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.

17 November 2005

Jenius Skewerings

There are times when rather than being the launcher of verbal barbs, The Jenius is on the receiving end. A few examples suffice...though why they are being presented is a mystery to Me.

There are times when The Jenius refers to Himself as "an idiot." After several of those remarks in conversations with the steadily impressive Iván Merced, who always agreed with Me immediately, The Jenius said "The least you can do is take a few seconds and think about it before you agree." Iván asked Me to repeat My remark, so The Jenius called Himself an idiot again. (Very Jenius-like of Me, doncha think?) Iván pretended to think about it for two seconds, then agreed that yes, The Jenius was an idiot. My curiousity compelled Me to ask him: "Why don't you argue with Me about it?" to which he replied "I respect you too much to argue." Zing.

In a recent e-mail with the delightful Carol, from Texas via Louisiana, (or as The Jenius calls it, Baja Arkansas) The Jenius went off on a typical ego-boosting paragraph that included the word "bask", as in "bask in My glory." Tickled by the word, My next paragraph had Me writing "baskbaskbaskbaskbask" in imitation of saying a word out loud many times until it loses its meaning and becomes silly (or stupid.) Carol replied that "bask" repeated so often did lose its meaning, until she realized it made sense because The Jenius was "a bask(et) case." Zing.

A recent work session had The Jenius offering to help write a few pages of an important document that the hard-working José Rodríguez was putting together. In a moment of wit, The Jenius asked José "So you want it spelled correctly?" He quietly asked back "Is that an option?"

Floored Me. Cracked Me up! Practically bust a gut laughing. This is the same guy who frequently misquotes a commenter to these posts who called The Jenius "egotistical and self-centered." José believes the commenter called Me "egotistical and obnoxious."

Maybe they're both right. And yet, The Jenius does get a kick out of being taken down a notch or two by these flashes of superior wit.

But, rest assured, none of these people are on My Christmas list.

The Jenius Has Spoken

16 November 2005

Local Detallistas: Feebleminded Freeloaders

The Centro Unido de Detallistas--the local Retailers Union--is the so-called representative of small businesses in Puerto Rico. While moistly trumpeting how small businesses are "the heart of the economy" and how the so-called Union represents "families versus megacorporations", the bottom line is that the Detallistas are a throbbing cancer on the throat of local economic growth.

Let's begin with its "leadership," most of whom cut their teeth on business issues when Roosevelt--Teddy Roosevelt--was in power. Cursed with an affliction caused by greed and self-serving hindbrains, known as "politics," the "leadership" of the Detallistas plays a game of Incontinent Musical Chairs: whenever one goes deaf, the president is changed. New blood, like at a vampire barbecue, is on the table, not in the chairs.

Then there's the sheer volume of their "woe is me" whine, coupled with a deep and abiding sense of total vulnerability to any outside force, be it rain, taxes or intelligence. The combination creates a constant stream of variations of their basic howl: "Protect me!" To listen to this flow of addle-pated diarrhea is to get the sense that the Detallistas see small businesses as soap bubbles in the hands of spastic cretins. As the Spanish proverb says: Ladrón juzga por su condición. A thief judges others based on himself.

Add all this together as we review the Detallistas' own take on current legislation pending in the Senate. On page 40 of their September 2005 issue--a magazine as visually appealing as vomit on a doily--is a list of bills submitted and the position the Detallistas squats on, along with their REAL position:

Senate Bill #458: To establish a wage subsidy of up to $2.75 an hour for new microbusinesses established in Urban Centers (downtown areas the C.U.D. screams about protecting.)

Detallistas Squat: "...study the issue to extend the subsidy to new businesses not located in Urban Centers."

REAL Detallistas Position: GIVE ME FREE MONEY! GIVE ME FREE MONEY! Rather than improve to compete, I will beg/plead/grovel/suck up/kiss ass, but GIVE ME FREE MONEY!

Senate Bill # 245: To allow private businesses to set up workshops and production centers, as well as hire convicts to do the work. [NOTE: The bill description implies that the hiring is to be done at very low or even "deferred" wages.]

Detallistas Squat: "The Centro Unido de Detallistas extended its congratulations to the legislators and approves of this bill, subject to our recommendations."

REAL Detallistas Position: GIVE ME SLAVES! GIVE ME SLAVES! Murderers and crack whores? Who cares! GIVE ME SLAVES!

Senate Bill 139: Extend the rest period granted to pregnant women.

Detallistas Squat: "The bill pretends to extend the rest period benefit based on theoretical expressions rather than evidence. It errs in equating the public and private sectors without considering economic factors, fund sources, business/industrial sector factors and, more so, the current fiscal reality of the Government and, by extension, our Country. The Centro Unido de Detallistas does not approve of this bill."

