Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Which sectors of the economy are poised for growth?


If you think that, after this recession, the world will look pretty much as it is today, you are wrong. The idea that all things go back to average applies only at the end of the road, where we will all be, on average, dead. In the meantime, many sectors of the economy are bound to shrink into oblivion. Others will emerge as growth powerhouses. From the latter, these five belong my favourites:

1.- PREVENTIVE MEDICINE. Sooner or later, health insurance premiums will start reflecting the actual level of individual risk. If you smoke, you'll pay more. If you drink a lot, you also incur greater health hazards. If you practice high-risk sports, you might have difficulties to find an insurer willing to take you on. Should this scenario become true, preventive medicine, helping people avoid sickness, will become a fantastic business.

2.- TURN-KEY HABITATION. If you are hundred years old, you'll be able to confirm that, despite internet and mobile phones, the way we buy or rent a place to live has changed little for generations. Massive migration goes along with a global economy and, sooner or later, we are bound to see striking advances in relocation and habitation services. GPS is becoming a standard fixture in new cars. How long is it going to take until we have world-wide standardized quality ratings for houses? What about turn-key availability with full furnishing and connectivity?

3.- ROAD MANAGEMENT. Traffic jams can eat up a substantial portion of your lifespan. It is time to do away with traffic congestion. Road management will exploit open ways as business assets, allocating lines according to traffic supply and demand and pricing for peaks, like a popular discotheque does on Saturday nights. Digital tracking technology has opened ample possibilities for improvement in how roads are used today. I believe that those advances will come and that they will be incredibly profitable.

4.- ACCELERATED TRAINING. How come that you can find affordable audio-courses to learn French in three months, but not to become a lawyer or a nurse? Global markets will turn the tide in training products, both in quality and price. Does it make sense that the way professionals are trained has hardly evolved for hundreds of years? Higher education is still far from being inexpensive. I am convinced that new digital products will change this field and the lives of many.

5.- TRANSACTION INSURANCE. Internet purchases of complex products or services still remain risky nowadays, but this might change before long. Some credit cards are already offering transaction insurance, but I believe that the market for this kind of protection products is bound to grow at a great speed. Low premiums will come if all-risk transaction insurance becomes a popular product. This seems likely to me due to the increasing number of cross-border purchases made on the internet.

Entrepreneurs bridge the gap between their profitable vision of the future and currently underutilized resources. No rules can help you develop perfect ideas, since flawless business models do not exist. Each vision is individual, as it is the information in a man's mind and his perception of the world. Those above are five of my ideas. Which ones are on the top of your list?

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

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

Which sectors of the economy are poised for growth?


If you think that, after this recession, the world will look pretty much as it is today, you are wrong. The idea that all things go back to average applies only at the end of the road, where we will all be, on average, dead. In the meantime, many sectors of the economy are bound to shrink into oblivion. Others will emerge as growth powerhouses. From the latter, these five belong my favourites:

1.- PREVENTIVE MEDICINE. Sooner or later, health insurance premiums will start reflecting the actual level of individual risk. If you smoke, you'll pay more. If you drink a lot, you also incur greater health hazards. If you practice high-risk sports, you might have difficulties to find an insurer willing to take you on. Should this scenario become true, preventive medicine, helping people avoid sickness, will become a fantastic business.

2.- TURN-KEY HABITATION. If you are hundred years old, you'll be able to confirm that, despite internet and mobile phones, the way we buy or rent a place to live has changed little for generations. Massive migration goes along with a global economy and, sooner or later, we are bound to see striking advances in relocation and habitation services. GPS is becoming a standard fixture in new cars. How long is it going to take until we have world-wide standardized quality ratings for houses? What about turn-key availability with full furnishing and connectivity?

3.- ROAD MANAGEMENT. Traffic jams can eat up a substantial portion of your lifespan. It is time to do away with traffic congestion. Road management will exploit open ways as business assets, allocating lines according to traffic supply and demand and pricing for peaks, like a popular discotheque does on Saturday nights. Digital tracking technology has opened ample possibilities for improvement in how roads are used today. I believe that those advances will come and that they will be incredibly profitable.

4.- ACCELERATED TRAINING. How come that you can find affordable audio-courses to learn French in three months, but not to become a lawyer or a nurse? Global markets will turn the tide in training products, both in quality and price. Does it make sense that the way professionals are trained has hardly evolved for hundreds of years? Higher education is still far from being inexpensive. I am convinced that new digital products will change this field and the lives of many.

5.- TRANSACTION INSURANCE. Internet purchases of complex products or services still remain risky nowadays, but this might change before long. Some credit cards are already offering transaction insurance, but I believe that the market for this kind of protection products is bound to grow at a great speed. Low premiums will come if all-risk transaction insurance becomes a popular product. This seems likely to me due to the increasing number of cross-border purchases made on the internet.

Entrepreneurs bridge the gap between their profitable vision of the future and currently underutilized resources. No rules can help you develop perfect ideas, since flawless business models do not exist. Each vision is individual, as it is the information in a man's mind and his perception of the world. Those above are five of my ideas. Which ones are on the top of your list?

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

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

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Aristotle's ethics in one lesson


"In life, it is often difficult," wrote Aristotle in the year 328 BC "to decide what to choose and what to endure when alternatives are painful and success uncertain." Whether you are in business for yourself, gainfully employed, or preparing for a better future, a day will rarely go by without your having to make decisions about people.

These are some choices that most human beings have to make in their lives:
  • Whether you will hire a person to work for you
  • If a certain investment advisor is the right person to entrust your savings to
  • Proposing marriage or not
  • On whom you can rely in a critical situation.
I have made my share of mistakes with people, but luckily enough, I have also learned from them. Did I err differently on each occasion? Hardly. With the embarrassment of a slow learner, I must confess that, fundamentally, I have made every time the same mistake.

What was the reason for my repeated slips? In every case through all these years, without being able to recall a single exception, I have simply failed to read the writing on the wall. I have determinedly, doggedly, blinded myself to evidence once and again. I have ignored obvious danger signals and told myself that everything was going to be all right.

Fooling ourselves about pretended virtues of people we deal with is such a common phenomenon that makes one wonder if a remedy exists for such sickness. The good news is that there is a cure. The bad news is that the medicine is free. Possibly, for that reason, it took me so long to take it seriously.

"The essence of things doesn't change," is Aristotle's fundamental maxim. I should have spent more time reading Aristotle, an hour a day for instance. I guess that, sooner or later, I would have understood that the essence of a person doesn't change either, or to be fair, I should rather say that the essence of a person very rarely changes.

How does Aristotle's principle translate into practical advice? These are a few examples:
  • Who lies to you once, is likely to do that again in the future
  • Aggressive people might calm down for a while, but their true character will soon return.
  • There is not such a thing as occasional dishonesty. A tainted soul seldom becomes white again
  • Rudeness and abuse show the meagre virtue of those who practice them
  • Moral cowardice often signals worse things to come in the future.
Do not fall into the trap of allowing wishful thinking to override your direct perception of reality. "It is absurd for an individual to doubt his sensing of external things," observed Aristotle, "yet man is easily caught by illusions."

