If You Survive Your Family You Will Survive Life


I open my eyes and there is a knife 5 centimetres away from my throat, it is my brother trying to kill me for the third time.

No! That never happened, that’s not what I am talking about. I believe your family has the various types of people you will find in your life. Some are smart, some are stubborn, some are complicated, some like you a lot, others not so much and yet they are all members of the same family, your family.


My parents divorced when I was little and married their current partners some years later, so, I have four families. There are all kinds of people in my family and I believe that if I can survive them all, if I learn to deal well with each of them I will certainly thrive in my life. Because if I can’t cope with someone who is a kin of mine how will I bear someone who isn’t even that? And I know sometimes there are people who are really hard to deal with. But first, allow me a brief digression.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was given to me by Sir Benjamin Franklin, it saved me from a lot of trouble. He said “Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody”, and thinking this way he got to be United States ambassador in France. I just erased half of what I had written in this text. I would use some of the people of my family as examples, wasn’t a wise decision. You gain nothing for saying bad things about people, so don’t do it.

Your family life will teach you skills that you can’t imagine how much would cost you if you had to learn it somewhere else. If you really survive your family you will learn how to deal with emotional blackmailing, how to win an argument, how to show a point of view effectively, how to talk to someone who is not thinking rationally, learn to wait for the right time to ask for things, learn to apologise, to make peace, to share, to give in, learn that just because someone is talking with confidence it doesn’t mean the person is right and many other things. In your work life these are critical abilities, they can be the difference between being the boss or a subordinate.

There are many skills we can learn from our family, but there is a specific one that, I have noticed, haven’t been well taught. It is the ability to admit you are wrong. The worst thing when you are arguing with someone is to notice that you are wrong in the middle of the argument, it is awful. I understand you have your pride and that you want to show superiority, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are wrong. If you go on with the argument pretending you are right you will only make things worse for everyone. For you, for example, it will be bad because you will be lying, you will be defending something you think is wrong and you will be losing your credibility because people will think you are either stupid (for not noticing you are wrong) or crazy for defending such a wrong thing.

All through his dialogues Plato makes use of elenkhós, the refutation method, and condemns the methods used by the sophists (the wannabe philosophers of the epoch). As Plato explains, real philosophers use dialectic to question each other and thus, through refutation, get to the real truth, while sophists had as object of their quest not the real truth, but the appearance of being right. So, acting this way, they could reach to the conclusion that anything they wanted to be right, they could “prove” it to be right, and this way they lost their credibility, because if you really wanted to know if something was right or not you wouldn’t go to a sophist, because instead of the real truth he would rather tell you his opinion — which he would try to prove true.

When you don’t admit you are wrong you are acting just as a sophist, despised by Plato. You make it hard for people to treat with you, because you don’t make sense, you are not being rational. Learn to admit you are wrong, learn to apologise. People will like you better. It won’t make you look stupid, when you admit you are wrong you immediately improve. Now you are better than you were a second ago, because a second ago you thought that something wrong was right but now your thinking is better than that.

Another cool thing you learn with your family is patience. I am a longsuffering man, not easily irritated, but if you try to be funny in waking me up, you are looking for trouble. Today I was sleeping and my 5 years old sister screamed in my ear “WAKE UP TO LIIIFE!”. In this moment God himself descended from his throne in heaven and took my spirit away to a far and calm place, with mild waters and a nice green grass, and I am forever thankful to him  for doing that, because if it didn’t happen, now I wouldn’t have a sister anymore.  And that’s how you learn to be patient. If no one try to make you mad you are not learning patience, you are just in a peaceful environment. Patience is not important when everything is right and calm, it is needed when you are right in the middle of a huge shitstorm. Remember that in an argument whoever gets angry first, loses.

But that is your family. It is good sometimes, annoying sometimes, you have got to deal with it. And if you survive your family, if you learn to deal well with all of them in all kinds of situations, then you can be sure you will thrive everywhere you go.

How You Waste Time Every Time You Think You Are Making It Count


Have you ever wasted so much time on something that in the end you didn’t want to stop, because you didn’t want to waste the time you already wasted on that? Welcome to the 21st century, an era where time is more precious than ever, but still we waste a lot of it wondering how we will make it up for the time we are wasting.

My mum asked me to make the art of a banner for an event. After hours and hours of work, my mum comes and says “Take this picture out and use the other one you used in the brochures” while pointing to the main image in the banner. I couldn’t believe it, it had taken me so much time to put that photo there; I adjusted the colours, made sure it blended perfectly, put some cool stuff in it, why to take it off? “I don’t like it. And besides, it is out of focus” she said.

I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t use the pic. I tried to convince her in every possible way. It wasn’t because I would have any problem with the other picture, which was actually better, because the other one was already ready. The only thing I had to do was to substitute the pictures, it would hardly take 30 seconds. But I wasted so much time in this one. Why to use the other one?

There is little party happening tonight at city centre, and today is also the premiere of a film about the French revolution . A certain woman, who is very fond of French history, although inclined to going to the party because of the presence of a pretty interesting guy who is new in town, is heading to the premiere to accompany a friend, who got a free ticket to the film. The friend got just one free ticket, so the woman is buying her own ticket.

