My 4-step plan

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Image by Gerd Altmann for Pixabay

January of 2016. Despite successive promotions, I decided to finish my airline career and start my own business in a very different segment. My plan was to open a backpacker hostel in Europe despite knowing that fierce competition was ahead . In just my own city, there were over 80 direct competitors and the failure rate was abysmal.

Only with a deep understanding of who was on the other side of the ring, I could win that fight, and my company could survive.

Fast-forward to 2020 and my business is not only still alive but two times larger. We survived the ruthless competition and the pandemic, but now we are the 3rd largest player in our sector. …

And how to delegate better, faster, and with fewer mistakes.

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Photo by Arron Choi on Unsplash

Most of my professional life I spent as an employee in multinational headquarters. Companies where you do not have much skin in the game, as Nassim Taleb explains.

All this changed in 2017 when I started my first business, in the tourism sector. Like any other first-time founder, there were difficulties with funding, planning targets, and establishing challenging-but-realistic goals. Problems that are already discussed in multiple places.

But once your business is up and running, there is a ghost that haunts entrepreneurs. …

Imola killed a driver but perpetuated an improvement model.

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Image by Gorguy Kane for Pixabay

May 1st, 1994, is a day carved into the memory of every Brazilian, myself included. In fact, at only 6 years old, it’s one of my earliest memories. My aunt was babysitting me and my sister, and we saw how everyone got emotional on the TV and in the room.

A hero left this world and entered eternity that day. Senna was far more than an outstanding athlete. He was a model of discipline and teamwork. Since then, sadly, our Brazilian icons dropped to the level of footballers causing accidents while drunk driving.

You don’t need to risk your life at 320km/h to find inspiration from Senna’s life. That said, here are 5 remarkable lessons from Senna to anyone facing business, academic, or personal challenges. …

Attract new investors, convince stakeholders, and map your competitors by doing this.

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Image by Prosperiguide

Thanks to a good business plan, my company exists.

It helped me to gain all the permits and authorizations needed to start a business in a foreign country and also convinced investors that my project deserved their money.

Writing a business plan (BP) is not a quick thing. It has dozens, even hundreds of pages, charts, and financial prognostics. However, it pays off in the short and long term. Some of the benefits to reap from writing a BP are:

  • Obtain a deep insight into your local market demand
  • Understand your competitors
  • Gain the sympathy of the local government (I will explain how later). …

From the first and essential step.

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Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

I start this article by making a minor excuse: the title you see above is not 100% true. There are exceptions, subordinated to specific contexts, where expatriates become like a native. For example, in the French south-west, where some long-term Brits living among wineries abandoned their fish and chips and become more French than the locals, as the blog Bordeaux Expats reported:

58-year-old Darren Taylor moved to the Dordogne from Essex 30 years ago because of his love of the novels of Proust and the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, which he used to borrow from Dagenham Library.

He said: “You’ll have to excuse me, it’s such a long time since I spoke English. What’s happening over there now anyway? Is Sven still England manager? Is Minder still on? I wouldn’t know. I spend my days listening to the music of George Brassens and sipping pastis.” …

The Psychological tricks used by Tech giants are sophisticated and alarming.

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Image by Ashutosh to Pixahive.

The average American spends almost four hours per day looking at a phone screen. If we consider only the time awaken, that means near 25% of a lifetime looking for a dark-glass. One could argue that this may be a productive time, handling business calls or e-learning.

We both know this is a lie.

They spend most of this period scrolling down on the infinite feeds of Facebook, or pictures from Instagram — which, according to researchers, is quite harmful to sleep quality. Did you feel a mild state of confusion when you forgot your phone until finding it back? Some people became so entangled with their devices to the point of feeling phones vibrating in the pocket when they are not even there. …

And the questions you should ask.

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Photo by Kelly Tokatlidis on Unsplash

During the time I lived and worked in Doha, the capital of Qatar, most of the company staff were foreigners. It was just a reflection of the country’s demographic, largely made of immigrants. Curiously, however, there were almost no other Brazilians like me, except for the boss of my boss. There were rumors about people from Brazil not spending much time in Qatar because of the vast distance to their country, plus the enormous cultural differences. To my surprise, just a few months after they hired me, they also hired a fellow Brazilian called Breno.

Breno had a respectable background. Graduated in the USA, in one of the top universities in his area, worked for the pride-company of the Brazilian aerospace industry and despite being young (he was just slightly older than I was), had a list of achievements uncommon for his age. He also looked slightly like a frat-boy coming out from a B-class American comedy. Breno was a very easy-going person, making funny jokes about all things. …

This should be an essential part of your checklist

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Image by Gerd Altmann for Pixabay

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.

John F. Kennedy, former U.S. President.

This is the first of a series of posts called Moving Abroad Checklist, directed to what business travelers, expatriates, or exchange students should do to make life far from home much easier. We will start with one of the two most neglected subjects (together with the winter blues).

It is not common to board a plane and start a new life focusing on what to do if unexpected and unpleasant situations happen. Sometimes you prepare yourself for the difficulties you judge possible, like homesickness (if you are worried about it, check this article), not passing the probation time of your new employer, or not being approved at university. …

Here are the ingredients you need to replace ordinary habits.

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Photo by the Author

If you ever read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, you’ve probably had the number ten thousand stuck in your head. Across the pages of the book, the author systematically demonstrates that one needs around ten thousand hours of practicing a certain activity to master it at a world-class level.

So, according to this idea, people turn masters in their fields because they practice enough. There are two problems with this way of thinking. I discovered them during my personal experience and also reading other sources, like Cal Newport’s Deep Work during this year’s lockdown.

The first problem is that, while talents do achieve superb performance by exhaustive practice, not everyone will turn into a master by doing it. In fact, if you think about your older acquaintances, you will list a few that spent decades doing the same activities almost every day but still are not authorities in their fields. …

Using diplomacy and innovation, he kept his country united

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Monument to the Duke of Caxias. Photograph by Mike Peel (

Once I heard an interesting question from a European colleague, regarding South-American languages:

Why the 200 million Spanish speakers of the continent live in nine different countries, while the 220 million Portuguese speakers concentrate in one single country?

There are a few ways to answer this question. Some historians may say that the Hispanic preference for a republic, contrasting with the Portuguese-Brazilian monarchy, resulted in smaller administrative units. Others would say that the closer relations of Portugal with Brazil acted as a unifying force. But both justifications ignore that Brazil had plenty of separatist movements. Especially during the XIX century.

Nearly all of them, however, were tamed by a single man: Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, the Duke of Caxias, also known as The Peacemaker. …


Levi Borba

Former 5-star Airline specialist, Founder of, Writer.

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