Sunday, 31 May 2009

Turning low spirits into serenity and confidence

“This will never work,” is a piece of advice that you will hear too many times. In all your ventures, personal or professional, you will face moments of discouragement. You will wonder why on earth you are attempting to improve anything. You will question if progress, however small, is possible at all.

This is not foolish thinking. Doubts are justified. The proof that achievement is impossible lies perennially all around. It is something that, if you had looked before, you would have found. You can bury your dreams as deep as you wish. You will not miss reasons for renouncing your soul:
  • Ninety-two per cent of new businesses shut down within five years (in some countries, the failure rate goes as high as ninety-five out of a hundred).
  • Two out of five marriages end up in divorce.
  • Major companies reject six hundred candidates for every new hire.
  • Some people need to date for ten years before they meet someone who is a good match.
Misery and self-pity are well grounded on reality. On the other hand, so are serenity and confidence. Pick up a biography of anyone remarkable and you will read how many horrendous mistakes he made. Talk to someone who is successful and hear him recount the formidable obstacles that he had to surmount.

Are both positions correct, optimistic and depressed? The facts are the same, the difference lies in the inner flame. Fearful views are restrained, upbeat visions enjoy a wider range. The right perspective enhances psychological experience. Philosophy is the foundation of resilience.

These are my three recommendations for turning low spirits into confidence:

1.- IGNORE COMMENTS THAT DON'T MAKE SENSE. When people make remarks outside their field of expertise, they usually don't know what they are talking about. Don't get angry at those who try to discourage you or describe your situation as hopeless. Even friendly judgements are often passed without knowing all the facts. If you hear advice that makes sense, use it. If criticism becomes virulent, shrug your shoulders and keep calm.

2.- SEE BAD LUCK AND MISTAKES AS PART OF THE COST OF LIVING. In most fields of human endeavour, demands for immediate perfect results are unrealistic. Each person possesses unique natural endowments and disadvantages. Individuals are dealt different cards in terms of talent, looks, material resources, and family connections. Comparing your opportunities with someone else's is a meaningless exercise. Accept your misfortunes and errors as part of the cost of living. Make new plans and move on.

3.- UNDERSTAND WHY REASON AND PERSISTENCE WIN IN THE LONG TERM. Life offers no one a guarantee of success, but intelligent persistence works. Action and ambition always bring about problems and mistakes. Through reason, we can learn from a setback, remedy a lack, and change our track. Errors are not isolated strains, but links in a learning chain. A long-term perspective makes you deserve as many chances are you bother to claim.

“So far, this has not worked, but the game is not over yet,” is the sensible reaction to problems and mistakes. Taking a long-term perspective will help you climb the next steps also in periods of stress. Your boat has still a long way to go. Adjust your course and continue to row.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Klearchos Kapoutsis under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Turning low spirits into serenity and confidence

“This will never work,” is a piece of advice that you will hear too many times. In all your ventures, personal or professional, you will face moments of discouragement. You will wonder why on earth you are attempting to improve anything. You will question if progress, however small, is possible at all.

This is not foolish thinking. Doubts are justified. The proof that achievement is impossible lies perennially all around. It is something that, if you had looked before, you would have found. You can bury your dreams as deep as you wish. You will not miss reasons for renouncing your soul:
  • Ninety-two per cent of new businesses shut down within five years (in some countries, the failure rate goes as high as ninety-five out of a hundred).
  • Two out of five marriages end up in divorce.
  • Major companies reject six hundred candidates for every new hire.
  • Some people need to date for ten years before they meet someone who is a good match.
Misery and self-pity are well grounded on reality. On the other hand, so are serenity and confidence. Pick up a biography of anyone remarkable and you will read how many horrendous mistakes he made. Talk to someone who is successful and hear him recount the formidable obstacles that he had to surmount.

Are both positions correct, optimistic and depressed? The facts are the same, the difference lies in the inner flame. Fearful views are restrained, upbeat visions enjoy a wider range. The right perspective enhances psychological experience. Philosophy is the foundation of resilience.

These are my three recommendations for turning low spirits into confidence:

1.- IGNORE COMMENTS THAT DON'T MAKE SENSE. When people make remarks outside their field of expertise, they usually don't know what they are talking about. Don't get angry at those who try to discourage you or describe your situation as hopeless. Even friendly judgements are often passed without knowing all the facts. If you hear advice that makes sense, use it. If criticism becomes virulent, shrug your shoulders and keep calm.

2.- SEE BAD LUCK AND MISTAKES AS PART OF THE COST OF LIVING. In most fields of human endeavour, demands for immediate perfect results are unrealistic. Each person possesses unique natural endowments and disadvantages. Individuals are dealt different cards in terms of talent, looks, material resources, and family connections. Comparing your opportunities with someone else's is a meaningless exercise. Accept your misfortunes and errors as part of the cost of living. Make new plans and move on.

3.- UNDERSTAND WHY REASON AND PERSISTENCE WIN IN THE LONG TERM. Life offers no one a guarantee of success, but intelligent persistence works. Action and ambition always bring about problems and mistakes. Through reason, we can learn from a setback, remedy a lack, and change our track. Errors are not isolated strains, but links in a learning chain. A long-term perspective makes you deserve as many chances are you bother to claim.

“So far, this has not worked, but the game is not over yet,” is the sensible reaction to problems and mistakes. Taking a long-term perspective will help you climb the next steps also in periods of stress. Your boat has still a long way to go. Adjust your course and continue to row.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Klearchos Kapoutsis under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Three elements of happiness: routine, progress, and achievement

“Never trade a risk for a lie,” is a sound investment principle. Placing our hopes on uncertain possibilities is a better approach than believing apparent truths that rest on false premises and unrealistic promises.

If you look around, you will find no lack of recipes for happiness. Believe this and avoid that. Don't go there and come here. Throw away the old batch and start from scratch. “Our solution is not hard,” you will be told, “I just need your credit card.”

Here is a list of methods that don't work, never have, and never will:
  • Dubious or unethical practices.
  • Abusing people in any way.
  • Seeking short-term gains that wipe out future progress.
  • Complaining about deficiencies.
  • Trusting luck.
Even under the best circumstances, attaining peace of mind and happiness requires substantial work. Without the right principles, those endowed with prodigious gifts by heredity will just bury themselves in sorrow through mistakes and inconsistencies. You can find evidence of this by opening any newspaper.

What is the essence of happiness? How is it determined? How can we steer our life in its direction? These questions can be answered only by pointing out the main difference between human and animal psychology.

Animals' moods are indissolubly connected to their immediate perceptions. For humans, this link is immeasurably more complex. Since ancient times, philosophers have wondered why different individuals react to the same event with anger, fear, anxiety, or happiness.

Relativism does not explain anything and serves only to obfuscate truth. “Anything can be good or bad,” is not a valid proposition, in particular when one faces catastrophe or personal tragedy. Arbitrary valuations of events are nothing but sophisticated lies aimed at manipulating the naive.

What really creates contrasting levels of happiness is how individuals interpret events according to their convictions about the past, present, and future:

1.- ABOUT THE PAST: No matter how painful, past events can often be reinterpreted as learning experiences. When this approach is unfeasible, preceding mistakes or bad luck must be simply accepted stoically. Each human life is unique and must carry its own past, whether positive or negative. From old days, draw lessons if you will, but above all, develop your acceptance skills.

