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GREAT IDEAS: Work Smarter, Live Better by Cyril Peupion {interview}

Practical ways to change your work habits and increase productivity

“A lot of people have never been taught how to work”. 

Cyril Peupion, author of productivity book Work Smarter, Live Better, says enjoying life more comes from the feeling you’re getting somewhere.

Happiness = Progress.

He cites two factors: Efficiency and Effectiveness.  
  • Efficiency:  I give you something to do. You do it right, you do it well, you do it on time.
  • Effectiveness:  You do a lot of things right, but if you don’t do the right things, you don’t make progress.  

3 steps to being more efficient and effective:
  1. Batch emails and triage them.  Create in your diary 2 half-hour email triage meetings. Each email, ask “How long will it take me to do it?” Less than 5 minutes, do it now. More than 5, move to your calendar.
  2. Prioritise by impact. Higher performers don’t prioritise by deadline, but by impact. Most people have in their mind is “When is it due?”  Swap that for “What impact long term?”
  3. Focus deeply. Meet with yourself.  Switch off the phone, go to a different meeting room. Really try to say, “I’m going to spend 20 minutes, and for those 20 minutes, I’m only focusing on one thing”.  That’s really important to performance.

(8 getting to know you questions we ask all our authors)

Recommended book: I’m a book reader, every morning I read something to learn. Here's a few: Deep Work from Cal Newport, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Power of Full Engagement by Loehr and Schwartz, Drive from Daniel Pink, How To Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.


How did you get your first job?  In France, I did a Masters of Engineering, then I did an MBA, and after that, with 3 of my friends, decided to create our own business. It was one of those, what I call, free ad papers, where you place your ad for free and you buy the paper. We grew it to 40 people. It was just an amazing adventure. I learned so much, I made so many mistakes, and I think that’s part of learning.

If you weren’t doing the job that you’re doing now, what would you like to be doing? I’m a frustrated doctor. My mum and dad were doctors, they’ve retired. I always wanted to be a doctor, but I was very good at maths, and so I did engineering. 

How do you push yourself when the going gets tough? Passion is one thing. I have very strong passion. The second thing is discipline. I have routines, quarterly I review what I call my big rocks, my priorities. Every week I’m planning them; on a daily basis, I’m focusing. Probably the third one is mentors. I have surrounded myself with a few amazing mentors who give me a kick in the butt if I’m not doing the right things. I think that’s great.

What’s one of the best decisions you’ve ever made to improve your career? It’s probably surrounding myself with great people. First listening to them, listening to their podcasts, listening to their speeches, reading books. Also being part of great networking - like you offer. I’m part of another great network called Thought Leader, which is a network of coaches, trainers, speakers, and we exchange ideas, and challenge each other.

What’s a fun fact that’s not widely known about you? I’m 52. Two years ago my wife and my friends made me, for my 50th birthday, a book called Work Smarter, Live Better: The Alternative Version. It’s all the truths about, you know, I look really organised, but who’s the person behind that?  I had a really good laugh with my wife and my friends about it.

What’s been your lowest moment and how did you recover from that? Years ago when I created the business, I went into partnership with someone who had another business. It was a recruitment business. After a while I felt this partnership was not working. It was a really hard decision, because, for me trust and partnership are very important. I had six months, horrible, of, you know, working out how to work it out, and how to decide to separate. It’s been quite interesting because sometimes your lowest moment is also where you learned the most, and so it was an amazing learning curve. It was probably the best decision I’ve made, but also probably one of the lowest moments in the last few years.

What’s one prediction you could make for 2025? One is about the rate of change, and one is about hope. Technology is changing so quickly. You can take your laptop now, be connected wherever, and work on the beach, or work in a hotel, and so on. There are going to be a lot of changes in those flexible ways.  One of the reasons I moved from Paris to Sydney is to be close to the sea. I’m appalled to see what we’ve done with our environment, with the sea.  My hope is this new generation are going to kick through that, and help the old generation to realise, or take over, what it hasn’t done properly.

To buy Cyril Peupion’s book Work Smarter, Live Better from Booktopia, click here. The Growth Faculty Members can watch, listen or read a full interview with our featured author Cyril Peupion by downloading the video, transcript or MP3 audio file, after logging on to the On Demand platform. 

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