It’s your reflection what you are looking at

One of the things I enjoy most from my work when delivering a keynote or a workshop is the opportunity to learn from others.

You see, to some people those in front, speaking to the audience are there just to teach; but in reality, besides trying to share what knowledge we have to share, we are also there to learn, to take in new points of view, new ideas and even to remember or re-learn some stuff we thought forgotten.
And that is precisely what happened to me last Saturday during my participation in the Merkado 2009 conference in Acapulco; by the end of the presentation, during the Q&As a person in the audience, with his question, reminded me that everything we do in life leaves a trail of who we are, in other words, it’s a reflection of us.

This is what happened; there was this marketing student who asked me something you might have asked yourselves before: “What’s going on with so many light or fast content that I can seek and copy effortlessly? I don’t have to read or research information anymore to do my school work, I can download it easily, no need to read books, I just read other people’s reviews and I only write shallow stuff on twitter and other networks. What are you going to do avoid that this so called age of conversation that you just mentioned in your keynote, turns in to the age of Bob Sponge?”.

The first thing that came to mind and jumped out of my mouth was to explain to him how, back when I studied my BA in communication sciences, fifteen years ago, the question being asked was how to deal with all the violent and erotic content that was being distributed in mass media, specially on TV; and how the answer was as passive as the action it proposed: “Turn the TV off or change the channel”. Did it solve the problem? No. But at least it gave you an easy way out.

However, I said to the person who made the question, todays interactive media allows us to be a whole lot more active than traditional media like TV ever could.
Today, we do not have to accept a simple “push the off button” answer. Today we can make sure that not only we consume the content we believe to be good enough for us and being more selective about it, but we also can or should, actually, contribute to the creation of content that really adds value to us and to the rest of people too.

Today, digital media opens the door to a real conversation and an authentic interaction.

Today one does not need a big editor to be a published author; it is enough to take the initiative to start writing and sharing through platforms like Blogger or Wordpress. You do not need a TV network to produce and distribute your video content; it is enough to arm yourself with a simple camcorder and a user channel in YouTube to share what you do with millions of people. And of course, today, you don’t need to have a radio station, you can simply use platforms like Audacity or Shoutcast to transmit live or create your own podcast too.

But above all, today we don’t have to consume the content that only a few decide to distribute or impose on the rest. Today we can choose what we want to see, when and where we want to do it too.

Therefore today it is no longer valid to say “What is somebody else going to to?” because today, more than ever before, the responsibility and ability to choose, to collaborate and to contribute is on our hands.

So next time you are tempted to think that the only content you have available today is Bob Sponge, remember that what you see is just a reflection of what you yourself have created.


Why do we do the things we do?

What moves us? Do we work for money, for safety or because it is what we are supposed to do? Why do we help someone? Is it because we expect something in return or because we owe them?

Is there still people who do things just for the pleasure of doing them or to have a purpose in life, or because they believe passionately in an ideal or simply for the pleasure of helping someone?

This weekend I proved they still exist!

Imagine this…

First an old lady who’s smiling face doesn’t hide her more than 70 years of age, tending a hotel souvenirs store (one of those stores that sell everything at a way higher price that anywhere else). She turns to say hi to a young woman who is searching for a simple bag to transport a couple of bottles that she and her husband just received as a gift. The store sells a few artisanal bags that will do the job. There are no other clients in the stores, it is empty. And yet, instead of jumping like a tiger that haunts his pray, the old woman reaches into her desk and pulls out a couple of paper bags (the kind she uses to pack the stuff she sells) and not only does she gladly gives these to the woman, she carefully wraps the bottles in paper as if she had sold them. Always with a smile that only someone with a clean conscience can smile.

Now imagine a waitress in a restaurant at 1:30 am who, when asked, does not reply a simple “we are out” but instead goes to get her own hand bag and out of it she pulls a bottle of anti-bacterial gel of hers that she gladly shares with her patrons.

Imagine now a group of college students who, with no extra grades and no economic compensation, enroll to help with the logistics of a local conference, donating their time and work as if they were actually getting paid.

