Portugal, Portugal, Portugal

Portugal – European Champion

Actually, whether with criticism or not, football is still the most popular sport in Europe and most parts of the world, mobilizing fans and passions.

Portugal are Euro 2016 Champions! What a great feeling of satisfaction and pleasure. I could not let this chance go away without congratulating everyone, at all levels, from those who believed and recruited the team, responsible for  the selection and training of  the players that represented us all with such humility and effectiveness, to all those who,  in the shade, worked very hard to prepare the path that would lead Portugal to victory.

What a gesture to remember from the great leader Fernando Santos! At such an important occasion, whilst celebrating victory, he did not forget to include in his words of appreciation those who trusted him and gave him the opportunity to start his career as National Team Trainer: The Greek people! Only great leaders are capable of doing that. Humility and Thankfulness, rare qualities nowadays in all life interactions, professional, political and private.


Whether some people like the way one wins the battles that lead you to win the war, or not, the truth of the matter is that the low profile leader Fernando Santos, demonstrated to be a very pragmatic leader with a well-defined objective. To be able to get there he had a Plan, not only a Plan A, also several Plans B, or if you prefer, a plan B and a C and a D… Those plans were necessary to achieve the objectives without shame or fear of assuming he had them. If others that regard themselves as leaders of other galaxies simply followed that example…

Just a very deserved word as well for a great captain on the pitch and outside it: Cristiano Ronaldo. Indeed envy corrodes and blinds those who lack his skills and performances, who seek nothing else but to denigrate and destroy – fortunately unsuccessfully. Even off the pitch, as happened on the final, after an ugly and inelegant foul (not to call it something else), a foul that Mr. Referee did not even whistled for (what was the referee name?), Cristiano Ronaldo has shown, also off the field, what one can achieve with heart, desire and determination.

To be a successful leader it is not enough to be called as such – a leader needs followers that, when necessary, are inspired to raise up their own bar as leaders, and defend tooth and nail the plan, the path that leads to the achievement of the designed objectives of the group, in this very specific case, the Portuguese football team, the team of all of us.

Thanks to all who gave us this immense joy – something we Portuguese around the world will never forget!


José Ferreira Duarte


Good Communication in Business

Good Communication in Business

I venture to say that the vast majority of problems in business are related to communication:
– Good, less good, non-existent… but always communication, or lack of it.

What are the pillars upon which effective communication is based? In my opinion, there are 4, the minimum for a stable foundation.

1. “C’est le ton qui fait la musique“, not what we say but how we say;
2. It is the content, the content of what we say;
3. The relevance of what is said, when it is said and where;
4. The ones I am communicating to, here and now, are really those to whom this communication is supposed to be addressed to?

There are certainly more things to consider about effective communication. I gave preference to the practical aspects of it since too often, over elaborated communications do not reach the audience they are supposed to reach and do not help in achieving the desired objectives.

Communication is always a two-way process. If this is not the case, then, is not communication, it is a monologue – the word of one! That is why it is so important to get to know the reality viewed from different angles.

Good communication is essential to clarify objectives, align strategies, define tasks, identify who is responsible for what… and last but not the least, to have an effective and cohesive team.

Effective communication in business is like the oil that lubricates the engine, allows all its parts to work smoothly avoiding overheating. Effective communication knows how to listen and motivates the participation of all members of the organization, empowering them to be more and more involved in the company´s life. Good communication ensures that all parts of the organization work in achieving the common goal, understanding that tasks and responsibilities are different.

Good communication is powerful and enthusiastic, involves and excites, energizes and takes everyone in the place where the impossible of yesterday, although difficult to achieve, is considered as just another challenge that can be surpassed and overcome today.

Effective communication_jfd-biz

Good communication is powerful and enthusiastic, involves and excites, energizes and takes everyone in the place where the impossible of yesterday, although difficult to achieve, is considered as just another challenge that can be surpassed and overcome today.

The objectives of the organization are achievable through the implementation of individual objectives and these rely heavily on the quality of communication. One should not fail to stress however that hard work, cooperation and collaboration among all departments, among all employees and across every layer of the organizational structure of the company, are as well factors of significant importance.

It is essential that communication produces knowledge and that this acquired knowledge, through execution, improve everyone´s skills. This is the only way towards achieving the competitive advantages so necessary to succeed in today´s business life.

