Processing what this experience has meant to me won’t happen in the short term. I’m confident that I will need time to think through what this means for Torrent as a company and me as a person. I’m learning more about my personality style too. I wear out during the day. Quiet time during the day to think and focus is important to me. Movement is important to me. Interaction is important but must be balanced with fun, not just all work. Fourteen to fifteen hours a day with the team here has reminded me of these traits that go dormant when I travel less or solo. For the most part I’m able to influence and tailor to these needs which in recent years has made group travel far more enjoyable.
Common themes are beginning to emerge in Antigua after several days of meeting a very diverse set of people. These people come from all kinds of backgrounds and heritages but most importantly provide a hugely diverse set of thoughts and ideas. For a new growing company this might be the most important ingredient to achieving loosely defined outcomes. So far we have met with CEOs of large companies, founders of small businesses, teachers, university administrators, interviewees and digital nomads. Some of the themes:
- Guatemalans need jobs, not handouts
- The pool of educated resources reduces with age.
- It is not uncommon for Guatemalan university students to obtain full-time employment during school
- Full-time employment can commonly distract students from completing university
- Companies hiring talent attract schools – too few jobs available for even the small number of graduates
- Many students return to their schools to teach and push the mission of education to more Guatemalans
- It is important to find ways to encourage Guatemalans to bring earnings and the fruits of their work back to their towns.
- Kindness and work ethic seems to be national traits.
- We have not met with a single ex-Pat from the U.S. operating with anything but true and noble intentions
- There is a strong theme of not being an arrogant westerner know-it-all when working down here.
Over the last two days these encounters have amazed me:
- Ecofiltro – maybe the coolest business ever. Ceramic water filtration. We toured the factory. Incredible. Clay, sawdust, ceramic pots where the water seeps through. This process cleans the impurities from the water. Game changer for places where water quality is an issue (looking at you, Flint, Michigan USA). Meeting with their founder and CEO Philip was inspiring.
- La Azotea Coffee Farm – this coffee museum, farm and Green school for K-9 run by an influential ex-Motorola (Boynton Beach, Fl plant) man named Ricardo. He has a mixed-use community vision built around the concept of green space and recreational offerings. He sees a B&B, commercial property leasing, educational facility and recreation/entertainment model for the local community. He was very interested in Torrent taking on workspace and helping raise up the community with good jobs operating from his space. With 2 fiber lines into his property it could be highly attractive. We don’t even have fiber into our building in Charlotte!
- Guatemala Conexiones – a group led by Dave Macdonald who travels to Guatemala for months at a time to provide educational support to a school in the hills above Antigua. We met with 6-7 of their students who were graduates and they were nothing short of incredible. All are now giving back to their school and community by teaching Spanish, English and other subjects. The lives they will impact and the lift they will give to the region is hard to describe.
- TaCool is a super tasty fast-food taco place. Could give Chipotle a run for their money in the states.
- Best I can tell, the average speed in Guatemala is roughly 22 mph. We haven’t eclipsed 40 mph this entire trip.
- Clean air really matters. Wood stoves and awful vehicle exhausts are big contributors to the poor air quality down here.
- There is money in motorcycles/mopeds. Apparently they have exploded in Guatemala in the past five years.
- Chicken bus – a school bus that has been elaborately decorated and is privately operated to transport people. Theft can be high on these.
- They have Costco down here.
- Lots of these too (they will be Tortillas)
- Chispa (“spark”) – this is similar to the chutzpah.
- This was apparently a celebrity…in TaCool…with a Dutch group of tourists…
My writing is less than Skimm’d like but that’s mostly due to the busy schedule. The trip has been outstanding. A few more pics for you. A quick pic of my new business idol (sorry Daniel 😬).
An odd person to quote in a work environment…the venerable Don Draper. Hmmmm.