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EPISODE #19: CÉDRIC WALDBURGER (DFINITY & SENDTASK)

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Shownotes

EPISODE #19: CÉDRIC WALDBURGER (DFINITY & Sendtask)

Interview Timestamps

1:37 – Delivering value to 11 projects at the same time.
14:19 – How the Swiss military service supported/hindered Cédric’s entrepreneurial career.
20:15 – Owning only 64 things.
22:52 – What is DFINITY?
34:42 – 90-day goals.

Related Links

Biography

Cédric is a Venture Capitalist and founder of Tenderloin Ventures and Sendtask. He started his first venture – Mediasign, a digital branding agency – in high school. He went on to study electrical engineering at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and spent the following years in different jobs in Hongkong, New York and Berlin. Since 2013, he is active as a venture capitalist through his company Tenderloin Ventures. He also became involved in his first blockchain project with the company Dfinity. Cédric is an avowed minimalist, owning only 64 things. He’s known for his strongly optimized lifestyle, following what he calls the “90 review and preview”.

Full transcript

Silvan  0:20

Hi everyone and welcome to new episode of Swisspreneur. Today we’re going to have a chat with Cédric Waldburger, parallel Entrepreneur, Investor and crypto-enthusiast. Cedric is also well known for being an essentialist, he owns only 64 things, all of them in black. Now let’s have a chat with him about his entrepreneurial career and what makes Switzerland special regarding startups.

 

Before we get started with the episode, I would like to introduce you to SBB Startup. If you think that your company is a good fit for the Swiss railways, get in touch with them or learn more about the startup programs at sbbstartup.com.

 

Cédric a very warm welcome to the Swisspreneur show, it’s very great to have you on the show today. Before we get started, I would like to quickly explain what you currently do. I checked your LinkedIn profile, you are involved in 11 different projects at the same time at this very moment, and many, many others that you’ve had in the past. So that also goes towards my first question; how can you deliver value to 11 different projects at the same time?

 

Cédric  1:37

Sure, yeah, first of all thanks for having me, super excited about finally meeting you in person, we’ve chatted online for a while, it’s good to finally be in the same room. Yeah, my LinkedIn currently lists 11 projects that I’m presently involved with, but there’s various degrees. Some of them I’m involved with as an investor, others I’ve co-founded a long time ago and didn’t take a lot of my day-to-day brain activity and then some like Dfinity right now take the majority of my focus and brain energy on a on a day-to-day basis. How am I trying to support or provide value for all these different projects totally depends on the project and I do believe in sharing a lot, and that’s why I stay involved because I think that very often what I learned in one young company over here can also help a young company over there and so pointing out synergies, sharing stories and experiences from one young company with another that often helps. And then there also was a different time in my life, right now I’m focused on one project Dfinity, so I spend 95% of my time on that, but before that for about 3 years, I was mostly an investor. I spend most of my time working with young companies investing in them, and then also actively coaching them and working with them and there my focus was not one single company, but my focus or my motivation to do that was to learn about what goes well, and what doesn’t go well in a young company’s life or first stage. And so there was a focus, but it was not on a single company, but it was on the learning opportunity as a whole.

 

Silvan  3:27

Sure. That makes a lot of sense and you said you wanted to understand and learn what goes well and what doesn’t go well in young companies. Do you have any key take aways from your past experience in that regard?

 

Cédric  3:40

Sure. I think some are in line with what you read in a lot of books, like typically, if there’s more than one founder, teams of 2-3 or 2-4 people usually, I’ve seen work better than single founders or solo founders. Another one is focus. Are the founders 100% focused on what they’re building? Do they have a clear vision and a clear strategy that they execute? Or are they kind of opportunistically looking at step by step / what’s next for them? Where focus is obviously much, much better and a lot more efficient than a zig-zag course. And then I guess there’s many, many small experiences as well, both from observation and also being involved in a company in an early age myself. Number 1, and I think we’ll talk about this later as well, it’s all about the team. In the end, there’s no good market, there’s no good product, if there’s no good team. Yeah, I think that that’s one of the key takeaways that I probably, a few years ago, would not have seen this clearly, but having a team that works well together, that’s complimentary, and kind of like consists of different people with different skills is key for any startup success.

 

Silvan  5:01

Awesome. And how did you choose where you get involved yourself, in sort of which projects to focus on or which projects to even get involved with at all? How did you make these decisions?