After 30 minutes it is pretty obvious that the film totally sucks. The friend decided to leave. She knew the party was much more fun. The woman stayed even though she knew the party was a better option, and she could probably talk to the new guy. But the ticket was expensive. She paid to be there, so she wouldn’t leave until the film was finished!

What does the story of this woman have in common with my indignation when my mum asked me to change the pictures? It is something called “The price of investment”. When we have done a significant investment in something and this investment turns out to be bad, we just can’t conceive it. In our mind there is something like “I’ve invested so much in this, I won’t give up now”. Sometimes it is because of our pride, sometimes it’s because we think that if we do something this worthless investment will be useful. If you stop and see, there was no advantage whatsoever in continuing the investment in the previous examples. If I changed the pictures the banner would be better than before, if I didn’t it would stay a little odd. But there was nothing that I could do that would give me back the time I spent preparing the image. In the case of the woman, she probably thought that staying in the theatre she was making her money count. But the reality was that she already spent the money, and there was nothing she could do to have it back. If she reasoned a bit, she would notice she had two alternatives. She could either go to the party and have fun meeting the guy she liked, or stay there and watch the bad film to the end. Hence, given that neither of the alternatives would make her money go back to her wallet, the best rational decision was obviously the party, independently of the previous investment. The friend who didn’t hesitate to leave the theatre in fact made this decision so easily because she certainly thought she was losing nothing, because her ticket was free.

Have you ever seen someone who has a problematic car? The car breaks again and again. and the owner is always spending more and more money to fix it. The car breaks, but the owner doesn’t want to sell it. He thinks the price he can get in the car is too low for the investment he has already made. The owner can’t see that there is no “get investment back” alternative. He can either get a little money on the car, or stay with a problematic car for a while more — this alternative would probably lead to more spending in fixes.

Many times, because we spent so much effort on something, we just can’t admit it was a bad choice and leave it. When you go to the theatre you do exactly as the woman of the example. It doesn’t matter how bad the film is, you don’t leave the room for anything on earth. You paid for the ticket and you think that if you stay, you are making it count. You buy clothes that are ugly as hell. But you paid for them, so you have to wear them at least some times before you give’em to someone else. The food is terrible, but you eat it all because in the end it was an expensive restaurant.

Yesterday I was writing a post about something I did when I was angry. I wrote a bit and went to sleep. Today I sat here and tried to continue it. I don’t like it, but I have already written a thousand words! It is almost done, I just have to finish and it’s ready to publish. And then it dawned on me. I gain nothing if I finish it. I won’t get my time back, but I can stop right now and don’t waste more on it. Then, I thought of writing about how I didn’t write about anger, which was much better.

Sometimes you waste so much time on something that in the end you don”t want to stop, because you don’t want to waste the time you already wasted on that. But remember, you can’t have your time or your money back, but you still can decide not to waste the time and money you have left.

How To Be Smarter Than Anyone Else


I was in a Mathematical Analysis II class. My teacher, professor Luiz Fiorante, was by far the craziest teacher I ever had, and also the most intelligent one. I always thought I had a good mind, that somehow I was a bit smarter than everyone around me (later on I discovered that everyone thinks this way). But in his classes I felt just stupid. Sometimes he asked some questions to the class that were so simple I thought no one could ever answer it wrong, and then I did. Very often he got angry with the class, he said “No sean soretes!” (which means something like “Don’t be a piece of crap”). But not real angry, just enough to make people think a bit more before saying anything.

Once he was angry because someone used some concept wrongly, then he asked a question that absolutely blew my mind. Not because of the answer, but because in this moment a spark lit in my head. He asked: “Is an elephant greater than another elephant?”

Of course! He just cannot trick me with this one! There are elephants with different sizes and there is nothing he an say to change that!! I was thinking about everything he could possibly say, and when I was absolutely sure I said out loud: “Yes, there are”.

Fortunately enough he didn’t hear me. He answered to the class with a loud “NO!”. “Elephants cannot be compared, you cannot say an elephant is bigger than another elephant, just as you can’t say an elephant is bigger than a cat.”

Wait a minute! I don’t care where you studied or even if Archimedes himself appeared personified just for you and gave you such a revelation, but that is just wrong! Your reasoning is bad and you should feel bad about it!

Everything happened in just some seconds, but in my head I couldn’t conceive such thing. I was wondering what on earth he  would say to make it up for what he had just stated. Then he continued: “things cannot be compared this way, the only things that can be compared like that are numbers. A number is greater than another number, not an elephant. The number that represents an elephant’s hight, or width, or length or volume can be greater than another elephant’s, but not the elephant himself.  Does the opposition exist? (he was talking about opposition to the government of Argentina’s president Cristina Kirchner) no! There are various groups of people who oppose the government, they are treated as the opposition…”. Then he went on with some other subjects.

This may look like something very simple, and somehow obvious. You could say “well, of course I was talking about numbers, if you asked me to show how bigger than another an elephant was I would grab the metric tape and compare their hight”. But the fact is that that was not what was said. When you said an elephant is bigger than the other you didn’t say what would be the criteria. So, given the broadness of your statement, you could be saying anything. Let’s remember that half a truth is a lie.

