Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Easier to Network? A free e-book

Is it easier or harder to network here in Jamaica than other places?

I'm not sure I know the answer, but I do know that it's quite different.

To help sort out my thoughts on the issue, I started writing about the difference, then gave a few presentations and speeches on the topic. I wanted to put a "full stop" to my work on the subject and decided to write an e-book.

At first, I wanted to have someone else write it, but when I couldn't figure out how, I got someone to design it for me. That someone is Tavia Tomlinson, and she convinced me that I needed to write it myself... that was sometime in September, and the e-book is finally available for download, for free. She designed the entire e-book, which includes a 37 page combination of text, audio and video.

It's called "The New Networking: Caribbean 2008" and it can be claimed by visiting


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Still Alive and Kicking

Sorry for any confusion.

My prior post was only indicating that my product for expats -- MyMovetoJamaica Part I -- is no longer available. However, the blog will very much be alive and kicking!

Once again, apologies for not being clear.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

After June 19th MyMovetoJamaica will be no longer available

This is just a reminder that MyMovetoJamaica Part I -- my guide for expats -- won't be available after tomorrow for purchase and download.

The response has been good, and those using it seem to be getting great value.

I don't know if it will be offered again, (or at what price) as my wife and I have some ideas about new content we'd like to include.

So, if you're interested, find out more at

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Making the Decision

All of my writing in this blog up until now has focused on what has happened in my move to Jamaica AFTER I made the decision to come home.

However, I am slowly realizing that it might be helpful to share some of what I haven't shared, about the process of deciding to come home.

There actually was a moment when I had resigned myself to living in New Jersey... a deep, dark time that I thought about staying in what some called "the arm-pit of America."

I think many Jamaicans are living in the middle of a decision of whether to come home to live or not. There is an ongoing mental argument that includes the pros and cons, with the decision probably finally coming down to "the money."

Or maybe not?

I'd love to hear from the readers of this blog, either privately or publicly, anonymously or not...

Are you thinking about moving back to Jamaica? What are some of the things that you think about? What are some of the pros and cons? What is the percentage chance of you returning to live before retirement?

In this case, my decision process was not typical, for various reasons I'll discuss soon, and I think we'll all benefit from hearing from a few people other than me!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why a Skills Bank Wouldn't Work

In an email a few months ago, a reader brought up an idea that many professionals have had, which is to establish a skills bank of Jamaican abroad that businesses and government agencies in Jamaica could use.

The idea is repeated in an article by Ricky Singh in today's Sunday Observer in which he says:

Strengthening the dialogue with Community nationals of the Diaspora located across the USA, especially in major centres like New York and Washington, undoubtedly holds promise for mutual benefits, particularly, it is felt, if pursued within the context of clearly defined policies and programmes. This may require having some basic data on the size, talents and resources of the Diaspora community.

Question is, for all the "ole talk" by Caricom government leaders ... there is an absence of evidence that any concrete initiative has been undertaken to establish what is recognised to be a valuable tool - skills data bank.
The argument by advocates of a skills data bank to include valuable human resource located among nationals of the Caribbean Diaspora in North America and the UK, is that it is essential to better mobilise much-needed skills in, for example, the health and education sectors in the member states of our 15-member Community.
On the surface, it seems to be a good idea.

In my reply to the reader who repeated the idea, I had an insight -- the reasons why a skills bank does not work can be overcome by technology that has only recently been invented, and is being widely used -- Facebook.

The reason why a list of people and their skills doesn't work is that no-one actually does business by calling professionals from a list, unless they are desperate. Here in the Caribbean, as in most countries, the first place that people look to find expertise is among a current network of contacts -- family, friends and colleagues.

It's just a better idea to find the person you want by asking around the people you know, to find out who they might know. A personal referral trumps a name on a list any day.

If, instead of having to make ten phone calls, you had a way to search all your friends' network to find out who they know and trust, and you could do this search efficiently, while they are sleeping, you would use it often.

Facebook happens to be an excellent tool for just that purpose.

The difference between a raw list of names and skills, and a social networking site is the network of people and their connections that brings a name on a page into relief.

