Interviewing my Dad

Last Friday I interviewed my dad.

And I can say that it was one of the live interviews that gave me the most pleasure.

Before the interview, I had told my colleagues that I would not prepare anything for this interview.
This is because I am very biased.

Having already had the opportunity to know my family history well (before I was born), I could run the risk of leading the conversation.

And that was something I didn't want to do, because I wanted it to be an episode with the spontaneity and fun that so characterizes our podcast.

And what an amazing episode it was.

We had the opportunity to hear a little of my father's life story, which was full of adventures, challenges and stories whose lessons are worthy of a book (he didn't even tell 5%).

We talked about his perspective on business, building teams, and knowing when to continue or stop on a particular project.

Then we had what was my favorite part of the interview.

At the end of the interview, we talked about the challenges of raising a family while building a business, the unconventional upbringing style my parents gave us (I have a brother and sister) and the concerns successful people have, about leaving their heritage to their children.

And it was my favorite part because we had the opportunity to talk openly about topics that are usually taboo in families, which it doesn't have to be.

When there is love, respect and openness, you can talk about any topic. Even the most "difficult" ones.

It was certainly an episode that will go down in history, at least for me. It is not every day that you have the pleasure of interviewing your parents.

Which leads me to make you a challenge.

Interview your parents and grandparents and record it.

You don't have to publish it on the Internet if you don't want to, it can stay just for you and your family.

Years later, these interviews will become real relics and will mark the history of your family.

If you want to see the interview, you can click here.

If you want to see an interview I did with my father in 2019, click here.

Asking questions

One of the lessons my father taught me was that the person who controls a conversation, is not the one who gives the answers, but the one who asks the questions.

And that has stuck in my mind.

In recent years, I have gained a special liking for asking questions.

Not to feel in control of a conversation, but because I am, above all, a highly curious person about everything.

And that curiosity led me to realize that I could help more people by asking questions than by giving answers.

I confess that sometimes my friends say that I ask too many questions. 😅

Asking questions leads to interesting conversations.

Asking unfamiliar people questions leads to very interesting conversations.

Asking "difficult" questions leads to unexpected answers.

Simply because you had the courage to ask a question and the humility to listen to the answer.

🙂

Let me give you two final tips:

1) When you are asking questions, avoid justifying the question or trying to give context. Simply ask the question.

2) After you ask the question, SHUT UP. As long as it takes. Total silence. This applies for everything (especially in negotiations).

Giving without expecting to receive

When was the last time you gave without expecting something in return? (Doing charity doesn't count 😉)

When you give and expect something in return, the act of giving becomes a transaction.

But when you give and expect nothing, it is a genuine feeling of happiness.

This is because if you don't expect anything, you will hardly be disappointed with what may come, so the positives outweigh the negatives.

And that's a little bit what we have been feeling in this experience we have been having with our MeC Tribe.

People united with a purpose to create a legacy greater than themselves.

People who give without expecting something in return.

The simple act of helping someone is payment enough.

And over the years, I have come to confirm that the more I give, the more I get.

Big hug from your friend Jorge.

🥕🥕

I went to check my messages, at the end of a long day, and for a second I got chills…

I went to check my messages, at the end of a long day, and for a second I got chills…

A mistake was done, and it was my fault…

It was already midnight and there was nothing to be done for the time being.

The message I got was from our secretary saying she was going to send our flight and hotel bookings tomorrow for our next business trip.

The issue was that I had already booked the hotels and there was no cancellation refund. That would mean a roughly 2000€ mistake. Money out the window.

Imagine a fire pit, and you throw a bunch of bills, totalling 2000 Euros, into that fire.

It’s said that Pablo Escobar burned 2 Million dollars in a fire pit, to stay warm.

Well, I don’t have that kind of money.

So any wasted money really hurts.

So I messaged her saying I already had booked rooms for everybody, but it was already midnight, I wouldn’t get a response until the next morning. Since I couldn’t do anything about it, I didn’t dwell on it and went back to sleep.

