30 December 2005

Sillie Willie

Caguas mayor "Willie" Miranda Marín has come out to suggest Puerto Rico should sue the U.S. for $100 billion because "they fooled us about our colonial status."

Silly Willie. Speak for yourself, Fool.

Maybe many of Us were "fooled" about Our colonial status, but those that were chose to be fooled by either willful ignorance or bovine indifference. Leaving aside the legality of suing a sovereign nation for acting in its own best interests--no matter how venal the action is--what the hell's the point, Willy Nilly?

Is it the money, the only thing you Fools respect, worship, crave, adore and lust after as much as power? If it's the cash, Willy Hillbilly, you gotta come up with some better number. Let Me explain in simple terms and you can have your staff help you understand it:

--Let's say that some 10 million Puerto Ricans have been "affected" under the dumb-as-dirt terms you propose AND that the $100 billion is awarded in judgement against the U.S. (The rest of you just play along for a moment: We have to go slow with Fools.) That works out to $10,000 per person, but since We're talking about a 50+ year period of "suffering", it all works out to under $200 a year for putting up with the indignity of being a colony. Now $200 is overpaying for your dignity, Willy Dilly, by about--oh--$200, but for the rest of Us, it's a damn insult.

If it's not the money, is it some "principle"? The aforementioned "dignity"? "Autonomy"? "Fair play"? "Human rights"? Feel free to stop Me if The Jenius mentions one you can actually comprehend. In a matter of fundamental cultural and political importance, you don't enter the crass confines of a lawsuit to "correct" a perceived wrong. There is no court with a jurisdiction over culture or sovereignty unless We as a people grant that authority.

As far as We know, the current status We have--like a rotting monkey grafted on Our collective foreheads--was not imposed, but negotiated. That means We have a contract, Willie Vanilli, so if anybody's to blame, it's the people who negotiated said contract. WHICH, if memory serves Me, was your very own party, Willie Billy(goat).

So here's My suggestion: Take your "idea" and shove it...into the noses of your own party's current "leadership." The U.S. is far from blameless in this fiasco, but don't go releasing your "Weak Willie" arguments where the rest of Us can hear them. You might want to be "Willie Wonk", but you're just showing yourself to be a lot loopier than Willy Wonka.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

29 December 2005

You = Your Calendar

Over the past four weeks, The Jenius has been keeping a journal of time usage. Starting with a daily calendar on an index card (To Do list, appointments), notes are added to indicate what activity or activities were being performed during the previous hour. (That "every half-hour" rule just didn't work for Me.)

Let's end the suspense: The Jenius wastes a lot of time.

The average work week for The Jenius during that month was 39.2 hours, a good amount when one considers that the self-employed tend to overwork (confusing activity with productivity) or underwork, turning procrastination into an art form. But the break-down of those hours leaves Me far from satisfied:

-- Writing: 11 hours
-- Research: 14 hours
-- Planning: 4 hours
-- Marketing: 10 hours

Look at Research, which includes Web sources, magazines, newspapers, e-newsletters and business books: 14 hours. That's at least 7 too many. Those hours are better allocated to planning and writing.

But what about off-work hours? One word: Yikes.

Nineteen off-work hours per week were spent on Internet-related activities. Nineteen. And remember, this is AFTER being on the Web during the workday. Other major activities:

-- Watching TV (sports and science shows): 11 hours per week.
-- Reading (casual reading, mainly fiction and history): 14 hours a week.
-- Sleeping: 32 hours a week. (The Jenius would be considered "sleep-deprived," but has maintained a 4-5 hours-a-night schedule as a routine since His college days.)

Sadly, family time was a paltry 9 hours a week, on average, barely an hour a day. A tragic case of a terrible work-family imbalance.

Reducing Research, Internet and TV time would easily give Me an extra 20-25 hours a week--a whole day!--to focus on activities with a higher level of personal satisfaction. What My calendar has shown Me is that it is My choice of activities that defines who The Jenius is and what He accomplishes.

Think about that. Your choice of activities--your calendar--defines who you are and your ultimate level of success. You don't manage time, you manage tasks/activities, and through this management, you achieve what you want.

Makes planning next week more interesting, right?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 December 2005

The Kalamazoo Promise

It is simply extraordinary: Thanks to benefactors who insist on anonymity, Kalamazoo public school students who graduate from high school will be eligible for 65%-100% tuition grants for up to four years in any Michigan state university or community college.

At no charge. All of a sudden, an inspiring idea has led to an educational gift for public school students attending at least 4 years of school in Kalamazoo.

It is called The Kalamazoo Promise and it bears repeating: simply extraordinary.

From the press release: [Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent] Janice M. Brown could not hide her enthusiasm before the Board of Education meeting on November 10, 2005 as she was about to introduce The Kalamazoo Promise. “How can I stay calm,” she said, “I get to walk out there and tell our KPS families that we have their students’ post-secondary education covered.”

Could Ms. Brown have had any greater joy? Could Kalamazoo parents? And Kalamazoo city officials? Because The Kalamazoo Promise is more than an educational boon: it is an economic powerhouse.

Again, from the press release: “There is no doubt in my mind,” said Brown, “that this will spur housing sales, attract new business development, and add to an already solid quality of life in Kalamazoo."

Kalamazoo is a city with a population hovering around 80,000 residents. It is ordinary by U.S. standards, maybe even below average in some aspects, such as industrial base, economic clusters and infrastructure. But with one dazzling idea, Kalamazoo has vaulted into the stratosphere of attractive venues for business, industrial, commercial and residential growth.

Now you know where The Jenius is going with this, right? Yes: Let's do the same here in Puerto Rico. We could choose to do it in Trujillo Alto, whose population is similar to that of Kalamazoo. Or in actuality, We could choose to do it in smaller towns whose industrial base is very strong, such as Barceloneta or Manatí; or with strong commercial bases such as Guaynabo or Humacao. But if We really want to make a difference, We could make a Promise happen for severely limited towns such as Villalba, Culebra, Vieques, Orocovis and Las Marías.

The Jenius hears a question: Where's the money coming from? From corporations, both those who are already here wanting to have a truly positive impact and those who want to set up shop here who are urged--via incentives and fast-tracking--to invest in Puerto Rico. Individual contributions can also be made, especially if they are part of a "tax reform" that threatens to gut the wallet of the average Islander: better to donate for the future than give money to the pig-brained thieves currently ruining the show.

And let's not forget Section 936 funds, product of a porous tax break program, still sitting in local banks. Rather than seek tax breaks congress can't even imagine granting anymore, let's look at creating the Puerto Rico Promise with monies that otherwise serve primarily to line bankers' pockets by financing projects outside of Puerto Rico.

Too far-fetched? Too idealistic? Not damn likely to happen, Jenius? Okay, here's My answer: What's Kalamazoo got that We don't?

Of course The Jenius is right. We can do this. We shall find a way.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 December 2005

Statehooders For Fascism

Back in 2004, The Jenius commented on Dr. Lawrence Britt's study on fascist regimes as applied to the U.S. The post was picked up at Tullyvision.

The list of 14 Defining Characterisitics of Fascism is reproduced below, without Dr. Britt's description of each. (The Tullyvision post includes his descriptions.) In an updated version, (read the original to compare) The Jenius indicates how many of the 14 Fascist Traits are currently seen in the U.S. under "the murderous moron" currently occupying the White House:

1) Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK.)

2) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK. See Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, approval of torture, suspension of habeus corpus, wiretapping...)

3) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK)

4) Supremacy of the Military - (U.S. under Bushie The Military Duty Evader: CHECK)

5) Rampant Sexism - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK. See recent Republican bills trying to reduce equal pay laws.)

6) Controlled Mass Media - (U.S. under Bushie: Close, but not very much so. Maybe.)

7) Obsession with National Security - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK. See latest Alert Level and how it "coincides" with political issues when Bushie's in trouble...which is often)

8) Religion and Government are Intertwined - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK. Though who knows what god this moron talks to...)

9) Corporate Power is Protected - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK! CHECK!)

10) Labor Power is Suppressed - (U.S. under Bushie: Close, but just beneath My CHECK level.)

11) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - (U.S. under Bushie: Not really, except that "conservative intellectual" is an oxymoron...)

12) Obsession with Crime and Punishment - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK.)

13) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK! CHECK! Hell, CHECK!)

14) Fraudulent Elections - (U.S. under Bushie: CHECK! CHECK!)

Eleven of 14, with two of the three possibly going to the CHECK column. Is the U.S. a fascist country? Let's take another look:

Governor Bob Taft of Ohio is about to sign Senate Bill 9, the Ohio Patriot Act. Among its provisions:

--Police can deny entry to "transportation infrastructure" to anyone not showing an ID; [The Jenius says: "Papers! I vant to zee yore papers!!]

