The New Currency

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He would go to a little store somewhere in India and for a rupee the owner would randomly get one of the copied DVDs in a pile hidden behind the balcony and rent it to him. It could be anything, from the top american production that was still in cinema, to trashiest low-budget Vietnamese rereading of the Trojan war, and he couldn’t choose. That’s how Akshat Verma, the Indian screenwriter who wrote the great Indian comedy Delhi Belly, got a taste for cinema. At least that’s what Daniel Scheffler, a writer for The San Francisco Chronicle  told me the other day. Well, it sounded very true to me —mainly because before I entered that room, to apply for my visa to the UK, I had never heard of Daniel or The San Francisco Chronicle or Akshat or the film Delhi Belly itself.

As Mahatma Gandhi used to say: "You idiots, cant you see that people are more important than money"  —that may not be an accurate quote,

As Mahatma Gandhi used to say: “You idiots, can’t you see that people are more important than money” —that may not be an accurate quote.

You just have no idea of how many good stuff you can learn when you interact with people.

When  was the last time you did something for the first time? Well, today I watched an Indian movie for the first time. Actually, not. I watched Slumdog Milionaire some years ago. But it felt like the first time. Mainly because this movie showed a side of India that I didn’t pay much attention in Slumdog. One thing I was told, and that is very true, is that every Indian movie has dancing and a wedding. But what really caught my attention was the economic aspects of India that the movie unveiled. Old cars and old motorcycles, old houses and precarious water pipes. In the movie three guys lived together and divided the rent. All of them had normal middle class jobs. One was a cartoonist, one was a journalist, and the last one was a photographer. And nonetheless they had problems to pay the rent of an old and terrible apartment without proper water supply.

Brazil will eradicate poverty there in three years. The Indian President Abdul Kalam said at the first press conference after his election that India would do this in twenty years. I’m an optimist, today we are far better than fifty years ago, and I believe that in twenty years we will get a lot smarter. I believe in a better future. But I will leave that for another post, now let’s go back to meeting people.

Today was my first day at University here in London, and as opposed to many other environments, although I wasn’t speaking my native language and I was a foreigner I didn’t feel like an outsider at all. I met a lot of people with a bunch of different backgrounds, people from all over the world, and my first Indian friends. I was looking forward to making some Indian friends, I have a lot to ask. I’m thinking about starting to study the Indian economy. Sounds like a very interesting subject and has a lot to do with Brazilian economy. But as I was saying, I also met a couple of professors and some people from the student union. They were all very nice and thanks to this interaction I already have a couple of meetings to go to, and I was invited to show my piano abilities at a musical branch of the University. All that sounds like a lot of wasted time, but in fact it isn’t. You never know who knows who, so, by getting to know everyone you may be opening an unexpected door. For example, I am planning on taking on a job, being acquainted to professors and people with knowledge can be excellent to gain some indications. If they look at me and see some qualities in me, and if they like me they may help me finding a better than average job.

It is said that we are six people away from anyone in the world, and that is completely true —actually I guess we may be even closer to everyone. This connection, although seemingly lousy, can be quite beneficial for you if you know how to use it. I will give you a quick example:

Summer holiday, my girlfriend and her family were going to Recife – Brazil. They made a connection in Rio, got there at night and would leave the following night. The question was where to spend the night for cheap? Well the cheapest they could get on a hotel room for two was about 150 pounds, that would be 300 pounds the night for the four of them. But luckily she is my girlfriend, and thus she can partake of my contact list. Having lived 17 years of my life in Rio I still had a bunch of contacts. The outcome: thanks to my “influence” they spent the night for free in a nice house, had free meals and a free tour around the city. All of that just because she knew me and I was willing to help her and her family.

Best book about networking I've read so far.

Best book about networking I’ve read so far.

So the idea is: get to know as many people as you possibly can, make them like you, do something for them —don’t be a vampire, if you just take you aren’t adding any value to the cycle, and besides, no one wants to help a vampire— and then you will have your way to the top. But also, don’t get to know people only wanting to get something from them, otherwise you will tend to pay attention only to people who can benefit you in some way. And then you turn into an ass-kisser—not good for your image. You don’t get ahead by kissing asses (well sometimes people do, but don’t be this kind of person), you get ahead by adding value.

