Start your business with art!

I just want to play my Spanish guitar. I’d love to play my recently acquired harmonica too. I don’t need you reading me. Well, I’d like to believe I don’t need you. But I think I need you… sometimes… shit. Shit?

I feel an energy now. I think I feel it. But which energy is that? Is that one that makes some of us to love or hate one another? Or is the one that makes the sunlight looks brighter than it is? What is that? I don’t speak English! What am I doing to my brain?

Take it easy my brother, take it easy my sister… I don’t know you! But I don’t know me either. Fortunately I’m free. Well, at least I like to think I am. And this makes me larger than myself now. Cool! Never mind, forget about it. I’m just thankful to you Spain, thankful to you Madrid!

Do you really think the challenge is to start a successful innovative business somewhere? Are you kidding me? If you are one of those mediocre visitors, please, just leave me alone. Unless you want to talk about the real truth. Do you really want to talk about the real truth? So, try not to forget brother, sister:

Art is life.

Job is not life. Building is life.

God is love. Love is art. Art is god. Engineering is nice. So is Biology. A social science like business is also nice. But art can beat them all. Don’t betray yourself. Put some art in you life! Or just forget about me. I’m trying to play this thing. Viva Paco! I love you too!

Let’s change the status quo of Education!

I feel like I am helping with this process and this makes me a happy person these days. Here I share a little bit of information about what I’m doing at IE (a lot of people ask me about it), besides being an associate professor. A larger version of this interview was published last month within IE’s internal communication newsletter (I took out some strategic internal information).

ieCOMMunity News: Where are you from? What is your academic and professional background? How did you come to IE?

I’m Brazilian, born in Rio de Janeiro, from a family that came originally from Portugal. I started work in the technology sector very young at 16, as a software programmer. My father worked in the sector and ever since I was a child I loved anything to do with computers. I went on to study management and accounting at university in order to help out in my father’s firm, but I ended up loving marketing, particularly everything to do with the sale of technology-related services. 

I was one of the first Brazilians to study at IE, in the year 2000. I mapped out a career plan with the directors in our company which included studying business abroad. In Brazil at that time hardly anybody came to Europe to study business. I decided to take a look at European Schools because I had a total cultural affinity with Europe. When I came here to visit some top schools I fell in love with IE because of all the schools I visited it seemed the most technology-friendly. Although I really like history, I don’t like lectures about the past, rooted in tradition. I prefer to hear about the future, and that is what I found here. 

My experience as a student surpassed my expectations and a year and a half after I graduated, while I was working here in Madrid with Telefónica, IE invited me to find a way to increase relations between the School and Brazil. That’s how I ended up going to São Paulo to set up IE’s office there in 2003. At the time there were some 2 or 3 Brazilian students at IE each year, and today there are over 50.

ieCOMMunity News: Tell us about your day-to-day at IE. What is the most rewarding part of your work? What do you like most about it?

Today, as Director of Admissions for Blended Programs and Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, my day-to-day is pretty intense. I tend to place myself and everyone I work with under a lot of pressure to keep us at the forefront of our sector. 

Right now the whole knowledge industry is playing major role in all sectors, but particularly where online education is concerned. There are so many challenges and so many courses of action you can take that it is easy to lose yourself and your motivation when there is so much to do in so little time. But this is exactly what I find motivating and gratifying: being able to help IE and society as a whole by finding alternatives to improve the way we create and transmit knowledge among ourselves. 

What I like most is to be able to dream about possible solutions for these challenges and within a matter of months be able to share these dreams with other people and see the results when they have become a reality. 

ieCOMMunity News: Tell us about how you have seen IE Business School grow and evolve since you first came to work here. 

With great excitement. IE’s culture is unique, marked by its origins but not constrained by them. For instance, it is very gratifying to see that each time I go to Brazil more and more people are starting to know about IE and its values. It is something that I couldn’t have imagined in 2003, when I first arrived there full of dreams but with limited resources. 

ieCOMMunity News: What does the restructuring of IE Business School Programs mean for the School? 

The first major step was taken 10 years ago when IE decided to commit to blended education. The second major step came with the decision to continue to commit to this model, even after the internet bubble burst. I see this restructuring process as the third, very important step, taken in the direction in which thinkers in the field of education say that we should go, namely toward the possibility of offering quality education that can be adapted to meet the needs of each individual. 