 

Cédric  5:13

So I’m super curious, I think one of the things that drives me in life is just learning, and always finding new areas that I can learn about that I do not know much about yet. So that was always the reason why I got involved with companies early on. Media Sign was the first company that I started with a friend of mine, Fabian, and we were just 2 naive teenagers, looking back they were just excited about the internet and building websites, designing stuff and helping other people ultimately. And then when it comes to being an investor, with Tenderloin we set up a fund and invested in 2 categories of companies; number 1, we thought there was an opportunity for ecommerce players in Switzerland. Amazon is not here, none of the the other large marketplaces from the EU are here, so we thought there’s an opportunity for niche high margin players. That was one basket then the other basket was a bit more loosely defined as companies that once they do reach a certain scale, conserve another 1,000 to 10,000 users without adding a single staff on the company side.

 

Silvan  6:28

Cool. And like sort of these investments, I think that’s like a pretty different game, compared to founding your own company. How do you go about this and sort of also investing at such a young age as you were back then when you made your first investment? That’s not the normal path or the regular path that investors take. How do you learn about that? And how did you also sort of properly get your first money to invest? How did that happen?

 

Cédric  6:53

I’ll try to tackle all these questions. So number 1, I think I was very fortunate that I got that opportunity, at the same time, I knew that I was going to make mistakes early on, I think investments, at least in my experience, the success of your investments depends 2 things, luck and experience. And so the first investments that we made were much, much smaller than the ones we made later on. Just knowing that we will make mistakes and that our first moves will probably lead to a very steep learning curve.

 

Silvan  7:27

What does that mean in sort of the founding amount that you put in to this company?

 

Cédric  7:32

Yeah we put together roughly 4 million Swiss francs, and set out to invest it in 10 different companies. Why 10? Just from reading online, reading books, and working with experiences that other people shared with me. I think, at this early stage, it’s a very risky stage, so typically, what you hear is that out of 10 companies that you’re going to invest in at the seed stage or early on, 7 you’re going to completely lose, they’re going to shut down, on 2 you’re probably going to make your money back, and then there’s the 10th one, which will generate the 20-50x return. And so far, it looks like that’s more or less accurate, based on the portfolio that we put together. But so coming back to your question, roughly 400k per company, but our first investment was about 50k into a company, knowing that it could all go belly up and be a bad decision.

 

Silvan  8:30

Sure, but also great learning experiences, that’s your main motivation.

 

Cédric  8:34

I think being able to go through that process early on and making these experiences is extremely valuable for me, I feel very fortunate because it’s something that always comes up right. Investing, whether it’s in companies or in my own projects or in the stock market, I think it’s just extremely valuable too, I think I learned a lot about myself as well. For example, one key take away was that I used to spend a lot of time with the companies that did not do well in our portfolio, and completely miss out on touching, or creating touch points with projects that did really well, which is intuitive, but not rational at all, right? I mean, especially knowing that there’s probably going to be 1 or 2 that do really well that will generate all the profits, by far healthier to just spend time with them instead of trying to save investments that are clearly going to go down to zero. But that was very interesting, I mean I would consider myself a mostly rational person, but I saw that I was making irrational decisions in regards to how I spent my time and it took me probably 2 years to realise that and adjust and build a bit of a framework that makes me more conscious of which projects should I really spend time on.

 

Silvan  9:56

How does that framework look like?

 

Cédric  9:58

For me, it has a lot to do with writing, just once I get my thoughts out onto paper or into a video or I communicate in some some way, even with Fabian, who’s also my partner in Tenderloin Ventures, our investment company, it really helps to formulate what I think and bring it down on paper, black and white and then it’s a lot easier for me to say, ‘Okay, this just does not look like it’s going to be successful.’ So if the founder needs anything from me, I’m more than happy to help but I’m not going to proactively try and push them in a certain direction and I should rather spend time on those projects that do well and maybe proactively reach out to the founder and see if I can generate value for them.

 

Silvan  10:38

Do you think that this sort of misallocation of your time, focusing on the not so well performing startups, was that based on emotions that you had? Like, I don’t want to lose the money that I invested there? Or was there any other reason that you could think of?