How do you get to practice effective communication? Formal or informal communication, between peers at all levels, from managers to employees or vice versa, an effective communication, one that works, in addition to the aspects mentioned above, must always have a common denominator, and that common denominator is Respect. As Luke wrote in the New Testament: “Do to others as you have them do to you!”

Respect for the experience and knowledge. Respect for the responsibilities and tasks of each other. Respect to entities, institutions, customers… if respect is missing from communication, there is no real communication, just sounds that are not registered, even if these sounds are a delight to the ears of those who produce them. But do not delude yourself, only mutual respect for the rights and duties of either party form the solid foundations for progress.

By José Ferreira Duarte

P.S. In future posts I will continue with some reflections on this important area of business life!


No one motivates me – Motivation Land

Much has been written and much more will be written about motivation. If it were possible to simply establish by decree that from this very moment onward everybody is motivated… that would have already been done. Undoubtedly, there would be offenders, those that in spite of the law, would not fulfill their obligations.

My proposal to you now is to let yourself be taken for a few minutes by the idea that indeed it was decreed by the government that from now onward everybody is to be motivated in Motivation Land. It is not unthinkable. Recently we were told that in Portugal, as of January 2017, the sugar packets we use for our espresso will have only 5 to 6 grams instead of the current 6 to 8 grams. Personally, I will not have problems with this. For many years, I am used to drink coffee without any sugar. However, despite the introduction of these determinations, there will be many people who will order two sugar packets for their coffee…

The intention is good, but there will always be those who do not apply the established rules. The same will happen if you declare in Motivation Land, motivation for all as a must. Therefore, there has to be in place specific legislation to also motivate potential non-compliant, so that Motivation Land becomes a reality.

Considering then that the law exists, and “always be motivated” is an obligation for all, no doubt, “not being motivated”, to some, would be a way to demonstrate their independence, their freedom, their personal statement, among other things . This attitude would result in a new source of revenue for the state, via fines and offenses, which could even be serious and very serious. For example, not being motivated between 48 to 72 hours would be a serious offense, whilst not being motivated for longer than 72 hours would be a very serious offense! Ultimately, for some, a form of punishment would be “forced labor”.

Sanctions, within this new legislative framework, would be directly related to the different risk ratings of each individual and their positions in society.

According to the spirit of the law, those who possess higher yields, could enjoy living a better life. For those who theoretically enjoy less financial concerns, they could even adopt the “do not motivate me” attitude. An attitude that may be understandable, which is not the same as accepting it in ethical terms. Talking the talk about ethics and walking the talk is not the same, so certainly there would be always those “offenders” that would feel great by adopting an opposing attitude to that of being motivated in Motivation Land.

For those who have smaller income and constant difficulties in complying with their household financial obligations, the “do not motivate me” attitude would be totally unacceptable as the imminent bankruptcy would result in a permanent state of discomfort and a threat to integrity. To ignore “be motivated” would not only lead to serious penalties, it would as well put my personal life and my family at risk. So, “do not be motivated” to people of lower incomes and greater difficulties would be unthinkable. Interestingly, this appears to be the highest risk group when it should be one in which, at all times and circumstances, even in adversity, motivation should not be missing out.

Não me motivam

Now imagine that all people would have associated with their tax number their credit rating, as states and companies. This classification could be directly related to existing income taxes. What a change this would mean in the day to day life of everyone.

Depending on the risk rating and ranking, associated with the tax number of each individual, which must be provided at every transaction, the seller would get the information “authorized” or “not authorized” to pursue with the purchase of the selected article. The assigned ratings and ranking would have correspondent types of authorized  items under your rating.

Those who, by having a favorable risk rating level, if, on the one hand could access the purchase of all kinds of goods or services, on the other,  different levels of savings would be requested in line with their ratings. Let’s see a few examples:

  • If my income is low and my rating is “high risk”, for example, tobacco and alcohol would not be allowed. It guarantees not only that certain people avoid consuming their meager income on non-essential items, but also a healthier life and an improvement in productivity rates (less sick leaves for example). Restrictions on other intermediate levels of risk could include the purchase of expensive cable TV options, purchase of expensive types of smart phones and tablets, etc. etc.

