09 September 2005

Disunity Disaffection

A common complaint heard in Puerto Rico is about how Cubans, for example, arrive on the Island and within a short period of time, become quite successful. The Jenius has heard several otherwise-bright folks rail against "Cuban luck," "the undue influence Cubans have in higher government" or--indefensibly--"Cuban greed."

The truth is rather simple: Cubans arrive here willing to work hard, join a community that looks out for each other and don't wait for opportunities or benefits to arrive, but rather go out and get them. It's called hustle and Puerto Ricans hate it.

This "Cuban" mythos has been largely replaced by the "Dominican" one, with an added factor of base prejudice, a "looking down the nose" at Our close neighbors that is crass and baseless. That Puerto Ricans hate "hustle" is The Jenius's way of noting that We have an innate tendency to want to be given things, that for some reason working hard to achieve goals is seen as contemptuous and that incurring risk to change one's situation is considered stupid when compared to sheeplike conformity.

That Cubans, and now Dominicans, achieve a level of success that engenders envy in too large a portion of Puerto Ricans is a fact. That what they do to achieve it is beyond Our means is not. Cooperating and collaborating, in effect, seeking synergy to make 1 + 1 = 3 or more is simply good business sense. Lending a hand to your fellow man and woman is considered the basis for good community behavior. But We don't do that very often, preferring to pull inward rather than reach outward.

Local entrepreneurs are familiar with this "disconnection" factor, often laboring in isolation because fear is the over-arching concern when it comes to looking at other businesses: instead of seeing allies, they see enemies. They play it "cool" by working hard, but not working smart to create a network. Instead of "networking," they ply the "what can I get from you" attitude that directly implies "unless you give me a lot, I won't give you anything." They don't reach out, they reach down and in: down to the other's pockets and in to their own.

In unity lies strength. To go it alone, or worse, to act like the surrounding community is the problem instead of the opportunity, leads to the kind of disjointed, ineffective and misguided business growth We "enjoy." Maybe it's the immigrant "Us against Them" mentality that imposes unity. (Puerto Ricans in the U.S. tend to cooperate better with each other.) The answer is definitely not a bunker mentality, but one that goes a step beyond and sees the world as an "Us to Them" proposition. Puerto Rico is not the only market, nor is it even remotely a big one, when compared to global opportunities. If Our attitude is an obstacle--and it is--then changing it is the first step on the path to greater internal and external success.

If there was ever a time for isolation, it is long ended. Global markets demand global vision, connecting and reconnecting consistently to adapt to and create new opportunities. Standing on the sidelines and being snooty about Cubans, Dominicans or Puerto Ricans who are working hard to make a better tomorrow was never good form. Seeing an enemy where an ally surely stands is economic blindness. Staying in that same mindset is to toss Our Future away...every day.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I live in the US. In many cities, you could take this post and substitute "Chinese" or "Asian" for "Cuban" or "Dominican" and the post would be equally applicable. The mindset representing the problem is not solely a Puerto Rican phenomenon, but the solution is global.