Digital thinking and ecosystem

Start with why

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it." Simon Sinek

Technology throughout my life and career has been my passion. To be exact it started when I joined Apple Computer in 1986. 

Before that date the only changes and transformations that I was passionate about were the political upheavals of the 70’s and most particularly feminism. As a young woman I had opportunities that my mother and generations of women could not even think of. Technology and sciences did play their part but we had the feeling that we owned and led the change. 

I went to University happily enjoying the opportunities and the great freedom of those days. TVs, contraception, driving a car were probably the two scientific progresses that impacted my daily life most but I was still more focused on philosophy, grand ideas, demonstrating and marching for them, not too seriously, at least in my case.

This was all going to change with a job interview. I feel very ashamed today when I meet younger women  who design and follow  a clear career plan, who hire coaches to achieve their goals. I had studied languages, lived in the UK and Germany to perfect them. I felt I was privileged to seize these opportunities. I was not ambitious in terms of money or title.  I wanted to explore, learn continuously and meet extraordinary people.  For me, the post-war, new middle class kid born in a small dull French town, this was my dream life.

After the UK and German exciting immersion experiences and a painful break-up with a German student ,  I decided to live in Paris. Several jobs later in Marketing, Banking, Media, interrupted by a stay in Florence to learn Italian, (art and culture were my first priorities) I realised it  was time to grab a dream job in an exciting company, find a strong sense of purpose. I was interviewing in a Parisian Art Gallery but out of curiosity I gave a try to this new Californian Company carrying a fruit name.  At the time Apple Computer was setting up its European Headquarters to grow its business in the old continent. I went through a whole day of interviews with basket cases totally passionate about their products. Their enthusiasm and madness were infectious. The last interview with the HR Director sealed the deal. He welcomed me in his fishbowl, sandwich in one hand (did not have time for lunch), half-smoked cigarette in the other (those were the days). He pitched the company. I have never heard such a compelling story till this day even by the most talented start-up CEO. I was certainly less knowledgeable and more gullible than today. Still I remember the final climax when he banged a MAC SE on the desk and emphatically asked me : who would not want to work for a company that invented such a sexy machine ? Indeed. After asking where I should sign, I remember standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, wondering why they would hire me ? Apple in those days was not well known in Europe except by the fans. The serious engineers were more interested in joining companies like IBM. Apple hunted a certain profile of people : the passionate learners. I joined. I did not work there, I lived an adventure. I had fun and met extraordinary people. I combined my curiosity in social changes with the newly found love of technology. It changed my life.

About 30 years later I did it again ! I decided to fully live the current Technology Revolution that totally transforms all aspects of human life and as the former Cisco System’s motto, change the way we live, work and play. There have been many impacting technological upheavals but rarely all occurring at such a pace and simultaneously.  It is hard to stay abreast of the various technologies driving the digital transformation, disrupting existing business models. Uberization has even become a new common word. Equally all media are flooded with start-up successes, investment amounts making you dizzy. Politicians and activists debate on the gloomy or bright future this revolution will bring on, promising either armies of unemployed and digitally disenfranchised or a happy new world. The only certainty is we all can have opinions but nobody knows how future societies and economies will operate.  Is the reign of ownership and propriety over ? Will technology achieve what JJ Rousseau and Karl Marx failed to implement ? Or will wealth be even more concentrated shaping a super capitalism with prosperity in the hands of a happy few, with some masses receiving a minimum wage while robots dutifully perform all necessary tasks ? Our future is probably somewhere in-between and it is up to us to shape. We need to remember though that few in the eighteenth century would have thought possible that  millions of peasants would leave their land to work in manufactures one century later.

This is not a book about the future of our society and our economy.

This is an investigation about the heart of the transformation, the humans that make it happen.

Even with AI, bots and chatbots humans are at the centre of these major changes. I am interested in their motivation, how they interact, engage, link with each other. Why a digital ecosystem flourish in some countries, some cities ? What are the ingredients of the secret sauce ? But also what is missing to make a digital ecosystem fully virtuous, economically sustainable and spreading into the economy of tomorrow ?

I quit my job and embarked on a worldwide digital tour - #wwdigitour. I knew that leaving my corporate job was another defining moment in my life. I needed once more to reinvent myself, to start afresh and re-program my brain. I had to break my routine, step out of my comfort zone. I decided to become a digital nomad. I uncluttered my place, selling shoes on eBay, donating furniture, giving appliances away to friends. I handed over the keys of my beautiful San Francisco home, stored the rest of my belongings in a container ready to be shipped to Europe at some point. I resigned and kicked off my worldwide digital tour (#wwdigitour), studying the various digital ecosystems and meeting fascinating people of all ages and horizons fuelling  the digital economy with passion and knowledge.

During my international assignments I made true loyal friends and I am now so fortunate to be hosted in homes in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Paris, Nantes, Frankfurt, Singapore, Shanghai and HongKong and more.

In addition to my modest Business Angel activities, writing the E-book has always been part of the plan. I want to share thoughts, perspectives, findings with the actors playing their part in the ecosystem as well as those who may live more on the periphery wrongly thinking they are not part of it. It is NOT an expert book. It is more of a travel notebook filled with emotions, stories and opinions. I hope it will make you react, agree or disagree, reflect. At the end I hope you will be convinced that this is your world for you to shape.



Veronique BoudaudComment