Friday, December 19, 2008

It's all about bouncing

I couldn't a better message to end this year's wealth drop. It's all about bouncing back... as per Rob McBride's interview. The world's economices rose and fell in 2008: China as a screaming giant showing off a magnificent Olympic Games, India no longer in back office, the US refusing to admit trouble, Latin America and Africa tired and half asleep, Europe as a mature adult worried about the long term future, and Asia showing off Chindia.

Something happened in the last couple of months and now, we just want to get over the holiday period and start a new year.

I think it's time to slow down, reconsider what is important. Take the opportunity to spend TIME doing what we LOVE and being with those who make us feel FANTASTIC... Robt thinks it is a great time to bounce back. I was puzzled and here is what we talked about. If you like more interviews, add a comment or send us a line.

Rob is an entrepreneur who lives in Venezuela and works in 3 languages: English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Rob, what is your business about?
We provide tools for people to manage challenging situations to achieve personal and professional excellence.

How did you come up with the idea of the company?
After a sharp downturn in my last "work." It was December 13, 2001. I was in Rio de Janeiro. I realized that life is like a ball. Sometimes we are up and sometimes down. The most important thing is not where we are at a particular time but our ability to bounce at least once more ...

What has been your greatest success?
Seeing the birth of my two daughters. I realized how amazing life is!

What has been your greatest failure?
The first "great" event as a speaker. It was with more than 100 people in a half-day workshop in the Naiguatá Hall at Hotel Tamanaco -one of the top Venezuelan Hotels- with financial advisors. It was just what I dreamed about, with a group of people who did what I did, and the topic that fascinated me most: Change. I underpreformed, and did not achieve my goals, it was clear that I had not reached their expectations. Fortunately, it was also one of the best lessons I have learned and the reason why I am so good at what I do today.

What message would you give to someone who wants to be an entrepreneur?
Follow a burning desire, your idea, developed the first step of what you feel you have to do and then throw yourself into it, with the confidence that you can make adjustments in the process if necessary ...

Thanks Rob... definitely thinking about bouncing gives a different perspective to failing.


As you can see the future is built on the road, acting, not only thinking ... If you are affected by the financial crisis, thinking that successes and failures are part of life helps. I love Rob's message, because it gives a very refreshing vision of how to handle the possibility of a failure. He says that you can use the same energy when you are going down to bounce right back up.

you can check his site at

On behalf of the team Ventures Latinas and Alicia Castillo Wealthing Group, we send them our best wishes for the holiday season... Peace, joy, warmth... and get ready because one thing is for sure: 2009 will not be a boring year!

All the best,

Alicia Castillo Holley

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Global Crisis, Local Solutions

I hope we are getting OFF the conversations on global crisis. Media fails to give us news to take action. We can feel sad, but can’t connect our actions to a solution. We are ‘informed’ on those things where we feel we have no control. Sit, shut, listen, fear. Wow!

This wealth drop is precisely about shifting from the seats onto the stage. Sharing negative news distracts us from our real worries, and keeps us on our chairs, watching the global crisis. Watching. I want to be ‘informed’ but please let’s talk about solutions. No, the financial crisis has not “affected” me. I’ve been there before. Most of us have. The crisis is outside of me, not inside. When we approach it that way, we can take actions that lead to success. We are all part of the solution. Think about that.

I’m old enough to have lived through several crisis. It is NOT true that this is the largest financial crisis ever; of course it makes a great heading, but put it into perspective. World’s population is largest than ever… Same is true an hour, a day or a week later. Duh!

Crisis keeps us agile. It is like the old joke of the millionaire that offers all his wealth to the person who dares to swim in his crocodile infested pool. Suddenly there is a turmoil and a bruised and blodied man emerges on the other side. Congratulated by everyone he claims: I don’t want the money, just to find who pushed me in!

Without that push it would be much harder to think outside of the box. And always after a crisis there is a time of stability so we can get the energy to reinvent our businesses and our lives. The crisis is NOT the problem, we are the problem.

So, here are my tips for de-crisising:

1.Simplify. Check your life plan and your business plan. Define what is critical and important, get rid of the rest. Crisis are great for trimming!
Clean: In times of scarcity others might need what you don’t. Don’t throw, donate what you don’t need. Find a way to recycle.
Rest: There is no use in stressing. Adapt to the smaller cash available. The world is not going to end if you have fewer revenues. Do consider your cash flow if you have a business, so you can stay afloat, yet don’t welcome the crisis inside. Take time off, give people time off.