Today, developing modular courses while providing a good blended education model is a logistic and academic nightmare for any large school or university. 

As the best Business School in the world in Distance Learning (The Economist, 2010), I feel that at IE we are ready to move forward with all these models (and perhaps some others). If we don’t keep raising the bar, other schools can quickly catch up. Everything moves very fast nowadays. 

ieCOMMunity News: Which programs will be restructured? What are the key features of the new MBA+ programs? 

The programs affected are some of the part-time program groups, and certainly the majority of blended programs – or online programs as they were called up until two years ago. The changes will also affect some of IE’s more traditional programs, such as the MBAs and weekly and bi-weekly Executive MBAs. Together with the blended programs, these programs will be modular, and will be divided into two groups known as the Global MBA+ and the Executive MBA+. 

The majority of specialized programs will be integrated into these MBAs. For example, the Master in Sports Management will become a +Module, known in this case as +Sports Management, in such a way that it will fit into any Global MBA+ or Executive MBA+ format. The same will apply to the Master in Sales and Marketing, which becomes +Marketing & Sales, etc. 

There will be many possible combinations of different formats, languages, specializations and networking opportunities, which will enable the student to organize him/herself to suit his/her personal and professional needs. For example, a student can opt to do the core period in face-to-face format and change to blended when they begin the +Module, or vice versa, start with a blended format and then do the program on campus. The same goes for languages. Students can start the core period in Spanish and then change to English, or vice versa. It’s amazing.

[Here I attach the first video we did to try to transmit what are these new programs about.]

ieCOMMunity News: What should we know if students, graduates or candidates ask us about the MBA+ programs? 

That both the Global MBA+ and Executive MBA+ programs are part-time and therefore compatible with their work. The curriculum of both programs combines the content of an IE Business School MBA program with the depth of a specialized program. The many customization options will permit students to adapt the program to their own specific professional needs and personal circumstances without losing the group spirit and the chance to build the kind of powerful network that is so typical of the IE experience. 

ieCOMMunity News: How will students and graduates benefit from this new structure? 

Students will begin to feel the benefits of using technology for personal and professional development purposes from day one, getting to know unique and diverse people who nevertheless have similar concerns. The personalization, the immediate applicability of knowledge acquired during the program, and the networking contacts established between professors and students will be further strengthened by the “pieces” that make up these programs. 

Hence, students will see that technology is there to help us mankind to go further not only in terms of productivity, but also intellectually and in our social relations. 

ieCOMMunity News: What about your life outside IE? What do you do in your free time?

I read lot, more and more all the time. I think that after five years reading really thick and dense books during my doctoral studies – I completed my doctorate in 2010, I now find it so easy to read books that are not academic (they look like magazines to me). I like books (and documentaries) about history, religion, science fiction and sociology. I also practice a type of self-defense called Krav-Magá, I play the guitar sometimes, and I like to travel to different places with my wife, as often as possible. 

Twitter: @neweduca

Do you believe in God? Part III: Reasons to believe.

This is the third and last post of this series dedicated to “God(s)”. Nothing better than being in a Christian country during Easter holidays to see how strong this feeling of belief is naturally strong among us humans.

Last week, here in Spain, you could see movies on the TV repeating over and over the stories of Moses, Mary, Jesus and all biblical historic-mythological characters that sustain Jewish and Christian religions.

Because of that, I caught myself thinking about how we humans make so much effort to believe in those mythological mind structures. That was how I remembered one of the latest visits to my father in Galicia, in northwestern Spain. He loves geography and geology but spent the last years studying everything he can.

Well, it was during one of those visits that we started talking about Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914). Peirce was a chemist and philosopher, “founder” of pragmatism and semiotics, among other amazing philosophical thoughts (Check it out at Wikipedia).

Charles Sanders Peirce in 1859.

Charles Sanders Peirce in 1859.

According to Peirce, our thoughts mix together stages of belief and skepticism (doubt, questioning). The discomfort of doubt makes us naturally to search for the comfort of belief (his texts are truly works of art, read it for free in here: The Fixation of Belief).

Peirce identified 4 methods in which belief can replace doubt. Three methods were said to be rational methods, methods that depend merely on human reasoning: individual tenacity (trust in one’s established beliefs), authority coercion (an institutionalized kind of “believe or get out of here!”) and a priori (based on pre-existing concepts or fashionable thoughts of one’s era).

