Monday, November 28, 2011

Spain Becomes Country of Contrasts, but Where is Crisis?

Look at the pictures below and tell me what differences you see. Taken approximately at the same time, some 600 meters from each other: 6 PM... Madrid... center of the city...

A nice evening route at Westin Palace...

...and a huge line to buy a lottery ticket for the upcoming bonanza called El Gordo de Navidad:

600 meters and an abyss of difference. One thing is sure - if people go to the lottery stalls, they have given up on their government. They are entrusting their future to blind fate, which is rarely benevolent to those who are desperate. Those who spend hours in lines are desperate because instead of buying the same tickets online, they wait in cold and rain as they think that this particular lottery shop is lucky.

Yet, something is very unclear to me. I tried to make a reservation at Teatriz, a restaurant that I really like; where I have spent many memorable moments of my life with very special people. It's a remodeled building of a theater, which now wines and dines anyone who appreciates good cuisine in a quaint setting. If you ever go there, make sure you visit the restrooms downstairs - that's quite a mirror labyrinth. So, I was trying to make a booking and all to no avail, because it was fully booked throughout the weekend, and, indeed, finding a place to eat on a Friday night turned out to be a task worthy of Sisyphus himself. We are talking about a country that is allegedly in a crisis.

OCDE predicts exacerbation of unemployment in Spain in 2012, but the boutiques on the Serrano Street in the posh area of Salamanca are full of people buying things. Loewe decorated their shopwindows with cute looking  wooden soldiers and nostalgia evoking toys and that does attract Spaniards too, suffering from over 20% of population out of jobs. All media are crying out loud about a crisis in the country, but the crisis is nowhere to be seen, at least not in Madrid: the bars are full, the nightlife is rampant as ever, the airports are full with travelers. In 1998 in Moscow people were careful which ATM they were drawing money from to save on the withdrawal fee: that was the feeling of a crisis.

The politicians love the crisis horror story; it's hot political currency nowadays. A very popular game too: at first you create a crisis and then you are trying to manage it - will guarantee you two terms in most cases. On November 20th Spain went to the polls and, no major surprise, the leader of the Popular Party won, even though he was not able to formulate his position (or clearly avoided doing so) on any issues of vital importance. What we know for sure is that cuts to public spending are coming and it's not going to be pretty. Many young Spaniards only wait for their graduation to leave the country. The government does not seem to notice. Maybe it's time now it stopped playing lottery with its people and started helping them instead?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Recruitment "Wise" Thoughts of the Day

Avoid employing unlucky people - throw half of the pile of CVs in the bin without reading them.

Know your limitations and be content with them. Too much ambition results in getting a job you can't do.

If your recruiter is playing smart aleck with you, look at him through the prongs of a fork and imagine him in jail.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Luxury Calling

What is luxury: flying business class or flying a private jet?

This question did not appear in my head all of a sudden. I've just returned from a master class in Fashion, Luxury and Creative Venture Design by María Eugenia Girón, a profession from IE Business School, who came to Moscow to meet with prospective students and alumni among other important things. I took her entire course earlier this year, and still I was not disappointed: new examples, fresh looks of the materials - the fashion industry is moving rapidly and it is moving rapidly in the cyber-direction; that's one important takeaway from me. María Eugenia said today that life is too long to live it without passion, and it is so true about the fashion & luxury industry: if it's not in your heart, you won't be able to be a success there. You might want to check out these posts on jobs in luxury:

And here the key notes that I took from today's session (I'm sorry, I'm too tired to arrange them in logical order and make look pretty :)
  • Sixpocket children generation is emerging: they get money from their parents and both pairs of their grandparents;
  • Creativity at the right time is the innovation in the fashion industry;
  • Most rapidly growing luxury areas in Russia are food & wine;
  • Facebook is now the second biggest country in the world;
  • 70% of all internet sales of luxury products are done at full price;
  • Polarization: flying Ryanair to stay ay Four Seasons;
  • Move from conspicuous consumption to authenticity;
  • The luxury consumer is always looking for the best. And the best is related to the values.
  • Loro Piana and Ermenegildo Zegna put together sustainability programs to preserve vicuñas in Peru (;
  • Tiffany stopped using coral in their jewellery. Drop in the ocean in terms of coral reef preservation but huge visibility for the company.
  • Ethical mining of diamonds is sexy: moving from B2C to B2B now.
  • Elvis & Kresse: rubbish to fashion.
At the end of the master class, María Eugenia left us with a wise thought that I also liked immensely:

The best moment to plant a tree is 20 years ago, but the second best is now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Has Spanish Youth Lost Faith in Its Country?

If we believe to this BBC article (, Spanish youngsters who are getting higher education, do not plan on using it in Spain. Either for the lack of opportunities or for the given-up hope in the society and the government, the young people, who are the future labor force of the country, are looking elsewhere but not on the Iberian peninsula.

Hence, we should not really be surprised by the appearance of web pages like this one: Juventud SIN Futuro (sp.: Youth WITHOUT Future).

There no other future but the one that we create together. I think it's a quote from the Terminator, but I might be mistaken. Flight and Denial are the easiest and most destructive ways to deal with change. Change is inevitable and it was coming. What Spain really needs now is a charismatic leader who would be able to reach the hearts and minds of the young Spanish people, but, to tell you the truth, there is none currently on the public political arena. Pity.