When you experience someone's lies, rudeness, aggressiveness, or moral cowardice, make an indelible note in your mind never to trust that person ever again. Of course, from time to time, you will forget and suffer some negative consequences. Take heart, if you learn your lesson by the second or third mistake, you'd be already light-years ahead of most people.

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

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

Monday, 29 March 2010

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 5 of 5)


Her compositions portray the joy of purposeful human activity. Her canvasses frequently ignore the classical rules of perspective, but are filled with colour and charm. Each of Grandma Moses' paintings is an affirmation of the pleasures of simplicity. Unaffected by her success, she continued to produce new works well beyond her 101st birthday.

If you are convinced that prejudice, age, or any other factor are denying you opportunities, you might be right, but that's beside the point. The question has to be formulated in a different manner: What are you going to do to circumvent obstacles and improve your situation? Most often than not, a path to success can be found.

Should you consider your circumstances too distressing, the work of Grandma Moses might provide you the inspiration you need. See if you can get some colour posters of her paintings. Place the posters on your kitchen wall and let their optimism change your mood.

Life is less complicated than it seems: you wake up in the morning, you stay alert, and seize opportunities as they come. The message from Grandma Moses is reflected in her compositions: a world full of light that has little need of shadows.

Discouragement and complaints are dead-end projects that you shouldn't pursue. Those who are busy moving forward have no time for lamentations. Immobility keeps you down, but action generates opportunities. The tide will turn today: don't miss it.

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

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

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 5 of 5)


Her compositions portray the joy of purposeful human activity. Her canvasses frequently ignore the classical rules of perspective, but are filled with colour and charm. Each of Grandma Moses' paintings is an affirmation of the pleasures of simplicity. Unaffected by her success, she continued to produce new works well beyond her 101st birthday.

If you are convinced that prejudice, age, or any other factor are denying you opportunities, you might be right, but that's beside the point. The question has to be formulated in a different manner: What are you going to do to circumvent obstacles and improve your situation? Most often than not, a path to success can be found.

Should you consider your circumstances too distressing, the work of Grandma Moses might provide you the inspiration you need. See if you can get some colour posters of her paintings. Place the posters on your kitchen wall and let their optimism change your mood.

Life is less complicated than it seems: you wake up in the morning, you stay alert, and seize opportunities as they come. The message from Grandma Moses is reflected in her compositions: a world full of light that has little need of shadows.

Discouragement and complaints are dead-end projects that you shouldn't pursue. Those who are busy moving forward have no time for lamentations. Immobility keeps you down, but action generates opportunities. The tide will turn today: don't miss it.

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

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

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 4 of 5)


In contrast, when arthritis prevented Grandma Moses from doing embroidery work, she simply acknowledged the fact and searched for an alternative occupation. She chose to take up painting and began to produce her first works, which she would give away to family and friends.

Before long, her new activity turned into a passion. Grandma Moses would devote about six hours every day to painting, which she did mainly in her kitchen, often producing a finished work in one session. At that speed, her hand quickly gained confidence and mastery. In her paintings, the motives came from her memory and the bright colours from her philosophy.

After a while, she started to put up her work for sale. Since no art gallery would stage an exhibition for a 78 year old neophyte, Grandma Moses convinced a nearby drugstore to showcase her work. Her asking price was just a few dollars per painting.

As chance would have it, an art collector passed by the drugstore, saw her paintings, and purchased a few of them. Those sales proved that, if she persisted, she could become a professional artist. The collector's reaction predicted what millions of people would later come to experience when confronted with Grandma Moses' art: freshness, authenticity, and hope.

Little by little, her work found its way into exhibitions and galleries, initially with other artists and later alone. When Grandma Moses became famous, she was well into her eighties. Day after day, she continued to produce new paintings with an energy that few other artists could match.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 4 of 5)


In contrast, when arthritis prevented Grandma Moses from doing embroidery work, she simply acknowledged the fact and searched for an alternative occupation. She chose to take up painting and began to produce her first works, which she would give away to family and friends.

Before long, her new activity turned into a passion. Grandma Moses would devote about six hours every day to painting, which she did mainly in her kitchen, often producing a finished work in one session. At that speed, her hand quickly gained confidence and mastery. In her paintings, the motives came from her memory and the bright colours from her philosophy.

After a while, she started to put up her work for sale. Since no art gallery would stage an exhibition for a 78 year old neophyte, Grandma Moses convinced a nearby drugstore to showcase her work. Her asking price was just a few dollars per painting.

As chance would have it, an art collector passed by the drugstore, saw her paintings, and purchased a few of them. Those sales proved that, if she persisted, she could become a professional artist. The collector's reaction predicted what millions of people would later come to experience when confronted with Grandma Moses' art: freshness, authenticity, and hope.

Little by little, her work found its way into exhibitions and galleries, initially with other artists and later alone. When Grandma Moses became famous, she was well into her eighties. Day after day, she continued to produce new paintings with an energy that few other artists could match.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 3 of 5)



If you don't live in the United States of America, you may have never heard of Anna Mary Robertson Moses. She was popularly known as Grandma Moses and died in 1961, when she was 101 years old. Her days were spent working, initially for other people and later for herself.

During her life, Ms. Moses did farm work, cooked, washed clothes, raised her children, and made butter and embroideries. Her earnings remained modest for many decades, but she wasted no time complaining. She simply had too much to do, especially when she became a widow at 57.

Making embroideries kept her busy. It was the sort of work that she liked, a combination of creativity and routine, a challenge to her energies and imagination. Unfortunately, when she turned 76, arthritis prevented her from doing further needlework and she had to stop making embroideries.

Many people who reach that age give up whatever illusions they have left. They tell themselves that they can go no farther and fall pray to psychological immobility. Once they relinquish their will to live, their physical condition soon catches up with their attitude.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 3 of 5)



If you don't live in the United States of America, you may have never heard of Anna Mary Robertson Moses. She was popularly known as Grandma Moses and died in 1961, when she was 101 years old. Her days were spent working, initially for other people and later for herself.

During her life, Ms. Moses did farm work, cooked, washed clothes, raised her children, and made butter and embroideries. Her earnings remained modest for many decades, but she wasted no time complaining. She simply had too much to do, especially when she became a widow at 57.

Making embroideries kept her busy. It was the sort of work that she liked, a combination of creativity and routine, a challenge to her energies and imagination. Unfortunately, when she turned 76, arthritis prevented her from doing further needlework and she had to stop making embroideries.

Many people who reach that age give up whatever illusions they have left. They tell themselves that they can go no farther and fall pray to psychological immobility. Once they relinquish their will to live, their physical condition soon catches up with their attitude.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Friday, 26 March 2010

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 2 of 5)


You aimed at a target and missed, so stop running and quit. You tried your best and it didn't work, so go away and never return. Your attempts did not lead to success, so it's time to abandon your quest. You have wasted your resources and exhausted your forces.

Your best ideas are spent, your best years filled with discontent. Since your performance did not earn a decoration, you can choose between abdication and resignation. Your ambitions are impossible to achieve, how could you ever be so naive?

Nonetheless, even if your difficulties seem insurmountable, the above conclusions are wrong. Thousands of individuals overcome much worse problems than the ones you have. Those who search for better ways tend to multiply their chances of success.

