Friday, October 26, 2012

Clark's Reality Show

There has always been a gap between what people sell and what the product or service ends up being. Things are pictured differently. Salesmen have the bad habit of only advertising the positive side and advantages of things, leaving purposely behind any flaw or downside. Like a couple who just started dating...

This may cause problems when making life changing decisions, specially for college. You may think you know everything about it. You know the ranking, diversity, prestige, and professors of certain school... but is it enough? Sometimes even by touring around, you miss stuff.

One in three students transfer every year in the U.S. 60$ billion dollars are going down the toilet with all the extra 8-month tuition parents usually pay when their children change schools.

What a waste of time and money!

Schools like BU, and MIT started a trend of using technology and social medias to illustrate life in campus. Students started to describe and show their experiences. The idea was to give schools a more real vibe, leaving academics for later. With blogs, videos and posts, prospective students learn about the school from a different perspective compared to the official college books version. I have no idea if this approach has affected the one-of-three stats, but it is a smart way to use technology, not only to spread information, but to show people's lives.

Clark University has a "Explore Life at Clark" section in its website. It basically has everything the other schools have. New additions to campus like "The New Bistro is here", or student club life "come and see our CHOICES club!"

However I feel something is still missing. Yes these initiatives are very informative and helpful for prospective families... but schools are overlooking most of the social life (the important part). College is 30% school work and 70% friends ( I just made that up but you get my point). What about the parties, night life, get togethers, humans vs. zombies. They are all here, aren't they?

I know, I know, they are not the best diplomatic or legal activities to show on an official website, but I bet most of the people who transfer, transfer precisely because their social life didn't go quite as they've expected. Because they didn't fit in. I think a most honest approach to college life will definitely help out the pockets of many parents with transfer kids.

I like the idea of a Clarkie reality show.. or something like that.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Steve Carnegie, Dale Jobs.

Steve Jobs devoted his life to surprise people with innovative gadgets. 

Dale Carnegie devoted his to winning friends and influencing people.* 

Even though they are very different, one is an innovator, the other one a salesmanship expert, I  want to highlight something they both have in common: their way of approaching others. 

Dale Carnegie, explains how in order to influence people you have to think as they think. He said: "I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn't bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish." Weird example, but incredibly truthful.

Your opinion doesn't count when trying to persuade others. Any product for the people has to agree with what people desire, want, and admire. 

Steve Jobs embraced this principle every time he presented one of Apple's revolutionary designs. So simply, so enthusiastically. Jobs knew that if he didn't show us how his new bold products work, nobody would understand what the heck he was talking about. Nobody would think it possible. Steve Jobs never overloaded people with technical information, as he knew most wouldn't keep up. 

Apple dedicates its designs not just to make them look good, but to make them user-friendly. They make their designs based on human intuition.  Dale Carnegie emphasized the importance of putting yourself in the consumers' feet, and by making designs based on people and not technology experts, Jobs did. Steve Jobs was a good listener and observer, he talked about what people wanted to hear, thought from people's points of view, and all with smile in his face! All assets encouraged by our good salesmanship prof. Jobs dramatized his ideas by mesmerizing people. <-- Canergie's recommendation right there. 

Personally, I lack Steve Jobs selling ability. Sometimes I forget how people wont necessarily follow my trail of thoughts. I expect people to understand me, instead of trying to be understood. Big mistake. Simplifying ideas in my head by using "user-friendly" explanations will definitely help me sale whatever is that I want to sale. 

Jobs and Canergie teach us how being a salesman is not about selling, but about understanding people.
* Dale Canergie's most famous book is called How to Win Friends and Influence People. It's almost a hundred years old and still keeps its best-seller status. It must be good, right?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ilac Love

I've always believed that the poorest don't need help. They need power: power to judge, power to make a living by themselves, and most importantly power to decide.

And power can only originate from education and knowledge, not money.

Giving the poor aid doesn't solve their problem, it only prolongs it. Aid makes people dependent and economically inferior, as they have to pay back later down the road. And even if it's free, people become passive and apathetic towards their own lives, as they sit down and wait for something to happen.

People need the education and tools to improve their standards of living, they don't need help from outsiders.

That is why I love Ilac Diaz's social approach in the Philippines. He teaches simple, sustainable  technologies to the people in need and then he allows them to implement these ideas into their own lives.

Take for example the Solar Water Bottle Bulb... Such a BASIC, but mind-blowing invention.

Taking advantage of the free solar light and by reusing the millions and millions of plastic water bottles put to waist, it is possible to build your a bulb. Add water, a little bit of bleach, make a hole in the roof.. and BOOM.

