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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Capitalist and socialist stupid debate

I just enjoyed holidays on Workers’ Day. It was great.

If we compare the capitalism practiced in most of the current developed economies of the World with capitalism practiced in the beginning of the 20th century we can clearly see the achievements of those unionized movements still in place today. People often had to work 12, 14 or even 16 hours per day just to get a miserable salary, while vacations practically didn’t exist. Capital was just as wild as current Chinese 21st century “pro-market-communists” (what a weird combination of words!) where people currently work 12, 14 or 16 hours per day without vacation (!).

If Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were standing in the same place where Chinese officials built a statue for them in Shanghai, I’m sure they would go crazy :-).

Statue of Marx and Engels downtown Shanghai

With the statue of Marx and Engels downtown Shanghai

I always thought it strange – almost humiliating, let’s say – to see the statue of a Prussian philosopher and a German-English philosopher in the middle of the “World’s Central State” (China in Chinese) telling them what to do with their destiny (“Couldn’t they figure out by themselves?!?” I wondered).

So now, instead of private-capitalists making slaves out of Chinese people, Chinese Communist Party public-capitalists do it better, and systematically (much more efficient this way). Looks like we are lead to believe that this is the price that Chinese people have to play before they can exercise opinions about their destiny (a kind of “slave first, voice later”).

More non-sense hypocrisy is seen when you visit (I did it) the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing and read the founding plaque at the Party:

Sign at the entrance of the Chinese Communist Party founding place.

Sign at the entrance of the Chinese Communist Party founding place: “The founding of the Communist Party of China is the inevitable outcome of the development of China’s modern history”.

You can almost taste a scary Vendetta kind of Chinese movement coming someday, don’t you think? I’m sure the first deep economic problem the Communist Party face, they will evoke this “history” to blame somebody from abroad.

But for me, much more non-sense than all of that Chinese bullshit together is the current debate about right and left-wing parties in Europe (France, Germany, Greece and Spain, for example) and in Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, etc).

Every time I see a stupid debate between #Sarkozy and #Hollande or between #Rajoy and #Rubalcabar I’m sure they are just playing roles to put people against each other for their own – or their Party’s own – joy or sake. After all, they will all have to play the capitalist game.

Some days ago I saw some flags of the old Soviet Union defending more socialist actions from European governments. I was thinking: “- Are you kidding me? Tell me, who the hell think that a hammer and a sickle still represent European workers these days?!?”

Flag of the Soviet Union

Flag of the Soviet Union

If these leftists Santa-Claus-believers think that socialism or capitalism are still something to debate about these days, at least they should update their flags with something that would make more sense to people in this continent. I even came up with a suggestion to these dinosaurs:

Newton's proposal for a new flag for vintage leftists

Newton's proposal of a new flag for nostalgic leftists

Should I still explain why I made myself a member of the Green Party?

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.

Who is normal?!?

I keep asking me that as years pass. If your behavior is conditioned to the behavior of others and people are raised in different manners around Brazil or around the world, who can you consider a normal person?!? I met a lot of people in life and many of those people I was absolutely sure they were not normal. Today, watching those moments in retrospective, I realize they might have thought the same thing about me. Strange, isn’t it?

Some weeks ago I was reading a Spanish classic called “Niebla”, written by Miguel de Unamuno about a hundred years ago. The book was recommended by a taxi driver during a quick trip to Madrid last year (to work). It was a Saturday, I wasn’t working during the weekend and therefore I was wearing shorts and did not shave myself. He quickly noticed: “You work in suit, with tie the whole week in an office, don’t you?”. “How do you know that?” I asked surprised. “Because during the years, I noticed that people wearing like you during the weekends are in fact “fighting back” the obligation of being well dressed the whole week.”. Well, after developing this kind of interesting conversation with the taxi driver, he recommended me to read “Niebla” to understand the way of thinking of the Spanish people.

Typical taxi in Madrid in 2009

The reading is really instigating but I don’t recommend for those of you under the 30’s. You have to be over 30 years old to feel identified with the protagonist, who is constantly asking himself these kind of questions: “Am I normal?!? Am I dreaming or awake?!? Is this world around me real or I’m just imagining it?!?”.

And it was during the philosophical trip of the protagonist Augusto Perez that I got lost inside my own mind and felt that I was on drugs just by reading. Amazing! After combining Mr. Perez’s thoughts with the sociological texts I was studying to my PhD dissertation, I just realized that nobody is normal, but some people pretend very well.

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BRICs x PIGS: many letters, few truths

As you must know, the BRICs and the PIGS involves nine countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. Coincidently, my life has been influenced a lot by some of these countries. Except by Russia and Ireland, I have been in all the others, and more than that, had been deeply exposed to some of them. I am Brazilian, I am Portuguese, I had lived in Spain and in India for quite a good time and had visited Greece, Italy and China before and after my MBA (which mean, before and after I understood what capitalism was about). I believe that a top MBA is one of the best ways to understand global capitalism today, but this comment has enough implications for another post.

Well, although it may look like the BRICs are slowly “dominating the world” economically and the PIGS are symbolic representing the collapse of the political dominance of the “developed” economies, I think these fashionable terms created by economic analysts and economic journalists in the comfort of their offices in New York or London do not represent what is going on for real in those countries. What happens is that people like believing in simplistic analyses and stereotypes. We mentally prefer to “solve” complex problems by limiting them to a small and simple definition in our heads.

However, the truth is that you find some of the poorest people in the world by visiting countries like Brazil, India, China and their neighbor countries. People that do not have access to clean water, to basic health treatments, to the minimum contact with formal education or justice. In Brazil, for example, I dare to say, perhaps exaggerating a bit, that justice does not exist. You can kill whoever you want with very little chance to be arrested. In 2009, the country broke all its records of violence in all levels, at least 25% of my closest relatives had been robed in 2009. Politicians do whatever they want and keep accumulating fortunes in Switzerland without any reaction of the people. We look anesthetized by decades or even centuries of political rape. The growth we observe today is conjectural, nothing has really changed. Today’s Brazil is a huge “bubble” that can explode right after the Olympic Games of 2016 if we make to get there.

China is a dictatorship where you are simply arrested and killed if anybody in the government does not like you. Of course people can live with that and enjoy economic growth but at the bottom of their souls they are not happy of living under that circumstances. I believe that after famine, one of the worst things someone can face in the world is the lack of freedom. Freedom to walk around, to explore your country, to read whatever you want and debate. In the west (Europe and North-America) we tend to take freedom for granted but unfortunately this is not what we see in a large portion of the BRICs.

In the other hand, in the “poor” countries of Italy or Greece, people have absolutely high standard of living in all areas. They may have to own one car instead of three, or wait two hours more in the hospitals to be attended, or even eating less in restaurants, but they still have enough social and economic “fat” to burn and use their education to find out a solution to their economic problems. In Spain – what a pity – there are 500 thousand homes empty due to the real state bubble. In Brazil or India, there are many millions of homes lacking. Maybe Spanish people could ship the homes they built in excess to Brazil, India and China. What do you think? Sometimes these “poverty” and endless crisis in the developed countries look to me as a global tale to make immigrants stop moving there.

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