2.Rationalize. Focus on what is MOST important: your best clients, your best employees, your best friends, your best products or services.
Become more efficient: Don’t cut costs at random. Evaluate the return on your resources: time and money. For example, don’t lay off people or write off products, without thinking about the impact in the clients.
Keep relationships: Support others. We are all interconnected. Many people are stressed or scared. Exploring ways to support others shifts your mindset from victim to heroe, and it is always easier to help other people first. Helping others puts your own worries into context and strengthens your leadership skills.

3. Grow. Take the time to explore new things, learn, be curious. Prepare for the next wave of stability and growth. Think strategically. Learn to do the same with less. It is crazy to expect that doing more you will achieve more. The world is going into hibernation, why waste your energy?
Develop new skills: Take a class, form a group with friends, employees, or peers. Use your spare time to learn something just because.
Create: Enjoy the process of self-expression. Create for the pure pleasure to do it.
Explore: Foster your capacity to think differently by facing uncertain territories. Exploring distracts your mind from the problem, and forces you to find solutions.
Plan: Discuss how the measures you take today will impact your future.

And finally, celebrate life. At the end, everything is fine, if it is not fine, it’s not the end.

The global crisis needs local solutions. You are part of either side…. Or both… You chose.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Global Entrepreneurship Week

It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week and all over the world, people are moving their minds, hearts, and pockets to find a common goal: create wealth.

I learned about entrepreneurship and creating wealth at Babson College. Its founder, Roger Babson, wanted to create a distinctive way of thinking and acting that would lead to what Jeffry Timmons later called “the Silent Revolution.” I had the privilege of graduating from Babson’s MBA class and meeting and discussing many ideas with Jeff, whose legacy expands beyond his life. I would like to dedicate this wealth drop to Roger and Jeff.

The concept of creating wealth is fantastic because there is no way to create prosperity without sharing it. Thus, governments are quite keen on exploring this topic, and along with them investors, yes, even in today’s financial situation!. The Global Entrepreneurship Week represents an amazing international effort, led by large corporations who see a bright future ahead, and supported with enthusiasm around the globe. What a refreshing thought, so different from the distressing news about the financial markets and the crisis!

I’ve always seen my future bright and interesting, although sometimes I have seen it through a dark tunnel that I know I have to walk. Ouch!

It has always paid off. I just realized that I don’t deal with depressed people because entrepreneurs and inventors create. They are too busy discovering ways of doing things to worry about dramas or to feel victims of other’s actions. In most cases, it turns out in a different way than we plan or expected, but the use of our energy to create positive worries is much healthier than to share misery and to feel that we are like seaweed in the ocean, at the mercy of the tide. No way!

As most of my work involves Global Entrepreneurship, I want to share with you the four critical success factors of Born Global Firms:

1. Global Vision: It’s all about the people who create the vision.
People involved in the Strategic Intent of the Firm have a pre-conceived notion of globalization. They know it is possible because they’ve done it.
Experience, Knowledge, Connections are firmly rooted in the managers or founder’s previous global experiences.
As simple as: I’ve seen that before or I’ve done that before!

2. Global appeal: Offerings cross over cultural barriers.
Global Firms make no adaptation to their offerings: Products, services, marketing, etc
They have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that appeals to consumers regardless of culture and location.
BONUS! Having the same offering provides a systematic approach that minimizes mistakes, improves efficiencies, and provides clear message.

3. Global reach: Reach customers rapidly, effectively and at low cost.
They collaborate in local markets.
They compete in global markets.
Change of mindset from smaller economies: more is less (100% of 10 is 10), less is more (10% of 1000 is 100). Everybody wins.

4. Global Implementation: Find ideal partners. It requires a mindset to collaborate and think about your best fit.
- What do you need
- What do you require
- What is your negotiating range and what are the deal breakers?
- What is the (aligned) reward system
- How to take the dip and cut loses
- How to establish elegant ways out
Don’t depend on legal frameworks, the best contract is never reinforced. What ifs…

I could not think of better times to go global. With suppliers and part time employees and clients in almost all continents, we have system that works smoothly around the globe. There are very few barriers to global entrepreneurship, if you are reading this, you have none.

