Olivier is a long-time member of the Personal MBA from Paris, France. A frequent contributor to the Personal MBA forums , you can find Olivier on the boards under the username Cypher. Olivier has also posted summaries of Getting Things Done , The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People , and The Art of The Start on his website.
Name: Olivier Cotasson
Who are you, and what do you do?
I am 35, single, living in Paris, France, currently involved in web development. I’ve been doing so for the last 6 years as a freelancer. Prior to this, I worked in a web agency.
I will soon join Exakis , an IT company specializing in Microsoft Solutions, as project manager (PM). When not working, I am very keen on paragliding.
What’s your story? How did you get to be where you are now?
Well, after high school, I attended a business school. This is what happens when you don’t know what to do with your life. Business leads you everywhere.
Started out my professional life as a manager at a McDonald’s restaurant, then switched to a department store, and ran a real estate agency. Overnight, I had to drop my girlfriend, our business, car and house. Back to the drawing board.
As every cloud has a silver lining: I then had the opportunity to take IT courses for a year. Hardly touched a computer before, can you believe it? Focusing on learning a new job really saved my life!
What cool projects are you working on at the moment?
Not so many, this is why I am leaving my current customer. He would like to keep me more, but I haven’t had so much to do lately, and I am afraid of getting rusty. I have done so many things in 6 years, though. I will spare you the techy details. To name a few, I become certified in Java and .Net.
The cool thing about the Internet is that it keeps evolving relentlessly. You cannot get bored, but you have to keep up with the Joneses, especially when you are a freelancer, living on the edge.
What are you most interested in learning right now?
I am trying to anticipate my next job as an IT Project Manager. Therefore I am reading a lot of project management-related stuff. Since I have some management experience and pretty good technical background, it should not be a problem. Common sense and communication seem to be the key.
What are you currently reading? Why?
I’ve just completed a french book about PM called Management d’un Projet Système d’Information , quite interesting.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
As I posted once in the Personal MBA forums, on my first boss’ desk was this quote (for everyone to read):
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” - Seneca
Since I am working on self-confidence, I made this quote mine.
What would help you most right now?
I must say the Personal MBA proved to be really useful to me. There is so much to read when it comes to business, management, psychology… but it’s hard to tell which book is really worth reading. This is where Personal MBA book list and community come into play.
Maybe a time-tested book / method to read faster and still remember the core concepts six months later would help.