Road MX 2012

It’s been said several times that Guadalajara is the Mexican Silicon Valley. During the mid 90’s this was just starting out to be a catch-phrase for foreign investment in the city. It was nicknamed so because large companies like IBM and HP had settled here instead of Mexico City. Still the phrase “Mexican Silicon Valley” was something that was out of reach for the majority of the people living in the city. It was just reserved for people working at any one of these large companies.

However, thanks to technology and of course fast pace investment, this phrase is now a reality to many people, reachable for anyone with an interest in the field. It is now also called the Start Up culture. Of course, the international mecca of start ups resides and will reside for time to come in Silicon Valley itself, in California. The whole of the Bay area is to thank for this lifestyle. Yes, I call it lifestyle because not only does it affect the work place, but your whole life in a very positive way.

Today, the Start up culture is on the rise in this city. So much so, that many more start ups based in California are setting up shop here. Even better, many of the start ups created here are setting shop in California! It’s a two way process. For example, OVIA [now Wowzer] was co founded by a group of former students from ITESO who started their HR company here and then established their commercial office in Mountain View, California.

These developments have created a community of Start up junkies here in the city. Which is why “Start ups on the Road MX” was created. It has had more and more visitors and participants thanks overtime. This year, it was held at the Hilton Hotel. Created by a non profit community called Suma Valley, the event had several important speakers like Bismarck Lepe from Ooyala, Gris Cuevas from Linked in and Rodrigo Martínez from Wowzer itself.

Community Management Done Right - by Gris Cuevas
Community Management Done Right – by Gris Cuevas

Gris Cuevas’ presentation in particular was of special interest to me. She spoke about the importance of every entrepreneur and business to be aware of their community and to tend to it. Thus, Community Management isn’t just about posting on Facebook and Twitter. It’s about so much more than that. [Ask me about her PDF presentation]

Interesting talks by interesting people in a very very interesting community. Good thing the Start up culture is on the rise.

The Economic Machine Finally Flourishing

After entire eras of being blocked from the world with internal ideologies and economic systems, China started the greatest economic growth ever recorded in history. It wasn’t long ago when foreigners turned to look at the Red Dragon for business opportunities. Entire Western educational systems have been shaped around this focus. As more and more foreigners visited the country and many of them decided to call China “home”, there was a clear product consumption difference between locals and foreigners.

While foreigners looked for products that reminded them of home or were internationally trusted labels, locals remained with their traditions and seldom did they choose something else in lieu of. I myself witnessed such a consumer behavior. Even at restaurants, bars or night clubs; the places were full of foreigners and few Chinese citizens to be seen in those places. Perhaps it was I who unknowingly chose those places?

Well it turns out that after four years, my then-roommate went back for another visit to the Red Dragon. This curious division was at last forgotten about. Foreigners started consuming more and more local products, and locals were consuming more international brands in more public places. What made them change?

Although many can speculate the possible reason, perhaps it must have something to do with information consumption and locals’ economic growth. The more you get to know a product and inform yourself about it, the more likely you are to consume it. More importantly, if you have the purchasing power to feed on that curiosity, then the sky is the limit.

So the long standing and rapidly developing economic plans in China have been doing terrific good to its people. So much so, that not only is local consumption being more internationalized, but locals are spending their holidays in other countries. In fact, this 2012 is a marked trend that all major touristic places around the world will be receiving a large flock of Chinese tourism.

Despite the controversial website blockage in China, plenty of Internet development is still occurring. They might not approve of the Internet giants like Facebook, Twitter or Google, but it doesn’t mean they came up with their own versions of these services.

Other than individuals’ economic growth and local IT, what will China do next then? Where will their machine-like economic plan take them?

Team Work: On and Off Site

Henry Ford’s individualist and task based model has been long left in the past. Today, team work is the way the modern business world goes round. Countless books have been written about working styles and interaction within a professional team in the workspace. But leaving text aside, how do you know when a team really works as such?

Many would answer by saying that if results are met, then absolutely, the team is functional. Others would prefer the good relationships coexisting within a group. Now, if both can be met, then jackpot! You’ve got a Golden Team.

But how do you personally know when your team is working? Well here go my two cents: I feel at my best when not only is my team working out nicely in the workspace, but off site as well.

That is why recreational activities outside the office, involving team members, are so important. If you can have a few laughs, share stories and generally be easy going as human beings first, then you can work much easier on site.

So far, so good. So yes, even though this may feel like a sequel to the previous article in this blog “A Working Culture Apart“, it was still important enough for me to mention. Wouldn’t you perform better knowing that on the other side of that computer or the person next to you is just as human as you are?

A Working Culture Apart

Working cultures around the world are very different from one another, but the most common one is to have a fixed weekly schedule, (normally 9am-5pm) with a lunch break. Sitting down in front of a computer, with no access to other sites other than the ones permitted by the company.

It’s been said a thousand times over that this not only inherently cripples employees’ creativity, but their very willingness to work as well. In a much more creative environment, not only do people feel comfortable in doing their job, but it is a cradle for new ideas.

When an employee receives other perks than just their pay check, worries go down and they focus on what’s important: goals being met. How great is it to not worry about going out to have lunch in near by fast food restaurants or cook something up to bring to work in a duffel bag?

How great it is that you can actually work out your worries in an integrated gym? All that food lying around in workplaces that feast their employees away every lunch time needs a separate part to bring all those calories down.

The old school of thought may think this not only expensive but unnecessary, but take a look at the tech industries, mostly based in Silicon Valley. It’s the fastest growing industry on record and most of them have these perks and so much more. Now, not only can this industry profit from these practices. When well adapted, it can be used in any line of work.

Can you imagine bankers playing ping pong as they talk of their latest merger? It’s no different than a good old tennis match or Golf game. Why not having in the office and save time?


Frenemies: Finance & Marketing

How do you solve the age old intracorporate fight between departments? Marketing departments build up a circus to call or preserve clients and Finance just wants numbers. A marketer would say they’re holding back, a financier would say they’re overestimating customers. But who’s to say who is right?

Fact of the matter is both departments are right. That is precisely why there must be common grounds between them. When a campaign design is built and handed over to Finance, numbers are key: customer future and present value, customer volume, stats on how readable and interesting content is, visits, etc.

How can Finance be agreeable? Perhaps if it built up a guide as to which objectives are the most important. And to be fair, just open up their minds a little bit to new technologies and proposals.  Easier said than done right?