Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Lessons from Puerto Rico

I was in PR on business this week. It was fantastic and I learned a lot.
In absolutely no order, here are some of the things.

Following a hurricane, the palm trees (which have remarkably deep roots) is often knocked over. As long as the roots are secure the plant will continue to grow and stretch toward light. The thing is about deep roots.
If you touch coral it dies. The coral off the near coast of Puerto Rico has been touched too often and is now a threatened ecosystem.
Kayaking is really fun, and uses the same muscles as swimming (which my wife does for 1 mile each day).
During a recent hurricane the tree which gives the essential fragrance for something called Chanel #5 was wiped out in Puerto Rico. A woman who was suffering from cancer donated new trees which she imported from somewhere as a memorial. It worked. As an aside the trees are ugly, and according to my wife Chanel #5 is a big deal.
If your story isn’t compelling when spoken plainly, then the problem isn’t the storytelling, it’s the story.
4 years of High School Spanish is worthless after 1 day in the language and great after 3.
In business, question words are the most important.
Puerto Rican flan is awesome.
The Taino Indians of PR were all dead within 50 years of Columbus’ arrival.
Americans are often a real pain in the butt abroad.
There might be small, purple, elephants in the PR rainforest.
The role of a sales representative is to translate our compelling story into the customer’s language.
There is a lady who was supposed to die when she was 18, and instead she lived, and now she travels around the world and counsels people on grief and survival. She counseled Malaria victims in Africa where she smuggled medicine. She also went to Cuba and preached about the goodness of God. She was followed around by a body guard the whole time. She has a shaved head, a daughter who laughs like my wife, and she once got pulled aside by airport security because she put a very lifelike doll into her backpack and hit it because it was one of those annoying talking dolls.
The Puerto Rican power infrastructure is fairly antiquated, and they have severe problems with both regulatory compliance and biofouling.
I’m not at all funny in Spanish.
Charlotte Airport is nice and has some cool white chairs that you can relax in.
I have more affection for these stuffed dogs we have then I knew…and more than I am fully comfortable with.
When discussing technical matters, Puerto Ricans use spanglish. “Cuando se usa el submersible pump, necesita a proteger el pump casing.” The back and forth thing absolutely sucks.
I am not entirely happy with our company’s proposal template and want to improve it.
There is dramatic capital improvement taking place in Puerto Rico, leading construction to be one of the leading Puerto Rican industries. The mix of US style capitalism, low tax rates, tax incentives for business growth, and a great location to a rapidly developing part of the world make this an area potentially poised to become a hub of regional economic hegemony and a good place to invest.
When developing a small business it’s important to focus not only on the product market, but also on the highly competitive financial market.
If you ever forget the Spanish word for boat (barca) simply tell the guy, “Kind of like a car…but on water”
I accidentally swore in a business meeting last week, and that’s dumb.
A well built fort with a strong foundation is still imposing after way longer than most sky scrapers.