And finally imagine a group of Young professionals who have a dream, not of getting rich fast and becoming famous, but a dream to help their city business grow. And armed only with that dream, they set out to create a marketing and advertising conference in a city that for years has had no interest in such a thing. And yet they do not do it because there is a business opportunity for the lack of competitors, or because they will fill up their buckets with money, actually they know they won’t. They do it because they know it is what needs to be done to promote their community and market.

None of these four cases earned more money with what they did. None will have, immediately at least, new clients or more revenue for doing what they did. But they all have the certainty of having done what was right, of having followed their own voice; and they have the satisfaction of doing and giving more, because they know that is the secret to becoming remarkable.

What a great example you’ve given me. Thanks Oaxaca. Thanks Fusionados 2009. Thanks for the free lessons. Thanks.


5 great lessons from an even greater person.

“We make a living with what we get, but we make a life by what we give”, used to say Sir Winston Churchill.

And last week we met a person who has no doubt make a great life with his deeds!

Vinton Cerf, known as one of the co-inventors of the Internet, its architecture and the TCP/IP protocols (which, for those of you who’ve never heard of these before, are the reason why you are on-line right now, reading this blog), was in Mexico City last week, sharing his points of view, opinions and knowledge of course, with government officials, private organizations, media and students.

And although it would be really interesting to share here, a summary of his comments regarding the nurturing of the Internet ecosystem in Mexico, the world and space (Yes, this gentleman already worked on the Internet Interplanetary system), I rather leave that to other media that does a great job explaining that and focus on 5 great life (and personal branding) lessons Vinton Cerf shared with us during his stay:

1. Despise all your achievements never forget to be humble and simple.
If I had to choose one trait to learn from this man, it would be his humbleness and simplicity.
This is a person who made history more than 40 years ago. Engineers and IT professionals all over the world study him in college and our kids will study him as part of the world history along with people like Alva Edison or Graham Bell; and yet he conducts himself with the simplicity and grace of a teacher trying to help his students learn.

2. Be aware of your context and keep yourself open to the opportunities life brings us every day.
How many chances of doing something great have we missed by undermining or underestimating our job? Vint shared with us: “ I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time…and ended up being a programmer at the UCLA “Network Measurement Center”, which in time took him to create the TCP/IP protocol.

3. Learn to take risks, even when you think you can’t.
Let’s be frank, How many times have not done something because we convinced ourselves that it can’t be done? Vint told us how he learned that “taking the risky option was always the most interesting option.”

4. Surround yourself of people who will challenge you to be better.
Don’t ever stay satisfied with a simple “I cannot do it…” because you already tried it once. Surround yourself of people who will push you to try it one more time!

5. Always be grateful and appreciate the opportunity to serve.
This was, after his humbleness, the most important lesson to me.
Let’s just stop complaining about how our work is not entirely what we expected or about how it is boring or about our clients who don’t understand our work.
The reality is that we all should be, like Vint said: “Grateful of being of service and appreciate the opportunity given to us to do so”.

I would love to summarize each experience Vint Cerf shared with us a few days ago, but that would not be enough, so instead why don’t you watch this conversation with Vinton Cerf, a great person grateful of being of service to human kind.


Give yourself a chance

How many things we miss doing every day because of fear, because of apathy, because of prejudice and who know what else?

How many people have we judged wrong and how many friendships we gave away? How many opportunities have we let pass for fear of trying? How many yes have we missed because we fear a no? How many unanswered questions we want?

Each day that comes brings a new opportunity to connect, to learn, to grow, to help, and yet each day that passes we let opportunity go.

Thinking about all of this I could not help but remember the movie The bucket list. Remember it? The movie in which an old and sick Jack Nicholson accidentally meets an old and even sicker Morgan Freeman who in no time becomes his most endearing friend and together they write a list of things they want to get done before their sicknesses gets the better of them: travel to Tibet, visit the TajMahal and kiss the most beautiful girl they’ve ever seen.

My question though is, why do we have to wait until a grave situation comes along to decide to do what we’ve wanted to do for so long?

And maybe here someone will say to me: “well Efraín, seeing death so up close changes the way you see life”.

And I say: I doubt it. What’s more I’m sure that not everybody, not always anyway, is changed by such experiences.

A couple of years ago I wrote an old post in this blog where I explained how I am convinced that such thing almost never happens. A person changes his/her attitude towards life only when they are convinced of doing so, if not they simply don’t. I know.

