Learning Inspiration 🌈 #11
Nicolas Bidon is the global CEO at Xaxis. Xaxis transforms digital media into business outcomes. The company maximizes the ROI of their clients’ digital media investments by combining purpose-built AI, advanced cross-channel solutions, and dedicated programmatic expertise. Founded in 2011, Xaxis has over 1,300 employees and operates in 48 countries.
Nicolas had extensive experience prior to Xaxis from general management, consulting, product management, to sales and business development for both start-ups and large companies such as Yahoo!
He has worked in software, media, and technology for more than 20 years in San Francisco, London and Switzerland.
Nicolas studied at ICN Business School in France and at Georgia Tech in the US.
Who is your main source of inspiration 👩?
I have two.
– The first person is my dad. His genuine curiosity, which he fed all his life, means his knowledge is broad and deep. It covers areas as different as particle physics, local wildlife, and history. He is also extremely humble but always happy to share when asked. His recent explanation of what electricity is to my teenage son was the clearest I have ever heard in my life!
– The second one is my wife. She is a professional artist who started as a figurative painter and decided to go back to school in her 40s to get her Master’s degree in fine art to continue to push her practice. This has opened up new artistic avenues for her (you can see her journey on her Instagram/.) Her courage and commitment to continuous learning inspire me.
How do you keep learning on a daily basis?
I get bored quickly when things are too repetitive, so it is all about feeding my natural curiosity and learning focus of the moment through numerous channels. This can be through dedicated apps (I am on a 188 days streak on Duolingo to improve my Spanish), books (printed or on Kindle), formal classes on Coursera, or short videos on Youtube. I am also a big fan of Twitter as a discovery engine for intriguing content. I have several curated lists on various topics, like machine learning and AI.
Also, I read the Financial Times for general and business news.
In general, I am amazed by the volume of quality material available on the internet to learn continually. Also, I am super grateful for the experts of all kinds who take the time to create original learning material or to curate what is already out there for others. At my current company Xaxis, we recently tried to contribute to the wealth of knowledge available online by making all of our original training material around diversity and inclusion public for everyone to (re)use. You can check it out at www.xaxis.com/careers/learning.
What are your favorite books 📚?
I read a lot of non-fiction books, and while it is hard to pick favorites, I recommend:
– The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee -> A fascinating account of the history of progress in genetics, from Mendel and his peas to discovering the DNA double helix and the latest Crispr gene-editing techniques. Crispr just got awarded the Nobel Price in Chemistry
– The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself by Daniel Boorstin -> An overview of the significant discoveries and milestones in fields as diverse as natural sciences, exploration & navigation, and science. It’s super interesting and a true ode to man’s curiosity and desire to push the boundaries of knowledge.
– Atomic Habits by James Clear: A simple and actionable framework to introduce new habits or get rid of old ones in your life. This book is responsible for my aforementioned DuoLingo streak of 188 days in a row. It seems to be working 😉
– I recently enjoyed both Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo in the fiction category. These two powerful books are about love, race, and feminism, among other topics.
What is your favorite podcast 🎧?
My wife is a big fan of podcasts (goes well with painting, I guess), but she only recently converted me. I have not found my favorite yet, although I enjoy one she recently introduced me to called How To Fail With Elizabeth Day. It is a podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right. Every week, a new interviewee explores what their failures taught them about how to succeed, and her guests come from very different backgrounds, which keep it fresh (cooks, philosophers, actors, scientists, athletes, etc.) If ever needed, a useful reminder of the famous quote, “if you have never failed, you are not trying hard enough!”
If you were to stay alone on an island and would only be allowed to bring one item, what would it be ?
A solar-powered device packed with music, podcasts, and books (a mix of Spotify and Kindle?)
If there is anything else you would like to share 🙂
Most people understand the concept of financial investments and compounded returns. Learning is no different. Spending some time learning a little bit every day is the best investment you can make for yourself, and it will pay large dividends in the future in a world of constant change.
So don’t procrastinate, find your learning style and topic of choice, and start this good habit today.