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Matthieu Stefani, CEO at CosaVostra & Host at GDIY

Learning Inspiration 🌈 #39

An entrepreneur in the French tech industry since 2005, Matthieu Stefani is the co-founder & CEO of the innovation agency CosaVostra and the startup studio Padrino.io. Matthieu also founded the podcast Generation Do It Yourself (GDIY), a frequent reference in the Paris tech industry. GDIY analyzes and dissects the successes and failures of entrepreneurs, politics, and athletes.

Matthieu Stefani GDIY
Matthieu Stefani, CEO at CosaVostra & Host at GDIY

Who is your biggest source of inspiration?

I am incredibly fortunate to have at least one source of inspiration per week, if not more, thanks to my Generation Do It Yourself podcast. I am not a spectator, but I am an actor.

I think you shouldn’t have just one role model. We are built from the multiplicity of people around us that we spend the most time with. I make a point of choosing the people around me and who I interview in my podcast carefully. I have a responsibility to the GDIY audience, which is becoming more and more important. I’m conscientious not to have white men doing HEC on podcasts. Staying in your bubble does not encourage learning and progression.

I also listen to other podcasts, including those by Tim Ferris, Joe RoganMatt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress), Jonny Kim. I’m a big fan of Jonny Kim, by the way. He is a quintessential military man with incredible morning routines. He was also an astronaut who attended Harvard Medical School and has a Korean background.

My sources of inspiration are incredibly varied. It’s vital to have an openness to the world, people, and the future. I also apply this variety on the video-on-demand platforms I use, such as Netflix, Arte, and Amazon Videos.

How do you keep learning on a daily basis?

My learning routine consists of listening to many podcasts, reading a few articles, learning from books, and recently succumbing to MasterClass. Although I admit, I am starting to run out of time.

I like practical and learning compared to theoretical.

I’m inquisitive, which helps me learn a great deal.

My clients also teach me a significant amount. For example, with our client Moser,  a watch manufacturer, I am learning a great deal about timepieces and the importance of warm embodied brands.

MOOCs side: I focus on learning strategy, negotiation, and softer skills. I’m pretty average everywhere and excellent nowhere. I do not get into ultra-technical training. I take this approach more regularly. In a consultancy firm like CosaVostra, I need to know a bit of everything, but I won’t go too in-depth on a particular subject. Being average everywhere can be quite tricky because you never stand on the podium. But in the world of advice, it is essential. My team is made up of subject matter experts.

What are your favorite books 📚?

In business:

The Hard Things about Hard Things: Ben Horowitz is brilliant. It’s pretty incredible. He has a rare intelligence that allows him to theorize things.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel: This is a more sulfurous and contested book, but it goes into very important details about business philosophy. Thiel says stuff that is not always very politically correct, such as“I prefer to be in a market where the winner takes all.”

Principles: potentially from time to time a little controversial but fascinating.

More than that, I still think you must have read in your life:

The Count of Montecristo: I read it on Kindle, so at first, I luckily didn’t realize it was a massive tome! When I read all night and recognized in the early morning that I had only read 6% of the book, I thought to myself, “I got into a hell of a thing.”

Mutiny on the Bounty

French 🇫🇷books:

L’ile du Gaucher by Alexandre Jardin. A very sentimental and absolutely fantastic book.

La Nuit des Temps by Bargavel: This one is more about science fiction, absolutely incredible.

The Anomaly won is this year’s Goncourt prize, but I haven’t read it yet. I am saving for the holidays.

Candid by Voltaire: It’s a quick read, only seventy pages long. It’s a fantastic book; definitely a must-read. (English edition)

Le Pére Goriot: It’s a great classic that you must read.

I think you don’t have to be categorical but should read everything to open your mind and not be confined to business books. You have to know how to travel a bit and get involved in incredible stories.

What is your favorite podcasts 📺?