I myself have experienced similar circumstances, both personally and with people I love, and those things didn’t seem to help make any changes.

So what made me change my attitude? Decision, conviction and a clear vision of how I wanted to live my life.

So now, maybe someone will say to me: “Well, the circumstances each person lives in can always limit us in doing what we want to do, but maybe when I change jobs or move to another city or maybe when I retire…”.

And so I think, do you really want to wait 1, 2, 20, 40 years to start living the life you want?

In his book “The 4-hour work week”, Tim Ferris, talks about how he under took the initiative of blending to important concepts – life balance and professional success – into one “Life Style Design”, with the basic premise that it is not necessary to wait for a special event to change our life or wait decades until we can have the time to do the things we like. And so he shares with us a series of recommendations, steps and resources we can use to actually start living our lives the way we want to today and not when we retire.

What’s more, in their recently launched book “Trust Agents”, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, take Tim’s idea and explain how technology today allows us to, as they call it in their book, create our own game.

Both books are a really great must read, and even though both titles have been quite inspiring for me, I do not pretend to do such a good job convincing you to do such a radical change in one day as they do.

That said, I do want to present you with an idea that just may be as important as the two prior ones, yet might be easier to start: Give yourself a chance.

Give yourself a chance to think, to ask, to give, to teach, to learn, to share, to seek. Award yourself the possibility to do something else, to travel, to accept help and to give help, to meet people and not judge them. Each and every day give yourself a chance to live your life a little more like you want to live it.

As Robin Sharma says, the longest of trips begins with the first step, and every big victory is formed of smaller daily achievements we conquer step by step, day by day.

So, what chance will you give yourself today?


Executive Directors

The account executives of today will be the directors of tomorrow…only in a market and in a moment like the one we are living in, this is happening a little too literal.

The sudden change in the economy, the new skills required by technological advancement, the high employees rotation in the work force, the new opportunities and the lack of these too, are some of the factors that have caused that a lot of people who still need to accumulate experience, knowledge, practices and maturity are the ones occupying some positions that up until a few years ago where occupied by professional with a great background in their professional careers. And both organizations and individuals need to be accounted for this.

On one side, organizations, looking for ways to cut down costs have been capable even of assigning the responsibilities that used to belong to a professional with a lot of experience, seniority, and of course, a big salary, to young professionals who are just starting their careers. And on the other hand, these youngsters, who grew up in the era of “instantaneous” that their careers to be exactly that: “instantaneous”. They know that, because of the resources and tools they have at hand they can manage to take on a new position, even if it is just to have a new title.

Without realizing it, the companies that accept and promote this practice and suddenly wake up one day to an enterprise run fully by executive directors…I mean account executives who due to the circumstances became directors. And yes, the situation, almost automatically becomes a time bomb for both the company and the employee. Clients start to complain and instead of growing their business they threaten to take it away. Vendors stop providing their services for lack of payment; and stock holders start to question why there has not been any significant revenue in the quarter. The situation turns into crisis and the only escape valve is the let the new executive director leave.

So now we have a burned out, exhausted and unemployed ex executive director who has to look for a new job, maybe in his original position and hopeful that he’ll get promoted again really soon.

So next time you find yourself in a similar situation take a breather, don’t run just to run.

Analyze the situation; ask yourself if you really are prepared to assume the new position.

I am not saying that you should let opportunity pass, but rather that you need to be more aware of the decision you are about to make.

Give an honest answer to yourself: do you already know what you need to know? Have enough experience? Are you emotionally ready for the challenges that will come with the new job?

Be aware of the impact it will have in every aspect of your life and make sure you are willing to make the sacrifices that it will require of you.

Have a very clear vision of the skills you are already bringing to the table and humbly run an inventory on the new ones you will need to develop and master and how long will it take you to do so.

Don’t just take a new job because of the title in your business card or because you want more money.

Take it because you really are convinced that you can add more value through it.


To which group do you belong?

We see them every day, no matter the company, the hierarchy, the income or the kind of work they do.

And at the same time we see these other people too, just as often as the others, and with these, the company, the job, title or income does not matter either.

They interact with each other every single day, they work together, share office space, have lunch together and some even went to school together, and although some of them come also from very contrasting backgrounds they spend more time with each other than with their own families.

