The Power of Writing

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Since I started blogging last year the number of words that I have written for public consumption has gone up dramatically. It has really been an amazing outlet for me, and an avenue for ideas and self-expression that has been fun and mind-opening at the same time.

Only now can I imagine writing a full fledged book — how many blog entries would it take to write a book after all?

However, I have not been as successful in convincing other consultants that they also must write.

I read the following article from Robert Middleton today, sent to my inbox as an ezine. I decided to share a link, but I cannot find a link so here is the email I received in total:
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Hi Francis,

As you go through the InfoGuru Manual you might have noticed that I talk about writing quite a bit. In fact almost every chapter has something about writing – writing your marketing materials and web site copy, writing articles and talks, writing eZine copy and writing motivational copy.

In my opinion, writing is THE KEY to marketing professional services. There’s no way to really get around it. Someone once said that writing was simply ‘salesmanship in print.’

Sure, you can network and meet a lot of people, but by committing information about your services to writing you can ‘meet’ hundreds, if not thousands of people and tell them all exactly the same message about your services.

I was once struck by the power of writing when I was leading a business support group many years ago. I was demonstrating the power of ad copy and showed them a little ad in a local directory of services. This ad was about massage therapy. The headline, the copy the appeal were so interesting and attractive that one of the participants wrote down the telephone number to call the advertiser.

The interesting thing is that we had a massage therapist in our group who offered substantially the same services and had been sharing what she did with the group for several weeks. But the power of that little ad had more impact on our participant than meeting and talking with a massage therapist on a regular basis!

The Core of InfoGuru Marketing is sharing what you know and leveraging that knowledge to attract all the clients you can handle. This isn’t just an empty marketing phrase. It really works. And it starts with writing.

If you’ve gotten a few chapters into the manual and you haven’t written anything yet, it’s time to start. It might be your Executive Summary that gives an overview of your services or a short article or an outline for a talk. It doesn’t matter. Start somewhere.

One of my mentors, Alan Weiss, the author of Million Dollar Consulting, writes every morning. I actually suggest you do the same. Take the time to write something that will forward your business. With this writing you’ll have the ammunition to start promoting your business with real impact.

And, of course, there’s a lot of information in the manual itself on how to write more effectively. don’t just skim over these sections. Take the time to do the exercises and build some momentum in communicating the value of what you do.

All the best,

Robert Middleton

Action Plan Marketing
210 Riverside Drive
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

If you no longer wish to receive communication from us: http://autocontactor.com/app/r.asp?ID=83057713&ARID=4325

To update your contact information: http://autocontactor.com/app/r.asp?c=1&ID=83057713

“By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert’s web site at http://www.actionplan.com for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.”

Mastery and the Plateau

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I recently completed a wonderful, short book entitled Mastery, written by George Leonard.

The first wonderful thing to report is that the book is based entirely on his own experience of learning aikido, from the novice stages to the point where he is a black belt, with his own school. This gives a certain gravity to what he says, coming from a serious discipline that requires a certain kind of devotion that cannot be short-cut, or faked. Also, the fact that this is a sport, as opposed to a part of his work, makes it that much easier to appreciate, and hopefully to apply to other parts of life.

The second wonderful thing is that he really says some new things that I have never heard before about the journey that each human being must take to advance themselves along their chosen path of interest in life — no matter what the path is. It is fascinating to me to realize that each and every chosen path is worthy of mastery — even plumbing, as I mentioned in an earlier blog on this topic!

Regardless of the path, there is a certain humanity that we must all deal with that is inescapable, even if we have Tiger Woods’ sized talent in our field of interest. The author’s observations about this path are what struck me as unique.

In the book he rightly observed that most of use do not demonstrate what it takes to become masters in the fields that we pursue, mostly because we simply love to find shortcuts and easy payoffs. He introduces three ways in which people try to avoid the long, slow struggle to mastery.

The three ineffective ways of being that people adopt are what he called The Dabbler, The Obsessive and the Hacker. I believe that we indulge in all these ways at different times in different fields, as we are confronted by what it takes to become a real master in one or more areas.

The Dabbler is someone who approaches each area of interest with enormous enthusiasm, whether it be a new sport, career opportunity, or relationship. This person loves the newness of getting started, and the new equipment, clothing, people and language that mark the beginning phases of any new interest.

They are overjoyed with their new find, and are willing to talk with anyone who will listen about their new interest. The first few lessons are eagerly anticipated, and as the early gains come there is a sense of euphoria.