Oh, and additionally, I firmly believe that your attitude towards a situation highly influences the outcome. So, every time you say something will go wrong, you are actually contributing to its failure. Just as every time you have a positive attitude your winning chances go up.

Keep that in mind, people are the new currency. People are the real deal.

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Brazil Is Doomed

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I almost cried today. I didn’t expect that. I’m not emotionally tough, but I am not very sensitive either. I watched a drama-romance with a tragic science fiction story behind it called “Never Let Me Go”. It dwells the top 10 most boring things I’ve seen in my life, but yet I almost cried today. Definitely not during the film but hours before that. “E agora, vai?” (What about now, will it go?) is my newest acquisition, it is from André Torretta and it talks about Brazil’s current development situation, how it got here, and what’s the perspective for the next 10 years.

Rio de Janeiro, my home-town

Rio de Janeiro, my home-town

And is this dull-at-first-sight book that brought tears to my eyes. But don’t be fooled by the sight, these tears didn’t arise from sadness, these are tears of joy, tears of love, tears of compassion and gratitude. The truth is that Brazil is doomed, but doomed to succeed! I’ve read only 7 pages of it, but it was enough to squeeze my heart in a way that seven volumes poems couldn’t do it. Because it talked about what I love in economics; about what no news program, no gossip magazine and no technology website talks about; stripped of rumours, myths  and everything one would love to add as a little spice just to make it a little more interesting, just to  increase the sales.

It talked about the preoccupation with real life, about real people living in real misery. It’s concern wasn’t about how to sell them something, it was about how to feed these people, how to keep them alive, how to give them a dignified life. That’s the beauty in economics; that’s the captivating insight, the heartbreaking truth that will make you look at society with different eyes. Then you will stop saying things like “the system that dominates everything”, “we are puppets of the evil system”, these bunch of conspiracy theory stuff backed by poor misconceptions that mean nothing and start looking at our world as a society, composed by citizens, each with an individual task that adds to the welfare of society itself. Then you understand that your role in the city is to bring value to people’s life. When you begin to make the life of someone else better, you then improve your own life.

The first and critical preoccupation is with people that have no idea of when their next meal may be. We are accustomed to this view of cities and cars, computers and restaurants, buildings, pavement, electricity, piped water, toilet. We don’t even imagine that there are people, and I am not talking about a small minority, a lot of people, who have NEVER SEEN anything like that. We live in the future but we have no idea of the absurd number of people who have never left middle ages, some didn’t even get there yet. They are the target, they must be reached now.

Brazil is one of the leading countries in income inequality, but during the last two decades a great distribution of wealth has taken place. The country is growing, unemployment was cut in half and in 2008 more than half the country was already part of the middle class. But the piece of news that almost made me cry, that touched my heart and moved my soul, wasn’t any of these ones. It was the one that stated that by 2016 misery will be extinct from Brazil. We still have three years to go, but isn’t it wonderful? Isn’t it breathtaking? Isn’t it a marvellous piece of news? What an exhilarating moment this of the extinction of misery in my fatherland!  Blessed be this day!! The day all these people portrayed in Brazil’s classic literature won’t exist anymore, at least not in that way.  The day where in Brazil no man will die of thirst or hunger.

It made my day. I was leaping on the inside. That’s a stupendous achievement, but the work is far from finished.  According to Goldman Sachs, two billion people in the world will leave the misery line until 2030. It is good because in 2013 things will be better for a lot of people. But how sad it is to know that right now much more than a quarter of the world population live in misery, and know that it might take more than 15 years for their help  to arrive.

It was sad, but nonetheless I am an optimist. I couldn’t stop thinking of the world of 2030, where misery would be on it’s way to be extinct from the world. I couldn’t take out of my head the image of a Brazil free of misery in three years. I was so excited I had to talk to people. I had to tell them the good news, it was beautiful! But then people don’t always think like you. I ran to tell someone about it and the person’s response was “O yeah? What do they say they are gonna do? Who are they? Are they God to perform such a miracle?”, “But the government is working, things are getting better!” , “The government is too corrupt”, “But look, the country is going forward! It will mean a lot for these people who were in the state of misery”, “It is said that now the world is worse than ever, and that it is getting worse every day. Back then society wasn’t like this.”, “Misery will disappear and you are saying that the good old times were better?!”, “Look, the problem is that very few people really care for those who are in misery, so nothing will ever be done here”.