The ones from the first group become best friends with members from their group and from the other one as well. Those from the second one, doesn’t even become friends with their own group members.

At first glance they all are the same professionals we see every day at work, but we need only to pay a little more attention to realize one thing that distinguishes them from one another: some smile others don’t.

The folks in the first group, even though they are still in their daily crusades and know that they still have a lot of ground to cover, are content with their achievements and happy with their job. The do what they like and like what they do.
The ones in the second group are never happy, are over stressed and are never ever satisfied with what they’ve done at work, thus they are in a frantic search for growth within their organizations.

And no! What makes a person belong to one group or the other is not their title or their compensation plan.
I personally know some apparently “very successful” executives who occupy the top C-level positions in their organization and who are often complaining about the predicaments they are in, worrying about stock prices, quarterly quotas or about what their bosses or boards will think of them; I also know other executives who are as high in the organization as the prior ones (if not higher) who enjoy their work every single day as if it was their first (or last) day on the job.
And I also know people who have a much simpler position and who complain every day about their company not valuing them; and yet I know other folks who are grateful for what they do every day, because they know it’s all part of their plan.

So no, title and comp plan does not have anything to do with to which group we belong to.
What’s more in some cases people will often jump from one group to the other without realizing it.

So, what exactly defines to which group we belong to?

From my personal point of view, people who belong to the second group, the always insatisfied and angry one, do not have a clearly drawn career plan and have no idea as to where they are going, or even worse they do have a very specific career plan which they follow to the letter.
In this group, people start their careers maybe as an assistant then get promoted to coordinator, then to supervisor, manager, and with time, a little luck and an unconditional commitment to their career plan they become the great, very important executives they are today.

Now, in the first group, the one where folks are happy and content, people also start their career as an assistant, get promoted to coordinator, then to supervisor, manager, and also with time, a litter luck too and an unconditional commitment too, the also become the very important executives they are today. Only the people in this group are not just committed to their career plan, rather they understand that this is just another building block of a much bigger plan: their life plan.

These people do not complain because things are not going just as they would like and when facing the same challenges and bumps we all face, they always keep in mind one thing: this is just another step we need to take to get to where we want to go.These folks don’t get to the highest hierarchy in the organization thinking they are better than all the rest or not knowing what to do once they are there; they do not stay there just staring at their success to then fall. They get to where they want to get, no matter whether that is the biggest corner office in the building, owning their dance school, being part of a symphonic orchestra or opening a bar on the beach; because they know that getting there is part of their plan. Not their career plan but the plan of how they want to lead their life.

So now only one question remains: To which group do you want to belong?


7 Simple steps to take your team from "having to" to "wanting to" work with you.

Being the head of an organization or a team can turn out to be a very lonely position and the higher the title the bigger the isolation at times.

Nevertheless, whenever I think about this, I convince myself even more, that this situation is provoked by the holder of the title himself and that, for this very reason, one can completely transform the situation, as long as we are authentically willing to do some adjustments on the way we conduct ourselves every day, so we can stop being managers to become leaders:
  1. Understand that we do not work to be on our boss's good grace and that in the same way, our team does not work to please us. We all work for the same organization and, before seeking to do what will be popular with our boss and colleagues, we must seek to do what we know is right for the company we work for, for the industry we are in and for the society we live in.
  2. Stop imposing our point of view on others by force of our title's formal authority, and start respecting and valuing the perspectives of all the people we work with; and stop undermining those who don't share our vision, in any case, we should ask ourselves if we are doing a good enough job sharing our vision or even if it is the right one.
  3. Loose our arrogance and our poses and start treating every body with respect and humbleness. Being the head of a team does not makes you better than the rest. It also doesn't mean that you know more than the rest or that they are below you. On the contrary, a true leader knows it is him who needs to surround himself with talented and experienced people who, together can help the organization achieve the goals it has set.
  4. Stop controlling the flow of information according to your own interests and start respecting and honoring the organization's vision and commitments to each of it's members, even if you weren't there when these were made.
  5. Quit imposing your way of doing things, break down your paradigms and make room for the proposals from your team. Learning to recognize the strengths of each member and understand how you can best leverage them in favor of the team and the organization is a skill every leader must develop.
  6. Stop invading people's personal space and time with messages, calls and meetings during weekends, vacations, sick leaves or personal days. Very few things scream "I don't care what you are doing" like an email on a Sunday night asking for something or scheduling a meeting at 8 am on Monday.
  7. Stop managing your staff from the bubble in your office and start getting truly involved with your team. You don't need to do their job for them, but you need to know what you can do to help them do it better.

