Ideas on paper

Thoughts by José Luis Agell

Category Archives: Books

Do something hard and lonely

I just read this interesting advice for CEOs:

“Regularly practice something Spartan and individualistic. Do something that you know very few other people are willing to do. This will give you a filling of toughness, a certain self-elitism. It will mentally prepare you for the battle of business.

Something that is hard and lonely is studying late at night for a graduate degree in fashion design, especially in the winter when everyone else is asleep. Or running long, slow distances in the morning…

All great and successful athletes remember the endless hours of seemingly unrewarded toil. So do corporate presidents.”

Jeffrey J. Fox, from the book How to become CEO

True North

“Just as a compass points toward a magnetic field, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership. When you follow your internal compass, your leadership will be authentic, and people will naturally want to associate with you. Although others may guide or influence you, your truth is derived from your life story and only you can determine what it should be”

These are few words from the introduction of a very special book that just fell into my hands. How to achieve authentic leadership is definitely a suggesting topic, but what makes this book really special for me is the moment and the story behind it.

My journey with Innovalley is being one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I am learning a lot from our wonderful team. I am taking over responsibilities and tasks that challenge me everyday. I am defining my personality and developing my own sense of leadership. And I am getting to know amazing people who selflessly support our project and have become part of the Innovalley Family.

Cristina is one of these extraordinary people who have become part of the Family. She’s unconditionally shared lots of insights, advices and contacts from her extended experience in the fashion world. Moreover, her energy and way of living inspire us everyday. I haven’t met her in person but I consider her a friend already.

I am thrilled that Cristina thought of me when attending a lecture of Bill George at Harvard Business School, bought his book True North, made it sign by the author and sent it to me.

Thanks so much Cristina for the book and for helping the KITE fly higher and higher everyday.

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“Innovadores o Vencidos”

Nunca dejaré de sorprenderme por el poder de las redes sociales. En un post anterior, que escribí después de asistir a una charla de Jennifer Aaker, comenté que pueden ser una herramienta perfecta para crear impacto y cambiar el mundo.

Desde que vine a Silicon Valley y me lancé a emprender, no son pocas las personas que he conocido virtualmente pero que me inspiran y motivan como si las conociera en persona. Podría hacer una lista pero no es el motivo de este artículo.

Antes de verano, me contactó por Linkedin Isidre March, director del Master EBT de la Universidad de Valencia (Máster en gestión de empresas de base tecnológica). Isidre es Doctor en Ciencias Económicas y Master en “Innovation and Technology Management”. Por lo que he leído sobre él, siempre ha tenido una marcada vocación emprendedora y docente, dos areas que deberían estrechar sus lazos mucho, especialmente en España.

Me alegró mucho saber que hace unos días, Isidre presentó su libro “Innovadores o Vencidos” en la Universidad de Valencia. Se trata de un libro divulgativo acerca de los retos a los que se enfrentan los emprendedores de hoy y que pretende desgranar las claves para salir de la crisis actual, que confluyen en la creación y consolidación de iniciativas empresariales intensivas en conocimiento y capaces de aportar valor y riqueza a nuestra sociedad.

Y me alegró más recibir un email suyo pidiéndome una dirección española para mandarme una copia de su libro a cambio de hacerle llegar mis impresiones sobre el mismo. Parece ser que, como yo, uno de sus protagonistas es un español afincado en la Bahía de San Francisco.

¡Muchas gracias, Isidre, por pensar en mí! Prometo leerlo con ilusión y cumplir con la segunda parte del trato.



There are moments in life in which everything seems to make sense. Most of the times, there’re not transcendental causes that make you feel like this, but there’s a spark that helps you align your feelings, experiences and actions.

In my case, there’s been a book: The laws of simplicity, by John Maeda. Maeda is a graphic designer and computer scientist from the US whose work has been exhibited around the world. In his book, he defines how making meaning and forgetting the fluff can have a great impact in all aspects of our lives: design, technology, business and personal life.

Concretely he proposes 10 laws for simplicity:

  1. REDUCE. The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.
  2. ORGANIZE. Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.
  3. TIME. Savings in time feel like simplicity.
  4. LEARN. Knowledge makes everything simpler.
  5. DIFFERENCES. Simplicity and complexity need each other.
  6. CONTEXT. What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral.
  7. EMOTION. More emotions are better than less.
  8. TRUST. In simplicity we trust.
  9. FAILURE. Some things can never be made simple.
  10. THE ONE. Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.

The end of the year is always a reflecting period and these 10 laws are helping me draw my personal goals for 2011. I have doubts. There’s a lot of uncertainty but I’m comfortably lost.

I love being in San Francisco with Maria, I love my family and friends, I love Innovalley.

And the rest is fluff 🙂