Instant, free light for 10 years!

Thanks to social innovator Illac Diaz, more than 1 million poor houses in the Philippines are out of the darkness, and soon 4 million more will around the world.

Empower the people, let them grow out of the dark.

I like that philosophy. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Not that I like History or anything, but History can actually explain the why in this Samsung-Apple battle.

After colonialism, the world was suddenly divided into colonizers and colonized; First World countries and Third World countries; rich and poor people. The Western became the king of the world, while Asia, Africa, and Latin America became part of their vast kingdom.

 Countries fought hard to earn a place in the global market: they industrialized at the expense of Western loans and conditions; they gave away their raw materials, and most importantly, governments forgot their own people in order to please those with green money.

Asian countries have always wanted to catch up with the West. America has always been the north and the way to go: the role model. I mean, China, South Korea, Taiwan are famous for duplicating American products, and then selling them for a cheaper price. That's how they became the countries they are today, thanks to their cheap labor, and hard work.
It's no surprise then, that Samsung, a South Korean company, copied Apple's many patents. It was logical for them to do so, as not so long ago, it was culturally expected from the South to follow America's steps.

Samsung just followed its forefathers steps.

However, why would Apple sue a simple follower? They are on the top of the game, right? Samsung's latest sales reports say otherwise. Samsung is getting too much attention! And cash. When Apple sued Samsung, they immediately acknowledged the South Korean company as real competition. Why else would they worry about it? The GalaxyIII threatens Apple's status and customers' loyalty. People are know hesitating between the two. Is not a blind decision anymore, and Apple doesn't like that.

A great Spanish political philosopher, Fernando Sabater, explained in his "PolĂ­tica para Amador" book that competition is only plausible in a world of equals. Equality between these two companies, with totally different values, is what set the environment for true competition, ergo Apple's sue. And we know what competition creates... Innovation!

When Apple closed Samsung's door worth a billion dollars, they opened a small but important window for creativity. Today Samsung is expected to not only keep up with Apple, but to blow everyone's mind. They are no longer followers, there are new rules to the game. Samsung has to make sure to erase the pinch-to-zoom mentality and open people's eyes to new experiences. Hold-to-zoom?

Things just got interesting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

7nnovation Who?

I invite you to go on Amazon and search for innovation books. I got 60,916 results.
Probably you'd get even more.
There are thousands and thousands of books (sites and people) solely dedicated to help those diligent and brave embark in this groundbreaking career. Being an entrepreneur apparently is no easy task. They are often bullied, make fun of, despised, and all that ugly stuff, until they do something really amazing. Who would go through all these trouble when there are companies already hiring for a boring, but reliable job? It is tricky to be in this field, but how rewarding is it when people like your idea, when you see an idea grow as it did inside your head; how magnificent would it be to do something.

For those interested, here are some ideas to start you up.

I believe, nobody can say with precision the sources for ideas like the iPod, the bulb, the printer. Nobody can say with exactitude who's the muse or where the magic wand is hiding, but hey, at least there are 60,916 attempts to explain it.

As I am not a literate, an expert, as I am not even an entrepreneur (yet), I can't give you fancy explications or original and exhaustive examples about the 7 principles that would guide you in this creative process, but I can tell you, however, about my class.
I am in an entrepreneurship class where me and my classmates, last week, had to present our best and most interesting idea for a business. Self conscious, but anxious, each of us opened our brain's right side for the public.  And, if I remember correctly, all the 7 innovation sources (or most of them, at least) can be exemplified by the ideas my classmates had.

1. One of my friends described how uncomfortable it is to study when you are dying in a 80degree room environment. And who can? He then thought about this idea of a chair with inside tubbing that would provide cool air/touch to whoever is sitting in it. Conflicts between opposing forces, like studying and hot weather for example, may be the perfect setting for something new to take place. Thanks to incongruity, innovative problem-solvers come to light.

2. There are times in which we need things that don't exist. Call it a foolish dream, childish imagination. Someone once thought of creating some device to easily transport water, and the water bottle was invented. Someone once realized men change their minds all the time, and so the delete button was invented. One of my classmates realized we need photo chromatic car windows. You know, for when the sun is in your eyes and you're driving in the highway. The shade in the windows would directly depend on how much sunlight the car is being expose to. Splendid idea, Dan! Necessity is the mother of innovation. We needed a cure for malaria, we needed a way to go and come from work, we needed to keep our food refrigerated. Need and creativity are inseparable.

