Book-Talk with Thomas Graziani, Co-Founder of WalktheChat
Up until 6 years ago, Thomas was living in France, working in a big management consulting company. He then moved to China (he’s now based in Beijing).
For the first 3 years in China, he had a leading role in the marketing and strategy team of Schneider Electric, working on Smart City.
He’s been running WalktheChat since 2014, as a spin-off from his previous entrepreneurial ventures. It started as an agency building WeChat solutions for large enterprises (such as Nestle and NFL). The company pivoted and developed its own WeChat e-commerce software solution – which is currently the main business. WalktheChat also provides free educational resources for WeChat marketing.
From our book-talk you’ll find out more about the philosophers that left deep marks on Thomas, why reading brings similar benefits in work and love, and how he finds knowledge in the older non-business books.
¿Cuál es tu libro favorito y por qué? Negocios y no negocios, si es posible.
My favorite book is like “A la recherche du temps perdu” (“In Search of Lost Time”) from Marcel Proust. It is a seven-volumes epic work describing the intricacies of human nature. Proust style is among the most beautiful I’ve ever read, and he manages to really make you consider every aspect of your daily life in a different and deeper way.
In the business section, I would pick “Nonviolent communication” by Marshall Rosenberg. The book is not directly related to business, but its insights (how to communicate effectively with people without generating conflict) have wide applications to the business world.
¿Hubo algún momento, específicamente, en que algo que leíste en un libro te ayudó? ¿Me puedes decir al respecto?
Reading Camus helped me realize that I wasn’t completely crazy, which was helpful! Albert Camus is one of the theoreticians of the “existentialist” philosophy which suggests that life is absurd but that mankind can define its own meaning. At a younger age, the absurd nature of life was bothering me, and I felt isolated in this feeling. Realizing that most people are experiencing similar feelings was incredibly liberating.
In work and love, I find reading brings similar benefits: very often, the most important part about reading something is not to find a solution or a trick. It is simply to realize that other individuals are going through the same experience, which makes it easier to bare.
¿Qué libros te impactaron más? (quizás cambió la forma en que ves las cosas, cambió drásticamente tu carrera profesional)
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse most likely had the biggest impact of me. It is the story of a young priest who goes into the world in order to find wisdom. He becomes a beggar, a merchant, a father, a student of the Buddha. Several times, he leaves his current situation in order to keep growing and to get closer to the truth.
Such philosophy was helpful when I had to leave my stable corporate job in order to start a company. It will most likely keep proving useful, as it led me to see life as a series of phases, instead of a linear path.
¿Qué libros recomendarías a los jóvenes interesados en tu camino profesional? ¿Por qué? (sin límite de número aquí)
All of the above. I truly believe there is a time for each book, and it’s important to read the right books at the right time in your life. Older non-business books (Hermann Hesse, Proust, Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre, Thomas Mann, Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes, etc.) tend in my opinion to contain deeper knowledge which can help one really find direction in life.
Second best would be “non-vertical” books which can support in developing either communication skills (Non Violent Communication, Radical Candor) or methodologies (puesta en marcha esbelta, Lean Customer Development).
For vertical industry-specific knowledge, books tend not to be very helpful as they get outdated too quickly. I would recommend blogs or podcasts.
Me interesa saber más sobre sus hábitos de lectura. ¿Con qué frecuencia lees? ¿En qué formato?
I usually read in “phases”. I might read a lot for a few days when I get interested in a book, and then stop for several weeks if work and life get too hectic. I however consume several hours of podcasts and audiobooks every day.
¿Cómo haces tiempo para leer?
I go to coffee-shops and dedicate some time for it during daytime.
¿Tomas notas o tienes alguna otra técnica para conquistar el torrente de información?
Sometimes I would write quotes on a notebook, but that’s about it. I have a to-do list I rewrite every day in case there is some concrete action I must take related to something I read.
¿Cómo eliges qué libros leer a continuación?
Mostly friends recommendations or books I heard about within podcasts.
¿Priorizas los recomendados por ciertas personas? ¿Hay alguien a quien consideres un gurú de las recomendaciones de libros?
Yes, one of my best friends from Brazil would be a book-recommendations Guru.
Última pregunta: ¿qué libro estás leyendo actualmente y qué esperas obtener de él?
I am currently reading two business books: Radical Candor by Kim Scott which I expect can help me build better relationships with my colleagues, and Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez which helps me have more open conversations with clients and better define our product roadmap.
Links where you can find out more about WalktheChat:
- WalktheChat blog
- WalktheChat @ Facebook | Gorjeo
- Thomas @ Twitter
- Interview with Thomas Graziani @ Asian Entrepreneur
All books mentioned by Thomas in our interview:
- Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
- Lean Customer Development: Building Products Your Customers Will Buy by Cindy Alvarez
- In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
- Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
- El Lean Startup de Eric Ries