What fascinated me this day was that he was showing me something I had never seen before. He was teaching me to think differently. He was showing that there are a lot of things in our day to day world that we give for granted, so we don’t look at them. He showed that we can only create a real impact, a real change in something, if we look deeply into the roots of consents and prejudices that are constantly overlooked. Like the common agreement that we can say that an elephant is greater than another, even if we don’t clarify which attribute will be measured. He was teaching us to ask what no one else was asking.

There is an old story called “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. A long time ago, there was an empire whose emperor was very vain. One day, two foreign weavers arrived at the city and went to meet with the emperor. They said they could weave a tissue that was the most beautiful on earth, and that this tissue had some special properties. It could be seen neither by simpletons nor by people who were not fit for their offices. The vain emperor loved the idea and asked them to weave clothes for him with this splendid tissue. He gave them big sums of money to start weaving immediately. The thing is that the weavers were dodgers and the whole tissue story was a farce. In the due day the emperor went to see and try his new clothes, made of this magnificent tissue. When they showed it the emperor didn’t see anything, because they were showing nothing. Afraid of being a fool or unfit for his job, he asked the opinion of the officers of the crown that accompanied  him. They too didn’t see a thing, but deep in their minds they were thinking “is it possible that I am a simpleton? Or that I am unfit for my officer?”. Consumed by fear of shame, both said the clothes were exquisite, that they had never seen anything more beautiful than that. Hearing the responses of his officers, the emperor pretended to see the clothes and asked to put it on. The weavers pretended to dress him and he pretended to love the tissue. Then he went to a procession trough the middle of his capital, wearing just the magic clothes. Everyone, afraid of the same shame, praised the emperor’s outfit. Suddenly a kid shouted “Daddy he is naked!”. The crowd began to whisper and then everyone noticed there was no clothe at all. The emperor decided to go on with the procession till the end and the dodgers escaped with the gold.

It’s undoubtedly a great story. The boy, probably because he was a child, had the courage to speak up and say what he thought, even though everybody else seemed to think otherwise. That’s the secret to surprise everyone anywhere you go. If you just say what no one else says, people will think you are different, that you have a great mind or that you are more clever than others. People do this because they probably think the same, but they are too insecure to say it.

My math teacher’s lesson was so important because in our day to day we don’t go out on the streets questioning everything. There may be things we disagree with but we don’t even notice because we are used to accept it. Its as if there were some kind of previously agreed upon rules by which we guide our behaviour, and we are so accustomed that when someone says he disagrees with some of them,  we are perplexed. Not merely by the decision to disagree, which could be made by any of us, but by the fact that this person noticed this specific pattern of behaviour. Because in the end, you can never change something you are not aware of.

In the story of the Emperor’s new clothes, the reason no one else said they didn’t see the tissue is that everyone is insecure.People like people who say things no one else says because they are so insecure they are dying to find someone who is confident, so he can pass the sense of security to them. That’s why you should have a clear goal. If you have a clear and easily understandable goal, which you show everybody and talk confidently about it, people will tend to help you, they will follow you.

Do you know when you are with your friends and then you say “where should we go?” and no one decides? Well, if you say “that’s the place, lets go!”  they’ll all follow you. Even if they don’t agree too much. As human beings we still have animal tendencies, so, if you act like you are the leader of a group, they will believe you are.

Fortunately, I discovered that. At the same time I was presumptuous, thinking I was smarter than people around me, I was also deadly insecure. I always thought people would think I was an idiot. I learned to play well the piano and the guitar, I had good grades and older people often said “Oh, he is so smart”. But I still felt as if I was only good on these things, that outside of that I was a disaster. And it was true at some level. I always asked people’s help to do anything. I could do nothing on my own, I was always leaning on someone else, leaving the responsibility to them. So, people always acted like “Oh, he is so intelligent, but he can’t stay alone at home, he is too absent-minded”. That’s how I felt, absent-minded. People said it so much I totally believed it.

The absent-minded kid, although an excellent person, cannot be trusted with responsibility and should always be supervised.  Being treated this way, I thought the value I had came only from the few things I did well. So,  to me, as long as I impressed people I’d be ok. That was just bad. It made me jealous of people who had some talent or stood out in some way. This kind of thinking is absolutely destructive.

My parents have leader roles and with time I began to observe and learn. They taught me uncountable good things about leadership. In the end, if you want to be a leader you should act as one. But if you want to be a good leader, then you must see what led can’t. As leader you don’t have to be smarter than the people you deal with, that’s completely unnecessary. It’s enough if you can guide them well, and to guide them you have to see farther than they see, and that’s not intelligence. A young MBA can be much smarter than an illiterate old man, but experience gave the old man ability to see farther than the enthusiastic young guy. Now, you don’t have to learn through experience, that’s the slowest and most painful way to learn. You should learn by mentorship. Learning by experience is learning from your own mistakes, learning by mentorship is learning from someone else’s mistakes. The value of a mentor is incalculable, but a book will do too.

Great people have great mentors

Learning about leadership took the jealousy out of me. There’s a book called “Leadership with purpose”, and it says that the highest level of leadership is the leader who creates leaders able to create more leaders. The leader is not jealous, he is happy when his led improve. Leaders help people getting better. they make them improve.

