Category Archives: Personal Development

An optimistic´ s viewpoint of a troubled 2016

Photo by: Sam Valadi, Charging Bull

Photo by: Sam Valadi, Charging Bull

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ´Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.

(Leonardo da Vinci)

Submitted by: Juan P. Rodriguez

January of 2016 will be remembered as a year full of surprises from the very beginning. Some of these surprises were good but unfortunately many of them were not so good.

In the financial arena, the world witnessed the Shanghai Composite´s destruction of billions in wealth with the worst start to year in history, price of oil lurking at the low $30s mark, slashes of Q4 GDP forecast for the US by major Wall Street´s players, Hong Kong´s housing bubble suffering collapse, Brazil deepening into a depression, Venezuela showing signs of very near future default and current hyperinflation, finishing above 180% inflation rate last year and well on the way for an astonishing 720% inflation rate for this year , Argentina not far behind and so on and so forth.

In the realm of geopolitical affairs, tensions are high at the Syrian theater, maritime tensions between the US and China at the South China Sea, North Korea flexing their muscles with (supposedly) first level weapons, and the Middle East ready to ignite at any second.

Also new for this year in the health category, humanity now has to worry about the Zika Virus. It seems that even the Olympics´ taking place in Brazil this year, the most important athletics event in the world, is in question now.

And finally, as per society goes, newcomers for this year´s top 20 most violent cities around the world (according to the Mexico Citizens Council for Public Security) are two US cities, St. Louis in 15th  place and Baltimore in the 19th place. Caracas remains the top most violent city around the world and Brazilian cities amounts for 21 of the top 50 most violent cities around the world. In Europe there is rampant violence and protests, significant increases in rape victims and social unrest primarily caused by Middle Eastern refugees as a consequence of EU´s immigration policy and the west´s foreign policy.

As this post is published, we are just starting February and because of this, we have 11 months of 2016 ahead of us that we can see as opportunity rather than an uphill ordeal. So, as entrepreneurs and business leaders, and probably business owners, a very important question should come up in our minds: how should we navigate around a messy world and stay the course in order to reach our goals? We should even go further and ask how can we thrive during these messy times and position our company for when times get better?

First and foremost, we should all understand that humanity has already gone through a similar time in its history. Businesses have had to endure hardship in the past.  Those that have survived and thrived during these times have done so by making the correct adjustments in their companies in order to adapt to new trends, different customer needs and possibly new overall constraints.

In order for us to come up with a strategy that will get us closer to our goals, we need to focus on a couple of things that will determine the outcome of our company at the end of this turmoil and be ready to reap the benefits of the bonanza wave which will be just forming underneath.

Focus

Your company has to be focused just as a laser beam is focused. Make sure everyone in your company understands and shares your vision. Make sure to have very clear goals as well as metrics.  Empower all company´s personnel on some level of decision making and make all of them accountable for their responsibilities, as limited as these might be. Have your company´s metrics visible to all personnel to serve as a guide and motivational tool.

Trimming off the fat

Just as we strive to burn off the fat from our belly in order to be healthier and more capable to endure physical activities; our companies have to trim off excesses in operational expenses, human resources and fruitless activities that use up resources ineffectively. This does not mean cutting corners, this just means that the company operates in the leanest possible manner as it meets and exceeds customer´s expectations.

Adapting to new market trends

Different times bring with them different needs. As market trends shift, products or services that use to be highly profitable might not still be under new market trends. In fact, it´s possible to have that market vanish as a whole. Make sure your company´s goals are aligned with the current or near future market trends and look for those new trends in the horizon and position yourself to benefit from their untapped potential.

Loyalty to your customer base

Remember that without your customers, your business is worthless. Also remember that your customer base does not owe you anything (in a moral sense that is). Everyone in your company has to realize that your customers are not to be taken for granted, during good times or bad. They are to receive what they are accustomed to expect from you, or better, under any circumstance and at any time in your company´s history.

Open communication

Make sure to have your customer base well informed about your company´s direction, new offerings, improvements of current offerings and your interest in their business. Dedicate time to listen to your customer´s needs and wants and try to meet all of them if possible.

At the end, we should do what we should always do as business leaders and business owners. This is to strive for excellence in our businesses and to meet and surpass our customer´s expectations. If we focus on doing this, all of the noise from the outside world will become less noisy.  We will also benefit by using our time and resources in the best way possible. This goes back to what we have mentioned in older posts, we should focus on our present as that is all we have.

So, what do you say if we just get to work and make the most out of what we have, place our company in an advantageous position for when the tides change direction and profit from our foresight?