The obligation of handing out my taxpayer number  before any purchase would determine whether the operation would be allowed or not: “These items are not included in your credit rating so its acquisition is not allowed.”

  • If one has a better lifestyle, or better, if one possesses the conditions to live a better life, which is without doubt very different, than I subject myself to other levels of demand.

Thus, the new law would envisage that, in accordance with my risk classification and my rating, 5, 10, or 15% of may annual net income should be directed to a so called National Investment Fund, better known as NIF. The percentages to apply would be defined in accordance to my taxpayer rates. The higher rate would equal the 15%, for example. This could be connected with specific tax allowances at the same time, so the motivation is there.

In principle, the NIF funds would be used for investments in companies, transparent and duly documented, to create jobs, to support charities or non-profit associations, among other options.

  • In this Motivation land was also contemplated a specific scheme for companies. Company taxes would drop by 12 percentage points as long as at least 10 of those points were invested, for example, in training and development of employees, GFCF, investments in machinery, equipment, etc., in order to boost productivity and competitiveness, and for hiring additional employees.

Failure by companies in using this incentive would mean a compulsory transfer of funds to NIF.

  • For the unemployed, this new law established a specific scheme. So, if I am unemployed and receive unemployment benefits, the attitude “I am not motivated” to find a job, is not acceptable and automatically translates into the following:

– Do not proactively seek to work during 8 hours a day, 5 days in a month would result in a penalty or a fine of 50% reduction of the unemployment allowance to be applied in the month of the offense; if I persist in breaching the law of motivation, the job seeker allowance would be taken away, as such attitude is a sign that I am not interested in finding a decent and honorable work.

– Do not proactively seek to work during 8 hours a day, 10 days in a month would result in a penalty or a fine of 100% reduction of the unemployment allowance to be applied in the month of the offense; maintaining this approach would mean that the job seeker allowance would be removed altogether since such attitude really shows a lack of interest at finding a place to work.

In the UK there is already a JSA – Jobseeker´s allowance at offer, not “unemployment allowance” like in Portugal. It makes much more sense to call it a Jobseeker´s allowance rather than “unemployment allowance” which gives the wrong idea that unemployment deserves to be rewarded. Maybe that is one of the reasons (there are certainly many more)  why unemployment rate is so different in the two countries.

Taxa de desemprego no Reino Unido

   Unemployment rate in Portugal

Desemprego em Portugal_INE_in InsurgenteThose who do not proactively seek for a job find themselves without livelihoods to guarantee a living without worries, and are unable to create wealth for oneself, for the family and for the country – these would have no alternative but to accept a job offer out of the NEP – National Employment Pool (the body that would replace the current Job center’s). Turning down a job would not be acceptable regardless of what type of job is on offer. If refused, payments under the Jobseeker´s allowance scheme would stop.

The available option for those that after an established specific period of time did not re-start working, would be to start their own business. This would be properly planned and subjected to a rigorous process of assessment by the NIF coaches. They would be entitled to a loan that would have to be paid back, (we all know that whenever you get something for free, you do not truly value it); this loan would support them starting their own business, and this would be properly monitored and supported by coaches and other technical NIF professionals.

Note: NIF funds would be managed by serious, experienced professionals with a proven track record and an unimpeachable history of ethics in business life. Political agents who are or have been in active political life would not be allowed to be involved in the management of NIF funds.


  • Those with less would be motivated to work harder and be more productive as they aim would be to improve their earnings. As a consequence, this would allow them to gain access to better life standards and to risk rating levels that would give them access to all types of consumer goods and services.
  • Those who have already benefited from better life standards would be motivated to re-invest part of their wealth in social and productive activities.
  • Companies would reconsider the way they do business and would seek productive investments that would be sort of funded from the tax allowances created for a purpose.
  • Those who do not work, so far satisfied with the conditions which are being given to stay unemployed, securing an income from unemployment benefits and, at the same time, getting income that is not taxable from their “odd jobs”, from undeclared work, meaning that no taxes or contributions are paid from the salary and often no employment contract is concluded between the employer and the employee, whether in bars, restaurants or in all kinds of economic sectors, would be encouraged to pro-actively look for work or to start their own business.