When you try to make people improve, you help people everywhere you go, doors start opening to you. There is a book called “Never Eat Alone”, where Keith Ferrazzi talks about the importance of networking. He explains that you build a contact network helping people. You help them, connect them, and when you see you’re creating value. And this value comes back to you later, when you need something you will probably know someone who is willing to help you.

You see, every book, film or idea is built upon an insight. An insight is nothing more than seeing what no one else had noticed before. Every great phrase or technique is nothing more than life being analysed with common sense but from a different outlook.

That day the math teacher was teaching us to be more like the boy in the emperor’s story. Because in the end, life is what we make out of it. You will be better off than anyone else if you learn to think for yourself. In the end your opinion is neither better nor worse than anyone’s, but at least is your’s, it’s sincere. While you don’t ask why aren’t life the way you want it to be, you will be fated to live it the way someone else thinks it should be.

So, What’s The Way To Decide?


I’m moving to another country in three weeks. Everything I accumulated during 20 years will have to fit in two 23 Kg suitcases and a 5 Kg handbag. I will leave a lot of stuff behind. But do you know what is the best thing? The best is that I could use just one of the 23 Kg ones and I would be happy. The most precious things I have are my books, my guitar, my Buzz Lightyear toy, the photos and songs in my hard drive and the picture frame my girlfriend gave me. If I can take that with me I will be satisfied.

I always thought that what gives value to people are qualities they would still have if they were naked in the middle of the desert. Be rich, have good taste for clothes, play well the piano, drive like Speed Racer. These are things that can impress a lot of people, but who are you when there is no wealth backing you up or status drawing a line between you and them, or no audience to regard you as a credible person?

Actually, that’s quite unfair. People have great qualities that can shine only when there’s something else in the scene. Like a good talker, a good negotiator, a good writer or good listener. These are qualities many people, myself included, seek to learn, and they can add value to the bearers lives and to society, but invariably need the presence of things (like other people) to have value.

People very often create a set of expectations over a subject, and then, after that, they create a prejudice.  People want to get in shape, they hear they have to do exercises, they see that people sweat when they exercise, and then they think that if they are sweating they are exercising. That may seem like a dumb example, but we actually do that much more often than we think.

When we draw that kind of silly conclusions we are trying to define the content of something by looking at its form. It’s like fever! Fever is not an illness. When you go to the doctor he doesn’t say “yeah man, you got a Fever, take this ice cube”. That’s because fever is the by-product of a real problem. You can almost assure that if someone has some specific illness, then this person will have fever. But it would be foolish to state the opposite.

Well, that’s exactly what we  do when we invert form and content. And when a huge group of people, sometimes our whole world, have this wrong perspective, we tend to believe that’s the real deal, the truth (remember your “whole world” is everything and everyone you know, not more than that).

Warren Buffet cites Benjamin Graham’s advice in his biography:

“You’re neither right nor wrong because other people agree with you. You’re right because your facts are right and your reasoning is right”

Benjamin Graham

Based on these prejudices, people often-times look more to the form than to the content of some stuff. Here is my top ten list of form-content inversion and an attempt to explain how it happens.

Relationships – Undoubtedly the most recurrent topic in young minds — and not so young too. People have defined relationships in their heads with what happens in relationships instead of with what really is a relationship. On internet you see a bunch of images of people hugging or kissing, with a sepia effect and a moving phrase; all of them supposedly showing how a relationship should be like. And then, when it’s time to have a relationship, the girl assumes the “role” of the girlfriend and the boy the “role” of the boyfriend. From friends to boyfriend and girlfriend they have a drastic change in behaviour instantly. The girl feels she should ~behave like the girlfriend~.

That’s adopting the form of the thing, Mimic the movements of someone else, someone else’s experience. Relationships should be spontaneous! You don’t have to act like that just because that’s the way couples do, you should act in a way that makes you feel good; not focusing the form of a relationship but its content, its meaning.For example, a form-oriented couple and a content-oriented one walk on the street. Both are walking hand on hands with their respective partner. One couple thinks: “we have to change our facebook status, we have to spend more time together, we have to watch romantic films in the theatre; we ought to do all that cuz that’s what a couple does”. And the other one thinks: “I’d love to tell everyone that I found you, ill change my facebook status so people will know it faster; It was so good being with you, I can barely wait to see you again; Hey Star Wars episode VII is out! how about we see it instead of it’s boring romance competitors?”.

One is guided by what they want to do, and the other one by what they think they should do. Well, not surprisingly, the wrong interpretation brings along problems. This flawed conception creates undue fears like insecurity. A good example of a content and meaning-focused instead of form-focused film, is undoubtedly “When a Man Loves a Woman”. What a great film!

The thing is that some people see relationships as a structured model they should adapt to if they want to partake of its feelings banquet. When in fact, relationship is just a name for what happens when two friends like each other so bad they would like to kiss. If your partner is not your best friend, then that can be a big warning that maybe you are living the form-focused paradigm.

Religion – Needless to say that the conception people have of religion is wrong time and time again. Even religious people sometimes can’t get this one. And the worse thing is when someone tries to explain the subject to someone else and either makes it more confuse, or explains it wrong.

I’m a Christian. With Christianity the idea is simple, there’s a book that states some values, we gotta follow that. Some people ,attempting to bring more people to think alike, build big places and gather great amounts of people. Nothing wrong with that; actually, that’s the idea. But people are used to routines, and when you are dealing with other people there must be order or else you won’t get anywhere.

