31 December 2008

Happy new year? How come?

I bet that even if are one of the most unfriendly humans around, you did receive at least one message saying "happy new year" or anything like that (unless of course your year is not ending in your calendar - and even so, maybe yes). Well, I am no exception, and as AIESEC is a very extensive network, I did receive quite some messages wishing a good new year.

But, after one of those messages, a brilliant girl that I know replyed something very touching. I will copy & paste her e-mail (not showing the name or anything):

"Hi All,

I would like to wish you as well a Happy New Year, but its really hard for me to think of it as a happy new year, with all whats happening in the world now. Am sure you all heard about GAZA and whats happening there from killing, and mass destruction. Its just not possible for me to think of a new happy year while I am few minutes away from whats happening there, I can't think of a happy new year while I don't know whats happening to my family there, if they are alive or dead, since there are no means of communication at all.

Its just at one point I started to think of whats my role in this, we feel "in Jordan" like totally crippled. We've organized centers to donate blood, clothes, food etc, but we can't pass them through. We've been protesting for three whole days, and signing petitions, but no one can hear us.

I don't think there is any law in the world that justifies this. Its a total violation of any human rights. I think of myself as a future leader, but this whole thing is just making me think again.

Am sorry guys, but I seriously felt like sharing it with you.

Take care wish all the best of health and a happy new year."

The world seems smaller because all of those communications in real time and blablabla, but, in reality, the world is as huge as always was - and people away from the problems are mostly emotionally disconnected from it. A war is always something that people pity, but they carry on their lives. But, if you have friends there, then things totally change perspective. That's definitely one of the magics in AIESEC. You have friends every where, it's impossible to not be touched by it. You get worried. You ask questions. You seek solutions. You don't understand how someone hates so much other people.

AIESEC changed a lot since it's foundation in 1948, but definitely it's main role is still intact, up and running: peace and fulfilment of humankind's potential.

Please, sign in the petition for a paceful solution in Gaza.

30 December 2008

Nobel Peace Laureate recalls his AIESEC Experience

From Juan's blog:

ROTTERDAM, December 16 th, 2008- Speaking to AIESEC in Finland, Martti Ahtisaari recalled warmly his time in AIESEC, as a university student. Mr Ahtisaari was a member of AIESEC in the early 1960’s and continues to endorse the relevance of working with young people to build peace and international co-operation.

Check the video:

23 December 2008

The joy of achieving what really matters

End of year, tomorrow is Christmas eve and I decided to review my life plan - or, how I like to call it: my Happy Life Map (yeah, it sound very cheesy, but it's just like that to me, a map to be happy and feel good about myself and others). The first time I started it, in 2005, it was dozens of pages with lots of stuff. In the end, I could never focus on what really mattered. Then I started simplifying it more and more (making it less and less extensive). Now it has 3 pages (but if you removed all the inspiring quotes that are in there, it would be 2 pages).

Now I just put there my mission (what I consider it to be at th moment at least) and some small phrases with vision for each key area in my life, like career, family, friends, own behaviour, love, leisure and so on. And in each of these areas of life I put 2-3 milestones. Some are more long term, others more short term, depending on what I think is appropriate.

I was reviewing it today and my eyes sometimes were shining of happiness, after looking how I achieved at least half of the milestones (around 80% of what I desired to achieve in 2008). These are the things that really mattered and it's very very good to feel I am walking in the right direction. Of course, the path to happiness never ends, so I will keep walking, while enjoying the view. Of course in some parts, I had some drawbacks, for example, love, but that's usually the way it is to me: when it relates to people I am not that good, but I am improving. Being concious of the need for change is the beginning of change.

Now that I refreshed a little each vision (to be more accurate to what I really want) and reviewed the milestones, now it’s time to make the plan. Be prepared, here I come, mr. 2009!

18 December 2008

New generation of people

From Seth Godin's blog (if you don't know him, you are losing a lot of good insights, marketing tricks, visionary guesses and cyber-shamanism in general).

