2014: will, forgiveness & love

I thought 2013 made it very difficult for 2014 to be better. Boy, was I wrong.

Many goals were accomplished, many lessons were learnt, much growth happened.

From 0 to 21k: I started 2014 with the goal of running a half marathon from not even running 1k. Many people doubted me, even myself. However, this was one of my greatest achievements of 2014. Once again I got to test my will power and discipline to a whole new level. I now believe I am capable of anything and everything. For 2015: a full marathon. Training starts in January!

From deer under the headlights to speaker at #IAS14: this was one of the most scariest experiences in my life. I made it a goal to speak at the Information Architecture Summit of 2014 and I definitely didn’t know what I was getting into. But I was more than capable of rising up to the occasion, of course with a little help from my friends, Alberta, Evan, Adam, Brad, Tim: thank you <3

From happy to broken to happy: another difficult challenge for me was a breakup that left me in a billion pieces and I thought I wouldn’t recover from in a long time. Had never been there before. Turned out to be one of the most valuable lessons I learned this year. I am *now* very grateful for this experience, for I wouldn’t be who I am today without it: more patient, more loving, with more self respect and more appreciative of all the great moments in between. More importantly: I learned not to keep grudges, to forgive myself and my partner and to not have the need to provide karma at my own hands. I hurt someone I really love because I thought I needed some sort of justice and for that I am truly sorry. I’ve learnt to let go and to love myself.

From an idea to a reality: For a while now I’ve been wanting to start a UX community in Mexico but didn’t have the motivation nor the right partners to keep me company for this project. This year the stars alingned and we’ve started UX Nights: a monthly themed event with the objective of gathering the UX community in Mexico City. Couldn’t have done it without the support of Mauricio, Veronica, Abraham, Adrian (Kane & Solca), Sandra, Victor, Zaira and many more. Thank you for believing in this!

Startup Weekend DF: thank you for letting me give back to the community as a coach. Hoping to be an organizer next year!

SF Giants won the World Series: and I was there! No greater feeling than that. I love you SF.

Additionally, I got to see my family and friends after a long time. Grateful for all the people around me and new friends that I’ve acquired that are more valuable to me than gold. Stefie, Gaby, Martha, Pau, Dani, Rubén: <3 and to my loving friends for being there for me when I needed them most: Diego, Ana, Hide and Lui, thank you <3

Dare: to do something new; to do something scary; to make a mistake; to be rejected; to be loved; to be out of your comfort zone; to be vulnerable.

Here’s to an even better 2015!

2013: Balls, Discipline, Perseverance, Patience and Rewards.

My 2013 was by far the best year of my life, thus it deserves a year-in-review post. It was full of ups and downs, but mostly with lessons I’d like to share with anyone interested in reading them.

At the beginning of the year, I became a proprietor. Something I did not think it would happen until I was at least 30. However, a combination of misfortunes and family awesomeness lead to this and I’m quite grateful. Though it came at a very high cost and I don’t mean monetary, I felt (and still feel) damn privileged. 
Also, at the beginning of the year I received the news that I would be needing surgery on both knees because I suffered from patellar subluxation syndrome, which basically means the patellas are moved to the sides and not right in the middle where they’re supposed to be. At first I was scared shitless: IT’S A FREAKING KNEE SURGERY! But after thinking about it some more, I realized the risk was worth it. I was already in pain all the time and doing any kind of exercise was out of the question. Best decision I ever made. On February, I had the surgery and immediately started with physical therapy. I would be going there every day of the week for the next four months (briefly interrupted by IAS13, but I’ll get to that later). By June I was able to: run, dance and wear heels. I had a new found appreciation for something I had been taking for granted all my life and I am making sure not to ever do that again.
This experience allowed me to see what I was capable of, mentally. The amount of discipline and perseverance it takes to come out of this, is something I didn’t know I had. Takes a challenging situation to really know yourself and how far you’re willing to go for something that you want. It taught me it takes really hard work and mental strength to get where you want to be. 
In April, I finally got to attend to the Information Architecture Summit (aka IAS13). One of the best experiences ever, but I explain it thoroughly in this post. Long story short, it was a turning point for me. I realized that professionally, I was capable of a lot more than what I was doing. I needed a change and this realization led to a major shift in July. Also, I met some amazing people that would make an incredibly positive influence in my life and encourage me to make quite important changes. The kind of people everyone should be surrounded by. Alberta and Evan: you’re amazing <3
From May to July I started on keto diet and a strict exercise regime. I was a bit overweight and it was not helping my knees recover faster. I managed to lose 7kg (or 14lbs for those not fond of the metric system). I had finally gotten back to the weight and size I had 4 years ago. The feeling of self satisfaction was unique.
In July, I joined adidas Mexico to launch and manage its eCommerce business. Needless to say, I landed the dream job with a brand I had been “married” to since I can remember. Amazing people, amazing culture, amazing brand with a motto that matches exactly who I am: All in or nothing. To my adidas team, thank you for making me feel at home: Nacho, Motts, Chock, Mencho, Jean, Mona, RoRo, Ernesto, Mort, Harry, Karly, Sando, Boneta, Teo, Davy, Isaías, Pablo, Polo, Stefie.