The problem arises when people are so worried about the routines and customs, and they come from so long ago, that people forget the real purpose for which the habits were adopted. Then they start to think that the customs are the real thing, and forget about the values. And that’s what generates the bunch of controversy we see everywhere. And that’s how they invert form and content.

Formal Studies – I’ll go straight to the point: Formal Studies are overrated.

People go wild when they hear this, but that’s the ugly truth. They get pissed off in front of such a statement because if they did’t go to University they at least want their children to go. And they don’t really think about all the pros and cons of  choosing to study or not . But that’s a discussion for another post, let me focus on the  inversion.

Nowadays a graduate degree is almost essential. There are specifications on whatever your mind can imagine. That’s very different from 60 years ago, when superior studies were not only uncommon but rare. With the increasing demand, the Universities’ supply augmented but the quality of the new players were not exactly the best.

Once that two people doing the same job have different salaries if one of them has a degree and the other hasn’t , people begun to look at graduate studies as a degree instead of a place to learn to do something. As our world grows more and more capitalistic, people little by little lose sight of the idea of creating something, and replace it with a desired salary.

It is when the degree is regarded as more important than the own knowledge acquired that the content has been substituted by the form.

Advices and Advisors – Who do you listen to? When you hear an advice, what is the criteria of evaluation? Sometimes we get pretty bad advice from respectable people. Sometimes we can be well advised by some atypical people. Sometimes advices come well constructed and beautifully worded, but nonetheless wrong. And sometimes they come clumsy, but worth a listen.

The problem with this discussion is that everything depends on the person. Maybe you think that “Live fast, die young” is a good life philosophy. I’d certainly not agree with you, but we would be stuck in a dead-lock. But there is something in common between the two outlooks, and it is how we decide if a advice is good or bad for us. I’d like to highlight more the “for us”, because an advice is not inherently good or bad. It is good or bad for you. And your goals and your life expectations are the criteria to decide whether the advice is useful or not, for you.

“Don’t ever lie, to anyone” can be an excellent advice, this advice can make your career advance fast as you win a good reputation. But if you want to be an infiltrated agent in a foreign army, you will probably die if you follow this advice.

But we don’t have to go this far to find an example, simple and common sayings like “work a lot” or “get married, have children and buy a house” can be good or not depending on our goals. There are also advices that don’t really favour our goal, but show that perhaps we are treading the wrong path. That change our core ideas. And these are usually the most important ones. Because if you are heading to a cliff it’s better to change the way before you get there.

And here’s where it gets tricky. You are hearing someone saying that what you think is inherently wrong and that you should think differently. How do you decide who is wrong, if it is you or the adviser?

The inversion of form and content enters the scene here. When the way the argument is exposed matters a lot, and it can cloud the real consequences of believing it. Like the little child in a poor neighbourhood who is approached by a gangster, at his eyes a successful guy. And then the gangster conveys distorted values to the kid, and shows the life and the world as they are seen by him, a viewpoint he firmly believes is the only one right, and teaches the kid to behave in a way that leads to a cruel path. How can the kid ever go against such a convincing argument? He will grow and then at some point in his life he will be told the contrary. Maybe by someone who doesn’t look as successful as the gangster, but someone who understands that the values the grown kid now stands for are wrong. And he will have to weigh that. The form might not be pretty, but the content should not be ignored.

But again, that’s just my opinion. I think that a gangster is not qualified to educate someone to live in a fair, just and moral society. Even though our society is not like that, we should act as if it were. Because as long as we behave selfishly we will have a selfish society. But you might think otherwise anyway.

In the end we understand that to weigh advices’ contents we must have not only a set of goals, but a set of values. So, then you are able to separate the form of the message from its content, and are not deceived by its appearance. Now, philosophy has some great theories on that and I won’t go on into this subject now, the purpose here is just to stress the important difference between form and content in advices and advisors, and to point out the inversions that commonly occur.

If you would like to know more about society’s values I strongly recommend this video:

Is God Necessary for Morality? – William Lane Craig vs Shelly Kagan Debate

Shelly Kagan in the debate “Is God Necessary for Morality?” with William Lane Craig

Material things – Well, with stuff it is very simple, you pay a lot for something that isn’t really worth that much. And I’m not talking about paying for the design, I’m talking about paying for “reputation”.

Entertainment – I’m deeply disappointed with latin-american TV, the idea of adding value to society and being a mean of conveying information and healthy entertainment is lost. All you see are shows prepared to keep hypnotized fools. They show things that may attract us, but by no means are beneficial to us.

I loved to watch a show called Castelo Rá-tim-bum. It was great, I loved the characters, the people who were invited as special guests, it was  a great show. The great thing about it, although at the time I didn’t realised that, was that it showed the reality I, as a Brazilian kid, was used to seeing. It was produced by a channel called Tv Brazil — a far from popular channel. All the other channels with their audience explosions showed fake scenarios with fake people doing fake things. It was always a big and beautiful house with blond kids, and that’s definitely not the reality of 99% of Brazil. Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum showed barefoot kids playing in the street in many of their songs.