REAL Detallistas Squat: Free money? Let me at it! Prisoners as captive workers? Yeah, ba-bee! But extra rest for pregnant women? Uh, no, sorry, no can do. See, it's the government's fault. They screwed things up so, well, it's obvious we can't give our employees an extra 20 minutes, right? I mean, maybe pregnant women don't NEED extra rest. Where's the evidence? I mean, pregnant cows don't go around asking for extra rest, right? You gotta understand, these are workers and pregnant or not, they have to work. Family values? Hey, this is business! We're the heart and soul of the economy! If we don't produce, the country goes to pot! But while we're on the subject, the economy sucks, it might rain next week and I could use some free money and maybe a couple of them extra bodies to help me out at the store.

The Detallistas are a disgrace that gags the fullest expression of Our entrepreneurial power. They are Feebleminded Freeloaders. They are Fools. The sooner We are rid of them, the better.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 November 2005

Sobering Territorial Statistics

The following are the Median Family Income statistics of the following U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Marianas Islands. See if you can match the number with the territory:

Median Family Income: $41,229; $28,553; $25,853; $18,357; $16,543

Now here are more statistics, in this case, the average dollar figure received per person in Federal Direct Payments:

FDP per person: $4,021; $3,287; $2,667; $1,445; $643

One more thing. These statistics are taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States 2004-2005. You can download the proper section here.

Okay, let’s end the mystery. If you selected Puerto Rico as the highest Median Family Income territory, you were wrong. The highest Median Family Income belongs to Guam. The lowest MFI is Puerto Rico’s.

If, on the other hand, you chose Puerto Rico as the highest per person Federal Direct Payment recipient, you’d be right on target. Now it might be true that the scale of reliability goes “lies, damn lies and statistics,” but here We have a sobering comparison. Median Family Income is NOT an average: it is the point at which half the data points are higher and half are lower, in essence, the midpoint. That means that in each case, the MFI indicates the exact “center” of the populace in terms of family income: half the families make more money than the median, half make less.

So Puerto Rico pulls up the rear with $16,543, a paltry 40% of what the MFI is in Guam. Hell, it’s 10% lower than American Samoa’s, which most of Us can’t find on the world map in under a minute, but also 42% lower than the Virgin Islands which We have probably visited several times.

Now maybe—just maybe—there’s no direct correlation between the amount received in FDPs and the MFI. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that Puerto Rico receives 625% more FDP dollars per person than a resident of the Marianas. But think about what it means that the Median Family Income of Puerto Rico, the point that can be considered to define the level of economic success, is so much lower here than in the comparing territories.

What are We doing to keep more than half of Our families at a lower standard of living than could be expected in American Samoa or Guam? And considering the high cost of living here, We could be looking at maybe 70-75% of Our families living below “Third World” standards. Is this the Puerto Rico We want?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 November 2005

Independence Illusion

movement: noun
4: a group of people with a common ideology who try together to
achieve certain general goals; [syn: social movement, front]
7: an optical illusion of motion; ] [syn: apparent
motion, apparent movement]

Back in a post about Singapore leaving Puerto Rico behind, there was this quiet aside: "The Jenius will argue that there really isn’t and never has been a true independence movement in Puerto Rico."

Here's why: Despite the definition given above that uses the weasel-like try, the fact is a movement has to make progress for it to be a real movement. The so-called independence movement in Puerto Rico makes progress like cement migrates south for the winter. In other words, it doesn't.

The sheer whimsy (The Jenius is being polite here) of the independence movement is based entirely on one day's activity, El Grito de Lares -- The Yell (Scream) in Lares. If you wish, here's a brief description of a brief event.

Now Puerto Rico has been "around" since 1493, or 1508 if you choose a political starting date. Since then, almost (or more than) 500 years have passed and the ONLY freaking thing the so-called in-de-pen-dence "movement" of Puerto Rico chooses to rally around is the pathetic attempt by a group of two-bit blowhards to take over a third-rate defenseless rural town, a "takeover" that folded like a wet Kleenex when an even smaller group of soldiers came marching in.

One day. One day in about 182,000. One day a so-called political party and "movement" tries to make out to be some sort of glorious act of sociopolitical will, but is a whole hell of a lot closer to being a fart in the wind than a revolution.

Imagine the American Revolution being "glorified" for a one-day takeover of Weathersfield, Vermont. Or that the French revolutionaries had limited themselves to storming a patisserie and released the beignets to a hungry crowd. One day does not a movement make...a simple Truth the independentistas struggle mightily to delude themselves about.

