Sunday, December 5, 2010

If there is a Wiki leak, what would the Chinese say if there was a Wiki China?

If there is a Wiki leak, what would the Chinese say if there was a Wiki China?
As most people know, secrets from US embassies all over the world were splashed on front pages of world newspapers causing quite a deal of embarrassment to the Obama administration, especially Hillary Clinton.
What if China had a Wiki leaker and we could see what its embassy in the US was reporting about the United States.
The brilliant journalist and author of bestselling books Thomas Friedman recently wrote an article for the New York Times that I found fascinating.
In the article, he wrote a wiki leak report as if it had been sent by the Chinese Embassy in the US.
For example, he said that the Chinese would probably report the fact that the US is a deeply politically polarized country which would certainly be good to help China overtake the US economy, presently the world’s most powerful economy.
He said that the Chinese would probably detect a sense of self destructiveness in the air as if the US had all the time and money to be concerned with petty politics.
He makes the point that people are fighting over how and where an airport security officer can touch a passenger going through a security machine instead of worrying over more serious matters.
The US is fighting over the latest nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia, and with the high stakes involved, I don’t see that as a negative. On the contrary, we need good negotiators to make sure that the deal is a win win otherwise it will not work.
Friedman sees the Republicans as being so interested in weakening President Obama that they are going to scuttle a treaty that could foster closer US Russian cooperation on issues like Iran. I may be wrong, but he should take into consideration that there are a few national security experts saying that as it stands now, the treaty is not a good one for the US.
Friedman makes a good point about the need to fix the structural problems we are facing now: a ballooning deficit, which has tripled under the present administration, declining educational performance, crumbling infrastructure and diminished immigration of new talent.
He makes a very interesting point and that is that Americans don’t travel abroad as much as they should and they are not aware of how fast the rest of the world is advancing.
I have the benefit of having to travel because of my career and having visited Germany, England, Switzerland and Hong Kong recently, I can honestly say that indeed, other countries seem to be taking the current state of world affairs a little more seriously than the average American is.
We have been fighting a war in Afghanistan for the last nine years with no end in sight. It costs us 190 million dollars a day, for goodness sake, to be able to just hold our own in that difficult territory.
We have spent billions in Iraq and there is not too much positive about it except that they got rid of a ruthless dictator. But there are ruthless dictators all over the world, one in particular, only 90 miles from the United States.
What are we to do now in North Korea? The US doesn’t have the capability to wage a third war and the South Koreans are counting on us backing them up if the lunatics running that regime decide to attack them once more.
Friedman says that most of the Republicans just elected to Congress do not believe what our scientists are telling us about manmade climate change. America’s politicians are mainly lawyers, not engineers or scientists as are many of the Chinese government officials, so they say crazy things about science and nobody challenges them.
This is good for the Chinese because it means that they will not support any bill to spur clean energy innovation which is central for the next five year Chinese plan. This means that the Chinese efforts to dominate the wind, solar, nuclear and electric car industries will not be challenged by the US.
I am not so sure about that. If we take a look at the Volt and other American electric cars ready to be unveiled, we can see that the American automobile industry is taking this new wave very seriously.
Friedman’s final point is that record numbers of US high school students are now studying Chinese, which should guarantee China a steady supply of cheap labor that speaks Chinese as they use their 2.3 trillion in reserves to quietly buy up US factories.
He sums it up by saying that things are going well for China in America and the Chinese should be very happy that the world can’t read their diplomatic cables.
Before finishing the article, just a little note about Julian Assange. He is a very interesting individual; in deep trouble now with several law enforcement agencies, but nonetheless an interesting character.
He has disclosed more classified documents than the rest of the world combined. That is no easy thing to do. He uses whistle blowers, state of the art encryption to bounce stuff around the internet so as to hide trails, and pass it around legal jurisdictions such as Sweden and Belgium to enact legal protections. He gets information in the mail, the regular mail, encrypted or not, vet it like a regular news organization, format it, which is in reality very hard to do since they work with giant databases of information, release it to the public and then defend themselves against the inevitable legal and political attacks.
What drives Julian?
As many of my readers know, I have spoken at TED twice and Julian participated in a TED conference in 2010. In his TED interview, he was very candid about his upbringing, having gone to 37 schools during his childhood because of his parents being in business and running away from a cult.
He said that his core value, what drives him to do what he does, is the fact that” capable generous men don’t create victims, they nurture victims”.
I don’t agree with everything he is doing and I think that he himself is creating victims and going against his core values but at the same time, he is a man with passion, doing what he believes is right.

