Frequently Asked Questions

Click on each question to reveal its answer.

It's a short domain name, seemingly perfectly adapted to optimise the traffic to this website. In truth, a friend pointed out to me that it was no wonder that I tend to be responsive 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) since I was born on 24th July (24/7 in European abbreviation)! What year, I hear you ask? Let's just say I feel like I'm 25. Yes, that's right, 25 every year.

For the past decade or so, my teams and I have been helping developers and startups in emerging countries build better websites and mobile applications. Because we are just a few so-called program managers covering a vast expanse of more than 100 countries, we design initiatives that can scale quickly. That's why we work with and nurture hundreds of developer communities and influencers, sharing relevant technical content and helping connect all of them.

For more, read my annual stories of my work at Google. You can also give a look at my LinkedIn profile or my professional bio.

Sebastian & his amazing team at Google – Amsterdam, October 2018
Yes, I am giving an all-hands presentation to my team in a cloakroom, for lack of any available meeting room.
From left to right: Andy, Biswa, Fola (front left), Aniedi, Sami, Marcus (behind Sami), Sebastian, Karthik (with cap), Baris (centre), Paul, Onajite, Bok, John, Salim (front right), Mani (top right)

Sebastian & some members of his Africa team (Aniedi and John, around Kenya's country manager Charles) – Johannesburg, February 2019

Sure – but as you send me your CV, make sure to also send me the exact URL of the specific job you are targetting. Do bear in mind that we receive millions of CVs every year, so don't be disappointed if your application doesn't go through. Keep trying!

What stress?! I'm half-joking. Let's just say that I'm very organised. "Optimising" my time is a constant refrain of mine, which tends to drive people close to me a little crazy. But let me give you some concrete examples:

– I don't spend time doing make-up. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people doing make-up but we all have 24 hours in a day. We each decide how to spend that time. (Despite being French, I do shower every day).

– I always carry a notepad and a pen and something to read wherever I go. So any minute I spend in a train or a plane (and I spend a lot of time in planes; how much is "a lot"? 200,000 km on average each year) is put to use to jot down my thoughts or to read.

– I don't watch Netflix and tend to be very selective when it comes to the films I watch. In short, I almost only pick well-rated films (or books for that matter). There are thousands of films to choose from (120 million in the case of books). But my time is limited so why waste time on art that is generally considered of mediocre quality?

– I took the decision to not have children. That doesn't mean I don't like children; in fact, I do believe I'm a very good (at least fun, or crazy) uncle to my nephews and niece. Once again, nothing wrong in (others) having children. It's just not for me – and the time I save each day for easily 20 years compared to those who do have children is incomparable.

Of course there are also techniques I employ to be organised. If you're curious, give a look at the video titled "Organise & Automate" in the selection of videos I have shared as part of my 10xMBA project.

I am known to be very responsive to anyone reaching out to me, day or night, that I have earned myself the reputation that I don't sleep. This couldn't be further from the truth though. While it's accurate to say I'm a light sleeper (I require absolute darkness and, most importantly, total silence – hence the mandatory eye mask and earplugs), I spend an average of 9 hours in bed each night. But "spending" the time doesn't equate to "sleeping" – not necessarily because I would be on one of my electronic devices (I do try to put them aside) but because my mind keeps buzzing with new ideas, planning the next days, reminiscing, analysing and torturing myself with the past. So if I'm honest with myself, I probably get an average of 7 hours of sleep a night, with wide variations because of travel-induced jetlag and various life events. Not too bad but I could still do better.

First of all, I would probably be delighted to be stuck on a deserted island, provided it's a tropical one. I need the water and the sun, increasingly so that it becomes difficult to wake up each morning and wonder why I haven't taken the decision to ensure I get what I need and want. At the same time, I can't really complain, I live very close to the lake of Zürich which is a pleasure to swim in during the summer.

I suppose being stranded on an island has the additional benefit – at least it looks like a benefit to me – of being completely disconnected from everything and everyone else, of having no responsibilities whatsoever. So let's get back to the question. If I'm a little bit sentimental, I would bring a solar-powered laptop with me, connected to the Internet via satellite so I could read and write. If that counts as more than "one" thing, then I suppose I'd bring an e-reader with a few hundred books loaded in it. But if I'm completely rational, I should probably bring a sharp knife or enough water decontamination pills to get started!

I'll mention three for a total of 75 dollars at the current exchange rate. It is ironic I would mention products at all considering you'll seldom find me shopping for anything. In fact, there would be no economy worthy of its name if everyone were like me!