In the last elections, the Puerto Rico Independence Party barely polled 2.5% of the total vote. In Hawaii, the independence movement regularly reaches double digits and they are a lot less jingoistic and loutish about their movement than the local crowd.

The fact is, there is no independence movement in Puerto Rico. There is an independence feeling, a yearning maybe, to be "free." But it is at best a childish whim(sy), an inchoate desire that neither citizen nor recent independence leader has ever crystallized into a true movement.

Recent. Because if you look back at the 30 years after the Lares fart, progress was made, if not towards independence, then at least its realistic cousin, autonomy. Leaders of a steel no longer forged here--Eugenio María de Hostos, Ramón Emeterio Betances, José de Diego, Luis Muñoz Rivera--men of international fame whose political opinions differed greatly, joined hands and achieved for Puerto Rico the autonomy she deserved then...and has never received since. That some of these men have had their images and opinions stolen by statehood and commonwealth parties is a travesty. That the independence "movement" ignores them because of that, ignores their concerted effort to seek a solution rather than bandy words like parrots with verbal diarrhea, is simply another example of stupidity from The Fools.

Independence is an illusion. No one, no state or country, is truly independent. Pushing for independence in a vacuum, an independence that has no rhyme, reason, rationale or roadmap, is tantamount to selling snake oil. The local independentistas are a tiny market of snake oil salespeople and gullible buyers, getting together to lie to each other about how important their "work," their "struggle", their "movement" is. They drool for their September moment, their smelly mirage of history, and let the other 364 days of the year pass by in more flatulence.

What a waste. What a shameful waste.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 November 2005

Puerto Rico's Inferiority Complex

[Note: The Jenius ranks high on searches for a small handful of topics related to Puerto Rico, but He ranks #1 on Google searches for bat snot. There's a joke in there somewhere, but you're welcome to make it.]

Last Sunday, El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico's "largest" newspaper, ran an article titled "Ingobernables" (Ungovernable), ostensibly referring to Us. It extensively quoted a sociology professor and two economists--those purveyors of the dismal science--about a variety of problems Puerto Rico faces.

The basic thrust of the article may have been that We have a government that stinks because We have been shanghaied by Our own indifference and attitudes into allowing The Fools room for their monkeyshines. That We have a "zero sum mentality" (fuel for a future Jenius post) leading to attitudes of despair, violence, "short-cut" thinking (crass opportunism, in the case of The Fools) and an underground economy that mirrors or even exceeds the "legal" one.

In that sense, the article did strike a responsive chord. But in the middle of the article, an economist whose name The Jenius refuses to honor with any mention, stated in a comparison between Nordic countries and Puerto Rico that they (those countries) were "more highly evolved" than Us.

Poppy. Cock.


The economist's implication was that Nordic countries are "more highly evolved" because they showed a greater degree of organization. Oh Dismal Scientist of the Bat Snot Brain, bee hives and ant colonies are highly organized, but that doesn't make them "more evolved" than Us. Organization is not necessarily a function of intelligence, talent or evolutionary maturity: it is simply a function of rule-sets and conditions. To imply that a "more organized" society is somehow more "highly evolved" is to think the rotten fish in the moonlight is yummy because it's shiny.

Now before any of you go off on Me, The Jenius is NOT--repeat, not--criticizing Nordic countries, their societies or people. The point here is that a so-called "educated" person makes a sweeping generalization that is fundamentally flawed and is less conclusion than it is a revelation of the inferiority complex Puerto Ricans tend to express as "They and their things are better than Us and Our things."

Yes, some things suck in Puerto Rico. But rather than focus on the positive things We have, We choose to focus on the negative. And rather than focus on the negative in other folks/countries (just to be consistent...dismal, even...) We look at their positives or cast Our perceptions of them on the positive side. That is, if We even bother to look at other countries because thanks to Our inferior "educational system", We only have eyes for Puerto Rico and the U.S. (a marketing genius when it comes to whitewashing its many flaws.)

We are so ignorant of who We are (again, "educational system") that We seek Our self-image through comparison to others, an awful symptom in an individual's mental and emotional health and--by extension--an awful symptom in Our collective mental and emotional health. As in an individual, seeking Our self-image outside of Ourselves leaves Us vulnerable to emotiomal buffeting, leading to frustration, violence, dismay, despair... many of the same things the article mentions that make Us "ungovernable."

We are not "ungovernable." We are a loving, caring people who would rather have a better life, but We have been denied the tools to make it so. And the denial has come from The Fools, from Our predilection to elect those Fools, because they represent the favorite color We support come hell or high water, no matter how big a crook, whore, pederast, rapist, drug addict or thief the Fool is.