The forth method he named the method of experimentation, or the scientific method, where our pre-concepts have little or no influence over the object of belief. According to Peirce, we humans tend to prefer this method of fixing belief, because it allows the testing of hypotheses against demonstrable public observations.

Unfortunately, the scientific method is also developed through the constant and extensive use of the other three rational methods, making it less trustful than we would like it to be. Actually, in my father’s opinion, scientific abstractions, based on things that can’t be found in nature, can be considered as dangerous as religious thoughts if taken without the proper sense of critical reflection.

After all, the concepts behind the number zero, the infinite, the circle, the straight line, the average and all other scientific constants unseen in nature are nothing more than rationalized “scientific” beliefs.

Here is where we reach an interesting “conclusion” point in this mini 3-post debate: if you are the kind of person that believe in God(s) or the kind of person that believe in Science, in fact, you are not so far away from each other as it may appear :-).

Do you believe in God? Part II: The unexplained does not justify blind faith.

Like anybody that enjoys thinking, I like to talk about polemic things like religion, football or politics. Especially because when there is no right or wrong, I can exercise my brain with fellow humans. Unfortunately we can’t talk to dolphins, whales or chimpanzees yet, to get their opinion about it. I’m sure someday we will be able to do so.

Always when I talk about this God issue, some people tell me that I’m dumb because there are many unexplained things around us, and therefore God exists. Well, I definitely believe that there are many unexplained things around us, but what’s the connection between those things and God? I don’t see it. Let’s take just a simple example: the “recent” case of Ram Bahadur Bamjan (the “Buddha Boy”, from Nepal). Discovery Channel could not explain how he can keep alive after being completely immovable for days:

Another constant question: Is it possible that spirits or souls exist? Definitely. Actually, I think that when a person or an animal dies, part of their energies stays present around us and even talk to us or influence us. Can that be called soul? Yes, why not? Spiritism, Voodoo, Yoruba or Candomble are really amazing and powerful things and I do think that they are based on natural phenomena that can be perceived by many of us in different ways but still can’t be explained.

“I’ve got you!” many believers then tell me, “so, you believe in God!”. What the heck! Does that justify the existence of God? Of course not. If God(s) exist(s) just because we can’t explain something, then we are screwed: there is no reason then to look for new discoveries whatsoever. Penicillin? What for? Lets all gonna die at the age of 35 due to a group of stupid bacteria just to make our God(s) (and priests) happier!

Do you believe in God? Part I: Christian atheism.

I don’t, but I’m still a limited Christian atheist… Every time I say “I don’t believe in God” people get uncomfortable or astonished, “really?!?”. Some of them don’t say it but most of them look at me with this expression on their eyes and faces. Within my own family this became an issue some years ago, so I had to start saying that I believe in a special kind of God or an “Universal Energy” that only I understood. “Uff, that’s ok!!”, only then people see me as a “normal” human being.

“What if I’m wrong?” I prefer using Richard Dawkins’ South Park answer:

I use to say that I am a Christian atheist that doesn’t believe in God. How is that?!? Well, I found out I was a Christian when I lived in India, eleven years ago. India was a breakthrough in my life. I was raise in three types of schools in Rio de Janeiro: first a military school, then a Catholic and then a Jewish. Today, I realize how the three of them tried to make me believe in something.

The military school tried to make me believe that Brazil was a blessed land and we should die for it (we sang the national anthem every day). The Catholic school tried to make me afraid of God and convince me that only He could save my soul (we had to pray every time for forgiveness). The Jewish tried to make me believe that we should live with and protect “our” millenary community, understanding and respecting the traditions (there was symbolisms and get together for everything).

At the end, only in India I saw how deeply immersed in the Christian “way of living” I was. Hell, heaven, sin, forgiveness, an omnipresent God, engagement, marriage, family, saints, temples (churches) everywhere, Christian names, Christian places, etc… All these things are blended in our day-by-day tasks in the Western world (for practical purposes, let’s consider Australia and New Zealand Western worlds too). That is so deeply enrooted on us that we don’t even perceive it.

Indians respected that “limitation of mine”, living under a completely different set of values and beliefs: “Do you have only one God?!?”, some Indians would ask me, “that’s so sad!”. “Do you have only one life?!?”, again, “that’s so sad!”.

Wow! How could I prove to a regular Hindu Indian that we can’t have more than one life? That kharma and dharma don’t exist. Of course I couldn’t. Nobody can.

