How Manhattan Was Traded for Spices- A Shocking Story of Influence


Images coutesy of:,

In 1453, the Ottoman empire under Mehmet II conquered Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey). This caused a great disruption for world trade as Constantinople was the link between East and West. All trade passed through it. Now, with a new ruler, new customs and royalties were placed on all goods going from East to West. The European continent couldn’t bear the high rise in the cost of goods imported. The Europeans began producing many items locally. However, there was one category they couldn’t produce in the continent, which was in great demand. The price of these small items would sometimes reach x300 their cost (yes, three hundred times). This category was “spices.”

Imagine if you could control a product that costs say 10,000 and sell it for 3,000,000.

The problem was that the European powers didn’t know where the spices were sourced from. They had to go through difficult terrains under the Ottoman’s rule.

Whoever could find a route to the Spice sources was bound to become the richest person on earth.

So the race began.

The Portuguese began their expedition of trying to sail around Africa. After many years of trials, Bartolomeu Dias reached the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), proving it is possible to sail around Africa and dodge the Ottomans. Vasco Da Gama went on an expedition a few years later reaching Mombasa (Kenya), where he found an Arab sailor would guided them to India. Once Da Gama’s expedition reached Calcutta and Goa, they began building forts. It was clear, Portugal has done it.

In the mean time, the Spanish were shocked at the speed events were going. An Italian explorer by the name of Christopher Columbus came to the Spanish court to market his plan of sailing West in order to reach the Indies from there and gain control over the lucrative Spice Trade. The Spanish having just expelled the Moors from Grenada in 1492, their coffers were quite full and they could fund such a high risk trip.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese sent their third vicious explorer, Afonso de Albuquerque. The man had a plan. To control the route to the exact source of spices. It turned out the highly sought after spices of (nutmeg and cloves) were not sourced from India. So he continued sailing with his fleet reaching Thailand, Malaysia, and Indochina (Indonesia). There he landed on the port of Malacca and took control of it. He realized he was getting closer to the source.

He began asking and found out that nutmeg came from a few remote islands called the (Banda Islands). Albuquerque knew he was close to hitting the jackpot. He sent an expedition, which included Magellan (a young man who would later lead an expedition that would be the first to circumnavigate the globe). They landed in Banda and began trading, filling their ship with cheap nutmeg.


Image courtesy of:

Albuquerque and the Portuguese had made it and realized the great wealth that lied ahead of them. However, as with everything in life, “nothing lasts forever.” Albuquerque died in India a few years later. The Portuguese couldn’t take control of the islands. The Portuguese King got involved in a war against the Moroccan king and was killed along with most of the princes, ending the Portuguese Empire’s influence on the maritime trade.

Along came the Dutch, who realized the great potential in Spice Trade. They sent a few expeditions after the Portuguese to find where the Banda Islands were. They sent their most vicious Captain Jan Coen to seize the remote islands. The man did so. After a few riots by the locals, he executed their tribal chiefs and committed a genocide, reducing the population of the islands from 15,000 to a mere 1,500. He brought new workers from Indochina.

As the Dutch were busy taking control of the islands. A British expedition arrived in the area and took control of Run island (one of the small Banda Islands). The Dutch detested the British’s existence in such proximity from them. Coen sent his troops who killed the British captain and seized Run Island. The British were aggravated when they heard that he continued killing the British in other areas as well such as in Malacca.

As a response they decided to invade the Dutch North American colony of New Amsterdam.

The Dutch were not willing to give up Run Island. How can they have a monopoly and manipulate the price of nutmeg if they do not have total control of the supply?

After long negotiations, someone suggested that each country hold on to what they currently control.

So, the Dutch gave up New Amsterdam, which would become (Manhattan), and the British gave up their demand of small island of Run.

That was the beginning of the rise of the influential British Empire.

It was all just Spices!!!!!

6 Reasons You Need to Become Influential Now

Image courtesy of Amboseli 2008

Influence is about having the effect of changing someone or something.
Effects can be changed by numerous ways, but here at (Influentials), we are concerned with character.
Influentials spend a great amount of time developing their characters. Years are spent in certain fields, where with time, they excel. They master their skills. They usually have a head start.
While many people are watching sitcoms, going out, chilling, and sleeping, Influentials are working on their skills. They may not be apparent yet, as their moment has not come.
However, once an opportunity presents itself, they rise smoothly without any direct competition. Why, many ask?
Because they did not waste their time.