No need to say I was about to explode. But today I learned that if people have their mind made up, it doesn’t matter how good you argument may be, it just won’t convince them. If you look carefully you will notice that none of the arguments that were used to discredit the information were  neither accountable, measurable nor backed by any fact or reasonable statement. The arguments are all assumptions based on nothing more than opinion (Even the corruption one. The proposition was “Government is corrupt, so it will do nothing”. But that’s a fallacy. The fact that there is corruption in the government doesn’t mean the government does nothing in the country). But there are pessimists everywhere. Their pessimism make them blind and unable to see the advances, unable to see the change.

There is a quote in the book that is very well worth quoting here. It touches exactly the point that the person said government’s help would be insufficient.

“We should not minimize in any way the inclusion of people as consumers. The help of these social programs [of the government] isn’t small. It is only small for those who already eat three times a day.”

Denis Mizne

Brazil approaches the misery problem with social programs. “Bolsa família” (Family Bundle) is a pack of social benefits for families in state of poverty and extreme poverty. It guarantees families an income, productive inclusion and access to education, health and public services. It is saving people. When you include people in the race track you give them a whole new horizon. “Work ennobles the soul”, grandma used to say. And it is very true. When people are working they move the gears of the country, their contribution to society creates it’s welfare, and then it’s capacity is increased, because as John Maynard Keynes concluded: in business there is no stagnation, whatever doesn’t grow will fatefully fail, and I firmly believe that in countries the matter is unfolded likewise. Work does ennobles the soul and Abraham Maslow had something to say about it.

Maslow's Pyramid

Maslow’s Pyramid

Maslow’s psychological theory on the hierarchy of needs was eternalised in the famous Maslow’s Pyramid. It portrays man’s most basic needs at the bottom, and more sophisticated necessities at the top. Maslow said that more basic needs have to be met first before the individual will be able focus on higher desires. In other words, if you don’t know for sure if tomorrow there will be any food at all on the table, you cannot have interest in education, political conscience, freedom of prejudices, despise for violence or philosophical contemplations of any kind. A good country is a country of good people, and people will fail in every aspect they are not taught. Once a person can eat —oh my God, how many people can’t even do that— then she can receive education, can be included as an important member of society, achieve public recognition, creativity and self-esteem.

Brazil isn’t the country of the future anymore, this future has come. Middle class is growing and misery has it’s days numbered. There is still a lot of work to be done, but let me tell you why everyone should stop with this good old times bovine excreta: My girlfriend lives ten thousand kilometres away from me, nonetheless I see her every day. My mum travelled to Costa Rica when she was young, there she wrote letters to my grandmother, she came back and got here before the letters. Back then there was no electricity, forget reading at night, forget alarms, forget air conditioning and conserving any food in your freezer or illuminating your street for safety. There was no bathroom with flushing toilets, people got diseases from their own faeces, and they died of these diseases! Ah, a whole bunch of diseases had no cure nor treatment at all. In Victorian times half, I said half, the children died before 5 years of age. Landlords commanded everything and slavery was in full swing (there is slavery still today, imagine how it was 20 years ago), not to mention  racism and prejudice against women. In the 90’s near half Brazil’s population was in state of absolute poverty (43,4%).

Now in Brazil, 52% of the population is part of the middle class; in the last 10 years the number of Universities grew 56%; an enormous number of people who have semi-literate parents have finished university studies; women’s salary grows at twice the rate of men’s, just as black people compared to white people; the percentage of women  activity raised from 13% in 1950 to 44,1% in 2000; only between 1993 and 2011 60 million people left the line of misery, and the list can go on and on and on.

Sometimes it is hard to notice the development of your country. It is a gradual process, happens every day, not overnight. As Martin Lousteau (ex Argentina’s finance minister) said in his book 3D Economics:

“The development of a country is like the growth of a child. You can’t say “that was the day the child grew”, just as you can’t say “look, that was the day this country became developed”, or point out a single measure that turned the country into a developed country.”

