How big of a pot of gold do you need in order to get motivated?

Money money money..

The higher up one goes in an organization, the more pertinent the question of money seems to become. Those 5k a month, straight out of college seemed like a fortune. Fast forward 10 years later and 15k a month is suddenly a middle class standard. The biggest problem of this all that this obsession with the number and the next big stepping stone distracts us from what really matters – having satisfaction with what we do.

It seems that with structures like variable pay or hierarchical salary progression, companies just keep creating disgruntled employees or professional career climbers that are there to make money instead of truly focusing on the best interests of the firm.

I really enjoyed this Daniel Pink video.

It talks about the three main factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction:

1. Autonomy
2. Mastery
3. Purpose

I think that the third one has been gaining an incredible importance in our generation but somehow the corporate world has been extremely slow to catch up.

It is sad somehow to see how big companies hire the best minds but then put them in a cage or a dark room, telling them that one day they will get a chance if they play nicely. Many of them fall for this illusion and start the endless climbing. They lose a part of themselves in the way.

The good news is that some are able to escape the trap. One of my theories is that those fugitives are one of the key enablers of the start up world and innovation overall.

My challenge is to support this movement.


Surreal Realism

Australian Ron Mueck‘s exhibition arrived at Rio’s Museum of Modern Art (MAM). I guess this is the current talk of the town as it took me more than an hour in the line to get in. It was well worth it. The pieces are so detailed and perfect that I kept thinking that all of the sudden they will move or start talking to me.


Brunch Places in Rio de Janeiro

Lately, my posts have been quite serious and philosophical but here is one more practical. I got a request to write about brunch places in Rio. Here are some of my favorites:

Jardim botanico:

1) Escola do Pão –  Located in an old rustic house just by the Lagoa. They offer something like a 5 course brunch, with delicacies such as papaya puree with granola, mini gourmet sandwiches, artisan breads and homemade jam. My favorite thing was the heart-shaped waffles, something I’ve never seen before. Last time I went there, one of the two chief chefs was walking around the tables and forcing apricot jam down people’s thoughts (literally, she wasn’t willing to accept No for an answer).

2) Cafe Carandaí – also in Jardim Botanico is located inside a delicacy shop / bakery. It serves a buffet brunch on weekend and carries “american” breakfast stuff such as pancakes and Eggs Benedict. This one is my favorite both because of the food but especially because of the welcoming and attentive service (VERY rare for Rio).

3) La  Bicyclette -2 locations, both equally busy on weekend. Great pastries and sandwiches. The owner is french so one gets a bit of this flavor with the food and style. 

4) Le Pain du Lapin – quick, simple and not expensive brunch option. They bake everything freshly and have different options for brunch food ranging from yogurt and granola to more sophisticated french brioches. The cafe is located on Rua Maria Angelica, which has other great culinary options such as Braz Pizzeria, La Carioca Cevicheria, and Gula Gula.



5) Maya Cafe – extremely cute little cafe, just in heart of the Laranjeiras neighborhood. They have 10 different brunch combination options plus a full menu of salads, sandwiches and many other options. They great benefit is also that they have a separate area for families with kids, with some toys and space for the little ones to run around. 


6) Talho Capixaba – Bakery / little grocery store in Leblon’s most popular spots. It seems quite chaotic and simple but their sandwiches are to die for. Fresh ingredients with interesting combinations such as raisin bread with smoked salmon or brie with peach marmalade  that just melt in your mouth. 

Writing this post made me hungry already. Night brunch anyone?

Flower Markets in Rio

In Rio, street markets vary by neighborhood and day. I ran into this one in Laranjeiras neighborhood on my way to Saturday Brunch. Couldn’t resist taking a few colorful pictures.




Make her angry, make her think

In my experimental self-training about influencing people and organizations, I came to the very basic conclusion that it is all about one thing: emotions. In general, the three basic ones I have been able to work most with are: sadness, happiness and anger.

Sadness has been a way to catch people’s attention about health & safety and local development issues. Showing a video about people at harm who can represent one’s loved ones, or a grim picture of a community in shambles (no basic services (sewage, water supply, garbage collection), low level of education, high corruption of local politicians, high crime rate, etc. )  are very powerful calls for action.

Happiness helps me make the people around me more motivated and productive. Playing a fun song such as Felicidade by Marcelo Jeneci or Happy by Pharrell Williams  before starting a meeting makes people raise their eye brows and call me crazy, but it puts a smile on their face and sets a positive tone. Saying “Good Morning” in an exaggerated tone with a huge smile on my face, makes my colleague grin and reply in the same ridiculous manner but then we both stay grinning for the next few minutes.  

Anger is something I have been specializing in lately. This one is quite challenging because it needs to be done professionally and respectfully. Plus in Brazilian culture one is with constant fear of offending someone as direct criticism is not a commonplace practice. I have been achieving this through a complex manipulating network. I have gotten to know many people in the organization and found out their personal challenges and overall biases and started to play with those. One topic I picked up was limited option for women in leadership positions. Trying to talk to men about this normally generated uninterested, skeptical expressions, and being dismissed as a “feminist”. My counter-reaction was calling them “machista” and naming them as part of the problem. This always ended up in a big debate which I kept feeding for weeks with sending additional information provoking the points I was trying to make. Overtime, I have found them using my points in their speeches and even proceeding to promote my ideas. With the women in the equation I have been doing different things: I have highlighted the fact that they don’t get promoted, while make colleagues who are less capable do, I have told them of cases of sexual harrassment or discrimination against colleagues who are pregnant. And the best highlight of this effort happened today. There was a meeting of various directors and I ran into a female one and casually told her: “wow, lots of guys going in and out of this conference room. Are you the only female director present?”. She looked around sadly and signed: “hmm, I guess I am”. “Well, just fyi”, I continued with a smile on my face. “There are some guys around here that say that we don’t need diversity programs because there are already enough women in this building, including yourself.” Oh, my, hell broke loose after that…

These are just some interesting examples I experimented with lately. They have been working like a charm. Of course, tailoring to one person at a time. Now the challenge is to figure out how to do it on a larger scale.?