--Police can demand the name, address, and date of birth of anyone suspected of having committed a crime or being about to commit a crime, or having witnessed a crime or a plan to commit a crime. Failure to provide this information is an arrestable offense -- so basically all demonstrators could be required to give their names, addresses and dates of birth or face arrest; [The Jenius Says: Now you can't even think? We'll turn into Bushie-clones!!]

--Reminiscent of Joe McCarthy's famous question, many state licenses will begin with the question "Are you a member of an organization on the U.S. Department of State Terrorist Exclusion List?". Failure to answer means no license; answering affirmatively is self-incrimination. [The Jenius Says: What can We expect from followers of Bushie's bleating that the U.S Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper"?]

--Perhaps worst of all, the original version of the bill simply prohibited state or local governments or government employees from objecting to the USA PATRIOT act. The current version allows criticism, but threatens local government with the loss of funds if they in any way "materially hinder" Federal anti-terrorism efforts. [The Jenius Says: In Bushie's world, "Just Say No" doesn't work for drugs, nor to protect your Constitutional rights.]

Governor Taft is very, very unpopular in Ohio, with approval ratings in the teens. Bushie's dwindling popularity is national news, as his lying scheme killing soldiers in Iraq is increasingly exposed. Does that stop these two idiots from making a mockery of Constitutional rights? Of course not. They act with the unthinking brutality of "might makes right," while the silent majority plays economic suicide at the individual level. Bread and circuses and the newest e-thingy as the empire crumbles.

What does this have to do with statehooders in Puerto Rico? Take a hint, you deniers of Our culture. With a fascism rating of at least 79% and maybe as high as 93%, you people want Puerto Rico to become a state? To join the march to no freedom Bushie has been allowing--he's simply too stupid to lead--on his unearned and unmerited watches?

Take a hint: there's a clear line between "us" and "them" in a fascist mentality. On what side of that line do Puerto Ricans fall? Read the "Patriot" Act and its ugly syphillis-aborted "child" from Ohio. See the line? Do you have the ability to see it?

Whether you do or you don't, you still fall on the wrong side of the line.

Take a hint.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 20 September 2011: The 7th Circuit Court, in Boston, has stripped former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld of his immunity for acts and incidents related to torture in Iraq. (WARNING: Graphic images.) It is finally becoming apparent, from the slow-to-grasp-it legal standpoint, that what the murderous moron and his pack of morally-deficient thugs unleashed was and is worthy of criminal prosecution to the fullest extent.]

26 December 2005

"Pick Your Status"

This won't take long...

After years of thumb-twiddling indifference, the U.S. congress (Fools don't rate capital letters) finally emits a report concerning Puerto Rico's status that is all of 6 pages long. This from a government that has 325-page manuals on how to purchase copier paper...

Six. Pages. Doesn't it just leave you all a-tingle knowing We rate 6 pages' worth of congress' time, especially when there's isn't a single new concept in the report?

Statehooders crowed. They would, being bird-brains. Commonwealthers scoffed. They would, being mindless drones incapable of seeing reality. And independence supporters tried to take center stage, but they lack the intellectual and moral strength needed to be heard above the squawking.

The report says unilateral (U.S.-based) status change is unconstitutional. Yeah, right. Statehooders, take a hint: We're not wanted.

The governor suggested going to the U.N. Go ahead, Aníbal: it's worked so well in the past. Hey, try the National Hockey League, too!

The only "solid" point was the requirement that a "binding plebiscite" be held in 2006 to determine whether commonwealth stays or goes. Hardly an original idea when even a Jenius can think of it. Yet We should note how vague--how unmentioned--"binding" criteria appear (or don't) in the report. No timetable to action. No indication of set procedure. Only a hazy sense of "transition".

Uh-huh. Statehooders, take a hint.

Prediction: The plebiscite will generate a double-shitload of political posturing in a country where political posturing could be exported like guano from Mammoth Caves. The plebiscite will be held, in November (to let the political posturing pile high and deep) and commonwealth will emerge as the "winner," essentially a 50% "choice."

And We'll be back to square one, exactly where We were before the 6-page report.

That's progress. The opposite of congress, as the saying goes.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 December 2005

World Baseball Championship

The Jenius has loved baseball since He was 3 and got to sit on His father's lap to watch "The Game of the Week" on a sunny Saturday afternoon. It is a love transmitted from a father who played almost every day of his childhood and had seen Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson and so many other greats play.

Zip forward some 30 years... Now Major League Baseball, in a nod to globalization and attempting to make foreign money off the sport's appeal, is launching the World Baseball Championship, scheduled for March of next year. Teams from a dozen countries will play, among them Canada, Japan, South Korea, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and of course, the U.S. But in a decision of monumentally crass stupidity, the U.S. government has denied visas to the Cuban baseball team. Something about "violating an embargo." Yeah, right.

By all regards the best national amateur team ever, a hotbed of baseball talent and passion for over 80 years, is denied participation in a sporting event for crappily empty political reasons. What's next, invading a country by lying about it?


Sports and politics have been jammed together before: the Olympics in Berlin, Munich, Moscow and Los Angeles come to mind. A sorry legacy of a sorry President was the decision to pull out of the Moscow Olympics, denying a generation of U.S. athletes their right to compete against their peers.

Once again, the U.S. is acting like a spoiled brat, a retard with a grudge. Only in the neuron-deprived mind of government officials can a sporting event be equated with violating an embargo initiated by one's own government. Whatever the reasons for the embargo, baseball wasn't one of them.

Keep the glory and brightness of sports out of the sickening swamp of politics. Cuba should be allowed to play in the World Baseball Championship, by right and by respect for their achievements within the sport.

And kudos--kudos!--to Our Baseball People who stated that San Juan would refuse to host the World Baseball Championship if Cuba were not allowed to play. To sanction idiocy is to encourage it and baseball is far too important to leave in the hands of microcephalic wonks.

(So let's get rid of Bud Selig while We're at it.)

The Jenius Has Spoken.

22 December 2005

A Proposal For Simplicity

Simplify your business proposal to make it more effective. That's the advice of Patrick G. Riley in his book The One-Page Proposal: How to Get Your Business Pitch onto One Persuasive Page. Aimed at business-to-business proposals, the book has been well-embraced by start-ups seeking a shortcut to funding.

However. Riley's book is not about shortcuts: it's about thinking deeper about your business. Too many readers have confused "one page" with "quick dash to money," missing the enormously valuable insight of what a true analysis can deliver.

In essence, Riley asks you and your team to focus on six fundamental questions to craft your "simple" one-page business proposal:

1) Who are we?

2) "Brand"? It's all about Character!

3) What's our Story?

4) What's the Dream?

5) Who Cares?

6) Exactly how are we dramatically different?

Note that the first two questions are about being. If you just answer them in "We are this-and-that and our Brand is 'Affordable quality'" you are in for some tough times ahead. Who you are--who your company is--makes the difference between good and great; gloss over that and you're leaving your future in the fickle hands of Fate.

The next three questions (Story, Dream, Who Cares) put you squarely into the market, inside your customer's head. Your Story defines you, your Dream empowers the relationship between you and the market and determining/defining who cares is your marketing plan in a nutshell.

And what brings it all together is knowing--creating--that dramatic difference that sets you apart from the "affordable quality" herd, the drones who sleep-walk into mediocrity or worse. Your proposal or pitch will be honed to precision by knowing what sets you above the competition, who is targeted, what needs do you fulfill and why you are the best, if not the only company, capable of outstanding success.

As Zen teachers have pointed out for centuries, true simplicity is complex, yet simple when mastered. Don't settle for complexity and don't settle for being a simpleton: aim for the simplicity of mastery and success will be...simple.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 December 2005

Time To Amend

The Constitution of Puerto Rico needs to be amended so that the Island can pursue its own best interests.

Yes, The Jenius understands that Our Constitution is part of the 1952 "compact" that created the Quasimodo colonial status We live under, and as such, is an agreement between governments. It would seem a breach of good faith to suddenly tear up the agreement and state "We are playing by new rules."

A breach of faith? Not really. For if We want to talk about breaches of faith--and oh! We do!--let's explore, shall We:

-- Is it a breach of faith to use a dangerous pesticide such as Agent Orange on unknowing citizens? Happened in Puerto Rico. Guess who dumped their dangerous crap on Us?

-- Is it a breach of faith to bomb lands a few miles from citizens' homes, not once or twice, but periodically over a 60-year term, directly killing citizens and clearly endangering the lives of thousands more? Happened in Vieques. Guess who fired their dangerous crap on Us?