We are bright people who love to laugh. We are hard-working people who want a better future for Ourselves and Our children. We are empathetic and creative. We are so much more than We know that the gap is painful to live with...if you see it. Some of Us do. More of Us need to do so.

No, Dismal Scientist with the inferiority complex We need to get rid of: you are wrong. We are not "less evolved." You are, but the rest of Us aren't. But We do need to take a deep breath and cast off the mental and emotional shackles of years to understand that We are Our future. Not The Fools, not the idiots who cater to The Fools, but Us. And the sooner We push you Fools and idiots off the stage, the better.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

10 November 2005

Creativity Central Plus

A previous post on idea generation methods called "Creativity Central" presented a few dozen techniques for being (more) creative.

In that coincidental fashion that happens when you're looking for things on the Web, The Jenius came across this post in Lifehack.org, an eclectic mix of tips and techniques for making your life easier and more productive. One of its posts brings together 163 techniques for boosting creativity, 30 tips and a few books. You can click on it here and wander to your imagination's content.

The 163 techniques are found at Mycoted.com, a veritable treasure trove of innovative methods and ideas with a decidedly scientific bent, which makes them more valuable.

The 30 Tips for Being Creative come from Hugh McLeod's Gaping Void blog, and though his post is long, it is very much worth the time it takes to read. (And the cartoons, drawn on the back of business cards, are often very funny.)

The list of recommended books is short, but if you can only read one book, read the first one listed: A Whack on the Side of the Head, by Roger von Oech. It is funny, insightful, memorable and useful. It's the kind of book that will stay with you for many years.

These blogs put tools in front of Techno Sapiens seeking to improve their skill sets and thus increase their value to the markets they play in. Take some time to read them and put some of their ideas into practice. Think of it as a game that could lead to a better life. Have fun!

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 November 2005

Tasks Over Time

One of the simplest and most powerful guidelines The Jenius ever received for personal productivity was "You don't manage time: you manage tasks."

The current guru of productivity is David Allen, whose "Getting Things Done" has spawned a veritable revolution in the art--yes, art--of personal management.

The book falls in that small category of "life changers," for what it preaches is simple, focused and very effective. As with all methods, patience and persistence do pay off, so expecting miracles in 24 hours is not the right attitude. But focusing well for 24 hours will inevitably lead to "miracles."

From a 1998 article in Fast Company, Allen gave basic ideas of what originated his GTD method:

We clutter our minds with vague promises about what we should do, what we could do. But there is always more to do than there is time to do it. Most of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do - it comes from not keeping agreements they’ve made with themselves. When you tell yourself you ought to do something and then don’t do it, you experience self-doubt and frustration. You can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool yourself for a second.

Think about it: what Allen is defining here is the "gnawing sense of anxiety" so many of Us live with every day. The feeling of "being pulled in different directions," overwhelmed by work, family, community and personal "commitments" We make with little restraint and fulfill with minimal success.

Allen sees the solution: "The degree to which things gnaw at our minds is usually the degree to which they are 'stuck' in some way," he says. "You get things off your mind by making progress on them."

Sounds simple, right? Obvious, even. So why aren't We doing it? Why do We continue to let Our lives spin out of control with anxiety eating away at Our creativity, productivity and quality of life? Allen indicates that "Productivity is about completion. (The) system is based on identifying all the 'incompletes' in your life - from mundane tasks to pressing responsibilities - and isolating the simplest next step to complete them."

In other words, focus on managing tasks in a methodical way.

Oooh. Sounds hard. Sounds like "discipline." Sounds confining. If you think that way, get over it. Confining is what you feel right now, trapped and overwhelmed, out of control. Here's the gist of Allen's method to give you back that control you deserve, need and must have to achieve your best:

1. Make (certain kinds of) lists.
I suggest making five lists, which together make up what I call a "Total Life To-Do List."

-- The "Projects" list tracks big-picture outcomes: Conduct performance reviews. Install new tires on the Volvo.
-- The "Next Actions" list itemizes next steps on all active projects: Read research report. Call Elizabeth about next week's meeting.
-- The "Waiting For" list records activities that depend on someone else.
-- The "Calendar" tracks time-specific appointments and day-specific actions.
-- The "Someday/Maybe" list records discretionary tasks: Go scuba diving in Fiji.

2. Don't let your inbox box you in.
An inbox is a place for capturing the chaos that comes across the transom. But that doesn't mean you should treat it as a black hole. Get to the bottom of your in-basket once a day. Take just one thing out of it at a time; don't look at the second item until you've determined an action for the first. And once you remove an item, never put it back in. [Jenius note: Your "inbox" doesn't have to be a physical object: it could be your own mind. Discipline yourself to go one item at a time and complete each item properly before moving on to the next.]