The excitement continues until the first wall comes which marks the start of the first plateau in improvement. It starts to look as if nothing is happening, and to the Dabbler this is unacceptable — something must be going wrong.

The Dabbler’s response is to rationalize that this must be the wrong sport, career choice or paramour. They start to blame the hobby, the coach, the manager, the lover — whatever they must do to explain to themselves what is happening.

Starting all over again with another new interest is the only option, and the Dabbler quickly finds something new, or someone new, or some new place to be excited about all over again. Nothing gets accomplished, because the Dabbler is always… dabbling, and never spend enough concentrated time and effort in becoming masterful.

Over time, the Dabbler’s progress might look like the diagram at left.

The Obsessive, however, loses him or herself in the all the activity of their new interest. They devote tremendous amounts of time, energy and money acquiring information about their new area of interest. In a sport, they seek extra coaching wherever possible, and spend extra time practicing wherever they can. They purchase every book they can get their hands on.

In a relationship they virtually study their partner and cannot bear to be away or out of contact for very long — as if the other person’s presence is the most important thing to have.

This person is hooked on immediate results — the immediate knowledge, the felt thrill of learning and improving quickly. When the results slow down by virtue of hitting the inevitable plateau, the Obsessive redoubles their efforts. They work harder than ever, and put in even more effort to try to break out of the plateau. Long hours, late nights and 7 day a week work-weeks are their trademark.

In a relationship, they are the ones who crowd out their partner, stifling them with unceasing and eventually unwanted attention. They will not allow the plateau to run its course, and instead do whatever they can to force improvements and results to come.

Eventually, the Obsessive overdoes it, and the inevitable result is either burn-out or crash-out, sometimes carrying others with them in what is often a painful fall for everyone involved.

Over time, the Obsessive’s progress might look like the following diagram:

The Hacker, by contrast, is someone who hits a wall in performance and never generates enough intention to get past it. They are content to stay in the plateau indefinitely, hanging around without improvement, and never expecting to get any better.

They might just be involved for the “fellowship,” or the free food or the security, but the fact is they are satisfied with never ever doing any better at the particular interest. At work, they do just enough to never get fired. In a marriage, they simply enjoy the security of the relationship, without worrying themselves about learning and growing in the relationship.

For them, keeping things the same is of paramount importance, and their time is spent dealing with threats that might disrupt the status quo, either positively or negatively. The Hacker’s progress over time is shown in the diagram at left.

Obviously, most people are not one type or another in every place in life. Most of us live lives in combination — e.g. being a Dabbler in playing sports, and being a Hacker in relationships. The net effect is the same however — Mastery in nothing.

The Master, however, is someone who is able to deal effectively with the walls that inevitably comes in attempting to improve performance.

In the early stages of a new interest, there is steady improvement, and then a spurt of gains as everything seems to come together all at once. The body and mind which have been learning at different rates cooperate to produce the perfect result, and all of a sudden there is a breakthrough in performance.

However, once the breakthrough has been completed, there is always an immediate drop off in performance, followed by a plateau, as the body and mind consolidate and organize at this new level, and begin to prepare for the next improvement.

Therefore, improvement does not come as a steady graph of upward improvement. Instead, improvement comes in spurts, and usually all at once after spending significant time on the plateau in which nothing seems to be happening. See the diagram at left.

A couple of weeks ago, on my regular 4:00 a.m. bicycle ride here in Kingston (described in this blog entry) I suddenly realized that I was riding stronger than ever before. The experience was unmistakable — instead of barely hanging on at the back of the pack of the riders, I felt as if I was cruising with additional strength to spare at what was about a 25 – 27 mph pace. I actually was able to be up with the fastest riders at the front, and to participate in the final sprint at the end, which took us up to 32mph or so.

The improvement was stunning to me and to several others who, on the ride back up Mountain View, remarked that I was riding much stronger than before. I had clearly broken out of the plateau I had been on since February, when I first started riding with this group.

It is during the plateau that the dysfunctional behaviour of the Dabbler, Obsessive and Hacker occur.

The Master, however, reacts differently, neither quitting, nor becoming neurotic, not giving up on further improvement.

Instead, the Master devotes him or herself to practice, because that is all that there is to do in the plateau. Patience, discipline and diligence are their watchwords as they immerse themselves in perfecting their craft.