Besides showing my country’s reality it also transmitted a very good message. It taught kids the importance of taking a shower, importance of friendship, games to play with your friends and even taught how some things worked. Now I look at the “series” — that in fact are soap operas with teen sluts — that my sister watches on Nickelodeon and everything I can think is: Oh my God, my sister’s brain is being shitwashed. The series teach lies, deceiving, a lot of bad behaviour, stubbornness and selfishness, besides teaching how to be a teen slut too.

All the values are lost in this example. Now, I’m not saying there were anything like the ‘good old times’  were values were important and bla bla bla. No! As I said before, the channel that taught good things was an unpopular channel. Trash is being transmitted by mainstream channels since ever. I am also not saying that today there is nothing that provides good entertainment either. Disney-Pixar films like Toy Story, Nemo, and Brother Bear are here to prove that.

Form and Content – People can even mix up form and content. Let me be clear, form is not bad. It is not bad to look at the form of something, the form is part of the whole. The problem is when a product, or a person, or a situation, or whatever, is accepted just because of the form. And that’s what was happening in most of the situations above. But wouldn’t it also be bad if we chose stuff just because of the content?

The form is the way the content looks like, or the way it is transmitted. Now, imagine if I’m a super genius and I will give you a class. The things I will say will blow your mind, but I will give this class for 19 hours straight. I will have no dynamic at all in my speech, there will be no break and you will have to be standing the whole time.

Will this class be good? You will probably enjoy the first 30 minutes, or even the first hour, but after some time the situation will be unbearable. The content is still great, but the form is bad. So, the class, which is the combination of both, is bad.

Nowadays people think that it’s cool if you have something that no one else has. Some people try to run from the mainstream. “Oh it’s a great band, they are sooo underground, it is just a guy and a recorder, the guy never had a singing lesson in his life and has no talent at all, but he’s sooo deep”. “Oh this film is slow, ugly and has terrible acting but what a good plot!”.

Things are made of form and contend, if one of the two is missing, value is lost.

Books – I have a bit of a controversial opinion on books. You see a bunch of people everywhere bragging about having read a book before seeing it’s film, or bragging about being passionate about reading. That by itself has no sense! It is not because the trash you are consuming is written in a book that it will magically turn into wisdom.

People think that the fact that they read, no matter what, makes them intelligent in some way; not only intelligent, but more intelligent than those who don’t read.

The flaw in this conception is the widely spread prejudice that the form, a book, is by itself enough to make the content valuable. That’s a fallacy. Reading does have inherent benefits; it improves your grammar and — that’s highly dependant on what you’re reading — gives you better text interpretation skills.

Hence, although reading has intrinsic advantages it does not guarantee that you are getting smarter as you read; actually you could get dumber if you read some stuff.

People – This one is easy, you look at the person and judge her right away. It’s not your fault, it is an instinct, everyone has it, and it’s in you for a reason. The reason is protection. For the same reason our mind is set to consider any kind of secretion and excrement as disgusting and nasty, so that we don’t get close. It is set this way because these things can be harmful to us, and if we didn’t think they were nasty we would probably eat, drink, or have some kind of contact with these stuff, and then we would get sick.

Our brain works almost the same way when it comes to people. It’s a defence mechanism. We are programmed to accept people who have more in common with us more easily. That’s why there is racism , that’s why you see poor against rich, women against men, nation against nation, and so on. We are prejudiced by nature. But that’s obviously not an excuse. We are also violent by nature, polygamous by nature and jerks by nature, and that doesn’t mean that we are fated to act like that. We grow in a civilised society and learn to control our instincts. That’s why we are the ones pastoring sheep, not the other way around.

You judge people the moment you see them, but that’s not the problem here — that can even be a good thing, you should use you prejudices to guide you in a first approximation to the person. The problem arises when you think that your first impressions are right. And that’s when you invert form and content.


I’m sad to say that I lied about the top ten, as you can see there’s only nine items in the list. But that can be your homework. What do you think has an inversion of form and content?


As for my trip, I firmly believe that my 23 Kg suitcase, in spite of its clumsy way, will hold a far bigger value to me than its form can reveal.

What No One Told You About How To Make Progress in Life


I was getting home from University and I saw my step dad looking at the computer somehow surprised. Not the good surprised type, he was thunderstruck, he couldn’t believe his eyes. It was an email sent by a  friend. The email was an open letter, it was sent to almost everyone we know.

In the letter this friend said some bad things about my parents and about another guy. The friend was wrong, and everyone who received the letter knew it. Not because the email gave no good arguments, but because they knew my parents.

In life we always try to get the best deals. We don’t have much, but we believe that we can be whatever we want if we just make the right deals. Well, I have news for you. That’s completely true. If you just buy the right thing at a very low price and then sell it again at a much higher price, you’ve just made a good deal. But how many good deals do you have to make to get to where you want to be?

Probably a lot, if it was easy you would already be there.  But the good thing is that there is still time . And the bad thing is that you may not get where you want at all.

Wow, that’s harsh. But is the pure and simple truth, not everyone achieve their goals. And I would dare to say that the majority of them don’t. If you noticed there are 7 trillion people in the world, and this number is increasing right now. They are all people just like you. And even if you are a racist and you think not every human being is equal, there is enough people of your race, and that live in your country, and that have similar financial conditions to make you just another head in the multitude. You can think you are different from everyone else, but guess what… everyone thinks they are snowflakes too.

