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Vive la France: My Austin Adventure with Fabien Toulmé

July 14 is Bastille Day in France, and this year bookstores and libraries all over the country are proudly displaying Fabien Toulmé’s new 336-page graphic novel “Les Reflets du Monde - Et Travailler Et Vivre.”


According to Delcourt, the novel's publisher*,


“This new opus of Reflets du Monde allows you to go on a journey with Fabien Toulmé. From Texas to the Comoros via Korea, he humanely questions the place of work in our society.
Vocation or alienation, means of subsistence or fulfillment, work holds a complex place in our lives. From the senior executive who decides to give up everything to the exploited delivery men of a large corporation, from the victims of the system to those who fight to improve it, Fabien Toulmé once again travels the globe in search of testimonies that shed light on the world around us.” 

*translated from French by Google Translate


The senior executive mentioned above is YOURS TRULY, and you will find Fabien's comic book representation of me on the front cover.


The cover of brand new French graphic novel Et Travailler Et Vivre
Fabien Toulmé's New Book

There I am front and center in my Wall Street suit and holding a guitar!


I am deeply honored to be a main character in Fabien’s latest book, an epic and ambitious multi-year effort to conduct an in-depth personal investigation of the global balance between work and life.


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Many of you have asked: “Austin, how did you end up on the cover of a graphic novel in France?


I mean is that random or what?


The answer is NOT REALLY.


This journey began over three years ago - after I quit my finance job, sold my house and downsized my life in an attempt to be completely independent and pursue my creative passions.  


In the winter of 2022, one of my LinkedIn posts led to a Texas Monthly feature story in March 2022, and I wrote about that incredible experience here on the website.


BTW: If you are interested in reading the Texas Monthly article, you can find it in my website’s Press section or directly here.

Fast forward a few months to the summer of 2022.


I received an email from a French journalist (Fabien’s sister, who also helps him with his research).


The text of an email from French journalist Camille Toulmé
E-Mail Outreach To Me in July 2022

She had seen the Texas Monthly feature story after finding me on Google!


After a one hour Whatsapp phone call with France, we were agreed that Fabien, the famous author, would fly himself to Austin in September 2022 and spend 48 hours exploring the city of Austin and getting to know me, Austin from Austin, amongst other notable locals.  


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It was a hot September morning when I picked up Fabien on the East side of Austin, notorious for its hipsters, outdoor bars and oozing gentrification.


We picked our way through traffic down Dirty 6th Street and up Congress Avenue, past the Paramount and the State Capital. On the way, I eagerly shared my favorite facts about living in Austin.


A page from Fabien Toulmé's new graphic novel featuring Austin, Texas
Keep Austin Weird!

You can see that I taught him Austin's slogan of "Keep Austin Weird."


More relevantly to his book, we also talked about The Great Resignation and how it uniquely affected the Austin area with its hub of high-tech employers such as Google, Apple and Tesla.


After taking a tour of downtown, we ultimately arrived at the fountains at the University of Texas at Austin, my alma mater.


Our first stop was the McCombs School of Business, where I told Fabien about my very first day on Wall Street.  


a page from Fabien Toulmé's graphic novel showing Austin Rosenthal on his very first day on Wall Street
My First Day on Wall Street - from Et Travailler Et Vivre

After I recounted the story of my harrowing first day in the comfort of the business school's air conditioning, we exited eastward towards Gregory Gym where Fabien interviewed a number of Longhorn undergrads about their career goals and life dreams.


The students' answers were fascinating and may very well be representative of Gen Z's attitudes towards work and life (NO SPOILER ALERT here, you will just have to read the book).

   

The French department was our final visit on campus, and Fabien was glad to speak his native language with some of the students, who were in awe of the famous author. 


From there, we went to the recording studio where I introduced him to other local Austin, Texas musicians, and where we recorded the song “Mainframe.”



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On day 2, we started with a BBQ lunch at Rudy’s off of Capital of Texas Highway.  


Chowing down on delicious Central Texas brisket and ribs, I relayed the story of the Investment Banking Deal that Finally Broke Me.


Fabien and Austin are seated at a table with a red and white checkered tablecloth speaking to each other while eating bbq at Rudy's
Fabien Toulmé and I enjoy BBQ at Rudy's in Austin, Texas

By far my most popular post to date, "The Investment Banking Deal that Finally Broke Me" relates the moment I reached a breaking point after working a series of all-nighters on Wall Street.


The story is relatable to so many people, especially those in finance, and Fabien does a magical job of bringing my words to life through his images.


He is a true genius!


****************************************************************************


I have only covered a fraction of the stories in the book; however, I am creating a new TikTok, YouTube and Instagram series where I go behind the scenes in the adventures of Fabien and Austin in Austin.


Here are my handles (they are also above this article on the website) so you can follow and watch the new series as the episodes drop:

TikTok: @socialmusings
Instagram: @socialmusingsbyaustin
YouTube: @socialmusingsbyaustin 

As far as the rest of my story and the other amazing characters in Fabien's magnificent piece of journalism and entertainment, you will just have to read the rest!


Here is a link to purchase "Les Reflets du Monde - Et Travailler Et Vivre" on Amazon.


Thus far, the book is only available in French, and my recommendation is to download Google Translate, open the app and then hold your camera over the pages.


The text will then appear to you in English.


I can't wait to read the rest of the stories from Texas, Africa and South Korea, and I hope you do the same!


Images from "Les Reflets du Monde - Et Travailler Et Vivre" are courtesy of Fabien Toulmé.

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Fabien Toulme' couldn't have chosen a better character! Looking forward to reading the book.

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I’m sure a copy can be sourced somehow 💥

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