Why most changes fail in an organization

Why most changes fail in an organization
It is well known that a big percentage of all major changes in organizations all over the world, fail. Some say the figure is as high as 70 to 80 percent.
Those are serious statistics.
I have just done a search on for change management and there are 13,366 books addressing the issue.
Change has been a big subject in the world of management for quite some time. Besides all the books written, consulting companies have created change management practices and boutique firms have sprung up just to deal with change.
It is difficult to imagine a manager in any company who has not taken part in some change management training, coaching session or told to read some change management books.
Almost at the end of 2010 it would be natural for you to think that we must be very good at implementing change in organizations.
The fact is we are not. Not in large, medium or small companies, in government departments or even in sports teams.
Why? Why is change so difficult to achieve?
I have worked with many executives and companies throughout my career on how to lead change. And I find that most people know what it takes to plan and implement change in their companies but that knowledge doesn't translate into action.
Something gets in the way of converting all that information or knowledge of change into effective action steps. Jeff Pfeffer, a specialist on change and author of several books coined the term “the knowing-doing gap” to describe the enormous gap between what managers know and what they actually implement on the job.
This my friends, is a very costly gap and things might be getting worse. Most higher level executives you ask say that there is a growing discrepancy between expecting change and being able to create, implement or manage it.
With each failed initiative, cynicism builds making the next try even harder to sell. And each failure means failed opportunities and false beginnings with a lot of time and resources going into trying to manage resistance and indifference something that many organizations can’t afford, especially in a difficult economic environment.
In this article we can review three reasons why change initiatives fail:
1. Managers assume that understanding change and what needs to be done will automatically bring on support and commitment. I get a kick when I interview managers and they tell me that the power point presentation about the change initiative was very good and they are certain that employees understood it.
They don’t understand that people will only make or ask “safe” questions and that all the reservations and fears that they have, will go underground and will be discussed in hallways or in the lunch room.
Failure to make a compelling case for change and to communicate it in an effective way is one of the biggest reasons why the change effort will fail or will be derailed.
2. Miscalculate the tremendous power of employee and management commitment.
Most changes in companies are forced on people. Management and employees are told that things are tough, that the company is losing money or that there are opportunities that must be seized immediately or they will disappear. They are commanded on what to do to meet this challenge, when it will begin, what are the goals and what is expected of them. This of course doesn’t work because the managers and staff weren’t involved in the plans or ideas that need to be implemented. They don’t feel like they are part of the solution. The people that will implement change must be involved from the beginning.
The Gallup organization did a study and found that in average organizations the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.5 to 1. In world class companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft etc. the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is about 8 to 1. Actively disengaged employees, those that don’t row or even row against, grind down an enterprise’s bottom line while sucking away the motivation and positive attitude of employees in the process. This will cost companies billions of dollars in lost productivity. You might one to ask yourself the question: What is the ration of engaged versus disengaged employees in my company?
3. Fail to understand the power of fear.
Fear of change is a personal matter. We all have different personalities and there are people that can accept change and even welcome it and there are others that go through a tough time facing change. People worry that they will lose their jobs or that their careers will be derailed.
This personal fear can defeat the organization’s need to change. When people are afraid, their understanding or ability to absorb information goes down dramatically. In other words, they can’t even hear what we are talking about even if they want to.
If they are not only afraid but also lack trust it gets even worse. It is very clear that if people don’t trust their managers, why will they follow them. The answer is that most won’t.
It is important to understand that with a rapidly changing economy, in fact, with a rapidly changing world companies need to change or they will perish.
If you communicate the change effort in an effective manner, if you clearly explain the need for change, the present circumstances and you involve everyone on the change effort, your chances will increase.
You must understand that it won’t be easy, you must know the personalities of the people involved and you must commit to the change effort one hundred per cent.
Failure to do this will be another setback and the next initiative will be met with even more resistance.