The Single Sentence That Changed My Life

Thoughts, Uncategorized

A hundred times a day, seven days a week, all the weeks of the month and all the months I go through. That’s the frequency at which I think about success and failure.

I was home alone. My parents had gone to Brazil for three weeks and it was July, so I was on holiday. I moved the computer to the living room, by the fireplace, and when I wasn’t there I was in the kitchen, because you just can’t live without eating. If I was awake I was either playing an MMORPG or eating something, just so I don’t die. No supervision, no rules, no tasks, no time-tables. At the time that was my definition of YOLO. Every day I went to sleep a little later, until the day I woke up at 6pm. The sun was setting. It gave me a feeling of depression, a sensation that the day went away and I did nothing out of it. There was I, scruffy and unkempt, waking up when the day was almost over while millions of people had done an unimaginable number of great things with their day. The day wasn’t over yet, in the end there was still 6 hours to go, but at this time I couldn’t do nearly as much as I would be able to had I woken up at 6am.

Then, I decided I didn’t want my life to be like this day. I don’t want to wake up and notice I spent my life sleeping and accomplished nothing. I was unsatisfied, I wanted to change and I wanted to change immediately! Well, that didn’t happened, I still spent some of my days doing nothing, but an attitude towards change is the beginning of the change itself. I already longed for the change, and that’s the first step. If you really want to change you’ve got to be mad at what you are. Then you will take action.

But how can you accomplish something that looks just so big that it s overwhelming? Well, elementary my dear Watson (Sherlock Holmes never really said that). As it is always said, and well said, you do it the same way you eat an elephant! A bite at a time.

I know it can look tedious and slow, but big things just can’t be build overnight. Else everyone would be successful. But if you are indeed passionate about it, it will be worth it.

The single sentence that changed my life, was a sentence that blew my mind and changed the speed at which I move towards my goals — that otherwise would never even be achieved.

It’s a calm and normal day. I’m watching one of Dr. Mike Murdock’s videos on the computer when suddenly he says:

“You are one daily habit away from every future you want”

My head went like “BOOOOM”. It’s just so true! To do something big you have got to do it little by little. Then, why not make it a daily habit to advance a little bit? Do you want to write better? Write every day! Do you want to get in shape? Exercise 40 minutes every day! Do you want to be an expert on something? Study about it every single day, and don’t you dare to miss a day. You do what is possible, and do it every day, then, when you realize, the impossible will be happening.

May seem basic to some, but can change the life of someone else.

But a daily habit implies discipline. There is no way around it. If you can’t manage a day you can’t manage your life. You either suffer the pains of discipline or suffer the pains of regret. And if you choose not to be disciplined you will certainly regret it. Because nowadays we live in a world where opportunities are everywhere. If you can come here and read this, it means you have access to an unlimited amount of opportunities. The problem is that you are probably not ready for them. I like a definition of luck that says: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. The opportunities are out there, but you must be prepared and preparation requires discipline.

What are your goals? What are you doing daily to move closer to achieving them?

I want to accomplish big things. I have my list of goals. I want to build great stuff. Build my company, build relationships, build a network of people. My goals are all written down and placed in a place where I see them daily. Every single day I look at them, read them, and think “that’s where I want to go, I’ve got to do something about it today”.

Your goals must be clear and easily understandable. If you set a clear and specific goal, your mind thinks of a way to reach this goal. If you say “I want to get richer” you are just not being specific. I give you ten pounds and Tchanan! You are richer than before, but I don’t think ten pounds richer was what you had in mind when you set the goal. Do you want a car? What car? What year? What colour? Is it a trip? To where? For how many days? A University degree? On what? … And critically important: When do you want it? Remember this: Goals are dreams with deadlines. If you don’t set a time to accomplish your goal, then it is not a goal — and also, you will probably never really do it.

You must write down the goal, and how you want to achieve this goal. If you say “I want to leave a seven digit patrimony to my kids”, you should also say something like “I want to accumulate this amount selling lollipops”. Well, you will have to be a hell of a lollipop salesman, but at least you can build a plan upon that. The lollipop example can sound funny, but that’s exactly how you accomplish things. You decide what and how, then you go for it! “I want to get rich selling greasy chicken!”, sounded silly some years ago, I don’t think it sounds silly anymore.

