The Beauty Blind

I’m a guy who has a skill, the skill of seeing everything new as a quite normal thing. I’m the kind of guy who even if you take him to planet Mars he would just say, “Yup, that’s good.”

It’s been 8 months since I moved out to live in Istanbul, which is obviously one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but every time my parents or my friends ask me about how Istanbul is, I say, “Yeah, it’s good”. Once my friend told me, “It’s been two years I’m living in Istanbul, and you are the first person I met who described Istanbul with that cold, frosty and short words.”

I always thought this is a good skill I have, the skill of seeing everything new as quite normal. And that was the case until I saw a Snap of Lubna Alkhamis.

Lubna is the kind of a person that can take you to a peaceful and pleasant state of mind with a single picture or by spelling some few words with her magical voice.
So that day, Lubna posted a Snap where she wrote, “I wish I will never lose the gift of being amazed.’’
And at that moment, I understood that the skill I thought I have, is actually a gift I miserably lost. I lost the skill of seeing the beauty, and the gift of being amazed by the beauty I see.

I started wondering since when I became a beauty blind, and when was the exact moment I lost the feeling of amazement. 
Of course, I searched in my weak memory for a single event where I said the word ‘wow’ after watching something new, and of course, I couldn’t find it. Then I surfed on all the pictures and videos I took in my previous trips, and by miracle I found one video I took in September 2017 in Koh Tao, Thailand, when I saw the Turtle Island and I literally said, “Wow, what a beauty.”

When I watched that video of 20 seconds, the feeling of amazement was reborn inside me again, and I witnessed how beautiful that was, and I decided to never ever loose that gift anymore.

And to do that, I followed the steps of my guru Lubna… Every day she takes pictures of New York, and she shares them with us. And by doing the same thing, I was able take more time to admire the amazing view I see, and then, capture that admiration with the best photo I can, to share it on my Instagram Stories.

I started doing that 15 days ago, and that took me from describing Istanbul as just Good, to Magical. Magical in the sense that in every corner of the town, you can discover something that will leave your mouth big open and your neck in pain since you’re looking around, up and down all the time.

So, wherever you are, just look around, you will see a ton of beautiful things there. It can be a flower, a pet, the sky, a color you like, even a sharp stone on the ground. There is beauty everywhere waiting for you to see it, and you will be amazed how that can change your day once you capture it.

Note: I’ll be posting the new photos or videos I take on my Instagram Zo_Captures.


I Know, I’m Late… But Here is What 2020 was for Me

What a bizarre, odd, strange, unusual and weird year we recently lived, it was like a slap which reminded us that our tomorrow is not as predictable as we may think.
But regarding how unbelievable the last year was, although, I experienced some unique things that I’m sure they would never been happened if 2020 wasn’t there…

  • I returned to blogging… Finally! After four years of absence, I decided to return back to do the thing I enjoy the most. Maybe if 2020 didn’t happen, I might delay that to another year or -worse-, maybe quitting blogging forever.
  • I learned to be easy with myself… Watching a movie instead of reading a book, or playing a game instead of taking an online course, is just fine. As someone told me..« It’s a pandemic and not a productivity contest, so relax. » 
  • I experienced my limits… I finished 2 books, 2 online courses, written 3 posts, watched 5 documentaries, listened to dozens of podcasts and took further levels of a new language, all of this in just one week. However, I felt like I could do better, so, I have no excuses in the future.
  • I met new people… It’s a kinda of unusual phrase to hear when we talk about 2020, but I met a plenty of great people from many different countries while I was playing online games.
  • I saved a lot of money… No restaurants, no coffees, no travel, no friend meetings, add to that no need to buy new clothes cause I was wearing pajamas all the time… Guys, I’m rich.
  • I discovered K-drama and Anime… What an amazing world! It’s like falling in a black hole, and now, I can’t get out from it.
  • I adopted a dog… I learned that raising a pet is hard, and giving it to someone who may take care of it better than me, is even harder.
  • I grew up my hair… For the first time, I was concerned about the ingredients of my shampoo.
  • I did my first TikTok challenge (and the last) … It was a MESS, but I’ll keep it for my children to show them what kind of crap their father was doing during a historical pandemic.
  • I spent more time with my family… After living five years alone, I lost that « strong family connection »; to be honest, I felt uncomfortable every time I went back to my family’s house… But the last year, I chose to spend the lockdown with my family and it was the best decision to make.

