December 31, 2019

Wrapping up 2019


Thanks for subscribing to my first tinny letter, an idea I had been ruminating for some time, until I found out that my friend Tanya has a cool one; that kicked my ass.

2019 was a fruitful year, full of learning and challenges. It was fantastic.

These are some highlights I think of just minutes before dinner. Listen to Too Close, by Alex Clare, while reading.

What I learned
  • I think I'm finally over with the death of my brother, an issue that had been draining my energy for so long.
  • In that sense, I am learning to be optimistic instead of embittered.
  • As I turned 40, I realized this is the perfect age: you have enough energy and enough wisdom/experience.
  • I finally understood that I am in Berlin, Europe's Silicon Valley.

1. I got into audio books and listened to almost 2 dozens of them. Fiction doesn't work for me, but non-fiction does. My favorites were:
  • Sapiens, by Yuval Harari (fascinating summary of our history)
  • Originals, by Adam Grant (just mind blowing!)
  • Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert (inspiring, better than the podcast)
  • Vivir para contarla, by Gabriel García Márquez (a lot of fiction but in a Borgesean way––his best book!)
  • Creativity Inc, by Ed Catmul (don't miss the last chapter on how Steve Jobs became a better person)
  • In Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki (you'll never see light and shadows the same way again)
  • An Empire of Ice, Edward Larson (the conquer of the two poles from a scientific point of view)
  • Mindset, by Carol Dweck (the very first account on what is and how does mindset drives us)
  • Becoming, Michelle Obama (the brave female insight into the Obamas' story)

2. I did research into Afromexicans:
  • They brought rice to Mexico (the Americas), as Spaniards saw it as food for poor in contrast to wheat
  • They brought with them and/or developed three drinks that are fundamental in Mexico: jamaica, tamarindo, horchata.
  • "Pelo chino" has nothing to do with China, but with their genes: the mix of a black man and an indigenous woman was called "chino", therefore the name for curly hair.

3. I was honored to present the novel Olinka, by Antonio Ortuño, in Berlin. First time in my life someone graces me with such an invitation. Double honored to be him!

Podcast episodes I loved
  • Star Talk (Neil deGrasse Tayson), with Salman Rushdie (insights into storytelling)
  • So, you want to be a writer, with Greame Simsion (cool if you liked The Rosie Project)
  • Los olvidados (Antonio Meucci), with Javier Peraza
  • Hardcore History, with Dan Carlin (I'll never forget the nuclear and the Julius Caesar shows)
  • And sooo many with Joe Rogan, I don't know where to start with

Books I still have on my bedside and my chaos hasn't allowed me to finish
  • Retrato de mi madre con perros, by Daniel Rodríguez Barrón (sorry!, will finish it asap!)
  • Llegada la hora, by Karla Zárate (sorry!, will finish it asap!)
  • Mínimas despedidas, by Lorea Canales (sorry again!, will finish it asap!)
  • Leonardo, by Walter Isaacson
  • Loosing my Virginity, by Richard Branson
  • On Working, by Robert Caro
  • Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin
  • Lexicon, by Max Berry
  • Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli
  • Ahora me rindo y eso es todo, by Álvaro Enriigue

Series I enjoyed

Planned challenges
  • After 80 sessions of coaching, I am ready to launch my agency. And down the road, I grew 6x.
  • I woke up 145 times at 4:30am and hit the gym.
    • Best month: April (24 times).
    • Worst month: December (3 times).
  • I finished my #apictureaday challenge on Instagram and told 365 different stories
Unplanned challenge

I made my first steps into art dealing, got acquainted with the market and built an amazing team across the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.

What am I up to 2020
  • I will publish 1 book I just finished writing
  • I will publish 1 book I edited and contributed to
  • I will publish 2 books I ghostwrote
  • I will start a portrait series of 500 individuals on Instagram to learn how to better connect with people
  • I will launch my content marketing agency
  • I will master the fucking human flag
  • I will launch an app

So, I just realized that my first tinny letter looks rather like a bunch of lists...

Happy 2020! Keep growing––it's all about growth.

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March 9, 2019

Olivia – Charlottenburg 365/365

My friend Olivia demonstrated today wearing this T-shirt: “Brave men don’t murder”. Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries, specially for women, where they are molested, raped and killed. Always. Non-stop. 7 or 8 women are killed everyday in gender related crimes. This has to stop now.