The next morning she gets back to me saying she didn’t have Free Cancelation on her booking but she would find a way to fix it.

I don’t know what she did, but she worked her magic and an hour later she had fixed it and gotten the money back on one of the reservations.

YEEEESSS, what a relief. I texted her saying “Next time, I’ll let you do your job XD”


Here is some simple takeaways from this interaction:

#1) Communication friction occurs in any organisation, and it costs a lot of money. In this case, my mistake was that I didn’t properly read an email.

#2) If there’s nothing else you can do that day, don’t dwell on the problem, try to get a good night sleep so you can have a fresh mind the next day.

What mistakes have you done or seen done because of a communication problem?

Jenga was invented in the 70s, by a gentleman named Leslie Scott (but I feel it somehow originated in South America)

And the purpose of the game was to avoid being the the person that caused the Jenga tower to fall.

So everybody is trying to avoid the tower to fall.

But most people play it competitively, but this way of playing it, there are never winners, but there's always a loser. The last player to move it.

So me and my cousins, Pat and Jake, were playing Jenga this way. We did about three rounds of games when we started to get bored. Then something happened, we started to point out to the other, possible moves they could make. And started becoming fun. So after the tower fell again, we decide to start playing the game collaboratively, where we played as a team, instead of being competitors. This way, EVERYBODY had the same purpose, to make the most number of moves.

We realized that by playing this way, we can actually strategize every move we make, because a move now, will influence the way the tower leans later on on the game.

We started our initial game, with early strategy, where we would move the easiest pieces first. But this came to bite us later on because we took out strategic pieces that give the base stability.

Out of the the blue, a guy named Ryan, approached us, if he could play with us, he was a lone travel from Canada, looking to connect with other people.

We said of course, and proceeded to explain how we were playing this collaboratively, and he started playing immediately on the next move.

Mid game, things started to slow down. Each move was validated by every player, making sure that it was the best move possible, some of our moves took 15 minutes to make. Each piece that was moved, made the game harder to play, but as you progress, you start chearing and celebrating more.

At this point it's 11pm at night, we're at the hotel lobby and 2 families on their way to bed, passed by us, and Immediately I started explaining the differences of how we were playing the game, to this family that I never had talked before. They found it interesting enough to stay and watch a bit, even though they didn't fully understood.

But they started understanding how by we playing together, were influencing the tower and how the game progressed.

At this point we started getting into the end game, that's when it gets almost impossible to survive, and you probably won't go past 3 extra moves.

At this stage, because you don't have clear moves, you start making risky moves.

Jake did a move, by taking the piece fast, and hoping the tower wouldn't move. He did it, and everybody in the rooms goes, HOLLY SH€T!!

IT WAS INCREDIBLE.

We all cheered.

At this point we realized that it was game over, unless we could pull another fast move.

To be sure, we took pictures together with the tower still leaning, it was a beauty.

Then we all decided it was time, decided on the piece and Ryan had the honor of moving it.

He went for it, and the tower fell... Game over...

But after that we all cheered and felt we accomplished our mission, we banded as brothers and did our best.

This is the way all society should feel on all the group interactions we do throughout our lives.

At school with our families, friends, our peers, teachers with their students.

On college assignments, on the hospitals, on companies, within departments and individual teams.

We should feel like that with our significant others and the family we're building together.

If we play our lives the same way we played this game, we'll have colaboration instead of confrontation. We understood this, even though we knew, we were always destined to lose.

Some of the challenges that I, as a self-taught person, have had throughout my professional career have not been the theoretical learning of the subjects to which I’ve dedicated myself to learning. Typically the theory is widely available on the internet for everyone.

The biggest challenge I’ve had, has been to navigate between the lines so that you can develop processes of creation, optimization, expansion and finalisation. It’s between the lines that greatness can be achieved, in the intersections.

And these things typically come from experience, from making a lot of mistakes, from experimentation.

Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.

