Mario Cardinal

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" – Marcel Proust

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Learning From Scott Hanselman

Yesterday I was reading “3-2-1,” the weekly newsletter from James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, and found this quote on learning using peers.

It’s almost always better to learn from peers who are 2 years ahead of you than mentors who are 20 years ahead of you. Life evolves and most insights get outdated — James Clear

I identify with this quote a lot because in my professional life I have learned a lot from my peers. Among other things, by following Scott Hanselman’s career for more than 20 years. Scott is a programmer, blogger, podcaster, youtuber, teacher, and prolific speaker. He works in Open Source on ASP.NET and the Azure Cloud for Microsoft out of his home office in Portland, Oregon. He is a fascinating person. By sharing his experience with technology, Scott has deeply influenced the programmer that I am.

Does this mean that young people should ignore the words of people with 20 years of experience who are old enough to become mentors? Not in all cases. Yes, there are times when some mentors fall victim to a bias towards outdated ideas and are out of touch with the reality of the 21st century, but fortunately there are exceptions. The same Scott Hanselman from whom I have learned so much is one of those exceptions. Scott is still up to date with modern reality. Therefore, he is a fantastic mentor for young people.

Recently, Scott had the pleasure of speaking with the Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors about what’s beyond mentorship.

During this talk, after reaffirming the importance of diversity, Scott reminds us that mentoring is the reverse of the technological priesthood by not being a gatekeeper preventing access to information. Mentorship is the recurring act of sharing your energy to create a mirror for others. He offers four simple practices for easily mentoring:

  1. Put out good work
  2. Don’t waste your keystrokes
  3. Share your experience
  4. Be kind

He also suggests going beyond mentoring by positioning it as a special case of sponsorship that relies on storytelling.

According to Scott, getting old is a privilege. The power of being old is the ability to have failed safely for a long period of time, continuously learning. Confronted with this learning process, we are all amateurs, there are no professionals. He asked deep question such as: Do you want 20 years experience? Or the same year’s experience, 20 times?

Even though it is aimed at young people, I really enjoyed this talk.

In conclusion, it is not about choosing between learning from your peers or learning from a mentor but rather combining the two when appropriate.

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Make ‘To-Do Studio’ Works and the 80-20 Rule

For those who follow this blog and my entrepreneurial journey, you know that for several years now, I have been building a SaaS called To-Do Studio. To-Do Studio’s mission is to provide a collaboration platform that drives everyone to get involved.

For several months now, my only focus has been to make to-Do Studio works (which is why I haven’t published much on this blog lately). Day after day, month after month, with my business partner Erik, we fine-tune our software to accurately deliver what it promises.

The challenge is twofold, not only must the software be a viable solution that drives everyone to get involved, but also the product must be simple and easy to understand so that team leaders can easily adopt it.

Software Development and 80-20 Rule

Last summer, we thought we were close to the launch. We had an 80% advanced version, ready to start testing with real users. Unfortunately, finishing the last 20% was difficult. We’ve learned the hard way that in terms of the volume of work, getting the product to work “for real” and validating that it delivers on the expected promise is usually the most time-consuming and labor-intensive task. In our case, it will have taken us almost a year.

It’s difficult because the complexity grows exponentially. Each new line of code (whether to supplement or rewrite a feature) must fit together and mesh consistently with existing code. In addition, more often than not, the code must be adjusted to stay up to date with developments in external components and libraries. This slows down the velocity. The more we advance, the more the efforts increase. This is why the last 20% remaining often represents more than 80% of the total effort.

80-20The 80-20 rule is known as the Pareto principle. Pareto principle is an adage which asserts that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event. In general, a goal of the 80-20 rule is to identify inputs that are potentially the most productive and make them the priority (80% of results come from 20% of effort).

More generally, the Pareto principle is the observation that most things in life are not distributed evenly. In our case, the distribution is reversed because we are interested in 80% of the effort required to achieve the remaining 20% (20% of remaining results come from 80% of effort).

Diet and 80-20 Rule

We can apply the 80-20 rule in several situations. For example, since several months now, I have been following a diet that applies the 80-20 rule. It is based upon the old Confucian practice called hara hachi bu: Stop Eating When You’re 80% Full. Instead of consuming more than 2500 calories as I used to do, now I consume between 2000 and 2100 calories per day (I am allowed to eat more the day I exercise). It works. I lose an average of 1 pound per week. Soon, I will achieve my goal of regaining my healthy weight.

Energy Principle and 80-20 Rule

Justin Jackson, co-founder of wrote about 80-20 rule lately in this blog post entitled The 80% Energy Principle. He applies the 80-20 rule not only to the diet but to all areas of his life, seeking to consume no more than 80% of his energy.