In August, I finally went to the AT&T Park to see my San Francisco Giants play and spend some quality time in my beloved city. I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as I was there. Best part: This is something I did all by myself. I really recommend anyone to take a trip where it’s completely up to you what you do. It’s liberating and you get to know things about yourself that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
In October, I joined a linear-style salsa class: it’s an exhibition style. I’ve always been a fan of the genre and dancing it in this style is a real challenge, where having complete control of your body is essential and I learned it’s OK to let the man lead once in a while. I’ll be on a show next year!
In November, I got asked to speak at World Usability Day DF. I was really happy to finally be able to share what I had learned about UX these past years. And more amazing people came with that: Vero, Natalia, Mauricio, Omar. ¡Thank you so very much!
From the second half of the year, I met some amazing people that made me feel something that I hadn’t felt in quite a while: I’m home. I was positive that Mexico wasn’t where I belonged. In my head, I didn’t fit the culture, men are pussies, there’s no baseball, they can’t dance and I was proven wrong. It’s the people that make you feel at home. Everything else is just extra. So, to all of you amazing (and horrible just as I am) Hide, Arturo, Diego, Ana, Benjamín: you rock! <3
Throughout the entire year, I was lucky enough to travel a frequently, meet new places, new people and to live. To dare.
Special thanks to Alfonso Luna. Without you, half of the awesome things mentioned here wouldn’t have happened. You’re an amazing person and the best friend anyone could have or ask for.

Lessons learned…

I certainly did not intend for all of this to happen when I was making my new year’s resolutions back in 2012. But having in mind to be better, is the ultimate goal. How you get there comes later.

  • Dare: to do something new; to do something scary; to make a mistake; to be rejected; to be loved; to be out of your comfort zone; to be vulnerable.
  • To not take anything less than exactly what I wanted. To not settle.
  • If looking back six months from now, you’re not better in some aspect of your life, something needs to change.
  • Experiences >> Possessions.
  • Hard work has it’s rewards. Maybe not immediately but everything you do has an effect eventually. Everything.
  • To appreciate how incredibly privileged I am. Even though I’ve worked my ass off, luck has played a big role in my life. And, damn I’m lucky. To my dad, I know you’re watching over me. Thank you.
  • Control is an illusion. Truth is, you can only control yourself and yourself only. Everything else depends on everyone else and it’s up to you to make the most of it.
  • Uncertainty is good. Even if you don’t like it at first.
  • All in or nothing.
  • Have balls, be disciplined, be persevering, be patient. It will be rewarded.

My experience as a first timer at the IA Summit

Deciding to attend the IA Summit requires a lot of consideration, specially because of the financial toll it takes on most of us: conference ticket, airplane ticket, hotel, expenses. It all could easily amount to at least a couple grand. I decided to write this post and share my experience as a first timer intended for everyone who’s considering going but aren’t really sure about it. In a few words: it’s worth it, only it’s up to you to make it worth it.

The first day: the fear of not knowing anyone. 

Or knowing too few. Either way, Initially I was worrying about what the first day was going to be like: are people gathering for dinner? Where do they hang out? How am I gonna fit there? 

The first thing to do remember is that everyone is just as introverted as you are and that is the very reason why they’re so welcoming to first timers. They want us to feel like home just as they do. My solution: DM Eduardo Ortiz to meet after we’ve been talking online for almost a year. He introduced me to more people and they introduced me to some more and on and on. (thank you Eduardo! <3)

Sharing stories, anecdotes, or just talking about how awesome the San Francisco Giants are. I found out I had much more in common with these UXers than I thought. They’re just as human as everyone, not mythical unreachable creatures… well, some are anyway.