-- Is it a breach of faith to systematically place a specific group of citizens "in harm's way" as part of conflicts that these same citizens cannot have a political voice in, for or against? Puerto Ricans serve in disproportionately higher numbers in battle zones and consequently are wounded or killed in higher numbers than other citizens--those who are allowed to at least pretend to vote. Look at the numbers for the current Iraqi war that "the murderous moron" in the White House lied Us into...just as he lied his way out of his service obligation. What a load of crap this deal is.

Just as one should never initiate violence, one should not be the breacher of faith. But once faith is breached, adhering to it unilaterally is to accept, if not encourage, additional breaches by what is now a betrayer. Once the breach is made, there is no faith to preserve: there is only acquiescence, retaliation...or renegotation.

We have acquiesced, often out of ignorance, fear or distraction, and occasionally out of generosity.

We are not inclined, or truly capable, of retaliation.

We can, however, renegotiate. It begins with a unilateral step to redraw the playing field in Our own best interests.

Breach of faith? No. Simply the first step to establishing a new--fairer--faith.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

20 December 2005

Imagine A Group

Imagine a group of several people who combine extensive experience in business development, from a variety of viewpoints: idea generation, human resources, technology, marketing, project management, education, financing, sales, operations, communications, legal, Internet, programming, distribution, public relations and management.

Imagine that this group is seeking project ideas and that their offer to selected would-be entrepreneurs is:

-- Multiple reviews and analyses of the concept.

-- Near-immediate feedback for concept development.

-- Strategic and tactical development planning.

-- Technology assessments and reviews.

-- Market research, with analysis.

-- Sales and human resources consulting.

-- Personnel, supplier, partner and ally searches and evaluations.

-- An extensive network of contacts spanning over a dozen countries and fields as ranging from biotechnology and Federal contracts to consumer goods and intellectual property.

-- Management from a Board of Directors perspective, seeking outside expertise at their own expense to best serve the needs of the company.

Imagine that this group will help the project seek funding via a pro-active approach, i.e., not venture capital or government monies, but market dollars.

Imagine that the group charges no fees for initial review and analyses and a marginal fee for business planning development, on the average of $1,500. Also imagine that the group will seek a minority shareholder position in the company and generate its revenue for services as a percentage of gross profit.

Imagine--no, believe--that this group already exists. It is ready to start seeking the ideas that will launch no less than an economic revolution in and from Puerto Rico.

Stay tuned.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 December 2005

Knowledge Marketing

In the span of one week--more diverse and stressful than admitted--The Jenius was presented three different projects. Each was technology-based, with strong niche marketing foci and an A-game team at the top.


--None of the projects had a central marketing person. The closest any of them got to a "marketing person" was the project that was relying on their machine supplier's salesperson to "help them out."

--None of the projects had anything close to a quality marketing plan. Yes, they had identified contacts and key people within their niches, but the extent of their marketing plan was "We'll call these people up and tell 'em what we got."

--All three projects were seeking money. No surprise there, but to varying degrees, they were playing with the idea of venture capital in idealistic fashion: wanting the money without "too many restrictions." Although they deem their outlook realistic, it is actually naïve: venture capital will exact its many pounds of flesh no matter what you think. As one project presenter put it: "They tell me that it's better to have 25% of something than 100% of nothing." Uh-huh. And yet, despite their (limited) experiences and My comments, the project teams were still looking for that "golden handout."

The only check these people will get is a reality check. Yes, Virginians, there is no Santa Claus. However, the monies you seek are still at hand.

You may want to digress to this post and to this one to get My viewpoint about launching a start-up.

Okay, back to now. That each project lacked a defined marketing person is a common failing of tech-based companies. To techies, the coolness and lust-inducing value of what they create is logical...except to customers, who aren't techies. Marketing is "squishy", not cut-and-dried like technology, so techies avoid it like most of Us avoid touching slugs. This often leads to other problems, as mentioned here.

So what is the solution? Rather than change these projects and their composition, My suggestion is to create an agency that provides marketing that culminates in getting the project financed from the largest source of money out there: the market.

Like these three projects, many others in Puerto Rico and abroad cannot seem to make the leap from "concept/design/implementation" to "marketing/sales/revenue" without some "money m(adn)ess" happening in between. But the two points are not as distant as most people believe: the market is filled with players--mostly customers and suppliers--for whom getting in on the ground floor of a new opportunity is a great deal. In some cases, non-competing companies may want to expand their reach and who knows if a competitor wants to pick up some fast power in order to take out current (or future) competitors.

Rather than go the clunky, inchworm way of the VC fund (or waste a ton of time and talent on empty-headed "business plan" competitions), these projects need an ally that can shape up their marketing plan and get them to the market in weeks, rather than months, with an eye on finding alliances that fund the company's first quarter of operations.

This ally--this marketing agency--would work one-on-one with the client to develop a marketing/financing strategy aimed at launching the company with monies from alliances, supplier lines of credit, partnerships, etc. This requires that each project be clearly defined in its advantages to key players, a combination of research and networking. The basic work would be covered by a nominal fee (about the same cost as a business plan) and all other fees are derived from sales results.

By basing the agency's revenue directly on client sales, the company can keep its equity, launch operations and pay for the service (and pay quite well; this is not charity work). Idealistic? Unrealistic? Let Me ask you which do you prefer: An investor who takes months to put money in your hands while shredding your project for his/her benefit or an ally that works with you to get the company started because then you both benefit?


The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 December 2005

Quote Me

A blast from the past: A column The Jenius wrote the week of May 6th, 2002. The original title is preserved, and the column has only minor edits for clarity.

“The greatest cause (for industrial stagnation) however, was probably Puerto Rico’s decision to turn away from world markets and protect domestic industries. Without foreign markets and the stimulus of worldwide competition, Puerto Rico’s public companies grew to rely on state spending, saddling the economy with a large and overmanned public sector, while private industry had to contend with some of the most complex bureaucratic regulations in the world.” (Emphasis Mine.)

That quote is almost from a book written in 1992-1993 by historian Paul Kennedy, titled Preparing for the Twenty-First Century. Kennedy is the author of The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, and Preparing is a deeper elaboration of the same “Great Economic Powers” theme in the then-current world situation.

Why is the quote "almost" from his book? Because, obviously, Puerto Rico is not now nor was it back a decade ago a “Great Economic Power”. Please substitute “India” for “Puerto Rico” and you will have the exact quote.

And yet notice how eerily appropriate the quote is: Puerto Rico is a country with a badly-stagnated industrial economy, it has protected domestic industries to an absurd extent (cement being the most notorious example), it is saddled more than a Pony Express nag with enough government-esconced vegetables to feed 43% of Sub-Saharan Africa (a horrible metaphor with grotesque cannibalistic overtones; My apologies to vegetables everywhere…) and the barriers written in half-wit legalese that slow down private industry are triumphs of stupidity over rationality.


Re-read the quote above and replace the first “Puerto Rico” with the rightful culprit: “the United States.” No matter how you slice it, the U.S. is the primary and often sole decision-maker concerning Puerto Rico’s economic policies. At a time when Puerto Rico’s industrial growth was the envy of the developing world (the 1950s and 1960s), when the Island’s industrialization was establishing a model that would later be emulated by Singapore (now a world economic growth leader) and to lesser extents by South Korea and Malaysia, the U.S. could have decided to open Puerto Rico’s economy to the world, as an adjunct arm of the mainland economy. As such, it could have been an engine of growth in a manner somewhat similar to what Hong Kong offers China: a laboratory to attack and open new markets.


Business leaders prodded political leaders into seeing Puerto Rico’s rising level of per capita income as the basis for consumers, rather than as the launching pad of producers. Why? Because this was and is consistent with recent (roughly 1970-present) overall U.S. economic policy, seeing itself more as a market (as THE market, in fact) rather than as a market-maker.

Now you know The Jenius is not an economist, so where’s My proof? Count the shopping centers, fast-food places, chain stores and franchises dotting Puerto Rico… Then tell Me: Is that the map of a policy geared to create and encourage producers or one geared to creating and even exploiting consumers?

The Jenius Has Quoted Himself.

15 December 2005

Optimists For Reality, Part II

Optimists and their optimism are the key components in progress.

Just to clarify and leave no doubt about My position: pessimists and their pessimism are NOT the key components in progress.

Though the position is as unassailable as the idiocy of Our government, let Me provide another angle of support. From bmindful, a website focusing on the positive outlook of Life (and often so "touchy-feely" it makes My teeth ache), comes this article. Though it focuses on procrastination, it clearly delineates how an abundance mentality (product of optimism) is far more effective in getting things done than a scarcity mentality (product of pessimism.)

