When nobody is watching ...

Since some time I am subscribed to Seth`s Godin blog. I like it pretty much since he normally sends very concise (aprox. 5 minute reading) and powerful messages. Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world, influencing the way people think about marketing, change and work.

One of his last post was called "Self directed effort is the best kind

I encourage you to read it, as said, it is very fast to do it and I ensure you that after reading it, my present blog post will make much more sense.

From the moment I saw the post titel in my inbox, it totally called my attention. And the content totally matched my expectation.

How many things do we really do, just because they genuinely matter to us, because they mean something to us and not because we have (on purpose or not) a "police man" making us doing them? I did the excercise very quicky for myself and the balance was pretty good: there were a bunch of things that I do because I care and technically enjoy doing them, while there are others where the "police men" work, and pretty well. 

I do not think that it is necessarily bad to count on such police men. It`s not ideal ... but it`s not really an issue as long as the quantity of the stuff you do self-directed exceeds the quantity of the stuff you need an extra stimulus to do. Anyways, I am not an expert in the topic and so far, what all I`ve done is just referring to Godin`s post. 

So ...this is a blog about entrepreneurship and therefore, I could not help inferring couple of things for the entrepreneurial world. And the strongest example that came to my mind was Endeavor, the organization I currently work for. 

First thing that came to my mind is that Endeavor (in the context of Seth`s post) is an army of police men that force Entrepreneurs to excel even more than what they already doing. I am aware that the word "force" is very strong, but after having worked as Entrepreneur Services Manager for more than 4 years at Endeavor Colombia, witnessing directly how Entrepreneurs receive and use our services, I feel confident when I say that the difference that we (Endeavor) make does not only have to do with the knowledge that we pass to them, the real difference relies in the capacity that we have to act as "accountability" agents for Entrepreneurs, that are always there to remind them of the commitments that they do to themselves. During the past 4 years such commitments have been things such as "doing a business plan to move to the next level", "stepping out of operative work and hiring a manager", "putting together a board of directors" or simple tasks as "analyzing their Financial Statements to look for possible red flags". I am 100 % sure that 90 % of our Entrepreneurs know how and want to do all of the previous, but for some reason, they are not used to put self-directed effort into that. It`s not only a matter of knowledge, it`s a matter of lack of self-directed drive. And what is behind this self-directed drive (not only for Entrepreneurs, but in general) remains a question mark for me. 

Recently I debated with some team mates about the role of Endeavor in the execution of projects with the Entrepreneurs. The discussion automatically came down to the role of the ESM  - Entrepreneur Services Manager -  (also called Key Account Manager in our jargon) and how involved  the ESM should  get into the day-to-day activities of the entrepreneur in order to catalyze the execution of the tasks associated to the Endeavor projects. In the end, our model works only if the Entrepreneurs execute timely the advices that are given by our group of Mentors.  Some people are more of the opinion that the "Self directed effort" of the Entrepreneurs shall be the one to drive the process and set the pace and other people (like me) even if not disagreeing with the past statement, are more of the opinion that we are actually there to provide any needed oversight that helps them to go beyond what "Self directed effort" allows, even if this implies an important investment of time and energy ... which in the end is the same time and energy that the personal trainer puts to make you burn 700 calories instead of 500, as Seth´s analogy suggests.

What do you do when no one is looking, what do you make when it's not an immediate part of your job... how many push ups do you do, just because you can?

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Casual thoughts about interacting wih the untouchable (and other Web 2.0 short reflections)

Disclaimer: I am neither a social networks expert, nor even an empirical “knower” of the topic. I am just a user, that sees things from a user perspective, probably in a very naïve way.

So … I`ve been using Twitter since maybe around a year. Pretty late for the standards, I know. I started way earlier with Facebook and especially with blogging, since 2003 actually (and yes, I know blogging is not a network and not comparable to Facebook and/or Twitter, no worries, yet it`s for many part of the Web 2.0 trend).

Coming back to Twitter, I must say that I just love it and as much as one is emotionally attached to Facebook, for what my personal interests are …

  • a)     following thought leaders
  • b)     getting fast, sweet, short news of topics I care (the amount of relevant info I get over Twitter in let`s say 3 minutes, I would never get it sitting a whole morning watching newspapers) AND

… Twitter is simply a hit.

