Thursday, October 11, 2012

a year without facebook

It's been over 13 months since I closed my Facebook account and I just want to write some thoughts about it. I must admit that I went back to it for very short periods of time, usually less than an hour. Sometimes I was looking for an email address or a birth date that I could not remember. Sometimes just to see what was going on with friends. All in all though, I was very disciplined on closing it and keeping it closed.

The reason: my boss at Nationwide disliked when employees would be on Facebook during work hours (a fair request in my opinion). I had noticed that I was using Facebook more than usual at that point, so I decided to stay away from the site for one month. I marked my calendar "OK to open Facebook" a month from that day and that's how it all started. The first two weeks are the most difficult. Every time you open your browser, you automatically click on the Facebook bookmark. Every time you check your email, you are temped to see if someone wrote in your wall. It's a very strong habit (addiction?). In fact, did you know that Gen-Y[ers] would rather get paid less than losing the privilege of using social media at work? Intense stuff. Check the full article if you have a few minutes.

But anyway, here is a list of the things I'm going to miss about not having Facebook:

- Not have to worry about how I am going to sound to other people:
Am I being funny with this comment? Will people get what I am trying to say? Hmm, I think I'm being rude. Erase and re-write.

- Not knowing some things about people:
Juanito Smith
"Excited about having ice-cream with my friendsys!"

Debby Johns
"Breakfast at 8, then classes until 12, lunch, yoga class at 4, shower, dinner at 6, and..."
Thanks for letting us know.

- Not having to read political fights:
Josh: I am seriously in-loved with Obama.
Ronnie: Hmm, he is literally burning this country to the ground.
Josh: Bush started it all.
Ronnie: Go back to California, bro.

- Or sports fights:
Nick: Big win for my Cubs against the Cards tonight.
Louis: Yeah, for sure dude. When was the last time they won the world series again?
Nick: It doesn't matter. We have the best [something] percentage this year. We're going to dominate.
Randy: Baseball sucks.

Ah, but it's good to be back at the same time. I already noticed so many engagements that I didn't know about. Sorry for the late congratulation. Thanks for reading!

Oh, and: What do you hate the most about Facebook? Would you allow your employees to use Facebook at work?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

twice the fun

A few weeks ago, my friend Javier and I decided to climb the Fuya-Fuya mountain. I had tried to summit it earlier this year but the weather did not cooperate. We left Ibarra around 6:30 am and started hiking an hour later. The sight of the lake and the surrounding mountains was beautiful and made it worth it waking up so early. The hike takes about 2 hours with a few water breaks and lots of pictures. Even though we had completed a higher and more difficult mountain just days ago, Javier had a really hard time going up. His physical conditions delayed us a bit, but every time we would be able to see some amazing scene, he would get so encouraged and start walking fast again. The view of the lake, surrounding volcanoes and the sky was absolutely beautiful. Here are some pictures:

Cerro Negro and Mojanda Lake

Fuya Fuya
We could see Cotopaxi at about half way to the top. 

View from the top. Cotacachi in the background. 

After eating lunch and returning to our car, the weather changed a little bit. Clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped. Right before I started driving, my friend suggested that we should go home the long way, which meant that we had to go around the lake to another exit. This also meant that we would go right by Cerro Negro, which was enough to convince me. Now, to be completely honest, we were not planning on hiking Cerro Negro at all. But after talking to a guy who was very familiar with the area, we agreed that it was "only" an hour and a half longer. So we went for it and hiked up this mountain. Needless to say, I was very concerned that Javier was going to pass out on this one, especially after his difficulties on the first mountain. Thankfully, nothing happened and we made it to the top and down without problems. Here are some pictures:

At the top! Gorgeous view even though it was cloudy.
Caricocha and Yanacocha Lakes (Mojanda).

Thanks for reading! As most of you know, I am now living in West Palm Beach, Florida. I'll have a post about that soon :) Check this out and have a good one!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

0.171°0′0″S 78.598°0′0″W

It has been a long time! I apologize for the wait, but here is a worth-reading post. In my last post, I promised that I won't write again unless I finish one of my books in two weeks (I know, I'm a slow reader). I did accomplished the goal so here I am.

A lot of things have happened since I wrote last. Here is my favorite though. A few days ago, a friend and I decided to climb a dormant volcano in Quito. It's name is Rucu Pichincha and it's just outside the capital city. The province, Pichincha, is named after these stratovolcanoes. The adventure started at 8 am with a ride in the Teleférico (cable car) that took us from 2.950 mts to 4.050 mts over the sea level (9.678 ft to 13.287 ft). Riding the cable car makes you wonder how long it used to take people to get up there without the cable car!

Once we got up there, and after some stretching with our hiking crew, we were off to the top. You can see many dormant volcanoes throughout the hike, including Pasochoa and Pululahua. The amazing sight of the city is definitely another reason to visit, even if it's just to the cable car station. You realize how big the city is when you see it from that height. Here is a picture:

South side of Quito with Pasochoa in the background

Rucu Pichincha viewed from the trailhead
It took us about four hours to get to the top, taking into account long rest stops. A member of the crew got altitude sickness too, so we had to hike slower and take extra breaks close to the top. Most of the way up was easy but steep, with only one technical climb (which could have been avoided) in the whole trip. The view from the top was great and made the hike worth it. You could see Mojanda to the North, Quito to the West, Guagua Pichincha (currently active) to the East.

View from the top

Two teams excited to arrive to the top!
View to the North

Our way down. Two teams combined.
Thanks for reading :) I'll make sure to post again when a new adventure presents. Blessings!