When the plateau is described to most people, their mind (which has been trained by the current culture to think in terms of immediate gratification) reacts with a feeling of boredom or fatigue. However, the Master is able to do more than just be bored — they are able to find satisfaction, joy and challenge even while they endure the lack of improvement.

The Master’s focus is not on the immediate results, but instead it is on the practice itself, and on perfecting the drills that are required in this phase to eke out the invisible small improvements that are the hidden building blocks of the sudden improvements that occur days, months and even years later.

Is the source of Brian Lara’s achievements his talent, or is it the millions of balls he has faced in the nets practicing the same strokes over and over again for over twenty years? Clearly, talent has its place, but it is only a starting point.

Is the source of Tiger Woods’ achievement his father who encouraged him, or is it the millions of shots he has taken and the minute changes he has made to his game over the years? Obviously, early coaching has its place, but that cannot replace the solitary practice he has undertaken over most of his life.

In the moments when I have enjoyed the plateau, there has been a profound feeling of being alive, and awake to what is around me. In the Total Immersion swimming technique that I have used for almost ten years, there is an emphasis on doing drill after drill, and looking for
small improvements in technique and in one’s feel for the water.

Recently, I switched from breathing every 2 strokes to every 3 strokes, a change I tried several years ago without success. Only now, after years and miles of practice, could I make the switch and get my body and mind to cooperate, with the result being an instant boost in sped, and an ability to use the new stroke without feeling as if I am drowning!

Other areas of mastery that I realized I have committed myself to after reading this book include: public speaking, managing my company, growing in my relationship with my wife, expanding my relationship with the Divine and leading high-stake interventions in organizations.

Of course, I have many other areas of minor interest that I have no commitment to become Masterful in, such as fixing computers, university teaching, cooking and playing cricket and football.

The challenge for our people here in the Caribbean is that they are becoming more and more like their counterparts in North America — trained to seek instant satisfaction from life around them. Nowhere in our school curriculum are students taught to value, to enjoy, even to love the plateau, the long stretch of diligent effort, with no seeming progress (according to the author.)

This is a tragedy, not only in accomplishment, but also in personal enjoyment because accomplishing anything worthwhile involves a commitment to Mastery. Granted, there is a thrill in winning the lottery, but that is a fleeting victory and comes from luck rather than diligent effort and application.

Often, the gifted athlete makes the worst coach, simply because they are ill-acquainted with the plateaus that an athlete must learn to love in order to reach the higher levels of accomplishment. They find it hard to help an athlete go through these plateaus simply because they do not know of their existence from first-hand experience.

The author, in closing, makes the overall observation that on a daily basis we are not present to each and every moment, and therefore rob ourselves of the joy that is available. We wake up and hurry to take a bath (taking a bath isn’t important). We hurry up and “grab a bite” to eat (eating is not important). We rush to put on our clothes (also inconsequential). We rush to drop off the children and to get to work through the unimportant” rush hour” traffic. We engage in some light chatting, because we are too busy to really talk (more important things await). Perhaps work will be challenging and interesting and different (but most days, it is not).Maybe lunch will bring a stimulating conversation… but it usually doesn’t.

And so on.

The fact is, life consists mostly of plateau-like activities, and even a World Cup footballer will play at most 2-3 matches of ninety minutes each per week during the season, which equates to at most 4.5 hours out of a possible 126 waking hours — some 4%.

If our experience of our lives has more to do with our moment by moment experience, than anything else, then teaching ourselves to love the practice that is required in the plateaus may be the beginning of actually leading a Masterful life.

Starting an ezine

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A few years ago, our firm had an email magazine that was a terror to create, and even harder to send out using old-style majordomo commands.

They were sent out, and no-one had any idea whether or not they reached their destination, let alone if any of them were even read.

Today, the progress in this area is amazing just amazing. I had no idea so much had happened since I last shopped around, and how much capability is available in systems that cost around $20 per month.

As I am putting together my new ezine I have been researching what is available on the web. As could be expected, I am looking for the most recent offerings and the latest services, and at reports that compare one service against another.

I was secretly hoping that there would be a book that I could buy, but the truth is that books written about anything related to the internet are out of date by the time they are even published. It makes me wary about writing a book in print, rather than an ebook or a blog, or ezine.

I found myself looking at the very latest information, all of which was developed in the past 3 months or so. Anything written before that was based on what had already become very old and stale information.

That is how quickly technology in the field changes, and while I can remember buying books about “The Internet” and “Email” the fact is that they were almost useless by the time I bought them in 1994. Today, they would be completely useless.