 

Cédric  10:54

So I think there’s a study that says the most successful VCs are those where the cases that do not go well fail the quickest, and it makes sense, right? Because then once they failed, and they’re bankrupt, or they’re sold for the small price, you get a very good idea what to focus on, or at least they don’t capture your attention anymore. I think the worst is a company that’s kind of like a zombie that never does really well but keeps raising money over and over again, they always capture your attention, right? Because it’s the companies that have problems are the ones that email you, that ask you for your attention, that you get into arguements and discussions with and those founders that run a really good company that do really well without your attention, I mean, they’re not going to naturally ask for your attention so those are not the ones that end up in your inbox. So I think that’s the number 1 reason, it’s just naturally you spend more time with the stuff that’s going wrong. We all have, or most of us have a negative bias, like stuff that goes wrong, hurts a lot more than stuff that goes well. But yeah, I think just being conscious of that, buyers, writing things down, talking through them, making conscious decision what to spend time on and how much time to spend on them helped me compartmentalize a bit more.

 

Silvan  12:20

You also mentioned focus before, what are sort of your top recommendations to have this laser focus when you’re building a startup?

 

Cédric  12:30

Focus very often is connected to being present, doing one thing at a time, having linear thoughts, instead of trying to do things in parallel, multitask. What really helps me is, again, for me personally, it has a lot to do with writing. So for example, every 90 days, I try to set goals for how I want to live my life where I want to have an impact and also very often that answers the question where I do not want to have an impact for the next 90 days, or 60, or whatever the time period might be. So I think for me it’s all about consciously saying yes to initiatives that I want to spend time and energy on and then it just naturally means that I’m not going to spend a lot of time on a lot of other things. One, maybe very visible example in my life is that early on I realized what makes me happy is learning, learning about the process of building a young company, solving complex problems and once I’ve realised that I can let go of a lot of other things in my life and some of it being physical things or materialistic things, like actual stuff. And that led to me getting rid of everything that kept me from traveling and spending time with the projects that I got involved with, all the way to the point where I didn’t even have an apartment anymore, became homeless.

 

Silvan  13:55

Absolutely, just like on a free will basis. Before we get deeper into that topic, I would also like to quickly have a chat about the Swiss military. The army service is mandatory in Switzerland, and you are currently also serving your duty. In what way has this Swiss Army supported or hindered your entrepreneurial career?

 

Cédric  14:20

So I did my basic training. So here if you do military service, typically you go for at least 21 weeks when you become a soldier sometime at the age of like 18 to 22 I think is when most people go and then after that you go back for I think they’re called repetition or what’s the English word?

 

Silvan  14:41

I think repetition course.

 

Cédric  14:42

Yes, repetition course, every year you go back to refresh your military knowledge for typically about three weeks per year. So I will make a big difference between the two of them. When I first went for basic training, I stayed for almost a year, became an officer and there was a really good time in my life I learned a lot, it was the first time that I spent like a year outside the classroom. Before that I went to high school and I started University afterwards. So high school and all grades one through 10/11. It was a really good experience in terms of a number of things, spending time outside the classroom and second spending time with people from all walks of life. I realized I tend to spend, I think we we all to certain degree do that, we spend time in a very narrow social band, meaning we we surround ourselves with people that are very similar to us. So the military was nice, because everyone has the same uniform so you don’t you don’t judge people by how they look, you don’t know what they do in their civilian life and so you get a lot of inputs and ideas from all kinds of like different social bands and people with different backgrounds. So that was a great experience, I did a full year, then went and got my bachelor’s and master’s degree at ETH and started traveling, working abroad and so it happened that I would do my first time back in the military only after I think nine years, by that time I came back didn’t even really know how to take my rifle apart and put it back together or pistol. Back then it definitely helped me as when I did my officers training I could lead a group of about 30 people through obviously different setups than you do in a startup, but there’s certain commonalities I think in regards to like you being a leader, you having to be positive, even though there might be tough times for you as well at some point. So that was a great experience, now going back and doing the service every year, especially working in an international setup, it’s not always easy, because a, there’s no one that does my job if I’m gone for 3 weeks and there’s not always that understanding not everyone understands that Swiss people do that or Swiss males do that and so usually there’s a bit of explanation to be done. But I also have to say I’m very fortunate, I have a good setup when I go back, I mean obviously I’m talking to you right now, I’m able to spend a bit of time at the office when I have someone else covering my shift, so usually for me it works out quite well.