2020 was hard and easy, light and heavy, sad and happy at the same time, it was the year of uncommon experiences and a very special chapter of my life. I’m glad I lived a such intense thing and I survived. Now, I hope the upcoming would be brighter.

What if the Lockdown Creates the Next Big Five?

More than 4.5 billion people were confined in the last months, making it the biggest lockdown the humankind never known in his history; and we should be proud of being part of it, because now, we have some great – and sad – stories to tell to our children and grandchildren as our parents and grandparents did.

Staying at home all day allowed us to discover a lot of things…
There are some couples who discovered that their characters doesn’t match after 30 years of marriage.
There are some parents who discovered that their baby-sitter isn’t payed way enough.
And there are some people who discovered that 24 hours is a little bit too long for a day, and they experienced the boredom at its finest after dropping out their daily life routine…

• Boredom is proven scientifically that it can enable creativity and problem-solving by allowing the mind to wonder and daydream.
• Free Time allows us to learn new things and shape new skills. And that’s what some people chose to do during the lockdown.
And the mix of skills and creativity is the perfect formula to create something new, revolutionary and big.

Honestly, I will not be surprised if I hear in the next years Google and Facebook are purchasing new startups every 15 days. And it’s neither impossible to see one of the startups becomes a giant and -maybe- replaces one of the actual GAFAM.

After every major catastrophic event, humanity prospers larger than it was before, and new giant companies see the light, Inka Mero said, “Many of today’s unicorns have been founded or built during recessions or downturns – resource scarcity can be a source of creativity and pivoting” – 
But what differs today’s pandemic from the previous major events, and makes it even more promising, is the fact that today we have a limitless access to an endless knowledge, at any time and any place in the world. Add to that, the lockdown that gave us a plenty of time to learn and a dose of boredom to think.

Aren’t Only Heroes, Also Angels (Part2): The Networking

NOTE: This post starts with « Story Two » that means there is a « Story One » and you can find it in the previous post, « Aren’t Only Heroes, Also Angels: The Asking. »

Story Two:

Someday in March 2019, on my way home back from college, I met my ex-neighbor. We talked as any two normal human beings who didn’t see each other for a long time, then he asked me, “Where are you now? (referring to my studies)” I told him that I’m in my final year and I’m working on my final project… And then he said, “If you ever need something, tell me”

If I need something?… I need EVERYTHING. I needed a professional research equipment to finish my project, I was running out of time, I had no idea how I could finish that damn project without that cursed equipment…

And guess what?… My ex-neighbor is a security guard in my college.
Every weekend he was giving me the Lab keys and saying, “Now, you can go and play with your toys”. I had an entire Lab just for me with the best equipment I could imagine, it was like paradise.
I finished my work in time, and my project was known as one of the best projects last year.

Thank you my ex-neighbor for saving my graduation; you’re not only a hero, you’re also an angel.

Story Three:

In my teenage years, I was living in a country where football (or soccer) is a religion. Every single person was playing football, so I let you imagine how football courts were in weekends.
It’s Mission Impossible to find a piece of land to play, and if “by miracle” you find one, you’re given only one hour before other teams start shouting on you to go out.
But this didn’t apply to me, because, my friend knows the security guard of the neighborhood’s primary school…

Every weekend we go to a cafeteria, we buy a cup of coffee, we give it to the security guard, and he gives us access to the sport court of the primary school. We were playing football until we got exhausted, or after the scores were [15 – 18] and we realize that it’s time to stop because it’s not football anymore, it became a handball game.

Thank you my friend’s friend for saving our weekends; you’re not only a hero, you’re also an angel.

I don’t know if what I just told you is legal, but what I’m sure about is that networking is essential, and it doesn’t matter who’s the person you’re connecting with. Everyone is important.

