As may be expected of a blog, it is an ongoing affair. For the moment, we publish here three types of texts that suit the definition of a blog.
- in English: texts that Touché and Guy post with a certain regularity at LinkedIn.
- in Portuguese: contributions of Touché to Brasil com Z, a blog by expat Brazilians about the countries they emigrated to. The cooperation stopped some time ago, but Touché's texts are still interesting.
- in Portuguese, Dutch, English and even French: whenever we travel, we send newsletters to friends in several countries. At first, these messages appeared only in Portuguese, later a Dutch version was added, and in 2016 we were crazy enough to add a French and an English newsletter during our stays in New Zealand/Australia and Costa Rica. We will progressively post some of these travelogues, going back in time.
Note: the latest post is at the top. Use the menu at right or scroll down for older messages.
Touché at LinkedIn
This personal text is based on the fact that I want to focus on the experience of being an immigrant, something I learned from my life, not from literature. If you ask me why I’m writing about immigration the reply is simple: this has become a ‘hot’ subject basically due to political decisions which constrain many people to quit their home countries in search for a place to stay alive.
Politics: some powerful people of a country destroy homes and cities far away. Politicians go for power and for more and more money. The price to pay, human lives, is not of their concern, period. On the other hand, the fact that so many people are loosing their homes originates the ethical question ‘where are they going to live now?’ and the answer seems to be ‘in rich countries, of course’.
Here a question: are political refugees ‘immigrants’? Well, this theme can lead to profound discussions and require a knowledge I don’t have. Moreover, fortunately I myself am not a political refugee. Here my story: I am an immigrant, a happy one. Not only because I left my home country for romantic reasons but even more significant, because I always believed immigrants are – we are – very fortunate people who get the possibility to live and learn from different cultures, what gives us the chance to have our horizons enlarged and our life enriched. So I think, so I live.
Objectively speaking we immigrate because it is OUR interest to do so, exceptions made for those who are so special and famous as to receive an invitation from another government/people to go live there. This case apart, we emigrate because we believe we can have a better life in another country. Being immigrants responds to our personal needs, reasons, decisions, wishes, dreams. And then there are the citizens of the country to where we move who are willing to help and support us in our integration process. They did not choose to have us around, we chose to have them, and our decision impacts their lives and culture. This I think should be the basics of the attitude of any immigrant: do the best to integrate. Not to act as royals who are entitled to rights and benefits but to be what we really are: foreigners in search of a better life.
When I express my gratitude to the new country that gives me this opportunity I am not doing anything extraordinary. On the contrary, I am just doing what is fair. And I dare say this has brought my new acquaintances to become friends and to make me feel really welcome.
Here my word to those who feel otherwise: being an immigrant is a gift you get from unknown people and you should not take this for granted. Thus be kind and grateful. Be respectful to their traditions and habits. Try and learn their language and to understand their ways to express themselves. This is fundamental for your integration.
This is my experience and I can say: I am a happy immigrant!
Give it a try. And enjoy the results. It works.
There is no need for art. Period. Our world requires scientists, technicians, experts who can solve all and any type of practical problems.
No. Definitely not. Totally wrong!
Make an abstraction of all artistic creations around you and think if life would be still liveable. Just everywhere and through time there are demonstrations that new conceptions of images, sounds, smells, anything perceivable by the senses but not necessarily resulting from intellectual studies are fundamental for our species.
Just take a look around the place where you are right now. If there is just anything, a tiny insignificant thing transmitting and causing an emotion and you can ‘feel’ something like a provocation leading to a thought, a reflexion or to the creation of your own ‘something’, then you have art around you. Suppose now that there are not only one of those challenging objects but some. This means that you are subject to diversify and move towards different thoughts, ideas and emotions because you are in a place where those particular ‘things’ are.
Now a quick exercise? Close your eyes and ears and even stop breathing for some minutes if you can. Dive into this place without its contents. Dive into emptiness. It is easier when you have walls around you because nature is full of sense temptations all the time. Forget nature then. It is you and empty rooms, empty walls, empty everything. And this is not only a place where you spend some hours but the whole world instead. Got the idea? Name all these disturbing things ‘art’ and picture yourself in a world without it. Done. The exercise? No, dear. Life itself. You’ve just entered the anti-life world.
