30 July 2011

Simon Sinek: If You Don't Understand People, You Don't Understand Business

A very good talk about authenticity, organizational culture and a bunch of other stuff. Not really so explicit, but this video shows why Google and Apple are loved brands, while Unilever and Proctor & Gamble just sell a lot.

Via 99%, an infinite source of amazingness.

22 July 2011

Mumbai and Oslo blasts

A week ago, Mumbai had 3 blasts. "Another terrorist attack", most Indians thought (silently, they are too used to give a damn). I must confess that even though I live in the other side of the country, it felt strangely close. I mean, I was never in the same country of a terrorist attack.

"But, Sergio, you are Brazilian, a country where everyday there are people being murdered", you might reply. Yes, but terrorism feels somewhat different than crime. At least to me. Crime almost always has a component of money. You always think that it happens for a reason: because you have money or belongings that others don't; because people didn't have any education and the only opportunity they were given was to wield a gun; etc. It seems there is a logic somehow. Maybe I see that only because I was born Brazilian and I am used to that craziness.

A terrorist attack, on the other hand, seems pretty random. No one never expects it (yes, we expect crime in Brazil) and it always hits people that, at best, care very little about whatever cause one is trying to promote by using terrorism. It seems random, unjust and demented.

Here in India, people might think that this is normal. As in Brazil we think crime is normal.

But Norway... how could Oslo blow up?

Strangely, even though I am living in India, that blast in Oslo felt so much very close that a few tears escaped my eyes when I realized what happened. Tears of sadness, mixed with anger and confusion. How could they do that? Most importantly: why?

Copied from The Atlantic: Why on Earth would Norway be a target for attack? The country is famed as an international peace negotiator, the home of the Nobel Peace Prize, and the distributor of more foreign aid per capita than any other country. It's an all-round international good guy -- so long as we aren't talking about whaling.

The above are just facts. Having lived in Norway for 3 years, I can not even begin explaining how unfair and coward (not to mention pointless) such an act is. The very nature of Norwegians is to live and let let live, to respect individuality, to not interfere or disrespect others...

I used to live 5-10 minutes away from the place the blast happened and it pains me very much to see such a pointless act against such good natured people as the Norwegians. I hope this does not change their good hearts, because this event only shows that the world is in urgent need of "Norwegianess".

Update: it seems that the bombing in Oslo was coordinated with a shooting in a youth labor party conference. And both events were connected. Which makes the bombing a inside job done by crazy Norwegians. If you never visited Oslo and Norway, you might think "well, crazy people exist in every country" - and you are right, they do exist. But a Norwegian acting as a terrorist is so far fetched, so surprising, so unexpected, that first I would suspect my dog (which I don't even have). The world is definitely getting crazier by the day, even the extremely civilized and pacific Norway.

17 July 2011

India experience - almost 2 months - the eye in the heart

In which I look and see.

Do you know this thing lots of Indians use in their forehead?

I will not pretend I am a great expert in the subject, just accept my half-baked explanation: this dot is not only decorative, it is a religious sign. Kind of the 3rd eye, or the eye where you see things that your two common eyes do not see. It is also a sign of illumination, the soul, the connection which all of us have with the One (God, the universe, Harry Potter or whatever suits you).

Today some friends and I were in a rickshaw towards a beach resort. The auto driver gave us the pleasure of one of those catchy and rhythmic Indian songs. With this soundtrack, I observed what was going outside, since I was sitting in the outer part of the rickshaw. What I saw was a bunch of randomness, chaos, poverty, faith, sculptures of gods (from Buddha to my dear Ganesh), colors, smiles, sadness, hard work... And then it hit me:

It is pretty!

There is something strangely pretty in all this. One just need to attune the heart eye to perceive something different than classic western beauty. I don't think that was about my two eyes, it was almost like a feeling.

Random post, eh? Have fun!


Why I am not speaking about the blasts in Mumbai? Because no one around here talks about it. Strangely enough, I think I was the one that looked most shocked with the news. No one seems to care. No one even commented about it in the office the day after. Odd.

07 July 2011

India experience - 1.5 month - The Path to Illumination

In which I find Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, fight depression after receiving a pep-talk from my teammate and have the epiphany of The Path to (my own) Illumination.

