Welcome to Nathanael’s blog! Sharing thoughts, personal news and other stories.

Great commencement speech and lessons for life and business from an ex-Navy Seal.

Watched Maleficient starring Angelina Jolie.

Based on the original Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” of 1959, the film is a great adaptation of the story with a modern twist, great visuals and wonderful characters.

The European dream is broken but not dead.

This weekend, europeans voted for the European Parliament election. Among other news, the results showed a significant increase of the representation of the far right in the EU parliament. In France for example, and for the first time ever, the far right even came out as winner in front of the two historical (and more moderate) parties.  

This is worrisome as it brings to power a large number of extreme parties, which are not usually favorable to the European ideal (the idea of creating a large, unified and borderless European block). Regardless of political beliefs, the main issue with those results is that the European project is already too advanced to really make significant changes to it (like axing the Euro). Having elected politicians who are now Eurosceptic doesn’t seem to offer, in the near future, the required governance for constructive decisions or progress. Europe is going to lose precious time; time it can’t afford on the global stage.

The results of this election are in large part explained by the current economic situation prevailing in many european countries. High unemployment, non-existing growth and rising insecurity lead citizens to vote for the extremes. This is also the expression of a profound dissatisfaction (and historically, we know how dangerous this can be).

The real problem for Europe today is to be in an “in-between situation”. Many operating aspects of the Union are still in the oversight of individual countries (e.g. fiscal laws). There is not yet a real, single European leader. Countries keep constantly negotiating exceptions for themselves. Culturally, individuals feel closer to their national origin than to a European ideal. All these will be hard to change.

Until Europeans accept to give away broad national powers to the Union, the EU will have a hard time realizing all of its potential or solving its economic problems in the first place. To succeed, the EU needs to leverage more efficiently the power of its block and this is unlikely to happen with the new elected parliament. 

Still, as economic cycles come and go naturally, we can only hope that better times in the future will lead citizens to move back to a vision of a more integrated, peaceful and geo-politically useful Europe. This is not going to happen soon but somehow the EU is here to stay. Why therefore not make the best out of it?

The Yin & Yang of life.

We all experience good and more challenging moments in our daily life. Life  offers this intrinsic duality. Being aware of it can help us make the best of it.

The idea is to leverage both sides as well as we can in order to stay balanced. This is hard but important. The whole is greater than the parts as those forces are complementary rather than antagonistic. 

Visited the Los Angeles Zoo.

I am always impressed when observing all those animals to which extent we are fundamentally similar and how we are as humans just another extension of mother nature.

A friend of mine just launched STYLR, a website presenting a new shopper experience by allowing users to find fashion products offered by the trendiest local shops in major cities. Check it out!

Watched the new Godzilla movie.

Not a bad movie but a bit too far fetched even for the genre.

Fabulous Placido Domingo in Thaïs.

Went to see Thaïs, an opera by Jules Massenet at the LA Opera. Placido Domingo plays the role of Athanaël.

At 73, Domingo remains one of the greatest opera singer of all time and I strongly recommend to go to see him in La Traviata of Verdi when it opens this September in Los Angeles.

Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano & Jason Alexander for the Fulfillment Fund (at Saban Theatre)

When limiting your risk becomes a risk by itself.

We live in a society which doesn’t like risk so much. We are often reminded to be mindful of the risks we are taking and most laws and regulations  intend to protect individuals from insecurity or hazards (think about speed limits on the road, FDA regulations, bank reserves, right to carry weapons, etc…). 

This usually makes a lot of sense. As citizens, we often need to be guided through certain processes and leverage the experiences and knowledge of others (studies have shown that reducing speed limits has a strong correlation with the reduction of fatal accidents for example).

We are trained to view risk as something that constantly need to be minimized. Usually, we tend to focus on the objective at hand while thinking on how to reduce our overall exposure (don’t put all your eggs in one basket!). In many situations, this makes a lot of sense. But sometimes, it doesn’t.

When pursuing an idea or creating a company, trying to limit your risks can sometimes be counterproductive. Jack Welch, the famous and former CEO of GE, often advised to put significant resources behind an idea and try to stretch it as much as possible. Going halfway doesn’t lead you where you want to go.

Creating a project is hard, takes a lot of time and forces you to constantly adapt your plan. By trying to minimize your risks too much, you might not bet enough to give your idea the time and energy it really needs to blossom. Your commitment is also impacted as you don’t have so much to lose.

A great and simple analogy can be found in sport. When playing a tennis game, if you don’t take the risk to hit the ball with all the power you have but instead always try to be cautious in order to make sure the ball gets into the court, you will usually lose and won’t progress either. You need to go for it completely to have a chance.

Letting go in life, business and sport is often hard as we are wired to play safe. It’s true, you can miss or fail. But you can also win big by taking sufficient risks. Halfway? Not sure.