I love cinema!

Amo filmes e sempre tive vontade de escrever sobre isso, porém o fato de colocar as obrigações em primeiro lugar, e isso ser um lazer, me fez ir deixando de lado…
Agora, estudando o princípio de Pareto (80/20), resolvi que chegou a hora, e que afinal se 80% do tempo gastamos com coisas desimportantes, então que seja um hobby! 🙂
Embora esteja até as orelhas com trabalhos para a faculdade, o meu lazer de cinéfila continua sendo ver um filiminho quando posso….

Este final de semana assisti Família Vende Tudo, do Alain Fresnot. Queria ver uma comédia leve e o fato de ter Lima Duarte me atriu como certeza de boas risadas. O tema, atual e controverso, também foi um atrativo: uma família que incentiva a filha a dar o ‘golpe da barriga’ em um cantor famoso, como forma de ganhar algum dinheiro, pois vivem como a maioria dos brasileiros, na pobreza. O que ao final me chamou atenção, mais do que a personificação do famoso jeitinho brasileiro, foi o fato de que outras famílias também estavam vendendo tudo, como por exemplo a ex-esposa do cantor, personagem de Luana Piovani.

Vale salientar que Caco Ciocler, como o cantor sertanejo Ivan Carlos, está simplesmente ótimo! E não duvido que o refrão “Vem dançar um Xique-Xique que é bom” pegasse de verdade!

Advertisements

Reflective essay

MY MACE JOURNEY (TO THIS POINT)

I wanted to avoid opening this reflexion with the word “final” so that is my way of doing it, starting from the beginning. The first “Mace Friday” was a very interesting experience and something that I will cherish for a long time. The morning was gone, and in the afternoon I was to have my first Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship in Practice class. To be honest, at the beginning I felt a little lost because everyone was very excited, talking about some kind of “toilet” experience they all had, and also they were already familiar with the User Model. I come from a Journalism background, so in my mind I had no knowledge of design whatsoever. Thankfully, my opinion was later to change when I really understood the concept of design thinking.

Reflecting on this notion, I would like to highlight the importance that Tim Brown’s vision had to me. Here is the first lecture I heard from him, besides TED videos. We needed to comment about it on our blogs for this module. It is a one hour talk, but as soon as he started speaking about the concepts, and practical examples, I was staring at the screen until the end. After that, I started checking his blog regularly. It is a very interesting source, where he publishes, usually once a month, an article or comment on something that is happening on the design thinking field. Brown’s deconstruction of the idea that design is only related to objects, and making their aesthetics more attractive, was very important to me. It clarified my understanding of the idea that design is in everything: from services, to communication and user experiences. The Mace course was yet to demystify many other abstract concepts usually incrusted in people’s minds, such as creativity, innovation and leadership.

Another notion that was to become defining for me, and the way I see basically everything from then on, is the idea of empathy. It can seem obvious at first, but we needed an overview on how it works businesswise and its consequences. This was the first time I watched an RSA Animate video. I confess I became a frequent visitor to their website, as the animations bring a very captivating aspect to interesting lectures, either if you agree with their point or not. With the empathy concept in mind, we started on one of the most interesting parts of the module in my view: prototyping!

I like the idea of “visual thinking” present on the Business Model Generation where it says “Like visual thinking, it makes abstract concepts tangible and facilitate the exploration of new ideas” ( Osterwalder and Pigneur, 2010, p.162). Prototyping classes were guaranteed fun! My favourite was the elevator one, where we had a few bits and pieces (and a lot of post-its and rubber bands) to build “something” for elevators. This was my first practical experience with prototyping, and I assume also for a few of my colleagues. Besides that, I really enjoyed learning about digital prototyping, and how doing something like this video, simple and just requiring pen and paper, would really improve and help on the development of a website.

Back to empathy as the starting point, we had to do two things: the first was to write about passion. I have chosen a Steve Jobs talk called “How to live before you die”. For me, the main message and what made me choose that video, was the idea that one day “the dots will connect”. So if I did not know (or I thought so) one specific passion to select, I should let my intuition guide me and results would come. Now I can clearly see that, independent from what I do, my passion for media is still there. So, without realising back then, I connected it with our next blog assignment and the idea of going out and doing things.