Put these simple adjustments into practice and you will see how people stop working with you because your are the boss they have, to start collaborating with you because you are the leader the chose to follow and support.


The good, the not so good about the 2009 Mexico Effie Awards and what I expect for 2010.

Last week I had the chance to go to the 2009 Mexico Effie Awards celebrated by the Mexican Association of Advertising Agencies, which for the last 10 years has rewarded the best , but specially most effective advertising campaigns in our country.

This year the jury was presided by Carlos Fernández, President and General Manager of Grupo Modelo, and was formed by 150 marketing, advertising and communication professionals who, based on their ample experience selected the winners of the awards.

And this is precisely the first item on what I thing was really good in the event:
  • First of all such great attendance. It was great to see all the main players in the advertising industry in Mexico, creative directors, brand managers, client service VPs and CMOs, etc. all gathered around in one place at the same time to learn what the best campaigns were in the last year.
  • Of course the opportunity to meet with so many old and new friends, and to know that they were all there because their campaigns had been nominated.

  • The announcement of the upcoming publication of a commemorative book containing all the gold winners campaigns in the last 10 years.

  • See how the production of the event gets better every year.

What was not so good (and with this I don’t mean to say that it was wrong either) were just two things:

  • The competition spirit seemed to have over thrown the spirit of collaboration and integration of just one industry. To be perfectly honest, it was kind of weird to see how all the audience formed themselves into small groups by agency, and it was plain sad to see how they only applauded to the nomination or award to a campaign of their own, but never to some else's. Weren’t we all supposed to be there to celebrate the best of the industry even if the best did not necessarily come from us?

  • Out of 31 awards, only two campaigns showed a clear strong component of interactive marketing, and only one of these won a silver Effie. Which sadly speaks to the still existing lack of adoption within the industry of this discipline, not as an emergent one or a as trend, but as a clear, unstoppable evolution on the way we generate communication.

What I expect from next year?

  • Quite frankly, I would hate to see a special award for digital campaigns. This would be a huge mistake we’ve already done in the past. I'd much rather love to see a testimony of the real integration of marketing communication campaigns, not only with the use of traditional on-line display ads or search or social media; but with the integration of off-line metrics tied to web analytics tools.
  • And definitely a more integrated industry with less interest in winning and a lot more interest in contributing.
What do you expecto for next year?


Dare to be.

But what if it doesn’t work? And if I run out of money? What will others think of me? Am I too old / too young for this? What if this is not the right place or I am not well prepared?

All these questions plus some fears, critics, past experiences and stories from other people came to my mind as an old friend sat in front of me sharing his frustrations and worries about where is career is taking him.

And while I tried to think of ways to help him, I could not help but think about the way we always focus our attention on the reason why we should not take that important step for our lives.
It doesn’t matter if it’s over our professional life, the beginning of a new relationship, a change of residence or a health project; we typically center our focus on why we should not make that move, and no surprisingly, we never get to where we want to get.

Even during times when we have everything ready and all odds prove to be on our side, in the weirdest way we let that absurd question “What if I’m wrong?” convince us that it is not the right moment to seek our professional independence, form a family, take that long awaited trip or taken on that hobby.

Reasons not to try something are always present. Staying on our safe side of the ocean will always be uncomfortably comfortable and that old saying that goes “Don’t fix it if it’s not broken” will remain a great excuse not to dare to grow.

But what if we do make a mistake? What if circumstances are not ideal? Truth is they never will. The ideal time to change jobs, to open our own business, to move to a new city, etc. can only be provided by us.
The only people capable of creating the best circumstances possible to take that step, is us.

So hurry up and make a mistake

You are afraid of not being ready? Prepare yourself.

Be clear on what you want from life, keep a clear vision of where you want to get, draw your path and imagine every step of the way, think of each step you must take and the challenges you might have to prevent.