The first one is a 20-euro fruit blender, bought on Amazon. I don't know how I could have lived my life without a blender all my life. It's only when I visited Costa Rica in December 2017, where fruit blenders are ubiquitous, that it suddenly dawned on me. So I bought the cheapest and most portable blender, if not very powerful (300W) but surprisingly good enough, even to crush ice cubes. It weighs about 1.5kg and it's in my luggage (also dubbed "body bag" considering how massive and shapeless it always is – I wanted the biggest and cheapest I could find, the Eastpak Container 85) on almost all my trips.

The second purchase is my skateboard, technically a cruiser board, not a skateboard since I use it to precisely cruise from point A to point B, bought for about 45 euros at Décathlon, my favourite sports retail brand (because their products are high quality and cheap, at least to my standards). I only started learning how to skateboard in March 2018, initially with a Penny board knock-off before quickly upgrading to a more comfortable and bigger maplewood board weighing 2.1kg. I also take it everywhere I go, including to skateboard in the streets of Jakarta. I had been looking for something transportable (that could fit in my luggage) which would allow me to move a little more quickly than walking, especially on distances that would make it slightly too long to walk. I first briefly and unsuccessfully tried a unicycle, before considering the skateboard – I estimate to be covering a distance of about 10km to 20km on average every month.

Before you judge me too quickly for being a grown man skateboarding, take a look at the following photograph taken in Rome in 1964 of a 34-year-old gentleman in a suit:

This gentleman's name? Clint Eastwood. So there.

The third thing I'll mention is my "astonishing" (sic) flying ring. It costs $5, although sometimes you can get it at $3. It doesn't look like much at all: in fact, it's merely a piece of 25cm-diametre rubber! But it's actually pretty amazing: it's just like a traditional frisbee except it doesn't hurt much at all in case you don't catch it properly and you don't need any skill to be able to throw it (the horizontal swift movement is very similar to the one you'd need to throw a plate at your spouse's face). The best thing of it all? The ring flies really far. Just like my blender and my skateboard, I take my flying ring everywhere I go, it fits nicely against my laptop in my backpack.

Since I tend to be the kind of person who tortures his mind over past things, I would have a lot of things to say. At the same time, I'm inclined to also give the contradictory advice of "don't pay too much attention to people's advice, or what they think of you" – because it's difficult to replace experience with anything else. One most certainly has to go through the hardships, or at the very least live through things, to be able to understand them more fully. Having said that, I do think there are valuable insights to be gained from reading books – non-fiction and fiction included. I have always read extensively (as a child, I would always be reading when on the loo) so that wouldn't be a piece of advice I'd give to myself but to others.

However, there are a number of things I wish I had done differently and that's why having an older brother, a father or a fatherly figure, or a mentor can help. I would have tried to enjoy life some more, even if I didn't have much money. I would have more quickly invested in the stock market (I can only blame myself for this though – at age 21, I was interning in a stock market technical analysis firm, so I was already quite versed on the topic). I would have worked more of my shyness so I could implement more of the crazy ideas and personal projects I had.

My biggest fear is that eventually you will see as I see myself. Half-joking on that one.

If I think of others, I'm scared of the day when my mother will die. Any loved one passing away is a personal tragedy, especially if death is unexpected. But I think there is something more painful to go through the death of the human being who carried you in her womb, the death of this mother who went through so much, too much. Yes, she has her flaws, who does not, but I always try to remind my siblings that we owe a lot to our mother, that she won't be with us forever. I can see my mother getting older; I do my part to help her enjoy life; but I'm scared, however much I prepare myself mentally to what will inevitably happen.

If I consider my own sake, for a long time it has been the fear of becoming blind and thus no longer being able to see those whom I love or the world around me and no longer being able to read. It still is a fear that's very present in me, even though nobody close to me ever lost their sight and even though other senses like hearing or touch would equally be devastating. Today I'm most afraid of no longer being in control of my mind, in other words suffering from Alzheimer's disease, something my grandmother went through during the last years of her life. If there were to be no remedy to such state, I wouldn't see the point of living any longer. In a sense, I would have already seized to be "me". As such, I would be in favour of my own euthanasia. Worth noting that I only consider this option for myself: in no way am I suggesting others should follow the same path nor that it should be part of some of nationwide policy. I simply personally couldn't bear the (present) conscious thought of being a burden to others while simultaneously no longer having a sense of "being".

Feel free to contact me and I'll be glad to reply to you as soon as possible.