I’ve realised early on that the best way I found to learn faster, has been to have people with more experience, that I can consult after I’ve already tried to implement, where I’ve banged, a ton of times, my head against a wall trying to find a solution.

A person that makes me navigate through the creative process of finding a solution so that I can learn the process and not the solution itself.

The bottom line is after you take classes with a teacher, find a mentor who provokes you, by asking the questions that will make you think.

I’ll leave you with a quote a friend of mine shared with me that embodies what I just wrote about:

“Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”

― G. Michael Hopf

If you are a frequent flyer within Europe and if you fly Ryanair, you must be aware of the recent change on their baggage policy.

If you’re not, here is what they did:

Link

Now, customers that want to take luggage have to either:

1) Pay 6€ and they are allowed to take 2 cabin bags (small one and big one up to 10kg’s) and as a bonus they get priority boarding.

2- Pay 8€ and they are allowed to check-in a 10kg bag and take a small cabin bag.

They justified the change saying it was to expedite boarding and have less delays.

What do you think happened?

Do you thing boarding with Ryanair now is smooth sailing?

Do you think their flights will have more delays?

Do you think their decision was purely financial?

Let me share with you my take on this.

As I write this, I’m waiting to take off, on a Ryanair flight that has a delay of 1 hour.

At the time of booking the ticket:

People are faced with 2 options, should I take luggage to this trip or not?

Of course people will keep taking luggage with them so now they have to decide between choosing priority boarding + 10kg bag or choose paying a bit more and checking in their bag.

Most people will choose the first option, it’s a cheaper option, they already are conditioned that it’s normal to take their baggage with them. They will have priority boarding this way getting on the plane faster.

This is where everything starts going wrong.

Check-in process:

You’re a few days from flying and it’s time to check-in.

Ryanair gives you a warning. If you want to take luggage, your only 2 options are to either pay for a 10kg check-in (for 10€, notice the price increase) or a 20kg check-in (for 40€).

No priority boarding, don’t know if they remove this option because you didn’t buy it at the time of purchase or because they have a cap on the number of priority upgrades.

When you get to the airport, dropping your luggage at the baggage drop off was not too bad.

Ticket check:

Because the obvious decision was to buy the priority boarding (not because most people want priority but because most people will be taking a bag, and this makes economic sense), the priority lane is bigger than the regular lane.

To give you a sense of comparison, the priority lane usually has 20–40 people, today it was LOOOONG.

Now the check process will be longer because they will spend more time checking if the bags are the right size or if the customer is taking more bags than they’re allowed.

I had priority and decided to not wait in line.

BTW, most people had 2 carry-on bags.

If everybody has priority boarding, nobody has priority boarding, it ceases to exist.

Boarding the plane:

I don’t recall a flight where it was so hard to find space to place my bag on the overbin compartment.

IT WAS PACKED!

With the old system, most people could carry the same 2 bags, a small one and a bigger one, but most people had to check-in their bag just before climbing to the plane, making more space in the passenger area, or at least Ryanair could manage that.

With the new system, they can’t ask the customer to check-in their luggage, the customer PAID to be able to carry their luggage with them, it’s within their rights to do so.

Now Ryanair faces a big problem, they pass the overbin management to the customer, the customer will throw their bags wherever they feel like it, the stewarts will have to go back and reorganize the bags, delaying the flight even more.

Getting out of the plane:

With a packed passenger area, it will take longer for passengers to leave the plane, delaying the turnaround time of the plane.

Conclusions:

If this new policy was motivated to reduce the boarding time, expediting flights in the process, then they should’ve priced their 10kg check-in bag lower than the priority, this way it made economically sense to check-in, people would have to arrive earlier and deal with that.

If this new policy was economically motivated by charging the customer more if the customer was taking a bag, then Ryanair was shortsighted, because every extra minute the plane is grounded, is an extra minute the plane is not flying, thus making money.

But who am I to teach Ryanair how to optimize processes, they are the kings (🤫shhh, everybody makes mistakes)

I would love to get my hands on some data, if you have some, please share it with me.