If it’s a career change what you seek, study and develop the set of abilities and knowledge you need; if it’s your professional independence you are talking about, generate and save enough financial resources to do so. If it’s a new sport get in good shape, or if it’s a about a trip, learn the basics of your destination.

Prepare yourself and be flexible, understand that there will always be challenges to overcome.
Ask yourself, what is the worst that could happen if I make a mistake? I`m sure you`ll see that the answer is not as bad as you think.

Prepare yourself, be flexible and dare!

Because the worst mistake we can ever make is not doing anything and not daring to be.


Walking the talk

I am convinced and I’ve said so for the last three years. The key factor in participating in social media, in fact the only true way to really leverage the full power of social networks is through COLLABORATION.

If you do not bring anything to the table, if you do not add value to others, you will never really know the true benefit of joining the conversation.

You might be a great strategist and may take advantage of a few opportunities, you may even get a job or get invited to an event or even establish good relationships with interesting people that might turn valuable to you, but if you are just trying to take from your network instead of adding value to others, you are just not participating of the conversation.

Collaborating and being part of the conversation it’s something that if truly done with a real interest of adding value, transcends the on-line space of Social Media to be transform into real benefits in the off-line space: education, knowledge, fun, friendship, success and more.

That is exactly what we were able to see last week at the IAB Conecta 09 Conference in Mexico City, where we able to share, collaborate and learn from great personalities who brought their knowledge and experience to this event that for the fourth year in a row surpassed its success in previous years.

Plus we had the presence of other personalities like Joe Krump, Randall Rothenberg, Carlitos Páez, Joseph Jaffe, Mitch Joel and Chris Brogan, who really walked their talk and shared their knowledge and insights with over 700 people who were there with a common goal: learn, share and join the conversation.

There may be a sarcastic critic like the one who approached me during the conference to say “they are here because they are getting paid to speak”. The reality is, yes they do. To some of them public speaking is their main source of income; but the value that you get from sharing time with such talented folks from whom to absorb so much knowledge certainly is worth a whole lot more than what we can pay them.

I think Chris Brogan said it best when he mentioned: “Sharing your knowledge, your experience and your ideas, freely and without waiting to get something in exchange, allow our ideas to grow, they expand and transcends to a whole new plane you didn’t even thought possible; and it gets there because you shared”.

Now, sit in your favorite chair, relax and watch the great conversation I had with Chris last week. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Some great advice

Last week we got very good news from a close friend, he is about to embark on a new professional adventure. He decided to accept an offer to join one of the most important organizations in the country occupying a very important position there.

A very well deserved position might I add; in fact I don’t think there could be a better candidate for it.

We spent some time talking about his new challenges and great opportunities ahead, we share some advice and recommendations, and after such good conversation I kept thinking about the kind of advices I would have liked to get too… So I decided to share a brief list in here:

1- Know your team mates as if they were your family, there will be days where you’ll spend more time with them than with your actual one.

2- Strive to comprehend what really moves and motivates each member of your staff. Understand that not everyone gets excited over the same things and specially that not everybody works just for money. Give meaning to their work.

3- Spend time with them; don’t stay all day inside your office. Work hand in hand with your team but don’t do their work for them.

4- Show how much you really respect your team by empowering them, sharing responsibility and letting them make their own decisions and act accordingly.

5- Celebrate their mistakes. Make sure they are not afraid of making mistakes, this way they will always be trying to do more.

6- Make the right decisions for the right reasons. Always try to do what’s right for the organization and for your team, don’t just do what you think will be the popular thing with your bosses and peers.

7- Never impose your position, rather create a vision that is aligned with the interests and mission of the organization that everyone can follow passionately.

8- Never feel that you are above your team. They are not your employees; in any case it is you who works for them.

9- Understand that you don’t need to be always right or know more than the rest. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses do the same with your team mates and let everybody bring their abilities to the table to strengthen the team.

10- Do not abuse your title. The name in your presentation card does not make you more important or better than the rest. It just means that you have more responsibilities and that you depend more on others.

11- Remember LEADERSHIP means:











No doubt all are good advice, but actually one of the best advices I’ve heard lately is one that precisely my friend shared with me: “No matter what you do, always remember you have a board of directors to report to: your family.

Picture credit: Frank-Chimero


Your success, your obstacle.