2.- ABOUT THE PRESENT: Difficulties and, in particular, boring or unpleasant work are much better accepted by individuals who link them to their long-term personal objectives. Men and women of high ambitions know that performing daily routines well is a requisite of progress. The contentment of those who look beyond the present remains incomprehensible to short-term mentalities. This is why the same work can be experienced, depending on individual goals, either as dead-end or as a step forward.

3.- ABOUT THE FUTURE: Progress derived from focused routines leads to achievement. The path to success might be irregular, advancement slow, and results below expectations, but you can always find another road that will take you father. Animals cannot assess their actions by linking them to long-term objectives. Human happiness is, to a great extent, the result of making such connection and anticipating those goals.

Routine, progress, and achievement constitute the sequence of happiness. Viewing the unique thread that links our past, present, and future is a fundamental gift of philosophy. Peace of mind and happiness start and end with personal responsibility. May all your present routines fit well your chosen destination.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by kevindooley under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Three elements of happiness: routine, progress, and achievement

“Never trade a risk for a lie,” is a sound investment principle. Placing our hopes on uncertain possibilities is a better approach than believing apparent truths that rest on false premises and unrealistic promises.

If you look around, you will find no lack of recipes for happiness. Believe this and avoid that. Don't go there and come here. Throw away the old batch and start from scratch. “Our solution is not hard,” you will be told, “I just need your credit card.”

Here is a list of methods that don't work, never have, and never will:
  • Dubious or unethical practices.
  • Abusing people in any way.
  • Seeking short-term gains that wipe out future progress.
  • Complaining about deficiencies.
  • Trusting luck.
Even under the best circumstances, attaining peace of mind and happiness requires substantial work. Without the right principles, those endowed with prodigious gifts by heredity will just bury themselves in sorrow through mistakes and inconsistencies. You can find evidence of this by opening any newspaper.

What is the essence of happiness? How is it determined? How can we steer our life in its direction? These questions can be answered only by pointing out the main difference between human and animal psychology.

Animals' moods are indissolubly connected to their immediate perceptions. For humans, this link is immeasurably more complex. Since ancient times, philosophers have wondered why different individuals react to the same event with anger, fear, anxiety, or happiness.

Relativism does not explain anything and serves only to obfuscate truth. “Anything can be good or bad,” is not a valid proposition, in particular when one faces catastrophe or personal tragedy. Arbitrary valuations of events are nothing but sophisticated lies aimed at manipulating the naive.

What really creates contrasting levels of happiness is how individuals interpret events according to their convictions about the past, present, and future:

1.- ABOUT THE PAST: No matter how painful, past events can often be reinterpreted as learning experiences. When this approach is unfeasible, preceding mistakes or bad luck must be simply accepted stoically. Each human life is unique and must carry its own past, whether positive or negative. From old days, draw lessons if you will, but above all, develop your acceptance skills.

2.- ABOUT THE PRESENT: Difficulties and, in particular, boring or unpleasant work are much better accepted by individuals who link them to their long-term personal objectives. Men and women of high ambitions know that performing daily routines well is a requisite of progress. The contentment of those who look beyond the present remains incomprehensible to short-term mentalities. This is why the same work can be experienced, depending on individual goals, either as dead-end or as a step forward.

3.- ABOUT THE FUTURE: Progress derived from focused routines leads to achievement. The path to success might be irregular, advancement slow, and results below expectations, but you can always find another road that will take you father. Animals cannot assess their actions by linking them to long-term objectives. Human happiness is, to a great extent, the result of making such connection and anticipating those goals.

Routine, progress, and achievement constitute the sequence of happiness. Viewing the unique thread that links our past, present, and future is a fundamental gift of philosophy. Peace of mind and happiness start and end with personal responsibility. May all your present routines fit well your chosen destination.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by kevindooley under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The only thing that counts


There are too many rules to live by. Too many principles to memorize, clues to follow, and lies to swallow. Too many ideals to discard and too much junk in our yard. The moment has come to simplify.

Every few years, we read about research performed on twin brothers. This was particularly popular in the seventies, when researchers checked twins' moods, ask them what they ate, and watched them go on dates. Later they recorded how some twins took courses, found jobs, and travelled around the globe.

At the end of each study, facts are typed, tabulated, and debated. Results are never what scientists expected. Why are some subjects doing great while brothers live in a sorry state? How come that often one twin thrives while the other barely survives?

From time to time, more money is poured into such studies and researchers talk again to every twin and his brother. To everyone's surprise, old data is usually not just confirmed, but magnified. Subjects who are successful feel not at all resentful, while apparently, to those who wail and cry, every chance in life has been denied.

Although the outcome of studies show clear differences between subjects, scientists continue to be clueless about the cause. How is it possible that each twin fares a way that cannot be compared? If not family and background, what makes some people mess around and others rebound?
  • Are there so many factors involved that no conclusion can be drawn?
  • Is every man nothing but destiny's pawn?
  • What is the secret that turns ugly ducklings into swans?
In my view, such investigations have never been able to teach us much because they are based on faulty premises. Undoubtedly, family and origin play a certain role, but so do educational opportunities, an individual's health, the state of the economy, luck, and many other factors.

Complexity in the method cannot overcome imperfection in the system. Even when computers are fed overwhelming streams of data, they remain unable to grasp what human intuition can instantly deduct by means of fuzzy short-cuts.

In life, action is the only thing that counts. It is what makes your days valuable or sells them at discount. It does not matter whether two men are twins or not. Neither origin, background, or talking can equal the impact of a man walking.

Statistics won't reveal the clue. They can determine neither when nor who. From the many rules to live by, most are not even true. Action is the key, a habit that we must daily renew. Decide what you want to construe, take action, and follow through.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jasonb42882 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The only thing that counts


There are too many rules to live by. Too many principles to memorize, clues to follow, and lies to swallow. Too many ideals to discard and too much junk in our yard. The moment has come to simplify.

Every few years, we read about research performed on twin brothers. This was particularly popular in the seventies, when researchers checked twins' moods, ask them what they ate, and watched them go on dates. Later they recorded how some twins took courses, found jobs, and travelled around the globe.

At the end of each study, facts are typed, tabulated, and debated. Results are never what scientists expected. Why are some subjects doing great while brothers live in a sorry state? How come that often one twin thrives while the other barely survives?

From time to time, more money is poured into such studies and researchers talk again to every twin and his brother. To everyone's surprise, old data is usually not just confirmed, but magnified. Subjects who are successful feel not at all resentful, while apparently, to those who wail and cry, every chance in life has been denied.

Although the outcome of studies show clear differences between subjects, scientists continue to be clueless about the cause. How is it possible that each twin fares a way that cannot be compared? If not family and background, what makes some people mess around and others rebound?
  • Are there so many factors involved that no conclusion can be drawn?
  • Is every man nothing but destiny's pawn?
  • What is the secret that turns ugly ducklings into swans?
In my view, such investigations have never been able to teach us much because they are based on faulty premises. Undoubtedly, family and origin play a certain role, but so do educational opportunities, an individual's health, the state of the economy, luck, and many other factors.