There is no ‘use’ for art as well as there is no ‘need’ for artists. Art disturbs, artists raise polemic. High technological societies can do without artists and their crazy ideas. Wherever there is an artist expect to have arguments, troubles. Machines can well do their jobs effectively and without disrupting the calm of the environment even when they make some noise. Because they work and achieve results. What is then the good of having artists in any place? Specially in work places?
Well… maybe for a minor reason: because they create AIR. Doesn’t just anyone?
If you can’t think of a world without air then consider that art is what lets people breath.
Artists in a company can be very good company. Maybe not all members of a professional community have that great ‘artistic’ sparkle that brings special light to the working place but surely whenever art is around things become more exciting.
And artist can just be anyone who cares for making the world more interesting, challenging and appealing to those who are trying to build something... useful, if I may say so…
The point is: you must buy. As long as you consume it is ok, nobody really cares about the colors, it can be any, who cares about the rainbow, this is not the point here.
We are talking business, kids! We can’t just refuse to take part on this crazy show. Shops must sell, banks must accumulate, millionaires get more millions and you are supposed to follow the rules of this game. Buy. Get unnecessary stuff, try and convince yourself that what you have is not good anymore, buy a new one.
Children are an easy target for this play. Show them all these toys they just have to watch instead of creating and tell them that if they behave as you want they will be rewarded and get many more of those, even if they do not ask, or even if they say thanks I don’t need any other this is fine so, you go and tell them that new is always better! Buy.
Don’t look at sad pictures of kids in refugee camps. Above all, don’t feel sorry if you happen to see one of those. Just keep going, get something more fun to read while you wait for your personal coach who’s taking you to that exclusive shop to get that special costume you will use during the fancy End-of-Year dinner.
While you’re busy buying, there are people thinking on how to make you become aware of what is happening in the world. Awareness and sympathy are not on sale, on the contrary. Getting to be ecological and act humanly costs a lot. It has many aspects, many colors. You can feel the entire rainbow of emotions and change your attitude at your own… expenses.
But think: distributing smiles and happiness, doesn’t require money but kindness.
And it is free!
Happy Rainbow Celebrations to you!
Before we even start any consideration about these two concepts, peace and productivity, we can already hear strong voices of protest from those who make (lots of) money with the war industry. All right ‘gentlemen know what you are talking about. No-one can deny how financially powerful you, war producers are. It may – and undoubtedly it does – sound absurd and crazy that killing and destroying can bring so much profit but, yes, producing weapons has proved to be very productive… for those who think money at any cost. Wikipedia provides a wide range of definitions for this word but we stick to the basics: ‘productivity growth also helps businesses to be more profitable’. No need to be expert in Economics to understand it. If you only focus on making money and you get it, then your enterprise is productive. Right? Wrong.
Because we do not see profit which is originated by violence as ‘productive’. It is sheer anti-human activity generating unhappiness. Only those who give no value to life can follow this line of theoretical analysis to try and justify what in practice means the accumulation of material values by those who have no moral values at all.
This is not the focus of the analysis we try to draw here. Simply because we do NOT think productivity can come from bloodshed, despair, crying and peoples lives. Productivity as a result of wasting children’s future is not productivity, it is horror. Let’s stop it here and move towards positive thinking.
Now, back to our small and common world, that of people who enjoy the luxury of living far from war zones and/or are not political refugees in one of these nice places. What about the micro-cosmos of those many people who have a fairly decent place to live, got (or not) a family, study something, have projects and dreams? We know these persons, maybe we are part of the group. Many of us, the happy simple and ordinary people, who work in a company, hope our bosses realize and share our seach for a calm, peaceful and nice environment where we can achieve good results regarding productivity without having to suffer for that.
More and more we see well reputed companies move into offering their employees various sorts of activities in-and-outside the offices, no matter the locations, in order to reinforce their socialization and well-being. And we also get to know about the positive results of such policies on the statistics regarding the productivity of those employees. Countries where working becomes a nice activity to those who need a salary are definitely among the most developed economies in the world.
Not much intelligence is needed to come to this evidence: peace certainly leads to productivity.
Again: peace leads to productivity. As simple as that.
More and more we get information about the care companies and entrepreneurs take in order to provide the best assistance to their clients. Internal policies, external communication…’contact us’ everywhere and anytime you need us, we are there for you, you won’t ever feel abandoned and, not to forget, we will reimburse you in (the improbable) case you are not entirely satisfied with our services and/or products…
When we consider buying something, be it a physical object or something more abstract – let’s think about insurances, for example – the quantity of information we get about how protected our money/investments will be is so high that it would be nice to have a ‘contact us’ to help protect our minds from a possible burn out due to the difficulties to take a decision! Let’s be positive and grateful: the enterprises are doing their best to make us feel safe and happy. No complaints there, please, it would not be fair.
Of course not. But the point is: after having taking this (hard) decision and chosen a specific product of a specific company, all those wonderful supportive slogans and promises seem to vanish in the air. Or even worse, if we dare express our dissatisfaction, the sweet voices on the client services always find a way to make us feel responsible for what did not go right, and of course it is due to our bad behavior that something went wrong. Probably nothing new… Unfortunately we’ve come to the conclusion that people working in call centers are well trained to make the client feel guilty of taking their time just because they – the clients – are not competent enough to have the ‘inconvenience’ (nice word for problems, specially when we are at the point of exploding) solved without asking the company for help.
Most probably everyone has already faced such an unpleasant situation: you have a problem caused by the bad service provided by a company and sometimes you did not even know the problem was there until the last moment when you need an urgent solution (think about bad service at airports, hospitals, streets… wherever). There you are, looking for someone you can trust as representative of the company from which you purchased the product. Look around! Ah! There is an employee, I see it, s/he is wearing a uniform of the company, yeah, here, I’ll be saved!!! Well, well, well… it is really surprising how innocent those people can be!!! very seldom they DO wear the uniform of that company in the sense that they DO act in name of that company and DO resolve your problem. No, babies, sorry, it is not like it seems… In many cases uniforms are just an indicative of working affiliation, not of taking responsibility and granting solutions in name of this affiliation. It is just absurd (and sad) that you can’t rely on the word of a person who is officially speaking on behalf of a company. But it happens and quite often.
It is frustrating, exhausting and unfair. There is a time spent to make unnecessary complaints, an energy lost in empty argumentations and an irrecuperable (and never reimbursable) feeling of having been betrayed. Even when finally the compensation arrives (after all the trouble you had to formalize the complaint) most of the times there is no ‘we apologize’ from the company. IF you get a compensation, it is financial… and be glad IF you get it sometime before you are too old to remember.
This is a matter that should be considered with respect. Clients are the ones who pay for the companies, their stockholders, their employees, their taxes and obligations. Treat your clients well and your company will be rewarded by happy old and new clients.
Bad services mean bad training, bad wages and bad professionals. On one side, there are dissatisfied clients. On the other, a company which does not care for its reputation. A bad business for everyone.
Nobody needs to be a mathematical genius or an expert in statistics (sounds almost the same, doesn’t it?) to understand a simple fact around productivity, its causes and consequences and because this subject affects the life of all those who must work to make a living, it might be interesting to give it some thoughts.
To start with, unless you are a millionaire – and we know that honest work can hardly bring anyone to ‘become’ part of this club, the members of this group being kind of genetically determined – you must work to get your life going. Here we don’t consider going to the beach, for example. No, we mean going... to work, literally speaking.
That means spending most of the fantastic years of your adolescence and youth studying lots and lots of things that don’t appeal to you, that you don’t care about and even worse that you have no intention to ever use in your future as a professional. Not that the schools should be exempt of guiding the students, on the contrary! The schools would ideally have the conditions and rights to do so. Instead, the academical institutions follow regulations seldom connected to the art of teaching. ART of teaching, not FUNCTION of teaching.