The other task was to analyse a system, using the User Model. We were given the advice of going out and doing, rather than just being on our computers. So there I went, to explore the process of moving houses and understand the dynamics involved, as well as suggest any improvements that could be made.  Making this video allowed me to understand much better all the concepts around the User Model that we were discussing in class. Therefore, I can say that I left the comfort of my PC and I liked it very much!

Storytelling was another notion that became very significant during the first semester. I remember we watched a few videos in class, to illustrate the various different ways of storytelling. My favourite example was this video, where one baby bear runs from a horrendous feline. I share the view of Osterwalder and Pigneur (2010), that storytelling is a way to overcome people’s initial resistance to something that is unknown for them. That is done by communicating what your business is about and engaging with the listener.

So we have had several concepts clarified, and a set of tools that would help us to move to the next level of the “hands on” entrepreneurial experience of setting our own businesses. That should be done in groups, and therefore we needed to select our partners. At the beginning of the module we had a few experiences, such as the speed dating class that intended to help us to get to know each other and understand more about abilities, likes and dislikes, and of course experiences.

By the time groups were formed, we started the brainstorming process. We learned how to not kill each other ideas, how to respect different points of view and thinking styles. Further down the Mace line we would have a great lecture with Piers Ibbotson that would show us the effects of the “Yes, but..” and Yes, and… attitudes in practical activities and in a very engaging way. This notion means having a positive attitude towards the others and their different ways of thinking. That exercise made me realise I needed to improve some behaviours too, in order to become a better team player. After reading Ibbotson’s book The Illusion of Leadership (2008) the concepts, environment and behaviours needed to enhance creative group work would highlight what we were already experiencing in our businesses.

My group’s idea became a service to international students coming to London. Then International Student Toolkit (IST) was created. We all, as international students, had a strong feeling about the need for a platform where updated information would be available for students, and written in a clear and easy way.

The first time we shared our idea with someone out of the company was in November, when we had to pitch it to Corrine and Rob Fitzpatrick. The comments were positive, and that boosted our confidence to stick to our idea and keep developing it. At the time, we were also using Fitzpatrick’s Startup Toolkit to create what would be our business model. He became our mentor, giving us precious advice on a few processes such as recognizing the key people to contact, networking and how to follow up with them. 

The two Trade Fairs we had to attend were also of great importance for the business. The first one in February represented a time constraint for my team. We were excited and wanting to show our website up and running. It means that by then we had already articles (and translations) online, as well as a few videos. The event was a thermometer for the response on our business idea, not only from students but from everyone attending, for example, the representatives of Young Enterprise. Winning the best pitch was, in my view, a reward for our hard work, as well as an energy boost. I think the strong point of the second fair was more related with finding prospective customers for International Student Toolkit.

Moreover, there is no way to talk about our business and not mention the Dragons experience. The first one, back in November, was crucial for us to see our strengths (the idea itself and the logo were mentioned), as well as the weaknesses (we needed to develop further our cash flow). On the same day, we were given the opportunity to network with the Dragons. That for me personally meant getting out of my “pseudo shy” shelf and actually talking to them. That particular moment was very important for all of us, as we were beginning to learn how to sell our ideas.

In the whole process with IST, we had to be both: “creatives” and managers. Therefore, we could see in a practical way that the idea of these two worlds needing to be apart must be demystified. Creative individuals can performance as great managers, and vice versa, as presented in Management and Creativity (Bilton, 2007).

FUTURE

Now looking back at the whole project of developing and idea from scratch and creating an actual business, this was the best practical experience Mace could have provided me with. As I said when introducing myself in the first class: “- I want to be an entrepreneur and have my own business”. By that time, I did not know about what my company was going to be, and that is something still to be figured out. There are several paths I can follow. I know my future is back in Brazil, and therefore the actual business will be opened over there. However, in the meantime, I am very keen on doing something internet related while I am here in the UK.