P.S. These are the books I've finished lately. I recommend them:

The Happiness Advantage- Shawn Achor
The Power of Habit- Charles Duhigg
The Alchemist- Paulo Coelho

Friday, May 11, 2012

a few lessons

Things are always a little more difficult in practice. Theory is great, but applying the concepts that one learns is the real challenge. "Easier said than done", they say. When I got here, I knew things were going to be difficult. I had to learn many things about our employees, business environment, competitors, and even our own products. I arrived to a place that had little organization and expectations which caused a lot of frustration. I still remember the first meeting with all the employees: everyone knew what was wrong, but no one had a solution. Only dialogue can solve these type of situations and we were able to figure some things out.

Thankfully that part is over, but a new phase will start in a few weeks. I know the things that need to change and I have a decent idea of how to change them, but the applying is going to be the challenge. But I'll write more about that when the situation arrives. For now, here are a few things I've learned lately.

I've gained a new respect for leaders. Whether that is coaches, president of organizations, coordinators, event planners, student leaders, PA's, or anything that has to do with guiding other people. I believe that I have a lot of room for improvement in this area; from communication to strategic planning. People are very willing to work hard, but without solid guidance, things get done but at a very low pace.

My discipline is embarrassingly weak. I have come to realize that without discipline, you cannot obtain the things that you want the most. Whether that is traveling around the globe or a new car, you must have the discipline to put in the work needed to get to what you want. In my case, one of my goals was to read two books a month, and I've been 'partly successful'. In other words, I'm disciplined part of the time. I won't post until I finish another book... so less than two weeks from now? Let's shoot for earlier!

I love living here. I must admit that I would like to live elsewhere later on in life, but Ecuador is perfect for me right now. I want to enjoy the company of my parents now, while they are still young. I want to get my hands dirty from work and talk to poorest of the poor too (a post on this to come!). I want see our business develop and grow. I know I can do all those things anywhere, but there is something especial about doing it here. I wish I could put it into words. It's just the magic of home, I suppose.

We are already planning some great adventures for the summer; everything from sports to checking out waterfalls around the country. It will stop raining so much soon and the summer will arrive!

Please let me know how you are doing! I love getting your updates. Until the next time!

P.S. I'll be in Indiana. Let's meet!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cotacachi y Cuicocha

Life is a marvelous gift.

Sometimes people, situations, events, make you think otherwise.

Life gets complicated. You make mistakes. People fail you. You fail. You get distracted of what really matters.

But past is past, and a new day always comes to give you a new chance.

A new opportunity to be better, and grow.

Fly higher than you did before.

For that and more,

I thank you God.

I haven't been able to travel as much as I wanted since I arrived home. I dislike making excuses, but it has been a little rainy lately. But the summer is around the corner and I am training hard so I'm prepared for the season.

I have gone in a couple adventures though. The first one was in Quiroga, a town situated about 50 minutes from home. There is a beautiful lake formed by volcanic activity named Cuicocha. The lake itself is the crater of a volcano called Cotacachi, which is still active but with little activity for thousands of years.

Here are some pictures:


Cotacachi Volcano

It was an easy but great hike. It took us about five hours to complete and we were able to see Ibarra (my city), Otavalo (very famous city), Imbabura Volcano and even San Pablo Lake!

Then, a couple weeks ago, my twin brothers and I decided to go in a crazy adventure on a rainy day. This time we went to Mojanda Lake, located 35 minutes from Otavalo. This is also a lake formed by strong volcanic activity that took place thousands of years ago. We hiked a mountain called Fuya Fuya. It's a three-hour hike and even though it was rainy and cloudy, we all enjoyed. The trip definitely left us wishing for warmer and sunnier days, but the views were still great. Here are a few pics:


Hike up to Fuya-Fuya

Ruben and Ricardo at the top. Needless to say, we will be back in the summer. 

I'll be posting more as time goes!

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

eight months

I finished college in May, 2011. A friend told me a few months ago that her first year out of college was tough. At the time, I was having a hard time adjusting to this new place (Columbus, OH), new job with Nationwide, with new people and new challenges. I remember feeling like I was not in the right place. I had spent my last two summers in places in Ecuador and Colorado respectively, where the humidity levels are low and there are plenty of mountains to hike, run or just look at while the sun is coming down. I remember feeling like there was something missing inside of me. Going to work was just something that I had to do to 'get ahead in my career' and 'get some experience' in the real world. It was not something that I woke up happy and excited about, or that I looked forward to do. Unfortunately I was missing one key piece my in working life. The factor that makes the difference between liking and loving your job, between happiness and unhappiness.


What concerns me is that I may have been in this state of mind for 10 or 11 months without even realizing. Time is the most valuable and precious resource and we have to take advantage of it. Once time has passed, it never comes back.

After a lot of time thinking about that period, I came to the conclusion that I was the only one responsible for this situation. Main factors: lack of planning, lack of personal knowledge, fear, laziness, conformism, excessive wishful thinking, living in the past, hoping instead of doing, lack of discipline, lack of goals, and an insane tendency of wishing to change the past.

Four months ago I picked up a book. I think it has slowly changed my life. It was just one of those books that people pick up to improve their habits, ways of thinking, working ethic, etc. I have finished four books ever since and I'm in working in two others. I feel equipped with better mental clarity, better discipline, more control, better prepared for crisis, more willing to take risks, and even happier. But there is still work to do.

Recently I decided to go back to Ecuador to apply the many things I've learned in the USA. I have established specific goals that I need to accomplish within five years. These goals range from professional challenges to family relationships. I hope one day I can look back into the last eight months and think that even though it was a slow lesson, it became the turning point for my life. Life is be a beautiful journey but there will always be difficult times. What matters is not how many times you fall; what matters is how many times you are willing to stand up and keep on moving forward.