Enjoy the celebration,


Thursday, November 6, 2008

It's all about sharing

Last month I had the opportunity to visit Bali for the first time. Besides the fascination with the lush vegetation and the vast amounts of offerings, I was delighted to meet a very special person, and through her, a hidden are in the island. She runs an organization that supports children in various forms “I’m an angel” ( Viebeke, the founder and major organizer, explained their philosophy: “we don’t give, we share.” I found it especially appealing as I don’t believe in the traditional form of charity. When I give, I received. It’s never about money, it’s always about value. Simple as that.

Sharing is a natural part of human kind, we share the wealth we create, and likewise we share poverty; we share happiness, and we equally share dramas. We share more worries than anything else. In these days of financial crisis, everyone is worried, yet, every crisis opens doors to opportunities, and few people are talking about that, much less taking action. Because I’ve lost a ton of money, I have slowed down and enjoyed life more. You can do the same, it is a healthier alternative than worrying. For example, now that the holidays are approaching, you can make a gift; I mean, make it, instead of buy it… and by the way, studies have shown that the best gifts, the ones that stay with us longer in memory, are shared moments. I actually remember more the time spent cooking than the presents we opened.

Sharing forces us to take action. I love the term. When we share we imply that we are useful to others, in a way that is more horizontal than vertical. We are not the giver, we are the sharer… and our counterpart is not the receiver but the other part of the sharer. I had the opportunity to experience it when I visited the North East coast of Bali, an area that has been greatly affected by drought. Amongst other things, “I’m an angel” has a program that provides protein twice a week to school children, one egg and one glass of milk, costing cents... A tiny effort with a huge impact on their health. In one day, we touched 506 young children in a joyful celebration: we were sharing. The cost was less than US$130 dollars. How could I not share?

I am glad I made the decision to get out and do something different, instead of worrying. My friend Sylma hosted a prelaunch conversation of the book "Falling in love with your life", and I decided to donate the launching profits to “I’m an angel.”

When you think about sharing, you can act differently. You share your time with your employer, your employer shares the wealth you all create with clients, employees, suppliers, investors, and the list goes on and on… it is refreshing.

Sharing is also a great way to rethink investment opportunities. Several days ago, I was on a Venture Capital panel. The entrepreneurs were concerned about the financial crisis: yes, fewer deals get funding, but Venture Capital Funds need great deals, the money needs to be invested, but invested wisely. At the end, we all benefit when great deals get funded and when lousy deals don’t get funded. We share the wealth we create.

Maybe I am being too naïve to think that we all share for the best. The financial crisis was also part of our sharing: our need to maximize profits, or, to some extent, our greed.

So, what are you sharing?


Oh... bummer

Political parties aside, the world saw a great come back in history with the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the US. I did not vote on the American elections but I would have voted for either him or Hilary. It was time for unconventional wisdom. As a Hispanic woman having lived in the US three times, it is so refreshing to see the many colors of the American dream. Actually, nowadays, there are no geographic boundaries to dreams.

I find gender or discrimination issues boring. Only a person who has feel discriminated against can understand what it means. I was lucky to grow in a place where I felt who I was was more important that my circumstances over which I had no control. Thus, when I connect with a person, I am more interested in the essence than the race, age, gender, religion, political affiliation, nationality, sexual orientation... and I think most people are the same way or want to be that way. As I age and notice discrimination around me (or towards me), I have an increase admiration for people who stand up and shake it off. That is the beauty of Obama's triumph...

Last year, my daughter became a foster mother to four biracial children. In Venezuela, my home country, we say we are all coffee and milk... some people have more coffee, others have more milk. I noticed then with great sadness the ill effect of discrimination in these cappuccino children's self esteem. I can only imagine what Desire is thinking now, when being black is not an excuse... I am happy for these children, as I am happy for the milky ones that will grow in a world where we embrace diversity.

I am happy to be living a time where dreams come true... and I wanted to share this with you, wherever you are...

Across the globe, inspiration flows.... It was a triumph of the American people, simply because people moved to the center stage and took action... as Obama said on his election speech: "I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you."

and it is a reminder that yes, even when the economy is a mess, there is something we can do about it.

