Posts filed under ‘Leadership’

The Land Where Unicorns Roam

Two majestic unicorns in an enchanted forest

In a dream, I traveled 20 years into the future and I landed in a piece of the earth where unicorns roam. No, I am not talking about some fairy tale type of land where strange horse-looking animals fly. I am talking about an awe-inspiring place for an entrepreneur where the unicorns are billion dollar companies with innovative technologies that are changing the world.

As the legend goes, it started with one company that was acquired for more than $1 B by a US Fortune 500 company. Everyone thought that it was a fluke. And then there were more (2 to 4 companies having a valuation exceeding $1 B in any given year). When people realized that amongst these unicorns, there were several smaller innovative companies they started to call this land ‘The Silicon Valley of the Caribbean” and some dubbed it “Silicon-H”.

Yes, the place where unicorns roam is none other than Haiti. It’s true none of these unicorns have yet to appear. More than a belief, I know they will come into existence 20 years or less from now. I’ve seen these unicorns in the determination, creativity, persistence and the hunger for success from our millennials. When I look at these young entrepreneurs, I see the founders, CEOS, and CXOs of these future companies.

The question is why would anyone be surprised that Haiti would be a country where unicorns roam. After all, we are a country of entrepreneurs. This is a country where people have to create their own employment by necessity because there is a lack of good paying jobs. My inspiration as an entrepreneur was my mother who told me that she would whip water to turn it into butter to feed me if she had to. Truth be told, while even as a young child I knew there are many times that the poor woman had no clue where our next meal would come from, she always came through. In a flat world, we should encourage and expect that Haitian entrepreneurs would develop goods and services that they will sell to the larger market that is the entire world!

To create the environment for these unicorns to birth, policymakers and other actors must embrace the dream. It is true that we have a high illiteracy rate in Haiti. What’s also true is that we have a high percentage of college educated members of our population for which we need to create good paying jobs or give them the tools to create such jobs. We can have policies and programs in infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture to create jobs for those with less skills AND at the same time have policies and programs that leverage the part of our workforce that is well educated, smart and innovative. The two are not exclusive.

I am encouraged by President Jovenel Moise’s goal to create an incubator center in Haiti. This is a good step. I hope this will not be an isolated policy initiative and instead will be part of a coordinated policy program to seed a tech culture in Haiti.

A key aspect of the approach is to encourage Haitian entrepreneurs to produce for the broader world market. Haitians are also 100% world citizens and can develop solutions to address the needs of their brethren who are outside of Haiti. While we have about 11 million people in Haiti, there are more than 7 billion people elsewhere in the world.

I ask all my fellow entrepreneurs both in Haiti and the Diaspora, policymakers, business leaders, philanthropists to be a cause in the matter: Let the unicorns that are roaming the country materialize sooner rather than later.

June 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm 1 comment

Birdman Movie–What you are Not

birdman-click

The movie Birdman is my absolute favorite for Oscar wins. To me, this is what cinematographic art is about. In a way, it’s a trivial story. However, it’s masterfully put in a script, well directed with great acting to captivate the audience. I like this movie because it makes us think about a topic that is of great interest to me, that is who we really are.

No, the movie doesn’t tell us who we are. Rather it tells us who we are not as in this clip:

Here is what we are not:
• We are not our career
• We are not the businesses we create
• We are not past failures
• We are not past successes
• We are not what we think of ourselves (what we think of ourselves can be affected by ego, what others think of ourselves, past failures or past success)
• We are not what others think of ourselves (Another memorable quote from the movie: “A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing”.)
• We are not our demons (Clearly, the protagonist was a schizophrenic. That doesn’t define him either)

So, who are we?

I believe we are or can be:
• Who we decide to create, free from the burden of the past, our current circumstances, the judgment of others, our disappointments, fears or failure of being inadequate. We can create something on a blank new canvas that we are strongly passionate about. I think human beings are defined by how they live their beliefs, values and attitudes. What are your beliefs, values and attitudes?
• Imagine that you are an instrument part of a huge orchestra called the human race. The instrument maker created you to play a specific role. The music that you play cannot be reproduced by anyone else. Are you playing your role in that cycle of life? In other words, we each have an optimum representing who we are at our best. We should strive to be that.

February 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm Leave a comment

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