It happens and it happens often. I’ve seen it in friends and colleagues and on the mirror as well.

We work day in and day out on perfecting our trait, we pour our soul into our work and become specialists, experts and in some cases, even some sort of authority or point of reference.

Good for us! But then what?

Of course there is nothing wrong with being successful or being the best at what we do, on the contrary, we should always aim to excel at it. However we often forget to excel at something else: controlling how arrogant we may become after a certain amount of success. And that is just plain wrong.

Granted, it is sweet to be successful. It’s great to have our efforts recognized. And to listen to the sugar coated compliments from other people feeds our ego.

But I insist, what then?

Once we reached our mountain top we need to recognize that we have two options: rejoice in our success, loose focus and fall down or savor it for just a few moments and fix a new horizon and start walking towards it.

And to do this, it is essential that we understand that success has different forms and it is not just in the form of power, material belongings, money or titles; and that, what it’s important to us, might not be so much for others.

We must be humble and make time to learn and identify our greatest strengths and weaknesses.

We need to recognize that our greatest strengths exacerbate our biggest weaknesses.

Nobody is perfect. The fact that you are a great creative does not mean you are a great strategist. If you are great at production you might not necessarily be great at creativity. If you are a Math guru you actually might not be good at explaining it; and if you are an excellent manager it does not mean you are great leader.

Don’t let your greatest strengths turn you blind in front of what you need to improve. Recognize what your weakness is and reinforce it by surrounding yourself and partnering with people who are as good at what you lack as you with your ability.

Admit you are not everything, that you need help from others and that you need to collaborate with them. Open yourself to the possibility of participating with others and let them share their experience with you. You don’t always have to try and prove you are better than the rest.

Picture credit: Redjotter


Chose your beans.

Author’s note: there is an old saying in Spanish that goes “En todos lados se cuecen habas” which in English means “You can boil beans anywhere” and it’s equivalent to sayings like “We all have our skeletons in the closet”.

“The neighbor’s grass is always greener” is a very common phrase that we hear and say very frequently.

We see how other people live their life, their family, their job, their title, their salary, their schedule, their boss, their benefits and how well they get along doing whatever it is they do and think to ourselves (sometimes out loud too) “How I wish I’d have that too”, and completely forget how well we are doing ourselves until somebody else lets us know how “our grass is greener than theirs”; and so the story goes over and over again.

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, who you work for or where you live, it’s all the same.

If you work for a global organization you see the corporate bureaucracy while others see the benefits you get; if you work for a small company you focus on the limited resources while others do so on how you are practically part of the directors board; or if you run your own business you think of how hard it is to bring in revenue, while others celebrate your independence.

The reality is that, as the old saying goes: “You can boil beans anywhere”. It does not matter where you work, with who you do or how successful you are, there will always be a small detail, a person, a process or whatever, that will make you want to look at your neighbor’s grass.

So, what exactly does the people we so admire do? You know, those people who seem to have it all and are always smiling and never complaining. Are their lives as perfect as they seem?

A few months ago I read a phrase from Robin Sharma (Whom I’ve frequently cited here) that said that a trait in all great athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, employees, etc. is that “They make hard look really easy”.

And they do so because they work hard at it every day, and because they understand that there will always be some things they will have to do even though they don’t like doing. Yet they do so, because they know that is part of what will allow them to get to where they want to go.They understand that although they would rather avoid them, these are stepping stones to keep moving forward towards their goal. They don’t complain, they “chose their beans” and keep working hard.

The secret is not to search for the perfect life. The path with no rocks does not exist and the only people with no problems at all, are not here anymore.

We all can see our grass green, but we have to acknowledge that there will also be moments that although we’ll want to avoid, they are precisely those “boiling beans” we all have to deal with.

And who knows…they might even turn out to be like Jack’s magic beans!


Alignment and balancing.

For cars, the alignment and balancing maintenance is necessary when the car starts to pull down towards one direction, when at a certain speed it starts vibrating or when you notice an uneven wear out of the wheels.

I think something similar happens to people. You know its time to take corrective actions in your life when you feel your path is going on a different direction than where you want to go; or when, because of the speed at which you are living, you stop vibrating or when your body and mind start to wear you down.