Complexity in the method cannot overcome imperfection in the system. Even when computers are fed overwhelming streams of data, they remain unable to grasp what human intuition can instantly deduct by means of fuzzy short-cuts.

In life, action is the only thing that counts. It is what makes your days valuable or sells them at discount. It does not matter whether two men are twins or not. Neither origin, background, or talking can equal the impact of a man walking.

Statistics won't reveal the clue. They can determine neither when nor who. From the many rules to live by, most are not even true. Action is the key, a habit that we must daily renew. Decide what you want to construe, take action, and follow through.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jasonb42882 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 29 May 2009

Why only one out of thirty-three people read books


It happens every spring, but this year, the questioning has been particularly intense. Every month of April, on occasion of the London Book Fair, newspapers publish articles speculating if it still makes sense to publish books.

At the turn of the century, one thousand book titles were published for every feature-length movie made. Today, the ratio is one to six hundred. The number of movies produced every year has increased and, at the same time, the number of published books has diminished.

“We live in a visual world,” sociologists argue. “In many areas, the written word is becoming a relic of previous centuries.” Media analysts blame the trend on video-games and portable DVD players. Others simply say that reading requires too much effort after our long work schedules.

In my view, those commentators are missing the point completely. Despite the abundance of cheap visual entertainment, readers' motivation remains strong. The reason why people read books has nothing to do with the demands of society and everything to do with individual psychology.

1.- MINORITY VIEWS: Visual media, due to its structure and economics, is unable to express minority views in a consistent, intellectual manner. In this respect, all has been tried and all has failed. Complex ideas cannot be transmitted without the written word. No photograph and no movie can replace a chain of reasoning built in clear sentences.

2.- DIVERSITY: Films, television, and radio, despite the growing number of channels, can only thrive when they aim at large audiences. They can offer multiplicity in the multitude, but no original ideas. Digital video has reduced the budget necessary to make a movie, but not the distribution costs. Actors, good lighting, and a decent soundtrack are still expensive. Books, on the other hand, can still be published and distributed cheaply.

3.- FRESH IDEAS: In a movie, special effects cannot cure the problems of a weak scenario. Even great acting is unable to sustain a filmed story that doesn't make any sense. How long ago is it since you saw a really thought-provoking movie? How often do you gain deep insights from watching television? The written word remains the ideal means to transmit innovative ideas.

The good news about reading is that three per cent of the population still remain avid readers. One out of thirty-three is not a bad proportion at all. A strong audience for writers is still there and it is not going to become smaller in the foreseeable future.

Do people read internet blogs for the same reason that they love books? Is it because they want to read original ideas? Do they do it in order to enjoy some fresh writing?

I suspect that, for most, the main drivers are the joy of discovering something new and a steadfast refusal to join the other thirty-two.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Saltygal under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Why only one out of thirty-three people read books


It happens every spring, but this year, the questioning has been particularly intense. Every month of April, on occasion of the London Book Fair, newspapers publish articles speculating if it still makes sense to publish books.

At the turn of the century, one thousand book titles were published for every feature-length movie made. Today, the ratio is one to six hundred. The number of movies produced every year has increased and, at the same time, the number of published books has diminished.

“We live in a visual world,” sociologists argue. “In many areas, the written word is becoming a relic of previous centuries.” Media analysts blame the trend on video-games and portable DVD players. Others simply say that reading requires too much effort after our long work schedules.

In my view, those commentators are missing the point completely. Despite the abundance of cheap visual entertainment, readers' motivation remains strong. The reason why people read books has nothing to do with the demands of society and everything to do with individual psychology.

1.- MINORITY VIEWS: Visual media, due to its structure and economics, is unable to express minority views in a consistent, intellectual manner. In this respect, all has been tried and all has failed. Complex ideas cannot be transmitted without the written word. No photograph and no movie can replace a chain of reasoning built in clear sentences.

2.- DIVERSITY: Films, television, and radio, despite the growing number of channels, can only thrive when they aim at large audiences. They can offer multiplicity in the multitude, but no original ideas. Digital video has reduced the budget necessary to make a movie, but not the distribution costs. Actors, good lighting, and a decent soundtrack are still expensive. Books, on the other hand, can still be published and distributed cheaply.

3.- FRESH IDEAS: In a movie, special effects cannot cure the problems of a weak scenario. Even great acting is unable to sustain a filmed story that doesn't make any sense. How long ago is it since you saw a really thought-provoking movie? How often do you gain deep insights from watching television? The written word remains the ideal means to transmit innovative ideas.

The good news about reading is that three per cent of the population still remain avid readers. One out of thirty-three is not a bad proportion at all. A strong audience for writers is still there and it is not going to become smaller in the foreseeable future.

Do people read internet blogs for the same reason that they love books? Is it because they want to read original ideas? Do they do it in order to enjoy some fresh writing?

I suspect that, for most, the main drivers are the joy of discovering something new and a steadfast refusal to join the other thirty-two.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Saltygal under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Everyday you can build a little higher

Few things in life are worth more than perspective. Overcharged agendas can push us to a point where we begin to lose direction. As management tool, planning is highly overrated. As personal philosophy, time management will just keep you sedated.

In periods of low unemployment, when people burned out, doctors used to recommend taking a long vacation. Getting away from everything was considered the ideal means to regain perspective and figure out what is important in life.

Holidays are great, but physical distance for its own sake is a solution that seldom works. Run away from problems and they will catch up with you at night. Try to forget about reality and you will soon experience a loss of vitality.

The truth is that, to gain perspective, human beings don't require physical distance. The result from exotic travel, mental estrangement, won't render our agendas less inconsistent. Peace of mind can be based only on clear ideas and definite objectives.

Orientation comes from definition. Safety arises from prevention. Self-confidence is built on balance.

Of course, the problems lie on the opposite side. Fear is made of images that we can't erase. Stress is the certainty of living in a mess, while longing for magic solutions that we don't possess.

It is time for a turnaround:

1.- FROM INEFFICIENT TO DISSIDENT: Most things that we do everyday are routines. How many of those are tuned to serving our long-term objectives?

Imagine what you would do if you knew the precise day of your death. Go ahead and fix the date yourself, for instance, your ninetieth birthday.

Count the time that you have left, review your major priorities, and decide how many hours you can afford to waste on non-essential tasks. One thousand? One hundred? What about zero?

Become a non-conformist in the way you allocate your time. Drop everything that is leading you away from your goals.

2.- FROM UNNERVING TO RESILIENT: On the other hand, you still have lots of time left. There is still plenty that you can achieve, irrespective of difficulties and contingencies.

Put your impatience aside and work confidently towards your goals. With a sharp vision and calm persistence, you will be able to reach most objectives on your list. In the worst periods, perspective will feed your resilience; in the best times, your brilliance.

Physical distance and psychological tricks are not the way to gain perspective. Don't allow time management to fill your life with empty commitments. Walking too fast won't do. Walking too slow brings nothing but woe.

Let go of excess baggage and advance on your chosen path with serenity. Forget about fashions and rediscover your true desire. Remember that everyday, you can build a little higher.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by josef.stuefer under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Everyday you can build a little higher

Few things in life are worth more than perspective. Overcharged agendas can push us to a point where we begin to lose direction. As management tool, planning is highly overrated. As personal philosophy, time management will just keep you sedated.