The best and the brightest

Here's a piece of (quite) good news:

The smartest and most motivated young people are no longer itching to become investment bankers and lawyers. We're always hearing about a shortage of engineers or nurses--but there never seems to be a shortage of people eager to work 90 hours a week helping to move money from one pile to another.

Applications to work on the Obama team are over 300,000 (up from about 44,000 at this point in the Bush administration). Students are deciding to become fellows at Acumen or to set up innovative small businesses or volunteer their time or bootstrap a music career. Perhaps we're on the verge at getting much better at making useful things, spreading ideas that matter and helping people, and not quite so good at leveraging capital for financial institutions. Imagine what would happen if 5,000 investment bankers or 500 M & A lawyers put their talents to work doing something else...

As I look through all the notes and applications I received for the program I'm running next year, I'm not just optimistic. I'm thrilled. There must be hundreds of thousands of movers and shakers out there, people of all ages who are smart and get things done. And more and more, they're being motivated by the quest, or the outcome, or the people they work with, not just the cash payout. It's exciting beyond words. The ten people I've chosen are just astonishing, each and every one of them.

If you can't find people like these, you're not looking in the right places. And if you can't figure out how to work with them, you're missing out.

No wonder AIESEC is growing at an incredible pace (around 10,000 members more each year if I am not wrong). We are offering these young people the opportunity to develop while making something big and relevant to the world, with enough room to innovate and strive for excellence. If I wasn't in AIESEC, where would I be? Maybe in a big multinational ad agency?

And you, where you are now, are you satisfied?

You are powerful

How are you using your power?

17 December 2008

Google plans to destroy (reinvent) the advertising industry

I am 26 and a fair amount of my life I've spent storing bad karma while working in the advertising industry (from 2001 to 2008). Damn, I even had my own advertising agency for almost 3 years. It's not something I am very proud of (nor ashamed), but it was fairly useful to understand a little about how the big advertising agencies had been sucking blood from their clients. I say this because most ad agencies survive not by creating memorable campaigns, but by buying media to their clients so thet can massively distribute it. That's the main revenue generator for any normal jurassic ad agency - that's why they are only interested in big clients that massively advertise on TV, because that's where the biggest cut is.

But we all know times are chaning and then the new (visionary) agencies started to charge not anymore for the media, but for the ideas, the communication strategy and planning, marketing positioning, the creativity, the campaigns and all that is in fact generated by the agency and is what makes great agencies great. These people clearly understood times were changing, mainly because of technology and how people are fed up of being interrupted by traditional advertising. I was one of these dudes who were charmed by the possibility of change, for example, just read my final paper to university, which the name would be something like: how to use digital videos on internet as a tool to viral marketing.

Still, the old agencies are alive and kicking, because this takes take time. Maybe they will survive much more with this jurassic model, but hey, now we have a major player that will probably start to change the minds of people: Google. With Google's experimental TV-advertising auction, some dude spend only US$500 to reach 330,000 Dish Network subscribers tuned in to the Oxygen, ESPN2, or WPT channels. That's more super cheap for those not into ad business. See more here.

If this goes on (and I believe it will), we will have a large chunk of advertising revenue going from the hands of the ad agencies to clients, small entrepreneurs, freelancers, artists and who knows what more. I think this is healthy - in a future where everyone will have access to media, ad agencies won't be recognized by the amount of people they reach, but by the quality of their message and communication strategies. That will be extremelt healthy for the good professionals, while very dangerous for the bad (or too big and lazy to adapt) ones. But, hey, who cares about bad and lazy people?

It's Google big balls changing the game (again).

05 December 2008

Where are our self-driven learners?

One of the aspects of AIESEC is that you are responsible for your own learning (and the learning of others). Sometimes I just feel frustrated how AIESEC Norway fails to understand this concept (or take action upon it), both from local to national level.

One example happened today: only 10 members subscribed to the conference that will happen in January (deadline for subscription is within the next 2 days). Considering we have 180 members, that's very low number. Then us from the MC have to call local committee presidents to tell then to rally their troops to subscribe to the conference. If we were in Brazil, at this point the conference would be fully subscribed (with arounf 500 delegates) and there would be a waiting list of some more.