3. Remember the two-minute rule.
Any time you're confronted with an action item that will take less than two minutes to complete, do it immediately.

4. Always do a weekly review.
Take 30 minutes every Friday afternoon to review and update your lists, process loose papers and notes, and think about upcoming events.

"Getting Things Done" is the kind of investment in yourself that pays off with greater returns the more you use it. Take a look at it now. Your future will be glad you did.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 November 2005

Commitment To Excellence

On the theme of professional (career) development, submitted for your approval. From the often-useful AchieveEzine, this article by Steve Brunkhorst is a top-notch guideline for the kind of Tecno Sapiens needed in the 21st century.

7 Stepping-stones to Career Growth and Excellence

Achieving excellence in our work is an integral part of feeling genuinely satisfied in life. We want our careers or businesses to blossom, making us financially secure and content with our achievements. Here are seven stepping-stones that lead to career growth and excellence. When used as part of a total action-plan, these stepping-stones can contribute tremendously to the fulfillment that you desire.

1. Make a Commitment to Excellence

A passionate commitment to excellence is a primary step to growth in any endeavor. It is not enough to say we want to be excellent; we must make a commitment.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, business owner, employer, or employee, commit yourself to becoming excellent in your chosen field. When you commit yourself to excellence, you will grow personally as well as professionally.

2. Empower Yourself and Others by Continuing to Learn

A commitment to excellence requires continuous learning. Keep your skills sharpened by reading the latest books and attending seminars, classes, or workshops. Ask for feedback from clients, customers, supervisors, co-workers and employees. Frequently assess yourself and look for key skills that need improvement.

By empowering yourself with knowledge, you will reap the rewards of continued growth and excellent performance. You will also inspire others to seek empowerment, excellence, and growth.

3. Multiply Your Efforts through Networking

Tell many people about the specific ways that you can help to meet their needs. For example, instead of saying, "I sell real estate," you might say, "I help low income families find quality, affordable housing in areas where they've always wanted to live." Tell people what makes your service or product special. However, keep your interactions light-hearted and spontaneous. Ask questions that show your interest in the other individual. Make your personality as well as your service memorable.

Compile a list of people with whom you want to work or do business. Attend seminars or workshops and network at every opportunity. If someone does not need your service, he or she might know someone who does. Keep a supply of business cards with you at all times. When you have built a business relationship with someone or gained a satisfied client, ask for referrals. Personal references will bring a large percentage of your business.

4. Communicate Powerfully

When networking or interacting with co-workers, communicate powerfully by remembering three letters: ALC. These stand for Ask-Listen-Clarify. Ask questions to determine the needs and desires of others. Listen empathetically—not only to hear, but to understand. Then clarify by rephrasing and repeating back what the other individual said. If necessary, rephrase your question and ask additional questions.

Powerful listening is the key to powerful communication. Pay attention to body language. Listen to non-verbal cues that reveal feelings behind spoken messages, and then clarify. Powerful communication will lead to continued career growth, excellence, and satisfaction.

5. Lead with Empathy

No matter what position you hold currently, you are always leading others through your influence. You influence others with your thoughts and actions even if you are not aware of doing so.

Think of three leaders who you admire. What traits and leadership skills do you admire the most in these leaders? This question will reveal your deepest leadership values. Leading with empathy is leading from your deepest values. These values allow you to focus on the strengths of those you lead; they allow you to lead others in ways you would want them to lead you.

6. Maintain Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Fitness

A healthy body helps to maintain a healthy mind and vice versa. Spiritual strength nourishes both the body and mind. Cultivating our faith in God strengthens our resolve to overcome adversities and focus on outcomes rather than roadblocks.

Follow a sound wellness program, get regular physical checkups, and pray or meditate each day. Schedule a daily time for relaxation. Physical, mental, and spiritual fitness contribute to steady growth and maximum excellence in fulfilling our individual purposes.

7. Serve with Love, Faith, and Gratitude

We receive in this life only that which we first give. That includes our thoughts and attitudes. Fill your thoughts with the spirit of love for those you serve. Communicate your deepest gratitude to customers and clients for their trust in you. Show gratitude in special ways that provide more value than expected.

Trust clients and customers to make decisions that are right for them. If you have faith in those you serve, they will have faith in you.

Take this Challenge Now

Make a list of at least twelve different ways you could implement each of these stepping-stones during the next 12 months. Select seven items, one item from each list of twelve. Then put them into action over the next week.

Continue to implement more of your ideas throughout the coming months. Refer back to your list frequently, and write down the changes that you see taking place. You will see positive changes both personally and professionally.

