U. S. Youth – Triple Crown

Civil and Materials, Chemical, Bio, Electrical and Computer, and Mechanical-Industrial young engineers at the University of Illinois at Chicago are designing:  clothes to sense objects, waterways to combat Asian Carp fish invasions in filtering systems, lake waves to harvest energy, new processes to minimize shale production emissions,… to name a few of the 75 projects exhibits at UIC Expo26, Designing our World on April 21, 2015.

Over 200 engineering students are indeed designing our world.  In doing so, they are demonstrating that the U. S. is ready to maintain its competitive edge in a multi-powers world.

U. S. Youth – Triple Crown

Heart-felt Super Bowl XLIX

Heart-Felt Super Bowl XLIX

No controversy could had derailed Super Bowl XLIX. Why did not the atmosphere affect the other team’s balls? It was no time to ask.  Spoiler ad alerts on check and themed food ready, a record 112M+ watched the game on TV (128M during the last minutes), 1.3M Web-streamed and many posted 28M+ tweets. It was football time.

For me, it was culture observation time, through the eyes of football.

2015 Business Strategy Essentials

2015 Strategy Essentials is a powerful, short read for senior management, marketing, public relations, branding, creative and related business professionals.  Distilled through hundred of trends, I discuss a few mega trends with strategic impact for 2015.

Top Ten Reasons to Celebrate Hispanic Awareness Month

What does it mean to you Hispanic Awareness month?

1. If you have a son or daughter older than 18, he/she is 20% likely to marry a Latino/a.

2. If you move, your next door neighbor could be Latino/a.

3. If you sell Consumer products such as food, clothes, cars, baby products, housewares, Latinos are your lead users and main social media chatty advocates, over indexing In consumption by 15-50%.

4. If you need to take care of your loved ones:  elderly parents, children and yourself when you get sick.

5. If you are in politics and need voters as 2000+ U. S. born Latinos turn 18 years old every day of the year.

6. If you are Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, your business may not exist or would be much smaller.

7.  If you want your big or small city income to grow, even in Arizona.

8. If you would like to expand your business to take advantage of about one billion habitants in the Americas hemisphere.

9. If you do not like to grow, harvest and ship your food; wash your car, cut the grass, or serve, cook and clean your own dishes at a restaurant.

10. If you want to defend Your country, as many Latinos have done during decades.

Celebrate Hispanic heritage month, celebrate an intrinsic part of America history and future.

Oh, it passed. Prepare for next year.

“We must rewrite our story from one of fear to one of celebration.”  ― Kameron Hurley, Rapture
“We must rewrite our story from one of fear to one of celebration.”
― Kameron Hurley, Rapture

-Hispanic youth account for 20% of all 18-24 years old and are making big strides in college enrollment, accounting for 16.3% of all 4-year college enrollment. Pew Hispanic Research.
-As of 2005, the proportion of Hispanics in the $75,000 income household level increased to 18%, higher in New York, Miami and Chicago. Many dynamics explain this such as the polling of income among family members, younger age generation growing income opportunities and sheer growth rates as a percentage of the population. Source: Hispanics in the United States: A Demographic, Social, and Economic History
-Hispanic consumers act as accelerators in growing categories and brakes in declining ones, The Hispanic Imperative 2012, Nielsen.
-800,000 Hispanics turn 18 years old every year, Pew Hispanic Research.
-Hispanics increasingly account for a larger proportion of any city revenues and taxes. Arizona is one example, per Arizona Daily Star.
-Hispanic population accounts for 56% of the total population growth in the last ten years.

Discovering Economic Enchantment

Photo Dec 20

Photo Dec 21This week marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. September 16 was Mexican Independence Day celebration. During this Hispanic Heritage Month I am thinking about Puerto Rico, a part of the U.S. often ignored unless in tourist ads.

Cristóbal Colón was in such awe when he set foot on Borinquén (Taíno Indians name) that he called it ‘La Isla del Encanto’, the Enchantment Island. The island-nation preserves its natural beauty in the middle of a bustling society. Sustained economic development, although superior than most of Latin America, lags its potential. I am referring to the potential to raise a stagnant economy and living conditions of Puerto Ricans as well as an investment that could complement the U.S. economy.

How? Here are some examples:

Ready talent: About 25% of the 3.5M Puerto Ricans living on the island are bilingual and many, through Pell Grant aid, are also college educated yet underemployed. This relatively young, educated and English-speaking population could become a catalyst in filling hundred of thousands open high-tech jobs both at the professional and trade levels.

Culture: Puerto Ricans have lived in a dual – American and Latin – society for over 100 years, already mastering multidimensional approaches to the challenges of an increasingly diverse society. They are also primed as easy bridges between Latin America and the U.S.

Puerto Rico is a good economic partner for the U.S. Stable politically, Puerto Ricans are proud of who they are, but also value the relationship with the U.S. Setting aside referendums for full statehood, during the last century over 95% of the population consistently voted for a relationship with the United States.

Facing economic challenges that are exponential in nature versus the mainland, Puerto Ricans demonstrated integrity in the way they have handled investors during the recent crisis. Some are taking note. Quoted The New York Times this week: “hedge funds, including Perry Capital, Fir Tree Partners and other members of the self-styled Ad Hoc Group of investors, have bought $4.5 billion of Puerto Rico government guaranteed and tax-supported bonds — or roughly 10 percent of the total — making them a financial and political force on the island.”