Indian Gods

Indian Gods

I have been reflecting on that ever since and few years ago I decided not to believe in any God, although I still consider myself a Christian cultured, locked in a Weberian Iron Cage, unfortunately limited and mentally constrained by its values and practices (like everybody else that believe in some sort superior being in this planet).

What about you?

I need a Theory of Social Relativity!

I have been looking for a nice and well-rounded theory of social relativity for years and couldn’t find anything yet. If anybody knows anything about it please, let me know. I came up with this name on purpose, inspired by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (check up on Wikipedia to refresh your memory). Just to make it clear, I am not talking about Relativism in here (check it out too). Neither about Old or New Institutionalism (if you have not heard of it, don’t worry, Institutionalists are becoming an institution by themselves).

Since Max Weber, I think social scientists pretty much understand already how conventions are naturally established by humans and other animals to gain effectiveness in our actions and use of our brains (we tend to sit in the same seat, follow the same way back home and these kind of things). Take a read on Berger & Luckman’s “The Social Construction of Reality (1966)” for a nice introduction to that subject.

I am talking about a theory that can gather Einstein’s suggestions and combine its consequences with every social aspect of our lives, a theory that can make us to rethink the role of any kind of “constant” social behavior and physical condition.

Let’s think about it: the Earth attracts us to it, just like the Sun attracts the Earth to it. You may not have thought about it but we also attract the Sun and the Earth to ourselves with a tiny force derived from our masses and therefore we also distort space and time by our individual existence just like the Sun or any other mass in rapid movement. I won’t enter into the question about where those gravitational forces come from because then we would get too philosophical (some people believe that gravity is the closest thing we know to God).

In any case, my weird correlation is: just like every mass interact with each other in the universe distorting each other’s physical reality in different degrees, we humans also distort each other’s perceptions on ourselves due to the relativity of all our conventions that are merely based on unreliable and imprecise social definitions and physical evidences that should not be perceived as truth ever (and I think we should have been told that when we were young).

The Persistence of Memory, 1931

The Persistence of Memory, 1931

Words gain meaning with time, individually to each one of us, changing according to the use we give to them and the experience we have with them over time. I can assure that the meaning of the word “love” for you is different from the meaning it has to me. Moreover, the meaning of the word “love” for you today is different from the meaning you will give to it in 5 years. And even the way the word sounds is affected by the wind and the air chemical composition (like humidity).

The values of gold or money are also just conventions that mean nothing more than some kind of physical representation of certain local social power; especially under this “social game” we have been playing called capitalism. The Incas had a completely different relationship with gold, for example. Besides, the weight of an ounce of gold also varies according to the position you are in the planet since we now know that the force of gravity is not constant around our not-so-rounded Earth.

How about the time? Besides the distortion caused by all other masses surrounding us, our planet and solar system, we now know that not every day lasts a day and not every year lasts a year, so our “sacred” seconds, minutes and hours are all mere simplistic representations of a time that is not so fixed as we wished. Consequence: don’t worry if you arrive a minute late to a meeting. Nobody knows the exact time anyway. :-)

Gosh! Everything seems to be so complex! And I am not saying that in the Parsonian sense of the expression :-) but in a social-physical angle that apparently nobody dared to merge yet. I don’t know why, but Dali’s “Persistence of Memory” came to my mind while I was writing this. Perhaps because I am living in Spain and I do think that the Mediterranean people have been facing these complexities with a pleasant sense of disdain that amuses me. Olé!

Who is afraid to die?

About two months ago I bought a motorcycle. Most of the people who found out about it told me I was unnecessarily putting my life at risk. Since then I had to hear a lot of stories about how their friends got hurt or lost their lives riding motorcycles. This is she:

Well, I have some news for you: we all are going to die, one day or another. We end up so alienated towards death because we naturally don’t want to die, so we just forget about it. We are not capable to get use to the fact that life and death are just two sides of the same coin. I faced death 3 times in my life and I can assure that if it is quick you won’t even notice.

Third time I faced death

Third time I faced death

Today we are here, your eyeballs read these characters in your screen, written by my fingers, and tomorrow maybe your eyeballs or my fingers will be rotting like any lifeless meat would do. Who cares? Some relatives, few friends… It doesn’t really matter actually. Only few things that you did will be left behind: a document, a table, some money, a child perhaps. Still, it doesn’t matter anyway because even the Earth is temporary.