As long as you refuse to quit, possibilities continue to exist. The tide will turn today, washing away yesterday's waste and bringing new opportunities. Turn around, face the water, and look for the best moment to sail away from the coast.

Irrespective of your background and constraints, your situation can change for the better. Male or female, young or old, you should relentless pursue your goals. Most problems can be solved if they are faced with courage and creativity. Obstacles can be circumvented and solutions invented. Do not let your age and circumstances write off your future.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 2 of 5)


You aimed at a target and missed, so stop running and quit. You tried your best and it didn't work, so go away and never return. Your attempts did not lead to success, so it's time to abandon your quest. You have wasted your resources and exhausted your forces.

Your best ideas are spent, your best years filled with discontent. Since your performance did not earn a decoration, you can choose between abdication and resignation. Your ambitions are impossible to achieve, how could you ever be so naive?

Nonetheless, even if your difficulties seem insurmountable, the above conclusions are wrong. Thousands of individuals overcome much worse problems than the ones you have. Those who search for better ways tend to multiply their chances of success.

As long as you refuse to quit, possibilities continue to exist. The tide will turn today, washing away yesterday's waste and bringing new opportunities. Turn around, face the water, and look for the best moment to sail away from the coast.

Irrespective of your background and constraints, your situation can change for the better. Male or female, young or old, you should relentless pursue your goals. Most problems can be solved if they are faced with courage and creativity. Obstacles can be circumvented and solutions invented. Do not let your age and circumstances write off your future.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Thursday, 25 March 2010

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 1 of 5)


From time to time, it can be beneficial to sit down and make a list of all factors that are keeping you down. Make sure that you have plenty of paper available since the outcome might be long. If this is your first attempt at compiling such list, don't overdo it. A dozen pages will do.

Depending on your age and circumstances, you may wish to write down that you are too young or too old. If you live in the countryside, you should mention that opportunities are scarce. If you inhabit the city, that competition is fierce.

Should you be looking for a job, write a remark that the market is hard. For half of the open positions, your experience will be insufficient; for the other half, you will be overqualified. The situation will be worse if you are going out on dates. Those who might love you won't recognize you and those who approach you might not fit your needs.

After you have finished your list, read it aloud. In view of the obstacles that are blocking your way, the conclusion seems inescapable. The arguments have been heard and judgement cannot be deferred. Would you agree that no improvement is possible?

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

The tide will turn today: don't miss it - The story of Grandma Moses (Part 1 of 5)


From time to time, it can be beneficial to sit down and make a list of all factors that are keeping you down. Make sure that you have plenty of paper available since the outcome might be long. If this is your first attempt at compiling such list, don't overdo it. A dozen pages will do.

Depending on your age and circumstances, you may wish to write down that you are too young or too old. If you live in the countryside, you should mention that opportunities are scarce. If you inhabit the city, that competition is fierce.

Should you be looking for a job, write a remark that the market is hard. For half of the open positions, your experience will be insufficient; for the other half, you will be overqualified. The situation will be worse if you are going out on dates. Those who might love you won't recognize you and those who approach you might not fit your needs.

After you have finished your list, read it aloud. In view of the obstacles that are blocking your way, the conclusion seems inescapable. The arguments have been heard and judgement cannot be deferred. Would you agree that no improvement is possible?

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Are you wasting your resources?


Choosing conformity is tantamount to wasting your life in the middle of a crowd after having rendered yourself unable to communicate anything of substance. The alternatives, however, are tough, since most of us have been brought up, trained, and drilled to view approval as a requisite of survival.

The problem is that proper human life is hardly possible without frequent dissident behaviour. Whatever rules you are following, how can you be sure that there are no exceptions? Even if you are willing to entrust your life to the wisdom of a leader, how do you make sure that he or she is the right one? The answer is simple: you just can't.

No matter how much a person knows, the ideas in his head represent only a minimal part of the total knowledge available in any market at any given time. Remember also that the total amount of available knowledge increases by the hour. In addition, for every product or service, there are hundreds of different geographical markets in various languages.

Individual courage to deviate from the norm is the essence of entrepreneurship. Knowledge and opportunity are spread without apparent order in any market. We should also not forget a hidden factor that adds complexity to this equation: each of us actually possesses much more knowledge than we are aware of.

In many cases, we are at first unable to name the reasons behind our conviction that we are choosing the right path. Then, after some reflection, we come up with amazing insights about why and what for.

Entrepreneurs are so used to thinking creatively that they are often puzzled when they encounter people who are psychologically immobilized. "Why don't you try again?" entrepreneurs tell us. "Why don't you cut your losses and start something else? Why on earth don't you quit playing any sport whose rules make it impossible for you to win?"

The determining factor here is not intelligence. If we look around, we can observe self-defeating behaviour in all segments of the population. Paralysing conformity affects both the ignorant and the educated, the young and the experienced.

The key element in the solution is that, before you can move forward, you have to get unstuck. Before you can focus your vision, you have to open your eyes. Before you can use your resources productively, you have to set your energies free. Free from what?
  • From tasks, chores, and activities that you don't like and that you are doing out of an obscure respect for tradition.
  • From people who don't appreciate you, ignore you, or waste your time, with whom you put up out of excessive benevolence.
  • From supposed challenges, goals, and objectives that are not really your own, that you have picked up somewhere along the way and that are preventing you from doing what you know you should be doing.
A day comes in everyone's life when we must choose between giving up our dreams or dropping all dead weight. When that time comes in your life, I am sure that you don't need anyone to tell you what to do.

Take heart, I know how difficult it is to get out of the rut. Pick up a sheet of paper and make a list of people to ditch, things to dump, and races that you are no longer willing to run. As you begin to eliminate all that doesn't pay, you will be amazed how resourceful you become in pursuing the few things that count.

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

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

Are you wasting your resources?


Choosing conformity is tantamount to wasting your life in the middle of a crowd after having rendered yourself unable to communicate anything of substance. The alternatives, however, are tough, since most of us have been brought up, trained, and drilled to view approval as a requisite of survival.

The problem is that proper human life is hardly possible without frequent dissident behaviour. Whatever rules you are following, how can you be sure that there are no exceptions? Even if you are willing to entrust your life to the wisdom of a leader, how do you make sure that he or she is the right one? The answer is simple: you just can't.

No matter how much a person knows, the ideas in his head represent only a minimal part of the total knowledge available in any market at any given time. Remember also that the total amount of available knowledge increases by the hour. In addition, for every product or service, there are hundreds of different geographical markets in various languages.

Individual courage to deviate from the norm is the essence of entrepreneurship. Knowledge and opportunity are spread without apparent order in any market. We should also not forget a hidden factor that adds complexity to this equation: each of us actually possesses much more knowledge than we are aware of.

In many cases, we are at first unable to name the reasons behind our conviction that we are choosing the right path. Then, after some reflection, we come up with amazing insights about why and what for.

Entrepreneurs are so used to thinking creatively that they are often puzzled when they encounter people who are psychologically immobilized. "Why don't you try again?" entrepreneurs tell us. "Why don't you cut your losses and start something else? Why on earth don't you quit playing any sport whose rules make it impossible for you to win?"

The determining factor here is not intelligence. If we look around, we can observe self-defeating behaviour in all segments of the population. Paralysing conformity affects both the ignorant and the educated, the young and the experienced.

The key element in the solution is that, before you can move forward, you have to get unstuck. Before you can focus your vision, you have to open your eyes. Before you can use your resources productively, you have to set your energies free. Free from what?
  • From tasks, chores, and activities that you don't like and that you are doing out of an obscure respect for tradition.
  • From people who don't appreciate you, ignore you, or waste your time, with whom you put up out of excessive benevolence.
  • From supposed challenges, goals, and objectives that are not really your own, that you have picked up somewhere along the way and that are preventing you from doing what you know you should be doing.
A day comes in everyone's life when we must choose between giving up our dreams or dropping all dead weight. When that time comes in your life, I am sure that you don't need anyone to tell you what to do.

Take heart, I know how difficult it is to get out of the rut. Pick up a sheet of paper and make a list of people to ditch, things to dump, and races that you are no longer willing to run. As you begin to eliminate all that doesn't pay, you will be amazed how resourceful you become in pursuing the few things that count.

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

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

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Five economic sectors that offer great opportunity


If you think that, after this recession, the world will look pretty much as it is today, you are wrong. The idea that all things go back to average applies only at the end of the road, where we will all be, on average, dead. In the meantime, many sectors of the economy are bound to shrink into oblivion. Others will emerge as growth powerhouses. From the latter, these five belong my favourites:

1.- PREVENTIVE MEDICINE. Sooner or later, health insurance premiums will start reflecting the actual level of individual risk. If you smoke, you'll pay more. If you drink a lot, you also incur greater health hazards. If you practice high-risk sports, you might have difficulties to find an insurer willing to take you on. Should this scenario become true, preventive medicine, helping people avoid sickness, will become a fantastic business.

2.- TURN-KEY HABITATION. If you are hundred years old, you'll be able to confirm that, despite internet and mobile phones, the way we buy or rent a place to live has changed little for generations. Massive migration goes along with a global economy
and, sooner or later, we are bound to see striking advances in relocation and habitation services. GPS is becoming a standard fixture in new cars. How long is it going to take until we have world-wide standardized quality ratings for houses? What about turn-key availability with full furnishing and connectivity?

3.- ROAD MANAGEMENT. Traffic jams can eat up a substantial portion of your lifespan. It is time to do away with traffic congestion. Road management will exploit open ways as business assets, allocating lines according to traffic supply and demand and pricing for peaks, like a popular discotheque does on Saturday nights. Digital tracking technology has opened ample possibilities for improvement in how roads are used today. I believe that those advances will come and that they will be incredibly profitable.

4.- ACCELERATED TRAINING. How come that you can find affordable audio-courses to learn French in three months, but not to become a lawyer or a nurse? Global markets will turn the tide in training products, both in quality and price. Does it make sense that the way professionals are trained has hardly evolved for hundreds of years? Higher education is still far from being inexpensive. I am convinced that new digital products will change this field and the lives of many.

5.- TRANSACTION INSURANCE. Internet purchases of complex products or services still remain risky nowadays, but this might change before long. Some credit cards are already offering transaction insurance, but I believe that the market for this kind of protection products is bound to grow at a great speed. Low premiums will come if all-risk transaction insurance becomes a popular product. This seems likely to me due to the increasing number of cross-border purchases made on the internet.

Entrepreneurs bridge the gap between their profitable vision of the future and currently underutilized resources. No rules can help you develop perfect ideas, since flawless business models do not exist. Each vision is individual, as it is the information in a man's mind and his perception of the world. Those above are five of my ideas. Which ones are on the top of your list?

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

[Image by alainf1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Five economic sectors that offer great opportunity


If you think that, after this recession, the world will look pretty much as it is today, you are wrong. The idea that all things go back to average applies only at the end of the road, where we will all be, on average, dead. In the meantime, many sectors of the economy are bound to shrink into oblivion. Others will emerge as growth powerhouses. From the latter, these five belong my favourites:

1.- PREVENTIVE MEDICINE. Sooner or later, health insurance premiums will start reflecting the actual level of individual risk. If you smoke, you'll pay more. If you drink a lot, you also incur greater health hazards. If you practice high-risk sports, you might have difficulties to find an insurer willing to take you on. Should this scenario become true, preventive medicine, helping people avoid sickness, will become a fantastic business.

2.- TURN-KEY HABITATION. If you are hundred years old, you'll be able to confirm that, despite internet and mobile phones, the way we buy or rent a place to live has changed little for generations. Massive migration goes along with a global economy
and, sooner or later, we are bound to see striking advances in relocation and habitation services. GPS is becoming a standard fixture in new cars. How long is it going to take until we have world-wide standardized quality ratings for houses? What about turn-key availability with full furnishing and connectivity?

3.- ROAD MANAGEMENT. Traffic jams can eat up a substantial portion of your lifespan. It is time to do away with traffic congestion. Road management will exploit open ways as business assets, allocating lines according to traffic supply and demand and pricing for peaks, like a popular discotheque does on Saturday nights. Digital tracking technology has opened ample possibilities for improvement in how roads are used today. I believe that those advances will come and that they will be incredibly profitable.

4.- ACCELERATED TRAINING. How come that you can find affordable audio-courses to learn French in three months, but not to become a lawyer or a nurse? Global markets will turn the tide in training products, both in quality and price. Does it make sense that the way professionals are trained has hardly evolved for hundreds of years? Higher education is still far from being inexpensive. I am convinced that new digital products will change this field and the lives of many.

5.- TRANSACTION INSURANCE. Internet purchases of complex products or services still remain risky nowadays, but this might change before long. Some credit cards are already offering transaction insurance, but I believe that the market for this kind of protection products is bound to grow at a great speed. Low premiums will come if all-risk transaction insurance becomes a popular product. This seems likely to me due to the increasing number of cross-border purchases made on the internet.

Entrepreneurs bridge the gap between their profitable vision of the future and currently underutilized resources. No rules can help you develop perfect ideas, since flawless business models do not exist. Each vision is individual, as it is the information in a man's mind and his perception of the world. Those above are five of my ideas. Which ones are on the top of your list?

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

[Image by alainf1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 22 March 2010

Self-protection advice that really works


"In life, it is often difficult," wrote Aristotle in the year 328 BC "to decide what to choose and what to endure when alternatives are painful and success uncertain." Whether you are in business for yourself, gainfully employed, or preparing for a better future, a day will rarely go by without your having to make decisions about people.

These are some choices that most human beings have to make in their lives:
  • Whether you will hire a person to work for you.
  • If a certain investment advisor is the right person to entrust your savings to.
  • Proposing marriage or not.
  • On whom you can rely in a critical situation.
I have made my share of mistakes with people, but luckily enough, I have also learned from them. Did I err differently on each occasion? Hardly. With the embarrassment of a slow learner, I must confess that, fundamentally, I have made every time the same mistake.