3. Sometimes certain situations give you the chance to innovate. Sometimes even certain innovations allow you to innovate even further. For example, the Internet, and its almost infinite opportunities for businesses, allowed my friend to engineer an idea to create an online clothing-fair-trade chain. In another words, through her website, you could appreciate clothes from all around the world, buy them online, and at the same time help the fabricators earn a bigger piece of the money cake. The internet's  market, structure and its constant changes make plausible a chain of this type to exist.

4.  Finding a pattern in societies and in people's behavior is not easy thing, but if you do find it, please don't let it go! My good friend Michael (Hi) thought about how many people miss the green light while driving, because they are too busy texting and trying not to get caught. Thanks to demographics, he came up with the idea of a small device that will alert the driver the light has changed and save him or her the pleasure of the horns and the grumpiness of those behind.

5. Michael's idea also applies to another source: the unexpected one. He presented us his idea solely with the "text and driving" card in mind. The class, however, saw some potential he didn't thought of before: the device would also be of great help to mothers taking care of their babies in the backseats. They aren't usually very attentive to the change in the lights if their kid is crying or looking for a fallen toy. Michael unexpectedly found another market to sell his little device.

6. As the person who invented the delete button, my classmate realized too that perceptions change. Some years before the microwave was invented, people saw the immediate necessity to be able to heat food fast. Nobody wants to wait for the water to boil, right? And so, almost every American family bought a microwave, excited by the idea of not having to wait any longer. Today, a different kind of waiting-for-food perception takes place. Why should we wait for things to heat down? If I want a coca-cola with no ice, and I want it now, why should I wait for it to cool down. Zoha came up with the idea of a new type of microwave: one that freezes food or beverages, instead of heating them up.

7. New knowledge is another way to innovate. We've recently discovered a way to fuel cars without gas. We've created a green technology based on the idea of consuming without hurting our pretty earth. But, why only cars? And not something more ambitious, like, let's say, public transportation? My classmate highlighted how public transportation  is necessary for urban cities, but sadly not very profitable. Buses must be cheap and efficient, all in one. That's why they so are expensive to maintain. Buses fueled by green energy, like solar energy, my classmate continues, would not only be awesome for the environment, but the maintenance costs would be minimal: sunlight is free. New knowledge allows innovators to think a little bit further and solve even bigger problems.

Basically, all it takes for an idea to hit us in the face, is to keep our eyes wide open and be really attentive to change. Ideas and innovation require you to be aware of your surroundings.

Good luck innovators.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

India and Venezuela

India and Venezuela.

Tell me one thing these two countries have in common.

You can't think of anything, can you?

India is on its way to "development", while Venezuela is still stuck in the 1970s. There are more than a thousand million Indians, while 40 million Venezuelans is too much to ask for. They don’t share language or religion; not even continents.

They do, however, share one same problem: scooters.
Scooters in India
Scooters in Venezuela
As I was reading and learning about the “Nano” initiative, I couldn’t but think of one particular picture I took last December. I was taking random pictures from my car window on my way to a friend's house, when suddenly I saw a family, a dad, a wife and a little baby smashed between the two, all together in a one-sit-only scooter. Ergo the picture.
Not surprising at all, I must say. 
You see, scooters back home are taxis, family vans, ice cream stands and even moving vans. Everything but scooters. I’ve seen people transporting mattresses on them, for God’s sake.
As there is no effective traffic control, or respect for the red light, highways and roads are the vivid example of what anarchy would look like. Horns, yells, Fs yous! and accidents everywhere at anytime. And apparently, it's not very different from what the Nanovation authors describe in India. It's common to observe scooters and cars competing against time and odds to see who goes through first. It is common for families to get run over (as delicate as it is) and act as if nothing happened. India and Venezuela, both, need an alternative to stop this madness.
Nanovation is a book that describes how a bold and crazy idea, like building a family car at the same price range of a scooter, developed and succeeded. Ratan Tata (the genius behind this idea), CEO of Tata Motors and the richest person across India, was the one able to pull this "Nano project" off.
Believe it or not.

Scooters in India and Venezuela, unlike in many countries, show how people are not able to pay for something safer with four wheels. The poverty and inflation in my country make it impossible for great part of the population to buy a car. Same in India.
Scooters in these two countries (and who knows how many more) are not fun, bold or adventurous. They are the result of a deep social crisis.
How much would I love to see a Nano in my country!
Somebody should go talk to Mr. Tata and take this tiny, but brilliant idea somewhere else.

If you would like to learn more about this Nano car, here's a video: