Books & Tips – How to hack your personal development?

First meeting with a new potential mentor? Don’t panic and be ready

First congratulations! You succeeded to reach out to someone in order to ask for help and to learn more about their stories.

Asking for Help and Actively listening should be at the core of this meeting. You should learn as much as possible about this person, but also share relevant information about yourself for several reasons :

  • You want to create a true connection ie knowing about their values, their stories, the choices they have made and why?
  • You want the person to know you personally and show you are open-minded and worth spending time to help

Few tips before going in detail:

  • Remind: If you did not hear back after 2 weeks send a nice reminder asking if your next meeting is still planned or if you should postpone it
  • Casual Friday clothes: Depending of the context dress appropriately but generally not too chic but not too relaxed you want to give a good impression.
  • Actively listening: Let the person take his time to answer before interrupt you are not doing an interview, you are not a journalist. Try to have open question and let the discussion to be natural (see the article about how to have a good conversation)
  • Take notes:  It shows your interest to what the person is telling to you and also will help to keep the main point and to send your thank you note
  • Send a thank you mail:  After each meeting always send a message saying that you are grateful for the time they took, enjoyed their company and that the topic of discussion X Y Z really helped you because of reason A B C and ask if you could catch up in t amount of time
  • Plan your next meeting: Don’t forget to think about the next step and ask when the people will be available for a quick catch up per phone,skype or for a coffee


Before going to the meeting see below what you should prepare :

  • Brief pitch about yourself : who you are, where you are coming from, what are your studies and first work or associative experience, what do you want to do if you know or the question you are asking to yourself, and one personal fun fact
    • it enable the other person to understand who you are and how they relate to know and how they can help you
  • Explain why you contacted them: this may be in relation to his sector of activity, his interest in a particular subject, your application for a position in his company, a school in common.
    • Contextualize your contact request
  • Specify what you expect from this meeting: simple contact, expand your network, ask for advice on a specific topic, have an opinion on an industry, looking for a mentor relationship, need sponsorship for a job, internship. ..
    • Limit to the maximum the effort of the other person trying to understand who you are and what you expect from them
  • Be able to explain The one project you are the most proud of, if you are an architect dont hesitate to bring for example a sample of the maquette you prefer
    • By being passionate, you show your shared interest with your meeting about a specific subject
  • Some questions you can ask :
    What studies did you do?
    Where did you work and what was your role?
    What were the advantages / disadvantages of each of your positions?
    What advice would you give me in the perspective of this specific challenge?
    How do you think your industry evolved the last past 10 years, and how it will evolve?
    Do you have any book, lecture to recommend?

    • Actively listen to the Answer
  • Propose your help, this is not because you are younger that you can not be useful, the person might have question about education for their children for example
  • Extend your network:  Ask to be put in relation with people who can help you, it might not work at the first meeting but usually people are keen to help


What you should check before taking a job offer?

  • Answer the below questions
    • Is this new opportunity going to give me skills and relationships I would not have if I stayed in my current position for the next 12 months?
    • Will the new position expose me to people and relationships that I would not otherwise be exposed to if I stayed in my current position for the next 12 months?
    • Will the new job create new branches on my decision tree of opportunities going forward that will give me more choices after I leave the new position at some time in the future?
    • What is your perspective of evolution in this role? (responsibility, exposure, salary)
    • Think if the structure is for you (Small vs Big company, location, number of work hours, equilibrium work/life balance, value of the company)
    • Does it answer your priorities: Am I looking to learn new skills, to have a recognized name in my CV, to travel, to increase my network?
    • Could I have all of these benefits with another job, if I apply to another company? ( ie did I really finished to apply?)
  • Reality check your assumption:
    • Look at the Linkedin profile of their current employee (to see where they come from)
    • Look at the Linkedin profile of their previous employee (what are the possible career evolution)
    • Reach out to your network to see if you can directly discuss with one of their employee
    • Check in Glassdor the reviews

Look at my article about decision-making

How to answer an interview question?

  • Answer clearly first
  • Always give one or two examples in their context, so we can believe you
  • Put in perspective the developments point : someone who thrived in team can have difficulty to promote his own work / ownership, someone talkative can be very good at sales but less in a quant role
  • Look the role online and make sure that for each quality they are looking for, you have 1 or 2 example which demonstrate why you are the good candidate
  • And summarize again at the end the answer of the question
  • Don ‘t hesitate to link your answer to your discussion to show your understanding of the role
  • Take a few second if you are not sure, or ask to repeat if you did not understand

Interview – Example of questions

  • Why our company?
  • Did you apply to others ?
  • What do you expect for your salary ?
  • What was your previous experience about ?
  • Why did you choose your school and your studies ?
  • Tell me a bit more about yourself ? (cf pitch)
  • Tell me a joke
  • Why you and not someone else ?
  • How do you react to stress ?
  • What are you strength and development point ?
  • If I call you previous colleagues now, what would they say about you ? Do you agree ?
  • What do you know about xxxx (specific) ?
  • In which situation have you show leadership ?
  • How do you work in team ?
  • What are the values of our companies ? How do you relate to them ?
  • If this is the end of the day and a colleague ask you some help, what do you do ?
  • How do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, ?
  • What drives you ?
  • What kind of management do you like ?
  • What did you do in your previous holiday ?
  • Would you like to travel for work ?
  • How do you organize yourself ?
  • How do you feel when someone gives you a feedback ?
  • What do you think will be a challenge for you in this job ?
  • What project you are the most proud of ?
  • How do you react in a conflict ?
  • What difficulties did you face, and how did you do ?
  • What do you think about compliance ?
  • This industry has a lot of women//men ; how do you feel about it ?
  • Why did you do a gap year ?
  • What did you learn about your previous experience ?
  • When was the last time you did a mistake and how did you fixed it ?
  • What are the news today ?
  • What are the latest news about our industry ?
  • Who is our competitor ?
  • Where would you like to work ?
  • How do you think will evolve in 10Y ? What solutions would you propose so we stay competitive ?
  • Problems /quizz directly (cf little quizz in interview)
  • What are you hobby ?
  • Tell me a fun fact about yourself
  • Ask us some questions ( cf which question you should ask in an interview)

Bystander problem

  • In staged emergencies or situation when you would need help from a group of person, The bigger is the group the more the responsibility for acting is diffused.
  • This is better to designated someone specifically so they feel responsible.


Power of Context

  • Key to get people change their behavior as caring about someone in distress lies in small details of their immediate situation
    • Who has a better chance to survive ? Someone who is attacked in an public place with a lot of people capable to help or someone attacked in a dark little street with only one witness ?
      In 1963 a women called Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death while 30 people wittnessed the situation. No one helped her ! cf « bystander problem »
  • With the same example as before, the song « In my feeling » from Drake took off when Comedian Shiggy posted a video of himself dancing to the song, inspiring a viral dance challenge that overtook social media.


  • Your message have to make an impact and « stick » to the memory. If not why would anyone change their behavior and buy a product ?
    • The most listen song this summer in Spotify is in my feeling from Drake, everyone who have heard once the lyrics « Kiki, do you love me », if their hear Kiki they will easily finished the sentance by « do you love me » .

Law of the few

  • Less than 20% of the people are responsable of the 80% work produced
    • Patient Zero of AIDS french canadian flight attendant Gaetan Dugas had 2500 sexual partner all over North America, and is linked to at least 40 of the earliest case of AIDS in NY and California
    • 20% of the population does 80% of the crime

Epidemics function

Epidemics are a function of :

  • the people who transmit infectious agents = Law of the Few
  • infectious agent itself = Stickiness Factor
  • environment in which the infectious agent is operating = Power of Context
    + trigger in one of this factor

Tipping Point – Factors

  • Contagiousness
  • Little causes can have big effects
  • Change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment