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    Thursday, December 25, 2008

    Nobel Peace Laureate recalls his AIESEC Experience

    ROTTERDAM, December 16 th, 2008- Speaking to AIESEC in Finland, Martti Ahtisaari recalled warmly his time in AIESEC, as a university student. Mr Ahtisaari was a member of AIESEC in the early 1960’s and continues to endorse the relevance of working with young people to build peace and international co-operation.

    Check the video:

    Barking dog doesn't bite!

    I had the chance to look at my country with the eyes of a person who has been abroad in the past four years.

    I re-discover the beauty of nature and the kindness of the people and I also had a taste of the many management challenges the country is going through.

    In my opinion, Costa Rica did not prepared to host the population that we currently have, the immigrats that have arrived and the quality of life we all expected.

    The symptoms can be experienced on a daily basis when you get caught in a traffic jam, suffer of long waits for low quality governamental services or feel insecure at your own home.

    I have been following politics in my country since 1998 when I joined University and I have realized that we have been sticking bandages in the system and trying to stop the licks with our fingers.

    I can't really blame the government. Since 1998 we have had 3 different democratically elected Presidents and every time they have became the scape goat for all the country's problems. If I ask my older brother or my dad, they will add at least 3 more Presidents since 1978. In other words, doesn't really matter who the President is because the attitude of our people remains the same.

    I believe that Costa Ricans work very hard as long as they see a direct, short term return in their work. We take care of our families and friends but feel little sympaty for strangers of our own community. We go from University to Business Schools but not usually to start our own ventures. We have a say in politics but not always an action in society. Like the old saying barking dogs don't bite!

    I wish Costa Rica would start a long term planning process for the next 25-35 years with clear population targets and strategies around key areas of development like health, housing, education, transport, jobs, finances and retirement supported by strong pillars on national security, environment, heritage, technology and positioning.

    I wish one day each productive, social and political sector, each organization and each person in this country will be delivering on an agreed contribution that will lead us to provide each individual the opportunity to be as great as he or she can be.

    And I guess it is all a matter of will, good (political) will.

    Pura Vida!

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Learning to lead at AIESEC International

    Last night I arrived to Costa Rica after facing the regular migration challenges of a Latin American crossing the world.

    But I have to say that I really enjoyed the flight because I decided to use it to reflect in the past 7 months and the experiences that I have lived. So I bought three magazines on topics like leadership, entreprenuership and global reality to facilitate the process and sat in the airplane for over 15 hours and free coffee.

    In February 2008 I was elected President of AIESEC International, which means that I have to select 22 people and create an international team to support the operations of AIESEC around the world.

    In May we started with the Transtion, in June the 22 members of the team arrived from 16 different countries, by the first week of July we had our plan created - Connecting to deliver -, in August we met in Brazil with more than 1000 members, partners, Alumni, guests and friends to focus the deliverables of our year. In September we deployed the team to support operations, do sales and deliver partnerhsips. We have been constantly present in 6 regions of the world. By October, we started the review of all our activites as we diagnosticated that our organization needed to get fit to succesful overcome the global financial crisis. And today, we have grown 20% over the last year and reached an absolute delivery higher than the past 15 years.

    All of this has helped me to become more selfware and to realize some key aspects that I need to pay more attention to play the role that the job requires.

    I feel confident when it comes to build focus and direction with the team, also I have noticed that I give a good level of trust to the capabilities of the each individual and that I enjoyed jumping from the detail of the execution to the scope of strategy.

    The aspect that I will commit to improve in the next months is empathy. I am a little bit impatient and not always recognize that others are not aware of the context and they don't own the level of information that I have access to. So, when the need to make decisions faster increases I have the tendency to put too much pressure on the individuals without considering the factors affecting them.

    So far, this aspect hasn't generated big issues mostly because I have built a strong safety net around me through the support of key individuals in my team that I constantly invite to give me feedback on my behaviours and the reactions of others.

    I have learned a lot these months and I am very very impressed with the level of people I worked with everyday. These are guys that understand what is commitment and that have given everything they have to support our countries delivering great experiences.

    At this point in time, this team of 22 people represent what I care about and value the most in my life and I am very happy that I decided to live this experience.

    Sunday, December 07, 2008

    We are driving around the Finacial Crisis!

    A popular question flowing around business minds these days is: how can we decrease capacity to increase results?

    This fundamental question is becoming the leverage point for many organizations facing the challenges of the financial crisis.

    It is leading organizations to review their bottom-line together with the processes that deliver in such results. It has also time-framed opportunities as well as quantified return on soft investments.

    That question has also generated a strong review on HR practices promoting leaner processes in talent supply and shorter retention lenghts, aiming to result in a lower number of Full Time Employees(FTE), which adds to the increasing entry-levels supply looking for exciting opportunites.

    More young talent, more short term opportunities, faster supply processes results in a thriving talent market around the world.

    In the last edition of Harvard Business Review(HBR), there is an article on: "Winning the Race for Talent in Emerging Markets" which is a remarkable study on what young talented people is looking for in a career opportunity: a brand that inspires and make you proud, a purpose that fulfills your sense of existence, an opportunity that challenges you in new way and a culture that recognizes and promotes success.

    When I finished reading, I realized that this is the reason why AIESEC is making it through the financial crisis -we have reported growth in all quarters with an average of 25% from the past year- : because we are a source of talented young people that has been able to create the connection between promises made and promises kept to our partners and ourselves.

    Looking forward to close a great year!

    Thursday, October 23, 2008


    Our organization is aiming to grow 100% in the last quarter of the year (October, November and December) compare with the same period of 2007.

    The decision to grow 100% is based in what is left to achieve our 2008 goals and what we have in process and almost ready to be delivery.

    From my point of view, the challenges to achieve such ambition are organizational focus and members mindset.

    The first challenge is to keep a relevant part of our organization focusing on: (1) matching our students with the opportunities we have available, (2) recruit new students intersted in development work and education, (3) and sell more management internships.

    The second challenge is the mindset. I have came to realize that not everyone feels comfortable with the verb 'grow' and more interesting that some of us have the tendency to separate growth from quality, as if those aspects would make sense indepedently from each other.

    Let me give you an example, a Pizza place is decided to sell more pizzas. When a customer orders a pizza, his/her first expectation is to get the pizza (deliver our promise) and then enjoy the pizza at an affordable price (sustainably). In that way, the customer will come back next time and bring friends along (exponential grow).

    Growth in the scale of 100% can only be achieve when the focus and the mindset are aligned and when we bring the organization together building synergies around our common goals.

    Check out this video from our partners talking about the 100% Growth Campaign:

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    The Connecting Role

    The last week I had the luck to visit Slovakia and Germany where our organization had two very important meetings with the our local officers.

    I met lots of cool young guys and girls from Europe who commit at least 30 hours of their week in giving others the opportunity to become the person they want to be.

    Among them there is a group that we call "LCPs", which stands for Local Committee President. They are the final responsible of our Local Committees and they lead our operations in Universities or Cities across Europe and the World.

    Meeting them was an awesome experience, I realized how lucky I am to have the opportunity to share the same goal, the same passion and the same challenges with such a diverse group. It made me feel alive and part of somewthing more powerful than myself.

    Everyday these guys and girls work hard connecting their teams, Universities, the local companies and the rest of our organization to increase the impact that we have in the world.

    One day, just after the end of WW II, one of these LCPs in Finland found a student: Martti Ahtisaari who joined him in the adventure of learning how to connect people from different countries and to build friendly relations among them. This week, this fellow AIESECer, has been rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in several continents to solve international conflicts.

    Everyday, AIESEC is enabling the development of agents of positive change to create the needed impact on society.

    Thank you LCPs!

    Sunday, October 05, 2008

    May I see your visa, please?

    Every time I travel I research to find out if I need a visa to enter the country. As a Costa Rican, I am very lucky to have free access to many countries of the world but that doesn't mean that I have had a hassle-free record of migration issues.

    For example, September last year a Schengen immigration authority stopped me for 12 hours and charged me 2200 Euros -refundable- to enter the region while having a valid entry for 10 more days of 90 days valid entry. Note that such restriction in not mention in the website:

    I felt awful. I felt like a thief stopped by the police in front of everyone, I felt irresponsible for something that was not my responsibility and I felt frustrated because there was nothing I could do.

    I know many cases of great individuals with great intentions being stop for reaching their final destination because of these rules, or lack of them, that our countries have set to regulate the mobility of people.

    The last example I know is about a Mexican trying to reach India to support countries in the Asia-Pacific Region running projects in social and business entrepreneurship. I am sure he is a harm for national security or a threat for income distribution in the country.

    Our World need wiser systems to regulate the flow of people, resources and technology to make sure that this three elements of development converge in the same place at the same time. Otherwise we will end up with a rich world of starving high technologized people.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Hello World!

    I am back in the virtual World!

    This time I will be sharing my experiences and learning of managing a team of 22 individuals from 16 countries and being held responsible for the growth and sustainability of a global organization present in more than 100 countries with more than 32 ooo members. Isn't this cool?

    I will be posting on leadership and team management, the challenges of youth in a globalized society and other topics and issues I must face in the next months. The blog will remain young and fresh with a very simple language and some Spanish words here and there.

    When I was back in Costa Rica in early 2000's, the TV was a great source of motivation for me. Watching channels like People & Arts, Discovery and NatGeo kept me interested in discoverying the beauty the world captures. Today I have being in more than 67 cities in 34 countries and the video below resembles how i feel about it.

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