As I mentioned above, the fact that we had the practical side, as well as the theoretical knowledge, made the whole experience much more enriching. The International Student Toolkit was, and still is, a very cohesive group. We all have extremely different backgrounds, thinking styles and opinions. That surely made our journey as a team much more interesting. However, we all get on really well and more than that, we became very good friends. That made the work more enjoyable and definitely had an effect on the outcome of our business.

So my future goal remains the same as when I started Mace. I am still determined and hard working, but now that will be enhance with everything I learned in this module and with the development of IST. Before, I had only my goal and my willpower, but now I am able to see the operation as a whole. By understanding the journey, I mean the overall process: from knowing how to translate my business idea on a logo, to which colours I should use for my website and what they mean, to the importance of thinking about the user in the first place, to prototyping the idea and the significance of social network as a marketing tool.

Another thing that this module showed me is that is ok to fail. There will be several business ideas crossing my mind until I spot the right one. When that occurs, I will have to “make it happen”, and of course use all the skills acquired to understand my user, empathise with them, test my idea and prototype it, going through all the stages I learned are needed before implementation.  And from there, maybe a few will fail on the way and that is healthy and very important feedback for any entrepreneur.

As I still have one more year in Mace to go, this means that my project is a long term one. In the meantime, while in London, there are two things I would like to do. First would be being able to start a small business in parallel with a “paying job”. Another possibility would be working in a place/position where I could also have an entrepreneurial attitude. The reality at the moment is that I am going through a period of changes, where I am putting my priorities back into place and now my focus is back to where it should be. The outcomes, well…they can only be positive: I am much more open than before, to new ideas and opportunities; and that I am sure is going to help build up the bridge between where I am now and where I want to be. 

References

  1. Corrine Beaumont: The user model
  2. Tim Brown: Innovation through design thinking
  3. RSA Animate: The emphatic civilisation
  4. Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur: Business Model Generation
  5. Jane Austin & Chris Neale: sketching
  6. Steve Jobs: How to live before you die
  7. Piers Ibbotson: The Illusion of Leadership
  8. Rob Fitzpatrick: The startup toolkit
  9. Chris Bilton: Management and Creativity
  10.  Clayton M. Christensen: How will you measure your life

Royal Assignment Holiday

This period of extended bank holidays is coming in very handy to try and catch up with all the assignments due early May. Anyway, I have wanted to write some impressions here for a while, but time has just been fling by! The problem is that when you realise it is already too late or something else came up, anyway…never mind!

Today is a remarkable day; either if you are not interested at all in the wedding and it is just because is an extra day off work, or if you are really “into it”, well then you had hours and hours of entertainment! I watched a bit on telly (YES, I confess: was really curious about the dress).  Throw the first stone the woman that says that was not curious! 😛 Anyway, a very pretty classic number from Alexander Mcqueen!

Apart from royalty, shall we get to the point here? After that glance on the event, I sat to think about our last class. It was warm and sunny Friday, where we were begging to have class outside on the sunshine. In the end, we managed to move to the MBA room, which was much cooler and nicer (hehe). We had to fill in that KU evaluative questionnaires, which in my humble opinion are not much helpful at all, but…there are some formalities that need to be done I assume. I found much more enriching the talk we had with Corrine afterwards (in the MBA room), when we all contributed with impressions, experiences, comments and opinions, and that was really good. Besides, we had some time to go over on the upcoming final assignments for the module. In the end I had my quick chat with Corrine and was happy to get her comments on my blog: YEY!! 😀

Thinking about that same Friday, and our businesses, it remembers me that we were discussing entrepreneur and entrepreneurship with Catherine in the morning. When she asked if we considered ourselves entrepreneurs, I reckon only four people raised their hands…I was one of them. Was I mistaken?! I don’t know, but I really hope not, because the experience that this module has provided us with, opening and taking care of our own business, just reassures me that this is what I want to do! So…bring it on!

We need more compassion2ALL!

Last Friday we had a great experience. We were at the lovely Knights Park campus , the sun finally decided to shine again in London (it think “he” was hibernating or something like that). Besides that, we had to put our creative brains together for a wonderful cause: have ideas on how to reduce (and create awareness) the problem of human trafficking, during the 2012 Olympics.