Now, the real work begins ... the attitude and the empowerment is there... it is time to go beyond the cappuccino to see the real stuff ... In the mean time, I'll celebrate the dream with immense joy... Oh bummer...

here is to your dreams,


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We are the miracles

It all started to make sense when I was reorganizing our bookshelves, and a book fell in my hands. I took a glimpse at the first page, where the author claims that nothing happens by coincidence.

So it all started to click … the falling star in the Kimberly, where there was absolutely no lights as we were driving late at night through the empty roads because of a late plane… my thoughts on the financial crisis, whilst I was editing once more a chapter on the power of groups which I had renamed earlier the cycle of order and chaos… a friend in Bali and the anniversary of the Bali bombings… the social entrepreneurship business plan competition… my friend’s Maureen who is a walking miracle… and the launch of my book: falling in love with your life.

I had forgotten about the falling star… as I forget about so many things, living under the influence of information overload. Then Chopra brought it back with a simple sentence about miracles and falling starts. Each night, many stars fall, but we are not looking at them. It is as if they require an spectator to come to existence. Same happens with miracles. They happen all the time, yet we are not aware of them.

And I started connecting other dots, based on conversations and reflections lost in the back of my memories, and so diverse: About language onthology in a café in Chile, problem solving in Houston, mind mapping on a flight over the Pacific, cultural differences in Venezuela and making a difference with Ashoka. I also remembered an interview to Tony Melendez, a singer-writer without arms. When he was asked if he believed in miracles, he responded: You see those hands people raise? I see a hand, and I see a miracle.

You see… writing about what it takes to fall in love with our lives has made me a better person. It was written as a way to help my kids go through hard times, specially moving so often being teenagers, then it went to a friend, then another, then my relatives, then some customers until there was a woman in Iran, who manages a girls’s school and asked: why don’t you write a book about it? It seems that yes, we can all connect the dots that brought us here. We take the dots and make the roads… and we do it together. Considering all that others have created and shared with us so we can connect, I can’t but see it as a miracle.

I am constantly pushing people’s envelops: Be the reality you want, be the driving force, stand out of the crowd, be ready to be discovered and enjoy your contribution, be the learning, the world needs you, and needs you to be your best. We all need more prosperity, new ideas, new wealth, and passion. This thing about the financial crisis? Yes I’ve lost a lot who hasn’t? but as far as I am concern we didn’t have them to begin with. We all created them… Let’s be part of the solution, not the problem.

We need more people to believe in the role they play. I am not my funds, my family, my profession, I am the feelings I enact in others. We both need each other to exist. Like the falling stars. We can chose to be part of the crisis, to send panicking information, to be the disaster… yet, we can be the solution, the determination and the resurrection (ok, help me here ‘cause I can’t find another more ‘culturally’ appropriate word, you get the idea).

My great breakthrough with the book, however, was not that miracles need us to exist, but the realization that they need us to create them… Thanks Mauren, for making me realize that.

We are the miracles…
we are…


the book?

Friday, October 3, 2008

The three pilars of entrepreneurship

I took a trip to Halls Creek, a small town in a remote location. My idea was to fund a business plan competition at the local high school to promote entrepreneurship. By the way, this picture was taken by an 8 yrs old girl who was wandering around with friends.

I came back thinking that I will make it a priority to get involved as the foundations for "life" there is much different and there is a lot of work to do to establish a basic structure... mmmm like there is no bank.

Despite everybody's pessimism I was determined to find the local entrepreneurs… Once we got into it, they started popping up like stars on a clear sky. I had the fortune of meeting amazing people and sharing our experiences in social entrepreneurship around the world.

Coming back I reflected on what makes an entrepreneur special and wanted to share my thoughts with you. A lot has been studied about entrepreneur’s way of thinking, but I think we are yet to find some commonalities. I hope these three pillars shed some light into the mystery.

Entrepreneurship is NOT about learning but about developing skills in three key areas, I’ve called them the three pillars of entrepreneurship: self-expression, self-determination, and self-accountability.

Self – expression nurtures our sense of contribution and importance. Entrepreneurs feel that they have something to offer to the world, and they need to find a way to express it, to share it with others. Not so much because they need feedback but more because they believe it is useful. That feeling provides a sense of self esteem that feeds onto the second pillar.