In periods of low unemployment, when people burned out, doctors used to recommend taking a long vacation. Getting away from everything was considered the ideal means to regain perspective and figure out what is important in life.

Holidays are great, but physical distance for its own sake is a solution that seldom works. Run away from problems and they will catch up with you at night. Try to forget about reality and you will soon experience a loss of vitality.

The truth is that, to gain perspective, human beings don't require physical distance. The result from exotic travel, mental estrangement, won't render our agendas less inconsistent. Peace of mind can be based only on clear ideas and definite objectives.

Orientation comes from definition. Safety arises from prevention. Self-confidence is built on balance.

Of course, the problems lie on the opposite side. Fear is made of images that we can't erase. Stress is the certainty of living in a mess, while longing for magic solutions that we don't possess.

It is time for a turnaround:

1.- FROM INEFFICIENT TO DISSIDENT: Most things that we do everyday are routines. How many of those are tuned to serving our long-term objectives?

Imagine what you would do if you knew the precise day of your death. Go ahead and fix the date yourself, for instance, your ninetieth birthday.

Count the time that you have left, review your major priorities, and decide how many hours you can afford to waste on non-essential tasks. One thousand? One hundred? What about zero?

Become a non-conformist in the way you allocate your time. Drop everything that is leading you away from your goals.

2.- FROM UNNERVING TO RESILIENT: On the other hand, you still have lots of time left. There is still plenty that you can achieve, irrespective of difficulties and contingencies.

Put your impatience aside and work confidently towards your goals. With a sharp vision and calm persistence, you will be able to reach most objectives on your list. In the worst periods, perspective will feed your resilience; in the best times, your brilliance.

Physical distance and psychological tricks are not the way to gain perspective. Don't allow time management to fill your life with empty commitments. Walking too fast won't do. Walking too slow brings nothing but woe.

Let go of excess baggage and advance on your chosen path with serenity. Forget about fashions and rediscover your true desire. Remember that everyday, you can build a little higher.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by josef.stuefer under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Creativity: the wave that will take you higher

Some myths are meant to keep you down, others to destroy everything you own. Some fantasies are meant to make you small, others to reduce you to nothing at all.

There are plenty of myths to choose from. If you wish to give up your future, go ahead and pick up a fantasy. On the other hand, if you believe that there must be a better choice, look around and find your own voice.

Here is some of the nonsense which most of us have been fed:
  • The only creative people are those who do artistic things, such as singing, playing guitar, drawing, or directing movies.
  • Jobs in industry and commerce mainly consist of boring routines that must be performed in a narrowly-described manner in order to arrive at predetermined results.
  • In any organization, only top positions require some measure of creativity. All other employees are supposed to shut up and follow orders, that is, if they want to keep their job.
Those statements constitute propaganda of the worst sort and you should not believe a word of it.

I am going to tell you things as they really are, and then, I am going to ask you to let go of myths about creativity. In case nobody told you, this is the truth:

1.- ABOUT YOUR CREATIVITY: You are an intelligent, creative human being. It is your own business to decide how to exercise your creativity. Nobody has the right to dictate to you which fields are considered creative and which not. You are the only one who is entitled to choose what goals you want to pursue and in which way.

2.- ABOUT YOUR UNIQUENESS. Your life and your personal conditions are unique. There is no one else like you in the world and there will never be another person like you. Your perceptions and experience cannot be internalized by another human being. The combination of knowledge that exists in your mind is singular to one person. Your creativity is the factor that allows you to reconfigure that knowledge and produce something new.

3.- ABOUT YOUR LIMITED TIME. The years of your life will end up some day, hopefully in a distant future. No man knows how much time he has, but all of us are conscious of our mortality. This should not be interpreted negatively. On the contrary, this should be taken as an encouragement to use every hour creatively.

Today, right now, is the best moment to discard preconceived ideas about creativity. It is the ideal time to reclaim for ourselves, in our chosen field of activity, the right to exert our mind to the utmost.

Don't waste a minute in admiration of someone else's view of his own avocation. Make your own decisions and throw away what doesn't work. Creativity can be demonstrated daily in all our actions. When we choose and when we move, we become ourselves the living proof.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by atomicjeep under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Creativity: the wave that will take you higher

Some myths are meant to keep you down, others to destroy everything you own. Some fantasies are meant to make you small, others to reduce you to nothing at all.

There are plenty of myths to choose from. If you wish to give up your future, go ahead and pick up a fantasy. On the other hand, if you believe that there must be a better choice, look around and find your own voice.

Here is some of the nonsense which most of us have been fed:
  • The only creative people are those who do artistic things, such as singing, playing guitar, drawing, or directing movies.
  • Jobs in industry and commerce mainly consist of boring routines that must be performed in a narrowly-described manner in order to arrive at predetermined results.
  • In any organization, only top positions require some measure of creativity. All other employees are supposed to shut up and follow orders, that is, if they want to keep their job.
Those statements constitute propaganda of the worst sort and you should not believe a word of it.

I am going to tell you things as they really are, and then, I am going to ask you to let go of myths about creativity. In case nobody told you, this is the truth:

1.- ABOUT YOUR CREATIVITY: You are an intelligent, creative human being. It is your own business to decide how to exercise your creativity. Nobody has the right to dictate to you which fields are considered creative and which not. You are the only one who is entitled to choose what goals you want to pursue and in which way.

2.- ABOUT YOUR UNIQUENESS. Your life and your personal conditions are unique. There is no one else like you in the world and there will never be another person like you. Your perceptions and experience cannot be internalized by another human being. The combination of knowledge that exists in your mind is singular to one person. Your creativity is the factor that allows you to reconfigure that knowledge and produce something new.

3.- ABOUT YOUR LIMITED TIME. The years of your life will end up some day, hopefully in a distant future. No man knows how much time he has, but all of us are conscious of our mortality. This should not be interpreted negatively. On the contrary, this should be taken as an encouragement to use every hour creatively.

Today, right now, is the best moment to discard preconceived ideas about creativity. It is the ideal time to reclaim for ourselves, in our chosen field of activity, the right to exert our mind to the utmost.

Don't waste a minute in admiration of someone else's view of his own avocation. Make your own decisions and throw away what doesn't work. Creativity can be demonstrated daily in all our actions. When we choose and when we move, we become ourselves the living proof.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by atomicjeep under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

How to overcome disappointments: lessons from the messy world of film financing

Do you ever wonder whether all your efforts are being in vain? Do you ever ask yourself if you should give everything up and start a new career?

In all professions and businesses, disappointment comes in waves, but that is no reason to do anything foolish.

Please do not throw anything away, make yourself a cup of tea, and let me draw a few facts to your attention.

The best lessons can be learned from those who have experienced failure the most often and have found the way to turn it into success.
  • Barely 16% of movies make money for their financiers. Most other films are little more than financial black holes.
  • Only 5% of actors make as much money as a mid-level employee, that is, during the years when actors are lucky enough to find work at all.
  • Less than 1% of movie scripts ever get made into films, despite the fact that many scripts are rewritten a dozen times before they are finally rejected.
Despite their glamour, film festivals are playgrounds where people spend their days saying no to each other.

Hundreds of movie producers attend the Cannes Film Festival with projects under their arms, trying frantically to raise money from film distributors around the world.