So what is life for? Again, unfortunately, nobody knows. Maybe is to appreciate death? Or maybe just to play with her? I may be sounding too pessimistic, apocalyptical or just non-sense but in fact it is precisely this brevity of life that amuses me every single day. Not like paranoia, but like a strange luck that makes me feel “hungry and foolish” everyday (like the Steve Jobs’ famous “do-what-you-love-to-do” speech, below). After all, learn how to ride a big motorcycle over roads and mountains ahead of you is amazing.

Bus rides, from a Blackberry…

I’m in a bus, traveling from Galicia to Madrid, in Spain, a 6 hour road trip (about 500km). Now is 2 in the morning, and everything is great although I’m not very sleepy. Connected to the “world” via my smart phone, I’m taking the opportunity to test this WordPress application for Blackberry that I never used due to my constant lack of time.

The trip itself reminds me about the countless bus trips I took during my youth, including some unforgettable ones throughout Brazil, Morocco and India. When you remember those trips after so many years, it looks like they were much more pleasant than they actually were, a phenomenon certainly caused by this weird “aging” effect I’m suffering at the age of 35 (in the recent past, I still could list every single new year’s eve I had in my life, now they are starting to get all mixed in my mind).

Well, still, I have very good memories about those trips. I like bus trips, I can almost feel the tires touching the road, and this makes me feel more connected to our apparently vast planet Earth.

In Brazil, I remember a 500km bus trip I did from Corumba to Bonito, all within a single Brazilian State called “Mato Grosso do Sul” (and this was just like a third of the State!). That was “pure” nature… During the trip you could feel the Pantanal’s warm and humid air while seeing al sorts of animals around the empty bus.

In Morocco, I remember two increadible trips: one from Madrid to Marakesh (!), a 30 hour “non-stop” bus trip that would make anyone sick (curiously, the “border” between Spain and Morocco was inside the ferry boat our bus embarked). And another 10 hour bus trip to the Sahara desert directly followed by a 6h camel ride at night simply unforgettable, with one of the clearest sky I think anyone can see in the world.

In India, the experiences were not that “easy”. I couldn’t skip the city buses of Kolkata, were chickens, passengers and inconvenient stops for refuel inside the buses (with people smoking just steps away from the gasoline) would make anyone feel like being inside a surreal Spanish movie. More shocking indeed was a 30 hour trip from Kolkata to Siliguri (in Sikkim) in a bus with rows of 5 seats packed with people and luggage enough to make the place almost airless. I swear I felt I could die that day. In fact, me and some colleagues got really sick for 2 days after that trip.

This Spanish ride is so calm and comfortable that in 10 years from now I won’t probably remember this bus trip, but I will certainly remember the peaceful period I lived in this wonderful country.

Fool’s Gold

In my last day of vacations I took a moment to update the songs I am collecting in my Spotify account. If you have an account there too, take a look later at this never-ending but enjoyable work:

During this process, I found a Brazilian artist I liked a lot during my adolescence: Raul Seixas, an old pop icon in Brazil. For those of you who have heard of Paulo Coelho (the famous Brazilian writer), bear in mind that the they worked together creating some of the most amazing songs of that time. Just as a curiosity, I found a video of them during a trip to the US in the 70’s (that is interesting only if you’ve heard of Paulo Coelho before):

Well, the song I found more interesting to hear again and explore was this one, “Ouro de Tolo” (Fool’s Gold), one of the first musics composed by Raul Seixas, inspired by Bob Dylan, that talks about the “perfect job” promised by the Brazilian government under the dictatorship installed to assure the development of capitalism in the country during the cold war. I suggest you to listen to the song and read the lirics and its free Google translation. It is very interesting and made me think about this interesting moment of my life:

Eu devia estar contente porque eu tenho um emprego
I should be happy I have a job
Sou o dito cidadão respeitável
I’m the so called respectable citizen
E ganho quatro mil cruzeiros por mês
and I earn 4 thousand cruzeiros a month

E devia agradecer ao Senhor
And I should thank the Lord
Por ter tido sucesso na vida como artista
for having achieved success as an artist
Eu devia estar feliz porque
I should be happy because
Eu consegui comprar um corcel 73
I managed to buy a ’73 Ford

E devia estar alegre, satisfeito
And I should be happy, pleased
Por morar em Ipanema depois de ter passado fome
for living in Ipanema after having starved
Por dois anos, aqui, na cidade maravilhosa
for 2 years, here, in this marvelous city (Rio de Janeiro)