What was the reason for my repeated slips? In every case through all these years, without being able to recall a single exception, I have simply failed to read the writing on the wall. I have determinedly, doggedly, blinded myself to evidence once and again. I have ignored obvious danger signals and told myself that everything was going to be all right.

Fooling ourselves about pretended virtues of people we deal with is such a common phenomenon that makes one wonder if a remedy exists for such sickness. The good news is that there is a cure. The bad news is that the medicine is free. Possibly, for that reason, it took me so long to take it seriously.

"The essence of things doesn't change," is Aristotle's fundamental maxim. I should have spent more time reading Aristotle, an hour a day for instance. I guess that, sooner or later, I would have understood that the essence of a person doesn't change either, or to be fair, I should rather say that the essence of a person very rarely changes.

How does Aristotle's principle translate into practical advice? These are a few examples:
  • Who lies to you once, is likely to do that again in the future.
  • Aggressive people might calm down for a while, but their true character will soon return.
  • There is not such a thing as occasional dishonesty. A tainted soul seldom becomes white again.
  • Rudeness and abuse show the meagre virtue of those who practice them.
  • Moral cowardice often signals worse things to come in the future.
Do not fall into the trap of allowing wishful thinking to override your direct perception of reality. "It is absurd for an individual to doubt his sensing of external things," observed Aristotle, "yet man is easily caught by illusions."

When you experience someone's lies, rudeness, aggressiveness, or moral cowardice, make an indelible note in your mind never to trust that person ever again. Of course, from time to time, you will forget and suffer some negative consequences. Take heart, if you learn your lesson by the second or third mistake, you'd be already light-years ahead of most people.

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

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

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 5 of 5)


Trying to maintain Latin alive was the quintessential dead-end project. Relatively few people were willing to devote resources to the undertaking; its cost far exceeded the capital available. The project was doomed from the start; those who believed that it could succeed were massively unrealistic.

The ancient language did not die the glorious death of a heroic medieval knight; it perished from starvation and neglect. Its structural inefficiency rendered it unable to compete. History broke it down and scattered the remnants. The clock stopped at a time when it could not be repaired.

Has the lesson been learned? Have we grown capable of recognizing and avoiding dead-end projects? Anyone willing to recognize mistakes can acquire the necessary knowledge and perspective. Latin is a dead language and rightly so. The next time that someone asks you to participate in a project, make sure that it has a future.

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

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

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 5 of 5)


Trying to maintain Latin alive was the quintessential dead-end project. Relatively few people were willing to devote resources to the undertaking; its cost far exceeded the capital available. The project was doomed from the start; those who believed that it could succeed were massively unrealistic.

The ancient language did not die the glorious death of a heroic medieval knight; it perished from starvation and neglect. Its structural inefficiency rendered it unable to compete. History broke it down and scattered the remnants. The clock stopped at a time when it could not be repaired.

Has the lesson been learned? Have we grown capable of recognizing and avoiding dead-end projects? Anyone willing to recognize mistakes can acquire the necessary knowledge and perspective. Latin is a dead language and rightly so. The next time that someone asks you to participate in a project, make sure that it has a future.

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

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

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 4 of 5)


Four major languages of our age, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, are derived from Latin. All four have shed the overcomplicated structure that made Latin so inefficient. The cost of maintenance became to heavy and the old construction fell apart. Like a bankrupt company, Latin collapsed under the weight of its liabilities.

The ancient language built sentences by adding affixes to adjective and names depending on their grammatical role, gender, and number. In order to create a correct sentence, each name and adjective had to be combined with the right affix. Latin had many different affixes, which varied from name to name and case to case. In contrast, modern Spanish just adds “s” for most plurals.

Speaking correct Latin required extensive training that few could afford in the Middle Ages. Even with our most advanced learning methods, languages that continue to use numerous affixes for names and adjectives demand great efforts of foreigners who wish to learn them.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 4 of 5)


Four major languages of our age, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, are derived from Latin. All four have shed the overcomplicated structure that made Latin so inefficient. The cost of maintenance became to heavy and the old construction fell apart. Like a bankrupt company, Latin collapsed under the weight of its liabilities.

The ancient language built sentences by adding affixes to adjective and names depending on their grammatical role, gender, and number. In order to create a correct sentence, each name and adjective had to be combined with the right affix. Latin had many different affixes, which varied from name to name and case to case. In contrast, modern Spanish just adds “s” for most plurals.

Speaking correct Latin required extensive training that few could afford in the Middle Ages. Even with our most advanced learning methods, languages that continue to use numerous affixes for names and adjectives demand great efforts of foreigners who wish to learn them.

To be continued in Part 5

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

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

Friday, 19 March 2010

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 3 of 5)


Financiers know that there is a world of difference between a company that is taken over and one that goes bankrupt. The official story is that Latin was merged or transformed into medieval languages. While this aspect is indisputable, it misses an important part of the picture.

The truth must include the acknowledgement that Latin, like an enterprise that loses customers, went bankrupt. The decline of the ancient language must have begun before the barbarian invasions. Most likely, Latin would have decayed even if the Roman Empire had lasted another century.

Insolvent companies that blame their difficulties on the market show blindness to the real cause of their financial demise. If competitors have stayed in business and thrived, why did a specific company go bankrupt? Why did Latin wane into oblivion despite all efforts to keep it alive?

Lovers of ancient languages will seldom give you the answer to that question: Latin was highly inefficient. Left to its own devices, it was unable to maintain itself. Its grammar was calling for simplification. It was too difficult to learn and brought little value to the table.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 3 of 5)


Financiers know that there is a world of difference between a company that is taken over and one that goes bankrupt. The official story is that Latin was merged or transformed into medieval languages. While this aspect is indisputable, it misses an important part of the picture.

The truth must include the acknowledgement that Latin, like an enterprise that loses customers, went bankrupt. The decline of the ancient language must have begun before the barbarian invasions. Most likely, Latin would have decayed even if the Roman Empire had lasted another century.

Insolvent companies that blame their difficulties on the market show blindness to the real cause of their financial demise. If competitors have stayed in business and thrived, why did a specific company go bankrupt? Why did Latin wane into oblivion despite all efforts to keep it alive?

Lovers of ancient languages will seldom give you the answer to that question: Latin was highly inefficient. Left to its own devices, it was unable to maintain itself. Its grammar was calling for simplification. It was too difficult to learn and brought little value to the table.

To be continued in Part 4

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

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

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 2 of 5)


The expulsion of Latin to the realm of the dead becomes an intriguing question when we compare it with other achievements of the time, such as the laws of Ancient Rome. In contrast to language, the principles of Roman law have survived the passage of time and can be found today in the civil code of numerous European and South American countries.

While Latin was dead and buried centuries ago, ancient Roman law still permeates our culture and institutions. The logic of modern contracts replicates the arguments of ancient jurisprudence; our court procedures follow the steps conceived by Roman magistrates; our conception of marriage and inheritance is derived from ancient family law.

Causality is the weak point in the official story of the disappearance of Latin. If ancient language was polluted by barbarian influences, so was Roman law. If grammar and pronunciation lost their original purity, so did Roman law. Nevertheless, legal principles survived and Latin is no longer alive.