But there you are, maybe sitting in chair with a hand on your face thinking “yeah, sounds like a good idea, I hope he can make it”. Come on, I’m here opening my heart and telling you one of the greatest insights I ever heard, is that the best you can do? What I’m telling you is the real deal! Nobody ever told you this before, did they? So, listen! If you do this it will work, and when it works you will be happy, and then you send me an email and make me happy too.

I learnt that if there is something I should try to be good at, it is at making people improve (see How To Be Smarter Than Anyone Else). The other day I woke up and went to check my email. There I found an email of a friend of mine saying he read something in my blog and liked it, and that it was useful to him. I didn’t even know people read my blog!  And there was I, seeing a friend saying that what I wrote was of some use to him! It was mindblowing and you just can’t imagine how happy I was.

So, back to the subject: Do it! Think of what you want to accomplish, think of a plan and do something about it. You have to prepare yourself. You are not ready for your future, else you would be there already. Is it hard? Everything of value is, get used to it. Do you know what’s the great insight of physical exercise? It’s summarised in a small sentence “No pain, no gain”. While doing exercises you improve when your body starts to hurt. When your arms can’t lift the weight any more, or your belly aches and you feel like it’s hard to keep running, that’s the moment in which you are expanding your physical capacity. Because if your exercises don’t make you sweat, then they are doing nothing. It is something that is true not only for your body, it is true for life. While you stay in your comfort zone you will not improve at all. I know it hurts to think, and people would do anything to think less. But if you don’t think, you will not advance. You have to become a thinking machine! Every time you see you are just repeating stuff, or that you are not advancing, change something! Because when we do new stuff our brain ignites again. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I will tell you some of my daily habits, and how they are making me a better me. Perhaps this can make you move your lazy bum to stand up and do something. You don’t have to read this text to the end, if you know your goals and how to get there, stop reading right now and go plan your daily habits! And if you don’t know your goals that’s an even better reason to stop and go think about some targets. And don’t you dare to forget to write them down.

So, these are some of the things I do every day:

Write: I fell in love with the most wonderful person I ever met. There was just one problem: She kind of lived in London and I in Buenos Aires. I just had to go there. But I was studying, I couldn’t leave it all behind and go to live like a hippie there — I won’t say I didn’t think about it, but I’m just too bad with handicrafts. So, one day I woke up, went to take a shower, and, while in the shower, I fell and from above shone a light that came as a train and suddenly I saw it… The Flux Capacitor!!!.. no! But without having to actually fall in the bathroom I had an Idea: Why not study in London? I started a long and dull process to do my application. To apply for UK universities you have to write a Personal Statement — which is nothing more nothing less than a text in which you explain to the universities why you are just the perfect candidate, and you basically have to convince them that it would be folly not to accept you instead of the other better qualified students.

No need to say that I totally panicked. Although I firmly believe I was gifted with a good mind, my teachers often times disagreed with this belief of mine. Hence, given the fact that they would assess me based on my college history and my Personal Statement, if I ever wanted to see my beloved girlfriend’s face again I should better write a hell of a good text. I studied Information Systems Engineering, all my subjects where almost pure mathematics. I wasn’t used to writing words, I was good at writing numbers. I hardly ever wrote a text, much less in English. It hit me as a huge challenge, I had absolutely no idea of where to begin.

After drafts and more drafts, writing and rewriting, wording and rewording, I finally finished it. In the end it was a very edifying experience. All went well and I was accepted by the universities I wanted (YEAHHH). I had put my brain to do some workout. It had to sweat but after all done I look back and see the great value this exercise provided me. It taught me a whole lot of things. One of them was that I didn’t know how to write at all. So, a month ago I decided to do something about it. Now I write every single day on this blog. Some days I write more than others, but I always write a little bit. Sometimes I have no idea of what to write, then I just write whatever is in my mind. I discovered why I should put the title only after I have finished. It is because given that I don’t know what to write, I can change subjects in the middle of the post, and if I put a title that relates to how the post ends you readers don’t even notice that I had no clue where to go in the first paragraph. See, practice leads to perfection.

Read: That’s an easy one. I have to admit some years ago I didn’t have the habit of reading, but when I finally realized the  great fountain of knowledge it could be, it became one of the most important and pleasurable parts of my daily routine.  It is great the fact that, as opposed to classes and lectures, books can explain any subject at length, and go through all of its nuances with no hurry. I don’t really think that reading by itself has great value, I believe the value is strictly on what you read (see my critic on books in So, What’s The Way To Decide?).

My books allow me to go deep into any subject of my interest. I know what I want to know a lot about, so I study it. If you read about it every day it starts to stick to your brain; you gather knowledge. Now, you don’t want to know about everything. Most of the knowledge on earth is useless to you. It’s great to learn about turtles reproduction, or how candies are packed, but that’s just useless knowledge if what you want to be good at is not related to it. I’m not saying you can’t learn it for fun. I am just saying that without focus it will take much longer to get to the finish line.

The books you read will change you, change your personality, your outlooks; read consciously.

Exercise: It just makes you feel good! I know it can be kind of boring, but you have to do it. I like an allegory Warren Buffet used in one occasion, he said:

“Imagine you get a Cadillac as your 18th birthday present. But there is a little rule, this Cadillac will be the only car you will ever have in your life. You can’t sell it or by another one, you have to use it your whole life. I bet you would treat it very well. Always do the check-ups, and have all the care in the world for it. Well with your body is the same thing, you get just one, and its for your lifetime.”

I will give you some reasons to exercise:

1 – It gives you disposition- When you exercise you have more energy, more disposition. Even your mood gets better.

2 – It is healthy – If you don’t exercise all your chances of having all the diseases in the world raise. It’s scientifically proved by everyone.

3 – You get in shape – Come on, be honest with yourself; it doesn’t matter how detached from society you think you are, it is great to have a healthy body.

4 – It relieves you from the feeling of guilt – You know you should exercise. You know a sedentary lifestyle only does harm to you. And you know that every time you take off your clothes to take a shower you think “it would be good if I did some exercise”. When you actually do them, they take away this feeling of guilt and you feel satisfied, relieved; you feel you accomplished something.

5 – It just feels good! – Is it boring? Go with a friend. Don’t have a friend? Put your ear-buds on and listen to some good music you like and you feel that motivates you, or a funny podcast. I assure you, time will pass and you won’t even notice. And in the end, you will be feeling awesome! Because you did it! At least that’s how I feel.

No money to go to a gym? Run on the street and do some push-ups and sit-ups. No contraindication.

Pray: I am a Christian. I believe there is a God and I believe he listens to us. You can say “but if there was a God, why have he abandoned us? why is there so much hatred, and pain, and suffering around here?”. Well, I believe God does exist, and he hasn’t abandoned us, we have abandoned him. When was the last time you prayed? When was the last time you asked God’s opinion before doing something? If you don’t ask what he thinks about something before you do it, you cannot blame him for the consequences of it later.

But you may say “well but He doesn’t talk to me”. Yeah, maybe He doesn’t, but he talked to some guys about his opinion on things some time ago and said to these guys: “Yo, write it down”. And then, about forty people wrote what He said to them. Some years later, another group of fellows gathered it all together in what we know as the Bible. So, if we want to know God’s opinion on something we can go there and read it. And well, if you read it carefully you will notice that He likes it when we talk to him. He even says we should always do it. So, praying is something I pay a special attention to every day. And if you do it as well, you will see that, in fact, God has very creative ways to answer questions.

Well, I hope this text was of some use for you. I hope you can prepare your daily routine, and don’t give up when it looks hard. If you always choose to endure the pains of discipline and go on, the sky won’t be the limit.

It can be frightful at first, but remember: To change the world start with one step. However small, first step is hardest of all.

Plato’s Resolutions For a New Year

Uncategorized

That which has been, is that which is to be, and that which has been done, is that which will be done, and there is no new thing under the sun.