...Abundance means 'The property of a more than adequate quantity or supply' and to really take advantage of all that is available to you, you really do have to have a handle on this extremely important way of thinking.

The exact opposite to the abundance mentality is the scarcity mentality. Amongst other things this mentality breeds fear, jealousy, spite and selfishness leading to insecurity and lack of self worth due to your belief that opportunities are lacking and you have little choice or freedom in your life. The scarcity mentality leads to you seeing nothing but obstacles and problems.

Without saying anything more we can see the negative side effects of the scarcity mentality, but how is the abundance mentality superior? It leads to opportunity because you believe it is everywhere, riches because you believe there is plenty to go around and enjoyment because you are able to celebrate other people accomplishments instead of loathing someone for stealing your 'piece of the pie'.

So how does this all relate to procrastination? Well, people with a scarcity mentality usually procrastinate because at first glance the task they should be getting on with seems all too hard because of all the perceived obstacles and problems. With an abundance mentality you look at possibilities and opportunities rather than obstacles and problems meaning you don't have any reason to put it off, and a few good reasons to get on to it right away!

There is a need for seeing obstacles, for it can best delineate how an effective plan can be implemented. But to see only obstacles and call that "reality" is like seeing garbage and calling it "food".

One more analogy: Optimism is the accelerator, steering wheel and the engine; pessimism is the brake. Overusing the brake--or using only the brake--leads you nowhere.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 December 2005

Optimists For Reality

The Jenius looks down upon people who claim that they are realists because they are pessimists. These people claim that optimists--of which The Jenius is often an extreme example--are not realists because optimists see illusion, not reality.


Why in the name of a Fool's Uncle Fanny is pessimism equal to reality? In essence, why is expecting the worst closer to reality than expecting the best? With that mentality, We're lucky We left the trees to explore the plains. Hell, We're lucky We went up into the trees in the first place.

Pessimism--expecting results in the negative end of the spectrum--is as far from or as close to reality as optimism. There is no difference, except in the perception that results tend to be bad because they aren't exactly what you expect. Pessimists tend to be "all or nothing" thinkers: if it isn't precisely A, it isn't good.

What a crock. If We were led by pessimists, We'd still be back in the Stone Ages, although they would call it "the best world possible, given the circumstances."

Let's face it: We tolerate them, but We don't like pessimism or pessimists. Doom and gloom. Glass half-full, nothing works, you're wasting your time seeping from their pieholes. Pessimists are ultimately passive, because they simply don't feel that anything they do will make a difference. Is this the kind of person you want working with you as you try to forge a future?

No. Except: A room full of optimists is worse than one half-full of optimists. Optimism alone is dangerous because it avoids the nuts and bolts of making things happen. Whereas pessimists lack a powerful reason to make changes, optimists often lack a powerful process to do so. Ideas, no matter how great, are useless unless implemented effectively. And implementation means overcoming obstacles, first of all, by seeing them ahead of time.

And guess who's great at seeing obstacles way ahead of time? Right.

It's better to be an optimist than a pessimist. It's a matter of attitude: would you rather live in defeat or strive for victory? But to achieve the victory, you'll need the discerning eye of someone who trudges where optimists run. Let a pessimist anchor your processes, but drag him or her along in the headlong rush to create the reality--the brighter reality--that your optimism wants to see.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 December 2005

Conflict For Growth

Conflict is necessary for growth. Avoiding conflict--or making it the central action one takes in a group setting--forces growth out of the development equation.

In one-on-one situations, conflict avoidance is very common. For an entrepreneurial team, avoiding conflict is a strategy for disaster, for it allows unexplored ideas and uncharted opportunities to drift away in the limbo of "getting along."

On the opposite end is The Fools' Paradise known as government, where at some levels conflict is deemed mandatory. Constant conflict--like a war-ravaged land--leads to very little growth, where those receiving the most benefit being rats and vultures.

How does a group best handle conflict to spur growth? By having a clear goal or goals for the team to focus on. Engaging in conflict without a shared goal is to fight to hold a position. Engaging in conflict when the parties share a goal is to explore and scrutinize more options for the best overall result.

The best teams are not the least argumentative. In fact, research and experience shows that the best teams--like the best marriages--argue often, but always with the understanding that the end result is to make a better team.

Settle on goals; let conflict be a process for growth. Basic guidelines for better teamwork. And don't bother telling that to The Fools: they'll never understand it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

12 December 2005

Educational Reform Idea 02

On the heels--almost--of Educational Reform Idea 01 comes a sequel, Educational Reform Idea 02: The Department of Education should be restructured so that no more than four levels exist between a classroom and the Secretary. And the current vegetables clogging up the system either teach or find another line of loafing someplace else.

Let the howling begin.

Although one can often disagree with Robert Heinlein's near-neo-con philosophy, he got one thing right concerning action groups: everybody should be on the front lines. His example was an army, but the same principle applies to what is a top-heavy, superbloated, unfocused, overly-expensive collection of politically-favored horses' patooties posing as administrators. The depth of stupidity of the Education herd is obvious in that less than 40% are classroom teachers: the rest of the herd are "support," a deadbrain euphemism for "dead weight."

My Idea is for the following arrangement: Teacher, Principal, Regional Supervisor, District Supervisor and Secretary. No more "Assistant"-this or "Program"-that: just 4 steps from the classroom to the Secretary's office.


1) Resource management: The resources of the current Education Department are a tribute to political Three Card Monte. (Numbers higher than "3" baffle many of the current Education vegetables...) We taxpayers think We're getting one thing, but We're actually getting taken to the cleaners. By reducing the bloat, the focus becomes the classroom... or find another job, you dolt.

2) Accountability: Nobody's in charge of anything in the Education mudhole. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians, Kemosabe. A recent request for an after-school activity (chess lessons) in a junior high school was "processed" by 17 "evaluators"--17!--only to be rejected eleven months after it was submitted because "(C)hess was not a recognized Physical Education activity." Duh. And duh. When nobody is ultimately responsible, nobody cares.

3) Effectiveness: Inertia is a given in any large organization, but once the stagnation of unreached and unachievable goals sets in--as it has for decades now in Education--only a major shake-up can generate effectiveness. Flattening the organization also makes every participant an active one, not some fuddy-duddy wetting a finger rhythmically as the newspaper waves right to left.

Does this Idea reduce government jobs? Of course it does. That's a bonus, though, not the main idea, which is to give teachers close and effective support. Teachers without clear and solid support are as bad off as life-rafts in a stormy sea. It's a wonder We haven't lost more of them. It's a wonder We allow the storm to go on.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 December 2005

Zero Sum vs. Blue Ocean

"Value innovation is about making the competition irrelevant by creating uncontested market space. We argue that beating the competition within the confines of the existing industry is not the way to create profitable growth."

That quote is from Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne's Blue Ocean Strategy, an insightful book aimed at differentiating growth strategies ("blue ocean") from "survival strategies" (red ocean.) [Note: Topic mentioned in an earlier Jenius post.]

The Jenius has been one of too few voices pointing out how Puerto Ricans act overwhelmingly often as if the world were singularly a zero sum game. The reason is that these same Puerto Ricans see the Island as the whole world. (Island mentality, anyone?) In a zero sum game, your win is My loss and never the twain shall change. So if Puerto Rico is "the whole world" and you only win if someone else loses, then yes, you do tend to act in "red ocean" fashion: competitive, paranoid, looking for shortcuts and short-term gain.

But that doesn't lead to long-term growth. Put simply, the way to major growth is not to fight over pieces of the same pie, but to go out and create new and bigger pies.

Of course, huddling at the trough to fight like pigs seems easier than to seek out new sources of sustenance. After all, creating is just so much harder than hustling...and less likely to pay off, right?

Right. It is harder to create than to hustle, it is harder to develop a bigger pie than it is to scrabble against other hustlers. All that creating takes time and effort, often without pay or reward, whereas hustling at least pays the bills. Right?

Right. Hustle to pay the bills. Now there's a life worth living. Right?

Wrong. You know it's wrong. You know that hustling like a pig or a rat or a weasel is not a life worth living, it's merely a life worth enduring. Yes, creating a new pie, a new market, is a very difficult task. It isn't for everybody. But you have to choose whether you'll spend your time and energy and talent in trying to survive against the hordes or spending those valuable assets in seeking a new world.

You could fail. But then again, even succeeding at the current trough has a strong element of failure in it, for you've simply outlasted, instead of being outstanding.