In Summary

Career growth and excellence contribute significantly to life satisfaction. They require acting with commitment and integrity. We need to set our standards high and continually acquire new knowledge to grow and perform with excellence. People are essential to success, and we must listen deeply to communicate powerfully. Leading others from our deepest values allows us to lead with empathy.

Growth requires physical, mental, and spiritual strength. Love, faith, and gratitude will provide an integral framework for career growth and excellence. Taking deliberate action to excel and grow today will set the process in motion and bring rewarding results throughout the future.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

07 November 2005

West (Indies) Wing(ing It)

Despite a love of well-written TV, The Jenius had never seen an episode of "West Wing"... until last night. The live episode portrayed a debate between the two presidential candidates of the show, Matt Santos and Arnold Vinick. Though leaning strongly to the younger, liberal Santos, the show did present a healthy give-and-take of ideas, albeit in soundbite form.

The true genius of the show was tossing out the staid, over-burdened, time-limited, idea-deadening, take-no-chances format of current debates in favor of a more free-wheeling exchange, complete with snide barbs, ad hominem attacks and glibness substituting for substance.

Makes for great TV. Makes for a better democratic process, as well.

Forget presidential debates; they mean diddly-squat here in Puerto Rico, except to political wanks who have nothing better to do. (The Bored Fools.) Let's talk about the monkeyshines that pass for debate here in gubernatorial campaigns.

First of all, in a case of "monkey see, monkey do," candidates here create a shopping list of stipulations just to even plan a freaking debate. What the hairy apes in the States want to do is their problem: We should hold Ourselves to a higher standard.

Here it is: If you want to run for governor, you have to agree to at least 5 debates, all of which are televised live. With a campaign season that lasts four years, it's child's play to fit in 5 debates in 47 months. Even Fools can manage that.

Second of all, the debate format cannot--will not--have ANY conditions imposed by any candidate. None. Every debate is free-format and open to any question or topic. The basic ground rules will only limit the total time of the debate and that the moderator can cut off a candidate if he or she does not follow basic rules of etiquette or keeps interrupting the opponent. (Sticking your tongue out would reclassify you as an idiot and get your microphone turned off for 3 minutes. Although a bat upside the head would have saved Us tons of grief.)

Third, the debate topics and questions would not be prepared by journalists. Our journalists are like the Jamaican bobsled team: energetic, but in over their heads before the clock starts ticking. Instead, a website will list topics, to be ranked in order of importance prior to each debate. Journalism students then prepare the basic questions for each topic, which are then voted on by the public. Top-ranked topics and questions are revealed and printed out 15 minutes before the debate begins. Questions are asked as quickly as possible until the debate or (very unlikely) the questions end.

Fourth: the moderator. One per debate, changed for every debate. One from journalism (because otherwise they'll whine in snotty fashion), one from academia, one from business, one from education and one at large. Chosen at random from a list of volunteers, limited only to people who don't have a criminal record. That eliminates a ton of Fools, though with a little judicious luck, We can eliminate quite a few more.

Odds of this happening: Same as that of Puerto Rico becoming a State: Zero. Zero point zero, to coin a number. But We can strive, or demand, better debates. Our political process needs to grow up, to leave the thumb-sucking (tongue wagging?) stage and try to enter the world of mature discourse.

And for My next trick, The Jenius will solve the budget deficit by firing The Fools.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 November 2005

7 Steps To Power

"The Bottleneck is at the Top of the Bottle: Where are you likely to find people with the least diversity of experience, the largest investment in the past, and the greatest reverence for industry dogma? At the top!" -- Gary Hamel, "Strategy or Revolution", Harvard Business Review

"Nobody gives you power. You just take it." -- Roseanne Barr

We frequently complain that the "powers that be" are not doing the right job or are not doing their job right. The first quote above indicates why, for We are the rising generation with the new vision that needs to be expressed and implemented fighting the old fogeydom of The Fools. The second quote is downright Truth.

So what are We waiting for? We are only seven steps away from making the difference We want to make.

The first step is recognition of the fact that We have power. Power that is available but isn't used is indistinguishable from powerlessness.

The second step is acknowledgement that power is necessary. Whether We like it or not, power is real and the world responds to it and its uses. Avoid or ignore power and you reduce your chances of achieving change to almost zero.

The third step is understanding that power is a mutable resource.
It varies, waxing and waning according to how much attention you and others pay to it. There is no such thing as permanent power: use it, talk about it, make it known, or lose it.

The fourth step is acceptance that power will change you before you change anything. Unless you prepare for the reality and substance of power, you will have a difficult time using it.

The fifth step is learning that having power and using power are two very separate things. Having power is neither positive nor negative: it simply is. But using power is a polarizing effort: you can do great good or great harm, and the less aware you are of using power, the more the odds you will do harm.