King Solomon – Ecclesiastes 1:9-10

 Solomon was a wise guy. He noticed that people are curious and naive, and these qualities make it hard for them to learn by mentorship. They prefer to learn by their own experience, which makes things much harder, with big consequences, and slows down the life of everyone. Imagine if no one repeated old mistakes. If we made only new mistakes we would go much farther, much faster. But by going through the same errors we have always the same outcomes, and then we are stuck here until we learn to think differently. What Solomon noticed was that people always did the same things that were done before them, and because of that he says there is no new thing under the sun. It is always a repetition. The girl gets pregnant at 16 just as her mother. The guy doesn’t value his time and wastes it just as his dad once did. The brand new idea which will certainly lead to a secure life of 10 years ago is not the same as today’s secure idea. Actually, last year’s secure future is not the same as today’s. So, was it ever a secure future? The great new thing of today makes everyone act just like the 80’s great new thing. Cazuza, a famous Brazilian singer, said “The world is a museum full of news”. And Plato also knew that.

School of Athens (Which never really existed) by Raphel. In the centre there are Plato and his student, Aristotle.

School of Athens (Which never really existed) by Raphel. In the centre there are Plato and his student, Aristotle.

More or less 2435 years ago Plato was born. He grew up and became a pretty clever fellow. He studied 8 years with Socrates, burned all his poetries, and started to philosophise. Plato’s main idea is that there are two worlds, the one we can see, which he calls the sensible world, a world that is always changing and that can trick our eyes and by doing so it also tricks our thinking of it. But there is also another world, the world of the forms, where nothing changes because everything is perfect —they don’t change because being perfect it can’t get any better than that, so any change would be for the worse. Imagine you draw a circle in a sheet of paper. It doesn’t matter what kind of magic tool you use to draw it, it will never be a perfect circle, it is only an attempt to represent the ideal circle. It is a shadow of the “real thing”. Your drawn circle is not the real circle, it is only a copy of it. And that’s the way Plato thought. He called the world of the ideals the real world, and the world we live in, a fake world, where things are not really what they seem. He constructed an allegory, which got very famous, to illustrate that.

The Cave

Imagine there is a big cave, and in the cave there is a people who is chained since birth and the chains hold them in a way they can only look to the wall of the cave.  In a high place behind them there is a fire which reflects in the wall (like a cinema room) and people pass in front of the fire, some carrying stuff, some just walking, some talking, others quiet, but the chained people can only see their shadows in the wall. They have never seen anything else than the shadows, so they don’t think the shadows are a silhouette of some other thing, or that they are caused because of something else, they think the shadows are real deal, the real stuff.

Well, that’s us. That’s us looking at our ever-changing world and thinking that the lights and movements we see are in fact reality. That’s us thinking that an act of courage is courage itself, or that laws are justice itself, or that something beautiful is beauty itself. But then he says, imagine you take out the chains of one of  these cave-landers. He will now be able to look around and see the fire, and see the things that pass by the fire. He will be able to walk and go out of the cave. Obviously it will hurt him in the beginning, hurt his eyes because they aren’t used to looking directly to light, hurt his body, because it isn’t used to moving so much. He will walk out of the cave and see the sun and all things that he illuminates, he will be amused.

Here Plato is talking about the Philosopher. The things he sees outside of the cave are the “real world”, the world of the forms and ideals. He sees all that and notices that all his life he was looking at just shadows.

And then it gets even better, he says that the ex-cave-lander goes back to the inside of the cave to tell his friends all he had seen and to tell them that all they are seeing is nothing more than representations of real stuff. But when he get’s there no one believes him, they think he is crazy and they mock on him. People are hard to be taught. People where hard to be taught then and they are still hard to be taught now, just as before. You still eat this shitty stuff even though everyone knows it’s going to clog your heart veins.

Plato’s Republic is an attempt to define justice. At some point in the book he says that justice is when there is agreement on everything. And injustice, in the other hand, is when you have disagreement. He depicts a city-state and says that for it to be just there must be agreement in the government. You can’t have a parties, each one with a different opinion. You should have just one party, and this party shouldn’t take measures based on opinion, but based on the truth, and being it the truth no one would argue against it.

In his city, the King and the high leaders of the city (which he calls guardians) should all be philosophers. They should have been freed from the chains and should have already gone out of the cave and looked at the real world, seen the real things, and thus should know the truth.

In a very interesting passage Plato explains what is the opinion. He asks “Does he who has knowledge know something or nothing?” Adeimantus says “Knows something, of course”. Then he asks “Something that is or something that is not?” “Something that is, how could someone know something that is not”. Then he associates knowledge with things that really are, and ignorance with things that are not. After that he asks “What about something that is and is not at the same time?”. This something is the opinion.