Ten days later, when the festival is over, most of those movie projects are still unfunded and die an early death.

Disappointment and rejection belong to the nature of the film business as much as exciting stories and colourful personalities.

Nevertheless, despite all difficulties, you see those people get up from the ground, take a shower, change clothes, and go back immediately to work on the next project.

How come that they don't give up and quit the movie business disgusted with the lack of opportunity?

Here are the three reasons:

1.- NEVER TAKE IT PERSONALLY. If a project is rejected, maybe it was not the right time or the right people. If there is a lesson to be learned for the future, learn it. Sometimes, there is none, so just shrug your shoulders and move on.

2.- WHEN YOU MAKE IT, YOU CAN MAKE IT BIG. Movie producers who never had a single great success in their careers know that the next film could be the right one. When a movie catches the taste of the public, there is no limit to how far it can go.

3.- THROUGH PROGRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT, YOU WILL ULTIMATELY FIND THE WAY. Nobody knows everything about any business and the rules of success are changing everyday. There are no limits to how much you can learn. You can develop breakthrough ideas. Your decision to stay in the game for the long run already puts you ahead of most people.

Do not waste time wondering if all your efforts are being in vain. Instead, devote your days to looking for the next opportunity.

Never ask yourself if you should give everything up. Instead, build on what you already have and learn how you can improve.


In all professions and businesses, disappointment comes in waves. Learn to move with the flow and enjoy the come-and-go. Waves are just waves. They can only hit you hard if they catch you standing still.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Darwin Bell under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to overcome disappointments: lessons from the messy world of film financing

Do you ever wonder whether all your efforts are being in vain? Do you ever ask yourself if you should give everything up and start a new career?

In all professions and businesses, disappointment comes in waves, but that is no reason to do anything foolish.

Please do not throw anything away, make yourself a cup of tea, and let me draw a few facts to your attention.

The best lessons can be learned from those who have experienced failure the most often and have found the way to turn it into success.
  • Barely 16% of movies make money for their financiers. Most other films are little more than financial black holes.
  • Only 5% of actors make as much money as a mid-level employee, that is, during the years when actors are lucky enough to find work at all.
  • Less than 1% of movie scripts ever get made into films, despite the fact that many scripts are rewritten a dozen times before they are finally rejected.
Despite their glamour, film festivals are playgrounds where people spend their days saying no to each other.

Hundreds of movie producers attend the Cannes Film Festival with projects under their arms, trying frantically to raise money from film distributors around the world.

Ten days later, when the festival is over, most of those movie projects are still unfunded and die an early death.

Disappointment and rejection belong to the nature of the film business as much as exciting stories and colourful personalities.

Nevertheless, despite all difficulties, you see those people get up from the ground, take a shower, change clothes, and go back immediately to work on the next project.

How come that they don't give up and quit the movie business disgusted with the lack of opportunity?

Here are the three reasons:

1.- NEVER TAKE IT PERSONALLY. If a project is rejected, maybe it was not the right time or the right people. If there is a lesson to be learned for the future, learn it. Sometimes, there is none, so just shrug your shoulders and move on.

2.- WHEN YOU MAKE IT, YOU CAN MAKE IT BIG. Movie producers who never had a single great success in their careers know that the next film could be the right one. When a movie catches the taste of the public, there is no limit to how far it can go.

3.- THROUGH PROGRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT, YOU WILL ULTIMATELY FIND THE WAY. Nobody knows everything about any business and the rules of success are changing everyday. There are no limits to how much you can learn. You can develop breakthrough ideas. Your decision to stay in the game for the long run already puts you ahead of most people.

Do not waste time wondering if all your efforts are being in vain. Instead, devote your days to looking for the next opportunity.

Never ask yourself if you should give everything up. Instead, build on what you already have and learn how you can improve.


In all professions and businesses, disappointment comes in waves. Learn to move with the flow and enjoy the come-and-go. Waves are just waves. They can only hit you hard if they catch you standing still.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Darwin Bell under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Choosing simple investments in turbulent times

The recent rise in stock prices might foretell what inflation will do to the market. Companies selling products with stable demand should do well, since they will be able to raise their wholesale prices as fast as inflation hits.

In turbulent times, my choice goes for simplicity and stability. Well-established consumer brands and pharmaceuticals sell the kind of products that don't go out of fashion overnight. Most prescription drugs continue to sell well in times of economic recession and few people will skip their breakfast cereal.

The following six companies represent my favourite investments, today May 24, 2009, as possible additions to my own portfolio:

1.- KRAFT FOODS (NYSE:KFT). A major international food manufacturer that sells its products in 140 countries. In addition to cheese and chocolate, Kraft makes different sorts of snacks. The wide multi-national base of its income should allow this company to compensate for problems in any given territory. Its current dividend yield is about 4% and its price/earnings ratio is about 14.

2.- KIMBERLY CLARK (NYSE:KMB). A multi-national manufacturer of hygiene and personal-care products. Its disposable diapers and facial tissues are sold around the world. This company owns, amongst others, the Kleenex brand. At today's share price, the dividend yield is around 4.5% and the company shows a price/earnings ratio around 13.

3.- KELLOGG (NYSE:K). Its breakfast cereals are sold in supermarkets around the world and represent one of the best-known consumer brands. Kellogg's products are sold in 160 countries and has a loyal customer base. The shares show a current dividend yield around 3% and a price/earnings ratio about 14.

4.- NOVARTIS (NYSE:NVS). This Swiss pharmaceutical company sells its medicines in 130 countries and owns numerous patents. In addition to medicines, it sells diagnostic kits and vaccines. Its worldwide income from many different products provides this company with a good risk distribution. Its shares show a dividend yield of about 4% and a price/earnings ratio around 12.

5.- CLOROX (NYSE:CLX). This multi-multinational manufacturer of household and cleaning products has sales in the five continents, in about 90 countries in total. It possesses a stable customer base and its brand Clorox is well-known around the world. The shares show a dividend yield around 3.5% and a price/earnings ratio around 13.

6.- JOHNSON AND JOHNSON (NYSE:JNJ). A major manufacturer and distributor of cosmetics and personal-care products. Its mouthwash brand Listerine is known by consumers in many countries. The company markets as well many pharmaceutical products. The shares show a dividend yield around 3.5% and a price/earnings ratio about 13.

As always, when you make investment decisions, avoid following any advice blindly. It is your own money and you should check all details yourself.

Devoting reasonable efforts to researching shares is the only way to make well-informed choices. In today's market, you should not lack opportunities to find good investments.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by nacholau under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Choosing simple investments in turbulent times

The recent rise in stock prices might foretell what inflation will do to the market. Companies selling products with stable demand should do well, since they will be able to raise their wholesale prices as fast as inflation hits.

In turbulent times, my choice goes for simplicity and stability. Well-established consumer brands and pharmaceuticals sell the kind of products that don't go out of fashion overnight. Most prescription drugs continue to sell well in times of economic recession and few people will skip their breakfast cereal.

The following six companies represent my favourite investments, today May 24, 2009, as possible additions to my own portfolio:

1.- KRAFT FOODS (NYSE:KFT). A major international food manufacturer that sells its products in 140 countries. In addition to cheese and chocolate, Kraft makes different sorts of snacks. The wide multi-national base of its income should allow this company to compensate for problems in any given territory. Its current dividend yield is about 4% and its price/earnings ratio is about 14.

