Matthieu David-Experton, CEO & Founder of Daxue Consulting, Uses Books to Refresh His Mind
Created in late 2009 together with Zheng Jingwen, Daxue consulting has become a group with 12 divisions and offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The name ‘Daxue’ is conveying 2 significations in Chinese: in modern Chinese, Daxue means University, but in old Chinese, the word Daxue was referring to one of the 4 books founding Confucianism.
Daxue Consulting has served more than 100 clients since inception, and has been widely quoted in media outlets including Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Yahoo Finance, Forbes, Technode, TechinAsia, Israeli press and Peking University Press, as well as on BFM Radio.
Matthieu has worked in finance, consulting, and as a General Manager for two start-up companies in Paris, Hong-Kong and China since 2008. He’s a graduate of ESSEC Business School Masters in Management (#2 business school in France and #5 in Europe), Peking University MBA in Beijing (ranked #1 in 2013 in China and #4 in Asia), and a bachelor of law.
He has also invested in or been part to several ventures in China and Europe.
This interview helped us discover a lot of interesting stuff about Matthieu’s tastes in reading. If you want to learn about the books that can shape your mindset for the future or help you exercise your responsibility, it’s a must-read!
P.S. Thanks, Thomas Graziani, for introducing us!
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
My favorite book is Meditations by Marcus-Aurelius. First, it is very universal as questions and thinking and it can reflect a lot of what one can go through in their life. Secondly, it is a book about responsibility and exercising your responsibility in the world when you have to care about people under you. I have read it several times since I was a teenager.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
I read The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly and it gave me a lot more perspective on the future and how I can participate in the next big changes the world is going to go through. It is both a practical and conceptual book.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
The Hard Thing About Hard Things has made me be aware that very admired entrepreneurs or people who are seen as very successful could have gone through very similar questions, courses of actions and troubles as young and small business owners.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
I would recommend the following ones:
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things
- Who? How to recruit A players
- Les Cles du futur by Jean Staune (in French)
- All the books written by Peter Drucker (The Essentials of Drucker)
- The 4 steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank
- The books by Jack Welsh (especially for French people as it is somewhat contrarian to their education)
About philosophy and more intellectual readings:
- La Citadelle interieure (in French) about stoicism and its 3 ages.
- Les memoires d’Hadrien by Yourcenar. No one (beside Flaubert) is writing in better French than Yourcenar.
- L’histoire de France by Jacques Bainville as it is contrarian to what most French kids learn about their history.
- The Three body problem (rare SF book that inspired me).
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
Everyday: 30 min to 3 hours on Kindle or iPad with Kindle app. Mostly before sleeping. But I always have my Kindle with me to make sure I always have my library next to me when I have to wait for something or when I need to take a step back and refresh my mind. I usually read several books at the same time because each book has a specific influence on me and I may prefer to read poems at some periods of my life and day or more business books for other periods.
How do you make time for reading?
Anytime when I have time, especially when I wait for something.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I do take notes on my Kindle or Ipad directly and when they are important notes, I write them down on an iPhone note in a specific topic. But I try to memorize and use my memory as much as possible.
How do you choose what books to read next?
I have various sources for books:
– podcasts I am listening to often refer to books. I am listening every single episode of Mixergy, the SaaS podcast, Master of Scales, How I built it by NPR and I listen frequently to Best of Tech & Startups.
– friends’ recommendations
– books referred in one book as sources
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
Homo Deus as I read several books on what could happen in the future.
La Guerre des Intelligences about AI as I believe it is going to be a big thing.
Who? The method to hire A-Players. Very useful book on recruitment.
Links where you can follow Matthieu David-Experton or find out more about his projects:
All books mentioned by Matthieu David-Experton in this interview:
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
- Who by Geoff Smart, Randy Street
- The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management by Peter Drucker
- The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank
- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
- The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari