The religious among us may have an altar at home. An altar is a special place for the highest in our lives; the presence of an altar is a continuous reminder that there is a higher meaning, a higher power that takes precedence over the mundanity of everyday life, a mundanity that can suck us into its relentless ratrace. Altars powerfully orient us to a reality beyond the visible.
"Startup" may be thought of as an organization, a company in its formative stages, and the term these days calls to mind Silicon Valley and its wellspring of innovators. Yet "Startup" is also a state of mind, a way of being to create something out of nothing, a mode of creation that requires us to abandon the creature comforts of everydayness, of procrastination and conformity, of luxuriating in the beauty of an idea-in-potentia. If the mundanity of "looking good" and "being right" are more important to us than "creating the future", then we abandon the "Startup" state of mind, and get sucked into the mundanity of "I coulda been a contendah.”
So I have built an altar to Startup in my home, and it is simply a Business Model Canvas posted to the wall. Every time I catch a glance of it, it reminds me of the “Startup” state of mind, that I could be testing, that I could be doing, that I could be facing the moments of truth of proving whether the future I envision is a vision or an illusion. The “Startup” state of mind stands above and beyond everydayness, and this altar serves as an inescapable monument to what could be.
Ricardo is the man behind the Puerto Rico Creative Economy Initiative, the movement to establish the creative class, including musicians, filmmakers, designers, and game developers among others, at the center of the island’s economic development program. In an age when Gangnam Style just surpassed 1.6B views on YouTube and Apple has shipped 600M iOS devices, it is high time that Puerto Rico tapped its vast cultural assets to generate wealth from creativity.
Today, Ricardo put the creative industries on the map with the presentation of the Creative Industries Bill (above), yet less than a week ago he was putting the technologists on the map, as producer of a universally applauded TechSummit & Hackathon:
That’s him on the foreground, rewiring the brains of hundreds of hackers, entrepreneurs and government officials as to what was possible on the island, and perhaps more importantly, who would make it possible. Who that “who” is was vastly expanded one week earlier at the Parranda Summit:
During 39 years in public life and a few months in the private sector and academia, I’d never seen a plan to focus on all Puerto Ricans, on the mainland, Puerto Rico and countries throughout the hemisphere or the world, develop as quickly and effectively as parranda.org appears to be doing, and rarely have I seen such an eclectic group of Puerto Ricans propose so many ideas as were floated at the summit.
So, it is fair to say that it was a decent followup to the Digital Creatives Unconference:
that he co-organized just a couple weeks earlier to build the community which will expand into the Parranda who will combine with the hackers to recreate the economy. Of course, a constellation of collaborators made all this possible, yet it is also fair to say that Ricardo Burgos is Killing It.
The TechSummit in Puerto Rico was a historical event that overturned the relationship between the People of Puerto Rico and its government.
Americans in the United States think of themselves as citizens but also as taxpayers…the nature of free market trade has seeped into the American consciousness so deeply, that US citizens naturally think of their relationship with the government as a commercial exchange: I am a taxpayer, and therefore I deserve X, Y and Z. This is assumed to be true.
In Puerto Rico, this is far from the case…in Spanish, “uno tributa,” meaning that you literally pay tribute to the government just as you would have to a monarch or to a Roman emperor. It is seen as a fact of life, as certain as death, but one that does not confer any rights on the individual to question or expect anything based on that payment. It’s just tribute. This is assumed to the true.
I was privileged to witness the moment when dozens of software hackers proudly shared the results of the day-long hackathon where they created 31 apps and websites leveraging the family of application programming interfaces that CIO Giancarlo Gonzalez diligently made available, against all odds.
Perhaps to someone raised in the Anglo Saxon context, it was just another day at the farm. But to us, to me, it was literally the first time that I ever saw the government pay tribute to its people, opening itself up, sharing what it had and inviting the citizenry rip, mix and burn its vision of what is possible. The hackers did not disappoint!
The genie is out of the bottle, never to return.
A round of applause to the collaborators in making this moment possible.
It’s not everyday someone thinks to themselves “Fuck it, I’m doing this”, quits their job, risks everything and starts working on something they truly believe in, embracing failure every step of the way. Since Startup of Puerto Rico and events like Startup After Hours, Founder Institute, Startup Weekend, and others started I’ve slowly but surely seen it happening. The most recent person I know that decided to do this is Giselle Zeno. I’ve known her for a while and was very intrigued to know what finally triggered that mindset in her. Hopefully this is the first of a series of interviews to awesome people that have recently reached that mindset switch or are almost there.