Zero Sum or Blue Ocean? Choose.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 December 2005

Five Dysfunctions

The Jenius ran across on article on NFL teams and their current passion for a business book, namely The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, written by Patrick Lencioni. Even before reading the book, the basic tenets of its premise are well worth looking into.

Told in the form of a fable (a format made popular again by Eli Goldratt's The Goal and the One Minute books), Five Dysfunctions centers on how a team goes from "worst-to-first," overcoming these five negatives:

1) Absence of trust

2) Fear of conflict

3) Lack of commitment

4) Avoidance of accountability

5) Not attending results

Without trust, no team spirit can emerge and no teamwork is possible. Fear of conflict, often an offshoot of lack of trust, stifles creativity and energy, destroying commitment. Without commitment, no one is accountable and results are basically random accidents in the dark rather than true outcomes.

So the first thing to do is build trust. Simple, right? Obviously not. Even a Fool can see when a team isn't meshing or making a real effort, but not even a Jenius can come up with the right solution every time.

Still, being aware of the problem and defining it is half the battle. At this point, a discussion about how the five dysfunctions apply to Puerto Rico would be like shooting Fools in a barrel, so let's aim (pardon the pun) a little higher: How can You create an effective team right now? One capable of tackling a worthy (in your estimation) goal?

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 December 2005

The Year Of The Internet

For those of you who'd like another perspective on Puerto Rico, along with a myriad of ideas well-worth pondering, drop by Kevin Shockey's Portal al Exito. He's back, he has something to say and The Jenius is happy about that.

Here's a prediction: 2006 will be the Year the Internet Industry in Puerto Rico comes of age. That means that by December of next year, the impact of Internet-based companies will be felt throughout the local economy. In addition, the Internet will finally make the breakthrough needed to become a true part of the daily life of a significant number of Us, rather than the dilettantish plaything/worktool of a tiny percentage.

It won't happen in 2006, it will culminate. The work of many people will come together and critical mass--the tipping point, to borrow a phrase--will be reached and in a few years, amateur analysts and would-be historians will point to 2006 as the year the Internet happened in Puerto Rico.


Because if simply has to happen now. We can't afford to wait any longer. We don't have any more time to waste and there's simply too much talent and intellect being poured into this effort to have it come to nothing.

Mark it on your calendar. It's going to be superb.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

06 December 2005


The Jenius is focusing on brevity these days...

There are several hundred search engines scouring the Internet and you might use more than one. If you do (use more than one), then you're in a minority. Most of Us make do with one search engine for almost all Our searches.

However, the exploding complexity of the Internet makes the end results of these searches increasingly unsatisfying. One can learn to make the searches more relevant, but that takes time, thought and tenacity. We'd rather another "T" get the job done right: technology.

One of a growing class of search engines is Factbites, a service that seeks to contextualize search results in order to give the user a more accurate picture of what the results mean. In Jenius terms, this moves the results further along the spectrum from data (isolated points of fact) to information (data in context.)

Drop by Factbites and compare the results of a search to those of Google, Yahoo! or MSN. Suggestions for the test are terms such as globalization, dadaist and patrimony. If you like, let Me know what you think of the difference (if there is one.)

Then, please take one more step: Imagine what We could do if We found a way to facilitate turning the right information into the right kind of knowledge.

Far-fetched? Seems to Me it might be just around the corner...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

05 December 2005


This one won't take long.

Making the world a better place, one person at a time is an honorable sentiment. However, in Our jaded present, it sounds and feels more like sentimental tripe than inspiring thoughts. Our loss.

Then, along comes an idea so simple and obvious, so right, that you wonder why it hadn't been done before. And you get a glimmer of hope, if the darkness has become too deep.

Go visit Bellado.org. Don't think about it, just go. Here's another incentive: You get a free gift. No strings, no joke; an honest-to-goodness free gift.

Mine arrived today.

Yes, The Jenius joined Bellado. It seemed the right thing to do. Now and every day hereafter.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 December 2005

Autonomy Thoughts: Part I

Unlike usual blog routine, this post precedes in both topic and order its second part. So you can read straight through (down to yesterday's post) rather than reading the end then finding the beginning. Unusual, right? Maybe it'll catch on...

The Jenius was recently upbraided in a private communication over what were considered “persistent attacks on (Puerto Rico’s) status issue, without a HINT of a solution.” (Emphasis as in the original.) For those of you who want to agree or disagree, here’s the Truth on statehood, a needed swipe at commonwealthers and an overdue wake-up call to independentistas.

As for attacking without solutions, guilty as charged. Time to correct that.

Autonomy: n. independence, self-government; independence consisting of self-determination.

Rather than seeking mindless absorption into a disdainful maw, angling like wretches for contemptuous parasitism or engaging in more addle-pated jingoistic playacting, let’s aim for what We can achieve: self-government. The option takes into account four undeniable realities:

1) Puerto Rico will never actively seek independence. The idea that Puerto Rico can stand on its own feet and thrive in the modern world is anathema to over 95% of Us. Sad, but True.

2) The U.S. has a solidly valuable captive market in Puerto Rico and upsetting that balance would hurt them where they live: the bottom line.

3) Puerto Rico will never achieve any majority vote worth pursuing: neither independence (see #1) or statehood (see here, but in short, because the U.S. won’t grant it.)

4) The Puerto Rico-U.S. relationship is worth preserving if the economic and political arrangement can be improved. The current status is politically untenable to the U.S.: We are a colony, pure and simple. Being a colony, with a colony’s political limitations, is humiliating to Us and yet We don’t get Our act together and decide what to do about it.

Therefore, with autonomy as Our guide, We can seek a solution. Not the “autonomy” commonwealthers ask for, defined as “Give me more money and more freedom, but don’t ask Us for anything in return, okay?” The Jenius is talking about autonomy in the sense of partnership, sitting as an equal to and with the U.S.

This would focus on changing two major facets of Our current shipwrecked relationship:

A) Voluntary application of Federal laws to Puerto Rico. At present, Federal laws are imposed on Us with highly-limited scope for appeal. By limiting Federal authority to what We feel is applicable gives Us a greater degree of self-determination and immediately places Puerto Rico as a negotiating partner with the U.S.

B) Phased reduction of some Federal benefits along with a reduction of economic controls currently imposed by the U.S. At present, We have no control over Customs or treaties and many of Our tax programs must pass U.S. scrutiny. Let’s reduce and remove those controls as We reduce and maybe even remove some Federal benefits. Programs like Social Security, Medicare and Veteran’s benefits would remain intact, but the rest would be reduced as Puerto Rico takes greater control of its economic present and future. The power to pursue Our best economic interests is fundamental to making the most of Our growth potential.

Let’s start somewhere and these two launch points, obvious as they are, are large enough to make a difference, but manageable enough to be functional for seriously-minded, focused negotiators. If We can ever find them.

But: Aren’t these points that have been under discussion for decades? In fact, yes, and as to why they haven’t been signposts of progress is the topic of My next post.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

01 December 2005

Autonomy Thoughts: Part II

The first half of this post appears the day after this one, as contrary to usual blogging routine. In case you landed here first and want to see how this all came about, feel free to click here.

If Puerto Rico has been negotiating for greater political and economic freedom since the 1940s, and especially since the 1952 inception of the current Quasimodo status, then why haven’t We advanced a whit in over 50 years?

Even a Jenius can see why:

-- We cannot make up Our minds about what We want as an “ultimate status.”

-- We fear independence, so We don’t push for it. The U.S. has a good thing going with Puerto Rico (economically), so they don’t push for independence either.

-- The U.S knows statehood ain’t happening for Puerto Rico, so they don’t push it to Us (except for political campaign contributions and brainless statehooders still fork money over in large quantities...although sometimes it isn't their own.)

-- “Culminating” the current commonwealth status is like culminating nausea: the end result is just ugly any way you look at it.

-- Appealing to the United Nations for a resolution is like appealing to Barney the Dinosaur: all you get is a limpid song and dance you’ve heard too many times before.

-- We lack the capability—and authority—to walk away from what is clearly a dysfunctional relationship. When your greatest negotiating weapon is eliminated and you’re at the mercy of the opposing party, your options then become bad, horrible and ghastly.

-- Creating that “We’re walking” capability is not a viable option unless the authority to do so can be achieved by creating an internal mandate, a majority vote that says “Either We fix this mutually or We’ll fix it Our way.”


Is The Jenius advocating unilateral action? A—gasp!—revolution?

Not yet. First We need to express Yes/No options, unlike the ill-fated series of plebiscites-for-ego that former governor Pedro “I’m Too Stupid To Notice Corruption In My Underwear” Rosselló thrust upon Us several years ago and have led to more nothingness, if that’s possible.

