at the public library, it doesn’t mean there’s no answer. It means it’s your turn to figure it out. It means you are on the right path.

This is where you can really make a difference.

Kids in disguise

I turned 33 a month ago. People told me that after my 20s the world would be different, that it would be too late to start something new. So far I don’t see much difference between by 20s and my 30s except that it takes me a little more time to adjust if I mess with my sleep time. Apart from that I’m really happy to be in my 30s.

The thing is I don’t really know if I’m an adult yet. A friend told me 5 years ago that I was living like a college kid because I was going to a Metallica show. I was 28 and honestly most of the people at the show were older than me. I mean, it was Metallica so I guess it was normal. But for my friend going to a concert was a college kid thing, I was 28 I should have stayed home and put some Ikea furniture together like a good 28 year old adult.

I suck at adulthood. I have to admit it. Nobody told me what it is. And I don’t think anybody really knows either.

It’s this thing: you spend around 20 years being treated like a kid – because it takes 20 years to be ready for the complicated world we have created – and then… ta da!… you are an adult. Since all you know is being told what to do like a kid, you continue to listen to what you are told like a kid. You work for a company where teachers are replaced by managers, you consume cultural products that are said to be good for you, etc… In fact adult life is really similar to a kid life without the fun. But you think you are an adult so it seems that everything is A-ok.

I would like to think it’s conspiracy but it’s not, that politicians put us in a box. But It’s not that, it’s just laziness. We don’t want to explore what is possible because it might be uncomfortable. Fuck that!… Kids don’t care to fall, open a knee and bleed. They know they won’t die from what they try and that yes it might hurt but at least they experience something. But us, “adults”, we are so stubborn. We think we get it, when we don’t have a fucking clue. And that’s what prevents us from trying new things.

The conspiracy is just in your head. The conspiracy is your excuse because you don’t want to get up and do something. The world is made a certain way but it’s just a limited perception. There is much much more possibilities outside of the spectrum of the world you accept to see. And yes it is just your will to see more that will make the difference, nothing else.

If there is something that would make us adults, it would be the ability we have to think like innocent kids and imagine new alternatives to our world. It would be to remove the layers of illusions and assumptions we’ve built up over time. This is what matters: to keep this inside light shining and to not worry about being conform to what have been taught.

So what could you start with. If you were a 6 year old kid right now… What would you do? What question would you ask?

Photo by joeflintham.