A closer look at the facts reveals that Latin did not actually die, but was displaced. It was not destroyed or dismantled, but abandoned. Nobody took active steps to eliminate it from the minds of citizens. People just stopped using it, like a car that is too old to be worth repairing.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 2 of 5)


The expulsion of Latin to the realm of the dead becomes an intriguing question when we compare it with other achievements of the time, such as the laws of Ancient Rome. In contrast to language, the principles of Roman law have survived the passage of time and can be found today in the civil code of numerous European and South American countries.

While Latin was dead and buried centuries ago, ancient Roman law still permeates our culture and institutions. The logic of modern contracts replicates the arguments of ancient jurisprudence; our court procedures follow the steps conceived by Roman magistrates; our conception of marriage and inheritance is derived from ancient family law.

Causality is the weak point in the official story of the disappearance of Latin. If ancient language was polluted by barbarian influences, so was Roman law. If grammar and pronunciation lost their original purity, so did Roman law. Nevertheless, legal principles survived and Latin is no longer alive.

A closer look at the facts reveals that Latin did not actually die, but was displaced. It was not destroyed or dismantled, but abandoned. Nobody took active steps to eliminate it from the minds of citizens. People just stopped using it, like a car that is too old to be worth repairing.

To be continued in Part 3

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

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

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 1 of 5)


Although hundreds of individuals teach Latin for a living, few of them spend time explaining why it became a dead language. If you read about its history, facts are presented as self-evident and no general lessons are drawn.

The official version of the story is that, when the Roman Empire was conquered in the 5th century, barbarian words polluted the purity of ancient speech. Foreign influences changed the manner of writing Latin, did away with its grammar, and distorted its pronunciation.

During the Middle Ages, clerics and lawyers tried to maintain the old language alive, overall with little success. The quality of written Latin deteriorated at the same speed as it was taught to younger generations. The spoken word, undisturbed by grammatical constraints, became approximative and vague.

By the end of the 16th century, the great language of antiquity was clinically death, although a few volumes were still written and published in Latin in the 17th century. Those relics symbolize man's reluctance to acknowledge tidal changes that disrupt established patterns of thought.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Why Latin is a dead language: a practical lesson from History (Part 1 of 5)


Although hundreds of individuals teach Latin for a living, few of them spend time explaining why it became a dead language. If you read about its history, facts are presented as self-evident and no general lessons are drawn.

The official version of the story is that, when the Roman Empire was conquered in the 5th century, barbarian words polluted the purity of ancient speech. Foreign influences changed the manner of writing Latin, did away with its grammar, and distorted its pronunciation.

During the Middle Ages, clerics and lawyers tried to maintain the old language alive, overall with little success. The quality of written Latin deteriorated at the same speed as it was taught to younger generations. The spoken word, undisturbed by grammatical constraints, became approximative and vague.

By the end of the 16th century, the great language of antiquity was clinically death, although a few volumes were still written and published in Latin in the 17th century. Those relics symbolize man's reluctance to acknowledge tidal changes that disrupt established patterns of thought.

To be continued in Part 2

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

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

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

This is what persistence can do for you


If you ever spend a holiday in Egypt, don't forget to visit the place where the barrack of archaeologist Howard Carter used to stand one century ago. When you inquire about the exact location, your guide will point at a promontory in the sand, a small elevation in the Egyptian desert that looks no different from the other dunes.

Tourists who visit the place stand still, examine the spot, and look around, wondering if the guide is telling them truth. Those visitors are actually not interested in looking at the desert. What has brought them there is the story of Howard Carter, a man who, thanks to his curiosity and persistence, became the most famous archaeologist in History.

Despite his modest origins and lack of academic degrees, Carter's profound interest in the history of Ancient Egypt led him to read all available books on the subject and, little by little, he earned a reputation of specialist in Egyptian antiquities. His initiative and hands-on experience in excavations led him to develop the theory that the tomb of one Pharaoh, Tutankhamen, had not yet been found.

Carter's hypothesis conflicted with the prevalent idea at that time, held by professors and specialists alike, who sustained that all tombs in the Valley of Kings had been already found. When Carter was in his early forties, he teamed up with an English wealthy landowner, Lord Carnavon, obtained a concession to excavate the Valley of Kings and began to look for the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

Visit the promontory where Carter's barrack used to stand and you will see that the sand ends abruptly at the riverbank three hundred meters down the slope. The small boats crossing the Nile these days still offer a sight that is not that different from what Howard Carter witnessed at the beginning of the 20th century.

In 1922, Carter went through the lowest point in his career and he must have spent many hours pondering his dark future and unsuccessful past, as he contemplated the boats sailing across the river. His sponsor, Lord Carnavon, had announced that he would no longer be funding Carter's excavations beyond the end of that year.

The belief in the existence of Tutankhamen's undiscovered tomb had not earned Carter any professional distinction. On the contrary, his theory, developed out of his own interpretation of fragments found by other archaeologists, was considered marginal and obscure.

During the previous six years, Carter had spent a good part of Lord Carnavon's fortune in excavations in the Valley of Kings. The results had been so disappointing that Carnavon had decided to put an end to the enterprise at the end of that season.

At that time, Carter was already 48 years old and must have been looking back at his life wondering if he had done the right thing by embarking on a risky venture instead of choosing a safer career as antiquities dealer or monuments inspector. He had no money, no wife, no children, and an uncertain future.

Although he had devoted decades to studying Ancient Egypt, he had failed to secure a high-paying position. The dominant view was that Tutankhamen's tomb had been pillaged and forgotten centuries ago. Only Carter was convinced that the tomb could still be found, buried somewhere under the sand.

Carter's hypothesis and initiative had moved Lord Carnavon to entrust him with conducting excavations in the Valley of Kings, but six years of digging had been to no avail. In fact, the determination to search for Tutankhamen's tomb had wasted Carter's own life and a substantial part of Lord Carnavon's fortune. Europe had been ravaged by World War I and Carter knew that, after his long years of failure, his chances of finding another sponsor for his excavations was nil.

Initiative is a virtue that can be taught only by example. Taking calculated risks to pursue your dream, as Howard Carter did, cannot be emphasized enough as the key to a happy and successful life. The level of risk must be assessed and minimized as much as possible, but in the end, a man must remind himself that he is going to live only once. Extraordinary value cannot be achieved by simply following prescribed routines.

Nowadays, when tourists visit the location of Carter's wooden barrack in the Valley of Kings, their guide usually asks them to take a few steps on the sand, turn around, use their hand to shade their eyes from the sun, and look at the sign on the other side of the dune.

It is the sign that points visitors to Tutankhamen's tomb, which Carter finally managed to find in November 1922, just when his last excavation campaign was to end. He had spent years looking for that tomb and had succeeded only a few days before Carnavon's final deadline. Carter's extraordinary initiative and persistence had paid off against all expectations, in direct opposition to the views of official experts and professors.

History provides countless examples of how entrepreneurship opens the door to striking success. Relentless initiative is far superior to stale knowledge. Those with vision and ambition can always acquire the information they miss. Possessing expertise is not worth much without the willingness to put it to practical use and take the risks associated with innovation.