2.- KIMBERLY CLARK (NYSE:KMB). A multi-national manufacturer of hygiene and personal-care products. Its disposable diapers and facial tissues are sold around the world. This company owns, amongst others, the Kleenex brand. At today's share price, the dividend yield is around 4.5% and the company shows a price/earnings ratio around 13.

3.- KELLOGG (NYSE:K). Its breakfast cereals are sold in supermarkets around the world and represent one of the best-known consumer brands. Kellogg's products are sold in 160 countries and has a loyal customer base. The shares show a current dividend yield around 3% and a price/earnings ratio about 14.

4.- NOVARTIS (NYSE:NVS). This Swiss pharmaceutical company sells its medicines in 130 countries and owns numerous patents. In addition to medicines, it sells diagnostic kits and vaccines. Its worldwide income from many different products provides this company with a good risk distribution. Its shares show a dividend yield of about 4% and a price/earnings ratio around 12.

5.- CLOROX (NYSE:CLX). This multi-multinational manufacturer of household and cleaning products has sales in the five continents, in about 90 countries in total. It possesses a stable customer base and its brand Clorox is well-known around the world. The shares show a dividend yield around 3.5% and a price/earnings ratio around 13.

6.- JOHNSON AND JOHNSON (NYSE:JNJ). A major manufacturer and distributor of cosmetics and personal-care products. Its mouthwash brand Listerine is known by consumers in many countries. The company markets as well many pharmaceutical products. The shares show a dividend yield around 3.5% and a price/earnings ratio about 13.

As always, when you make investment decisions, avoid following any advice blindly. It is your own money and you should check all details yourself.

Devoting reasonable efforts to researching shares is the only way to make well-informed choices. In today's market, you should not lack opportunities to find good investments.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by nacholau under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 23 May 2009

How just-in-time thinking can destroy your life


Exaggeration and over-generalization are common logical mistakes. This is why, to a good extent, we have grown insensitive to them.

The human mind is naturally inclined to analyse facts, look for patterns, identify common causes, and draw conclusions to be used in the future. This is how knowledge is acquired and expanded.

Even when facts are insufficient to sustain complex logical connections, our thirst for certainty can lead us to exaggerate and over-generalize.

Logical errors do not base their appeal on evidence, but on man's desire to control his environment and predict the future.

The problem with inconsistent ideas is that they don't work.
  • Every minute that you devote to arguing in favour of a logical error is a wasted minute.
  • Every time that someone tries to implement it in real life, waste will be the likely result.
“Pursuing the impossible is the wrong kind of ambition,” wrote Emperor Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations in the year 176 C.E. “Unfortunately, such attempt is common to many men.”

Just-in-time production techniques are widespread in Japan. Since their introduction 50 years ago, just-in-time principles have greatly contributed to reducing the cost and increasing the quality of complex industrial products such as motor vehicles.

In our days, this philosophy enjoys universal popularity amongst managers
and has become a central subject of study in business schools around the world. Running a factory according to just-in-time principles involves six steps:
  1. Determine which features customers want in a product.
  2. Identify the steps that are necessary to manufacture that product.
  3. Eliminate any steps that are not needed.
  4. Ensure that each step is performed at a constant speed (just in time).
  5. Avoid over-production and under-production at each step.
  6. Maintain process stability by allocating sufficient resources to each step.
Just-in-time thinking has proven highly effective in car manufacturing under conditions of growing market demand and stable consumer preferences.

Nevertheless, its positive results in that area cannot not be taken as a success guarantee under all conditions. That would constitute a case of exaggeration and over-generalization.

Assuming that what is true under certain circumstances has universal application can lead us to mistakes in other areas.

As it frequently happens, reality shows us a more complex truth:
  • DEVELOPING A VISION IS A KEY ENTREPRENEURIAL FUNCTION. Human behaviour cannot be mathematically predicted. Surveys of consumer preferences have proven repeatedly ineffectual. No success formula is written in stone. Determining what new products should look like is a key entrepreneurial decision.
  • ASSESSING MARKETS IS PART OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP. Process regularity and employment stability are highly desirable, but markets often disrupt the best intentions. There is no way to predict with certainty how many products will be sold and at which price. Assessing the strength of consumer demand is an essential task of the entrepreneur.
  • ENTREPRENEURS DETECT MARKET CHANGES. Constant production speed (just-in-time) is not an end in itself. Consumers always have the final say. Determining which production and delivery speed suit markets best is a fundamental entrepreneurial decision.
Despite its extraordinary contribution to enhancing quality and productivity, the just-in-time approach cannot replace the role played by entrepreneurs.

“When the eye looks at the world, it wants to perceive every colour,” observed Marcus Aurelius two thousand years ago. “When the mind looks at reality, it should be open to perceiving all circumstances.”

Look at reality with your own eyes, assess where the best opportunities lie, and decide which course of action you should follow. No formula and no ritual can replace the entrepreneurial mind of the individual.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by kathycsus under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How just-in-time thinking can destroy your life


Exaggeration and over-generalization are common logical mistakes. This is why, to a good extent, we have grown insensitive to them.

The human mind is naturally inclined to analyse facts, look for patterns, identify common causes, and draw conclusions to be used in the future. This is how knowledge is acquired and expanded.

Even when facts are insufficient to sustain complex logical connections, our thirst for certainty can lead us to exaggerate and over-generalize.

Logical errors do not base their appeal on evidence, but on man's desire to control his environment and predict the future.

The problem with inconsistent ideas is that they don't work.
  • Every minute that you devote to arguing in favour of a logical error is a wasted minute.
  • Every time that someone tries to implement it in real life, waste will be the likely result.
“Pursuing the impossible is the wrong kind of ambition,” wrote Emperor Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations in the year 176 C.E. “Unfortunately, such attempt is common to many men.”

Just-in-time production techniques are widespread in Japan. Since their introduction 50 years ago, just-in-time principles have greatly contributed to reducing the cost and increasing the quality of complex industrial products such as motor vehicles.

In our days, this philosophy enjoys universal popularity amongst managers
and has become a central subject of study in business schools around the world. Running a factory according to just-in-time principles involves six steps:
  1. Determine which features customers want in a product.
  2. Identify the steps that are necessary to manufacture that product.
  3. Eliminate any steps that are not needed.
  4. Ensure that each step is performed at a constant speed (just in time).
  5. Avoid over-production and under-production at each step.
  6. Maintain process stability by allocating sufficient resources to each step.
Just-in-time thinking has proven highly effective in car manufacturing under conditions of growing market demand and stable consumer preferences.

Nevertheless, its positive results in that area cannot not be taken as a success guarantee under all conditions. That would constitute a case of exaggeration and over-generalization.

Assuming that what is true under certain circumstances has universal application can lead us to mistakes in other areas.

