I share my thoughts on business here
Some of the older posts:
Keep Yourself Lean
I believe there is a big difference between being focused and concentrating. You need concentration to write a paper, to prepare a report, to design a front page. You need to be focused to keep moving in the right direction independently of what you do in each particular moment. You walk to reach a particular lighthouse that you know exists, because it is marked on the map, even if you do not see it from where you are now. And if you do not find the lighthouse when you reach the marked point, you build one there, because you believe one should be there. This is focus. Along your walk you take time to rest, to appreciate the view, to enjoy the fresh air, to look for lodging and food, to talk and sing, and so on. This is concentration.
These two concepts are not necessarily related. Even more, from my experience I have observed that the majority of people are good at concentrating on a particular task but have no focus for the end result. Many of them do not realize that there is an end result and those who do realize it, sometimes lack the faith needed to undertake the effort. This results in low productivity in companies and general loss of direction: wandering from one desk to another looking for something to concentrate on.
Focus is an inertia that takes necessary information from all your daily activities and provokes you to think better, move faster and create beauty within the usability of a product. Do not get me wrong; I am not advocating 80-hour workweeks. On the contrary, I spend fewer hours at my laptop than majority of managers or office employees. I travel, I take fulltime care of my two kids, I do all those things other moms do that are necessary to run a house. And also I give a lot of myself to be part of this tightly knitted human race. Because I like it. And because it gives me strength to keep focused on my work. And because I have faith in what I do and in what people around me do.
However, there are a lot of unnecessary and non-productive activities such as shopping, watching TV, empty entertainment, “how is the weather?” conversations and ‘not doing anything in particular’ kind of things that consume a lot of our energy and time without adding to productivity. In some moments of our lives even reading fiction can become a passive and noncreative activity. Keep yourself lean. Once you start cutting this unnecessary fat from your life you become more focused on what you ultimately want to do and who you ultimately want to be. Nobody can make you be focused. It is something that comes from within and only you are in charge of seeing it, following it and sticking to it.
Barcelona, July 30th 2012
On Saturday morning I stopped at a local bookstore looking for a new book to read. I went through all the fiction books that the store had and held two volumes longer than others. One was called “Un viaje de diez metros” (The Hundred-Foot Journey: A Novel by Richard C. Morais) and I can’t remember the title of the other one, but it was a new release by a Spanish author and it looked good. I flipped through the pages of the books, read the reviews, admired the writing style and ended not buying them. I would not have read them. Out of the last 3 books I bought in the past months I only read one, started the other, and have not touched the third.
Nope. I have not lost the interest in reading. I always loved the process, the engagement and the pace of a good book; The non-intrusive smell of it’s freshly pressed pages, the way it’s words touch your skin, and how the same words sometimes slide like a thin needle one inch under your heart making it stumble and pause and fall in love. A book still holds all that for me.
However, in the last year my mind and self became really focused on what I am doing: creating a business and working towards a particular set of goals. I am like a traveller who is on a road and can only carry in his backpack whatever is relevant to the mission. Everything else feels like unnecessary baggage. Without pressuring or highlighting it, I became focused across my life on what I do. I stopped spending Saturdays on shopping and “just relaxing” (relaxing feels like losing my time), I stopped going to the movies (not owing a TV for the past 15 years, TV is out of question), I get impatient if our lunch or dinner lasts more than 30 minutes, my phone conversations are hunted by my 2 minutes and 43 second patience limit. My mind selects information and activities that I need to be productive in what I do. It is reading relevant books and articles I am interested in, it is talking to the insightful people in the industry, it is thinking, designing, creating something from nothing. It is a constant process of learning and creating a need to learn more, to perform better, to see further.
I believe that you do not need a clan of designers to create a good product. You do not need a whole department to implement a groundbreaking change. You do not need twenty people to come up with an amazing solution. You just need one person who is focused. And by focused I mean focused across all their life functions, not only at work or in a particular area. Focusing in one particular area is concentrating. Concentration is good for polishing details. Focus is essential to move forward, to grow, to create and to perform. Focus is akin to passion.
I must add that I have made a lot of people unhappy by withdrawing myself from my usual social behavior niche. And I understand why they are unhappy and respect their feelings. I do not expect them to sympathize with focused living. It is who I am. And I do not want to be anything else but that. I strongly believe in the benefit of what we create. And that the success of the enterprise we are in will ultimately result in the success of others.
And then, later on, may be in ten or twenty years from now, when a big chunk of the road will be behind and still miles of it ahead, I will sit at some café by the road, observe people around me, drink a cup of good coffee and read all these three hundred and something fiction books I want to read.
Barcelona, July 29th, 2012