Freedom and Responsibility

flickr Freeparking Creative CommonsMost people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.

(Sigmund Freud)

Freedom is the second most important gift besides life. Treasure it. Assume total responsibility in your life as this is the price to pay for total freedom.

Picture by: Flickr Freeparking 😐

My father lies / Mi padre me miente

Flickr-Helena-Eriksson-father-&-daughter

Flickr-Helena-Eriksson-father-&-daughter

Submitted by Juan P. Rodriguez

Why do we get up early in the morning? Why do we break our backs at work? Why do we stand in lines, get stuck in traffic, get stressed out and cope with our sometimes difficult clients? Why put in all of this effort?

We do all of this because we believe in something greater than ourselves, because of a dream we have, because of a goal we want to reach, because of a certain someone we love.

When you lose your focus of why you’re doing these difficult things every day, stop for a moment and remember your dream, your goal or imagine that certain someone you love. This will bring back your focus, reenergize your body and with a positive perspective, it will help you do your best work every day.

In particular, congratulations to all fathers and mothers who put their kids first in their lives.

———————————————————–

¿Por qué madrugamos cada día? Porqué nos quebramos las espaldas trabajando duro? ¿Por qué hacemos filas de espera, nos atascamos en tráfico, nos estresamos y tenemos que soportar a clientes que a veces son difíciles? ¿Por qué poner tanto esfuerzo en estas cosas?

Hacemos todo esto porque creemos en algo más grande que nosotros, porque tenemos un sueño o una meta que deseamos alcanzar, por alguien al que amamos.

Cuando pierdas tu camino y no sepas por qué haces todo este esfuerzo cada día, detente un momento y recuerda ese sueño, esa meta o a esa persona a la que amas por la que haces todo esto. Detenerte y pensar en ello te encaminará de vuelta, te re energizará, y con una perspectiva positiva, te ayudará a hacer tu mejor trabajo día con día.

En particular, felicidades a todo aquel padre o madre que ponga de primero a sus hijos.

It takes courage to be happy, 5 steps to help you reach happiness

Photo by: Flickr_Daphenator

Photo by: Flickr_Daphenator

Submitted by: Juan P Rodriguez

Stop for a minute and think about this. This title sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Well, being happy, which I assume is your main goal in life, is actually hard to come by. Being unhappy, on the other hand, is relatively easy to achieve. You see, there are an infinite number of justifications you can use for being unhappy. Being unhappy also becomes easier to achieve if people that surround you are feeling unhappy too. This group thinking ultimately retains unhappiness as a constant state of mind for all its members and it becomes second nature to all of them.

Reaching happiness, nevertheless, is a whole other story. For you to achieve happiness, you first have to let go of so many preconceptions, bad habits, and fears you have felt throughout your life. In order to stop these dreadful feelings, you have to face them all and tear them down one by one to free yourself from their harmful effects. Doing this takes a lot of courage and hard work on your behalf.

It takes courage to be happy because it is hard work.  Moreover, you have to face and conquer many of your fears beforehand. This is also why most people are unhappy, because they don´t want to neither make the effort to put in the hard work nor face their fears.

Recommendations to help you achieve happiness:

Accept yourself the way you are

We are all special. By this, I mean that no two people are alike. We all have certain strengths and weaknesses. Realize this fact before anything else and as you do this, think about the one thing you excel at. It should also be noted that you should focus on yourself and not on others. Avoid comparing yourself to others as this is a fruitless activity. How can you be like others when there are no two people alike?

Focus on your strengths, not on your weaknesses

As Peter Drucker eloquently puts it, “It takes far less energy to move from first-rate performance to excellence than it does to move from incompetence to mediocrity.” As you work on your strengths and become better at them, or reach excellence, as Mr. Drucker states, you will gain confidence in yourself which will consequently bring happiness into your life.

Be thankful for all that you have and all that you don´t have

Why would you ask for more if you can´t appreciate what you have now? If you can´t appreciate your present, it is purposeless to seek a prosperous future as you will still be feeling unsatisfied and ultimately unhappy. Furthermore, be thankful for the things that you don´t have, illness, for example.

Forgive

Don´t do this for the person that might have hurt you in the past, do it for yourself as this is a weight you carry on you all the time. Forgive all and move forward. Leave those problems in the past, appreciate your present and work towards your future.

Focus on serving others

Using your talents to serve others will make your life more meaningful. You will feel confident and, in due time, obtain financial freedom through your efforts. The more people you serve the better off you will become in every sense of the word. Peter Diamandis put it very simply, “The best way to become a billionaire is to help a billion people.