The sixth step is concentrating on seeking power at all times. Similar to the way people seek money, fame, security or love, the search for power is most successful when fully integrated into a person's life...and based solidly on the highest possible values.

The seventh step is embracing the fact that the power you seek is finite, but the power you create can be infinite. Going after another's power may lead to a short-term gain, but power developed from within you will always lead to greater gains.

Time to seek--and flex--Our Power.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

03 November 2005

CNE = Brain Dump

Dump: noun
--A place where refuse is dumped.
--An unordered accumulation; a pile.
--Slang. A poorly maintained or disreputable place.
--Vulgar Slang. An act of defecating.

In the excellent Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan pinpoint the exact reason why so many think tanks are actually brain dumps: They aren’t interested in the “how” of getting things done; that’s for somebody else to think about. (Page 35)

The quintessential example The Jenius has of a brain dump is that of the misnamed Center for the New Economy, a group created in 1999 purportedly to advance Puerto Rico’s economic progress. A previous Jenius post covered their misaligned structure and one mentioned them as a collection of obstacles, but this time The Jenius takes aim at their very existence.

The Center for the New Economy is a failure destined to never get any better. Aside from its highly-cynical mission/team construct, the very philosophy of the CNE is a tribute to vapidity. At most, the CNE intends to help create policy that will influence the possible development of Puerto Rico. That’s like thinking about buying a Band-Aid while the patient bleeds from a severed leg.

Not that Our economy is that bad. What is bad—farcical, in fact—is that the CNE believes it can think its way into a leadership role, keeping its already-compromised hands “clean” from the “dirty work” of actually getting the job done. To go back to My analogy, they want to do a study justifying a loan for Band-Aids, but won’t even consider applying a tourniquet.

Though the CNE is an egregious example of non-execution (synonym: uselessness), it is by no means the only one in Puerto Rico. There seems to be a widespread notion that pure thought is the key to making things happen. What utter nonsense. It’s as if Napoleon drew up elaborate battle plans and expected to win only with the paper the plan was on.

First of all, most of those seeking “brainiac” status have the brainpower of spastic field mice, more intent on fleeing from threats (such as that of actually doing something effective) than seeking new horizons. Second, only a handful of people anywhere can use pure thought to make things happen, but even those know that their effectiveness is based entirely on getting into the trenches and making things happen.

But returning to the analogy (the one that mentions Napoleon), these would-be braniacs want to be Napoleon, the über-general, barking out orders so that minions jump in fear to do their bidding. The CNE seeks Napoleonic status, creating widespread changes from “on high,” reaping the rewards without making much of an effort. (Their output of almost 6 years can be easily exceeded in quantity and quality in two semesters by any average high school civics class.) They cling to image and are empty of substance.

Napoleon ended up exiled and his many wannabes are mythically tossed in asylums. Would that We could do something similar to the wannabe CNE.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 November 2005

Outside Person/Inside Person

The Jenius has long subscribed to the entrepreneurial theory that successful companies have an "Outside Person" and an "Inside Person."

For fans of the original Star Trek TV series, just think of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. The reason Kirk could gallivant across the Universe and still be the captain of a gazillion dollar starship was that he always knew Mr. Spock was on the bridge, holding down the fort (so to speak.) Even when they were both away from the Enterprise, Kirk looked at the big picture and Spock kept a keen eye on the details.

In essence, the Outside Person is the social/horizon type, dealing largely with matters outside the business' function and the Inside Person is the operations/hands-on type who guides the day-to-day production. These are general descriptions and there is some overlap, but one thing is certain: both are needed to develop a successful company.

Outside Persons often lack the patience and discipline to tend to details and processes. Inside Persons tend to prefer step-by-step progress and thus often move too slowly to make best use of opportunities. That is why both types are needed in a business: one seeks to fly, the other makes sure the engine and landing gear are in working order.

Neither type is better than the other. Too many Outside types ignore the need for an Inside Person and they end up crashing. Many Inside types ignore the need for networking and sales (Outside strengths) and doom their businesses to a lingering death.

And no, one person can't do both jobs and still expect the business to grow. These "One Man/Woman Shows" are hyperkinetic, frenzied disasters. It takes two persons, or more, to balance the Outside and Inside matters for proper growth. The rare person who can do both (and these are very rare) must decide which role s/he will perform within the business, and stick to it at all times.

Think of Outside/Inside as Yin/Yang, or Extrovert/Introvert, Sales/Accounting or On-stage/Backstage. No matter how you describe it, one person--the Outside type--is the public face and the other is the "internal power." Success on a grand scale is only possible when both are present.