Self-determination allows us to believe that we can manage our destiny. That it is through our choices, successes and failures that we create the life we live in. It makes the switch from victim to hero, and feeds into the third pillar.

Self-accountability gives us courage to accept that we are not perfect but that, regardless of any circumstances, we still chose. It helps us nurture our wisdom. When we accept accountability, we can transform the world. We switch from being part of the problem to being part of the solution.

Whatever we do either in our home, with our family, friends, coworkers or our extended community, we will always win if we support these skills. Nowadays when many people are concern about the crisis, I think knowing about these pillars can come handy to all of us. Because every single one of us can do something about it.

here is to your success,

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Surprise me

A surprise provokes fascinating emotions. This wealth drop is dedicated to those who find ways to add a spark to our lives by doing the unexpected. By the way, thanks Carlos for the postcard from South Africa. Quite a surprise!

It was Lynda Dorrington, CEO of Form, an Australian Organization, who inspired me to develop the theme. Ever since I came to Perth, Lynda has relentlessly foster a discussion to make the city more vibrant. She has pushed the envelope bringing experts from overseas and has engaged top notch research to understand what it takes to transform Perth into the Creative Capital of the world.

So, where is Perth? It claims to be the most isolated city in the world, yet I’ve been to other isolated places. It is one of the most beautiful and cleanest cities I’ve ever seen; with lakes, parks, soft hills, the bluest sky you can only imagine, a fresh smell of Eucalyptus and plenty of birds and bike ways. It is the only city that I know where you can literally go for swim from downtown, or fish and actually eat what you catch, right there on the steps of the city centre. There is a certain ‘nostalgie’ of the past, with plenty of houses keeping the traditional tuckpointed walls and tile roofs.

Lynda seeks more participation to her discussion, yet being a global citizen myself, I don’t think we should limit the conversation to our residents. What creates a vibrant city? I like a city that has surprises… but I generally like surprises, it keeps us alert and alive. When was the last time you surprised someone?

Well, I’m just about to try to do so. Just read on…

I don’t know what creates a vibrant city but having been to 13 airports in the last 3 months across four continents I can tell you that the world is becoming boring, or well, how can I say it? Predictable! Q’l horror as the Swiss would say.
Yeah… we like predictability so we can feel secure and plan accordingly, then something kicks in. An external change or the need for chaos. Yes, I know, I’ve also been hit by the financial crisis… even so, we can only take so much predictability, it kills our creativity and innovation.

So, we need to revert to something unusual. I like a city where I can be surprised, just like I like surprises. When you send me a note it is fantastic. I don’t expect it, and I love it, whether it is a positive or a negative comment.

Surprises keep us agile and alert. Companies that surprise us capture a space in our minds. They raise above the rest, they treat us in unusual ways, either as customers, employees, suppliers or as part of their community. We need to add more of that. Both on our businesses and at our personal level.

When was the last time you surprised someone? When did you develop a product or a service that would surprise your customers?

Well, I am just about to release two books and a DVD… on three completely different topics I’ve been working on for years: the 10 unwealthy habits, Falling in love with your life, and How to fund your million dollar idea. Now, if you want to get a deal on any of them, preorder now at $10 each, pls postage, on any number or combinations you might want to add. Just drop us a note and we’ll keep you on file and send you a paypal request when it is ready to ship.

I would love to surprise you even more running a contest… and here is the thing, next week I’m going to a place called Halls Creek, to explore ways that we can transform the lives of some of these kids… and we are going to need A LOT of help. I want to find a way to convince them to switch from living from well fare to paying taxes.

What can I do to surprise these kids, so used to arrogant white fellows telling them what to do?

Bring that on!


PD: whether you are in the part of the world that is living on crisis or not, give someone a surprise.. and if you want to surprise Lynda at leave them a note on what makes a city creative? There is an interactive button on the site.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Chinese Story

Beijing was celebrating because of the Olympic Games; the energy was fascinating. I walked along the CEO of a major Chinese firm towards the Bird Nest. We were excited about watching the 100 men meter race. His English was impeccable. As we passed along a small lake, 4 or 5 ducks frolicked. He stopped and smiled. Then turned around and told me: Ducks in Beijing! I never thought I could see this!

