If anyone knows me well, they might ask what possessed me to work for FON. Now the question isn’t why would someone want to work for FON. There are a million reasons why FON is one of the most exciting companies to work for today (for example, see saltando.net, or just read anything about FON by Martin Varsavsky).
But, I have never been much of a corporate guy. As a matter of fact, I don’t really believe in companies. Not that I don’t see the value that, contrary to what many think, companies add to our lives every day. It’s just that the idea of belonging to a company, believing that my employer’s products or services are better than its competitors, is not what I am about. I like people. I like to see them happy, actualized, and enjoying life. That’s all.
Over five years ago, I moved to Spain. I don’t quite remember the reason why, but I think that it had to do with my professional life in the States. I was an attorney. I worked ALL THE TIME. I spent 80 hours a week in the office. At work, I spoke to no one, I worked. The law is one of the most righteous fields and is beautiful to practice. But, it has its limits. Life goes by, and all you do is work to protect your clients’ rights. They are not your rights, but your clients. After a while, you start to believe in them, and you start to live for your clients. Then, one day you wake up and realize that your life is based on your clients. Plus, I became so specialized that I became boring. So, I packed up and moved to Spain.
When I got here, I enrolled in the International MBA program at the Instituto de Empresa. I figured that the MBA would benefit me two fold: (i) I would be able to live in Madrid for one year, and (ii) I would be able to transition into the business world. What did I learn? That I couldn’t care less about the business world. Rather, what concerned me the most was the way in which my fellow classmates interacted. There was a degree of competitiveness that I did not feel was healthy for the business world. That’s when I met Angel Cabrera, IE’s incoming Dean at the time. He convinced me to stay on board and to run the International MBA. I was also “allowed” to teach in IE’s law programs. For the next 4 years, I dedicated my professional life to trying to instill into business students a different way of viewing life. My basic theme was that if you are going to spend all day long at work, you better enjoy yourself and seek harmony with your co-workers. For my law students, my message was that law was fun, important, and beautiful to practice, and that when you got sick of it to move on with your life. What you learned practicing law was transferable to any other field.
Well, after 4 years, I had no idea whether I achieved any of those goals. But, I did see the level of student satisfaction improve 10 fold, and I interacted with literally 1000 interesting people and made many friends. But, once again it was a time for a change.
Through IE, I knew of Martin Varsavsky. He taught courses on entrepreneurship and often gave talks. Once again, I couldn’t care less about entrepreneurship. But, I love words and I love to see how people think. And Martin was always a pleasure to listen to. I also became a bit of an addict of his blog. Martin has successfully built major companies from scratch. That is impressive. But, buidling busiensses and making money is not in and of itself a turn on to me. What I liked about Martin was his socratic approach to the world. He is constantly questioning everything around him and brainstorming for solutions. Not just business problems, but real life ones too. And underneath his socratism, there lies a hidden Jerry Seinfeldish humor. (Martin is part New Yorker himself).
In any event, after I decided to leave IE and still hadn’t considered what I was going to do with my life, I got the call from FON. So, why would I say yes? I needed a new challenge, and I thought I could help out. It didn’t matter that I had little technological know-how or that all I knew about WiFi was how to get onto the neighbors connection. Martin really was the only act in town. He is probably the only person in Spain that understands tranferable skills. Of course, FON needs people who know the business and understand the technology. But, FON is looking for smart people who want to work, who are interested in and understand the world. How can anyone say no to an opportunity like that. It reminds me of what Angel Cabrera used to say, “put great people together, and great shit will happen.” Well, I might not be great. But, so far it has been great working with the people here at FON. I don’t sleep, I have no life, all I do is think about WiFi. I wake up in the middle of the night to check my blackberry. But, as opposed to working as a lawyer, I am surrounded by co-workers who are working as a team, not just to make FON a success but also to make the 24/7 work schedule entertaining and fulfilling. My goal is to help out, to learn as much as possible from everyone around me, and to have Fun. And if I stop having fun or am no longer helpful, then I will will move on. No love lost.