I totally agree with Justin. Now that I am getting older and looking for balance, I try to stay at a level of 80% full in every areas of my life: work, home, family, community, finance or personal well-being.

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The importance of reading

Like a long and winding river, the journey to launch To-Do Studio continues at a good pace. We are still finalizing the Alpha tests. It is a journey full of teaching and learnings. In December, I promise a blog post to share the latest results of all these learnings. Stay tuned!

For today, I propose a brief parenthesis, a reflection on the importance of reading.

The human being who is not used to reading is imprisoned in his immediate intimacy, in a limited creativity that he can only develop with his own knowledge. His life falls into an abyss where he is limited to contact and conversation with a few friends and acquaintances, and he only sees what is happening in his immediate vicinity. The same type of isolation imposed on us by the algorithms of social networks. The isolation that prevents us from valuing the humanity that unites us all.


But the moment he takes a book and enters into a relationship with an author, he immediately come in touch with a new intimacy. And if it’s a great book, it immediately connects with the best of the human race. The author trains him and takes him to a different place and age, relieves him of his existential questions, or discusses with him a particular line or aspect of life that the reader knows nothing about. What’s more, great writers who have come before us bring us into communion with the past, and as you read them, the reader begins to imagine what the life of this former author was like and what type of person he was…

Now, to be able to live a few hours in a different world through reading and to turn away from the pretensions of the immediate present is, of course, a privilege of great value. This is even more true in these times of pandemic.

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The most useful form of patience is persistence

Covid-19 has no borders and is spreading at lightning speed. In these times of crisis and confinement, patience is essential. The eminent leader of Indian nationalism, Mahatma Gandhi, known for promoting nonviolence compares the act of waiting to a fight: “To lose patience is to lose the battle”. Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time, known for “War and Peace” compares patience to a warrior: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time“.

Today, I was reading “3-2-1”, the weekly newsletter from James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits. There was an insight connecting patience and persistence which I found very appropriate.

“The most useful form of patience is persistence. Patience implies waiting for things to improve on their own. Persistence implies keeping your head down and continuing to work when things take longer than you expect.” — James Clear

Patience, persistence and positivity are the three keys to living better. It’s the easiest way to reach your goals and succeed! Life is a journey and you cannot rush success. This is true in all areas of our lives, even more so when you are a start-up entrepreneur.


It has been several months since I provided any status on the progress of To-Do Studio. I know that many of you are eagerly awaiting the Beta version of the product. Your patience will soon be rewarded. Me and my business partner, we keep our heads down and keep working even if there is a pandemic and things take longer than expected. Less than ten weeks to wait. Soon we will announce the Beta program.

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I wish emotional Intelligence and mental balance for my children

For almost two years, Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller “Sapiens” has been on my reading list. Last summer, I started reading the book during a vacation with my youngest son. Since then, I have not only finished Sapiens but I have also devoured his second book, “Homo Deus”. These masterpieces really helped me to understand the world we live in a little bit better.

I love the mix of facts, simplicity and philosophical questions that makes you think a lot and reflect. It helped me put things in perspective and, in a way, extract myself from the current realty and think about meaning and purpose of life. These readings have fueled my thinking so much that I keep recommending their readings to everyone around me. Harari’s work should be taught in schools. I am currently reading his latest book “21 lessons for the 21st century“.

For those who are less familiar with the writings of Yuval Harari, here is an interview where he discusses his latest book. Unfortunately, the facilitator does not seem to understand the nuances of Harari’s work and he is completely unable to follow with significant questions, and especially to question his thinking intelligently. The result could be disappointing. But as there is something positive in everything, one of the advantages of this interview is that it is a very good introduction to Harari’s books.

Yuval Noah Harari: “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” | Talks at Google

Recently, thanks to the random algorithms of Youtube, I came across an interview of Harari with an intriguing title: The 2 Most Important Skills For the Rest Of Your Life. Harari is not only a macro-historian and professor but one of the world’s most innovative and exciting thinkers. I quickly made the decision to listen to the interview and I was not disappointed. There is a lot to learn from this video, especially for the youngest who start their adult life. In this regard, I will recommend it to my four children.

I like to believe that the main reason we are on earth is to create happiness. I have always wished that my children become initiators of happiness, that they flood their entourage with those little things that make life more pleasant. Obviously, we must begin by finding happiness deep within ourselves. Like Harari, I am convinced that in the 21st century, only those who have enough emotional intelligence and mental balance will be sources of happiness.

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make

The End (Abbey Road)

Here is the link to listen to the full interview: