Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How can I short-circuit the time it gets to really know somebody?

Dive deep, fast.

Have you ever met somebody and all you could talk about was the weather, your job, their job, "how everybody is doing", or a number of other shallow interactions that do not get you to even remember the answers?

What is it that prevents us from jumping right in, with intensity and curiosity, in a way that makes us lean in, listen, and hang to every word?  Is it because we are not supposed to engage deeply with somebody we just met? Is it because we are concerned about stepping into meaningful feelings or sensibilities? Is it because they may take what we say the wrong way?  Or because they may get the wrong impression about us?

What would happen if we stop worrying about these things for a moment and jump right in into something like:
  • What their views are about the meaning of life
  • What their dreams are ... and what the greatest obstacles to overcome are
  • Why their marriage or a certain relationship did not last ... what worked and did not work
  • What events in their life meaningfully changed the course of everything
  • What their greatest fears and joys are

Imagine how a conversation around these themes would develop. You probably are curious already so go ahead and try it ... and enjoy every bit of the deeper connections you will make.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

How do you find a good balance in life?

The three-legged stool.

It is interesting how the best advise in life often comes in sets of 3.  A long time ago, as part of a workshop for busy professionals, somebody mentioned the 3-legged stool analogy as the key to a long, fruitful, and happy life.

The idea is that we should strive to balance our time and attention equally between work, family, and ourselves.  The idea that one third of our time should be spent on each of these elements to get best results seemed interesting.  Especially the third one: ourselves.

Spending time developing one's career and enjoying one's family make perfect sense.  The one that most people forget is the one about devoting time to ourselves - our aspirations, our interests, our happiness.   The idea of spending the same amount of time in our own development and enjoyment is what most successful people forget ... and it is an absolutely critical leg for a balanced life.

What is something you have always wanted to do, selfishly, but never felt you could? Why not? ... Is it time to try and observe the immediate balancing force it has on the other two legs of your three-legged stool - work and family?  It is never to late to get started : )



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why are there so many people suffering from anxiety these days?

Too much information.

We can see it all around us ... and it is getting worse.  People are consumed by their online connections more and more. The trend does not look good. People walking, waiting at a store, eating at a restaurant, driving ... all looking at their smartphones.   Why is it that we cannot resist these constant feeds?  Why are these devices so good at triggering the right hormones in our brain, at the right time, which turns us into addicts with no will to resist?

Once we are hooked, all we see is news about disasters from around the world, about politics at home, about impeding doom.  To make matters worse, we see our friends in social media having a great time every minute of every day ... allegedly.  Why are we so desperate to be plugged into all of this and forgetting about what we are doing?

Now imagine, just for a moment, a world where you do not really know what is going on in the world or with your friends for a whole week.  No access to smart phones, TVs, or newspapers.  What would you do with all the time you now have available?

Do you think your mind would suddenly calm down? Would you take the time to go sit on a bench at the park to watch people go by? Would you engage in longer conversations with the barista at your local coffee shop or with your neighbor or coworker?  Would you call a friend to go hang out just to talk and shoot the breeze?  Would you go see a play or a concert or go to a jazz club to just enjoy the music? ... and would you resist the urge to take pictures to let people you are not with know how much fun you are having?

Try it and see what you think ... just one week feed blackout.  The Italians have a great term for the art of being with yourself ... and enjoying it - Il Dolce Far Niente.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Why do families end up living so far away from each other?

False goals ... independence, career, busyness

Our culture, the media, and society have led us to believe in some interesting concepts that often drive us to forget what is really important in this life.

Independence: Is being independent really the ultimate goal? Why? Is it when you ultimately end up alone and away from those who love you? Why are we so reluctant to offer or ask for help from our family when in need? Why do parents work so hard to not be a burden to their children and vice versa? Being there for each other, sharing, hugging ... in person ... it cannot get better than that.

Careers: An abstract concept that we have been taught to value over many important things like family. Is it better to make a long-term move to another city/country in the name of a career and/or money and away from our loved ones? What are we really leaving behind?

Busyness: Is keeping oneself busy all the time better than thinking, loving, or just plain chilling? Why do we feel that we need to be busy all the time (and tell everybody about it)? Is it good to burn our short life span with infinite tasks, errands, and meaningless jobs and not with the people that we love? In person?

One last thing ... lets not forget that traveling and exploring the world is one of life's greatest joys ... but instead of moving permanently away from loved ones and family, lets do it knowing that when we are done with our adventures, there is a place that you can go back, where our loved ones are! Home!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What is the key to creating your own good luck?

Attitude, good will, and energy

The first ingredient is to be able to generate opportunities for "good luck" to happen. Getting out there to meet people, get involved, network, write something, play, exercise. Once we stir the pot, then it is all up to us.

The key is how we will deal and process this onslaught of opportunities - our attitude, our outlook, how we embrace risk, how we handle unknown situations, how we handle success, adversity, and, sometimes, failure. And, more importantly how we can make sure that we are having fun through the process, always!

Finally, the best predictor of good luck is good will. Doing good things for others just because there is chance to do it ... without expecting anything in return ... teach somebody something, help somebody with a difficult situation, put your arm around somebody when they feel down, love everybody.

For some unknown reason, the universe likes this : )

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What are some self-evident high-level truths that we often have a hard time believing?

The fact that nobody knows why we are here, where we come from, and what is in the afterlife.

I read a quote a while back that said that "any thought that defines the transcendent is one thought too many" ... because nobody knows. Traditionally, religions have attempted to fill this vacuum by creating interesting depictions. The reality is that religion is at its best when it focuses on human problems and not in trying to depict what is before or after life on this earth. Religion is at its best when it builds a sense of belonging in people, when it disseminates important values (e.g., help others). Religion fails when speculations about the afterlife distracts from important human issues.

The question about why we are here also boils down to the fact that nobody knows. At the end of the day, it is all up to each of us to live our lives every day the best way know how. To find purpose and fulfillment as we best see fit. Family seems to be a good source of purpose for many people. Anything related to people also seems important for many - helping, loving, etc.

So, lets not worry about the before or the after ... lets realize that nobody knows. Lets focus on the here and now ... on what makes us happy, fulfilled ... and enjoy it!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What is the key to self-improvement?

Quiet time.

When was the last time you had the chance to stop and think about the "why" of things? It seems that modern society is making us live our lives as an endless string of short, reactive actions ... emails, texts, internet, TV, errands, shopping.

What happened to the times when we would sit down with friends in a cafe, or a plaza, or a porch to simply socialize, philosophize, or to try to fix the world? What happened to the times when we would look forward to being alone in our rooms, or in a park, to simply think, or to write something interesting we just realized, or to observe the world around us?

They say that very few people have what it takes to become "enlightened" ... to rise above our human condition and to better understand the why of things. Most of us are too caught up in the day to day that we forget to slow down and to think about why things things are happening the way they are happening ... why people do what they do, why we feel what we feel.

Are we afraid to have free time because we do not want to get to know ourselves better? Do we fear having to think about deeper things? About the world? Why are we trying to fill every minute of the day with something to do?

Time to slow down and think a bit ... a side benefit? The passage of time slows down too. Weird : )

Friday, February 7, 2014

What is the main purpose of marriage?

Children.

Marriage is a well defined and mature institution that has become a key building block of most societies around the world.

Marriage is not only about love ... it is also about work, responsibility, and commitment ... it is about building something bigger than oneself with somebody we love.

Having children in a well structured, safe, and supportive environment is the ultimate test of two people's love for each other. The institution of marriage supports the creation of such an environment.

We do not need to marry somebody we love just because we love them. Marriage does not add anything to this situation (other than perhaps meeting some norms imposed by society.)

Marriage is the ultimate step in selflessness of two people in love ... for the sake of somebody else, their future children!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Will we be able to preserve privacy as technology develops?

Unlikely.

It is hard to believe that we will always be able to control the flow of information when it all becomes digital. When you consider that one small hiccup in security can yield incredibly vast amounts of data, why would we ever think that in the future we will be able to successfully control access and/or distribution of anything electronic all the time?

The real question is, what will happen when information about everything and about everybody is readily accessible? Your location and movements, your purchases, your personal information, your intellectual property, etc. Will it be too much that it will loose its allure? Will we develop some sort of apathy knowing that everything is available at our fingertips whenever we want it? Most likely.

Another important and real effect of all this transparency will be its impact on "questionable" practices - scams, crime, espionage, corruption, fraud ... no place to hide anymore!

Monday, February 3, 2014

How do you become more energetic?

By just doing.

Energy in our body is sort of an infinite resource. We can create mental energy by just having a plan, a goal. We can awaken all our senses and be energized about life and things by simply engaging the mind in the pursuit of a new and exciting objective. This is also a simple way to get out of a sad, lethargic, bored, or depressed state of mind.

Physical energy can also be created ... by just moving. The hardest thing is to take the first step. Have you ever hesitated to join your family and/or friends in some sort of activity that does not sound exciting at the moment ... but later you are grateful to have joined them because of all the fun you had with them? Where did all that energy, that you thought you did not have, come from?

