6 Minutes to read
Christian Riedi, Business Angel & Founder
Learning Inspiration 🌈 #70
Christian has been working for 15+ years in Media, helping TV-centric companies adapt to the digital makeover by acquiring digital assets and launching new adjacent businesses.
He has worked for M6 and TF1, the two leading commercial broadcasters in France, and is now considering either launching his own startup or buying into an entertainment company.
He is a passionate believer in media diversification and new sources of revenue as key growth drivers and brand enhancement.
Who is your biggest source of inspiration?
Polymaths and universal minds are key examples for me, as they tend to be both analytical and action-oriented, “clouds and dirt” as the saying goes. Being a bit of an idealist and pragmatist myself, it strikes me as the best of both worlds.
Also, Renaissance bankers are mesmerizing. Jacques Coeur in France, Jacob Fugger in the Holy Roman Empire or the Medicis family in Florence were at the crossing of politics, religion and the invention of the financial system. They had to take an interest in very diverse fields of knowledge and were to a certain extent the embodiment of the Humanist mind.
From a closer perspective, I like when successful people put their talents and knowledge into improving the conditions of mankind and not only into securing greater wealth for themselves. Bill Gates and Elon Musk – despite his eccentricities – are playing the long game of marking their eras, and probably satisfying their egos, but the outcomes are overly positive.
On a professional level, working at M6 in my early career exposed me to the CEO Nicolas de TAVERNOST, who is a big entrepreneur at heart with a strong vision for French media. He dives into even the slightest details of his organization. He’s nailing it. The success of the M6 Group makes him our very own French Media mogul.
At TF1, my boss was the EVP of Diversification and Development, Regis RAVANAS. He is an exceptional mix of business acumen, great sense for artistic talent, undeniable negotiation skills, and not to mention – something traditional organizations lack – a courageous manager.
How do you keep learning on a daily basis?
I am a compulsive reader and a dopamine addict when it comes to novelty and innovation.
Hegel wrote that reading the Press is the modern morning prayer. Therefore, I start the day by perusing Le Figaro and Le Parisien on the Cafeyn app, then I “skim over” all sorts of newsletters (The Morning Brew, Techcrunch or TTSO) and read some news magazines on the weekend (L’Express, The Economist).
Twitter is still a great place for serendipity in learning and discovering new trends, if you manage not to get sucked into the brawls.
Reading books (essays and novels, see my Goodreads account here) is more so something I do before bed or during insomnia outbreaks.
I listen to accelerated podcasts (thanks PocketCasts) quite often – on my bike commutes, in the car, or when I run – from radio replays to native podcasts about social media, tech, entrepreneurship, or thought leaders (my list here).
I have been using Clind for a few months now to write down the takeaways of the content I read and listen to. Like many of us, I’ve been struggling with my memory for years, which I’ve compensated for through the extensive use of Evernote, but the app isn’t innovative enough and doesn’t quite fit my need for retaining interesting pieces of information. So, Clind hit the spot by offering to do just that.
What are your favorite books?
In essays, I particularly recommend Why The West Rules (for now) by Ian MORRIS. I read it several years ago, and it describes the inevitable ascent of Chinese power and why Western domination is from a global perspective just a short stretch in World History.
For entrepreneurs, I particularly recommend The Right It by Alberto SAVOIA, an ex-Googler who coined the term “pretotyping” (pretend + prototyping) which is a very practical approach – with many examples and workouts – to test your business ideas. The author explains that they mean nothing until you collect your own data very quickly and with as much engagement from prospective customers as possible, the famous “skin in the game.”
For leisure, I’m currently enjoying the last Goncourt Prize winner, L’Anomalie by Hervé LE TELLIER, which is both literary and prospective on the topic of metaverses. It reminded me of HOUELLEBECQ’s Les Particules Elementaires, without the orgy scenes obviously.
As I referred to in the beginning of this interview, Le Grand Coeur by Jean Christophe RUFFIN is both a good bio and a very nice novel.
