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Month: February 2015

Quotes February 2015

Quotes February 2015

“Every time we are told things are supposed to be done in a certain way, we should go back to the good ol’ question: “Says who?”” – Carlos Miceli

“All beauty on Earth fades. Except Italy.” – Jerry Seinfeld

“You can miss anything in life, even if it’s bad.” – Louis CK

“When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.” – Oliver Sacks

“I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” – Oliver Sacks

“To be romantic is to have sympathy for madness.” – Alain de Botton

“Behind every fear, there’s a person you want to be.” – Greg Plitt

“Immigration is pure entrepreneurship.” – Reid Hoffman

“At any “sinking ship” company, there is an S-curve exodus of talented personnel. […] The most talented and motivated employees leave first, followed by an extended period involving a mass of mediocre employees, and lastly a very small handful of key employees sticking around to ‘turn off the lights.'” – Yishan Wong

“An artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he –for some reason– thinks it would be a good idea to give them.” – Andy Warhol

On Culture, Identity and Remote Work

On Culture, Identity and Remote Work

In his book “How Will You Measure Your Life?”, Clayton Christensen talks about what a company culture means:

“It’s one thing to see into the foggy future with acuity and chart the course corrections that the company must make. But it’s quite another to persuade employees who might not see the changes ahead to line up and work cooperatively to take the company in that new direction. When there is little agreement, you have to use “power tools”—coercion, threats, punishment, and so on—to secure cooperation. If employees’ ways of working together to address those tasks succeed over and over, consensus begins to form. Ultimately, people don’t even think about whether their way of doing things yields success. They embrace priorities and follow procedures by instinct and assumption rather than by explicit decision—which means that they’ve created a culture.”

In short, culture is the internalized, repeatable way of doing things in a company. It’s how companies like Pixar, Google, and Amazon scale while still maintaining their original, early identity.

Culture is how identity scales.

A culture is developed by observation and emulation as much as by intention. There’s always someone watching, and that’s the opportunity for leaders to scale values and priorities: by showing by example why those values and priorities are right for the goal of the organization. Every time there’s unexpected problems, bad results, hard conversations to be had, or tough decisions to be made, it’s an opportunity to build a culture that deals with those situations the right way.

Incidentally, this is why good leadership is not a result of good acting or planned manufacturing; sooner or later, the true identity colours of those at the top arises, and those are the values and priorities the organization will adopt.

The scariest part is that it doesn’t take long for a culture to pass the point of no return. To quote “Thiel’s Law”: a startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed. It requires a superhuman effort to assess the past objectively, and acknowledge that the important decisions taken were wrong, whether that was defining the goal of the organization, the assumptions of the business model, or the team members’ responsibilities (specially hard in this case, IMO).

If the leadership’s example is weak, it creates a weak culture. ¿What is a weak culture? A group of individualistic identities. No priorities have been agreed on, no values have been transferred. There can be effective collaboration, but not scalability.

Which takes me to the biggest tradeoff of remote work; since leadership’s behavior cannot be observed by remote workers, because there’s no shared space during the unexpected moments of business life, they cannot become vehicles of the identity of the organization. They cannot learn how to scale the organization’s creativity, discipline, resilience, maturity, honesty, empathy, charisma, dedication to excellence, and all the other things that make a large, successful organization.

Remote workers can only execute on what is very clearly defined and expected by their managers. And only a very arrogant leadership would claim to know how to transfer things like discipline and charisma through an SOP, instead than by showing it.

On Becoming an Estonian e-Citizen

On Becoming an Estonian e-Citizen

Let me tell you a story of how crazy life can be…

Back in 2011, I was living in Western Australia. I had decided to drop out of college for a third and final time, and I knew that meant having to abandon the country, so I started looking into new places. Having gone from Argentina to Australia made me think for the first time that I could live wherever I wanted, if I was ready to make the sacrifices. The whole world opened up in my fantasies.

I considered many places, but one country more than any other caught my attention: Estonia. It’s hard to explain why, but it was a combination of standard of living, cultural novelty, beautiful people, and a weird fascination with an Estonian national song. I was looking for flight prices, housing, and more, before life got in the way, and I was forced to come back to Buenos Aires mid-2011.

I thought that would be the end of my relationship with Estonia, but life surprised me once again…

Not only I moved here for a new adventure two weeks ago, but today, I received the Estonian digital citizenship, making me the first Argentinian “e-Resident” of Estonia.

For those of you who don’t know, Estonia recently became the first country in the world to offer digital residencies to foreigners. What is a digital residency, you ask? You can read all about it here.

In summary, you are allowed to access many online services from anywhere in the world that used to be limited only for Estonians, such as opening bank accounts, new companies, voting, and more.

Estonia’s digital life is something to behold. They are extremely advanced in terms of internet connectivity and digital services, which makes their local bureaucracy almost non-existent when you compare it to the ones in countries like the US, Argentina, Chile, and more.

Estonia has pushed countries’ governments and people into the future, by making us ask ourselves important questions:

What would a world where a country doesn’t have a monopoly over all your faculties as a citizen look like?

What about a world where countries now have to compete for our taxes, companies, and bank accounts, no matter where you were born?

Thanks to technology, and countries like Estonia, we’re about to find out.

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