I suggested to the reader that she join Facebook and she said that she's not really into that kind of thing. Many professionals aren't, but it's a guarantee that those who are reluctant to use networking tools will never become more than a name on a page.

The fact is, Facebook is already becoming the only skills bank of its kind -- there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The typical arguments that people have against joining -- not having enough time or wanting privacy -- are the very same reasons a "skills bank" won't work.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Store Now Open

My first full package of products for expats moving to Jamaica is now available for order at

While it's not for a Jamaican who has been away for a short time, and is returning home, it can be put to good use by everyone else who is planning a move to Jamaica.

The store will be open thru June 19th, and the introductory price will be in effect until then.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Provocative Take on Organized Religion

The chances are good that when someone moves back to Jamaica, they are coming to a country that is extremely religious, and also extremely violent.

It's no accident that most of the religions practiced claim to be correct, denounce others that they see as incorrect and speak in a way that induces fear in the minds of those who aren't "members" in order to get them to convert.

Unfortunately, this is not only a matter of atheists vs. "the rest of us believers", but it also includes:
  • my religion vs. the other religions
  • my denomination vs. the others
  • my church vs. the others in the denomination
  • the time of my service vs. the others in my church
  • people in the church who share my beliefs vs. the rest
I know people who will argue that baptism is not enough, but that it must also involve the right amount of water, at the right age, with the right words and in the right direction (backwards, forwards, etc.)

In other words, a returnee to Jamaica is likely to notice that here in Jamaica there are a lot of people being right about a lot of things, and spending a lot of energy making other people wrong. (Of course, this extends to politics as well.)

Against that back-drop, I read a post by Steve Pavlina this morning that is not for the faint of heart, or anyone who is not willing to think or is prone to react based on emotions only. His post is entitled "Ten Reasons You Should Never Have a Religion" and it reminded me of the dilemma I had when I left Jamaica at 18 only to discover that the kind of Baptist I happened to be, did not exist in the U.S.

In other words, a "Jamaica Baptist Union" kind of Baptist was not white, black, mixed, Southern or anything like the churches I found in the U.S. It was what it was, and its beliefs were just... local and specific to one sect in Jamaica.

I liked to think at one point that all Jamaican Christians were the same, only to realize that there were many who had already condemned me to hell because I wasn't baptized the right way, for example. I was amazed when a Christian friend of mine advised me of my peril, as a way to get me to come over to his church.

As I said, his post is provocative as it's MUCH easier to see where other religious people are making the errors in judgment he describes.

MUCH easier.

We however, are lucky, because we happen to be right, and we know that we are right. Right?

Being right and making others wrong does have a certain violent quality to it, even when its done "for their benefit."

Here is the link to the post.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Two Fastest Men in the World, and Fastest Woman

Jamaica awakens this morning to the news that Usain Bolt has broken the world record for the 100 m dash.

That is, he has broken Asafa Powell of Jamaica's world record with one of his own. On the same night, Veronica Campbell ran the fastest 100m by a woman this year. (Click here for a report of both races in the New York Times.)

How is Jamaica able to produce such amazing results from an island of a mere 2.6 millions people?

It's simple... the annual high school rivalry in athletics, that we Jamaicans call "Champs" is simply the best event of its kind in the world, and the results are evidence of the passion that we bring to the sport and also our alma

Here is a report I wrote from 2006 Champs, trying to explain this unique phenomena.

I vividly recall sitting around the dinner table with my fellow students at Cornell, talking about high school, and hearing them share how much they hated it. Here in Jamaica, that is a feeling that is rarely expressed, as our predominant feeling with respect to our own high school is one of instant pride that lasts a lifetime. Is is expected, and accepted, and understood to be true.

Representing one's high school in a sporting event like Champs, and winning awards for the school at seen as some of the highest accomplishments, whether it be on the debating team, the football field or on School's Challenge.

It matters not -- high accomplishment stems from school pride, which in turn translates to national pride.

All this when our crime rate (and food prices) have risen alarmingly. How to convert the success in one area of national life to less murders in the other is a question that we might be asking as we celebrate.


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