 

Silvan  17:24

If you can organise it that well, that’s also very important. Military service is also a very big thing in Israel, for example, because they have also this very, let’s say like tech focus, where a lot of startups are then born out of the people who did the military service, which is also mandatory there or they are also like very, like practical things, for example, focused on technology that you could take away from the Swiss Army, or is it something that’s missing from your perspective?

 

Cédric  17:54

So I have a few friends who are in the Israeli Defense Forces IDF and I think they’re very famous for having a large focus on cyber related threats . I think that’s something that in Switzerland is handled by a professional unit, so that’s not people that have a civilian life and only go back to the army three weeks per year. That’s said my unit also works in electronic warfare so we get to use systems that then help and support the intelligence services of Switzerland, which is interesting. But three weeks a year is just not enough to get deep and really understand what we’re doing or really take away a lot of technology or new knowledge. So I think it’s more the other way around, like the military actually profits a lot or benefits a lot from the fact that people have a civilian life and they constantly educate themselves. In my unit, there’s a lot of people that have a computer science background so it’s actually quite interesting to go back and hear what everyone else does in their civilian life.

 

Silvan  19:04

And there are also some quite nice connections you can take away from from that service, I guess?

 

Cédric  19:09

I think it was a lot more important back in the day, I’d say probably like 20 years ago, it was a lot easier. Like, at least from what I’ve heard, like it was almost mandatory to have done the military or to follow a military career if you wanted to do a career in banking in Switzerland. I think now, yeah, it does expose you to a lot of new people every year, which is great. It’s interesting to get to know them. But I don’t think there’s this mapping anymore where one career in your civilian life maps to a career in your military life.

 

Silvan  19:44

Before you also mentioned that you chose to become homeless, and you also get rid of a lot of physical possessions that you have. So when looking at your LinkedIn profile you were working at 11 different projects at the same time, that’s way above average of a normal person, but you own only 64 things, that’s sort of your number that you will never get rid of. That’s way below the average of a normal person. And how does that fit together? How does that work out for you? Because this seems to be somewhat contradictory.

 

Cédric  20:16

I like making tough decisions or being very strict or disciplined about decisions. So once I had decided that I do want to expose myself to all these learning opportunities that different startups all over the world, I wanted to create a setup where I could travel without much friction. And what I realized is that having a flat here, or having too much stuff, having so much stuff that I would need to check-in stuff when I travel, which is hindering me in pursuing that. And so that was the reason why I reduced all my stuff into a backpack, and was able to travel almost 365 days of the year. In regards to having only so many items really supported my focus on learning about how to build a startup. Now, learning about a startup, for me happened in parallel at different companies, but I was not a founder or like CEO at all of those companies, I was an investor or advisor or different kind of roles, or I was still on the board of a company that I co-founded but was not involved in the day to day anymore. I think that’s what allowed me to be present in so many different projects at the same time. 2018 is a very interesting year for me, beginning of this year, I made the decision that the learning curve, I kind of flattened looking at all these different opportunities, at the same time, I could see a very steep learning curve for my involvement in Dfinity. There’s a lot of extremely smart people that we were able to attract. It’s an extremely interesting project and vision that our founder laid out, so I decided that that’s where my main focus should be going forward. At the same time it also meant that I have to travel a bit less because basically we have two offices, one here in Zurich and one in Palo Alto, we’re going to open more, but there’s only going to be so many different places where we’re going to have an office. So just going to be a bit less travel and more focused on one company. For now, I’ve still stuck to just 64 things because it’s just convenient and I realised I don’t really need more. But we’ll see if the balance shifts the other way now. But for now, I think it’s a very good setup, I feel that there’s a lot for me to learn at Dfinity and so I’m trying to do what I’ve done with things with companies now and projects. So I’m trying to spend all my time on one, one thing or as few as possible.

 

Silvan  22:46

You just mentioned Dfinity. I think listeners would be very curious to hear more about that. What is Dfinity? And why is this relevant to the world?