Life is unpredictable and we never know when we gonna be in need, so build and keep good relations with everybody, especially security guards, because they are the only ones who can:

Afford you a football court in exchange of a cup of coffee;
Provide you an entire Laboratory because he’s your neighbor;
Or let you watch a Marvel movie for free even if he doesn’t know you. (read Story One)

Aren’t Only Heroes, Also Angels (Part1): The Asking

Story One:

April 29th, 2019, seven o’clock in the morning, I was facing two choices and I had to make a decision:
– Choice A: Take 3 different buses, make a 2-hour trip, to go to a cinema in the other side of my city, to watch the premiere of Avengers Endgame.
– Choice B: Wait 3 days and watch it in the cinema of the nearby. 

I’m a Marvel guy, so my decision was already made… I drop out a college day, I took the 3 buses, the third one wasn’t the right one so my trip lasted three hours instead of two, I was there by 12:10, the projection starts at 13:00, thank god, all was fine.

Uhh…Nope, it ain’t fine, it wasn’t fine at all. All tickets were sold. It was all but fine…

I was begging people to sell me their tickets, I was up to pay two times the price, three times if they want to, but everyone was telling me, “Dude I can’t. This is THE ENDGAME dude!” So the only solution left was: Waiting for the next projection.

The next projection starts at 05 PM, that means if I stay for the following session, the movie will end at 08 PM.
The bus service stops at 07 PM, that means if I watch the movie, I will not be able to go back home.
But still have the taxi option, and that means I will pay a fortune, but it doesn’t matter, after all, “This is THE ENDGAME dude!” And it worth it…

I don’t know how I came with the idea to go to the security guard and tell him my story; tell him how I travelled from the other side of earth to watch this movie, and if I wait for the next projection, I will not find a transport to take me back home. Then I finished my miserable story with: “I can sit on the floor and watch the movie, I don’t mind…” He smiled, and of course he thought I was crazy, and then he said, “Wait a minute.”

After 30 seconds he asked me to follow him; we took the stairs to the up floor, to a place where all the chairs were empty, except the one where a child was sitting on.
I asked the guard, “Should I pay you or should I go back down and pay the ticket seller…?” His answer was, “No, you don’t have to pay a penny, just take a seat and enjoy the movie.”
At this moment my mind was blown, this man just made my entire day, and the best phrase my mouth could pronounce was a thank you – what a shame -…

I set down near the child. This kid was the son of the security guard, and that place was the VIP section of the cinema.

What I’ve learned from this experience? 
1. Never hesitate to ask for something, in the worst cases you will get a “no”.
2. Security guards are not only superheroes, they are also angels.

3 Movies, 10 Lessons after 7 Years

I don’t exactly remember the year when I watched « Forest Gump » for the first time, maybe 6 or 7 years ago… At this time, I was in my late teenage years, and I’m surprised how my impressions on « Forrest Gump » were very superficial and totally different comparing to those of few days ago when I’ve seen it for the second time.

I got nostalgic. Now I’m rewatching all the movies that I’ve seen in my teenage years (movies that kept a something inside my chest) because… 
First, I miss those old gold classic movies, full of mixed emotions and full of life lessons… Things that I can’t find in today’s movies. 
Secundo, to know how my vision toward things changed after – approximately – a decade, and to share the lessons I learned, here…

What I learned after watching « Forrest Gump » for the second time:

  • About Family: If everybody is against you, your family always keeps supporting, motivating and teaching you until the last breath of their life. You must be thankful for that.
  • About Friendship: A real friendship is based on loyalty. Not money, not character, not beauty and not intelligence…
  • About Love: You know you are living a real love story when whatever your day was good or bad, full of adventure or not, at the end of that day you will think about the person you love.
  • About Life: Don’t eat the same chocolate all the time, try other flavors, even a small bite though. If you don’t like the taste, put it down and try another one. Always try new things.

What I learned after watching « Moneyball » for the second time:

  • About Inner Conflicts: Once you accept failure you embrace success.
  • About Success: To make history you should sacrifice all… All. All. All.
  • About Money: In France they have a proverb that says “L’argent ne fait pas le bonheure” if I translate it could be “Money doesn’t make happiness”. I’ve never believed in that proverb, and this movie just confirmed I was right.

What I learned after watching « 12 Angry Men » for the second time:

  • About People: Give 100 excuses before you judge someone.
  • About Me: Don’t be afraid to express your opinion, your act can make a huge difference.
  • About Movies: You don’t have to spend hundred millions of dollars to make a great movie, all what you need is a table, 12 chairs and a great writer.

Some of these lessons I knew them before, some, I updated them, and others, I figured them out only after watching those movies for the second time. Maybe in a decade I will watch them again and find out I was totally wrong or maybe mostly right.

But the most important thing I learned is: I grow up comparing to 7 years ago and it’s a good sign. I’m reassured.

Being a normal person is okay

Today is marking one month since the corona lockdown has started, so I judged that it is time to write about my quarantine experience after every blogger I know has done it.

Since the first days when everyone was experiencing introvert’s life, everybody – especially celebrities – started challenges: « Guys, Let’s make a challenge together, let’s read 100 books, let’s write 100 posts, let’s workout every day, let’s meditate, let’s learn a new language, let’s start new projects… ». 
I was like: Yeah, this is the perfect time to do all of this, nature gave me this chance so I won’t miss that opportunity.

Then, I scheduled my next day: Wake up early, workout, read, write, learn Spanish, start my project.

The Next day: I woke up early, and… I skipped the rest of the schedule.
Same thing the day after, same thing the week after. All what I was doing is: Netflix, online games, and feeling the guilty…

Feeling guilty for wasting my time, feeling guilty for losing my muscle’s mass, feeling guilty for not writing a single post on my blog and feeling guilty when Duolingo send a notification to remind me that it’s time to go back study Spanish. In fact, I wasn’t even enjoying movies, TV shows and online games, and that’s because of guilty.

Until 3 days ago, when I decided to stop thinking about this “Let’s make a challenge together” thing. I decided that it is okay to chill, it is okay to stay on bed all time with the same hoodie all day.

And tomorrow, the magic happened!
Okay, I woke up in the afternoon, but… I started reading « Eat, Pray, Love » by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is a great book even for men. I wrote this post, so I’m feeling like any other blogger now. And at night, I watched ‘The Platform’ and I really enjoyed it.
That day had the perfect equilibrium, two productive things versus two non-productive things, and I was in peace for the first time since day one of the lockdown.

When I decided to put down that “being productive” weight off my shoulders, I became a productive person. Maybe tomorrow I will start home workout or I return to “aprender español” , but I’m telling myself:

You’re not forced to do it; being a normal person is okay.

The Best Thing to Invest in

When the largest financial fraud in U.S history blown up in 2008, people didn’t imagine that the legend of investment Bernie Madoff could be the actor. Only one man called Harry Marcopolos said: « ahah! I told you guys. I knew it was a Ponzi Scheme, but you didn’t believe me. »

However, that was very obvious. Bernie was offering 10 to 20% yearly income if you invest in his fund. That means, if you call your banker and ask him to move 10 million dollars from your account to Madoff’s account… With an abracadabra, a million of dollars will be added to your fortune at the end of the year. That was too good to be true, but people kept believing in Madoff’s magic. 
And the funny thing is; it wasn’t only multimillionaires and billionaires who were investing with Madoff, but also reputed banks and big financial firms…

Well… To understand why people were falling in Madoff’s charm, we should go back to 1962, two years after Bernie Madoff started his small trading company. 
This year, the stock market had a crash. All the people who invested on wall street lost their money, but not those who invested with Madoff. Because he bought all their shares with the money he harshly earned during 2 years, and gave back the money to his investors (only $200 left in his pocket after that).
Bernie promised his investors that their money is safe with him, and by doing that, he kept his promise and he became -in people’s eyes- the superhero who navigated the 1962 stock market without losing a dime.

Our friend Bernie invested all the money he made in 2 years to associate “trust” and “qualification” to his name, and after that, he was able to convince 4,800 clients to give him 64.8 billion dollars, and becoming the legend of robing…

When you want to start a new business, you may think to invest in the best material or in renting a local in the best place of the city, or maybe to invest in learning more about your new business. But what Madoff teaches us is:

The best investment you can do is investing in your name.

Sometimes, you don’t have to rent a local in the best place of the city. If you have a good costumer experience, people will come even if your store is at the end of the world. 
Sometimes, you don’t have to care about the money to buy the best material. If you keep your promises, your suppliers will give you what you need, because they’re sure you will pay later.
Sometimes, ignoring some fields in your business is okay. If you’re honest, karma will put you with honest people.