Pursuing your dreams, one applied idea at a time

Pursuing your dreams, one applied idea at a time.
I am sitting in the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica waiting to board my flight to Miami and then on to Los Angeles, finishing the trip in Hong Kong.
I have been invited to speak at the Asia Consciousness Conference, an event sponsored by a university in Hong Kong and also to speak at another conference titled “Reignite”, whose title called my attention from the beginning.
I have never been in Hong Kong so I am really looking forward to it. I don’t know how many people will attend; my fee will depend on attendance, since I get a percentage, plus book sales, but in reality, visiting a foreign city, meeting people and making connections is more valuable than what I can make out of the conference, in the long run. In fact, I had to turn down a speaking engagement in Mexico in order to attend this conference.
This means that in my personality profile, the security need is very low since I am willing to take some risks.
The conference here in Costa Rica took place at the Cariari Hilton and it was a meeting of Human Resources professionals from all over Central America.
I really love speaking to Human Resources people, they are so open, and they are so enthusiastic that it is a pleasure to be involved in their events.
I covered a few principles in my talk but one of the most important ones was the fact that we are all one applied idea away from making it big in whatever field we work in.
I believe knowledge is power but what is really true is that applied knowledge is power because if you know and you don’t do, you don’t know.
You might have a hundred ideas in your life time, or a thousand, but if you do not apply them, if the idea is not followed with action, your idea goes to waste.
I gave them several examples. I told them how flying from San Juan to New York, and reading the book Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman. There was one page, only one page out of three hundred or so pages dedicated to the marshmallow experiment.
Out of that page, I got the idea of writing the book Don’t Eat the Marshmallow Yet which is now a worldwide best seller with over 2 million copies sold.
How many people read the book, went by the marshmallow page and kept on reading?
One single idea, in this case, writing the book and my career went to a new level.
I spoke about Jeff Betzos, a kid raised in Miami, American mother, adopted by a Cuban American, Miguel Betzos who did such a good job raising him that Jeff changes his last name to Betzos.
This guy had a well paying job in Wall Street and he had one idea, one big idea. Start the largest bookstore in the world. He left everything in order to pursue that idea and look at what has happened.
By the way, the first name he chose for his business was Cadabra, Inc and it was not until one day when he got a call from his lawyer and he mis pronounced the name Cadabra for Cadaver that he had the bright thought of changing the company name.
He then named it Amazon, because it starts with A, so it is high up in directories and because the Amazon River is ten times bigger than any other river in the world and he wanted a bookstore ten times bigger than any other bookstore in the world.
His dream became reality after very hard work and perseverance.
How about Ralph Lauren? He had one idea, change his name. His name is now famous all over the world and we all have, well, almost all of us have had a Ralph Lauren product during our lifetime. How much could he have sold with his original name, Ralph Lifshitz? Good for him for realizing that his real last name wasn’t that hot.
How about the policeman in Providence, Rhode Island, a fellow named Tony Lapore, who working as a traffic cop, was so different, so original that he became a celebrity, by just directing traffic and now he is no longer a policeman and has a great career as an entertainer?
There are so many examples.
The point is that you must pursue your dream and you must not allow anyone to destroy it. We are surrounded by piranhas, by negative people who want to pull you down and prevent you from reaching your dream. Sometimes it is on purpose; other times they are well meaning people who simply are very negative.
You must not give permission to anyone to put you down or decide whether you have what it takes it or not.
Guess what? I have to board the plane. So, I am glad that I was able to write over 800 words, so my editors at the Puerto Rico Daily Sun won’t be mad.
Let’s see how Hong Kong goes and I will let you all know about it.