 

Cédric  22:54

Yeah, so Dfinity is building an infrastructure that is based on blockchain technology. Because it’s based on blockchain technology it inherits some of the properties that blockchain brought to the world. Some common applications might be Bitcoin or different tokens like Ethereum and typically, what blockchain enables you to have is a very transparent trustless environment, trustless meaning you can trust code, you can see what’s going to happen if you give the system a certain input, you can even before you do it, see which outputs will be generated by certain input. So you don’t need to trust the third party anymore. And now Dfinity takes that vision of these token networks a bit further and wants to provide an infrastructure or will provide an infrastructure that allows you to run any kind of application in a decentralized setup. In a sense, I think probably a lot of your listeners have probably heard of the term ‘smart contracts’ sometime within the last 24 months and that’s a term that was made very popular by Ethereum. Ethereum is probably the largest platform for smart contracts or decentralized apps to date. And if you want to use a very, very simple analogy, you could look like if we look back 20 years in the 1990s when we still used a modem to go online, 56k, or ISDN, we knew that things like YouTube, or Facebook or all these content heavy applications will be possible on the internet, but the bandwidth that we had access to which is not big enough to make them practical. And I think the same is true for today’s decentralized world, even though a lot of these applications that we envision supply chain management, digital identity, decentralized lending, and so on and so forth, they’re all possible in theory, but they’re just not practical yet. And now Dfinity is going to be similar how to how ADSL enabled all these applications by providing more bandwidth. Definity provides a lot better algorithms that scale a lot better in the decentralized world and will hopefully enable a lot of these applications to finally reach more or bigger scale.

 

Silvan  25:18

Awesome. I think that’s a very interesting project to keep an eye on in the future. What is your role at Dfinity?

 

Cédric  25:26

So I’ve had a few different roles over time. At the very beginning when I joined the team, it was just four or five of us, I helped set up the foundation here. So Dfinity is run out of a Swiss foundation. Our first office was in Palo Alto, near San Francisco. And that was kind of the first big project so a lot of operations and legal, a lot of accounting, and it was super interesting was we were kind of breaking new grounds using a foundation to build something that could also be seen as a company, to build more trust to be more decentralized, was a very interesting approach and I’ve learned a lot along the way. And now since then I’ve had various roles, for example, I was fortunate to be able to open this office that we’re sitting in right now for Dfinity in Zurich, once we hire more people here in Europe and then I’m also managing most of the web properties for Dfinity right now. So there’s Dfinity.org and then I managed with a team. We’re currently starting to build the developer portal, which will give any developer a very quick and easy intro and way to get started building applications on the Dfinity infrastructure. So yeah, it’s exciting, because I feel like even though before I had many different projects in parallel, and now it’s just one project or one company or one business that I focus on, on one layer under that there’s still like many different projects that I’m working on, which is super exciting.

 

Silvan  26:59

And how do you actually become part of the team? How did that first initial contact correlating to the founder that got you in business with Dfinity?

 

Cédric  27:03

Yeah, so it goes back all the way to 2012 when I was working at a company called SumUp in Berlin, and I was working with a guy there that will borrow my laptop for over lunch breaks to mine some bitcoins on them, and I never saw those bitcoins unfortunately, but we stayed in touch and he later on went to Silicon Valley and worked with other token projects, and then met our founder, Dominic, I think, sometime in 2015 and they started to collaborate and build early prototypes for what would later became Dfinity. And then in 2016, when they had reached a point where they were pretty sure that they want to launch this or build a certain institution around the project, formalized a project in a way, they realized they wanted to do that through a Swiss foundation, that’s how my friend thought of me and it went pretty quick, we had a few Skype calls, I flew out, and was immediately super fascinated by the founder and his vision, Dominic, and also fascinated by how much there is to learn for me. Because even though I had followed the space kind of loosely over the years, it was really in 2016, when I started to think a lot more about decentralization, blockchain and all the terms that are connected to that.

 

Silvan  27:33

Awesome. They are also very well known investors involved with Dfinity, most well known I think, is Andreessen Horowitz, very, very well known venture capital firm from the Silicon Valley. How do you feel sort of their influence or that they’re also involved with the project? Do you feel any difference compared to the other projects that you had in the past?