And good news, investing in your name with things like: good customer experience, keeping promises and being honest… is free

Now, if you want to start a new successful business or build the next biggest Ponzi Scheme, you know what you have to do.

Thoughts on Marketing: The Toy Store Experience

Let’s suppose the following scenario:
A child in a toy store holding a toy in his hands and asking his dad to buy it, but dad says « no ».
What will happen is:
– Answer (A): The child says « ok dad » and put the toy back in its place.
– Answer (B): The child starts crying and lying in the floor for a toy that his dad doesn’t want to buy. But at the end, the cashier passes the toy in the barcode reader, and the child is smiling with eyes full of tears that didn’t dry yet.

If you chose Answer (A), you have an amazing child. Don’t continue reading, what I’m talking about next may not convince you. Thank you.

When Apple opened the first Apple Store in 2001, all retail experts and analysts have predicted its fail. They were right, because they saw it in number’s perspective. But their prediction failed, because they didn’t see it in Steve’s Jobs perspective.
Steve Jobs understood that it’s all about the user experience, and Apple Stores drive a great customer experience. 

When you go to an Apple Store and you hold the new iPhone in your hands, you can see how amazing the design is, you can see how fast the phone is, you can see how the camera is great and you can see how it fits perfectly in your hands. And that creates a kind of special connection between you and the new iPhone, makes you want to buy it. 
This is exactly what happens to the child when he holds the new toy in his hands. Because, once you catch it, it’s hard to release it. And this is what I call « The Toy Store Experience ».

Business and marketing experts say that what made Apple what it is today might not be its revolutionary products like the Mac, the iPod or the iPhone … But It is the Apple Stores. What other competitors don’t have.

If your product is -for example- an App, it is easy for you to show your great product to your costumer to make him want to buy it. All what you have to do is offering him a trial period.
But, when it comes to a physical product, I think you should consider the Toy Store Experience.

Ads make people discover your product, but user experience make them want to buy it.

Thoughts on Marketing: How to Sell as an Artist?

This is a sequel of the previous post “Why Marketing is an Art?” of the series “Thoughts on Marketing”. I suggest to read it first before you go with this one.

I believe that the best way to explain something to someone, is by giving him an example. And to explain how to sell as an artist, I think there is not a better example than Elon Musk to do it.

I did a small research about why artists are masters in selling, and I found that artists have 3 common tools they use when they sell, and by surprise Elon Musk use them too…

  1. Artists sell names
    I’m not bringing a scoop here, but, when you buy an artwork you actually buying the name of the artist.

    Elon is called the Tony Stark of the real life, and being compared to a superhero IS. JUST. DOPE.
    When The Boring Company sells “Not A Flamethrower”, people buy it like cookies; 
    When SpaceX lunches a rocket, millions of people watch the live on YouTube;
    When Tesla announces a new car, its name trends on twitter; and who is behind all of this? Elon Musk.
    If tomorrow Elon decides to start something crazy like a company that builds planets, investors will rush to invest in it, simply because it is built by Elon Musk.

    Having a strong name (as a person) in business is an absolute necessity. Today the first thing that matters for investors when they put their money in startups, is the persons who run the company. If you are a silly person no one will do business with you, so no one will buy what you sell.
    And to build a strong name you should: – Have a vision, – Know what you do, – Be a hard worker and – Keep your promises.

  2. Artists are sellers
    When an artist sells his artwork, he does it itself.

    Elon is the CEO and CTO of his companies, and I’m sure that he has the last word when it comes to marketing too.
    Recently Tesla introduced the Cybertruck, It’s a pickup with the DeLorean design… I don’t think that the responsible of marketing in Tesla came with the idea of changing the 100 years tradition of pickup design. Only a crazy person can do it, and it can’t be another than Elon Musk… 
    Result, selling more Cybertrucks in 10 days than other pickup companies sell in 1 year.

    So, when it comes to sell your product, DIY, because no one knows your product more than you.

  3. Artists sell emotions
    Seth Godin said: “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but about the stories you tell.”

    Telling a story that bring emotions, is the best way to influence, convince and stick in people heads, and of course Elon Musk do it (in his way)…
    Elon use sarcasm and memes to promote his products. He makes people laugh, and happiness is an emotion.

And that’s it.
If you want to sell as an artist, just apply the formula:

Build a name, DIY then Cry