Conquer your Giants: A Little Girl’s Funny True Story

Little Boxer Girl

Walking on my way to the bank I observed on the street a little girl who was, for some reason, putting all her effort into trying to beat with her fists, a young man carrying a baby. She wasn’t really making an impact as the man didn’t pay her much attention and a few bystanders were laughing at her efforts. She was too little to do any damage or so they thought because she was barely any taller than his waist and it was so easy to dodge her blows.

I guess at that point, the little girl decided she needed a new strategy. So she stopped hitting the guy with her fists, used both her hands to grab the man’s shorts from the waist and pulled down as hard as she could. Down came the man’s shorts along with his underpants, and since he was holding a baby, there wasn’t much he could do for a good few seconds. That was enough to make a point, and the little girl grinned from ear to ear, triumphant.

7 Take-aways from this story:

  1. Respect the little guys. They can see things you can’t.
  2. Know your options and keep an eye out for new and exciting opportunities out there.
  3. Constantly check your progress. If you aren’t getting the results you are looking for, change your strategy.
  4. Just because it’s bigger than you doesn’t mean you can’t beat it.
  5. Keep going. It’s never over until you give up.
  6. Never underestimate ‘Girl Power’!
  7. Celebrate your victories.

Chris Gutierrez: Entrepreneur

Christopher GutierrezMeet Christopher C. Gutierrez

I met Chris Gutierrez over a year ago at the company I used to work with. He was seeking investments for his web development start-up, Visual Notch. He didn’t get his investment. At the time, he had instead been offered a position to head a web team. Chris accepted the offer with high expectations and had a brief segue from his initial plans.This was the time I got to know Chris Gutierrez up close and personal.

While working with Chris, I could tell that he wasn’t your ordinary Joe. He operated by a whole different set of rules which made him an odd man out. He knew his business intimately. He was so savvy about the tools and technologies of his trade that when he spoke, it was hard to doubt his word. He spoke with authority and that won him the respect of his staff and the clients he handled. He immediately took control of his unit. He clearly was a risk taker, implementing changes as he deemed  fit. Being the new kid, as one might expect, this would reap mixed reactions from his colleagues. Some were elated by the changes, others were skeptical and resistant. This was what he had to struggle with for a year or so.

Chris had a clear vision of the organization he intended to build. He never once lost sight of this. He worked at it diligently day by day, assembling his dream team and building the business he had envisioned, despite the challenges he encountered along the way. Chris had many significant victories, but he also had to deal with numerous setbacks, many of which, were the offshoot of projects that had preceded him. Over time, Chris began to feel the weight of several forces tugging at him from different directions, at times demanding from him, opposing outcomes. Realizing that his personal vision for the business had become severely misaligned with that of the company he joined a year earlier, Chris made the painful decision to leave. And then Chris found himself back a the point where he started a year earlier, except now he was a year older, a bit wiser, and more determined than ever to pursue his vision.

Chris Gutierrez, The Quintessential Entrepreneur

Why do I think Chris was different from most guys at the office? For one thing, Chris was way too comfortable walking away from employment. Everyone I have talked with at the office could not imagine a life without a job. In all the time I had handled HR, I have never seen an employee who was comfortable leaving a job unless he had a new job to transfer to. But Chris, for some reason, seemed quite comfortable simply walking away, with only his vision to fall back on.  I found this incredibly fascinating (not to mention brave).

Chris and I have stayed friends after he left the company and I have gotten to know him even more since then. I also have figured out the kind of creature that Chris really is. He is a quintessential entrepreneur and he operates by the entrepreneur’s code.

Chris, as it turns out, had always been occupied with one business or another. In college, he sold cell phones at a premium price, offering technical support as a value added service. He partnered with a Japanese company to supply video conferencing equipment in 2005, back when that technology was still cumbersome, expensive and hard to come by. In 2007, Chris ventured into personnel services specializing in recruitment for IT positions. Chris is also very active in his family business, marketing and sourcing back-up power generators. He would on occasion accept employment, but he was really most comfortable running a business.

It seems to me like every time I talk to Chris, he is evaluating a new business like a mini-grocery, or sourcing solar-powered water heaters. Like most entrepreneurs, Chris is always on the look out for opportunities and great deals, poised to step in if the numbers suited him. Another remarkable thing about Chris is his insatiable curiosity and drive to learn new things. Chris would always be raving about a new book he just read, or would eagerly discuss a new technology he is researching. This makes him a great resource person if you need to know the latest trends. He is knowledgeable about many topics. Chris is never stingy with information, he’s always willing to share what he knows. It’s always fun and informative to pick his brains.

