IBD at Guadalajara

Today is the last day of my stay at Guadalajara, Mexico. I have spent really exciting and sometimes relaxing days here! We helped a social enterprise, Prospera, develop marketing strategy and an educational program for micro entrepreneurs in Guadalajara area. I enjoyed Mexican foods, tequila, clubs and parties, and beautiful sceneries and places. But what have excited me the most are people here. I met diverse groups of people from politicians, government officers, and top of big corporations, NGOs, and universities to micro entrepreneurs at the bottom of pyramid and ambitious young people. They are all passionate and hard workers. I would like to share some of comments and stories I found inspirational and unforgettable.

“We are poor, but happy.”

Yesterday, two policemen were shot dead on a street between our hotel and office… Some people leave office at 3 pm to have lunch with their family… Those things are what I imagined about Mexico before coming here; Mexican people are violent and not hard working. But after 3 weeks, such stereotypical image has disappeared. I met more than 50 people. All of them are very kind and friendly. We asked tens of Mexicans for directions when we lost, but none of them ignored or were impolite. I felt very comfortable and safe living here. They value family and friends, spending a lot of time with them and connecting friends with other friends. I went many parties and clubs with my friends and their friends. Actually many businesses are run on top of those relationships. They are very hard workers in terms of building relationship, embracing family and friends, and enjoying their life. Some of my Mexican friends said “we are poor, but happy.” They know what makes our life happier.

“No. no. no. no. no. no. no. no.”

When you start new things, you encounter a lot of NOs. People around you say “No. no. no. no. no. no. no. no.” to everything you do. So, what we should do is to prepare for such negativism. We should have a bigger vision &goal and strengthen our belief and confidence. Then at the end of the day we can encourage others to join our mission. I got this important lesson from a young, very ambitious entrepreneur. You can find his face at billboards in Guadalajara.

“Be a morale leader.”

One of problems Mexico has is politics. There are many corruptions and inefficiencies caused by political matters. Many businessmen spend much time on building relationship with government and politicians rather than trying to create better service and products. We had a lunch with an old politician, a legendary activist. He really cares about people’s life, social impact and how Mexico can change and be a better place. His principle is to be a morale leader. At the age of 17 in 1965, he helped 5,000 people to end an administration led by a corrupted mayor in his local municipality. He succeeded to replace him, which became the origin of his career as a politician. He was elected three times as the federal representative and assumed other important roles in federal and local governments. He has selflessly worked for the people and country. I reconfirmed the importance of having a bigger cause and acting for it. At the end of the lunch, we talked about the disaster in Japan and shared optimistic view about Japanese future. I remembered the one of reasons I came to Haas is to be a leader who can initiate changes in Japan. Actually, many, especially young people, are trying to change and do something for Japan. The meeting with him reminded me that I should be one of them and hopefully a leader of them to renew my country.

Lastly, I would like to thank all the people who have supported our team (Pat, Galina, Emma and me), especially Gaby, Rodrigo and other Prospera members who welcomed us and did everything they could to make us work effectively and feel at home. Thank you!

—Koji Shimizu

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