The workshops…

Are another great way to meet people and bring incredible value to your knowledge. Besides working with them as a team, we talked about where we’re from, what we do, UX challenges in our cities and so on. Went to dinner with them and my workshop teacher Donna Spencer who by the way is an amazing person and a brilliant professional. If you’d like to solidify your IA knowledge, I suggest you take her workshop. We all got to talk about some pretty heavy UX stuff and enjoy amazing crab cakes.

The actual conference

Despite going to bed very late the previous couple of days (and eventually every single day of the conference) I managed to go to every talk possible and boy, were they worth it. Theories, techniques, ground breaking stuff!

While this is a big chunk of the reason I was there, I noticed that really interesting debates happened in the halls and during lunch.

The “extracurricular” activities

While the great talks were over, certainly the day wasn’t. I managed not to miss a single night of dinner/drinks with all the new people I had met during the day. This is the time when true friendships take form and bad decisions that make great stories happen.#facetofacesales

The outcome

(I love making lists…)

  • I got to meet some incredible people who I have tons of things in common with and are way smarter than I am. 
  • I got to wear biofeedback ears (thank you Christina and Alberta!) and hang out with a unicorn.
  • Learned a bunch of new things. 
  • Gained different perspectives about UX that served as an inspiration to create better experiences. 
  • Tested the limits of how much I can handle with very few hours of sleep. 
  • Got to be a very horrible person playing Cards Against Humanity. 
  • Most importantly: I made friends for life.

Getting the most out of your first time

  • Make good use of twitter: interacting and sharing points of view with members of the community will allow you meet people online that you’ll eventually see there.
  • The time you spend hanging out outside the conference is just as important as the conference itself. Whenever possible, go to dinners, drinks at the bar, etc. Mind blowing conversations and great anecdotes. 
  • Drink but not too much: you don’t want to forget the people you’ve met.
  • No matter how tired you are, don’t miss the talks. You want to get your money’s worth. 
  • Tweeting during the event will also give you good visibility: quotes from the talks, funny moments…
  • If you have the opportunity to make a fool of yourself, do it. Just do it. 

If you are going for the first time to #IAS14 or considering it, talk to me on twitter. I’ll do my best to help with anything I can 🙂

Special thanks to:

You are all awesome! <3

Happiness is the willingness to settle

Yesterday I watched this TED Talk by Dan Gilbert on “The Surprising Science Of Happiness” where basically he explains that happiness is synthesized and not natural as many may think (watch it, it’s really great). Meaning, we will always achieve happiness with any situation we settle for.

This all comes in the middle of a personal quest to achieve one thing that I’ve wanted for some years now. I’m quite close, the timing is perfect but just ran into a couple of obstacles that for some people would have meant “Well, let’s move on. It wasn’t meant to be” and I would probably have “acquired” happiness without it.

Problem is, I’m not willing to give up and until it’s mathematically impossible for me to get it, I will continue to fight for it, because I’m not happy with giving up. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I gave up on something I *really* wanted.

This made me come to a realization: if happiness is acquired or synthesized, then it’s entirely up to us when to get it. Happiness will be obtained when we decide “Okay, this is when I’ll stop. I will settle for this”. My guess is that people who settle are more likely to be happy. People who keep fighting for new goals will always be unsatisfied and to me that’s good. It’s great, actually: it means that at a certain level “unhappy” or unsatisfied people are the ones that move this world into becoming a better place.

Today I’m pleased to say that I’m happy with unhappiness. I’m happy with not settling for anything else that I’ve set out to accomplish.

