When preparation meets opportunities: how to ‘build’ your own luck!

Today, during the opening keynote of the Microsoft //build event in Seattle, Satya Nadella announced Talentsoft as the first European vendor to leverage their new product, Microsoft Graph data connect. One hour later, we were again featured in a keynote presentation with a 90-second video showing Talentsoft with our customer, Christian Dior, explaining how we use the new Microsoft product for HR purposes.

I was standing just 5 meters away from Satya when it happened, and I can tell you that it was one of those moments that you remember for the rest of your life! It is such a major achievement for me and our teams at Talentsoft. Not only because of the huge visibility for us, but also because it was supposed to be almost impossible to be featured here for a company like us. And what the so-called “impossible” happen, it’s a very special moment….

How did it happen? Here some of the key milestones that brought us here.

Listen to the weak signals

Satya Nadella - Microsoft Buil 2019 - Dior Talentsoft

After almost 20 years of entrepreneurship, what I’m absolutely positive about is that you can’t really decide how projects are about to happen. You can only imagine what you’d love to accomplish and start listening to the signals the Universe is going to send to you. Being a good listener and paying attention to these signals is essential, this an art that only a few people really master.

I’m continuously looking for new ways to create a difference in our market and to reinvent work as it is today. Last July, despite some circumstances (a colleague initially planned that couldn’t go anymore, an award that we could win, a personal commitment that vanished, …), I had the chance to participate with two colleagues to the Microsoft Inspire event, which happened in Vegas. Even if Microsoft has often acted as a lucky-charm since the beginning of Talentsoft (with some programs such as Ideas, Bizpark, …), I didn’t have specific reasons to go there at that time. But this is what I thought: “After all, keep trying new things, create positive change, trust your instincts and go for it!…”.

Once in Vegas, I suddenly realized how Satya Nadella had deeply changed Microsoft, its employer-brand, its strategy, and its roadmaps. And that we really should do much more than what we’ve done so far. I wasn’t supposed to be in Vegas, but they’ve made me think about so many ways to disrupt HCM leveraging Microsoft technologies. I was in the right place.

Create opportunities


Once back in Paris, I immediately named Jeremy, one of my very first colleagues – that joined us 10 years ago – to design new ways to leverage Microsoft products. I wasn’t sure at all that it would work, or that Jeremy would have enough work to fill this new role. But I was absolutely sure that if someone wasn’t coming to the office every day with this new mission in mind, nothing would happen!

I think opportunities are about the risks you are willing to take. And your intention must be crystal clear to make things happen. Here, our intention was about making much more than we did before with one of the most powerful and creative software company. The rest would happen after, eventually.

We’d been studying Microsoft technologies in-depth for 3 months, when on a Wednesday morning in December, Pierre Lagarde (Principal Program Manager), came in our office.

Be bold, work hard

Jerry Seinfeld was saying talent is only 10% of success, work being the 90 other percent. It’s interesting when it comes from someone that has also been extremely bold when he launched his sitcom, the “show about nothing”. Being bold and working hard is the perfect combination!

jeremy shooting

During our meeting with Pierre Lagarde, Jeremy and I had one hour to explain what our company could do with their products that other companies couldn’t do, or at least couldn’t do the way we could. We pushed for joint work on an area that was so far unexplored in the Microsoft and Talentsoft (I stay vague to avoid spoiling our future keynotes…). What is important here is not the topic itself, but the fact we had one chance, not two, to make a difference! We were bold, we convinced them.

Five days later, we had dinner with his N+1 andN+2, Nicolas Gaume and Giorgio Sardo. Six weeks later, we were in the US, at the  Microsoft HQ, to develop a proof of concept in just 72 hours – that would finally be presented on two keynotes at //build – and raise the attention of the Nicolas, Giorgio and Ben Summers (Sr. Product Marketing Manager of Office 365 Ecosystem).

On our way back to Paris, we already knew we had to work even harder to get a chance to be at //build Conference, given the amount of Microsoft partners at the event. So we worked hard on developing this new product, keeping the interest of the Corp and increasing the interest of our colleagues, our customers, our partners. And by a sunny Friday afternoon, we received this unforgettable phone call.

Create your luck is a team sport

 “Could you manage having one of your customers doing a video with us to explain our project, the launch of our new product? If yes, you could be at //build”.

graph team

In 3 hours, we managed to get 4 customers. 72 hours later, like in Highlander, only one agreed.  Things were moving fast. What we didn’t know at the time was the project involved 20 people to shoot a customer video that could be the teaser for the next Avengers movie…. And an incredible amount of work, authorizations, preparation, etc., involving our customer (Christian Dior HRD Deputy) that had originally said OK to participate to a 2 minutes testimony shot with a smartphone.

It shows that even if you work hard, be bold, seize opportunities, you never ever succeed alone! Success is a team sport. If it’s true for superheroes joining forces in Avengers or Justice League, how couldn’t it be true for us? Problems are far too complex to be solved by one person, as talented someone can be.

And afterward, I realize that part of the secret sauce relies on how smooth the collaboration between the many people involved in the project has been. Like in sports, you can add as many talented people together in a team, if they don’t appreciate working together, if communication is not fluid and natural, if they don’t run after a common goal bigger than their individual ego, nothing good happens. But when the magic happens between the various members of the team, the sky is the limit!

Always follow your dreams


And today, our incredible project came true! Microsoft’s President mentioned us, our customer, our work, explaining the ambitions of our common project. What moved us so much was not only the fact that it gave Talentsoft incredible visibility. It also showed us again that you can dream about the impossible when you have a clear vision and intention! If you got enough faith in yourself and you’re lucky enough to work with the right team, following the same objectives and passion than you, our dreams become true!

And if we did all that for nothing? First, should we have been ashamed to fail when so few partners are mentioned every year by this software giant? I’m not sure about that. And yes, there was a huge risk… But we took it!

What is the alternative to dreams? Doing nothing, to be sure not to fail, not to waste energy? Following our dreams involve potential disappointments, failures. But dreams require faith, work, collaboration more than anything. If you put more energy than others, if you genuinely give everything, more than others, then failure is not even an option. This is how life can be such a great journey. Our journey.

To be continued…