As it frequently happens, reality shows us a more complex truth:
  • DEVELOPING A VISION IS A KEY ENTREPRENEURIAL FUNCTION. Human behaviour cannot be mathematically predicted. Surveys of consumer preferences have proven repeatedly ineffectual. No success formula is written in stone. Determining what new products should look like is a key entrepreneurial decision.
  • ASSESSING MARKETS IS PART OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP. Process regularity and employment stability are highly desirable, but markets often disrupt the best intentions. There is no way to predict with certainty how many products will be sold and at which price. Assessing the strength of consumer demand is an essential task of the entrepreneur.
  • ENTREPRENEURS DETECT MARKET CHANGES. Constant production speed (just-in-time) is not an end in itself. Consumers always have the final say. Determining which production and delivery speed suit markets best is a fundamental entrepreneurial decision.
Despite its extraordinary contribution to enhancing quality and productivity, the just-in-time approach cannot replace the role played by entrepreneurs.

“When the eye looks at the world, it wants to perceive every colour,” observed Marcus Aurelius two thousand years ago. “When the mind looks at reality, it should be open to perceiving all circumstances.”

Look at reality with your own eyes, assess where the best opportunities lie, and decide which course of action you should follow. No formula and no ritual can replace the entrepreneurial mind of the individual.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by kathycsus under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How some people get to live 100 years: facts, theories, and practical recommendations

“Luck is the result of a previous action,” wrote Aristotle in his essay Physics in the year 329 B.C. “In this respect, one can also say that happiness and good fortune are the result of previous good actions.”

Few would dispute that living to become 100 years old is a particularly appealing sort of good fortune.

Many would be ready to pay a fortune for such privilege, but contemporary medicine still has major difficulties to extend a man's life beyond his eighty-fifth birthday.

In the course of the last three decades, scientific studies on longevity have outgrown the status of fringe curiosities.

Today, trying to figure out how human beings could live longer occupies a central place in medical research.

“Time is a measure of motion and change,” observed Aristotle. “Growing old shows the effect of time on living entities.”

When researching longevity, the approach taken by the great majority of scientists has been based on the following five steps:
  1. Seek out very old people in different countries.
  2. Talk to them and to their families.
  3. Organize the information in four areas, namely, genetic characteristics, environment, lifestyle, and food.
  4. Compare the details in each area.
  5. Identify patterns that explain why those people live much longer than average.
In the late seventies, a population survey in Okinawa, a group of islands located between Japan and Taiwan, discovered an unusually large population segment that had reached an age beyond ninety years old.

The scientific investigation conducted with Okinawan men and women led to the same results as studies carried out in other areas of the world.

No one can modify the genetic characteristics of human beings after their birth, at least for the moment, but researchers agree that we are able to influence the other three factors that determine longevity.

These are some of the ways of turning those factors in our favour:
  • ENVIRONMENT: If possible, move to live in an unpolluted area, free of smoke, industrial fallout, and with abundant green areas for relaxation.
  • LIFESTYLE: Try to spend a good part of the day outside, cycling, gardening, or simply walking. Live close to friends and see them often. Pursue long-term interests in fields that require continuous learning, skill development, and intellectual concentration. Follow your passions.
  • FOOD: Eat moderately and seek to maintain a stable weight. Food affects people in various ways and there is no universal formula for youth. In general, it seems that legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish tend to further essential biochemical processes at cellular level. Find out which precise diet works best for you by observing how your metabolism reacts to different foods.
“Virtues are actions that move us in the direction of happiness,” defined Aristotle. “In order to find out the right direction to follow, a man should think of the likely effects of his actions.”

Let us learn how to live properly by learning from reality. The more we learn, the longer and happier our life will be.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Leo-setä under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Entrepreneurship: the truth is in the methodology


“To persevere in obstinate condolence is a course of impious stubbornness,” wrote Shakespeare in his play Hamlet in the year 1601.

Persistence is often presented as the key element of entrepreneurial success, but this approach misses 99% of what makes a business viable and prosperous.

A man can waste his life digging holes on the ground without achieving any positive results.

No matter what goal we choose to pursue, our energies and resources will be always limited. Overemphasising persistence can lead to commercial arrogance and blindness.

Success is one, but errors can be infinite:
  • Repeatedly asking people who are obviously not interested.
  • Continue to use distribution channels that have proven inappropriate for certain products.
  • Sticking to formats or contents that customers don't like.
  • Adopting a communication strategy that alienates the best prospects for your business.
The key element of successful entrepreneurship has nothing to do with persistence. Starting and growing a business has little to do with stubbornness and everything with flexibility. It is a psychological trait that is stifled by rigidity and enhanced by change.

Entrepreneurship is a skill that has everything to do with perception and vision.

It is an ability that goes far beyond the sphere of commerce and that can be applied to all areas of human life, from cooking at home, to repairing old clothes.

If I had to give the shortest definition of entrepreneurship, I would propose the words “realistic double vision.”

What sets entrepreneurs apart from the rest of the population is their capacity to link current problems to potential solutions that can be implemented realistically.

While many devote countless hours to complain about problems, the entrepreneurial mind is steadily focused on figuring out solutions and assessing their feasibility.

Such double vision, when exercised systematically, conveys powers resembling a higher level of awareness.

This skill, which is half-psychological and half-material, is the only characteristic present in all entrepreneurs.
Double vision is a talent that dwarfs the role played by persistence.

The bridge between perceived problems and realistic solutions can be built in ten different ways:
  1. ASSEMBLY: Changes in design that make products easier and cheaper to manufacture.
  2. SPACE: Moving products from low-demand to high-demand territories.
  3. PACKAGING: Repackaging old content into highly attractive new products.
  4. HUMAN: Organizing or motivating people in ways that dramatically increase the value of their output.
  5. TIME: Figuring out how to increase dramatically the speed of delivering a service.
  6. MATERIALS: Replacing old materials by new ones that increase the perceived value of products.
  7. STORY: Associating a story to products that renders them popular.
  8. DISTRIBUTION: Finding more efficient ways to use existing distribution channels.
  9. FINANCE: Identifying ways to fund a venture that previously seemed unfeasible.
  10. MERGE OR SPLIT: Splitting, disaggregating, or uniting elements in ways that make them more valuable to consumers.
Entrepreneurs dig holes on the ground only if they have good reasons to believe that this is a feasible solution to a burning problem.

Their psychological energies and material resources are focused on identifying viable responses to perceived opportunities.

I propose "realistic double vision" as optimal methodology to define, teach, and develop entrepreneurship, or as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet, “making more matter with less art.”

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by mandj98 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

How Confucius wasted 13 years of his life: a mistake that you can avoid

According to the tradition, Confucius resigned his job when he was 55 years old and devoted the next 13 years of his life to preaching his ideals.

During those 13 years, he wandered around different provinces of China, accompanied by a few disciples, looking for elevated souls who would appreciate his philosophical ideas.

In this respect, Confucius was following one of his own precepts: “Seek out companions who are honest, truthful, and knowledgeable. Avoid those who are arrogant, lie, or compromise their principles.”

In the year 484 B.C., after the long pilgrimage, Confucius returned to his old town. He was tired of travelling and disappointed with the people he had met.

His long search for perfect associates had been a failure. In all places he had visited, he had only met scorn, ignorance, and disdain for knowledge.

When Confucius settled down again in his town, he was already 68 years old. Since he knew that he would not live much longer, he asked himself how he should devote the remaining time of his life.

A lesser man might have become sorrowful and bitter, but not Confucius. He was honest and clever enough to look at his previous 13 years and recognize that he had made a mistake.