Clearly, in the past 12 years or so something profound has happened on the planet in the life of many persons.

More on Loving "Work"

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I am reading a book by a Cornell class-mate of mine called Steve Shapiro. The book is called “Goal-Free Living.”

The book is quite good, and he has developed what sounds (up until page 62 at least) to be a distinct way of looking at how to think about planning the things that we want to achieve.

While reading, I came across the following quote from Buckminster Fuller:

The things to do are: the things that need doing: that you see need to be done, and no one else seems to see the need to be done. Then you will conceive your own way of doing that which needs to be done — that no one else has told you to do or how to do it. This will bring out the real you that often gets buried inside a character that has acquired a superficial array of behaviors induced or imposed by others on the individual.

This quote perfectly captures some of the experiences I have had in my own life, when I have felt the pull of a commitment that I could not quite explain, but felt very real nontheless. At those moments, I wondered why no-one else can see or hear the things that I did. I wondered if I were the only one.

Until reading this quote, I did not appreciate that what I see so clearly is only what I see, and only what I am able to see — to the exclusion of every other human being.

I find this to the force behind a great deal of what I do professionaly, and why I love to write, and specifically to blog. When not writing, I find myself mulling over points of view or insights that I badly want to express in the world, and while I am writing them I cannot shake the feeling that this stuff is all very obvious, and that everyone must already know this.

This quote helped me to understand that this is not the case, and my recent return to Jamaica has been a tremendous and powerful opportunity to see my country differently. This has been one of the gifts that I received from living and working for 20+ years abroad.

In this sense, “Work” is not a burden or a drudgery. After all, no-one starts a new job saying that they intend it to be dull and uninspiring.

Instead, when there is a belief that the work we are doing is specifically designed for US, and that we are the only ones who could do it — well, that is different. When we are alive to life, and to what is around us in our work, then we can see what no-one else can, and therefore do what no-one else can.

This makes for a life worth living, right down to the minute by minute experience. It also makes for a life that is full, which has more to do with a life in which every aspect is engaged fully (rather than merely full of too much stuff).

In this way, it is easy to see how my own uniqueness allows for each and every part of my life to be a different one. It makes me want to commit — to not having a single corner of my life be ordinary by my terms. I also see how I can bring something unique to each aspect of my life, if I am only willing to first believe that I can, and then to wait until it reveals itself.

After all, if we all possess a divine origin, how could it be any different?

More Evidence of Friction Points

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As luck would have it, there was an insightful article in todays Jamaica Business Observer about the cost that friction points are having on our economy here in Jamaica (and by extension, across the Caribbean).

In the article, the IMF has made the following observations about our economy:

  • it is probably 2.7% larger than we think, based on the growth in electricity consumption (this mirrors a similar assertion by the Minister of Finance)
  • this growth is unsustainable, as it is small, under-funded and under-organized
  • services are likely to be stretched, if the official figures are to be believed
  • financing and legal constraints are the two obstacles to starting formal businesses
  • employees hired by informal businesses are lower paid and receive fewer social services and training

Furthermore, a study of the IADB in 2002 showed that businesses in the informal sector are typically family-owned, small-scale operations, with labour-intensive production, low levels of productivity and a low capacity for capital accumulation

Basically, our system discourages the formation of companies, and there is only a disincentive to the small business-person to do things “the right and legal way”.

Of course, an informal business pays no taxes, which effectively places a higher burden on the official businesses, which must carry the burden for both economies.

In short, everyone suffers in the long-term.

And to think that the primary obstacle (legal restrictions) is one that would cost almost nothing but our own will-power to remove.

The Thwarting of the Creative Class

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In an earlier blog, I wrote about how the Creative Class (the engine of economic growth) searches out and thrives in environments rich on the 3T’s: Talent, Technology and Tolerance. (see several blogs starting with Tolerance and Talent).

Strangely enough, we in the Caribbean do not encourage our ‘creatives’ nearly enough. Instead, perhaps out of a mistaken wish for our children to have an easier life than we had, we want our children to become doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers.

For example, I have the distinct impression that if I worked hard, long hours to create a successful patty or roti business, then I would not want them to grow up to be “only” shop owners. Instead, I want them to do better than I did, and become doctors, lawyers, etc. Furthermore, I would probably want them to live in Toronto, New York or Miami.

This particular priority might come from a good and sincerely loving place. However, it has two severe drawbacks.