What are we doing wrong with these people? Are conferences so crappy that people doesn't want to go? Are people to lay down and just don't care? Maybe the conference concept is something that doesn't work in Norway? Or maybe members from Norway don't see the value in conferences (or maybe in AIESEC)? Or it's just that people are too busy with exams and they will complain they haven't subscribed after the deadline is over? Maybe we haven't been promoting enough?

Lot's of questions and frustrations, mainly for me, talent manager, agenda manager and candidate to president.

Update 11/Dec: our calling to the local committees had some echos, now we are 50 people subscribed and counting. If you think in percentual, that's similar than Brazil, because Norway has 186 members, while Brazil has around 2000. I am feeling better.

04 December 2008

Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Talent Management Unit meeting (not in this order)

Last week I went to the Netherlands (also known as Holland – which Wikipedia told me is a wrong usage) to go to a meeting in Rotterdam. The meeting gathered some of AIESEC’s elite talent managers from all continents to review the long-term talent strategy, solve some problems with the implementation of AIESEC’s competency model, work on how to make our processes more flexible and bring quicker results and so on. It was loads of fun and a lot of work that helped me to understand a little more about AIESEC in the global level and the challenges we face.

But I don’t want to talk about the meeting.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel this meeting has an important contribution to AIESEC’s global network and that we generated there some basis for the evolution of the AIESEC Experience and breaking some paradigms. But, hey, I don’t want to talk about it, because soon the output of the meeting will be released and that will be much better than my words. What I want to talk is something more free and personal: my experience (in the meeting and far away from it – because I managed to spend one day in Amsterdam just for the fun).

First the people

In the end, it’s always about the people. I have been to enough AIESEC conferences and meetings to understand that if it sucks or rocks, usually more than 50% is because of the people you interact and put the conference mood up in terms of learning and fun. Not that the content is not important, but usually it’s less than people. And in this meeting we had some of the best talent managers’ vice-presidents in AIESEC, so, definitely, it was great. It was very cool to meet again people such as Daz, Sophie and Letzu (with their amazing creativity and passion) and meet new ones such as the brilliant Vicky and the best-buddy-ever Mayank. And I didn’t even talk about the ones that were not members of TMU, such as Stephane Le Camus (from Unilever Global Expertise team), Evert Temminck (CEO from Humexx), AIESEC International people such as sweet sweet Lucy and funny Juan, people from other support teams, such as Shawn (whatever it is written) and old old friends, like Conrado, Bê, Maurício, Lilian and Gabriel (all from Brazil).

It’s very good to be among people who are also passionate about AIESEC and work hard to make it evolve.

Second, Rotterdam

Rotterdam is fairly nice, but not really. All you can find is Turkish junk food every(any)where and a kind of uglier, smaller and with less options and bikes Amsterdam. Comprehensible, Rotterdam was fully rebuilt after WWII, because Hitler made it as an example for those who would not surrender.

I must say that AIESEC International office is quite nice, as well as their living conditions – which is a big plus plus in AIESEC terms.

Ok, maybe my views of Rotterdam are quite unimpressive because of lies bellow:

Third, Amsterdam, the sin city

The flag and coat of arms of Amsterdam says a lot about the spirit of the city: “XXX” (whatever you are up to date to the crazy internet slangs, where “XXX” means “sex” [or maybe “pornography”?] in the cybertech-oompa-loompa-interNERDway). Amsterdam transpires (inspires?) sin, while also being very classy – somehow it remembers me of “the Story of O”. Old (and pretty) buildings from 1600, canals all over the city that make it humid and with shades of green everywhere, bikes everywhere you go and dodgy alleys holding “coffee shops” usually even more dodgy. Ah, and let’s not forget the Red Light District. The city is actually small (I walked from center to east, than south, then west and then center again in 7h), but there’s greatness on it.