After discovering Tutankhamen's tomb, Carter lived for another 16 years, enjoying the prestige and financial advantages of being the best known archaeologist in the world. The treasures found in Tutankhamen's tomb have an immense value, but they cannot be compared to the lesson drawn from Howard Carter's initiative and persistence.

[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]

This is what persistence can do for you


If you ever spend a holiday in Egypt, don't forget to visit the place where the barrack of archaeologist Howard Carter used to stand one century ago. When you inquire about the exact location, your guide will point at a promontory in the sand, a small elevation in the Egyptian desert that looks no different from the other dunes.

Tourists who visit the place stand still, examine the spot, and look around, wondering if the guide is telling them truth. Those visitors are actually not interested in looking at the desert. What has brought them there is the story of Howard Carter, a man who, thanks to his curiosity and persistence, became the most famous archaeologist in History.

Despite his modest origins and lack of academic degrees, Carter's profound interest in the history of Ancient Egypt led him to read all available books on the subject and, little by little, he earned a reputation of specialist in Egyptian antiquities. His initiative and hands-on experience in excavations led him to develop the theory that the tomb of one Pharaoh, Tutankhamen, had not yet been found.

Carter's hypothesis conflicted with the prevalent idea at that time, held by professors and specialists alike, who sustained that all tombs in the Valley of Kings had been already found. When Carter was in his early forties, he teamed up with an English wealthy landowner, Lord Carnavon, obtained a concession to excavate the Valley of Kings and began to look for the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

Visit the promontory where Carter's barrack used to stand and you will see that the sand ends abruptly at the riverbank three hundred meters down the slope. The small boats crossing the Nile these days still offer a sight that is not that different from what Howard Carter witnessed at the beginning of the 20th century.

In 1922, Carter went through the lowest point in his career and he must have spent many hours pondering his dark future and unsuccessful past, as he contemplated the boats sailing across the river. His sponsor, Lord Carnavon, had announced that he would no longer be funding Carter's excavations beyond the end of that year.

The belief in the existence of Tutankhamen's undiscovered tomb had not earned Carter any professional distinction. On the contrary, his theory, developed out of his own interpretation of fragments found by other archaeologists, was considered marginal and obscure.

During the previous six years, Carter had spent a good part of Lord Carnavon's fortune in excavations in the Valley of Kings. The results had been so disappointing that Carnavon had decided to put an end to the enterprise at the end of that season.

At that time, Carter was already 48 years old and must have been looking back at his life wondering if he had done the right thing by embarking on a risky venture instead of choosing a safer career as antiquities dealer or monuments inspector. He had no money, no wife, no children, and an uncertain future.

Although he had devoted decades to studying Ancient Egypt, he had failed to secure a high-paying position. The dominant view was that Tutankhamen's tomb had been pillaged and forgotten centuries ago. Only Carter was convinced that the tomb could still be found, buried somewhere under the sand.

Carter's hypothesis and initiative had moved Lord Carnavon to entrust him with conducting excavations in the Valley of Kings, but six years of digging had been to no avail. In fact, the determination to search for Tutankhamen's tomb had wasted Carter's own life and a substantial part of Lord Carnavon's fortune. Europe had been ravaged by World War I and Carter knew that, after his long years of failure, his chances of finding another sponsor for his excavations was nil.

Initiative is a virtue that can be taught only by example. Taking calculated risks to pursue your dream, as Howard Carter did, cannot be emphasized enough as the key to a happy and successful life. The level of risk must be assessed and minimized as much as possible, but in the end, a man must remind himself that he is going to live only once. Extraordinary value cannot be achieved by simply following prescribed routines.

Nowadays, when tourists visit the location of Carter's wooden barrack in the Valley of Kings, their guide usually asks them to take a few steps on the sand, turn around, use their hand to shade their eyes from the sun, and look at the sign on the other side of the dune.

It is the sign that points visitors to Tutankhamen's tomb, which Carter finally managed to find in November 1922, just when his last excavation campaign was to end. He had spent years looking for that tomb and had succeeded only a few days before Carnavon's final deadline. Carter's extraordinary initiative and persistence had paid off against all expectations, in direct opposition to the views of official experts and professors.

History provides countless examples of how entrepreneurship opens the door to striking success. Relentless initiative is far superior to stale knowledge. Those with vision and ambition can always acquire the information they miss. Possessing expertise is not worth much without the willingness to put it to practical use and take the risks associated with innovation.

After discovering Tutankhamen's tomb, Carter lived for another 16 years, enjoying the prestige and financial advantages of being the best known archaeologist in the world. The treasures found in Tutankhamen's tomb have an immense value, but they cannot be compared to the lesson drawn from Howard Carter's initiative and persistence.

[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]

Monday, 15 March 2010

Discard the mirage of lack of opportunity


"Some matters pass off more quietly than anyone could expect," wrote Titus Livius two thousand years ago, "but times of trouble allow to tell apart discerning men. You will see them reflecting on the cause of their problems, rather than on the problems themselves."

These days, when catastrophe and disgrace fill pages of newspapers, we can all use some perspective to shield us from discouragement. Tidal changes have taken place in all ages. Instability and shifting paradigms will befall humanity again and again.
  • People have felt trapped in countries and occupations while their world fell apart.
  • Established markets have disappeared overnight.
  • Systems that were supposed to last forever have revealed themselves as too frail to be trusted.
Egg-shells look deceivingly fragile. The truth is that breaking out presents almost insurmountable problems for chicken. Baby chicken don't even know that they are inside a shell, since their eyes are still closed.

What makes the situation of infant birds even more critical, if that they have very limited time to accomplish their feat. The little oxygen that gets through the shell won't keep them alive for long. At a certain moment, almost by magic, baby chicken begin to move and break out of the egg.

Experiments have shown that the time needed for hatching varies with each individual bird. Try as you may, if you break the egg-shell yourself in order to help the bird get out, chances are that you will kill it. Do it too soon and the chicken will die. Waiting too long is also a sign of trouble. If the baby bird is unable to hatch on its own efforts, it means that nature has already decided otherwise.

Then why on earth do chicken break out of the shell? The simplicity of the answer will not make it less shocking. Birds hatch for one reason only: because, at a certain point in their development, it becomes too uncomfortable to remain inside the egg. It gets too constrained, too warm, too sticky, too hard to breathe inside the shell.

Invisible shells are the hardest to break. Inevitably, each of us carries around a few. Unlike those of chicken, our shells are not made of calcium, but of fear and indecision. We exaggerate problems and underestimate our resiliency. We cling to continuity even when we know that the old bridge ahead of the road has already collapsed.

If your conclusions don't match reality, re-examine your premises. If History has turned your most precious dreams to dust, maybe they were not meant to be realized.

Every chicken must break out of its own shell. Life will be always fraught with distress and difficulties. Don't you ever let them bring you down. Look at the world with a fresh spirit, choose your path, and move on. As Titus Livius put it so well,"urgent measures are meant to be applied with great dispatch."

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

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

Discard the mirage of lack of opportunity


"Some matters pass off more quietly than anyone could expect," wrote Titus Livius two thousand years ago, "but times of trouble allow to tell apart discerning men. You will see them reflecting on the cause of their problems, rather than on the problems themselves."

