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!

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From these places where time is money

Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote “time is money” summarize very well what I observe when exposed to places such as New York, Amsterdam or London. It was in those cities, among few others, that the monarchs, politicians and entrepreneurs of the last centuries “invented” capitalism. I am spending this weekend in London due to an MBA fair and a couple of meetings and again, as usual, I always get surprised to see how this quote is intrinsically present around these places.

Just a stupid example: do you remember when, during hotel check outs, you had to wait for somebody to verify what you consumed from the refrigerator in your room? Some hotels just ask you about it so they can avoid this “verification” cost. Well, in this Hilton I’m staying, they’re using an automatic refrigerator that counts the things you consume so nobody needs to verify any consumption or to ask you anything about it. The curious thing – for me – is that I always see something like this when I visit one of those places where “time is money”.

In most of the so called emerging markets and even in some developed markets this is not the case yet. Things are changing fast, but usually, still, time is definitely something else than money. Just ask a Brazilian during carnival or a Spaniard or an Italian during summer. I remember the case of an American entrepreneur who moved to Bahia – in the Brazilian Northeast – during the 1960’s. Since salaries were so low and everything was so cheap, he had the idea to build a factory over there and export something I don’t remember now. According to his memories, he started paying little money to the employees but they didn’t perform well and couldn’t keep coming to work for more than two weeks. So, he started a productivity bonus, paying bonus to employees in the case they reached some objectives. It didn’t work either. He raised the bonuses and dropped objectives but employees still didn’t show up or were not committed to the work. So he gave up bonuses and simply raised the salary of everybody. Still, after few weeks or months people would get tired of the work and would abandon the job. The conclusion was that people didn’t really need money to live relatively well in the coast of Bahia at that time. They preferred to have their time to sleep, play cards or whatever without money than struggling to get a salary, whatever it was. I think you see what I mean: time was not money at all in Bahia back then. The funny thing is that I read this story while staying in a ryokan – little hotel – in Japan. Do you know why I found this book there? Because this guy decided to leave Brazil and go to Japan to start his business. He ended up being a successful entrepreneur in Japan and I was reading his memories.

Devastation of Haiti

It’s strange to be apart from this blog for so long. This happened because I am having to dedicate an enormous among of time to my Ph.D. dissertation so I barely think of using a computer during any free time I get.

Port-au-Prince in 2007

My big deception with destiny regarding what is happening in Haiti is now emotionally controlled and I feel better to talk about that too. A week has passed since the big earthquake and I can’t even imagine what people there have been through. These kind of natural disasters seam so unfair to me and make me to remember the little importance of our species to the planet and to life ultimately.

I have been to Haiti a couple of years ago and was planning a return in the next weeks (I went to the office of Copa Airlines before Christmas to book a ticket for the 20th of January, tomorrow). My goal had been the search for innovative entrepreneurs acting in Haiti and studying the obstacles they have faced to be able to establish their entrepreneurial ventures there, contributing to the academic debate on entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Haiti was considered as having one of the worst scenarios for establishing any kind of human organization in the world, considered by many scholars as a real “laboratory” for social scientists.

I went there first to find out about the existence of innovative business ventures and then to see how entrepreneurs, despite of all the massive hurdles they face, were able to start really innovative organizations, some with potential to succeed in any current market of the world.

Hotel Montana in December 2007

Hotel Montana in December 2007

Being there was incredible for me, witness their reality was a sad thing even for a person who had lived or visited the poorest places of Rio de Janeiro, Caracas, Johannesburg and Kolkata. Port-au-Prince was different. It was different in many aspects, usually for worse. The lack of safety and very basic things like water, electricity, food or clean air to breath worried me. All foreigners that I met there in 2007 felt that the country was constantly at the border of a generalized collapse in all political and social structures, given that situation. Now we will never know what would be of Haiti without this earthquake but we can be sure that the life of almost 10 million people living in the country will get even more delicate than before, as if it was possible.

In my oppinion, the worst thing about all of that is that there is not leadership available in any country of the world today to refund the Republic of Haiti, neither there. Only bureaucrats and politicians are taking care of them now. I hope they can get through althought I am afraid Haiti is about the become in the next years a real “laboratory of hell” for social scientists.

Pictures show Port-au-Prince when I landed there in December 2007 and the beautiful Hotel Montana (one of the best of the city), now completely destroyed as seen at CNN.

Click on the following link to see this post in French

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