In Motivation Land, everybody understands the full meaning of the proverb:give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime“.

 It is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something than to do it for them. Sometimes more than teaching one needs to direct.

Written by José Ferreira Duarte


I am not motivated!

I am not motivated!

“I do not feel motivated. My boss does not motivate me. Why should I put in the effort? What’s in it for me? They pay me exactly the same! If I do more than what has been asked of me, I will get strange looks! They treat everyone the same way, regardless of what everyone does! They do not care, arrive late or leave very early, why should I worry? If I could leave… Today there are neither good employees nor good bosses! There are still some people that work hard and give all they have got, but honestly, I cannot figure it out why they do it?! “

And much more is heard nowadays.

No motivation

Não me sinto motivado


Very often we hear over and over again the famous quote from John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you! Ask what you can do for your country! “

Digressing a bit without going off too far, I get impatient when I hear politicians repeatedly challenge their fellow citizens with this quote. It does not look nice. Firstly, because the truth of the matter is that all politicians of our generation have responsibility for the state of things today; secondly, because I cannot recognize in any of our politicians, even with all the efforts of the world, the qualities of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, such as character, charisma, entrepreneurship, visionary, transformative, challenging and energizing, even with all its weaknesses, as he had some as well.

J.F. Kennedy knew that it is within us that the mobilizing driving force is born, giving us the energy needed to overcome difficulties and to overcome challenges, to turn what it seems big obstacles into negligible ones. That is why JFK underlined in another part of his speech: “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or the failure of our course”


It is not for anyone else but myself the decision to feel or not to feel motivated. This is a skill that I cannot delegate to anyone else. It is wonderful to feel that no matter what is happening around me, the decision is mine. Even knowing that I cannot always take the decision I feel l should at the moment, I am aware and a firm believer that, sooner or later the decision is mine – I decide!

I decide that waking up in the morning feeling healthy after a good night’s sleep, makes me happy and gives me strength to face another day of work. And because I love what I do, I feel motivated and happy. At the end of each day I feel tired and shattered, however, in 99% of the cases I experience a nice sense of accomplishment.

I do not let the challenges, difficulties or other matters divert me from what has to be achieved. If I do it, then I am doing it consciously and in a controlled manner.

If I do not feel happy, then I change! The decision is mine! I am the force.

We must not fall into the trap of thinking that others are responsible for the way we feel. That others are responsible for our decisions or our own motivation. If from time to time, we let them affect us, because we do, then we are always aware that the decision not to allow those moments to prolong themselves in time is ours.

We are not mere pawns dropped on a chessboard by others. We are, instead, People that make the difference, people that are not afraid of a fight or challenges, people that faces tough circumstances with courage and determination, people who believe in themselves and, above all, people who know that the key, the solution, is always within us!


Sharing experiences

Sharing experiences

I have already written my first post before even opening up why am I doing it. The main purpose about sharing my experiences is that, maybe, some will benefit some people among those who read them. The posts are and will be in the main a result of past and  present experiences, considerations and beliefs, some probably controversial, others not so much.

If just one person is enriched by the experiences I will share in my writings I’ll be very happy with the result. I know I cannot change the world, but perhaps, I can help someone who might change the world.

There were several times during my professional life when, reflecting about decisions taken, I came up to the following conclusion: “If I knew what I know now…” It is possible that by sharing my experiences and considerations, some will benefit from it and learn something that is applicable to what they are going through, enabling them not to go through the same experience. There will always be situations where we all go through it: “If I knew it…” and this is part of the learning process; nevertheless, if one can reduce these events by simply benefiting from the experience of others,  that will be great.

Guy Kawasaki, in one of his books about startups writes the following: “My knowledge comes from my scars.” A statement with which I identify myself completely. I do not even know if “my skin” is nothing but just scars, so many were the hard times “on the battlefield” – that has been and always be life in business.

“I never thought of writing for reputation or honor. I need to let out what is in my heart; this is why I compose.” said Ludwig Van Beethoven.

I am not a musician or a literary genius, far from being an entrepreneur or a businessman  guru, however, as Ludwig, I am aligned with this idea: Sharing my experience is not a matter reputation or honor. I do it with because I love to share my experiences and maybe, among those who love challenges and love learning, there will  be some who will benefit from it.