He had been searching for something that did not exist. He had been wandering the desert in pursue of a mirage. “Perfect places and perfect people do not exist,” he concluded. “Those are not the result of nature, but of our own making.”

During the next 5 years, until the day of his death, Confucius changed his strategy.
  • He gave up all attempts to preach to strangers.
  • He decided to focus his efforts on teaching those who were willing to listen to him.
  • He avoided heated arguments with anyone who disagreed with him.
Accepting that many men have no interest in philosophy or truth was not easier for Confucius than for anyone else.

“Each man has the right to believe his own foolish ideas, to refuse to face the facts of reality, and to make his own mistakes,” is an insight to which many come only after a long series of disappointing experiences.

For Confucius, that process of discovery took 13 years. Luckily, he made up for the wasted time during the remaining 5 years of his life, which he devoted to writing and to teaching a few loyal disciples in his own town.

Those followers were the men who would later spread Confucius' teachings across China, setting up the basis for transmitting his writings through the centuries.

None of us needs to repeat Confucius' mistake. The lesson has been taught and should be learned forever. Nobody has to waste 13 years of his life preaching in a desert of ignorance.

If you have something valuable to say or something worthy to sell, there is no point in devoting your energies to convincing those who do not care.

Instead, seek out those who can appreciate it and forget about the rest. Life is too short for chasing what cannot be achieved.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by jmctee under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Times of maximum despondency


My brief advice about how to filter or ignore depressing reports in newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and on-line media.
  1. Don't take it personally if people do stupid things
  2. Ignore gloomy predictions: the world is not going to end
  3. What looks malignant and universal is usually benign and local
  4. Many horror news contain the seed of immensely profitable investments
  5. When people give up, that's the time to acquire assets dirt cheap
  6. A crisis, personal or otherwise, is better faced through relentless initiative
  7. What looks like a lot of money today has often little long-term significance
  8. Opportunities are created every minute, at least for those who are looking
  9. Nobody but you can decide when a game is over
  10. Creativity and strength of character are built from what you learn on bad days
If you want to gain perspective, there is nothing like reading history. Learn from the past to establish your best strategy for the future.

Today, as it has always been the case, times of maximum despondency are times of maximum opportunity.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by timheyer under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Times of maximum despondency


My brief advice about how to filter or ignore depressing reports in newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and on-line media.
  1. Don't take it personally if people do stupid things
  2. Ignore gloomy predictions: the world is not going to end
  3. What looks malignant and universal is usually benign and local
  4. Many horror news contain the seed of immensely profitable investments
  5. When people give up, that's the time to acquire assets dirt cheap
  6. A crisis, personal or otherwise, is better faced through relentless initiative
  7. What looks like a lot of money today has often little long-term significance
  8. Opportunities are created every minute, at least for those who are looking
  9. Nobody but you can decide when a game is over
  10. Creativity and strength of character are built from what you learn on bad days
If you want to gain perspective, there is nothing like reading history. Learn from the past to establish your best strategy for the future.

Today, as it has always been the case, times of maximum despondency are times of maximum opportunity.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by timheyer under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The guaranteed way to economic security: living like a miser


Anxiety and depression, the undesirable companions of modern times, are spreading their nets over growing segments of the population. If those problems have not been solved yet, we can certainly not blame it on the lack of trying:
  • From the many pharmaceuticals in the market against this predicament, none has proven universally effective.
  • It is unclear to what extent therapy helps and which sort is best.
  • Special diets and exercise only consume the little energy that people have left.
Like for any other problem, treating the symptoms without correcting the cause brings about little improvement. Smoking or eating chocolate might improve your mood for a while, but in the long run, those approaches are unsustainable for your health.

If we look around these days, we can not fail to notice how psychological problems aggravate in times of recession. When the economy was growing, have we not all witnessed how optimism rendered people happier? Should we not conclude that there is a direct link between economic security and mental well-being?

You will find many books that argue that the best way to face difficulties is to change your thoughts. Those books will tell you that you can become positive and motivated by means of repetition and suggestion, even though the reality around you sucks like a vacuum.

Although the cheerful approach does work for some people, for many others, groundless optimism shows little success as a method of improving their life. Luckily, there is an alternative method for those who prefer more down-to-earth solutions.

The theory is that we can be happier if we improve the level of economic security in our lives, since that would eliminate a good part of the reasons for anxiety and depression.

Irrespective of any positive thinking, people who are able to cover their living expenses for the next months tend to worry much less when they lose their job.

Can anyone accumulate enough savings to achieve a reasonable level of economic security? Is there a way for all of us to reach the peace of mind and well-being that come from feeling in control of our own life?

Yes, this is indeed possible, whatever your personal situation. The guaranteed way to achieve economic security is to live like a miser.

If you make little money, you should spend even less, so that every month you can save some. If you make a lot, you should spend with caution and regularly put aside part of it.

Rainy days don't bring the blues to those who are depression-proof, so forget about psychological tricks and focus on the facts of reality.

It is up to you to adopt a lifestyle that will allow you to accumulate sufficient savings and enjoy the self-confidence that goes with them.

Living like a miser, at least for a while, might not make you popular, but it will sure make you richer and wiser.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by dalbera under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The guaranteed way to economic security: living like a miser


Anxiety and depression, the undesirable companions of modern times, are spreading their nets over growing segments of the population. If those problems have not been solved yet, we can certainly not blame it on the lack of trying:
  • From the many pharmaceuticals in the market against this predicament, none has proven universally effective.
  • It is unclear to what extent therapy helps and which sort is best.
  • Special diets and exercise only consume the little energy that people have left.
Like for any other problem, treating the symptoms without correcting the cause brings about little improvement. Smoking or eating chocolate might improve your mood for a while, but in the long run, those approaches are unsustainable for your health.

If we look around these days, we can not fail to notice how psychological problems aggravate in times of recession. When the economy was growing, have we not all witnessed how optimism rendered people happier? Should we not conclude that there is a direct link between economic security and mental well-being?

You will find many books that argue that the best way to face difficulties is to change your thoughts. Those books will tell you that you can become positive and motivated by means of repetition and suggestion, even though the reality around you sucks like a vacuum.

Although the cheerful approach does work for some people, for many others, groundless optimism shows little success as a method of improving their life. Luckily, there is an alternative method for those who prefer more down-to-earth solutions.

The theory is that we can be happier if we improve the level of economic security in our lives, since that would eliminate a good part of the reasons for anxiety and depression.

Irrespective of any positive thinking, people who are able to cover their living expenses for the next months tend to worry much less when they lose their job.

Can anyone accumulate enough savings to achieve a reasonable level of economic security? Is there a way for all of us to reach the peace of mind and well-being that come from feeling in control of our own life?

Yes, this is indeed possible, whatever your personal situation. The guaranteed way to achieve economic security is to live like a miser.

If you make little money, you should spend even less, so that every month you can save some. If you make a lot, you should spend with caution and regularly put aside part of it.

Rainy days don't bring the blues to those who are depression-proof, so forget about psychological tricks and focus on the facts of reality.

It is up to you to adopt a lifestyle that will allow you to accumulate sufficient savings and enjoy the self-confidence that goes with them.

Living like a miser, at least for a while, might not make you popular, but it will sure make you richer and wiser.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by dalbera under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]