These days, when catastrophe and disgrace fill pages of newspapers, we can all use some perspective to shield us from discouragement. Tidal changes have taken place in all ages. Instability and shifting paradigms will befall humanity again and again.
  • People have felt trapped in countries and occupations while their world fell apart.
  • Established markets have disappeared overnight.
  • Systems that were supposed to last forever have revealed themselves as too frail to be trusted.
Egg-shells look deceivingly fragile. The truth is that breaking out presents almost insurmountable problems for chicken. Baby chicken don't even know that they are inside a shell, since their eyes are still closed.

What makes the situation of infant birds even more critical, if that they have very limited time to accomplish their feat. The little oxygen that gets through the shell won't keep them alive for long. At a certain moment, almost by magic, baby chicken begin to move and break out of the egg.

Experiments have shown that the time needed for hatching varies with each individual bird. Try as you may, if you break the egg-shell yourself in order to help the bird get out, chances are that you will kill it. Do it too soon and the chicken will die. Waiting too long is also a sign of trouble. If the baby bird is unable to hatch on its own efforts, it means that nature has already decided otherwise.

Then why on earth do chicken break out of the shell? The simplicity of the answer will not make it less shocking. Birds hatch for one reason only: because, at a certain point in their development, it becomes too uncomfortable to remain inside the egg. It gets too constrained, too warm, too sticky, too hard to breathe inside the shell.

Invisible shells are the hardest to break. Inevitably, each of us carries around a few. Unlike those of chicken, our shells are not made of calcium, but of fear and indecision. We exaggerate problems and underestimate our resiliency. We cling to continuity even when we know that the old bridge ahead of the road has already collapsed.

If your conclusions don't match reality, re-examine your premises. If History has turned your most precious dreams to dust, maybe they were not meant to be realized.

Every chicken must break out of its own shell. Life will be always fraught with distress and difficulties. Don't you ever let them bring you down. Look at the world with a fresh spirit, choose your path, and move on. As Titus Livius put it so well,"urgent measures are meant to be applied with great dispatch."

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

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

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Finding a job against all odds


Achievement is not about having resources or connections. It's rather about what you do despite your limited resources and your lack of connections. In our times of economic recession, thousands of people lose their jobs everyday. If you are looking for a new position these days, using Mongol tactics might help you achieve your goal faster.

During the whole 13th century, Mongols dominated the world. They did not succeed thanks to their meagre resources. Neither were they able to resort to their political connections, since they didn't have any. From being a tribe of shepherds, Mongols managed to grow to rulers of the world exclusively by their own efforts.

How did Mongols win battles against ten-times bigger armies? Even more remarkable is the fact that, physically, Mongols were relatively small in size. Nevertheless, they crushed the Persian, Russian, and Bulgarian armies one after the other, each in its home territory.

If Mongols conquered the world starting with nothing, applying their tactics might give you a decisive advantage in your job search. The three principles that I am presenting here can benefit anyone seeking employment.

First, become single-minded about your purpose. Mongols knew that their life was at stake in every battle and they never hesitated which way to go. It was always forward. Finding a job is certainly much easier than building a world empire, but in any case, determination will dramatically increase the speed of your success.

Since talking yourself into becoming single-minded is unlikely to work, how can you acquire the necessary determination? My answer will surprise you. All you have to do is to be realistic and use basic economic common sense. The truth is that you can always find a job, no matter how bad the economy situation is, because the demand for work, for services, is infinite.

* If you are willing to accept the salary that someone is willing to pay, you will find a job.

* You might need to move to another town to get that job, but you can be sure that there is always someone somewhere who needs to get something done.

* If you are flexible about salary and conditions, there are always people out there willing to hire additional help for their business or private needs. All you have to do is find them.

Second, increase your knowledge daily. Mongols possessed pitiful technology when they started to build their empire, but they learned from everyone they met. From the Chinese, they picked up metal-working techniques, from the Persians, they learned how to use smoke screens in battle.

Compared to Mongols living in the 13th century, the Internet allows you countless possibilities to learn at low cost. You can find vacancies in data bases. You can use electronic templates to prepare your curriculum vitae. You can listen to podcasts and watch videos on interviewing techniques. The more knowledge you accumulate, the quickest you'll find employment.

The third principle is the most important. You must move as fast as you can. When Mongols fixed themselves an objective, they gathered information quickly, sharpened their swords, and off they were. Riding horses for hours on end was their daily routine, day and night if necessary, until they reached their target.

You don't need to become obsessive about your job search, but taking relentless action is a proven approach for maximizing your achievements. Take the first step in your chosen direction and follow up with a thousand steps more. Let your learning grow rapidly and it will show you the path to success.

[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]

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The final goal makes all the difference: The entrepreneurial story of Honore de Balzac (Part 4 of 4)


Psychological misery followed financial ruin. For an extended period, Balzac spent his days feeling sorry for himself and hiding from creditors. He was so poor that he only escaped hunger thanks to family and friends. They provided him a roof over his head and helped him regain his self-confidence.

Balzac's healing took place slowly. Eventually, his pride returned to his previous size; his ambitions were rekindled; his persistence was reborn, stronger than ever before. He announced to his family that he was going to retake his literary career and that, this time, he was not intending to stop until he had attained popularity and sales.

When he told them that he was willing to do whatever was necessary, his declaration was met with scepticism. Had he not tried to become a writer for longer than a decade? Had he not failed completely at every attempt?

Balzac nodded, smiled, and replied that he had conceived a plan that would put him on the map as a writer. His past novels had been dead-end projects composed without grand ambitions; his future works would form a collection integrated by a single idea, a final goal, a fundamental purpose.

Popular success came to him in 1833 and continued for a good part of his life. Balzac baptised his collection of novels La Comédie Humaine, which grew to encompass 95 books. At several times in his career, he played again with the idea of acquiring a business and living a different life. Fortunately for his readers, he stuck to his final goal.

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

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

The final goal makes all the difference: The entrepreneurial story of Honore de Balzac
(Part 4 of 4)


Psychological misery followed financial ruin. For an extended period, Balzac spent his days feeling sorry for himself and hiding from creditors. He was so poor that he only escaped hunger thanks to family and friends. They provided him a roof over his head and helped him regain his self-confidence.

Balzac's healing took place slowly. Eventually, his pride returned to his previous size; his ambitions were rekindled; his persistence was reborn, stronger than ever before. He announced to his family that he was going to retake his literary career and that, this time, he was not intending to stop until he had attained popularity and sales.

When he told them that he was willing to do whatever was necessary, his declaration was met with scepticism. Had he not tried to become a writer for longer than a decade? Had he not failed completely at every attempt?

Balzac nodded, smiled, and replied that he had conceived a plan that would put him on the map as a writer. His past novels had been dead-end projects composed without grand ambitions; his future works would form a collection integrated by a single idea, a final goal, a fundamental purpose.

Popular success came to him in 1833 and continued for a good part of his life. Balzac baptised his collection of novels La Comédie Humaine, which grew to encompass 95 books. At several times in his career, he played again with the idea of acquiring a business and living a different life. Fortunately for his readers, he stuck to his final goal.

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

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