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Gilles Bernhard, Co-Founder of SCPlanner, on the Books That Played a Huge Role in His Career Path

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Gilles Bernhard is the co-founder of SCPlanner, a tool that helps artists promote and organize their music on SoundCloud or Spotify.

Gilles started this as a side project a little over two years ago. He used to work full-time for a radio station in Strasbourg, France, as an advertisement planner, while also producing music and running SoundCloud promotion for labels and artists. Prior to this, he studied sound engineering in Paris.

His side activities led him to create SCPlanner together with an old friend. Nine months after the launch, he quit his job to focus on his new project and produce music.

In spring of 2018, SCPlanner was acquired by Repost Network, to give its artists more tools to promote their music. SCPlanner continues to exist as a stand-alone service and remains available to the general public.

From our interview with Gilles you’ll find out how one book inspired him to create something that went “viral” for his business, the books that fascinated him and played a huge role in his career path, but also those that helped him better understand how his brain works. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

Business: 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Often seen as controversial, I have to say this book is my favorite. There is so much wisdom in it, but what fascinated me the most is all the historic situations, the poems and all the anecdotes that are alongside the different Rules. It makes a great book to enrich one’s culture, but also learn how to maneuver in today’s world, plan business or social interactions and set goals.

This book took me a very long time to finish but I will happily read it again as soon as I can. What is really interesting about it is how the author depicts a side of human nature we often don’t want to see.

It also made me want to read Machiavelli’s Prince in the near future.

Fiction: Ashes, Ashes (Ravage in French) by Rene Barjavel. The story is set in a post apocalyptic dystopian world. The world loses electricity and nothing is working anymore. Complete blackout, fires everywhere, chaos, people going insane, old disease coming back. This is the fall of a machinist civilisation.

The book tells the journey of a group of people looking to survive and build a new civilisation after their world got completely changed by this catastrophe. The only solution, which is the meaning of the book, is to go back to a more frugal life, and be wary of new technologies and scientific progress.

Even tho’ I am deeply driven by science, progress and the future, I really enjoyed this book. Utopias and dystopias are fictional genres I enjoy a lot. I could also mention Candide ou l’Optimisme by Voltaire as a book I appreciate a lot.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell us about it?

I have this vivid memory of coming up with a new system/idea for SCPlanner while reading Contagious by Jonah Berger.

The need was to create something viral, or likely to be shared on social medias by our users, but that had no real use for them; besides showing off something to their audience. That’s how I came up with an easy ranking system, like a “game”, inside our app. We made a quick formula to calculate everyone’s score, based on their activity on the site. We attributed funny ranks name to some key scores, and sent a nice popup to each users letting them know about their newly acquired rank.

It immediately took off, my Facebook was filled with screenshots and comments of all kind of users, happy to know their new rank, comparing it with others.

This is just one idea that directly came from the book, but I had a lot more while reading it!

In the process of an acquisition of my business by a bigger company, I was reading Zero to One by Peter Thiel, and it helped me understand the meaning behind an acquisition, and what to expect from it.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path.

When I was an undergraduate student I used to read books about physics, sound engineering and acoustics on top of my studies. It fascinated me (and still does) and it surely played a huge role with my career path because I am now creating music and engineering it, and started with a job as a technician in a Radio Station.

I also read “The 4 lives of Steve Jobs” by Daniel Ichbiah (French author, not sure if it has been translated to English) a while back when I was studying in Paris. It was a major shift in my view of how what is a business, but mostly what made Apple and Steve Jobs successful. It also opened my eyes to how hard it must have been to work for him. This book was also the first business related book I’ve read, and it motivated me to start a business at some point in my life. I since have lost this book when I moved places, which is very sad because it was of great value to me!

Quiet by Susan Cain. I will be honest and say that the book in itself was only the final step in a process that took me years. This helped me understand a lot of things about myself and others, why I am acting the way I am when alone or in social events. So, the book in itself hadn’t had the biggest impact on me nor my career, but was part of the journey to dive into myself and understand how my brain works. This helped me gain confidence in myself and yielded great results.