One is that it breaks up families, and from a business point of view robs the company of the lifeblood it needs to live past the owner’s death. There are numerous stories of companies in which the founder would only trust his or her family to run and own it, while encouraging the same family members to enter “easier” and “more noteworthy” professions. The result is that businesses close when there is no-one interested in running them — not the outcome that the founders had intended at all.

The second drawback is that our societies encourage their members to pursue the high profile occupations, while at the same time discouraging them from starting and running their own companies. In other words, they discourage them from becoming creatives in the economic sense — entrepreneurs.

The result is that Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are difficult places to thrive as entrepreneurs.

This is not a situation that is unique to Jamaica, however, but it is one that I am about to deal with as I attempt to set up a Jamaican company as a wholly-owned subsidiary of my U.S. company. I can’t wait… I expect to deal with a bureaucracy that is inherently inimical to what I am trying to do.

I have been “officially” informed that setting up a company in Jamaica takes only 2-3 days.

As I read this, it makes me think of that crucial distinction made by Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat, in a chapter named “The Virgin of Guadalupe.” In this chapter, he talks about how cultural icons in Mexico and Egypt that are big-sellers to locals and tourists are not actually made locally. Instead, they are made in China.

Mexican officials, he explains, are quaking in their boots because it has become cheaper and more efficient to mass-manufacture many products in China, even with the advantages granted by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and obvious geographical advantage of being located next door to the greatest mass-market on earth. This includes the religious and cultural icon that is sold in the thousands to Mexicsn adn foreigners alike: The Virgin of Guadelupe.

What is going on here?

Check out this quote from today’s Jamaica Gleaner:

The conundrum faced by the IDB researchers, and the Finance Minister, Dr Omar Davies, is the country’s continued weak economic growth despite its high levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) and relatively strong capital formation, averaging four per cent and near 30 per cent of GDP in recent years.

In other countries with these levels of investment, annual growth would be expected upwards of six per cent a year. Jamaica has struggled to achieve GDP expansion of two per cent or more.

Ms. Currea and her colleagues at the IDB offer an important and perhaps insightful perspective. Bureaucracy, they suggest, impose high transaction costs on business, leading to informality and anaemic growth in the formal economic sector. Indeed, prior to this recent analysis of the performance of the Jamaican economy, the IDB had estimated that the informal sector accounts for about 40 per cent of the country’s economic activity.

Basically, this is saying that it is so hard to do business in Jamaica on a formal, legal basis that it is better just to keep things small, informal and illegal because the benefits of starting an official business are just too insignificant. It makes sense that if I am interested in manufacturing my own “Virgin” that I would try to do so in a country in which it is easy to do business.

Reading this paragraph made me run for my Friedman book, and to this chapter.

In it, he talks about reform wholesale, which was an era of broad macroeconomic reform. Countries, such as Jamaica, China, Russia et al pushed their countries into more export-oriented, free-market strategies. Some of the changes that were made included “privatization of state companies, deregulation of financial markets, currency adjustments, foreign direct investment, shrinking subsidies, lowering of protectionist tariff barriers and the introduction of more flexible labor laws.”

Companies that refused to make these changes (such as North Korea) actually saw their GDP’s shrink.

However, reform wholesale, according to the strategies outlined above is no longer enough, because aggressive countries like India and China have gone well beyond the basics, to offer what he calls “reform retail”.

Reform retail involves looking at a country’s infrastructure, regulatory environment, education and culture and upgrading each one to “remove as many friction points as possible.”

Friction points.

This describes the general difference, for me, of doing business in Jamaica and the region, versus doing business in North America. In the US, as a business owner, I experienced very few friction points, relative to my experience of doing business here in Jamaica.

In a recent blog I mentioned that it took me three days to get someone to answer the phone at the Ministry of Justice. Luckily, the matter was not an urgent one or else I would have had to visit in person, and burn several hours in line waiting only to hear that my papers were still not ready, and that I should have to wait longer.

In the news recently, a judge entered a judgement against a local Jamaican government agency — the National Environmental Planning Agency — when he discovered that they had not followed their own process in granting a permit to build a 2000 room hotel in an ecologically sensitive area. (Full disclosure: my father, Dr. Barry Wade, is the chairman of the company that performed the Environmental Impact Assessment.) The judgement may have the effect of halting construction, which would not only be costly to the builders, but put two thousand workers out of a job.