Being influential requires that a person knows what he or she wants in life. Once they do, they begin noticing problems in society that need change. They create expectations. They align these expectations with their available resources and begin designing a road map.
They mobilize people with them and they begin affecting change.
Some succeed, while others don’t. Nevertheless, it is not about the final destination. Its about the journey towards the goal of the Influential that matters. Many great goals where not achieved by the starting Influentials, but by the people who believed in their causes and continued the changing process.
You need to become Influentials for the following reasons:

1) SIMILAR POINT OF DEPARTURE. We have the same brain, heart, and similar circumstances as most great people we read about. Do not create excuses, we mostly start with the same things.
2) IT’S EASY. Nowadays, It is easier to become influential. Using Facebook or Twitter, we can send a message to millions in a few seconds. This was impossible just a few decades ago.
3) IT’S NOBLE. If you believe in something that has a general benefit. Fight for it and prove yourself and your idea to the world.
4) SELF ACTUALIZATION. There is a need deep inside each and everyone of us that we need to accomplish what we are here for. We are not here to eat, sleep, and die. We are here to improve ourselves and those around us. We need to fulfill our potentials.
5) IDENTITY. By being influential, we clearly say that we do not go by the routes drawn for us. We create our own paths that suit us. We are unique.
6) NEED. There is a need as there always has been for people to cause change. Look around you and see how many things could go differently if the people there knew what they were doing. Don’t be a sheep and just walk around. Stop, think, prepare, and stand for your belief.

You are not doing anyone a favor by affecting change, it’s your duty. It’s your call.

Develop the Influential inside of you. Choose the field you know most about. Keep pushing on and don’t give up. Perhaps your time hasn’t arrived yet, but when it comes, be ready.

In The Forbidden City


 Image courtesy of:



We don’t usually discuss this issue in public because we fear others may judge us. Despite its importance nobody mentions it. The simple fact of contemplating it puts a person on the spot light.

We never talk about death.

It is a natural part of our life cycle. We will eventually go through it. Don’t we have the right to discuss it or share our thoughts about it.

One of the main reasons we never talk about it is because it is the ultimate party bummer!

We accumulate as much wealth as we can, build the greatest buildings, and reproduce children with the hope of being there to enjoy these delicacies that life has to offer us. Only to be shocked that life starts giving us signs that you won’t be here for any longer.

Your body starts slowing down. Chronic diseases start showing up. Your five senses don’t function as well as they did in your youth. Your body’s already dying but you are still around hoping it’ll give you just a bit more time.

Others before you have tried all sorts of medicines, alchemy and magic. None of it worked.

Some realized they had no way around it so decided to go prepared like the Chinese Emperor who carved statues of all his soldiers (Terracotta Army) to be buried in his flamboyant tomb in order to go with him to the unknown.

There are basically two general camps who have a strong opinion regarding this issue, with some people in between. The first camp includes the people who believe that life happened by coincidence after the big bang, which sparked evolution. This theory believes that there is no afterlife and once a person is dead, they simply decompose.

The other camp includes the people who believe in the existence of a God, and that life is a creation rather than a coincidence.

This issue of death is a philosophical one. Depending on which camp a person is in, the lifestyle one chooses should coincide with the outcome.

For an evolutionist, you only live here. So leave your mark here.

For a religious person. You will be rewarded with heaven if you perform good deeds on earth. So leave your mark there.

It is crucial for you to choose where you are in order to create a life mission to work on. A blueprint to guide you through life.

Don’t be a sheep. Know what you want from this life. Work accordingly, and hopefully you will make the right choice.


Until next time,

The Watchmaker


Image courtesy of: Breguet



As we proceed in life, we meet different forms of people. The funny, the wise, the unfortunate, the rich, and the glamorous. However, we always neglect one person with a quality that surpasses all the aforementioned.

This one quality is what makes a true man or woman.

All entrepreneurs, leaders, parents, administrators, and explorers have it within them. They are not born with it. They never realize they had it until things start turning against them.

This quality is “patience.”

Patience shouldn’t be a quality. It should be classified as a science. Without it you can not get any great project done.

We live in a fast-food, fast communication, fast cars age, where everything is instantly done. We are becoming part of the fast running show. We stopped contemplation. We do not focus on details any more. We want to multi-task everything.

Again, here’s the flash news. Not everything can be done swiftly.

You can’t become rich overnight despite all the advertisements you read. You can not raise a family by keeping your nanny at home while you work. You can not grow a tree in a week.

Many things in life take time. If you do not develop a patience attitude soon, you will find yourself becoming a “jack of all trades, master of none.”

Prioritize your life. Usually, it should include these: family, friends, work, health, and meditation. These should be set in accordance to your age and stage in life.

Dedicate as much time to the top ones. Be patient. The best pieces of art are the ones that take long to create.

A few years ago I saw a Swiss watchmaker manufacturing a mechanical watch with a special “complication” called the Tourbillon. This mechanism is so complicated that only a few Swiss watchmakers can create. Do you know why? Because it takes between 2-8 months to create one. If a single mistake is done, the watchmaker has to start all over again.

This watch’s price is over $100,000.

Patience pays off.

Give your family and friends the time they deserve. Give without expecting anything from them.