I smiled as he continued: “You know, we were so hungry, people would take it home any wildlife to eat. You see, we were very poor. I mean –he paused- my grandparents were rich, they had a summer home, and a small brick factory, but after the revolution they lost everything. Not only what they had physically. My parents had to work very hard, we were displaced. It was very difficult. Some of my relatives die of hunger. I realized I had to study very very hard to honor my parents. I finally got to go to University, in another state. We were so poor –he sighted- I only had two shirts in four years, can you imagine? I washed one and used the other one. You could almost see through the fabric when I finished.”

I nodded with admiration. And he continued: I am so lucky! And he breathed in with a sense of wonder, pride and reflexion.

I was speechless… He felt lucky! And indeed he was.

As we continue walking to the Bird Nest to watch a competition, I thought that it is that sense of gratitude that drives us to do the impossible.

I wish I could say I’m not going to complain again, that’s why I am writing this story, to remind me that we are indeed lucky, and to share that beautiful Chinese story.

I thought that it could touch your heart. What do you think?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

One dream, one world

One world, one dream

I used to think that I'm a global citizen but mind you, China is not another country, it is another world! and getting help in Mandarin without trying sign language is completely out of my boundaries.

I wrote this note from Beijing, seeing a completely white sky (smog or fog?). The energy that fills the city is difficult to describe. Beijing is in celebration mood; clean, in spite of an undecided white sky mixing contamination and fog, with most beautiful parks, and thousands of volunteers all over.

As we walked the 3km line to the security gates for the Opening Ceremony, thousands of young volunteers were radiant as they said "Welcome to Beijing". Feeling the energy of so many people melted my heart, and even now I get watery eyes remembering. Pekinese are so proud of the city they are show casing to the world, and that sensation of excellence and hard work makes the ambiance truly special.

The theme for the Olympics could not be more appropriate for our world now. Specially as I moved across cultures and sentiments of worry, frustration, fear and concern in the other part of the world. When we think that the future is promising, we take better decisions. When we think that the future is worse than our present, we get paralyzed and stop taking actions. The difference between prosperity and impoverishment starts at the individual level. In our ways of thinking and acting.

For the Chinese, there was a dream to accomplish, to show the world that they have or are catching up. I am amazed at what they have done. One of the CEOs of a large steel company told us with a mix of amazement and satisfaction that he never thought he could see a pair of ducks frolicking by the Bird Nest's lake (the Bird Nest was the main building in the Olympic Park). Ten years ago, he continued, there was not much of a wild life as people were starving. They haven't overcome all of their problems but the sign of 4-5 ducks in a lake is definitely a sign of prosperity. As it is to watch people, specially older people, carrying their bird cages around, taking their pets for a walk. Unusual and cool!

This Olympics are an example of achievement, they did what was impossible. When we have a dream and align it with goals, we achieve marvelous things. A little over a year ago, one of my clients created an integrated security system, we determined that the Olympics Games would be an ideal client. Studying that market was fascinating. I don't know of any other case where planning and monitoring is so relevant. The dream becomes reality with the opening ceremony, there is not another possibility. Nothing of perhaps or tomorrow or 'we will do everything possible'. The ceremony was planned to -and indeed started- on August 8th, at 8:08pm. The Olympic Flame was lit at 12:00 pm exactly, after hundreds of thousands of people were moved inside the Bird Nest.

I ask myself how much time we would save if we could learn from this combination of dreams, goals, planning and execution. I know that it has changed the way I see milestones and deadlines forever.

Now, let me focus on the first word of the Olympic Theme: one world. I was hoping around worlds, and have gotten used to it. I noted that, even in the U.S. there were significant differences. Two cities stood up OUT of the "crisis": San Jose and Houston. San Jose is the center of the socall "Silicon Valley", a dynamic and small city; filled with ideas, entrepreneurs, technology and capital. It is a city of dreamers taking actions. Houston is a large city, growing giddily because of the development of the petroleum activities and hospitals. In the other cities that I visited, the environment was different. There was an overcast of worry and resignation, expecting the downpour, enduring, resisting. Later I had the pleasure to visit Guatemala for the first time, invited by the prestigous University Francisco Marroquin. The pace and sense of excellence is fantastic! I met with the Business Faculty, and the President, and gave a short conference to its graduates. The Marroquin is starting a Centre of Entrepreneurship that will support the transformation of dreamers into world class entrepreneurs and leaders. ( and although in Spanish if you want to put a face to the text, check this out: Hey! you can practice your Spanish too!

