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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If You Survive Your Family You Will Survive Life

Thoughts

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.

family-large

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.