Maybe I am not a good writer, but all of the above is actually GREAT. Here are some of my pictures from the one day walking trip:

The architecture is truly amazing (especially for a Brazilian that has very little experience in Europe).

The canals add a touch to the city (and a very helpful way to find out where you are in the map, if you have any).

Bikes everywhere. You can’t see a place without them.

Some cool parks too (but not nearly as green as Oslo, of course)

I don’t have pictures, but some other stuff:

- Coffee shops. After 7 hours walking, I had nothing else to do, so I went to the “Bulldog”, the first coffee shop in Amsterdam (founded in 1975), just by the Red Light District. For those not versed in the NETHERLANDER language, coffee shop means “marijuana shop”. I had to taste the aspect of smoking with the blessing of the law, even though I am a totally non-smoker (proved by how many times I actually coughed while smoking, making a total fool of myself). I bough pre-rolled joints, because I had never rolled one (as I said, I don’t smoke). I can say the feeling of that was pretty interesting, it was like being mild drunk and mild LSD: a little problems with motion coordination, blurry vision, lots of thoughts and some strange senses and 6th sense. Definitely good, but, still, I hate the act of smoking itself, so there’s no way I am going to do it again.

Besides that, even smoking pot being legalized in the Netherlands, I believe that smoking is also helping international drug dealers, because the source of the weed is the same anyway. So, in the end, even thought it was wrong, I did it - mostly because I am very pro legalizing hemp. I don't smoke it, but if cigarretes and alcohol are legal (and we humans are quite keen on poisoning ourselves with it), I don't see any reason with hemp shouldn't be. I would not go for it anyway, but, hey, let those guys smoke their pot in peace.

- Red Light District* (it is “forbidden” to take pictures).

I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but, really, I was not expecting anything good at all. Public places with whores tend, in my Brazilian view, to be decadent, filled with dodgy (dangerous) characters, with ugly & sad girls and a possible a place to get:
a) drugs
b) diseases
c) robbed
d) killed

What I found in the dodgy alleys of Red Light, just by a big beautiful church to save us from our sins, was lots of happy smiling tourists (mainly men, of course) and damn pretty girls illuminated by red lights (which is kind of a sad thing in its own ways). I do believe a lot in energy (not in a new wave fashion or freak-o-teric way) and definitely Red Light District has a weird energy around it. Besides being a happy, sexy and cool place on the surface, it is a very sad and frightening place, full of vices and bad bad people. I could sense that those girls using underwear, behind glass windows, so angelical and devilish at the same time, are afraid to be punched or stabbed by some crazy psycho, are probably addicted to some shitty thing and exchange their flesh and soul for money (with men that can’t get such pretty girls for one reason or another). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pity them, such pretty girls probably chose that path and most of them might even be proud of it. But, anyway, they are screwing up their body and soul (NOT in a catholical way, sex per se has NO PROBLEM at all and it’s not a sin – in fact it’s a sacred thing). But I guess I can’t explain that without sounding crazy, so I just say: go there and check out those babies, you will be impressed. But beware and protect yourself.

Sad story in the district: I was passing by one of those alleys and there was this guy on a wheel chair. A high tech one, that you can drive around as a electric car or something. I overheard his conversation with the beauty:

- But I won't hurt you.
- Yeah, I know, maybe tomorrow. (generating excuses voice)
- Yeah, maybe tomorrow... (disapointed voice)

I could not help but to notice that, besides the guy being on a wheel chair, in case the whore would accept him, he would have to climb the everest of 2 steps to actually get into the little room. Sad

If you want to check all the pics of my Netherlands experience, check it on my Picasa.

And, finally (not connected to red light at all):

BEST HOSTING AWARD goes to Daniel Prestes. Thanks a lot, man! Prestes hosted me his house, even cooked to me one chinese meal and made everything possible for me to have an A-class stay. That was amazing.

* there are several “red light” districts, but the one I am mentioning here is the true one, near the church. In the others, I was told, there are ugly girls and/or transvestites (indicated by blue lights, instead of red).