Fantastic opportunities exist to take advantage of the world integrally. There are amazing opportunities there. I speak repeatedly about the giants of the east: Chinese, India and the Arabian countries. Capturing 0,00000001% of these markets is amazing!

The second part of the Olympic Theme is great: one dream. I think Capitalism and Communism are converging. We have learned so much about what works and what doesn't that we can create a new way of living. We are indeed changing the ways we do business. We are all part of it. As Bill Gates recently explained with this 'Creative Capitalism' ideas, we know people matter as much as capital.

I think we can build the dream by shifting competing to collaborating. The new socioeconomic order will need to include our impact on others, as well as our individualistic needs and desires. We can be more like ourselves and less than everybody else, when we put our minds to it. It is we, a group of individuals, who create the future, not the other way around. Or at least no anymore. Nothing prevents us to sell to Asia, whose economic integration and production expertise creates opportunities that used to be unthinkably, we can collaborate to expand networks, and we can even outsource the production in the local market! Nowadays, the world is of the size of a hand. We can travel very long distances (I personally have been travelling over 100 hours in the past few weeks) but we can connect using technology.

We are indeed one world, and we all share one dream: prosperity for all.

Alicia Castillo Holley

language barriers or not

It was impossible to upload the blog during my trip to China.

Connecting to the server was hard but I simply couldn't log in. All worked perfectly expect help, it is rather a very globalized company. This is why I couldn't find the password:

要启动重置您的 帐户密码的过程,请访问以下链接


如果您对您的帐户有任何问题或疑问,请浏览 帐户常见问题解答,地址如下:


Friday, July 11, 2008

The W.F. Glavin Center for Global Management at Babson College sponsors free event

Just for you to know, this is the ONLY event that I have that is open to the public. I will POUR information about funding with no capital, using equity, venture capital, angel investing and short or long term debt. Babson has over 150 signed up, and I thought your friends or clients who are in Boston might be interested since it is a free event and would be a great networking opportunity too.

Where: Olin Auditorium. Babson College, Wellesley, MA.
Topic: How to fund your million dollar idea.
When: July 15th, 5pm

All the best,
Alicia Castillo

Babson College is located in Wellesley, West of Boston.

I will be taking questions up until Sunday July 13th. here and at

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why do we add sugar to the saltshaker?

I wonder if we know about the difference between determination and stubbornness. It is rather small, most of the time we use them interchangeably. Yet, there is a subtlety I want to share with you today.

I am as determined as stubborn, that is why I’ve made my dreams come true. As a typical entrepreneur I asked different questions. For example, instead of: can I do that? We think about How can I do that? Instead of will I fail? We think will I learn?

Those little differences have a big impact. Anybody can see the power of those subtleties and start a chain reaction on its own. Then nobody knows where the change come from. Most likely the starting points go unnoticed.

Let me tell you a family story. When he was 7-8 yrs old, my brother George put sugar in the saltshaker. I don’t remember how long it took us to realize that. We never questioned what was in the saltshaker, it was white, it was granular, it should have been salt. You can imagine his grin when we complained at the dinner table about the low quality of salt “they don’t make salt as they use to”… until the day that mum caught him in-fraganti (hands-on) putting the sugar in.

So you see? Sometimes little differences go unnoticed. I am interested in how those differences go along on fostering or hindering entrepreneurial mindset and action. Let’s look at society’s mixed messages: Don’t be selfish, but succeed selfishly, and then, give yourself to a ‘better cause’. You go figure it out, I can’t. No wonder it is hard to think about developing our dreams, specially our entrepreneurial dreams. We don’t have the means to do it. We keep putting salt in the salt shaker because that is what we expect to do. As one of my clients told me, “I just didn’t think about it”. And then life goes on, without exploring small differences that have a huge impact like stubbornness and determination. Those little differences help us take small steps, innovating, experimenting, learning to master few basic things.