This must give the investors, a Spanish company, a severe case of “bureaucracy burn” as they felt the friction of doing business in Jamaica. If you cannot trust a governmental agency to give the right permits, then who can you trust, and who can you believe? I am sure that when they are assessing where to put their next hotel, this catastrophe would rank high on their list of concerns.

Taking away friction points like these is not just a matter of throwing cash at problems, either. In fact, that might make things worse.

For example, Trinidad is currently undergoing a rapid increase in wages, due to how it is spending the high tax revenues that are accruing from US$70+ barrel oil. The government launched a series of program for the poor under the name of CEPEP — Community-based Environmental and Enhancement Programme. Unskilled workers were paid a “decent” wage to clear debris, cut bush and do other manual tasks that included plenty time to take lengthy naps (this I know from personal observation).

The result? A labour shortage in Trinidad, especially at the lowest levels. A friend of mine who recently returned to Trinidad to run a business told me that he cannot find people to hire at the wage he needs to pay, because anyone who wants to work knows that they can do so with CEPEP, with more of an emphasis on getting paid, and less on actually doing any useful work. Here in Jamaica, we have had similar programs over the years, usually occurring around the end of the year… hence the name, “Christmas Work.”

So, spending money can actually help to create new “friction points.”

A study undertaken by the IFC in 2004 called Doing Business in 2004 has actually documented the differences. They have also updated their information on their website to 2006.

They measured how difficult it is to do the following basics, all of which I have had to do as a company owner:

  1. start a business in terms of local rules, regulations and license fees
  2. hire and fire workers
  3. enforce a contract
  4. get credit
  5. close a failing business

In Jakarta, Indonesia an entrepreneur must deposit minimum capital of three times the per capita income, and then wait a total of 186 days before he can start business officially.

In Panama City, a company owner finds it easier to keep underperformers on staff than it is to hire a high performer, due to union pressures and local laws.

A trader in the UAE must undertake 27 procedures and endure 550 days to resolve a payment dispute in court.

An entrepreneur in Ethiopia cannot access credit to expand her company because there are no credit information registries. She cannot use accounts receivable as collateral, due to local laws.

A businessman in India cannot make a profit and goes out of business. Due to the 10 year-long process of going through bankruptcy, he absconds leaving his workers, bank and tax agency with nothing.

It takes 2 days to start a business in Australia, 203 days in Haiti and 215 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The IFC report notes that excessive regulation tends to hurt most the very people it is meant to protect. The rich and well-connected just buy or hustle their way around onerous regulations.

It is no mistake, and quite sad, that the poorest countries have the most friction points. Perhaps they were even created by well-meaning government bureaucrats, but the result is the same — a weak economy that discourages the entrepreneur.

When Michael Manley gave his famous “five flights a day” speech that lead in part to the massive migration of Jamaica’s creative class, he had no idea what he was really doing — laying the seeds of poverty for years to come.

We Jamaicans (and I would say that this extends to the CSME countries) must start to critically examine our own thinking, and what we tell ourselves, and what we tell our children. I cannot believe that we consciously conspired to chase off our creative class, and encouraged our children to migrate and enter “high-profile” professions. We also did not consciously intend to teach them them to avoid nitty-gritty entrepreneurship.

I remember a few years a remark that was shared with me about a T-shirt company I had started: “look at how him get big Ivy-League degree and all him can do now is sell T-shirt!”

In spite of our unconscious actions, and their consequences, today we can consciously decide to teach our children the virtues of starting companies, staying to fight for our country’s welfare, returning to make a contribution, taking down barriers to business that make no sense, and see that these actions are critical to nation-building.

And this is not nation-building for the “big man”. Instead, this is mostly about that little old lady who sells sweeties at the corner from a box on top of a stone, who at some point dreamed of owning a store, but when confronted with the friction points that she would have to overcome, simply gave up. As a result, she remained poor.

In the US, it is the little old ladies who start small businesses that are the engine of their growth, according to this news report:

U.S. entrepreneurs are often described as one of the primary drivers of the nation’s economy. For starters, small outfits create some 75% of all new jobs, represent 99.7% of all employers, and employ 50% of the private workforce, according to the Small Business Administration.

That little old lady is one of the many creatives that we as a people need to stop thwarting.

P.S.

Here is Jamaica’s ranking in terms of its relative Ease of Doing Business (out of 155 countries.)

Overall Ranking: — 43

  1. start a business in terms of local rules, regulations and license fees — 10
  2. hire and fire workers — 82
  3. enforce a contract — 39
  4. get credit — 95
  5. close a failing business — 92