Once engaged, physically or mentally, energy seems to come from nowhere and the amount of it often surprises us. Time seems to slow down, life seems to be brighter and fuller when doing something absorbing. At these times, we are in tune with who we are, with what we are doing, with achieving something ... reaching the top of a mountain, completing a trip, finishing a report.

So, yes, it is all about taking that first step ... and just doing it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What are the key pitfalls to avoid when starting to build a CV?

Time, gaps, and trends.

When you are in the professional workforce in pursuit of a career, a CV is one of the key elements that needs to be nurtured and carefully built over time to achieve the desired objective.

A good resume must always convey a sense of advancement ... from a good high school, to a great college, to an exciting job, to increasing levels of responsibility.

When an employer reads a CV, the following are 3 key warning signs:
- Employment tenures of less than one year
- Gaps in between jobs/activities without explanation
- Job changes without aim and/or advancement

So, when thinking about your next step, keep in mind these simple pitfalls, keep moving forward, and always always have fun. Remember, it is all about attitude ... there is an amazing learning experience in everything you do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

If the US had a benign dictatorship, what would be the first bold things to tackle?

The 80/20 rule applies.

Here are five things (the 20%) that would have an immediate and outsize impact across the board (the 80%):

Implement a Flat Tax:

Key Benefits:
- Eliminate millions of man-hours currently wasted in tax return preparation
- Release the brain trust currently sequestered in non-productive tax avoidance pursuits (lawyers, accountants, bankers, etc.) redirecting all that energy to productive endeavors

Triple Gasoline Prices:

Key Benefits:
- Start a wave of innovation like we have never seen before to replace oil
- Reduce hydrocarbon use and all that comes with it: pollution, transfer of wealth, geopolitical risks

Roll Out a National Health Care System:

Key Benefits:
- Bring health care costs in line with other industrialized countries (From 16% of GDP to 8%) and cover everybody
- Release the economy and the government from the health care industry juggernaut by eliminating all loopholes, incentives, subsidies, etc.

Legalize Drugs:

Key Benefits:
- Reduce crime, violence, and society's costs at home associated with pursuing a non-winnable situation
- Reduce crime, violence, and society's costs in countries around the world dragged into a loosing situation trying to fulfill our drug habit

Implement Tort Reform:

Key Benefit:
- Simply put .... Eliminating all non-economic damage awards (i.e., pain and suffering, etc.) and having the losing party pay for the legal costs on both sides would virtually eliminate frivolous/wasteful legal actions that currently impact many aspects of our economy

It is nice to dream about the possibilities sometimes : )

Monday, March 26, 2012

What is the best tool to help you live life fully?

Attitude.

Nobody can deny that life is a sequence of random events, some good and some not so good. The key to living life fully is how we react and respond to these events.

Would you rather live a long, sheltered and protected life or one out in the open where life can come at you with full force?

To live is not just trying to extend the time we have on this earth - to live is to always be happy to be here and now, regardless of the situation.

Death and sickness are also just part of life. We should expect it and use it to strengthen our perspective and ability to enjoy life.

The uncertainty of life - what a great gift! Not knowing what is coming at you is just plain amazing! Isn't it?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What is the best way to grow personally?

Travel outside your comfort zone - surround yourself with people and places as different from what you know as possible.

It is always interesting to me how curious I become when meeting people from other countries, cultures, religions, and backgrounds. It seems that my curiosity and awe are insatiable. When you think you have things sort of figured out, you realize that the expansion of your worldview is infinite as long as you continue to place yourself outside your current bubble.

After having visited close to 70 countries and having met people from all walks of life, it is humbling to realize how much more there is to learn. How confining your own perspective can be if you do not constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone.

So push yourself to get out there, this has always led me to amazing opportunities and discoveries. Never get too comfortable. Don't let a false sense of risk stop you.

Be assured that what is beyond the known part of your world is amazing. It will make you think. It will make you grow. It will make you happy and be thankful to be alive.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

When is the right time to say "I Love You" in a new relationship?

As soon as you feel it.

It is interesting how much thought and agony our culture has placed on the simple act of saying these 3 simple words in a new relationship.

- What happens if I say it first and he/she does not say it back?
- When do you know that you feel "love" to be able to say it?
- What are the short and long-term implications of saying it?

If loving like you have never been hurt before is key to making relationships more meaningful, memorable, and fulfilling then what if you say it first? Is a relationship really worth having when all of these what-if dangers are in the back of one's mind all the time?