The leaders of the city wouldn’t argue because their opinions would be rationalized analysis proved to be true, and not an opinion. And being so, there would be justice in the city. Of course he points out many other things that make the city a just city, but that’s the centre of the idea. He knew he put the stakes too high, and no real city would ever be able to work exactly as he proposed. But it doesn’t matter. The idea is that cities would try to get as close as they could to this city, because that was an ideal, a perfect form of his “real” world.

Plato’s idea of a different world, a place of perfect things is more usual to us that it firs appears. Our modern world is completely immersed in the concept of ideals, things that we can never reach, but our mission is to try to get as close as we can. Be it in poetry with Dirceu’s Marilia, be it with Jesus, be it in your day to day life, where you are constantly struggling to get to this ideal of a happy person, even though the happiest person in the world still have hard moments, it doesn’t matter, the ideal is always happy.

And what did Plato want from us? he wanted us to think a little more, to try a little harder to understand things instead of keeping vomiting our prejudiced opinion on everyone else. If we get our reasoning right we will eventually arrive in a coherent and rather sober conclusion, not just a poorly backed opinion. Have you noticed that when you are arguing with someone, most of the times, it doesn’t matter how good your arguments are or how much you proved the person wrong, you will never convince him? The other person already has his mind made up and nothing you say will change that. People’s ego is just too big to admit they are wrong.

But I have good news, if you are ever wrong don’t worry that’s a good sign. It means that you just discovered a new opportunity to improve yourself. As soon as you notice a flaw, correct it right away! People spend a whole lot of time grumbling about stuff, don’t do that! Correct it right away, and then move on. Plato had a thought of that:

 “..And, instead of stumbling like children, clapping one’s hands to the stricken spot and wasting the time in wailing, [we should] accustom the soul to devote itself at once to the curing of the hurt and the raising up of what has fallen, banishing threnody by therapy.”

Republic 604c-d

People usually have a hard time admitting they are wrong. They think that if the person who is exhorting them is also wrong, it means they aren’t wrong at all. That’s a great, but nonetheless common, mistake.

Plato and the Posers

In Plato’s time there were a group of teachers who were called sophists. Sophists were teachers of oratory who taught the pupils to win an argument. Notice, they weren’t teaching them to think and to reason as to get to a good solution for a problem, neither were they trying to put the truth in first place, they were only teaching people to be good debaters. By that time, sophists were often mistaken by philosophers, and vice versa. That confusion were outrageous to Plato, and during his work he put a lot of effort into clearly differencing them both.

Plato taught using elenkhós. A method of teaching using dialectic. As opposed to the dissertation, where one person makes a monologue explaining something, in the dialectic method the teacher leads the student to the knowledge through questions, making him think and thus making him get to the answer himself by his own reasoning. Doing that, they built a chain of propositions, all of them agreed as truthful, and the main goal was to get to the truth.

I think women are kind of sophists too. It doesn't matter how good is your argument, they always win.

I think women are kind of sophists too. It doesn’t matter how good is your argument, they always win.

The moral of Republic is that if we base our viewpoints on opinions and suppositions we are very likely do diverge in many things, and thus create disorder, which leads to injustice. But if we think well, if we don’t get too attached to a thought or a tradition, if we become willing to discover the immutable truth and from this truth we change our ways, then we will be happier and live in a just and happy place. The book concludes saying that intrinsic in the idea of justice, is happiness. If you are just, you will be happy.

That’s Plato’s resolution for 2013. That was his resolution for years before Christ. But surprisingly, even though our society and our knowledge have evolved in a way that couldn’t even be described, our inner self is still the same. We are just as insecure as people were in Plato’s days. We cling to an opinion because we are afraid of being wrong, of being regard as ignorant, of having no importance. We try to be right always, and we try to justify ourselves and give excuses. Plato wants us to be happier, to free ourselves from the chains, let we all make a toast to knowledge and to discovery, to change and to redemption. Because once we all agree to change, then we will arrive in the beloved just and happy, Republic.

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

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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

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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.

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

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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.