When the subject is the Olympics, the first thing that comes to mind is sports and the competition (of course), London and the structure/developments, tourism and the overall economic value  of the event.

However, the great talk we had with Jerry Leisure, the UK Field Director of NGO Compassion2one, made us turn our attention to the real issues involved, and problem of sex trafficking. Unfortunately, as I am from Brazil that problem is not something new or unfamiliar to me.However, I had never realized things such as the information below:

Did you know over 50,000 prostitutes were trafficked to the last Winter Olympics?

THE PROBLEM YOU NEED TO SOLVE

You are the Director of Compassion2One for the UK.  You have been tasked to provide a solution for how we make a difference with human trafficking during and after the Olympics. For the sake of conversation, budget is limited and you have 5 full-time resources. Below are key questions to consider.

1.       In the UK there are over 10 different NGOs working on the human trafficking issue, what is your strategy to help them make the biggest impact?

2.       How would you drive awareness around the human trafficking issue before, during, and after the events?

3.       Considering social networks have had the power to bring down governments…how would you use this medium to bring down human trafficking?

4.       Where is the best place to invest our limited monies toward saving one child at a time?

We had approximately 4hours to come up with something that should answer one or all of the above issues. My team suggested the idea of a website that would be a platform to connect families, their loved ones that are away, and somehow the police. This database would be fed by all the NGO’s that deal with the problem of human trafficking.

The basic idea was to have a profile of the person who is going away, with, if available, the name of ‘agent’ (that is when the connection with the Police would work, to check this person’s file). This website would be constantly updated, and if not, it would issue a warning about that specific person. Our way to market the website would be a partnership with water companies, since this is going to be one of the products most consumed during British summer and the Olympics.

PS: Of course the pitch on the day was much better than this! But the idea here is just to summarize, and yet again share the link to  Compassion2one website. They are located in Richmond and always welcoming new people willing to help, so please JOIN! :))

THE Trade Fair

The trade fair was like a rollercoaster for us. At first we were dividing tasks, scheduling meetings in order to try to cover everything that we had to get done for the 10th.
The date has been changed; the event was anticipated to just two weeks after we had returned from holidays. Now that it is over is easier to see this as way of making us pull ourselves together again. Christmas and New Year are not going to last forever you know…, so get back on track: put your glasses back on, get the dust off your library card, and most importantly in this case: get the business going at full power again!

The days that preceded the fair were though, especially Tuesday and Wednesday. Last minute changes and technical problems and failures with the system were among the challenges we had to overcome. At one point the stress of having a fully functioning website live had picked up on us…
About our meetings, International Student Toolkit (IST) is a company fully integrated with technology and the interesting tools that the 21st century has to offer! That is why we often meet “virtually”, in addition to of course real meetings (that can be based on nice food, or not, depending on how are our “dieting” levels)….
This week the group has decided last minute to split tasks in a way that the best solution was to divide the team in two, with a final Skype meeting to join all ideas and update everyone on what has been done.

Another interesting video we have made is the one with the interviews we made with KU students about the problems they had when arriving in London….

Interesting how the majority of students found the answers they needed in friends….but then, what do you do you if you are the first of your friends to come to study in the London? That is why and when IST comes into action, clarifying doubts and being a platform where international students can also share information and support each other!

The fair itself was really nice, the place was good and had a quite good amount of people coming in. As it was fun, the time just flied! Our stand was looking nice and creative due to our London handmade landmarks; and the T-shirts were particularly great in my opinion…
Overall, the trade fair was a great oportunity to do some networking, either with other students and their businesses, or with the mentors and teachers that were there, giving us their feedback on our work. The critics received were all noted and will be taken into account when we project our business going forward, for sure!
Of course the other nice part was that IST got one of the two cash prizes!!! We got the Best Pitch award!!! More important than anything else, this was a much needed confidence boost for all the team members. A way of seeing our hard work being recognized, seeing that other people also believe in what we believe in, a great incentive to keep giving 120% for this business!!!
Anyway, the fact that we all believe in the idea and care about it so much makes us really passionate about it, which is great and increases the chances that IST will have a bright future ahead……