Friday, May 22, 2009

I´m Off to Great Places Again

Last year I did a couple of presentations for some visiting MBA students. I shared a couple of funny anecdotes in that post.

This year I was also asked by BAIN to speak at one of their monthly meetings as well. And just most recently, I was asked by the Universidad Torcuato di Tella to present once more.

These presentations give me that rare opportunity to talk about my company (and myself) in English. It´s nice to practice this once a year or so. And I noticed that I get a little rusty with the mother tongue if I don´t use it.

There are some questions that they always seem to ask me and I thought I would share one of those with you this time. They always want to know about cultural differences. Did I run into something that I thought was normal, but that locally it´s not really?

There are lots of things that are different, but I thought that this time I could actually use some feedback that we recently got from one of our employees.

He approached my wife and thanked her. He basically told her that he was so grateful to us for giving him true autonomy. We actually ask him for his input and when he has an idea we let him try it out and see if he could make it work.

You see, we hired him because we thought he would be good for the job and would not need us to stand above him and approve every decision that he makes. He does not have the run of the place, but instead he has some guidelines, some rules, some limits. If he bumps into one of those he then calls us in.

He said that he had never worked under those conditions before and because we work that way, he is very motivated and more critical of his own performance and those around him. Basically, he has put on the Sugar & Spice team tee-shirt and he is wearing it proudly.

So yeah, while it´s funny to write about the girl who applied and told me she couldn´t learn English no matter how hard she tried and realized that maybe it was due to her hating Americans; or, the girl who suggested that we change the company color from orange to some other color (very first link above for those stories), they don´t move me like the thanks this employee gave us.

I don´t know how local companies in general treat their employees. I am sure there are those that treat them great. This guy, and some other employees as well, have shared their specific experiences with us; and for them, this has not been the normal employee-employer relationship; it hasn´t been for us either, and I have to add that this is all new to us as well.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Villa 31 (part 3 of 3)

To some extent, if you've seen one city slum, you've seen them all.

-Agnew, Spiro Theodore

This is the first time I use a quote that I do not agree with. Villa 31 is not really a slum, not at least how I have seen before. It is a makeshift city created by the people who have come to live there. In this case, it is a city within a city.

The school we went to on this day was most likely the nicest structure within this city. Compared to its surroundings it was a modern marvel and had 1,500 kids within its walls and tin roofs.

So, for half a day, Sugar & Spice closed up shop and went to the Villa 31 to set up a reading corner and stock it full of books. They say that pictures are worth a thousand words...

We could not venture out of the school with a camera in hand. The professional photographer, Caitlin Kelly, did that once and she was nearly separated from her camera for doing so. We did not want to run that risk. Besides, we were not there for sightseeing anyway, we had a much more important task at hand.

This is a peek at what our donations to Fundación Leer can do and have been doing. Rest assured that with every purchase of our cookies we set aside a percentage of our sales that go towards making sure that more and more kids have access to books.

In the future, I am toying with the possibility of inviting you, my dear readers and fans of Sugar & Spice, to participate with us, if you are interested in helping out directly. I guarantee the smiles and experiences shared that day will leave you hungry to help out even more and you will sleep like a baby that night for sure.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sentidos en Transito FM 93.9

Sugar & Spice will be featured this Saturday on Natalia Lesyk´s radio show "Sentidos en Transito" beginning at 8pm. She will be talking about the 5 O´Clock tea time ritual. She asked us for some suggestions to accompany the tea.

She will be giving away some Sugar & Spice products during her show.

Her show is a general interest on air magazine. She covers various human pleasures related to our five senses, and tea time is included.

It´s too bad she did not ask me to participate. It sounds like it will be an interesting show.


La conductora de "Sentidos en Transito" Natalia Lesyk nos contacto para que podamos compartir nuestras sugerencias a la hora del te.

"Sentidos en Tránsito" es un magazine de interés general, un espacio informativo que propone un recorrido conceptual de los diferentes placeres humanos a través de 5 áreas temáticas relacionadas con cada uno de nuestros 5 sentidos.

Suena muy interesante el programa. Empieza el sábado a las 20 horas y Natalia va a sortear algunas delicias de Sugar & Spice durante el transcurso del mismo.

Villa 31 (part 2 of 3)

Later that night, after spending the afternoon decorating the reading corner for the school, I got to tuck my 7 year old into bed.

daughter: "I have an idea. When I grow up and have a business selling food, if a family comes that does not have any money, I will give it to them for free."

me: "That´s nice sweety. I have done that on occasion myself; but you don´t need to wait until you are older to help people. Today, you did something much better than giving people food."

She was looking at me, wondering what it was that she did that was so important.

me: "There are some kids that don´t know how much fun it is to read a book. Today you helped daddy decorate a reading corner and now there is a whole bunch of kids (1500 children attend that school) that will have a fun place dedicated to reading. I am so proud of you."

She went to sleep with a big smile on her face.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Carrefour Productos del Mundo

Carrefour Salguero is having a promotion for the whole month of May and they dedicated a whole page of their catalog to us. They also had a great display at the front of the store.

On the weekends we are sampling the cookies as well at their Salguero location.

Stop by and get your favorite cookies at a discount. You can click on the image above for a larger view.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Villa 31 (part 1)

Sugar & Spice will be closed tomorrow because we are all going to the Villa 31. What is the Villa 31 you might ask?

Well, it is one of the city slums, and there are estimates of it having around 25,000 people living within it.

So why would we be going there?

We are going with Fundación Leer to build a reading corner for a school. I have asked a local expat photographer (very talented I might add) Cate Kelly to come with us.

This is the first time I get my employees involved in creating a reading corner with Fundación Leer.

In part two I hope to write about our experience and show you some wonderful pictures of a place not many of us ever get to see, and of experiences that hopefully more and more people will be interested in living themselves.

I invite you to come back to witness what happens.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.
--Arnold Toynbee

Every month I get together with several other volunteers under the banner of Democrats Abroad Argentina. This is my first dabbling in politics and at first it seemed kind of frustrating. I am so used to a different speed; I am used to making decisions and running with them on the spot. This has been more like watching paint dry, and finally it is starting to look like we are building some momentum.

I approached a fellow expat and local business leader Martin Frankel. This guy is everywhere and his efforts seem to be paying off. He has been holding networking events, meetings for small business owners; he is a partner in Sugar Bar, and now he has a new business called Areatres. This place is a state of the art office rental workspace. The facilities are top notch and he is right at ground zero of the trendiest neighborhood in Palermo Viejo.

Martin has generously offered a couple of months of office space for Democrats Abroad Argentina. I don´t know what we will do after we have gotten so used to such spectacular diggs for our meetings. I for one will go through Areatres withdrawal syndrome.

If you need a temporary office and you like the idea of having a very quick internet connection, wireless printer access, projectors, clean, quite offices, beautiful furniture, entrepreneurial spirit draping everything in sight, then you should check this place out.

Could it have been a coincidence that while we were at Areatres, we finally reached one of our biggest goals this year of filling all the sub-committee chairs? Maybe it was all that efficiency in the air.

Now I could confidently say that pretty soon we will start seeing actual Democrats Abroad Events. Although, it is not the only thing we are planning.

Stay tuned.