Antonio Eram, CEO of NETOPIA mobilPay, Shares the Books that Help Him Change, Rediscover, Reshape
For more than two decades, Antonio has been involved in Romania’s Internet and Telecom business. In 2003, he co-founded NETOPIA, a company that became one of the top local payments providers (mobile, internet, SMS, card, Bitcoin).
Antonio’s also an angel investor and mentor for Romanian based startups, investing in IT, hardware, commerce and services.
We have interviewed Antonio to learn more about the books that helped him grow on both personal and professional levels, what he’d advise young people interested in following a similar career path, but also to understand how he looks at past business failures, red flags he pays attention to when investing, and understand challenges related to cryptocurrencies.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
As of today my favorite book is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Her magnum opus drives an astonishing story about valor, creativity, and everything in between. This book brings a beautiful melange of philosophy, politics, and drama that’s so contemporary. I do believe this book should be included in the mandatory list of books for students.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
Most recent (like several years ago) was about blockchain technology. After reading many articles about blockchain, bitcoin and cryptocurrency, I had a “Eureka” moment when reading Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott. That moment when I realized the potential of this technology and the massive changes that can literally transform the world we are living in. A true paradigm shift.
What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path.
Unfortunately, I cannot pinpoint a particular book; this is because I like to consider myself in a perpetual state of change, of rediscover and reshape. It is the curiosity that drives and the constant state of mind geared towards understanding the world and trying to change it. I am always looking for new challenges and experiences that can help me become better, both on personal and professional levels.
However, I can name a few:
- The Likeability Factor by Tim Sanders
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
- How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Also, I would like to mention one practical book that keeps me in a constant state of dreaming: World Voyage Planner: Planning a voyage from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world by Jimmy Cornell. Because one day I am planning to go sailing around the world.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path?
Talking about my career path, it is not that simple. I have attended Naval Academy in Constanța with the scope of becoming a sea captain. What I do now has so little to do with what I have started. A good reason to tell anyone to follow their dreams and pursue whatever makes them happy and engaged. Just follow your guts and heart. Eventually, you will become whatever you desired. And never stop being curious. Because curiosity is a state of mind.
About the books. Here is a small list.
- Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Timothy Ferriss
- Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution Of Global Intelligence by George B. Dyson
- Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
- The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan W. Watts
- Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success–and Won’t Let You Fail by Keith Ferrazzi
- Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth by Dr. Brad Blanton
- The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry
- The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris
- Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
- The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
- Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez
- The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change) by Clayton Christensen
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
- Thorium: The Eighth Element by Brian Basham
- On the Genealogy of Morals (Penguin Classics) by Friedrich Nietzsche
- Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil
- The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
- The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom by John Gray
- The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
- Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser
- Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety (ALA Notable Books for Adults) by Eric Schlosser
- The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank
- Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker by Kevin Mitnick
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
- Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I’m always keeping my Kindle close. So whenever I have a little time to spare I read some pages. And look for new books. I desire to read at least two books a month this year. It is a start, and so far I am in good position. (even if is just January :D)
How do you make time for reading?
When at home or on the plane. With a glass of good wine.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
Yes, and this is where Kindle’s note and highlights are used.
How do you choose what books to read next?
Based on recommendations (and your service is super cool in this matter).
What book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
Right now I am reading:
- The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past) by Cixin Liu
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
- Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies by Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller, Steven Goldfeder
You’ve publicly talked about failures and how people should focus on lessons learned instead of fear. Could you give an example from your life of a mistake you made and how you changed your mind? What was the thinking process, and what did you learn out of it?
I like to believe that success is just a failure went wrong. Our life is based on curiosity, research, and learning. And all of this comes with a considerable amount of errors or failures. We do learn by making mistakes. And for whatever reason, people still are afraid of failing.
Failure needs to be embraced, and at some point, success will appear. As I said, like a failure went wrong.
At some point, we have worked and launched a service, called myGod.ro. Way ahead of its time, myGod.ro was a SaaS for gaming where the user was able to play PC games remotely on any computer, paying just a monthly fee. Launched in 2008, when software piracy was at its peak, we had no chance marketing it. Still, I was hooked on the idea of offering a service that for a flat fee can give you access to thousands of games at any moment. It took me several years and lots of money pumped in myGod.ro to realize that it cannot fly at the required levels to be profitable.
Lesson learned: regardless how revolutionary and cutting edge a service or product is, or the amount of money and time invested, well, you have to be able to identify the failure and contain the loses. Or, to put it simply, to let it die, fast.
What guidelines do you follow when you need to make investment decisions in start-ups? Are there any red flags you look out for?
I am interested to know the team and understand the driver behind every project. The team is what matters, and not the product or the service. A strong, dedicated and visionary team can do miracles. The rest will follow. Of course, the service/product is relevant as well.
We’re drowning in a sea of contradictory views regarding cryptocurrency. What are the biggest aspects that people can’t seem to understand on this topic?
Well, the biggest problem is that people talk without understanding what blockchain and bitcoin do and works. Most of them are discussing the investing/transactional approach. And this is a big mistake. Understanding technology allows you to understand the future of cryptocurrencies. It does not work the other way around.
The future is unfolding in front of us. Literally.
If you’re interested in learning more about cryptocurrency and blockchain, here are a few more of our interviews with entrepreneurs or investors from these fields:
- Auston Bunsen, Co-Founder of CBlocks, Learns Something New with Each Book Read
- Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings, Talks About the Paradigms That Books Shifted in His Life
- Lex Na, CEO and Co-Founder of Bountie.io, on How Books Molded His Character
- James Stanley, Founder of SMS Privacy, on How Books Can Change the Way We Think
Links where you can follow Antonio Eram or find out more about his projects:
- Antonio Eram’s Twitter | LinkedIn
- NETOPIA mobilPay
- mobilPay Wallet