The series of plebiscites, to be completed in two years, would be:

-- Continue commonwealth as it is?: Yes/No

-- Amend the Constitution to allow full negotiating powers to resolve Our status?: Yes/No

-- If no agreement can be reached with the U.S. in one year, do We act unilaterally?: Yes/No

-- Do you approve of Our new Constitution?: Yes/No

A majority "Yes" vote in the first, or any majority “No” vote in the second or third plebiscites ends the process right then and there. (A “No” vote for a new Constitution, of course, requires further work in that line.) By defining the problem (commonwealth: yes or no?), indicating a seriousness of purpose (amending Our Constitution) and giving Us the power to negotiate as equals—a power We have always had—We can stop this Foolish futzing around and get down to some serious growth.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

30 November 2005

First World Veneer?

Some years ago, a blowhard who pretended to be My friend said "Puerto Rico is a Third World country with a First World veneer."

Said blowhard, from the Italian side of Brooklyn, wouldn't have known veneer from a venereal disease until the needle plunged into his ass...but he had a point.

Pardon the pun.

Look hard at this Puerto Rico of the early 21st century from a First World perspective: Overpopulated. Highly dependent on welfare. Insufficient infrastructure. Politically corrupt. Debt-ridden (though that isn't really considered a bad thing, for it's largely personal debt, bred by consumption.) Ecologically damaged and damaging.

Now let's look at it from a Third World perspective: Rich. Protected. Stable. Educated. Comfortable. Technological. By and large, We've got it good. But is the "First World" merely a covering for what is really "Third World" reality, a sort of "lipstick on a pig" situation?

Let's get nasty: According to statehooders, it is. To these brainless cads, Puerto Rico can only be "saved" by absorption into a country that exploits Us without caring much, rather like a pimp with an ugly-but-eager whore. To statehooders, We are nothing unless We "rise" to being admitted into the Union, thus absolving Our "ugliness" with the "true essence of Americanism."


What about commonwealthers, do they see Us in the same way? Yes, but their limp-wristed "solution" is to throw the whole L'Oreal line at the "pig." More makeup! That's the ticket! Forget about changing what We're perceived to be, let's just cover it all up! With money, of course.


The independence statues? They, now they reject the notion that We are anything but First World. "Yankee go home and take your crap with you!" is their battle cry. Yeah! But then you ask them the simple question "Then what?" and they quickly begin grunting and snuffling in apparently random fashion, while clutching their dollar-stuffed wallets (made of...pigskin?) with fervid zeal.


Let's reach beyond petty politics and look at some real answers. Is Puerto Rico a Third World country? No. Are the "First World components" home-grown? Some, but not all. Does this mean that these components are mere window-dressing, lacking true substance? No. Only a blowhard with his face in the Mafia's crotch could think that.

But can We become--fall back into being--a Third World country? Yes. Not as easily as many of Us think, but yes, it can happen. And though the probabilty is certainly smaller than the perception of its being possible, it is this real fear that independentista leaders have consistently--stupidly--failed to address and overcome.

Statehooders prey on it with campaigns of fear promising that "Uncle Moneybags" can cure it all with a gracious "Come on in!" Commonwealthers try to pretend the fear isn't real and yet that it can be papered over in greenbacks and childish abdications of responsibility.

Here's a tip: We are what We are. We will become what We choose to become. We cannot let others--wherever they may be--choose for Us.

We must choose. We must choose.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

29 November 2005

Educational Reform Idea 01

When The Jenius takes over the swampland known as the Education Department (which is more likely to happen than unicamerality), the first Idea to be implemented will be that teachers--all teachers--will have to recertify themselves every 5 years.

Let the howling begin.

The recertification will involve a minimum of 300 hours of continued education and a comprehensive exam that will include subject matter and teaching techniques. For a teacher to receive or keep his/her license, s/he must pass the test and complete the minimum requirement of continued education hours.

The exams, covering every major subject matter (English, Spanish, Math, Sciences, History/Social Studies, Art, Music and Physical Education) and grade levels (1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12), would be open to all teaching candidates, without restriction. Yes, without restriction. If a person graduated in English, but has a passion for teaching sciences, that person should be allowed to compete for the license that they want. The key word is compete. A candidate may take as many exams as s/he wishes, to enhance their job potential and maybe improve their skills.

Candidates are ranked on the exam on a 10-point system. Results of "6" or less must re-take the exam. A second result of "6" or less and the person is placed on the waiting list to fill those positions that are left over after the passing candidates have selected their positions. (Yes, selected. What's the point of striving for excellence if you can't use it to improve your options?)

As for continuing education, teachers are the only professionals who don't have to stay current or even be competent with the newest information in their field. Accountants, lawyers, doctors, nurses, engineers, social workers and mental health workers all have minimum requirements. Teachers should not be exempt and with a 2-month window they can use every year, 60 hours a year to become a better teacher is a criteria long overdue.

To enhance teaching potential and effort, salaries and bonuses will be tied to exam results and accumulated hours. Teachers with high exam results and the minimum number of hours would get more money. (The extra monies will come from implementing Idea 02; topic for another day.)

By recertifying, teachers would have to face up to the need of being competitive in their chosen field(s), open the door to otherwise qualified candidates who lack either academic credentials or experience, push the boundaries of conformity in education to encompass innovation and remove the overwhelming weight of deadwood-disguised-as-teachers We currently pay salaries to.

Suggestion: Mention this idea to a teacher. Note how the more incompetent ones--the ones who bitch and moan and complain and drag their carcasses to and from the classroom and couldn't teach their way out of a paper bag--are the ones most likely to hate this Idea. Note how the competent teachers will tend to agree with the Idea: they know what it takes to be good, even great, and are willing to put forth the effort. We need more of those teachers and fewer of what often seems the whiny majority.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 November 2005

10 Rules For Web Startups

Fresh off the presses, a veritable treasure trove of rules for Webpreneurs from a man who's been there and done that to an nth degree. Evan Williams was a co-founder and CEO of Pyra Labs, better known for having created Blogger, famously acquired by that rising megacorp named Google. From Evhead comes this marvelous list of suggestions and guidelines for starting your own Web company:

Ten Rules for Web Startups

#1: Be Narrow
Focus on the smallest possible problem you could solve that would potentially be useful. Most companies start out trying to do too many things, which makes life difficult and turns you into a me-too. Focusing on a small niche has so many advantages: With much less work, you can be the best at what you do. Small things, like a microscopic world, almost always turn out to be bigger than you think when you zoom in. You can much more easily position and market yourself when more focused. And when it comes to partnering, or being acquired, there's less chance for conflict. This is all so logical and, yet, there's a resistance to focusing. I think it comes from a fear of being trivial. Just remember: If you get to be #1 in your category, but your category is too small, then you can broaden your scope—and you can do so with leverage.

#2: Be Different
Ideas are in the air. There are lots of people thinking about—and probably working on—the same thing you are. And one of them is Google. Deal with it. How? First of all, realize that no sufficiently interesting space will be limited to one player. In a sense, competition actually is good—especially to legitimize new markets. Second, see #1—the specialist will almost always kick the generalist's ass. Third, consider doing something that's not so cutting edge. Many highly successful companies—the aforementioned big G being one—have thrived by taking on areas that everyone thought were done and redoing them right. Also? Get a good, non-generic name. Easier said than done, granted. But the most common mistake in naming is trying to be too descriptive, which leads to lots of hard-to-distinguish names. How many blogging companies have "blog" in their name, RSS companies "feed," or podcasting companies "pod" or "cast"? Rarely are they the ones that stand out.

#3: Be Casual
We're moving into what I call the era of the "Casual Web" (and casual content creation). This is much bigger than the hobbyist web or the professional web. Why? Because people have lives. And now, people with lives also have broadband. If you want to hit the really big home runs, create services that fit in with—and, indeed, help—people's everyday lives without requiring lots of commitment or identity change. Flickr enables personal publishing among millions of folks who would never consider themselves personal publishers—they're just sharing pictures with friends and family, a casual activity. Casual games are huge. Skype enables casual conversations.

#4: Be Picky
Another perennial business rule, and it applies to everything you do: features, employees, investors, partners, press opportunities. Startups are often too eager to accept people or ideas into their world. You can almost always afford to wait if something doesn't feel just right, and false negatives are usually better than false positives. One of Google's biggest strengths—and sources of frustration for outsiders—was their willingness to say no to opportunities, easy money, potential employees, and deals.