Keep it simple ... If you feel it, say it, enjoy it, and live it fully!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What is the best way to increase your connection to the world?

Motorcycles? : )

In general, riding a motorcycle requires incredible concentration. When at the track, that concentration requirement becomes laser focused. Eliminating all the typical distraction that one finds on the street – cars, pavement, animals, people, etc. – allows for the perfect concentration on the task at hand.

The goal at the track is perfect execution in a repeatable way. Because of the speeds and the narrow tolerance allowed for every action (throttle, brakes, body position, lean angle, etc.) the mind becomes a narrow tunnel focused on the now.

When all the skills required to succeed at the track become second nature (after a lot of practice) – magic happens! You enter a meditative-like state that has an amazing effect on the mind and body. The world slows down, your heart rate slows down, peace surrounds you, the awareness of everything heightens, and you become one with the world. At that moment, there are no risks, nothing to worry about, nothing to solve, nothing to plan for, no to-do lists, no responsibilities, no concerns – just clarity and joy.

Does this state ever get interrupted by a potential disaster at 140 mph? Sometimes : ) However, without the potential for it, how could you get your mind into the tunnel of now?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why is this "financial crisis" taking so long to clear?

Bankruptcy.

In the past, financial crises seem to come and go relatively quickly. The business cycle was somewhat predictable and understood.

Today, nobody wants to feel the pain. We have regulators and stakeholders at all levels claiming that the end is near unless we bail out "too big to fail" entities.

What is wrong with letting countries like Greece or Ireland or Iceland default? We used to let that happen all the time (e.g., Mexico, Russia, Argentina, Brazil). Lenders to those countries took their loses and moved on ... and eventually they all recovered in a relatively short period.

What about letting banks like Goldman or Citibank go bankrupt or letting people that took crazy loans lose their properties?

What happened with the good old - you messed up, you go bankrupt, and everybody moves on and rebuilds. When did we decide that nobody is responsible for their financial decisions anymore?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What is the key to finding a job or an internship these days?

Focus on revenue.

Revenue is the life of a business. Without it nothing else happens. The easiest hiring decisions for a business are those that directly and positively impact revenue.

Help potential employers connect the dots ... help them see how the "investment" (i.e., expense) associated with bringing you on board will positively impact revenue ... better yet, profitable revenue.

Your resume and all your interaction with potential employers should make clear that you understand this premise and that you understand the role you can play in helping.

How many employers would turn down a clearly articulated win-win proposal like this one? Making this connection will open doors, lots of doors. Happy hunting : )

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What will the biggest change be in the next 20 years?

Level setting.

As technology continues to develop and enable the almost frictionless move of information and capital, development and investment will continue its relentless pursuit of the "low points" (i.e., less developed areas where opportunities are better).

Like water in an uneven terrain - development will continue to gravitate to the valleys. Eventually, these "low points" will be "filled" and the world will see a more even landscape.

For those entering the workforce in the "high points" today (i.e., developed countries), education, hard work, and the ability to go with the "flow" and be flexible will be key.

In 100+ years, will a world with a more evenly distributed standard of living be finally a reality?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Is greater information transparency (e.g., Wikileaks, etc.) a good trend for the future?

Yes.

Imagine a world where governments operate in a fully transparent manner. A world where those that govern have no where to hide. What they do and how they do it is known.

What would the world be if dictators, strongmen, powerful corporations, corrupt governments, authoritarian regimes, despots, and religious fanatics could no longer control, manipulate, and alter the flow and/or content of information to their intended victims. The governed and the governing, the strong and the weak, suddenly, on a more equal footing.

Wikileaks, and those like it, are having a fundamental impact in the relationship between those in power and the general public. When information is immediately available, and verifiable, all that remains for those in power is transparency, truth, and ... the need to exhibit true leadership.

What about a “good” government? Do they have a legitimate need for some level of secrecy? Are governments and/or powerful entities inherently something we should always be worried about? Something we should constantly monitor? Something we should be able to change and correct on a timely basis? The founding fathers of the US thought so -- separation of powers, democracy, “for the people”, the right to bear arms, etc. All principles defined to ensure that our government remains accountable to the people. The new information transparency only becomes one more tool in this arsenal.

There will always be a need for some things to remain confidential. However, the bar will have to be high, the case for secrecy very strong, and the process for moving the bar carefully managed.

Imagine a world where governments, corporations, religious leaders, and those in power are closely monitored and held accountable. A world focused on “good” things and not on how best to get away with “bad” things.

Maybe this is the beginning of a world less focused on the few and more focused on the many : )