Work hard on your project and life mission, they will pay off soon as well.

Control your temper, and always remember that strength isn’t by how large your muscles are, but by how patient and self-controlling you are.

Adopt the watchmaker’s attitude.


Until next time,

The Heaven Within Me


Image courtesy of:


Whenever I see people in the market buying and selling, day in and day out, I wonder what they are working hard for? Some jobs are exhausting. Doctors that work 18 hours a day. Miners that go to unbelievable depths on low wages. Border patrols who live most of their lives in unpopulated areas. What do all these people have in common?

They are all working towards one single goal. “Work hard now, so I can be happy later.”

Here’s the unfortunate news. No one knows the future. They may never live till the day they experience this so-called happiness.

Happiness isn’t a destination or a place you arrive to. Believe me, I tried. Some authors believe its the journey of life. However, I believe it is a state you have within you. It is something you can activate and deactivate at any moment.

You may have the worst day in your life, but come home to see you child take his first step. That single incident can make you forget all the miseries you’ve just experienced.

It wasn’t the child that gave you happiness. It was you. You activated it, because you realized your priorities in life. This child’s first step was your success as well.

If one can prioritize his/her incidents in terms of importance and impact towards your “life’s mission,” small incidents should never be a source of worry.

A clergyman was once imprisoned by a king for disobedience. The clergyman said:

“When I’m free, I’m free. If I’m imprisoned, I’m in solitude. If I’m killed, then I go to heaven. They never realized that my heaven is inside of me wherever I go.”

So keep your heaven inside of you all the time. Activate it daily by appreciating what you have and knowing that you are working towards your bigger goal in life even if the steps are a small as a child’s steps. You will eventually get there.

Until next time,

The Benefits of Craziness


Image courtesy of: Associated Press



It takes determination to achieve your goals. Without that extra energy of belief, it gets harder as you swim against the tides with your new ideas. Some people who get it. Some will slow to down. Some will make sure you don’t succeed. Whatever new idea you come along with, whether it is a product, a work of art or ideology, it will always be faced by difficulties. The reason is simple: people are used to having things a certain way and you are about to disrupt their old fashioned way.

The determined person will keep trying different methods, but will always be faced by opposition. They will call him a crazy, risk-taker, abnormal person.

I am here to tell you:

“It’s normal to not be normal.”

Change is never brought by normal individuals. It takes deep thinking and isolation to formulate big ideas, and determination and perseverance to execute them.

I recently read an article about a young Italian kid called Guglielmo Marconi in 1895, who though we came up with a way to communicate without the use of wires. He sent a letter to the Italian Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs about the invention. He never received a response from the minister, who eventually dismissed it and referred the case to an “insane asylum” in Rome.

This young heart-broken kid would eventually be credited for (Inventing the Radio),  and by 1909 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Every great person is mocked and insulted. Don’t get upset when that happens. This is only a sign that you are surpassing other people’s capabilities and they are feeling threatened. Forgive and continue. I once heard that people only throw stones on tall trees that bear fruit. So if you are being stoned, then you are bearing fruits.


Until next time, 

The Advantage Children Have


Image courtesy of:



Sometimes I wonder what I’m most passionate about.

Somehow I always seem to find the same answer. The discovery of new things or new information.

That is what gives me the most pleasure. It may be intrigue, wonder or the joy of being surprised by learning something for the first time.

This situation doesn’t happen a lot nowadays with all the information bombardment we go through. Our minds can’t filter the useful from the useless.

However, I found the simple trick to constantly getting that joy of discovery.

It’s simply by “asking questions.”

This phenomenon is natural to all human beings. It is the essence of reasoning. It is the source of enlightment, understanding, and guidance.

Humans start asking questions as soon as they begin to speak. They ask around 100 questions before entering school. This number begins to decrease as they grow depending on the educational system they have. If the school and family nurture this ability by providing a  healthy environment where someone can freely ask questions and receive logical answers, this will help the asker to develop and continue asking. If it is stopped or neglected, it will gradually lead to the death of that human being’s development.

How many times have you seen people in terrible situations and wondered what would happen if this person did so or so to improve his/her situation?

These are some situations where I asked a similar question:

  • Why are these people so poor?
  • Why is this  person working so hard for peanuts?
  • Why is this person not taking good care of their health?
  • Why is this person in a terrible relationship?
  • Why is this person under so much debt?

This list can go on indefinitely.

Let’s continue to question our lives. Why are we doing things a certain way? Why are we stuck in one place? Why don’t we have peace in our lives? Why are we unhappy?

Only after asking can we get answers.

We ask. We analyze. We assess. We take action.

These are the four steps to change.

Let’s go back to being children. Let’s ask 100 questions a day. Don’t let anybody rob you from this simple human right.


Until next time,

What Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Jobs Have in Common


Image courtesy of:


What Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Jobs had in common?