One of these days, I found a golden statue of Ganesh in one of my drawers in my wardrobe. Certainly from the previous renters of the flat, the little elephant-headed statue was not more than 5 centimeters tall. I didn't pay so much attention to it and I just let it rest inside the wardrobe.

I might not look like the type (neither I give many hints about it), but I am deeply spiritual person, even though I don't have any religion. So one of these days I was browsing the web randomly and I started reading about  Indian gods. I was reading about Ganesh, which is one of the most beloved indian gods, and one thing called my attention: among other things, Ganesh is the remover of obstacles.

It is no secret that I am having a major hard time in India, with cultural shock hitting me with both feet on my chest. I thought "remover of obstacles, eh?"

Now here I must expose the crazy things that go inside my head when I say I am a spiritual person and not a religious one:

Crazy idea #1 - The Truth is only one, but wise men have called it by many names.
I believe in one God. The true God. But I believe that everything is an emanation of God. In other words, it is all just different aspects of God - like looking to those mirror labyrinths, the images reflected in different mirrors certainly look different, but they are all the same thing, just reflected in a different way. Which means that everything is God (or different aspects of God), including you, me and that tree over there (yes, the rickshaw driver is also an emanation of God - but I wouldn't say it is a particularly good one).

You can burn me later, I saved the best for the last: if everything is God, then no religion is wrong.

Crazy idea #2 - If you and me are emanations of God, we have god-like powers
And if you, me and them have god-like essence & powers, we can make things happen just by wishing hard enough (The Secret feelings anyone?). So if a bunch of people (1 billion?) believes that an elephant-headed god is the remover of obstacles, it will help people to "access" the "remover of obstacles" energy from God. We invented the gods, we make them powerful and, when we forget them, they lose their powers and fade away. (Connected, but not really, read American Gods, excellent fiction).

And this ends up the crazy explanation of what goes inside my head. Continuing from where we stopped:

"remover of obstacles, eh?"

Than I put the Ganesh statue in my office and gave him a bit of a nudge and a chat here and there during the day, especially the difficult ones. At home I started meditating about my obstacles in India and why I was having such a hard time, while the others seem to be much better.

Yesterday was one of those hard days at the office. I was feeling destroyed, defeated and complaining about everything. So much that one of my colleagues had to get me and talk about it. "Hey, let's focus on solution, we are only complaining, that is not right". I am glad by his leadership, that is what I was needing at that moment. I immediately recognized the down-spiral, the hopeless attitude and all the things that I should not do when I was MCP. And I invoked the MCP god energy and the wish for Ganesh to help me to clear up the obstacles on my way. I decided to end it right there. I needed to snap out of the defeated mode. For those that know me, they know I am capable of very dramatic changes in behavior to accomplish objectives. That is what I decided doing.

After that, I had a blast at work, I impacted the lives of the trainees that just arrived, had some good social time with the guys at the office and, at home, had these revelations:

#1 - I can't change the whole of India, I am only one god, they are more than a billion.
#2 - I am unhappy because I am focusing on complaining. What we focus on is what we will notice. "Think of buying an yellow car and suddenly everyone is driving that yellow car". Perception is reality for the perceiver.
#3 - I am unhappy because I am feeling purposeless in India, which lead me to create the Path of Illumination (just a fancy way to say "happy life plan")

Goal #1: enjoy India - this country has so much to offer, what a waste of time to focus on all that makes me unhappy. I will change those 274 trainees lives. I will travel around the great and magic places and experience the India that one should experience before death. I will make deeper friendship (but I am still not seeking loads of friends, I prefer few deep relationships), I will find ways to enjoy the physical space in Chennai (beach? Sparky's? Temples?) and STOP COMPLAINING.

Goal #2prepare the ground for doing what I love, with who I love and where I love - That I really cannot say so much about, just that it is on its way and I am really thinking this can go very right!

Now, I am walking the Path.

But do not follow me. Each person has to find his/her own path.

03 July 2011

Open letter to Amazon

Dear Amazon,

Since I bought the marvelous Amazon Kindle, I can't stop buying Kindle books. I certainly buy more ebooks than I can possibly read (even though I am a hell of an avid reader, but I digress...). Here is the deal:


I don't buy paper books anymore, haven't your smart CRM system noticed? It is damn smart to know which books I like (thus the good suggestions I receive in my e-mail), but it is not smart enough to know I only want ebooks?