Interesting observations in the fascinating world of sports

Interesting observations in the fascinating world of sports.
This past week was one where three major sports, baseball, basketball and baseball, were all going on at the same time. Yes, I know that there is also soccer, boxing, horse racing, car racing and many others, but those three seem to be the most important ones in our part of the world, although after this last world soccer cup championship in South Africa, soccer is coming on strong.
It is so interesting how experts can be so wrong in the world of sports. Everyone I talked to said that the finals would be between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies, and now we all know that they were eliminated by the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants. Ultimately, the Giants won it all.
My cousin Jorge Posada who plays for the Yankees must be devastated; I have been on the road and haven’t contacted anyone on the Posada side of the family.
Two-hundred twenty-nine (229) players on Opening Day rosters and disabled lists were born outside the 50 United States in the Major Leagues.Overall, 28.0 percent of the 818 players (748 active 25-man roster players and 70 disabled or restricted Major League players) on April 5th rosters were born outside the 50 United States, representing 15 countries and territories. The all-time highs occurred in 2005, when 29.2 percent (242/829) of Opening Day players were foreign-born, and in 2007, when 246 players were born outside the U.S., totaling 29.0 percent of all players. Last season, 239 players from a pool of 855 were foreign-born, also totaling 28.0 percent.The Dominican Republic has produced the most Major Leaguers born outside the U.S. with 81. Venezuela (52) and Puerto Rico (28) have the next highest totals, followed by Mexico (14); Canada and Japan (13 each); Cuba (7); CuraƧao and Panama (4 each); Australia and Korea (3 each); Colombia, Nicaragua and Taiwan (2 each); and the Netherlands (1).
Why then there is not one single player from Haiti, which shares half the island with the Dominican Republic or from Brazil which shares a border with Venezuela and has over 190 million inhabitants? In 161 years, no player has ever come from Brazil or Haiti. Why?
The answer lies in the history of baseball in these countries, not in their racial composition, inborn traits, economic position or climatic factors.
Baseball was introduced in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela in the late 19th century; it became very popular in both places and soon came to be regarded as both countries national sport, even though in most other countries in Central and South America, soccer is the number one sport.
Cuba in the 1950’s before Castro came to power and ruined the country, the majority of foreign players were Cuban and because of the proximity between the US and Cuba (only 90 miles) baseball was also the national sport. Today, there are only 7 and most of them escaped Cuba in order to play.
In the Dominican Republic and in Venezuela, Major League Baseball has opened academies due to the fact that there is a loophole that allows foreign players to be imported for less money than drafting domestic ones. At present, every Major League team funds an academy and summer league in the Dominican Republic and as of now, before President Chavez follows the Cuban model and stops it, Venezuela has 19 developmental facilities in Venezuela. Because of crime, violence and political turmoil, only 9 are still active.
Football is also a very interesting sport.
I used to follow the Miami Dolphins from Puerto Rico and years ago they had a punter named Reggie Roby. He was one of the best punters to ever wear a football uniform, doing it so efficiently that he turned a defensive play into an offensive weapon. Unfortunately Reggie passed away about 4 years ago and he is remembered as a great punter but also as an anomaly in the sport. He was an African American.
In all of NFL history, only five non white men have punted in regular season games. In that 62 year period, there have been 287 NFL punters and yet not one Asian, not one Latino or Hispanic and only five blacks.
How do we account for that serious under representation, when the fact is that more than two thirds of the NFL players are African American?
Why haven’t more African American players taken advantage of their physical strength to punt a ball farther than any white man?
No one is making the case that white people have an anatomical age in punting a freaking football. No one says that Black men can’t kick. Not one single person has said that because there are more poor Black people, Whites have taken over punting and that minorities have no access to football fields, good coaching and enough time to practice.
The other responses we might hear, and they are not true at all, are mainly generic: genetic advantage, economic need, discrimination, lack of access to facilities, lack of role models, geography, politics or whatever.
I have a cousin in Orlando that is a great pole vaulter. She is a candidate to win the Florida championship next year when she becomes a junior in High School. There are no African American vaulters in her school. When we look at the men’s side, we can see that there practically no African American pole vaulters either, yet they dominate the hurdles.
Twenty nine of the top 50 male 110 meter hurdlers of all time are American Blacks, yet only one of the top 50 pole vaulters, a guy named Lawrence Johnson, belongs to this ethnic group.
What explains such a disparity?
How come Russian women dominate the 20k walking race (having the top 11 and 26 of the top 50) and they almost disappear from the half marathon, having only one athlete in the top 50.
Why do East African (Kenyan, Ethiopian, Tanzanian) women dominate the half marathon (26 of top 50) but in the 20k walking race there are none in the top 100?
Why aren’t Russian women running or East African women capturing medals in walking events?
Why do African Americans dominate football, basketball (over 75% of NBA players are black) and track but barely show up in bowling, gymnastics, table tennis, race walking, volleyball, wrestling, X games, youth soccer, the pole vault, the high jump, the triple jump, punting, place kicking, pitching and catching. (Three percent of MLB pitchers are African American. Right now, I don’t think there is even one black catcher in the Major leagues)
Now look at this: India and Pakistan have been extraordinary achievers in field hockey. At all six Olympics, according to sports writer Steven Sniderman, India won gold medals in field hockey, winning 24 matches without a defeat. After Pakistan and India were split, one country or the other won the gold in five of the next seven Olympics. Yet, these two huge countries, with over 1.3 billion people between them, have won only one other gold medal (shooting 2008) in the entire history of the Olympics.
The only other medal these countries have won in a sport which requires running is tennis, in which Leander Paes won a bronze in 1996; (I was there), long after India’s field hockey dominance had dried up.
How can South Asians so thoroughly dominate one sport that requires speed, stamina, teamwork and strategy, and be so inept at every other sport that recompenses these qualities?
There are so many more examples, too numerous to cover in one single article.
I think the answer to these questions lie in culture, on the willingness to practice a given sport and dedicate the thousands of hours that are needed to succeed in any sport.
The jury is still out, I do hope that someone especially in the sports world, leads the effort to study why these differences in the world of sport. I would love to see the results.