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GSoft CEO Simon De Baene on the Complexity of Doing Great Things

Travel tips from the man trying to change corporate culture from within.

Simon De Baene

In 2006, Montrealer Simon De Baene started thinking about how he could transform corporate culture by combining his admiration for Silicon Valley with his love for travel. Today, GSoft offers its staff unlimited holidays and retreats in Europe. And with software like Officevibe, it helps other companies assess employee engagement – Apple, HP and Disney are all fans.

1. My go-to app Pocket, for saving articles I want to read later, especially on airplanes.

2. Best place for a business lunch Roberta’s in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for pizza. The stracciatella is also exceptional.

3. My business mantra If it were easy, everyone would do it. I remind my employees that wanting to do great things is complex, and that it’s perfectly normal to find it demanding.

4. My eureka moment was in 2010, when I realized that I wasn’t building my dream company. I said, “Either we stop or we change everything.”

5. What I had to learn on the fly To put people at the heart of my business. A robot will never be as creative as a human.

6. I’m currently reading Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder. An employee gave it to me because she saw similarities between their approach and ours.

7. The biggest risk I ever took was prioritizing employee well-being. Some people perceive me as lacking credibility, but I’m tackling a real societal issue.

8. Dream seatmate Barack Obama. I am fascinated by his ability to inspire so many.

9. Window or aisle? Window. I need to see what’s going on.

10. Last binge-watch The Vietnam War, a very long documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, on YouTube.