What is your favorite podcast?
Generation Do It Yourself is a must if you are in tech and the VC field. Matthieu STEFANI does a terrific job of diving into the details of the lives, the doubts, and the key success factors of the people he interviews. My recent favorites were the one with Ludovic DUJARDIN from Petit Bambou and the one with Philippe GABILLET about happiness. That’s a must-hear. I refer to it quite often.
Mediarama also has a good take on French media (favorite episodes include the one on SALTO with Danielle ATTIAS and on Cafeyn with Ari ASSUIED).
In English, I am really fond of Scott Galloway in Pivot, despite the repetitiveness of his rants (namely GAFA, U.S. Politics and his personal life experiences) and his catfights with Kara Swisher. He is a great analytical mind with a good sense of humor.
What are your favorite newsletters?
Like many, I experience information overload. So I try to resist the urge to enroll in a shovelful of newsletters every week, but I find it quite hard since there is so much qualitative writing out there.
If I had to name just a few:
- Marie Dollé’s In Bed With Tech: great scouting for tech-related innovations and trends. She aces it.
- Eytan Messika’s Overload Curation: Eytan gives access to his digital mind where he notes down his findings and extensive points of interest.
- Marie Mungai-Lora’s Hustle & Flow: Marie has an incredible connection to Africa’s bustling media & entertainment scenes; she really succeeds in casting a very positive and energetic light on them.
Maria Popova’s BrainPickings: it’s one of the oldest newsletters I subscribed to, back when I was at NYU; it covers literature, great authors, and children literature as well.
Are there any articles that you liked recently?
Frédéric FILLOUX and his Monday Notes newsletter is usually a safe bet when it comes to media and the digitalization of the press. He masterfully recapped the negotiations between the French press and Google over the deal they struck in France.
Noam BARDIN, one of the co-founders of Waze, left Alphabet Inc. and wrote an article in which he tries to summarize his experiences there, with no BS. He addresses the difficulties of getting acquired by a big corporation when you are a very small, promising, and innovative firm (i.e. salaries, corporate HR, free food, but most predominantly the noise ratio between corporate obligations and the need for speed and agility).
If you were to stay alone on an island and could only bring one item, what would it be?
I would bring La Recherche du Temps Perdu (The Remembrances of the Past) by Marcel Proust. Firstly, it is a mountain I still haven’t tried to climb, and secondly, it might be an endless read. Roland BARTHES said that every time he read it, he would never skip the same pages.
You’re also a creator. Can you tell me more about your writing?
I started a french newsletter a year ago called Le Wrap Up in which I copied Tim Ferris Friday’s “5 bullet points.” My bullet points are a bit longer 🙂 , with a strong focus on tech, media, society at large, and with a pinch of culture.
I wouldn’t define myself as a creator, since I mainly just curate content relative to my fields of interest, but I try to add some context and input I think my audience would find useful… So, ok, you could say I’m a creator in some regard.
I do it mainly for three reasons:
- It forces me to keep a trace of my musings and findings.
- I get to play with the various tools of the so-called “passion economy,” like publishing on Substack, setting up polls, animating a room on Clubhouse, and toying with the Linkedin algorithm, etc.
- Since I quit my job just before the pandemic, it also gives me an opportunity to keep in touch with my professional network. Unexpectedly, it triggered new encounters and business opportunities.
As for the process, it is quite demanding, most of the time. I bookmark and write down key ideas during the work week – mainly on Clind and on a Trello board where I paste links to relevant items. Then, on Sunday nights, when things quiet down, I edit everything for about 2-3 hours to publish on Monday mornings.
Since I push myself to not miss a week of publishing, I often finish quite late on Sundays. Almost every week, I promise myself that I will instead break down the work into bite-sized chunks to do over the week, but rarely manage to.
One last word
I truly believe the best skill we all need to acquire is continuous learning. It makes you humble, it makes you question your certainties, and keeps you always on the lookout for new adventures.
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