Armed forces: Already active in the Armed Forces since the 1920s, Puerto Ricans are passionate patriots. Building on multi-cultural and multi-lingual background, soldiers could become an asset in learning Arabic languages and connecting with diverse groups around the world.

Geography: Most of Puerto Rico has rich, moist soil. My mother used to throw seeds out of the window and the next week plants were growing. The land is ready for a sustainable, yet organized way to produce exotic fruits and vegetables, organic produce or to build biomes that would mimic world forests as laboratories for new medicine discoveries.

I would not want to see all pristine land disappear, but there are many undiscovered treasures in real state at prices that are frankly a bargain. Investors need to think beyond the tourist industry.

Deep ports:  The name Puerto Rico means rich port. The San Juan Bay is one of the deepest points in the Atlantic Ocean. Could these ports house ships from a new local assembly or manufacturing center? There are plenty tourists ships.

Investment through high interest debt is an opportunity but not enough. The ecosystem in support of the investment must also be addressed.

As a Puerto Rican I know that on the island, you think small. The investor side and the local governments often ignore the potential that a small and rich island can offer. It is time to change that.

Let’s do not ignore Puerto Rico’s beauty nor its economic potential enchantment.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!
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Photo Dec 22

Am I Wrong?

Children crossing
The current crisis of over 50K unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. borders have almost fallen from the news radar. Plenty of finger-pointing heated arguments and what becomes automatic polarization of any and all issues is common. Some little progress is taking place through funds allocated to quick deportation. ‘Let’s get rid of the problem’, I mean children, mentality prevails.

Nobody is addressing root causes.

For the returned children and their families, life will likely be worse than before engaging in the dangerous trip to the U.S. Maybe it is not our problem what’s happening in neighboring Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Maybe it is.

We do not want to accept that there is a humanitarian crisis at our borders. It is easier to feel safer by returning these children quickly, building bigger border walls, or, and we should, going after the ‘coyotes’ who smuggle children. It is easy to deny that there is a violence crisis in Central America or to even think that it is touching us.

I ask, why have violence surged in these countries? Drug cartels have existed for years. Nobody dares to look deeply into the answer. It is easy to blame the government or ‘those’ people.

Am I wrong to believe that as Americans we can do better? Let me offer some suggestions:

1) Although nobody has yet studied the long-term effects of the 1994 Assault Weapons laws end in 2004; ask anyone in Mexico or in Central American and he/she will point out to the immediate rise in violence correlated to the laws ending. An obvious, easy and no-cost to taxpayers solution is to re-enact these laws.

2) Illegal drugs traffic bosses and its organized crime structure are outstanding businesses. They understand how to increase demand, distribution and marketing through latest technologies. Can we limit the enabling tools they use?
What about changing the public perception on drug usage from a mentality that ‘using drugs for fun is not bad as long as you are not hooked’ to ‘if you use illegal drugs you are helping murderers’? How would jokes about drug explorations look if tied to the cruel realities of drug trade and its trail of violence? Legalizing marijuana may ease some, but the allure of hard, expensive drugs is likely to continue.

3) In most of these countries $1 USA dollar roughly equals $10 in the local economy. What about taking modest amounts of money and invest in safe schools, entrepreneurial and trade organizations that give these children hope for the future and a safe role in their own destinies?

4) In the meanwhile, could we take these 50,000 students and teach them something? What can we do creatively to equip them with tools that would help them in their life trials? What impression do we want to leave with them other than the richest country in the world protesting to expel them?

5) Finally and probably a more complex issue is to discuss comprehensive immigration reform. The 11M undocumented immigrants in the U.S. contribute to innovation, job creation, tax income, and overall demand for housing and products and services. For example, in 2006 “Texas Comptroller reported that undocumented immigrants provided $17.7 billion in gross state product, including over $424 million more in state revenues than they consumed in state services including education, health care and law enforcement.” An immigration policy that protects current citizens from technical obsolescence, while opening the doors to the creativity and zest of immigrant workers, both skilled and unskilled, would be good for the economy.

Some are afraid that comprehensive immigration reform means opening flood gates to more illegal immigrants. It does not have to. Comprehensive means that border controls and limits to protect national interests are part of the reform.

I am sure there are other solutions. Inaction or denial is no solution.

I am a little worried about the meaning for us as a country if we ignore the plight of children. In the past, we welcomed those escaping violence in Cambodia, Vietnam or the Middle East. These children come from Central America next door, also escaping violence and reprisal.

I am also concerned with the long-term effects polarizing politics is taking in the U.S. society. Our ability to discuss and look for solutions that elevate the human spirit while pushing the limits of efficiency and effectiveness are the hallmark of the American culture. We cannot lose that.

As a parent, I care for the children. I could not bear to imagine my own children in such a predicament. I am also concerned for our own future. How we treat our neighbors children today will help decide whether they would be ‘good or bad’ neighbors in the future.

Am I wrong to believe that we can do better in handling the current 50,000 children? No, I am not. It should be the American way.