PS. One of two things will happen in the future:
1) They will separate priority boarding from the 10kh carry-on bag, and spin off a new upgrade.
2) They will change once again their bag policy, realizing they made a mistake.

Company culture is like a magical unicorn, you can’t see it but everyone says they have a great one.

That’s because it’s not built in a day, its built on top of a lot variants. It’s the day to day interactions, the 1–1’s, the processes you build, the people you hire, the people you fire, the way you deal with bad behaviour, the way you praise the good deeds, the way you interact with clients, suppliers, investors, random people in the street. All this culminates in company culture.

Good or bad, all companies have a culture, even if you don’t proactively find ways to improve it.

For a long time I struggled with understanding how to shape the culture towards something you believe in. Now I know it’s a living, breathing creature that co-exists at the office and changes form little by little, it can grow into a monster or a fluffy little thing.

You can’t really see it but you can feel it and whether you like it or not, it will always be there.

PS. This article by Andy Dunn is one of the best articles I’ve read on company culture: https://medium.com/@dunn/creating-culture-21a117803f80

Our goal as marketers is to provide as many opportunities as possible for our business to make that sale, and we do that by engaging new clients, our current clients, people that are looking for our product or service.

Once I figured that out, I understood that I could market any product, any service there was.

And that’s why my company can launch products in so many different categories, from burger joints to senior homes.

What do they have in common? There are customers actively looking for a solution. Might as well be you that sells that solution.

I wanted to start this post with this small rant since I’ll be writing about how we’re launching new products and the challenges we face as we grow from a team of 8 that mainly operates in a small little country (but very beautiful) called Portugal to a world class company.

I’ll talk not only about marketing but also about business. Most of the stuff is not perfect, perfection is something we strive for but most of the times it is unattainable due to the speed we’re moving.

The first product launch I want to write about is a very fresh business called Box Burger. Gourmet style Burgers served in Street Boxes.

Here are a couple of pictures:

We figured that a lot of cities in Portugal are missing a great burger at a fair price. We designed this concept where it’s very cheap to build, it’s movable if the location is not good, and the product is easy to cook making it easy to train the staff.

So to launch our first location we did a BOGO offer (Buy one, Get one free).
We wanted people to try our burgers, see how good they are and try to make them burgerholics.

We designed a flyer with that offer and spread it around the city, on companies, factories, supermarkets.

And a Facebook ad campaign to generate leads. And this is where it gets interesting.

The Facebook campaign we built, didn’t lead to a landing page, we pointed people to Facebook Messenger.

Here is our ad:

Once the conversation started, our Messenger bot kicked in and continued the conversation, pushing the user down the funnel. And these were the steps of the funnel:

Step 1: Facebook Messenger Ad presenting the offer, within the copy of the ad we also requested the user to tag 3 friends who would enjoy the offer, creating a mini viral loop.

Step 2: The user would click the ad or tag their friends, in both cases, the bot would be activated.

Step 3: The bot would ask the user for their cell phone number so we could send a text message with the coupon.

Step 4: The user would get a text message with the offer and the coupon code (which was their phone number), the location of the box, and an expiry date (7 days after they received the coupon). 15 minutes after submitting the phone number, we would ask the user to share the post on Facebook with their friends, thus creating a new small viral loop.

Step 5: After a few days, if they didn’t go to the box, we would remind them about their coupon on messenger, and 2 days before the expiry date, we would send them a new text message with a reminder.

Step 6: Once the user shows up at the box, he would show the staff their text message, the staff was trained to input the customer number on a special area of the messenger bot and the bot would validate the coupon and check if it was redeemed or not.

Step 7: After about an hour of having the coupon validated, the customer would receive a message on Facebook requesting him to rate their experience from 1 to 5 stars. If the user rated 4 or 5 stars we would thank him and request them to write a Facebook review, which is public and gives us notoriety.
If the user rated 1–3 stars, we would ask him how we could’ve given him a better experience.

We generated around 458 coupons and out of those, 98 people actually went to the box and enjoyed a tasty burger. So we had a conversion rate of 21%.