I’m sure all of us, at some point in our lives, maybe even repeatedly, have felt at least one of these three symptoms. What I am not sure though is how fast are we to correct or better yet prevent these problems.

We are always so busy managing our overloaded calendar, trying to be in everybody’s good grace, looking forward to our next promotion, our next salary increase, the annual bonus, the closing of a deal, achieving the quarterly quota, getting public recognition as a great professional; or even in our personal lives, trying to be father of the year, the world’s greatest partner, the splendid host, the great advisor and most reached out friend, etc.

So much in fact, that we completely forget about making time for ourselves, and so our body screams out loud! We become aware of our wear out and we get sick: back spasms, colds for no apparent reason, gastritis and lack of sleep. The projects that once filled us with pride and excitement suddenly feel like a prison and we stop vibrating. We realize that at some point down the road, we took a downturn.

And then we face the awkward and uncomfortable moment of “choosing”. That is, we come up to the point where we have to stop and reconsider the direction our life has taken. We have to evaluate whether we are on the right track and at the pace that feels right or if we are just following the noise that leads masses into indecision.

So its time to have our alignment and balancing and ask us:

  • Is what I am doing today aligned with the principles and interests I value the most?
  • Which of all the things I do, really makes me vibrate?
  • Am I clear about where I want to go and how I want to live my life? And not in a few years, but now.
  • Will the path I am currently in, even if it’s another stepping stone; will take me in the right direction?

It’s time to turn the wheels around, realign our direction and balance our life.

Picture credit: MILINTOC


Interview with Joseph Jaffe part 1

Well, a promise is a promise, so here it is, the interview I did last week to Joseph Jaffe last week.

Truth be told, the ilumination in the video is not the best, but the content of it, the conversation we had, is really worth it!

And I promise to improve the videos for the next interviews I'll be doing in the up coming weeks.

By the way, I want to thank everybody who participated by sending me the questions they would like to ask Joseph, specially Hebert Hernandez who helped me record the interview.

Now, enjoy the interview! And remember, you can watch the rest of the it in my YouTube Channel.

And don't forgtet to follow Joe in Twitter, visit his YouTube channel JaffeJuice TV or read his blog.



What are you feeding yourself with?

Twitts, status updates in FaceBook, MySpace or Orkut, videos posted in YouTube and comments around those; among others, key factors that have changed the way we consume the information around us.

It has never been so easy to connect with so many sources of information at the same time and find out even that a “friend” is doing in Paris.

Incredible! Genious! Or not?

It’s just that at the same time we have turned into professional vouyerists capable of absorbing everything our “followers” and “friends” are doing, we’ve allowed all that disinformation to occupy the important space that we previously allocated to learning.
I know dozens of people, including myself, who have been substituting books and blogs with microblogging and status updates, saturating ourselves with not always useful information.

With this of course, I do not mean that we should give up on Twitter or FaceBook and whatever social network you are in to. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am and avid user of these platforms and I don’t intend to stop.

That said, what my intention is though, is start to nurture my mind with useful information once again. Spend less time reading empty twits and dedicate more time to those persons who really bring something to the conversation. I mean, unless we have a previous, personal or professional relationship, the possibilities of me caring about you “having a giant hot dog” are pretty thin, none really. However if you have an experience, a lesson, an advice, an opinion or any type of information that offers real value, it won’t matter if I haven’t met you in all my life, I will surely be interested in what you have to say.

But this “information diet” is not only about limiting the time I spend participating in social networks; rather it is about increasing my consumption of blogs, forums and books (e-books too).

It’s about getting back to my old practice of filtering the information I let into my mind; it's about being selective and looking for ways to learn and grow.

A couple of years ago I decided I would not watch anymore news shows on TV nor would I listen to any on the radio or read any papers; that helped improve my mood and even helped me sleep better at night. Back then I chose to get my information from other sources like books, blogs and podcasts from real thought leaders, people who really want to collaborate with others. And so I started working on my blog roll and RSS Feeds from great personalities like Robin Sharma, Seth Godin, Joseph Jaffe or Mitch Joel.

Today I realized I’ve abandoned my blog roll for too long and it is time to start visiting it again!

Picture credit: Solstizio

An important note.

The comments, opinions and recommendations posted in this personal blog are my personal thoughts, and doesn't necesarily reflect those of my employer.