In my attempt to collect the most of what life has to teach, I stumbled upon a concept that dazzled me. Ever since my days in school, I found it difficult to understand complex matters. The more complicated the topic was, the more I hated it.

This issue of complexity is what drove me away from topics such as math and physics. However, what I never understood was why I liked chemistry, which by all counts is a complicated subject. It turns out it all had something to do with the teachers. It was how they presented the subject to me.

This is a very critical issue, as we all choose our field of specialization based on what subjects we liked in school. So what is the key factor that differentiated the physics teacher from the chemistry teacher?

The answer is simple. It’s simplicity.

The physics teacher took ages to explain a concept that takes seconds. The chemistry teacher did exactly the opposite. Guess who gained my respect in the end? The chemistry teacher. Not only that, a few years later, he was appointed as the head of the entire school.

Albert Einstein once said: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Leonardo Da Vinci was famous for saying: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

To simplify means you have total control over the matter you are dealing with.

When pitching an idea to potential investors, simplicity is important. It makes it realistic.

When a commander simplifies the mission to his soldiers, they believe that it’s doable and follow him.

Even in technology. The simpler the more beautiful. Long gone are the days when we admired complex things. Steve Jobs figured this out early. “You could see it in everything he created. He was a dominant person who liked to understand what he had in hands and simplify it for his customers. He once said:

“That’s been one of my mantras- focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Simplicity is power.

Simplify you life, your wishes, your products, and your words.


Until next time,

Following The Ant


Image courtesy of:



We are constantly faced by difficulties in life. Everybody’s got their fair share of obstacles.

Upon encountering our first obstacles, some of us simply escape or avoid them. Some turn the other way. Some wait and stare at them hoping they will somehow disappear. Most of us are wired that way, we hate facing reality.

To be fair, facing difficulties isn’t fun as it occurs. You are confused, you feel unprepared, your heart is beating, and you feel surrounded but all the negativity there is to exist.

However, there are a few who somehow always seem to be calm about the situation. They dedicate their energy into finding a solution through or around the obstacle. These are whom I like to call the adapters.

These obstacles are there placed on your path for a reason, to help carve your character. The trick isn’t to whine about its existence. It was going to meet you despite the path you take. Once you get this cemented into your mind, it becomes easier to deal with the rest.

If an ant is walking by (ants do not have eyes), and it is suddenly faced by any obstacle, what does it do? It simply touches it to identify the size of the obstacle, it assesses the situation, if it is small it’ll climb it, if not, it’ll go around it.

The trick here is the ability to change.

We have a sense of rigidity when it comes to change. It takes us time to admit our mistakes. Whether it is the wrong career path, the wrong spouse, the wrong lifestyle we lead. We find it hard to change, because we fear what people might think of us. We fear the unknown. This is what I know, what will happen if I change to something I don’t know.

We are pessimistic when it comes to change. Why do we fear the unknown? Why can’t we alter our paths?

Let’s look at Christopher Columbus.

When he was refused financing for his famous exploration voyage to the West from Portugal, Genoa and Venice, he didn’t give up. He went to the King and Queen of Spain.

He altered his plan. He definitely didn’t want foreigners to fund his voyage, but he knew he had to be flexible to get what he wanted.

This ability to change and adapt to the current situation is what distinguishes all the haves from the have-nots. Read any story about a successful person and you’ll notice this trait.

They all followed the ant.

Until next time,

A Time Machine


Image coutesy of


Living in the 21st century is complicated. We don’t have the same dreams as people of previous generations. If it was 1814, the average person’s dream would be to hop on a boat, and hopefully arrive safely in the United States to try their luck there. The most a person dreamt of would have been a small shack and a family.

If it was 1914, the dream would have probably been to see the Great War end to go back and live a simple peaceful life with the family.

However, it isn’t 1814 or 1914. It’s 2014.

People want it all. The money, the fame, the great looks, the “likes,” the success, the love, the easy life.

What most people don’t realize is that earth is the same for us and the people who inhabited it before us. We play on the same ground. We have the same 24 hours a day. Why do we look down on them. Why do we subliminally feel sorry for them. Is it because they didn’t look as clean as we do. Or had an easier life as we do. Or perhaps because they were vulnerable to all sort of plagues and diseases, and had a shorter life expectancy rate.

Have we ever thought of how someone living in 1914 would look at someone living in 2014?

Men are wearing skinny clothes, girls are half naked. People speak softly. People don’t have basic life skills. If your tire is down, you call someone. If the water leaks, you call a plumber. If you have a problem with your wife, you call a lawyer.

Families are disassembled. You can’t speak off your mind, you have to be politically correct or others will judge you. You have no privacy, everything you do is monitored by someone.

The question we have to ask is, “whom should we feel sorry for?”

Until next time,