I didn’t want to be rude, but what I was trying to say is that if you really want to be different you have got to act differently. You have to do what no one else does. And try harder than the ones who couldn’t make it to the finish line of their goals. And there is a secret to going farther than anyone else, and it is something no one tells you, at least not completely:

Don’t ever lose.

Wait! Calm down. Don’t crucify me, allow me some words more and you will be gobsmacked.

First of all, I know that failure is a part of life. I aim to be an Entrepreneur, and the main qualities of the successful Entrepreneur are resistance to failure and perseverance. A bundle of perseverance can make you accomplish much more than a spark of brilliance. In life, no one can get it all. “If you never try you’ll never know”. You learn by trying and failing, and then trying again and failing again; until you get good at it.

So, if failure is inevitable, why is “Don’t ever lose” the phrase that will change your life? This “loss” that is said here has nothing to do with failure. It has to do with something called Political Capital. Political Capital is basically how much steem your peers have for you.

Don’t limit the idea. It’s not only your peers and its not only steem. Political Capital is how much people trust you, or how much they can rely on you, or how much they like you. Capital refers to value, something accountable; Politic to relationship with people. So, you can think of Political Capital as your value to someone else.

The sentence “Don’t ever lose” is not complete, the correct sentence is: “Don’t ever lose political capital”.

For every single thing you do in your life you will need someone. If you are working, you need someone to pay you. If you are in love, you need someone to kiss you. If you are in love with your boss, you need this person even more. If you want to get somewhere you will need people to help you getting there. And if these people are happy to give you a ride your path can be a lot easier. You are always promoted by someone who is above you. No one beneath you can ever give you a promotion.

You are in a journey, at the side of the street asking for a ride and trying to show the drivers that you are the perfect hitchhiker to be picked up. In life we make a lot of effort to achieve things, and we do that counting that the effort will be rewarded. What I want you to pay to pay attention to is that someone will give you this reward. You depend on people, it doesn’t matter how good you are. When you make progress in life it is because someone acknowledged your worth.

Given than your dependence on people is beyond your will, the more people like you the better. When people like you, you are promoted faster. They push you forward. Doors are opened more easily. That happens because they have no problem recognizing the worth of someone they like. It would be a lot harder for people to promote you, or open doors to you — even if you are qualified for it — if they think you are a moron.

But, does that mean I have to please everybody?

In high school I was weird and nerd (and, I must admit, rather obnoxious bragging about my results in math to the entire class). The “cool guys” didn’t like me. They were bigger, stronger, more athletic and much cooler than I was, and very often threatened to beat me. I didn’t like them at all. But at the end of our last year the whole class went to a big house in Petrópolis with a swimming pool and stuff. We spent the weekend there. I played the guitar incessantly the entire weekend and at some point a circle of people was formed. Three people had guitars in the circle and I was one of them. Everybody begun to ask for songs, we played and everyone sang along. The “cool group” were there and they too engaged on the music playing. As we sang and talked we had the chance, for the first time, to talk as civilized citizens.

At the end of the trip we were not friends, but we weren’t enemies either. We jumped from enemies to acquaintances. The kind that when you pass by on the street you don’t stop to talk but at least wave a little. How is that good? Now, some years later, I have no problem going to class reunions — that usually happen at the house of people who were more their friends than mine. I can see my real friends in an environment where I’m not uncomfortable because of the presence of anybody, and keep contact with people whom I was’t too attached but had a good relationship — you value that much more when you understand the importance of networking;  you never know where you’ll need the next door to open.

So, no. You don’t have to please everybody. But, if possible, you should try not to displease anyone. There are people who don’t like you, and you are not obliged to like or please them. But if you can make them play with you and not against you, you will be much better off. And here is why.

When you do a favour to some friend, that can mean A LOT in the moment, but with the passing of the time it inevitably loses its significance. However, when you wrong, harm or hurt someone, the impact of that will grow with the passing of the years and create bitterness. And here is the thing, what will also grow with the passing of the years is the probability that you will need this same bitter person for something. So, keep the list of people who have any kind of unpleasantness with you as small as possible.

Well, now we know that a positive balance of Political Capital is what we aim for. But what’s the problem with losing some of it once in a while? Well, what happens with our reputation and our value to people is analogous to what happens to money in the Stock Market.

from Benjamin Graham: “The Intelligent Investor”, 2007 edition with commentaries by Jason Zweig

The graph shows two investment situations, both starting year one with 10,000 dollars and finishing 17 years later at year 18 with about 22,950 dollars. The difference is that the first one had a steady growth of 5% over the whole period, and the second one lost half its value in the first year and had a 10% growth rate in the following years.

Notice, the first line didn’t do anything extraordinary. It had 5% growth, which is pretty reasonable and depending on which 17 years period we are talking about it is even bellow the Market’s average. On the other hand, the second line, after losing half its value in the first year, had to have a steady growth rate of 10% a year — which is something not easy to do — to catch up with the first line 16 years later.