We also opened a direct line of communication with 614 people on Facebook messenger, and 458 people via text messages.


So the next step is to develop a Box Club and POS (point of sale) integration so we can track how many times a customer has come to our Box Burger and estimate the lifetime value of our customers so we can more accurately understand what we can spend to acquire new customers.


So the beauty of this is that we can track each step of the funnel. And figure where are the bottlenecks of our funnel.

It’s unbelievable the amount of clutter one can accumulate digitally, you read a nice blog post, you open up another article, oh, let’s subscribe to their newsletter, or the thousand articles you push to the “Read later” service of your choice, follow, join group, like, sounds familiar?

For me is almost daily. When I get interested in something I go nuts about it, I start reading, listening, watching every piece of content I can get my hands on, to absorb the most amount of information I can about that subject. (Youtube is an awesome learning tool)

If you’re like me your online social stack probably comprises majority of Email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (There are a bunch more other social networks and apps, but the majority will use any combination of these 4).

Email

I have 3 emails, one personal and 2 for business, and when I subscribe to something I usually just do it on my personal inbox, this way my business inboxes are always well organised, but even those, you register for a web service account and BOOM, almost immediately you get a registration email, a week goes by, BAAMM another email, then all of the sudden your inbox is a mess again. It got to a point where I got sick every time I had to open my email, this had to stop, I had to tame my online life.

I opened an account at unroll.me and found out that I had more than 1000 subscriptions, DAMN! I unsubscribed and rolled almost all newsletters in just under 15 minutes but I found that some emails get through their filters and you still have to manually unsubscribe them.

Some newsletters are very easy to unsubscribe, right from the header on gmail, but there are a few companies that believe that placing a 6 step unsubscription process will be very pleasant to their subscribers (NO, I DON’T REMEMBER THE LOGIN CREDENTIALS I USED 2 YEARS AGO), well in those cases I just use Gmail’s SPAM FILTER , because is basically what their doing.

I’m still cleaning up my inboxes since this is not a 2 hour process, you’ll still get emails from time to time (not every company emails you every week) but now I’m enjoying more and more opening up my email and seeing content that I really enjoy reading about; one of my favourites is getting Quora Digest, very interesting questions and answers.

Facebook

Facebook friends could be organised in these categories:

  • Family
  • Tight Friends
  • Acquaintances
  • Business related people
  • People you haven’t talked in years
  • and the occasional “Who the hell is this person?”

And If you don’t spend some time organising and cleaning up your facebook account from time to time, your feed will be a mess and the experience of using facebook will be dreadful. The most important question would be, what purpose you want for your facebook account?

For me is 3 things:

  • Family and Close Friends — Since I have family and friends scattered through this planet of ours, I want to keep tabs on what’s happening on their lives, and facebook is perfect for that. Since using facebook I feel that every time I visit my across the sea, we can pick up our relationship right where we left off.
  • Business — Whether that would be managing social media marketing, developing your relationship with other people, keeping up with industry news (groups are perfect for that) or having conversations and just making more stuff happen faster.
  • Personal Interests — I find that facebook groups are great for learning, sharing ideas and having discussions, there are groups on almost all topics, about half the time I spend on facebook it’s on groups absorbing more about the topics I want to learn more of.

Based on these 3 things, I created a bunch of lists, just to keep everything well organized, it’s time consuming but worth it. Want to know what is happening with you family? One click and your feed changes, and in 30 seconds you have a scoop on the matter, easy.

Linkedin

For LinkedIn since I’m not a heavy user, I didn’t change much.

Twitter

Twitter is one social media service that I use to use more often, but my follow list just grew to a point where it was no longer fun, I never used their “List” feature and just followed people, BIG MISTAKE!

Now I reduced my follows to about 200 and what an improvement, it’s fun again.

To do this I unfollowed almost every account, keeping only the few that REALLY interested me, and started creating lists of interests instead of just clicking Follow, this way my feed is nice and perfect.

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