 

Cédric  29:02

Yeah, so I might not be able to speak of first hand experience because I’m not typically interacting with them. I see some of the interactions are on a second degree and from what I see, they’re extremely helpful. They have a pretty large team of staff in their corporate office that they lend out to startups or that they used to give inputs. For example, recruiting. When you’re still young and you’re trying to grow quickly, they can share a lot of experiences from other companies, but they can also lend out a recruiter to you and help you make your first few hires and help you set up the process and give a lot of valuable inputs. And then on the other end, they bring together a lot of very interesting companies, so when they put together an event around, let’s say, blockchain for example, the people that you will meet from all these other startups are usually super interesting, they’re usually also very successful founders, or executives involved in those businesses that they invested in, so it’s usually a very fruitful exchange.

 

Silvan  30:12

This model like with where you get a lot of support by your investors seems to be very American. Is it also the case for Swiss VCs or Swiss investors, or do you think that this would be a great model to also set up here in Switzerland?

 

Cédric  30:29

I think a lot of investors here or in Germany would also agree that the more value you can provide to a start up the better both for your portfolio success and also be good because it gives you an edge over your competitor. Even I always try to be smart money, right? I always try to think about the projects that I invested in, I always try to think about what kind of workshops can I do? Where can I help them? Where can I contribute target expertise, or domain expertise and contribute to the startup success? But to be realistic, I think the VC world is, I don’t know the exact number, but it feels like it’s 100x bigger in Silicon Valley than it is here. Just in terms of the amount of different VCs that you have, the amount of funding that goes into that geography, so to some degree it’s unrealistic to think that VC here in Switzerland might have a team of 50+ people just working for their portfolio companies. But I think in general, people would agree and what I’ve seen working really well is Angel funding or receiving Series A funding here in Switzerland or Central Europe and then as the startup expands, and becomes a bit more of a global player to attract US funding as well and then profit from those kind of smart money benefits that investment might bring to the table.

 

Silvan  31:52

Great. Based on your experience, when is a good timing to make this step? Are there certain revenue targets or certain growth targets that you should meet? Because from what I heard from other people saying is it’s pretty hard to stay in Europe and getting funded by a US VC, you actually have to be there physically with an office in the US.

 

Cédric  32:14

I think that’s also when you are able to profit the most from their experience. So one of the projects that I’m involved with they build an online style guide solution, so they build a product, it’s a b2b product and they’re all based, most of their employees are based here in Switzerland right now near St. Gallen and they’ve just decided to open an office in the US to expose themselves a bit more to the US market. They were able to attract an investor from the UK. So the time difference is a lot less, the flight times are a lot less and what I’ve seen is very often, bigger funds in the US would have a satellite office in the UK, I think exactly for that reason to be closer to the potential that Europe has to offer. So it’s still early, but so far, that seems to work really well and they meet face to face about once a month, for a day or two and that’s something that can easily be done with a flight from the UK to Switzerland. Speaking of when’s the right time to scale to the US, I think, from the different startups that I’ve had insights into, usually there’s an organic sign that it’s time to move across the pond. I think you don’t want to prematurely jump over there and then deal with the timezone differences, while you have to figure out the problem, both here and six or nine hours apart from here. But once your business somewhat stabilizes becomes somewhat sustainable, you’ve figured out your first processes, your company has grown to maybe like 30 to 50 people, when there’s a natural pull, when you start seeing either a lot of users or a lot of customers in the US, I think then it’s just a natural next step to open an office there because it is a very interesting market for a lot of type of businesses. Right? There’s one language, for the most part one jurisdiction and you can move over there and get access to another 370 million people roughly. Yeah.

 

Silvan  34:25

It’s really great to listen to your experience, very interesting stories. Before we conclude the episode, I have a last question for you. And that’s regarding tools, gadgets, or additional resources that you use or could recommend. Is there anything in that regard that you’d like to share with our listeners?

 