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance. I bought this book as soon as it came out. I was following Elon Musk’s work for quite some time and this book opened my eyes to a lot of things about him that I didn’t know. It also taught me what “working hard” really meant, and what a true modern inventor looks like! It also taught me the process of starting from nothing, a small idea, and going taller every time.

What five books would you recommend to young people interested in your career path & why?

My book selection is composed of books often recommended to people starting out! So nothing very outstanding here.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Essentialism is a mindset. It is a combination of discipline, long term thinking, identifying goals and the pursuit of less. This is a book I will definitely read again and again, until mastered, because it resonated very much with me. It is also an easy to read book.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel. I really enjoyed this book because it is very easy and quick to read, but still has a lot of value. Still today its lessons are keys to how I chose to invest, how I see companies and how I tend to think when working on mine.

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. A classic everyone should read. It only takes a few hours to read as well. It is fun to read, doesn’t relate explicitly to business but yet connections with business can be drawn easily. I am sure there are loads of information online about it if you want to really go deep with this book and its lessons!

Contagious by Jonah Berger. If you are building a business or a brand and want to know how to make it go “viral”, if you want your idea to be talked about, or if you simply want to know some of the science behind it, this book is a must have. It gave me a lot of ideas for my business, and I didn’t even scratch the surface of what can be done thanks to it! The next time I read it, I will write down everything that comes to my mind.

The Creator’s Code by Amy Wilkinson. Very simple book, it won’t take long to read it, yet it has great value to offer! It will give you guidelines on how to act, react and fail. This book has an interesting approach to ideas and how to turn them into bigger opportunities. I used it to understand where I failed my previous business and how I could gain from it, build a better business from those mistakes.

We’re interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How do you make time for reading? How often do you read? What format do you prefer?

When reading, consistency is key. I try to read one chapter a day! This is a 30 min to 45 min. During vacations I double my reading time to two chapters a day whenever I can.

I am trying to read a lot more, but business books require more focus than fiction books, so I think reading more without taking notes wouldn’t be efficient. I will probably start reading fiction books on top of the non-fiction ones to go to a goal of 1 to 2 hours of reading each days.

I really like to read physical books rather than PDFs or epub or kindles because my memory works best with books, pages.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I do not take any notes nor have any technique while reading books. I sometimes simply fold a page corner when the information is something I find extremely valuable and that I know I’ll want to go back to it in the future. But I know I should keep better track of what I am reading and learning. I thought of creating a Gsheet system with references to specific subjects and the pages of the books containing the information, so I know where to find the informations I want in time of needs.

That being said, I often vividly remember where and at what page I can find the information I need in case I have to solve a problem or just want dive back into something in particular.

I see these books as lessons, you don’t read them and get rid of them on a shelf, you have to go back and forth to assimilate the wisdom it contains. Taking notes or building a Gsheet system could definitely help a lot!

How do you choose what books to read next? Do you prioritize books recommended by certain people?

I build a huge amazon list of books, and from time to time I go into it and select what seems to be the most relevant books and subjects to my current situation.

The books going into this lists are often times books people I know talked about on social media or IRL, or books suggested to me by Amazon. It can also be books I know about from an article I read!

I too often buy a lot of books and have them sitting for several months without opening them because I have to finish my current book! That is why I don’t end up purchasing all of them. Plus, if I purchase too many books at once they’ll just end up on a shelf for several months before being able to finish a few of them!

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

I am currently reading “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. I wasn’t expecting anything particular from it, and feared to be overwhelmed by technical terms about how the brain works and such. But I am extremely happy with it! It is very simple and explains a lot of traps our mind falls into when making decisions. It definitely changes the way you make and see decisions in personal and business life. The book explores cognitive biases in everyday’s life as well as in finance, marketing and business, and shows us what is the process thinking behind these biases.

Links where you can follow Gilles Bernhard or find out more about his projects:

All books mentioned by Gilles Bernhard in our interview:

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