I really don't want to opt out from your e-mail suggestions system, but I am starting to get annoyed by this.

Fix it, please.

My Google+ predictions

If you are oblivious about what is Google+, please stop right here and watch this. All the rest of you that are not my mother may keep reading.

Like the comic above, that is how most people are seeing Google+.

I don't. 

Disclaimer: I am a Google groupie (but I don't particularly hate Facebook, I find it a great tool).

But my prediction about Google+ is that it will win the hearts of the people who have less time for randomness and are more interested in filtering the never ending "I am eating an apple" and "Wow, big poop today". It will become the main tool for meaningful online social interaction.

Why? Good that you asked:

There are 2 key features that distinguish it from Facebook: Circles and Hangout.


Sometimes I want to share something that everyone might be interested, so I can include all those in the communication. But sometimes I might be feeling down or I got a job offer and I want only to tell my close friends, not everyone. Or, even better, I want to share something only with the people that live in Chennai or only those friends that speak Portuguese. Each of those can be a circle (and a person can be in more circles, for example, I have a circle with my Big Bang team and all of them are also in the circle "close friends", which includes other people also.

How this changes the game: circles will make the smart people think about target audience before they post something. This will reduce the amount of random information one gets, which will lead to more meaningful interaction.

I was going to share the trailer of a documentary about the making of indie games. Typically on Facebook & Twitter I would just share. In Google+ I thought "hmmm, that really does appeal to only part of my friends, the geek ones, I will make a circle and only share it with them". All the rest of my friends that does not have interest for my geeky stuff will just stay oblivious. I am not interrupting them.

The challenge: for this to happen, people have to be disciplined enough to a) create relevant circles (which demands a bit of time in the beginning) and b) don't act as complete idiots and think about "who would be interested in that post?" Since in the beginning only the tech-savvy will be joining, there is a good possibility it will happen, but once my mom and the rest of the family come (if they will), then I am not sure.


Do you have those times where you are really not doing anything and just want to chat with someone randomly? Well, hangout is for you then. You just press a button saying you are starting a hangout and you are moved to a virtual room with video chat and people can come to chat with you. 

"Oh, this is not new! It is Chatroulette! It has only perverts chatting with strangers!" will scream the troll.

No, no, my dear troll friend, the catch of the hangout is simple: only the people in specific circles of your choice may join the hangout. I am a almost 30 year old guy, when I was young there was no web or even mobile phones (yes, there was a time those didn't exist!), how did we meet our friends? We used to HANGOUT in the same place and time, so the people from that group would join eventually. Like the cafe where the people from Friends used to go.

How this changes the game: I want to talk, but I am not available to everyone, I am available to only a few friends. It also removes the barrier to "schedule a chat" or anything like this in Skype. You just start hanging out and a friend will join to chat. It just blew my mind - and I didn't even talk about the extra spicy stuff, like this room can have up to 10 people using video chat, you can share Youtube videos that you all see at the same time, etc.

The challenge: without critical mass (a lot of people using Google+), this is still only a gimmick.

Google+, you will put fear in Facebook, Twitter and Skype. I want you to win.

02 July 2011

The leadership pendulum between reflection and action

I tend to be a person that, like a pendulum, swings between deep reflection (especially self-reflection) and insane fast-paced action. More or less like this: I think of what is going on, I get to a conclusion, make a plan of what I should do and then use the 5th gear to go towards whatever I decided. I find it useful, especially when I remember to go into a quick reflection to check if I am going to the right place and if I need to adjust the course.

It is useful to think like that, because I see a lot of people constantly bogged down by their own thoughts and uncertainty, really paralyzed, unable to act. I am a deep believer that it is better to do something than wait around. I also believe that it is better to make a mistake fast, so you can correct it fast. I also believe there is a time for input and a time for hammering on. Which sometimes makes me very frustrated when I have to work with people that come back to review previous decisions taken or stop everything to give you a new set of requirements.

* Sometimes I post in this blog things that are in fact not to the normal reader, but reminders to myself (or a-ha moments I need to capture). This space is also my own leadership journey. Sorry for the interruption. :)