If you find a strong complement to your type, make the most of it. You will be in a position to discover that 1 + 1 can really be much much more than just 2...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

01 November 2005

Sell Your Ideas Better

Here's some practical advice for entrepreneurs, knowledge workers, managers and anyone interested in making a positive difference.

In "Ten Ways to Sell Your Ideas to Anyone," Adrian Savage provides simple and clear guidelines to help your presentation hit its target. Here We go:

These are the ten most common mistakes presenters make and how to correct them.

1. You didn't take time to define your audience clearly and address them personally.

Don't look at your idea and think: "Everyone's going to be interested in this!" You can't speak to everyone, only someone. And that someone is expecting personal attention.

Your audience has one question in their minds all the time: "What's in this for me?" If you don't answer it obviously, they tune out.

Broadcasting ideas widely wastes time and effort. Since you can't address anyone specifically, your arguments have to be general. This makes your proposition sound weak and unfocused.

Be clear about your audience and aim your pitch solely at them. Anyone else is a bonus.

2. You opened your presentation with the idea itself.

Sure you did. It's brilliant! You just knew everyone would be as excited by it as you are.


Always lead with the clearest, most powerful benefit to that specific group.
Which would you listen to first?

"I'm going to talk to you about some new ideas in presentation technique."

"Here's a simple way to make your audience eager to buy into your ideas."

You must get people to pay attention. Just because they're present doesn't mean they're listening. What grabs them? A sure-fire solution to a problem they know they have. Not an idea they can't see how to use yet.

3. You took too long to get to the point and gave too much detailed explanation.

People's attention span is short, especially if they aren't sure it's even worth paying attention. You either catch them fast or you don't catch them at all.

Don't work up to the key issues. Get to the point. Forget explanations until you have their interest. Once hooked, they'll listen. Until then, they won't.

4. You didn't get all your key points in quickly and people lost interest.

If you wait for the right opportunity to make an important point, your audience will assume you've said all you want and decide on your idea without waiting for more.

List your key points at the start, right after you've caught their attention with big, specific benefits. That way, they know what's coming. Keep referring to the list as you go along, to keep them on track until all the information is in.

Present your points starting with the most important. Begin with the essentials and progress to any which aren't so vital. If people get bored, they'll still have heard the most important points.

5. You were wordy, you didn't sound confident and you went off at tangents.

Brevity indicates authority. Don't waste your audience's attention on anything that isn't essential. If you ramble, how do you think they'll feel about you?

When you read through your draft, keep asking yourself: "Does this absolutely have to be included?" Less is nearly always more. Cut it to the minimum. If people have unanswered questions, give time for them at the end. Lots of questions make a presentation sound important and you can end on a high note, not the typical embarrassed wait for someone--anyone--to ask something.

[The Jenius suggests you create a 10-minute presentation as your "core" pitch. This will help you deal effectively with points 3, 4 and 5, as well as being easier to practice and adapt to shorter or longer requirements.]

6. You didn't stick to a single message.

You'll confuse people if you start adding extra messages to your presentation. You know the outcome, they don't.

Every additional message causes an earlier one to be forgotten.

What do you want the audience to hear? Say it clearly and with confidence...then shut up.

7. You didn't work on building a fan base first.

It's easier to present with fans in the audience to support you. Who wants you to succeed? Brief them in advance and encourage them to come along as supporters. Nothing convinces people as much as seeing others already convinced.

8. You didn't practice enough.

If you're not presentation perfect in practice conditions, performance stress will make you into an idiot.

If you're using technology, assume it's going to break down or mess up. Check it, then check it again. Fumbling with the presentation equipment distracts the audience and destroys credibility.

People who aren't properly prepared easily get anxious and nervous people aren't convincing.

9. You got the timing wrong.

When is your audience ready to listen? Never present until they are.

Don't schedule your presentation when they're bound to have something else on their minds. Don't hold it on Monday morning (they're dreading what they'll find on their desks) or Friday afternoon (what are you planning for the weekend?).

10. You didn't give them time to grasp your idea.

How fast can they take it in? Who else will they want to consult? Catch their attention, explain only what you have to explain, remind them of the big benefits, then sit down and let them think about it.

Never push for a decision unless you're sure it's the one you want. As long as the decision is open, you can make another attempt. Once they've decided, you have to overturn that decision. Most people who have made a decision aren't eager to revisit it.

Follow this advice and next time you'll have an audience that will be right behind you.

Ideas are a dime a thousand. Execution is the real deal, but between idea and execution you need others to buy into the idea. Separate yourself from the wanna-bes and bridge the gap between idea and execution by following these valuable tips.

The Jenius Has Quoted.