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Entrepreneurship is a state of mind

I'm starting a Non-Profit in Puerto Rico in 2012 that will revolutionize entrepreneurship on the island through the use of mentors in the broad Puerto Rican diaspora and the Hispanic community.

I don't know how to do this, and I'm doing it anyway.

There is a Buddhist story about a man that is poor and living on a hut. Underneath the hut is a large cache of gold but the man starves for lack of money; not knowing the wealth he possessed. This is so true, for there is no worse poverty than the poverty of the mind, not seeing the options that could be taken is far worse than having no options. And this is what I want to see impacted directly by my Non-profit.

Entrepreneurship is a state of mind. It's how one approaches life, failure and risk. It's not about making money, the same way the human body is not about eating, shitting and sleeping. Money, profits are necessary like food is to the body, but the Olympic marathon runner doesn't run to eat more, he eats to run. So a business, and even a society produces profits on it's way to something, not for their own sake.

And this is personal to me. I wanted to be an entrepreneur (still want to) when I graduated college and fruitlessly looked for a start-up in Puerto Rico (in pre-accessible web days). I joined a friend of mine, Colo, in his quest to start a netzine. I was going to be a writer, and Colo had lined up a photographer but he didn't have a camera. I dug my grandfather's camera, one of my most prized posetions and let it to him. We had meetings, we tried to find events to cover, a server to host, but it all went down and I've not seen my grandfather's camera, with the dented lens and the slightly off focus since. Now I'm a photographer and also a writer. The tools we needed: server-space, how to get ads, etc.  are much easier to put together now, but even now (if we could be 22 again) the project would fail. It would fail, not for lack of access or tools but for lack of -- well lack of emotional, mental and spiritual support.

For when you embark on a crazy journey, the whole world can call you insane, but nothing is ever more impossible than the moment right before it happens. Yet if the minute one starts to believe the scheme is crazy, it falls apart. The cultural beliefs in Puerto Rico discourage the creation of new enterprises and looks for ways to seemingly minimize risk. People study unending degrees with little or no practical value, but not out of a sense of intellectual curiosity, but out of a cultural belief that that is how it's done. Education had been and has been such a perfect pathway out of poverty that Puerto Rico as become locked into it, beyond the use for such education in the real world. I've met too many people in Puerto Rico with degrees that aren't worth the paper they are printed on, and way too many with immense knowledge of theory and no ability to put the rubber to the paint.

Time to change that.

The world is not as it used to be. Degrees don't beget jobs. Government can't be the only engine for transforming society. It has to start with the creation of ethical businesses based on core values out to not just make money but derive value to society and ultimately change the world.

So I will start with a non-profit, as yet unnamed (prededores latinos?) that will give mentors a chance to connect with people on the ground and support them in their enterprise of being entrepreneurs, of being creative engines of growth in the island. So when on those nights when you don't know what to do, when you don't know if you can do it, a voice, a guide can light you up with the possibility you are building and with the worthwhileness of your pursuit. Success or failure of a business is not a good judgment of a start-up, for sometimes these lie outside the real of the actionable, but the pursuit will lead to success. And if the first business fails the second may be spectacularly successful.

There is hidden risk in society is that we can depend on others to provide jobs and growth in the island, be it the government or some big multi-national corporation. That's risk, quite possibly riskier than an entrepreneurial venture.

Mentors will be not financial advisers or sources of founding (they will not be allowed to do that) but people that stand in the mentoree's ability to achieve in-spite of the challenges. Knowing that it can be done is the greatest wealth that can be given and if the man discovers the gold under his hut, he'll be rich and that's what I'm up to.

And finally I too will find a mentor myself to support me on my endeavors but the effort to find the mentor will be shared and beneficial to the island of my birth.


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