Eu devia estar sorrindo e orgulhoso
I should be smiling, proud
Por ter finalmente vencido na vida
for having finnaly succeeded
Mas eu acho isso uma grande piada
But I find it all a great joke
E um tanto quanto perigosa
a rather dangerous one

Eu devia estar contente por ter conseguido
I should be happy I got
Tudo o que eu quis, mas confesso
everything I always wanted, but I reckon
Abestalhado que eu estou decepcionado
stunned that I’m disappointed

Porque foi tão fácil conseguir
because it was so easy to get
E agora eu me pergunto, e daí?
And I ask; so what?
Eu tenho uma porção de coisas grandes pra conquistar
I have many great things to achieve
E eu não posso ficar aí parado
And I can’t stay stand

Eu devia estar feliz pelo Senhor ter me concedido
I should be happy the Lord gave me
Um domingo pra ir com a família no jardim zoológico
a Sunday to go to the zoo with my family
Dar pipoca aos macacos
give popcorn to the monkeys

Ah, mas que sujeito chato sou eu
oh, but what a bore guy I am
Que não acha nada engraçado
I can’t find fun
Macaco, praia, carro, jornal, tobogan
Monkeys, beaches, cars, newspapers, tobogan,
Eu acho tudo isso um saco
to me they just suck

É você olhar no espelho
You look at yourself on the mirror
Se sentir um grandessíssimo idiota
You feel like a great idiot
Saber que é humano, ridículo, limitado
Knowing you are human, limited
Que só usa dez por cento de sua cabeça animal
and you use just ten per cent of your animal head

E você ainda acredita que é um doutor
And you still believe you are a doctor
Padre ou policial que está contribuindo com sua parte
A priest or a policeman doing your part to contribute
Para o nosso belo quadro social
to our beatiful society

Eu é que não me sento no trono de um apartamento
I don’t sit on a couch in an apartment
Com a boca escancarada, cheia de dentes
with my mouth open, full of teeth,
Esperando a morte chegar
waiting for death to arrive

Porque longe das cercas embandeiradas
because far away form the decorated fences
Que separam os quintais
that separate yards
No cume calmo do meu olho que vê
at the calm peak of my seeing eye
Assenta a sombra sonora de um disco voador
there rests the shadow of a flying saucer.

Just for curiosity, I attach Raul’s own translation of “Ouro de Tolo”, in a version of the song in English:

And also the history of the song told – in Portuguese – by journalist Ana Maria Bahiana:

Why I joined the academy

I just gave an interview to the magazine of the business school where I did my Ph.D., FGV-SP Fundação Getulio Vargas de São Paulo. Since the interview will be published in Portuguese and only in São Paulo city, I think I could make it public in advance in English for people interested in some debate on entrepreneurship. Since it is a bit long, I will publish it in two parts: one today and another next week.

Reporter: Why did you decide to join the academy?
Newton Campos: Because I was dissatisfied with the loss of focus on the intellectual journey that I was having after the MBA. The MBA is an eminently practical training, but that indirectly makes you think too much in the development of capitalism worldwide. I started reading authors each day more interesting and more complex, but could not follow an investigative line that could kill my doubts, I felt I needed guidance to facilitate my intellectual evolution and realized that the academic career would be one of the few which would value this type of questioning. So I started the doctoral program in 2006.

Reporter: What was your research question? I wanted a brief summary of your dissertation.
Newton Campos: My research was directed to the social context that surrounds the entrepreneurs during the development of their businesses in Latin countries. As “social context” one may consider the entire network of contacts established or used for business success. I need to clarify that I do not consider entrepreneur those who own small businesses or companies, these are micro or small business owners to me, which eventually may even become entrepreneurs. The research tradition that I follow considers entrepreneur only that person or group of people who innovate during the process of building a project or an organization. Plus, this innovation has to be considered socially or financially successful, otherwise we neither would be talking about an entrepreneur yet. Moreover, much of the existing literature on entrepreneurship in 2006 also put the entrepreneur in a “developed” social context, usually the U.S. or Europe, where the “rules of the game” (market rules and institutional ones) are established in a specific manner, usually very different from the rules that exist in different parts of the world. It was from this observation that I got my research question: How does the social context influences the entrepreneurs at the beginning of their enterprise in a developing country? But the claim was only one stage in the search for this response. During the search, before I even started the dissertation I made a trip to pre-earthquake Haiti (in 2007) to see if it would be possible to observe innovative entrepreneurs in a social context as politically and socially unstable as in a country like Haiti, which was already at that time among the 10 world’s poorest countries. To my surprise I found many innovative entrepreneurs, some even known throughout the Caribbean. Amazingly, the market innovation was there, present in one of the most miserable places on earth. After that, in the thesis itself, I did a comparative study between two countries relatively similar from a cultural standpoint, but different in terms of social and institutional development: Brazil and Spain.