As a result, from the early years we learn that learning is a compulsory and even painful process that you must go through in order to work… compulsorily, which is per se an omen for what is waiting for you when you are declared ready for the labor market…
Compliments, you graduated! Now everything will happen as predicted! You will look for a job, you will apply to many vacancies, you will be submitted to horrifying selection processes and if you manage to survive you will start working – not necessarily (most probably not) in the career you’ve chosen but in the first company that says you are hired. Not ideal? Well, it’s take it or leave it. And you need a job.
Of course, there are those privileged people who can even ‘choose’ where they want to work. But, c’mon, let’s be honest here: this is not usually the case. However, getting to work where, how and under what conditions you want is (or should be) a right and we should not give up our rights. Never give up, babies.
Now, can we think about the binomial ‘productivity x happiness’ ? No matter how obvious it is – and it is obvious – that anyone who is satisfied with their job works better and consequently more productively, this evidence does not seem to be very welcome in most companies. See the reports on life quality in the world: they all point to the fact that countries where employees have the best working conditions are the ones that top this list.
The latest studies appointed Norway as #1 in life quality in 2017. The parameters for analysis are: freedom, generosity, health, social support, income and trustworthy governance. Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland follow this ranking and all these countries have working conditions in common: people work less than 40 hours/week, all types of work are respected and pay decent wages, there is a balance between work and family life, excellent social security AND… respect. The less control, the better someone can perform a task!
‘But we can not leave our employees do as they please! They won’t do what they have to!’ Well, if an employer thinks and does so s/he is just proving to be incompetent to select, train and lead their team. Nobody likes to make mistakes, specially when losing a job is involved. It wasn’t easy to find one, remember????
Back to reality, no matter how seldom this reality is put into practice: when a professional is treated with respect and they are assured of the confidence their employer has in their performance, not only they will be happier at work. They will be more productive too! Yes? Yes.
You have a company? Maybe give it a try? You may be amazed with the results. You praise innovation? Well... maybe give it a try.
When is the right time to move? To move to... where? To move, simply. Just as it reads, the question so often made is not ‘where to’ but ‘when’.
In general it is not easy to find a reply to this. We are stuck with so many tasks and obligations that rarely (can) take the time to just stop and have a talk with ourselves in the mirror. What do we see is not always the image we would like to see... because mirrors have no mercy and expose our frustrations and hidden sadnessess. That means, it demands bravery and courage to face the image reflected in front of us.
However, this is the only place to get answers to questions that keep knocking at our internal doors and we want it or not, either we take the decision and enter the meeting room where our emotions and dreams are gathered waiting for us or we will keep on postponing actions that are fundamental for our life quality.
Ready now. Let’s do it, it is me and me, I’ve got to have this conversation or I won’t feel I’m worthy my own image, that face I recognize as being me. Fairy tales tell us about moments of vanity as being the reason for going to the mirror. Not exactly so. Most of all, mirrors are there to tell the truth... even if what is expected is the confirmation that there is nobody more beautiful than myself.
With all respect for psychologists and other professionals who are there to listen and try and help you to find better ways for your life, mirrors are more effective... and less expensive. However, they are more demanding. Meeting yourself though the mirror requires not only the mentioned courage but above all honesty. Are you ready to look at yourself and admit you’re doing wrong? Ready to confess you’re not taking good care of your life and that of the ones you love? Prepared to confess your omissions regarding important matters like health, ecology, peace, respect…? Are you willing, but deeply willing to try and change your way of living? Briefly: are you open to move?
We don’t learn the art of monologuing in schools. Most societies even call ‘crazy’ those who talk to themselves, who can create a world of honesty to live in. We practice techniques on how to be interviewed... by someone else. But the main point is missing: we should talk to ourselves first, even as a possibility to keep a nice and enriching conversation with others.
And it is only when we do this, when we recognize that we are stuck with fears and conveniences that we will get the answer to this crucial question: when is the right time to move?
Most probably the right time is now. Let’s move. On.