Cédric  34:42

Sure. So one tool or framework that I’ve built for myself and I’ve talked about it briefly, is this 90 day preview and review process. What I’ve learned is maybe you’ve made the same experience once, we sometimes set annual goals, like it’s January 1st and you feel like that you’ve left all the baggage from the past year behind you and it’s a fresh start and I was enthusiastic and excited and I said “Okay, this year I’m going to change these 6 or 7 things”, right? And I tried to approach them all at the same time and I tried to eat healthy, go to the gym every day and build two new businesses and all of that at once. And what I’ve seen was that January I was super excited, February it maybe skipped once or twice, but for the most part I did pretty well, March was not so great and then by April I have mostly forgotten about my goals and the energy was completely gone and I felt like it was a failure. And so I asked myself, how can I change that into something more positive, something that works? Because it’s a great feeling to leave all that baggage behind  and utilize that energy that January 1st implanted in my head. So I asked myself, why did I fail? And I think one of the key reasons was that, for me it’s very hard to know where I’m going to be in 12 months from now, not just geographically, but just in a state of mind, like 12 months so much can happen, right? And I have no idea how I’m going to feel 12 months from now, and what my priorities just naturally are going to be. So I asked myself, what’s a better timeframe and for me what I find out this 90 days is a lot more natural. 3 months, that’s long enough for me to make some actual change. I think you’ve owned a company in the health and fitness area, right? So 90 days, for me, for example, is a timeframe where I can get really fit, if I spend enough time. So it’s not too short to make actual progress, but it’s not too short to make actual progress, but it’s also not so long that I have no idea where I’m going to be. 90 days from now is February, I have a rough idea of where I’m going to be in February and what I’m going to be doing. So I use this 90 day time window and then I sit down at the end of each quarter after 90 days and I write an email to my future self. And I write about what has gone looking back, I write a review part about all areas of my life, for me those are 12, but it could be 3 or it could be 20. I just sat down and asked myself, okay, If I had to describe my life in areas, what would those be? So I write about them, and I focus on how I feel. Do I feel good? Do I feel bad? Did I regret anything? Did I miss out anything? No, no? And then I asked myself particular questions as well, for example, for the area of friends, who did I spend time with? Who should I have spent time with? Who disappointed me? And so on and so forth. So that gives me a very clear understanding of my state of mind and where do I stand right now. And then in a second portion, I write a preview, and in the preview, I describe changes that I’m going to make and how I’m going to measure them. And I try to not have more than 2, ideally only 1 change that I want to make over the next 90 days because that gives me focus again, just one target to focus on.

 

Silvan  38:04

What is your current focus in that regard?

 

Cédric  38:06

Right now, I’m still working on this like getting rid of distractions, getting very focused on just one project Dfinity and finding a new home for all the other projects. And I’m almost there, but I have about a month left in the year, so I think I’m on good track. And yeah, that’s my current focus, just making sure I’m single, I have one focus in my business life at least. Yeah and then I sent that off, I use a service that sends it back to me 90 days later, I could do the same in my calendar or Notes app, and then 90 days later, it’s nice because I get this very clear argumentation of why I should be doing what and I can also make sure I don’t get too distracted along the way. Besides, I read just my path every 90 days, I know that during those 90 days, I don’t need to ask myself all time, do I work too much? Do I eat healthy enough? Am I spending my time on the right kind of things and with the right kind of people in my life? Because I know, worst case, I’m just going to be off for 90 days, and then I do a reset. So that gives me a lot of liberty to focus on my day to day during those 90 days.

 

Silvan  39:18

Do you do any checking inbetween or during these 90 days to refocus or to rethink anything?

 

Cédric  39:24

Yeah, sometimes I do look it up, but typically what I do is, once I’ve visualized what I want to change and how I’m going to measure it, I then set up a tracker for it. Simple things could be a list in my ‘to-do’ application that says ‘okay, I want to find the new home for all these projects right now’, so that I can just tick them off and I can always see them, I can see okay, there’s 3 projects left that I need to do something for in order to reach my goal, or if I wanted to lose weight, I could of course, just get on a weight scale every day or like a weight balance every day and tracking my weight. So typically, I don’t go back to the email, but I go back to the tracker or the KPI that I use to measure my success daily, or at least a few times weekly.

 

Silvan  40:12

Cool. I think this also gives you a very clear focus, right?

 

Cédric  40:16

Yeah.

 

Silvan  40:16

You also mentioned different areas that you track, like friends to spend time with, what are the other areas that you track?

 

Cédric  40:22

Yeah, so I’m not going to get all 12 right, but there’s some like personal growth, passion, business, money, friends, relationship, family, health, fitness, nutrition. There’s probably two more that I’m missing right now, but those are the ones that roughly cover it.

 

Silvan  40:44

I think the listeners can take them away as good inspiration. Cedric, thank you so much for taking time to have a chat with me today and for the great stories that you shared with us. I think there’s a lot that we can learn from you and from your way of seeing or going through life and it was very inspirational. Thank you so much.

 

Cédric  41:02

Yeah, thanks a lot for having me.

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