I love American podcasts for the following reasons: I get to practice my English; it gets my ear used to listening to it. I listen to at least three to four hours of podcasts per week. The second reason is that because English is a somewhat universal language, it allows you to open your chakras and access podcasts and opinions that are not translated into French.

My American 🇺🇸 preferences: 

– The Tim Ferris Show. A notable episode is “Yuval Noah Harari on The Story of Sapiens, Forging the Skill of Awareness, and The Power of Disguised Books.”

– Joe Rogan 

Tim Ferris and Joe Rogan are strong and inspire me a lot. I am quite impressed with their ability to reinvent themselves, stay in the game, be in shape, and have rigorous lives but release podcasts of an incredible quality week after week.

How I Built This with Guy Raz

My favorites in 🇫🇷 French :  

Growth Makers

Le Panier

Mediarama. In particular, the episode with Arthur de Villemandy, “Planet & Magma: le boom des newsletters payantes Arthur de Villemandy.” It explains why newsletters are having a resurgence strong at the moment. 

Most fun podcast 🇫🇷:

Community Manager: It’s funny and entertaining. In particular, the one called “Platistes,” the Earth is flat.

What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome this year, and how did you do that? 

My greatest challenge was inevitably linked to our first Covid lockdown. Like everyone else, at the beginning of March, I had a big wake-up call. I am an entrepreneur, and I have sixty people who work for CosaVostra. We told them to stay at home, which was easier for us than others as everyone was already on laptops. Many people I trust have said to me, “switch everyone to part-time work and keep your cash because that’s what will keep you going.” But I knew if I did that, I would give up on my team and my clients. So we continued. I’m extremely proud of the way we handled this situation because we also remained solvent. We called each of our clients who wanted to stop their projects with us to find solutions. 

I became really involved in CosaVostra, day-to-day. I’m not the strongest in execution. However, I think I managed to lead the ship and inspire the teams. We fought not to switch to part-time work and assumed our role as an actor economically. We did not want to depend on the State, and we wanted to embrace our role as an economic actor to support our clients and pay our teams. 

I also wondered if I needed to produce less content with GDIY. The answer was no. We went back to it fully, relying on our strengths: making content, hosting live events, and being present online. We grew with my associates and achieved our objectives which ended in June. We recruited for GDIY and CosaVostra and onboarded new clients, Google and Microsoft, who were not our clients before. It’s a superb achievement.

What would you tell the 25-year-old version of yourself 🙍‍♀️? 

You need to have more confidence. I’m terrified of being seen as pretentious, which makes me less ambitious. The difference between the famous French soccer player, Kylian Mbappe, and any other, for me, is a form of psychological precocity, to say to myself, “I can be as good as anyone.” Telling yourself that you can be as good as anyone no matter where you come from or what you do. I was not self-conscious, but I was on the defensive. I started getting coached by Tristan Vyskoc. I felt like I had a coach like Didier Deschamps,  the legendary soccer player. Someone who listens to you, asks you about your goals, and tells you how you’re going to achieve them.Nobody achieves goals that they did not set for themselves, as Edgar Grospiron says in his podcast interview.

If you were to stay alone on an island and only be allowed to bring one item, what would it be 🏝?

I will be very pragmatic, but I will say a Swiss Army Knife. In the idea, I would need a Kindle with a solar panel, but that’s not possible.

One last word 😊

Listen to GDIY? : D

Accept yourself and be compassionate with yourself throughout your life. In the last fifteen years, the world continuously produces noise, and it’s not necessarily qualitative. You need to have self-acceptance to detach yourself and to force yourself to look for the essentials. Otherwise, you are making a brain porridge in your skull. GDIY is contrary to everything we see right now and goes back to the essentials with long episodes and, therefore, not to everyone’s liking.

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Marie from Clind

Marie has been in the EdTech sector for the past 4 years. She is COO at Clind. Clind is an EdTech startup building a personal learning assistant to help individuals grow and learn better on a daily basis.

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