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The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D Wattles

TheScienceofGettingRich

Submitted by Juan P. Rodriguez

My take on the book

I have just finished listening to this audiobook about two weeks ago. It is a very short and easy to listen audiobook that´s serves as a helpful guide to remind you that:

  1. The human ability has no limits
  2. The abundance of resources in the universe is limitless
  3. In your desire and ability lies your personal success

The book is good in my personal opinion. Some things are hard to wrap your head around if you are a little sceptic to the notion that there is a law of attraction. Never the less, the book is a good reminder for the reader that the only limits we face as human being rely solely on the ones imposed by ourselves. The content of the book focuses mainly in the mindset we need to have in order to produce all the wealth we desire.

So, yes, I liked it. I would rate it at 4 stars out of 5

Publisher´s Summary

Originally published in 1910, this audiobook takes the mystery out of the accumulation of wealth and breaks it down into a scientific formula.

Here is an excerpt from the Preface of the audiobook:

This book is pragmatical, not philosophical; a practical manual, not a treatise upon theories. It is intended for the men and women whose most pressing need is for money; who wish to get rich first, and philosophize afterward. It is for those who have, so far, found neither the time, the means, nor the opportunity to go deeply into the study of metaphysics, but who want results and who are willing to take the conclusions of science as a basis for action, without going into all the processes by which those conclusions were reached.

It is expected that the listener will take the fundamental statements upon faith, just as he would take statements concerning a law of electrical action if they were promulgated by a Marconi or an Edison; and, taking the statements upon faith, that he will prove their truth by acting upon them without fear or hesitation. Every man or woman who does this will certainly get rich; for the science herein applied is an exact science, and failure is impossible…

…In writing this audiobook I have sacrificed all other considerations to plainness and simplicity of style, so that all might understand. The plan of action laid down herein was deduced from the conclusions of philosophy; it has been thoroughly tested, and bears the supreme test of practical experiment: It works…and if you wish to reap the fruits of their philosophies in actual practice, listen to this book and do exactly as it tells you to do.

©2007 Thinking Stuff LLC (P)2007 Thinking Stuff LLC

Publisher´s summary and picture from audible.com

Invictus, one of the best worded descriptions of how resilient we are as human beings

Flickr-Vince-O'Sullivan

 

Captura de pantalla 2015-06-25 a las 13.17.16

Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, one of the most inspiring poems I’ve ever read. The effect this poem has on me is much more profound today than the first time I read it as a teen ager.  I suppose the older we get, and the more experiences we have lived, the more capable we are to understanding the real meaning the poet had in mind at the time he wrote the poem. It is great to be reminded once in a while how resilient and capable we are as human beings under any circumstance or condition. 

The reason for posting this poem today is solely to help empower you, to remind you that nothing is as bad as it seems and that you have the power to change any circumstance you may find yourself in right now or in the future.

If failure has brought you down, just know that failure is a state of mind, it is not real. You may have temporary setbacks but that is all they are, setbacks and they are just temporal.

Let your real personality show, let your resiliency motivate you, know you are your own master and that everything is within your reach. You just need to believe in yourself and move forward with out any doubt.

Picture by: flickr-Vince-O’Sullivan

 

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Time is of the essence, invest it wisely

flickr-H-is-for-Home

Submitted by: Juan P Rodriguez

How you spend your time says a lot about you. You might think that a person who organizes and schedules his or her day might be a bit eccentric. Nevertheless, that person might just have a different appreciation than yours with regards to the value of his or her time. The threshold that determines what is or is not worth your time is just another characteristic that differentiates you from other people. It is common knowledge that nobody ever gets back any time and that it is always running out. It would be reasonable to say then that you need to take a good look at where your threshold stands with regards to what is and is not worth your time. This should be done with a “critical eye” and really commit to respecting your time according to where ever your particular threshold might be.

Just to exemplify this notion with a simple topic, let me ask you: have you ever thought about how much time you have spent watching TV in your lifetime? Furthermore, think about how much time you have spent flipping channels in order to find a program that appeal to you. If you use the TV as a primary way of in-home entertainment, you must realize that you don´t really have control over what you watch. Yes, I know pay-per-view exists and that there are hundreds of available channels. Nevertheless, most of these are scheduled programs. In this case, you are the one that has to adapt to them and not the other way around.

With the advancement in technology, the growth of the internet and the improvement of bandwidth in the average home, you now have a true option to TV where you can pick and choose the content you feel like watching, reading or even listening too.  For example, Youtube has been around for a little more than 10 years now and it is the second most used search engine just behind google, its parent company. In YouTube, you can watch just about everything and learn how to do an assortment of different things.  What is more remarkable now is the level of quality of video and audio you are capable of receiving in anything from your home flat screen TV all the way to your cell phone.  Youtube is now offering 8k video. This is so advanced that most TV and electronic devices are not even ready to fully take advantage of this resolution.