Society expects us to move a mountain, but the best way to accomplish that is one stone at a time. Do you know how you lose weight? One milligram at a time. Same for dreams, you make your dreams one grain of salt or sugar at a time. Ok, yes, it doesn’t work for moving sofas, but you get the picture.

Most people think entrepreneurs wake up in the morning thinking about how many risks they will take that day. And there are so many closet entrepreneurs who can’t figure out how to move a mountain because they don’t see that all it takes is a change in a grain of salt or sugar. What would happen if we took action today to make a small change?

Let’s change stubbornness for determination. Both are needed to accomplish something despite difficulties. Stubbornness focuses on getting a message across and forcing a result. Determination focuses on exploring to analyse and change in order to achieve results. A determined person is inspiring; a stubborn person creates rejection. The energy and the input make them as similar as salt and sugar. Entrepreneurs find a way to achieve their goals using either one.

How do we build an entrepreneurial mindset, one grain at a time, what can you do to start contributing to the wealth of the world. What do you need to let go to move from stubbornness to determination. How can you help others. What can we do to help.

My invitation is to explore how to change stubbornness for determination, so we can take a small step. The world needs more entrepreneurs and more inventors. The world needs your creativity.

That is what we learn from putting sugar on the saltshaker.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

What a safari teaches us about Strategy

Lions, Crocodiles and Buffaloes


I love strategy as much as witty smart disagreements, the kind that break our paradigms.. The first time I faced reinventing strategy and competition was in the 90s, when we
discussed how to manage a shrinking market. I could see that whilst being concern with selling more, we were getting less.
The issue was to sell different. Mind you I was an arrogant brainer, not
that I've changed much to my dismay, on the arrogant part, but I now love to be proven wrong, would that be age? or maybe I miss my kid's teenagery rebeliousness :-). 

The idea of simplistic competition just bothers me, the thought of stream line 'perfect' growth curve boring. Challenges make us thrive and a situation can suddenly change for better or if we manage it. The trick is to find a perfect fit, focus on the best outcome
leveraging what's in and out the company (or yourself), and keep reinventing the wheel.

I want to share with you a paradigm-breaking video of a safari...mind you every few steps ahhh something new happens.
Check the "Battle at Kruger" at if you haven't already done so.. it is soo cool!

Two buffaloes and a baby quietly walk by the savanna, near a pond. Without realizing it, they approach a group of lions. Too late
one of the adult buffaloes becomes aware of the lions and gets frightened, running away. The lions chase them and capture the

Learning 1: If you're going to expose your weaker link, be alert even in an idyllic place. If you're running scared, you lose. That would the simply strategy: one won, one lose,
you do lunch or you are lunch.
Too simple!

Lions fall onto the water with the baby buffalo. It is an unequal fight, without resistance or aggression. Suddenly a crocodile grabs the side of the

Learning 2: If you want to capture a market, better play in a known field or be alert to new competitors. If you are
loosing a battle, don't give up, yet save the energy (resources) in case there is a paradigm shift!

Finally the lions get the baby buffalo out of the water, the crocodile lets go.

Learning 3: Concentrate on where you have the greatest opportunities to succeed. Let the others win without an unnecesary

In the meantime, a large number of buffaloes has gathered, returning to the scene. The lions hold on the baby buffalo but get unease. A buffalo
attacks one lion, which lets go and runs away, being chased,
The crocodile appears no where to be seen.

Learning 4: every one has a weak link, a direct approach might not work best, and in the case of the crocodile, if it is not your market, don't even show up.  

Gradually the lions lose confidence, and release the baby, which is pushed inside the heard and protected. Some buffaloes chase the lions, they loose interest.

Learning 5: If you really want to defend your market, take action quickly while your offer is still alive, look for reinforcements, work as a team and concentrate on the result.
There is always a weak link.

So is the life of an entrepreneur, a new market; a competitor wining customers; surprises and reactions.
Only in fairy tales there are winners and losers. In the commercial arena, there is a 'perfect fit' approach that depends on many circumstances: a weaker baby, a hungrier
crocodile, faster lions, smaller or lower herds. That 'fit' is a moving target, and rethinking the best approach is the healthiest, and most fun, exercise.

The message is clear, each situation brings an opportunity to learn and recreate the story. The pile of broken dishes grows with our
learning if and only if, we decided to go ahead.

Here is to your action,