Comments? Thoughts? I’d love to read some 🙂

Lecciones aprendidas por una venezolana en Ciudad de México

Nota: este post fue publicado originalmente en Junio de 2011 en mi posterous y fue movido en Octubre de 2012 a este blog.
  1. El verbo chingar puede significar cualquier cosa, dependiendo de su contexto.
  2. Pendejo es el equivalente a mentar la madre. Ciudado con su uso.
  3. Los mexicanos nunca dicen que no -excepto cuando necesitas un taxi en la lluvia.
  4. Si creías que en Caracas habían manejaban terrible, estos son sus mentores. La licencia de manejo es prácticamente un impuesto.
  5. El tráfico es parecido al de Caracas en 10 veces la distancia. Pero la calidad es mucho mejor: no se ven chatarras andantes (si no cuentas el transporte público)
  6. No caminar distancias de más de 2 cuadras -las calles no están hechas para eso.
  7. Es chamarra, no chaqueta.
  8. La propina es absolutamente necesaria.
  9. Se pronuncian todas las eses.
  10. TODO tiene picante. Especificar pidiendo “sin chile”.
  11. Cabrón es güevón.
  12. Webon es flojo.
  13. Pana es vale o cuate.
  14. Los mejores precios en electrónicos se encuentran en Best Buy. Sin embargo siguen siendo un 40% más caros que en USA.
  15. Una laptop puede costar lo mismo que un carro. -los vehículos son muy baratos y los electrónicos pueden llegar a ser muy caros. Update: los “coches” subieron un 20%. Ya no son tan baratos
  16. La amabilidad puede llegar a ser excesiva.
  17. Es muy poco probable que te roben en la calle. Especialmente para quitarte un teléfono -eso no existe.
  18. Cualquiera se hace famoso.
  19. El sushi en Caracas es muuuucho mejor.
  20. Las mujeres NUNCA pagan. De hecho se considera un acto de mala educación sugerir que lo hagan.
  21. El taco que hay que comer es “al pastor”
  22. El picante que se ve más inofensivo es el más fuerte de todos -¡NO toques el verde!
  23. Pasar un día sin generarle ganancias a Carlos Slim es prácticamente imposible: Telefonía fija y móvil, Autopistas, las tuberías de cobre por donde pasa el agua, los supermercados y así sucesivamente.
  24. Es un país donde no pasa nada, mientras haya fútbol y telenovelas.
  25. El chicharito está en camino a ganar status de Dios.

  26. Update:

  27. Hay 24786438594735908390 tipos de chile. No intentes conocerlos todos.
  28. “En cada hijo un publicista te dio”.
  29. “Estoy hecho bolas” significa “Estoy confundido”
  30. Plátano=cambur ; plátano macho=plátano.
  31. Los chilaquiles son el desayuno por excelencia. Es obligatorio probarlos.
  32. La calles están tan destrozadas como las de Caracas.
  33. “Ahí te vas” significa “Dale”
  34. Evitar comer tacos en carritos hasta que el estómago haya agarrado resistencia a ciertas bacterias.
  35. Tortas=tipo de pan relleno ; Pastel=torta. 

  36. Update:

  37. La voz que se escucha con regularidad en la calle: “… estufas, lavadoras, microondas…” es una grabación. No es una legión de mujeres que se aprenden lo mismo en el mismo orden.
Haré actualizaciones a medida que vaya aprendiendo más cosas sobre esta maravillosa cultura.

Última actualización: 03/10/2011

Thoughts on moving away to another country

It’s been a while since I last posted, let alone actually write, but this subject has been on my mind for some time now. A little more than a year ago I decided to leave Venezuela in the pursuit of a better life: independence, professional growth, security and overall happiness(?)

Now, the next step was finding a job that I really enjoyed doing, because if I was going to leave everything behind, I might as well hang on to something I loved, otherwise it’s just plain misery. Turns out I guessed right, but more on that later.

After searching for a while, a venture opportunity came up with a couple of friends in Mexico who decided to invest in/with me: a digital marketing agency with a huge prospect market. It was the birth of 7decode. I was to do everything I loved plus a couple of things that I didn’t love as much, but made me learn a great deal.

The first 3 months were great. Everything was new and exciting, new people, new challenges, new clothes. I enjoyed the fact that I was in complete control of my life, I was responsible for every single decision I made.
It was awesome, until it wasn’t… Come Christmas I started to really miss my family and friends. Yes, I had made some friends along the way, most of my friends had left Venezuela anyway and a couple that have been friends with me for over 6 years now moved next door, but for a minute there it wasn’t enough.

I started to wonder if it was all worth it and I think it’s really natural to come to this point. “What’s the purpose of what I’m doing?” “Where am I going with this?” Ultimately I realized I was going nowhere wanting the awesome things from my past to come back and I was missing the awesome things I had now. I had actually met amazing people that had been supporting me so much through this ride and was ignoring that because I wanted other things back.

My learning through all of this was: change is innevitable and if you’re going to make change happen for one reason or another, make sure it is what you really want, because you will be holding onto that for a while before you’re able to hold onto other things that make you really happy. Moreover, if you’re considering leaving everything behind to start off a new adventure, keep in mind it will be awesome and terrible at the same time and while those terrible times come, hold onto the things that make your everyday life awesome.