Posts tagged ‘haiti’

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

On the Way to Being a Centenarian

A few months ago, I decided to go for the goal of being a centenarian.

It’s one of those things you don’t think about when you’re young. Everyone wants to live long or just assume they will. But how long? Most people would answer as long as possible. Since I believe in applying business principles to my personal life, I’ve decided to go one step further by stating a bold goal and taking the necessary steps to succeed in that goal.

Originally, I had set my goal at 90 years. But then I decided why slack off here? Why not go all the way to 100? So, here it is I am going for the full century.

I have a few good things working in my favor to start. The first is good genes. Both my parents are still alive and in relatively good health. My father is close to 80 and my mother isn’t far behind. Both my maternal grandparents lived past 80 years old. The second statistic working in my favor is that I have never smoked in my life.

However, I have a couple of big obstacles. The first is that when I stated my goal of being a centenarian, I met the definition of being obese—literally (which is a euphemistic way of saying that I was plain fat). Being obese is defined as having a Body Mass Index or BMI over 30. The second obstacle is that I have a lot of stress in my life, but I am working on reducing it by working smarter (more about that in a later post). There is a third obstacle which I believe will be easier than the other two to conquer. That is to increase my social interactions and connectivity. (Running a growing company doesn’t leave you much time to hang out with the guys).

I’d like to talk about my first obstacle to become a centenarian which is being overweight or obese. With the exception of those with certain medical conditions, most people are overweight because of poor nutrition and physical activity behavior. In other words, the reason I was obese was because I wasn’t eating right and I wasn’t spending enough time exercising.

During a talk I attended by an inspirational speaker Joe Dillon, he remarked that you will not find too many 90-year-olds who are overweight. I certainly couldn’t think of one 90-year-old who was overweight. This was probably the start of my quest to engage in better nutrition and physical activity behavior.

So, what am I doing now? For starters, I am watching my calorie intake. I don’t really walk with a calorie counter around me. But I know based on measurement done by a physical trainer that I need about 2,000 calories, and I try not to exceed that intake.

The second thing that I started is to exercise about five days a week for at least 30 minutes. To get me going, I set a goal of running a 5K in 29 minutes by December of this year. Originally, my goal was 25 minutes for the 5K but this would not leave me much time to work on my tennis or golf game. Re-evaluating this goal and adjusting it to realistically meet my desires and expectations was important to helping me succeed.

So, far I am on track. Since setting my goals I have lost about 25 lbs. In terms of exercise, when I started running a 5K, a few months ago I was huffing and puffing to make it close to 35 minutes.  This morning, I finished a run of 3.03 miles in 30 minutes and 28 seconds. With some positive determination and willingness to work, meeting this goal was easy.

Won’t you join me in being a centenarian?

May 31, 2011 at 8:32 am 2 comments

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