If you look at the bigger picture, though, Spain is not alone, and maybe it is not worth off. Here is a selection of Wall Street Journal articles on Generation Jobless, as they have been baptized in the US:

The Future Is Here

I am a masochist. How else would you explain my unabated devotion to art house movies that get into your brain, explode it to pieces and they just let the flotsam and jetsam float there chaotically, without even aligning the scatters into some sort of a pattern? Why do I like movies that few seem to appreciate or at least understand? Why won't I watch blockbusters and enjoy an apocalypse rather than inflicting another one on my poor grey matter? I am talking about the Future now.

It is not another Bothrsome Man, it is not a utopia. It is not Clockwork Orange either, we are not in the future, actually. It is not Fahrenheit 451, there is no ideology and limited societal impact. It is a movie about ourselves, about what we make of our life, about how much or how little we care for things that matter a lot or nothing, like relationships, talent, time... It is a sketch of what we are and what we can be. It is a story about the promises that we make and never keep, forgetting about those whose lives sometimes depend on our promises. "I forgot" sometimes does not cut.

The Future is laden with symbols. Some obvious, some you need to make up yourself. The cat is brilliant. It's everything nice that we concoct in our minds that we desire, that we blame for our failures, that we forget about, that we substitute, that is essential, that is useless, that can rot in hell, that we worship, and that at the end of the day is only as valuable as we dare. The little blond girl in a pink dress digging herself a grave: can you think of anything more provocatively melodramatic? The dance, as a way to set oneself free, and only realizing itself when the main character is constrained. The Moon - eternal and cold - asking for help and being annoyingly wise. The hairdryer, the picture, the trees, the Internet... - the whole piece is an intermittent stretch of symbolic objects, placed there by Miranda July for each and every person to decipher for himself or herself what all those objects really are.

Or is there a need to decipher anything? If you let your exploded brains lie there quietly for some time, they'll get together somehow in a new brilliant paradigm. Because there is nothing to explain or understand: the future is here... it's just distributed unevenly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

No matter what your job...

Who said that HR have no sense of humor? We're full of it!

No matter what your job, you can always try make the most of it ....

 Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Study in Spain, Work Elsewhere

Spain is a great country. It gave this world Velazquez, corrida and Serrano ham. It is the birthplace of flamenco and really loud people, and anyone who comes to Spain cannot fail to get infatuated with the contagious easiness of being and enjoying this life to the brink of our capacity.

Apart from the mundane pleasures, Spain carries the heritage of a strong scholastic tradition: its universities are well-ranked and many streets bear such grand names as
José Ortega y Gasset or Diego de Zúñiga. In fact, according to many international agencies of good repute and my personal experience, Spain is a great place to study: the cost of living is lower than in many rivaling countries, the climate is amazing and party life is rampant. You study hard too. (see Spain - the Country to Do an MBA!)

The hard truth hits afterwards. What are you going to do with this splendorous education that you have obtained so arduously? Considering the fact that Spain continues to fight its own economic development, getting a job there for a young MBA graduate may be tricky. Where I say "tricky", read "problematic", and when I say "problematic", read "hardly possible". I am looking at my MBA class trying to remember who wanted to stay in Spain after they had graduated from IE Business School. Virtually everyone. Well, most of them, unless they had hard-set family business plans back home already in gear. How many are there now? A meager bunch, and some still looking for a job. One day they too will despair and go looking in other countries.

Why is it that MBAs are not wanted in Spain. I see there are a number of reasons. First, the economic crisis has had its toll: the unemployment rates are low and the companies are not that eager to hire. This is easy to understand with a little caveat that hiring high-potential employees delivers high value to the company and the results that they are able to produce result in growth and creation of more workplaces.

But, these sentiments aside, there is another reason: the sovereign debt issues and the austerity measures to follow call for a specific type of managers - those who revel in cost cutting and who are at their best managing rather than leading. MBA schools are trying hard to create leaders, visionaries, reformers… Nobody teaches at business schools how to be penny-pickers and cost-cutters. Well, they do, but these matters end up being swept under the rug, and the MBA students rush on making presentations of spectacular projects costing millions of euros, all about expansion and sustainable growth. I guess what I am trying to say is that MBAs are best suited in booming economies or consulting companies (that will survive no matter what - someone has to do SOx audits, after all).

So it's not about Spain per se. Although MBA hiring soars, the world is still trying hard to recover from the recent economic blow and the new wave of rapid growth is not here yet. So it's time to get philosophical and take it as it comes. If you want to have a challenging  and interesting project in Spain, maybe it's better to wait a year or two and in the meantime have a spell in a BRIC country. Or (yet better) go down to Madrid Centro and have a sangria or two, you are in Spain, after all!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Welcome to Year 2030: How Megatrends Shape Workplace

I've snatched this video from the November issue of the Hay Group Leader:


Neatly done and brings home in a clear and convincing way that you'll be a success if you jump on the wave of six megatrends transforming leadership and the ways how we work:

You will also find all these ideas if you read the Future of Work blog by Lynda Gratton. Great minds think alike, genial ideas converge, or there is no other option - I am not sure which would be the logical explanation, but exciting reading, hey! Provokes thinking: time to start my own solar panel company :)


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