Back to the analogy, once you lose a part of your capital you have to make an enormous effort to recover it; be it real money or Political Capital. It’s not even necessary to dive too deep into the 17 years of the example; looking just at the first year you can see that once you lost half your capital, you need to DOUBLE what you have JUST TO GO BACK TO THE STARTING POINT!! The second line took more than 7 years to get back to the 10,000 line again. 7 years paying the price of a mistake. Had it not invested at all in the first year and then started from the second one, it would have finished with 45,950 dollars.

That’s enough information for you to draw your own conclusions. But look, it is better for you to do NOTHING than do something that will make harm to someone, make the person  like you less, because later it will be so hard to get this steem back. The best thing I learned is to shut my mouth when I’m angry. No ironic comments or posts on facebok, just shut up. Remember, you can always tell people to go to hell tomorrow.

Don’t be cynical, you have the right to be angry and God knows there are some people who deserve a kick in ass, but you won’t do it. Because else you would be like everyone else. If someone offends or irritates you, wait until you are calm, preferably wait until the next day. Then go to the person and empathically  tell he or she what you think. Don’t be critical, be empathic. If you accuse the person, he or she will be defensive, but if you talk empathically I assure you things will go much better.

Remember, your pride can cost you a loong time and an open door when you need it the most.

My parents have a huge Political Capital account. In the end, the friend who sent the open letter apologised, and said he acted on impulse. My parents instantly accepted his apology. Everything is almost as it was before. Everything looks normal, but the truth is that it will take a long time for this friend to recover the reputation and trustworthiness he had before.

Why to start a Blog


Today I was preparing to progress in the reading of my first book for this month; I set out to read two books a month this year, that would totalize 24 books at the end of the year. We are in November and I should have read 20 books by now but in my accounts I am three books behind that. The book I am currently reading talks about how to implement Lean Six Sigma processes in you company. Is a book that resembles the one’s I have to read in college and in some parts it gets dull and repetitive. I am making an effort to read every book to the end. So , I was there, sitting in my bed getting ready to some two hours of useful learning and eventual boredom when I decided to check some of my favorite sites. I checked facebook to see if my girlfriend said something , checked twitter, youtube to see if Pomplamoose had anything new and finally, when I was  almost ready to leave, James Altucher’s blog came to my mind.

James Altucher always cheers me up and makes me happy because it is not common to find someone who writes well and so simply. Every time I visit his blog I am amazed by how good he chooses his headlines. Titles like “What’s It Like to Date a Super Model” and “How to be the luckiest guy on the planet in 4 easy steps” are easy to be found among his posts. He has a book called “I was blind BUT (in red) now I see”. That’s such a good title! I am dying to read it.

So, there was I, reading Altucher’s thoughts and thinking: “Well he is really good, what a pity he is broke”. Then it downed on me: All through his writings he emphasizes that if you want to be happy you should not base your feelings of importance only on the amount of money you have saved. Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world, himself once in a court, responding to charges of breaking SEC laws against Salomon Brothers, said that people who base their happiness solely on the size of their bank accounts sooner or later will have problems. All that looks really beautiful, but when you are a young adult, still in college, and your future can be anything on earth just depending on what you do right now, I assure you it is fairly frightening.

James Altucher (Not Austin Powers)

I don’t give in on my wishes of better financial conditions. I’ve carefully analysed both sides and I can guarantee you will prefer being  well-off, but I agree that that shouldn’t be the reason for your happiness. If you do what you like you will do it well, and when you do it well done you will soon be paid to do it. So, what I really need right now is not a bundle containing a million dollars, but rather be really good at something I love.

I can tell you that what I love is Entrepreneurship. That is my greatest passion and I am fascinated by it. Entrepreneurship is hard, is advancing by yourself, is thinking different, is more than seeing what others don’t see, is doing what others are too lazy to do. I love it, and it makes me fight my laziness. So, as Altucher, a real entrepreneur victim of the bubble .com, said, you don’t have to be perfect at something to start doing it, in fact you get good while you’re doing it. And you don’t have the unbearable burden of finishing every single thing you start, maybe you start something and you don’t finish it. It is better to start something and then stop than not to start anything. As you may see, English is not my primary language. I am Brazilian and my native language is Portuguese. I also speak Spanish but I chose English exactly to improve my skills, and because I prefer it over Spanish. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about not wasting my time and making it count. Hence, when I am writing in English I feel that I am exercising my brain rather than just venting my thoughts in a senseless blog.

You MUST do something, you can’t go through life doing nothing, accomplishing nothing. Your accomplishments give you the feeling of worth, and the pleasure to look back and say: “I did something”. When you are doing something that really adds value to your life you are progressing, moving forward. The place where you can get to depends on how much you have progressed. You will never get anywhere if you are not qualified. And if you were really qualified to be where you want to be you would already be there. If you want to get somewhere don’t stop. “Work hard and be nice to people” is a good motto. It doesn’t matter what you do, at some point you will have to work hard if you want to reach your goal, but if you get used to working hard (never forgetting to rest) you can reach your goals much faster and then achieve bigger goals…

Entrepreneurship is never giving up on your dreams, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail.

So, well, that’s why I started this blog. I plan to write something here every day. Of course most texts won’t be long, maybe they won’t even be. I will try to write a list of 10 things every day, or a part of a big post, so I make my brain think a little bit and practice my writing. I want to expose ideas and maybe unburden myself a little bit too.

And that’s all for today, tomorrow there will be more.