This is my auto signature for February and March 2019. I’ll have infrequent and unreliable access to phone and email messages. For immediate consulting or training needs please see Oriel STAT-A-MATRIX, otherwise leave a message and I’ll get back with you after March 15th.
I’m in Cuba on a person-to-person visa meant to encourage cultural exchange and entrepreneurship among Cuban citizens. This article shares highlights and summarizes the past two years of work/travel towards equitable education and healthcare. I’m including the link in personal and work mails and for subscribers to my blog.
I must have known I’d eventually go to Cuba based on my Halloween costume of El Che Guevara wearing a t-shirt of El Che wearing an El Che t-shirt, a chance to lead the socialist revolution for $19.99 plus shipping, courtesy of The Onion, America’s most sarcastic news source.
This trip was last-minute but I’ve wanted to go for many years, mostly because other trips seemed to point towards Cuba. I’m a fan of Ernest Hemingway, who wrote “The Old Man and the Sea” based on people and times in Cuba, and I look forward to sipping a Hemingway Daiquiri and imaging Papa Hemingway doing the same. Coincidentally, over the years I’ve sipped coffees and cocktails in bars frequented by Hemingway in Paris, Spain, Slovenia, Key West, Ketchum, etc.
I’m also looking forward to experiencing more of where El Che Guevara traveled and lived. I had coincidentally traveled the route of El Che Guevara’s “Motorcycle Diaries,” the 9-month trip he took across South America after graduating medical school before joining Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution. (It’s the most obvious route, even if you haven’t read the book.)
Regardless of your political views, it’s a beautiful story and well-done movie that conveys what happens when a kind, adventurous person born with relative privilege learns to empathize with people trapped in cycles of poverty. This will overlap with learning more about the Cuban revolution in the 1950’s, America’s 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion invasion, and recently the controversial practices in America’s Guantamano Bay detention camp.
As a combat veteran who has captured and protected prisoners of war I have higher hopes for countries leading by example when it comes to human rights and the due process guaranteed on American soil.
On a lighter note, I’ll be rock climbing in Vinales, Cuba, one of the Western Hemisphere’s most spectacular rock-climbing areas, and SCUBA diving in their Caribbean waters. I’ll probably listen to lots of live music in Havana, where old-school latin horn sections blend with modern, local flavors. My visa allows person-to-person commerce, so I’ll be staying in private homes and learning about the entrepreneurship culture of Cuba, and perhaps sharing some of my experiences and methods.
Over the past 30 years I’ve been fortunate to visit almost 30% of the world, including outreach teaching entrepreneurship in several countries. Every time I travel I gain gratitude for my good fortune at being born as a white male in the United States; I had nothing to do with that, so most of my opportunities in life are the result of luck rather than talent. (Good thing! 🙂
Most of the world has more challenges than we do, yet seem happier. Why is that? What are the obstacles to American’s embracing our opportunities and viewing each day as a fresh start two whatever life we’d like to live? I’m not talking about wealth or possessions, I’m talking about happiness; time to relax; deeper connections with friends, family, and neighbors; civic engagement; learning to improve ourselves or enjoy new things at our libraries, music venues, beaches, public land, or the internet. In short, viva la vida.
I’m enjoying my opportunities, learning new things, traveling, and blending my personal life into my work. For those new to reading my blogs, I started writing between one and two years ago. This is challenging for me because I’m mildly dyslexic, like 19% of the general population and 55% of the prison population, but also many celebrities, executives, and millionaires, and have chosen to write about things that are complex or different than typical experiences, out of the norm, and hopefully insightful for those willing to dig deep.
I’ve written about international regulations for medical device companies, trying to simplify the laws that govern our healthcare, protect patient safety, and drive business innovation. I use pop-culture to illuminate big-picture concepts, such as this article on the European Union Medical Device Regulations Big Picture.
The intention is important: healthcare errors kill between 80,000 and 250,000 Americans each year, and low-quality healthcare kills 5 million people each year globally. Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation are focused on innovative and equitable healthcare that are necessary for our shared planet to thrive.
The second thrust of the Bill Gates foundation is equitable education. Ten years ago I was fortunate to teach at a Bill-Gates funded program for public high schools that hopes to reinvent education, moving away from memorization and towards understanding and applying concepts for self-improvement and entrepreneurship. I tried to explain this concept applied to one of the college classes I recently taught, User-Centered Design and Entrepreneurship, where instead of textbooks engineering students immersed into our community community and designed solutions that united different socio-economic groups, creating a real-world business that designed “grocery bag holders” that could be made by a homeless community in downtown San Diego and sold online and at farmer’s markets.
Last year I tried to share what it’s like living and traveling in a developing country with an article on traveling in Varanasi, India, part of my 2 1/2 month trip in Nepal and India, where the beauty of people and places coexisted with the harsh realities of poverty for hundreds of millions of people. The take-home message is that we get what we give.
We have 7.6 billion people on our shared planet, and will have 10 billion by 2050, with over half living in poverty. We can coexist with gratitude for our situations and compassion for the suffering of others; to help, I waive my consulting fees for companies that invest in equitable education and healthcare.
Also, I’ve become more confident sharing complex information with executives trying to balance work/life/purpose with the challenges of motivating others in the corporate world, such as this book review of 30+ books read while backpacking last year, including what was shared by Deepak, an entrepreneur in India who operates a book push-cart across from where the Buddha gave his first sermon 2,600 years ago. I was there for an international conference on the Mind and Modern Science, moderated by the Dali Lama and attended by diverse religious leaders and scientists, but most of my lessons came from Deepak and our conversations about life and the selection of books he’s curated for 35 years. The short version is that for all of human history people been trying to help others by letting them see that we are all linked. No man is an island.
When I return, I’ll consult for a few companies, train a few others, and work on swapping my web page and blog to a different platform (from Wix and to a WordPress-based host). Hopefully my subscriber list carries over – keep an eye out for the new format by April, but feel free to share anything before then.
I’ll also be preparing for this summer’s trip to the Sierra Mountains, rock climbing and trout fishing, and reaching out to like-minded people working towards sustainable business solutions for equitable education and healthcare.
Life is beautiful.
I wish you happiness and the cause of happiness. I hope you are free of suffering and the cause of suffering. I wish you great equanimity, free from aversion or attachment.