INTERACTING WITH THE OTHERWISE UNTOUCHABLE in the physical world. It`s my favorite. What do I mean with that? Well, even if nowadays lots of companies and celebrities (politicians, artists, governmental institutions, companies, leaders, whatsoever) hire someone to manage its digital presence (which in the case of individuals might seem everything but genuine) INTERACTING WITH THE OTHERWISE UNTOUCHABLE i means being able to address directly people, organizations or simply BRANDS and if lucky being able to get a response from them.

  • Two days ago I talked with @CoCaCola … I said over Twitter that a new can presentation seemed very cool to me. In seconds, they replied back. What do I win with this? Nothing probably, but @CoCaCola surely wins certain particular appreciation from my side, and it`s highly likely that next time I`ll order a Coke over a Pepsi.
  • What about interacting with your favorite book authors? I do it often. How faster would you be able to tell that his/her book sucked or not and why, and get an answer?
  • When a delivery service I order takes more that promised, or when any other of my providers suck (public services, telecom, airline,  health, etc.) I instantly complain over Twitter. In minutes they apologize and if I`m lucky, they even compensate with a treat. That does not happen in the “physical world” or at least not with the same effect: x thousand followers wouldn`t hear (read) my claim. Now, I know the "public complain" might sounds unfair/evil, but it works. I guess -bottomline- it is helping companies to be better, to serve better, in a society like the Colombian where customer service is an inherited weakness.

Web 2.0 is not a technology, it`s an attitude.

As much as I praise it, I also know that if tomorrow a meteor falls over the Twitter, Blogger and Facebook offices and their systems collapse, the world will keep moving, for sure, we have been doing it for centuries. A break  wouldn`t be bad, I guess.

Ps. A propo Twitter here are some cool lists to follow, especially if you are an Entrepreneur, the Endeavor Global Twitter lists:


Ask a Leader 2011 - Felipe Vergara

Felipe Vergara is the CEO of Lumni, one of the Endeavor Colombia companies and also an AShoka Fellow. Felipe was recently awarded as THE SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS OF THE YEAR 2011 - LATIN AMERICA by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Through my role at Endeavor Colombia, I had had the pleasure to meet Felipe and his team, mainly in the Colombia office, and Lumni has no doubt been a source of inspiration as a person and as a potential entrepreneur (Felipe is also from my home city, Barranquilla, so that makes the role modelling effect even more special).

Felipe has also been a supporter of my MBA cause :-) ... besides all the cheering when I took the decision and in all my GMAT "calvary", his short lines every now and then were key to keep going. In absence of resources to pay for an admissions consultant as many people do, I`ve leveraged on key entrepreneurs from the Endeavor Colombia network such as Felipe to help me facing different levels of the admimission process. Felipe for instance mocked my BABSON interview and it was fantastic to get his feedback, it was no doubt very useful and I`ll never forget how such a busy person took time on a weekend to sit down with me over Skype to help me on this. Last but not least Felipe has recently acted as one of my recommenders for a OAS Scholarship also to fund the MBA at BABSON, scholarship where I`m already in the last round of 8 finalists (out of more than 140) in Colombia.

Maybe on of the coolest experiences with Lumni has been the one when they opened the door to me to deliver a trainning on "Communications" for a group of students of one of its funds: VENTANAS. The story is very funny, originally Lumni requested me as its Endeavor Key Account Manager to get one of our (very senior) Entrepreneur Mentors to deliver this trainning. For some reasons, the Mentors we approached were not available at this date and I simply volunteered myself to do it with the surprise that they accepted. Here are some pictures of that day.

Something that not many people know, is that by that time I was also in the process to open my "already closed" restaurant Sizzlers (we opened from Jan 2010 to Dec 2011), in Bogota. I remember that I hired two guys that I met at this training that were studying culinary with support of Lumni. The two students worked couple of weeks with me to help us gather key information for the business plan of the restaurant. We did not work longer since in the end we came to the conclusion that their time was very limited (actually one of them worked at the Lumni Colombia office as well).

I really hope to keep in touch with Felipe and his incredible model despite my incoming move from Endeavor! And thanks again for everything!