March 7, 2019

The duck - Zehlendorf 364/365

I still can’t get used to the greenery in the hood: a few forests and lakes. Next to my place, a pond. During the winter, the fishes got frozen in the water; as the spring starts, some of they died, but a few just woke up and started swimming again. Something incredible for a city guy like me. And today I saw the first duck of the year. Isn’t it great to have such fauna just a 90 second walk from your place?

Lagerfeld meets Newton — Zehlendorf 363/365

I’m reposting this because some pious soul found the original pic way too disturbing and flagged it as inappropriate. Thanks for wasting my time.

So, another way nicer person sent me a 350€ Amazon voucher, and for obvious reasons I had to use the chance to expand my Newton collection. The larger book has a foreword by Lagerfeld!

March 5, 2019

DDR meets Schadow — Mitte 362/365

On the right, a contemporary reproduction of the most famous statue by Schadow, the most famous sculptor in Prussia, 19th Century: the princesses of Prussia. Schadow is the guy who sculpted the quadriga on top of Brandenburg Gate, and he used to live in the house on the background.

On the left: one of the nicest examples of East Berlin architecture.

March 3, 2019

This book — Zehlendorf 360/365

I can’t consider myself a fan but I do like a lot bullfighting. My Spanish ancestors had a well known ganadería in Andalucía and some Mexican relatives have a famous one in San Luis Potosí. I will never forget the first time I saw one live and the adrenaline shot I got when I jumped into the arena with a 200 kilo little cow. It’s amazing. I still dream of running in Pamplona, before this gets extinct. Yet, as I am a child of my time, I understand the current arguments against bullfighting. Francis Wolf is a worldwide famous scholar specialized in Greek Philosophy, who happens to be a big fan of bullfight. So, I plan to analyze my beliefs and convictions to see if I change my mind or not. This is the first step.

March 2, 2019

War scars — Mitte 359/365

Since I first moved to Berlin, I’ve been haunted by this building in front of the Museums Island: a magnificent façade that shows the scars of the war, the best example I know in town of a building left untouched since 1945. It makes me think, mutatis mutandis, of the Maderistas who entered my grandpa’s town shooting around: a bullet got through the window and was left there for eternity. I remember seeing it almost a century later.

March 1, 2019

Marlene Dietrich’s birth house — Schöneberg 358/365

“I am, thanks God, Berlinerin”, she once said. And she packed her things, gave a finger to Hitler, migrated to the US and actively supported the American troops during the War. Years later, when she came back to Germany, she was publicly abused for having “betrayed” her fatherland. For me, she is the first of a threefold blonde figure, completed by Marilyn Monroe and Madonna. Who’s next?

February 28, 2019

Genealogy — Monterrey 357/365

I like researching my family’s past to understand better where I come originally from and just out of curiosity. But I hired a professional genealogist, who just sent me my genealogical tree. This is my maternal grandmother’s lineage, going back to the 17th Century. It proves what we always heard in the family: we are descendants of Jews. The mother of the guy at the very top was imprisoned by the Inquisition; she barely escaped being burned alive at the stake, the penalty given to her brother (my great... uncle) and their Jewish friends. This happened in February 1526 on the Canary Islands, and is very well documented.

February 27, 2019

Morgan +8 — Charlottenburg 356/365

Look at this photogenic guy! A phenomenal +8 from the late 1960s in perfect condition. I just couldn’t believe it I ran into this beautiful machine, whose skeleton (it’s well-known) is not made up of steel but of wood. Yes, all Morgans are built on a wooden frame. Even today.

February 26, 2019

Méjico — Burocracia española 355/365

Quieres hacer trámites con la burocracia española y la grafía de México es Méjico. En 2019. Y no, no se trata de la novela de Antonio Ortuño.

February 25, 2019

The solitude of the library — Stabi 354/365

Mexicans aren’t used to silence, not even in a library. At the Ibero, you have a coffee shop inside (!) the library. I once went with a friend to the ITESM’s library, asked her to lower her voice as we entered, just to listening her yelling around: “We are not in Germany, here you can be as loud as you want.” German libraries, on the other hand, are as quiet as a cemetery. And still, users wear earplugs. Many get a better concentration, but I’ve many times observed that it is a response to stress (Germans being super stressed people!).