Netflix is another great example of how you can use your time better as per entertainment at home is concerned. You can watch a movie or a TV series of your choosing (not the latest ones unfortunately, yet) in your own schedule and not waste any time flipping channels.

Now you have options, at least with respect to how you spend your time entertaining yourself at home with.  This helps you use your time better.  You can now satisfy your at home entertainment needs in a more efficient and effective way. In turn, you have respected your valuable time which you can now utilize for other important things.

Humans have come a long way with regards to options. Options relate to freedom. Freedom is one of your basic (non-biological) needs. Available time is freedom. Therefore, the more available time you have, the better-off you are. And time is of the essence, you don´t get it back, protect your time at all costs and invest anyremaining time on yourself.

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Picture by: flickr-H-is-for-Home

Wise words from Coca Cola´s former CEO Bryan Dyson

Flickr-Alexandre-Dulaunoy

Words by Bryan Dyson, Former Coca Cola´s CEO

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. They are Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you´re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four Balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.

Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends & have proper rest.

Value has a value only if its value is valued

Picture by: Flickr – Alexandre-Dulaunoy

 

3 simple realizations that brought back perspective to my busy work life.

Leading the way

Submitted by: Juan P Rodriguez

Management of our most important asset, time.

As I´m getting back to the office from a week long holiday, the importance of correctly balancing work and personal life is fresh in my mind. You see, I just spent a week worth of quality time with both of my sons for Easter holiday. We went by ourselves to the beach and left both my wife and newborn baby girl at home. The new born baby girl is not quite ready to travel yet so my wife and I decided this would be a great opportunity for the boys of the house to bond.

As I prepared to take my 3 and 6 year old boys to the beach by myself, I started to realize a couple of things.

The first thing I realized was that I had never taken them on a trip this long by myself before. It all sounded very simple as an idea but when I started to look into the details, it got quite complicated. I don´t know if I over packed for the what- ifs scenarios. If I did in fact over packed, this just gave both my wife and my self some peace of mind so that was fine. From clothes to toys, food, drinks, and all the first aid and medicines, the trunk in my 4Runner got filled up pretty quickly.

The second realization I came too as I prepared for the trip was  that I would probably end up spending a great deal of my time looking out for them, cooking, cleaning, washing dishes and putting them to sleep. For this reason, I did not take anything but my Kindle to have some distraction for myself. I certainly did not take any work with me as I knew I would not have any time to tackle it, but more importantly, my kids, my relationship with them and myself deserved uninterrupted father and son’s time without any work in sight.

And my third, and most important, realization before the trip would take place was the great opportunity I had just ahead of me to enjoy spending time with both my sons. We would be able to bond, play and really listen to each other. I realized the great gift I´ve been given to have them, for them to have me, and for all of us to have the time to be together  getting to know each other better and being able to play and goof around. It actually took me back when I used to play with my father and the great memories this brought to mind. I hope my kid´s memories will include remembering the good times with dad at the beach. I also hope they will transmit the importance of spending quality time with family to their own future kids.

Now that I´m back at the office, having had a great time these past couple of days, I feel like I want more of it. I don´t want more of it because it’s easy, because it’s not, but because it´s meaningful. It´s meaningful to my boys as it is to me.

During this trip, I enjoyed sharing time with them, appreciating how much they have learned at school and at home, how open their minds were to new ideas, how wanting to experience new things was a welcomed thing to them, and how they were completely transparent with their emotions, crying, yelling or dancing in the middle of a beach if they felt like doing so. It rejuvenated my soul to play with them. I felt like a kid again. It was humbling to see the miracle of life develop and grow right in front of my eyes. I get emotional just realizing all of this right now.

These are the moments we should all seek to replicate as much as possible; these are the things that really matter. These are the memories that never die. These memories are eternal. Stop and realize this now as later might just be too late.

To my sons:

Thank you my sons for sharing this time with me, for taking me as I am, for your unconditional love to me, for your trust in me. I will always love you and look after you. I will always try to be the best possible father to you. I wish you become better than me in every single aspect of life. I wish you become real men. And by real men I mean that you are able to appreciate and be grateful for being alive, having a family, having a wife that loves you and that you love back, believing in something, having dreams and being brave enough to work towards reaching them.

My sons, I love you both. I am the luckiest man on earth for having you. You, your baby sister and your mom have made me complete. I look forward to all the adventures we´ll share together in the future, I can´t wait.