In the next part of interview I will talk about findings and theoretical contributions of my research.

Setting the destination: Iran

As promised, the first post my wife wrote about Iran back then, before the trip took place in August 2010.

Why Iran? That was the question I heard most recently. Two months ago, my husband and I decided to do a different trip. The chosen destination (by him): Iran. Friends and family always asking: “-Why Iran?”. As I also was not 100% convinced and kept asking the same thing, so I always let him answering. The arguments are: 1) he will give a lecture on Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets, and the only region that he did not know in first person was the Middle East, 2) We have a world map at home with a stick in the countries we already know and that region was very clean; 3) We wanted to visit an Islamic country; 4) We have a pact to make exotic trips and trips to “dangerous” countries before having babies; 5) We like to break paradigms and we were intrigued to know more about Iran, its atomic program and stoning, the only information that arrived about it in Brazil, and finally 6) With him, I go to anywhere in the world, even to Iran.

Once convinced to make that trip, I began to be immersed in its culture. I searched for information in various media: internet, magazines (“Carta Capital” had a very nice story and “Viagem e Turismo” too), TV (“não conta lá em casa” cable TV show), movies (“Persepolis” and “White Balloon”), books (“What I did not tell” by Azar Nafisi – one of the most famous writers from Iran, “O Irã sob o Chador” recently released in Portuguese, this book was written by two Brazilian journalists who traveled to Iran alone with our best travel companion, Lonely Planet), and also talked to some Iranian colleagues who live there and here in Brazil. I was impressed with the amount of interesting information that we found.

Being armed with so much information, I began to prepare psychologically for the trip. I found a country with a culture very different from ours, especially regarding the role of women in society. Some things made me really impressed at first. The woman cannot show the body, or wear clothes that show their silhouette. The typical outfit is the chador, a long black coat with a scarf on the head, also black. It should always cover their hair, arms and legs. Men and women cannot go hand in hand and they must never touch each other in public. A woman cannot look to a man in his eyes, otherwise he’ll think you’re insinuating. There’s a specific police, known for its violence, which is overseeing the women to ensure they are using the proper cloth and avoiding contact with the opposite sex. To sleep in the same hotel room, the couple must present a marriage certificate. And worst of all, in a dinner with an Iranian couple, the woman should not speak unless she is considered by an Iranian as a “half man” (whatever what that means!).

You should also be asking: “- So why Iran, are you crazy?”. Actually, after everything I’ve read I became really curious about it, and started to get excited. And to make this trip a little more exciting, the next day we bought the air ticket, we found out that it was going to be Ramadan, one month of fasting and intense prayer where Muslims (including non-Muslim tourists) cannot eat or drink anything from sunrise until the sunset. Seventh reason to go to Iran: loss weight!
We took some care in planning the trip to bring the marriage certificate in English, booking good hotels with internet, making contacts with Iranian friends, researching the costumes of the women at the time to pack and the most impotant, take an official shirt of the Brazilian football team. This is an ace in the hole we Brazilians always use in such trips. Never fails!

Finally it was time to embark, and we just had to hope that everything was going to be all right!

Six months

Six months. For six months I have been away from this space. Not because I didn’t want to write. So many things happened after all! I finished my PhD, then went to Iran on vacation with my wife (!), moved from Brazil to Spain – with all the consequences of such a move, started teaching, assumed a managerial role at IE, bought a PS3 :-), etc, etc… Incredible life I am having after being so immersed in the endless text of the dissertation in the previous years.

But I don’t want to spend time talking about me; I prefer talking about what I saw during these six months. And I will start getting back to the Iranian trip I did with my wife. I took the texts she wrote in her blog (in Portuguese) and translated them to English. Some 3 or 4 posts I think.

Then I will try to catch up with everything else I think deserve to be mentioned in public (I still don’t know why I do that).