#5: Be User-Centric
User experience is everything. It always has been, but it's still undervalued and under-invested in. If you don't know user-centered design, study it. Hire people who know it. Obsess over it. Live and breathe it. Get your whole company on board. Better to iterate a hundred times to get the right feature right than to add a hundred more. The point of Ajax is that it can make a site more responsive, not that it's sexy. Tags can make things easier to find and classify, but maybe not in your application. The point of an API is so developers can add value for users, not to impress the geeks. Don't get sidetracked by technologies or the blog-worthiness of your next feature. Always focus on the user and all will be well.

#6: Be Self-Centered
Great products almost always come from someone scratching their own itch. Create something you want to exist in the world. Be a user of your own product. Hire people who are users of your product. Make it better based on your own desires. (But don't trick yourself into thinking you are your user, when it comes to usability.) Another aspect of this is to not get seduced into doing deals with big companies at the expense or your users or at the expense of making your product better. When you're small and they're big, it's hard to say no, but see #4.

#7: Be Greedy
It's always good to have options. One of the best ways to do that is to have income. While it's true that traffic is now again actually worth something, the give-everything-away-and-make-it-up-on-volume strategy stamps an expiration date on your company's ass. In other words, design something to charge for into your product and start taking money within 6 months (and do it with PayPal). Done right, charging money can actually accelerate growth, not impede it, because then you have something to fuel marketing costs with. More importantly, having money coming in the door puts you in a much more powerful position when it comes to your next round of funding or acquisition talks. In fact, consider whether you need to have a free version at all. The TypePad approach—taking the high-end position in the market—makes for a great business model in the right market. Less support. Less scalability concerns. Less abuse. And much higher margins.

#8: Be Tiny
It's standard web startup wisdom by now that with the substantially lower costs to starting something on the web, the difficulty of IPOs, and the willingness of the big guys to shell out for small teams doing innovative stuff, the most likely end game if you're successful is acquisition. Acquisitions are much easier if they're small. And small acquisitions are possible if valuations are kept low from the get go. And keeping valuations low is possible because it doesn't cost much to start something anymore (especially if you keep the scope narrow). Besides the obvious techniques, one way to do this is to use turnkey services to lower your overhead—Administaff, ServerBeach, web apps, maybe even Elance.

#9: Be Agile
You know that old saw about a plane flying from California to Hawaii being off course 99% of the time—but constantly correcting? The same is true of successful startups—except they may start out heading toward Alaska. Many dot-com bubble companies that died could have eventually been successful had they been able to adjust and change their plans instead of running as fast as they could until they burned out, based on their initial assumptions. Pyra was started to build a project-management app, not Blogger. Flickr's company was building a game. Ebay was going to sell auction software. Initial assumptions are almost always wrong. That's why the waterfall approach to building software is obsolete in favor agile techniques. The same philosophy should be applied to building a company.

#10: Be Balanced
What is a startup without bleary-eyed, junk-food-fueled, balls-to-the-wall days and sleepless, caffeine-fueled, relationship-stressing nights? Answer?: A lot more enjoyable place to work. Yes, high levels of commitment are crucial. And yes, crunch times come and sometimes require an inordinate, painful, apologies-to-the-SO amount of work. But it can't be all the time. Nature requires balance for health—as do the bodies and minds who work for you and, without which, your company will be worthless. There is no better way to maintain balance and lower your stress that I've found than David Allen's GTD process. Learn it. Live it. Make it a part of your company, and you'll have a secret weapon.

#11 (bonus!): Be Wary
Overgeneralized lists of business "rules" are not to be taken too literally. There are exceptions to everything.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

25 November 2005

Freeware Galore!

Stealing a march on The Information Soldier, The Jenius presents a website just chock-full loaded to the gills with free programs just begging to make your life easier.

The Jenius is a BIG fan of freeware: 7 of His Top 10 reasons for liking it are because it's free. (The other 3 are that it replaces Microsoft incompetence with functional goodness.)

So in the interest of giving and giving (albeit at no cost, but you know it's the thought that counts), mosey on over to Tech Support Alert and take a good long look at some seriously efficient software.

However, some nitpicks about this list. It doesn't mention Eudora as a quality e-mail option, and relegates Opera to an "also-ran" status. Having used both for almost a decade, The Jenius swears by these tools. The Eudora/Thunderbird option could go the way of the Mozilla product, but in the Firefox/Opera contest, why would a person elect the product that needs extensive customizing over the "Operiffic" completeness ready to go in seconds?

'Nother couple of nitpicks: clipboard replacement utility and "sticky note" program. I find nothing beats Yankee Clipper III as an extension of the clipboard. Plenty of storage space, auto-save, boilerplates and runs without a hitch. As for notes, I use Quicknote, a German piece of freeware genius that has more functions than a Leatherman has tools. And the litmus test--running forever without a hitch--is passed with flying colors.

So take a shopping trip down to Tech Support Alert and discover more free useful software than you can shake a stick at.

Which, oddly enough, is Microsoft's preferred method for improving its security gaffes...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 November 2005

Ten Questions

The following are Ten Questions Puerto Rico needs to answer to create a more positive future:

1) Are We going to continue electing Fools or are We actually going to try to elect a government that gives Us leadership?

2) Will We upgrade Our economic strategy to the 21st century or will We continue to party like it's 1969?

3) Are We going to improve Our infrastructure (electricity, water and roads) to take advantage of Our population density or are We going to let The Fools continue to live off of Our indifference to its importance?

4) Are We going to start educating Our children to develop fully functional skill-sets and creativity or will We settle for a continued process of "shut up and spit back what I almost told you?"

5) Are We going to let the U.S tell Us what Our political future is going to be or will We stand up for Ourselves and create Our own status resolution?

6) How are We going to reduce by half the ridiculous size of Our government?

7) How are We going to provide full support for entrepreneurs and global-market businesses created or based in Puerto Rico?

8) How are We going to remove the elphantine obstacles that sit on Our heads and dump waterfalls of crap on Us every day: El Nuevo Día, Banco Popular, Verizon, Ponce Cement, Chamber of Commerce, Retailers Union, Puerto Rico Manufacturing Association, DACO (Consumer Affairs Department), teachers' unions, and the Department of Education?

9) How are We going to take advantage of Our bicultural outlook to form new connections with Latin American interests worldwide?

10) What will Our Puerto Rico be in 2020?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 November 2005

Open Source Minds Grows

Open Source Minds, the group created to develop and foment projects in Puerto Rico, is becoming a non-profit organization. We have reached the point where such a structure is needed to channel the ideas and potential projects We have for education and entrepreneurial development.

Part of Our plan is to create university chapters of OSM to allow college students a forum with which to develop their ideas while We identify talent that can make a significant impact on Puerto Rico's economy. As OSM adds members--by invitation only--the range and depth of projects will increase dramatically. Therefore, a structure that allows Us to monitor activities and secure the proper funding is essential.

But the emphasis will not be on money--it will be on speed. Speed to prototype. Speed to launch. Speed to market. You can either wait for money--the traditional method--or you can get some resources and make something happen, in effect, going out and getting the money from the most likely source: the market.

To make this happen requires a special group of people, with a level of talent and dedication that is out of the ordinary. The road will be rough and the attempts may very well outnumber the successes. And yet, as aware as We are about that, We are also convinced this is what We will do--and We will succeed. Of that We have no doubt.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

22 November 2005

Economic Slavery: Nina

Nina is 38 years old, has an 11-year old daughter, lives as a single mother in her own home, works for the government, makes $44,000 gross a year and she hates her life.

Not all of it, just the part that has to do with work and money. Owner of 3 credit cards, two of which are maxed out, Nina has a credit card debt of $17,000...at almost 20% interest.

Nina also is the proud owner of two "easy payment" loans, both for $5,000. Both loans have an interest rate of 26%. The first she took out in 2002 to take her daughter to Disney World. The second she took out late last year to take a cruise and shop through the Caribbean.

She refinanced the first "easy payment" loan in early 2004 to put a down payment on her car. On the contract for the refinancing, which Nina admits she didn't read, is the total amount she is paying for that first loan: $14,650. She took out $5,000, minus fees and ends up paying a little over $9,800 more for using $5,000.

The car? A 2005 Neon. Her "old" car was a 2002 Lumina. Her house? Pays $635 a month and having owned it for 12 years, she is considering taking out a second mortgage.

Nina's take-home pay is about $3,400 a month, more than twice the median family income for Puerto Rico. She has only one child, who is healthy, and attends a "cheap" private school (about $300 a month.) Nina is not so healthy: she consumes prescription painkillers in high quantities to deal with the "migraines" she gets at work. She can't wait for the weekend, takes frequent sick days, often goes out for long lunch hours and then, wracked with guilt, works like a demon for a week or two, only to slump back into loathing her job.

A job she feels she can't quit. Nina has no savings nor any investments. Her monthly debt load is $2,845 without adding in food and utilities. Nina and her daughter "live" on about $555 a month. To make ends meet, Nina often uses the employee's credit union for "short-term" loans, making her even more dependent on a job she can't stand.

Sure, you can say, Nina's an idiot. But is she? She makes more money than most people here, owns her house and lives the "normal" lifestyle of paying twice for education, buying a new car before the old one warranties out, taking a big vacation every few years and using her credit cards to shop. If that's being an idiot, then many of Us in Puerto Rico are idiots.

Nina may or may not be an idiot, but there's no doubt she's a slave. Her job and the bank "own" her. Her credit cards and loans come directly or indirectly from the same source: Banco Popular, a member of The Jenius' List. But even if they didn't, even if Nina spread her productivity out over several "masters," the situation is the same: she can't change jobs, she has no economic freedom, she is a slave.

The Truth is, Nina and the rest of the slaves, are "cash cows" for the bank, who take over 20% of their productivity in the form on interest rates. Nina works almost 2 days a week to give that money to the bank, to service the debt she chose to have, in order to live the lifestyle she believes is "right", a lifestyle promoted with overwhelming intensity evry hour of every day.

Yes, Nina may be an idiot and she is a slave. But look hard at your own situation. How close are you to falling into Nina's pit of despair? Or how far are you from climbing up to Nina's "freedom"?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 November 2005

Some Acid Remarks

Be still My beating heart!

The headline in today's El Nuevo Día reads "Legislature Considered Sterile." Hallelujah! THAT should put an end to The Fools in the next generation! Yeah, bay-bee!

Turns out they were referring to the utter lack of achievement of the legislature (who will remain without a capital letter until Hell Freezes Over.) But it does give Me room to ponder...

Sterilization of The Fools would be an excellent solution. These parasites can be eliminated in one generation if We simply follow this path. Now in the spirit of The Fools' pattern of "getting things done," the sterilization can be offered as a voluntary action, but then imposed by force, preferably in the middle of the night and with as little fanfare as possible...the same way The Fools passed their last salary raise.

If sterilization doesn't fly--sort of like unicamerality: all lip, no muscle--We can try euthanasia. Start with the ones who miss the most days of "work" or who call more than one press conference a fortnight. Given their mental acumen, the lesson might actually sink in before We have to put them all to sleep. (Though My suggestion is We continue the euthanasia program anyway...just to make sure they learn.)

Why in the name of Thomas Edison's right butt cheek are We paying at least $39.95 a month for Verizon's pukey DSL service when that over-inflated comatose collection of blubberheads is touting the same service for $14.95 in the States?

Because Verizon is a de facto monopoly here and like all monopolies in a capitalist society, it gains that position, and retains it, because the government does the dirty work. Tell Me this isn't a case where money changes hands with crackhouse intensity, but with lesser morals.

Verizon, along with El Nuevo Día and Banco Popular, has long been on The Jenius' List of "Three Biggest Corporate Obstacles Puerto Rico Has." It is almost impossible to attain the position We believe Puerto Rico can achieve on a global marketplace with Verizon hogging bandwidth like a fat slut with a TV dinner. When the day comes that Verizon has to tuck tail and slime away, We will see a period of real growth. Until then, We will continue to overpay for being underserved--with Verizon, The Fools, the List and a double handful of others whose time will also come.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 November 2005

Reducing The "Inferiority Complex"

Having opined that Puerto Rico has an inferiority complex, My readings uncovered a very appropriate post to counterbalance that first one. Curt Rosengren, self-defined as a "Passion Catalyst" (a trademarked description, you'll want to know) cites in his well-worth-reading The Occupational Adventure a post with the title "10 Tips to Kickstart Your Self-Esteem," by Julie Plenty.

The simplified list Curt posted is reproduced here:

1. Stop comparing yourself to other people.
2. Don't keep putting yourself down!
3. Using affirmations.
4. Accept all compliments graciously.
5. Take advantage of and use life coaching programmes, workshops, books on how to raise your self esteem and develop a more positive attitude.
6. Mix with positive and supportive people.
7. Acknowledge your positive qualities and skills.
8. Stop putting up with stuff!
9. Make positive contributions to others.
10. Involve yourself in work and activities that you love.

The first three listed above seem to be speaking directly to the evolutionarily-challenged economist of the article that inspired the "inferiority" post, and My suggestion is that numbers 7 and 9 be inscribed on a plaque and placed in her office.

Oddly, Curt didn't present what The Jenius believes is the key point of the list, the "11th" item: Start taking action! Self-esteem is built on making an effort, not on sitting on one's fat butt and spouting negative words and empty generalizations.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 November 2005

Ban PowerPoint...Now!

The next time some presenter starts a PowerPoint presentation and then proceeds to READ EVERY DAMN SLIDE, The Jenius will do one of two things:

1) Leave the place immediately, or

2) Interrupt the presentation and ask why the person is reading to Me.

You may deem this rude, but that's your problem. My problem is that PowerPoint has given people the impression that by slicing up their presentation into slides, they now have something good to say and a crutch to depend on so that practicing and preparation can be dispensed with.

They are wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. The end result of their wrongness is a presentation so insufferably boring that avoiding it altogether or pointing out to the presenter that they are failing miserably are the only viable choices.

Edward Tufte, a lionized expert on graphic design and visual communication, has long been a scathing critic of the use (actually, the misuse) of PowerPoint. Tufte even goes so far as to call PowerPoint "evil." The Jenius contends that the evil is in using it as a shortcut to boring people and ruining any chance at meaningful communication.

Now it's true that most people are afraid of speaking in public. Surveys have shown time and again that speaking in public is frightening to more people than the idea of death. Because of this widespread syndrome, many professionals believe that PowerPoint can help a person overcome that fear and make a killer presentation. It doesn't. What it creates is a drone who can't connect with his or her audience because they have chopped information into pieces, often overloaded the pieces with too many random thoughts and end up reciting when they should be speaking.

Here are a few tips on creating better presentations. They aren't easy; they require you to think and plan. No chunky square-text-image-animation crappy cha-cha here.

1) Create a story. See your presentation as a narrative, a moment in time that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Stories are almost as old as humans: We respond to them instinctively. They are also easier to remember, for both presenter and listener.

2) Divide your story into three Acts. This is also a natural progression, where Act 1 is the problem, Act 2 is the exposition (the context of the problem and what it means) and Act 3 is the resolution. Sound complicated? Here's how The Jenius would structure a presentation on eliminating PowerPoint:

---Act 1: PowerPoint makes you less effective as a speaker.

---Act 2: Problems with PowerPoint and what this does to you and your career.

---Act 3: How to overcome the problems and boost your image/enhance your career.

Your breakdown will be different, but notice how this one is easy to follow and practically frames the entire presentation towards the goal. Instead of chopping up to fill X number of slides, We now have a narrative that can be explored within a wide range of time frames. The only difference will be the level of detail, a factor you can now control with extra precision.

3) Divide the Acts into Scenes, with one major idea per Scene. Again, simple storytelling technique. And the "one idea per scene" limit helps you keep the focus on major issues and the flow from beginning to end. And don't try to make each Act or Scene be equal in time: let your narrative set the pace.

4) If you must use PowerPoint, then use it now to create only slides that define each Act and each Scene. In the example above, one slide would say "PowerPoint makes you less effective as a speaker." The rest of the topic would be the spoken material not presented in slides. This brings the audience to you, which is the whole point of being a speaker.

5) No bullets. Period. None. Forget bullets. Don't even think about any stinking bullets. Stories are not told in bullets. Stories flow. Bullets kill (the story.)

6) Keep your slides simple. Write out all the needed material and use index cards or some other method you like to create speaker notes. (Don't use PowerPoint for that: you'll end up with bullets or a trash heap of disconnected material.) This is your "script," but don't read it to the audience.

7) Handouts should be a combination of your few slides and some of your speaker notes. Don't give this to your audience before you speak: they'll read instead of listening.

8) Rehearse. Practice! Ask yourself questions you don't want the audience to ask. Be prepared. Give a damn! If people are sitting there to listen to you, make that time valuable to them. If you do that, you will be doing something equally or more valuable for yourself.

9) Speak with energy and as far as possible, try to have fun. The more prepared you are, the easier it is to have fun and be expressive. Audiences are very polite and supportive and will be pulling for you to do well...unless you start reading your freaking over-bulleted, lame-ass slides.

The Jenius Has Spoken.