You might think that someone like Chris who is so gung-ho about business was spared from the failures and disappointments of business ownership, but that isn’t so.  Chris has had his fair share of downturns. For instance, because of the inadequate bandwidth infrastructure at the time, Chris discovered that he wasn’t be able to harness the full potential of his video conferencing equipment, so he decided to give up that business.  Then he also discovered that although IT recruitment was a very financially rewarding business, the work was just too grueling for him. He eventually burned out. But being the entrepreneur that he is, whenever a business failed to pan out, Chris would always pick up where he left off, and move on to the next business determined to make it work, equipped with the lessons of his past misadventures.

Finding His Passion

So where is Chris now? Like I mentioned earlier, after deciding to leave the company, Chris is back where he had started a year earlier, working in his own web design company, Visual Notch. Many things have changed though. After his brief stint with employment, Chris is now crystal clear about a few fundamental things.

Chris is an entrepreneur first and foremost. He has embraced his inner visionary, and has decided to celebrate it. He is most comfortable with this set up, and is committed to see his dream to fruition.

Web Design is his passion. Despite all the difficulties he has encountered in this business, Chris is still very keen to pursue it. This is what he so loves to do. He is certain that this will be his take off point. Deeply inspired by the achievements of companies like Google and Apple, Chris is determined to put the Philippines and his company, Visual Notch, on the IT map. It seems that Chris wants to put his own ding in the universe.

Chris reports that at the moment, Visual Notch is booked to capacity. He takes this as a powerful indication that he has made the right decision to push ahead with his plans. This also assures Chris that there is a robust market for this business. Even more promising is the fact that several investors have expressed serious interest in pumping in the much-needed capital infusion to fund Visual Notch’s growth stage. Chris’ priority will be to build the core competencies of his team through recruitment and training. He sees a local-based full service  e-commerce platform on his pet projects list. Somewhat dismayed with the current state of e-commerce in the Philippines, he is quite certain that he is the man to build the solutions for it. Chris sees the flaws in the current system as a tremendous opportunity for his company to step up and shine.

Over the past months, Chris and I have formed an informal mastermind group, where we bounce idea off each other, brainstorming solutions for problems we find annoying, challenging each other, cheering each other on and holding each other accountable. We discuss books we’ve read. We exchange notes and quotes and all sorts of information and funny stories. I myself have left my job, in pursuit of my vision, emboldened by Chris’ courage and resilience.  I have come to value our friendship for the wealth it brings to my life. As a token of my gratitude, I am publishing this long overdue piece to make public my appreciation of this man, Chris Gutierrez, whom I am proud and grateful to call my friend.

If there are any investors out there who would like to explore the possibility of a partnership with Chris, you may reach him through email : chris@visualnotch.com or visit his company website at http://www.visualnotch.com/.

Eat Your Way to Health: Angiogenesis and Diet

Angiogenesis Body (www.angio.org)

In a remarkable presentation by Dr. William Li on TED Talks, Dr. Li discusses a ground-breaking research on a radically new approach to treatment of some of the most dreaded human conditions including cancer. This approach involves angiogenesis.

What is Angiogenesis?

Angiogenesis is the body’s process of growing blood vessels. Blood vessels deliver blood rich in nutrients and oxygen all throughout the body.  These vessels adapt to the environment where they form to complement the structures of the organs they support.

Most of the blood vessels were created while growing in the womb. Adults do not normally grow blood vessels except in special cases like:

  • monthly menstrual cycle when uterine lining is formed
  • during pregnancy when the placenta is formed connecting the mother and the baby
  • when wounds heal

When the is body is healthy, the body can turn angiogenesis on and off to perform these normal body functions.  When the body is not healthy, angiogenesis is thrown out of balance and the body might not be able to produce the blood vessels for normal blood flow or it may not be able to stop the growth of blood vessels, producing abnormal blood flow to certain tissues.

A Medical Revolution

A new cutting-edge research links an imbalance in angiogenesis to over 70  diseases including some of the most dreaded ones, like stroke, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Though these diseases appear to be very different in terms of the organ functions they affect and in the symptoms they exhibit, their underlying causes can all be linked to either over-stimulated or inhibited angiogenesis. Never before have the treatment of these illnesses been approached from a standpoint of angiogenesis.

The inability of the body to stimulate angiogenesis results in a lack of blood vessels that in turn result in the reduced blood flow to certain areas of the body. Among the diseases that are caused by insufficient angiogenesis are:

  • Chronic Wounds
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease
  • Stroke
  • Neuropathies
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Hair loss
  • Erectile Dysfunction

In other cases the body is unable to shut down angiogenesis or the body is flooded with angiogenic factors that stimulate the blood vessels to continue growing past the normal levels causing abnormal growth in tissues. The diseases that are caused by excessive angiogenesis are:

  • Cancer
  • Blinding Diseases
  • Psoriasis
  • Arthritis
  • Endometriosis
  • AIDS-Kaposi Sarcoma
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Obesity
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cerebral Malaria
  • Rosacea

Although Dr. Li, cited a number of diseases caused by angiogenesis, he focused on the treatment of two of the most serious and pervasive conditions, cancer and obesity. His angiogenic approach to treating these 2 conditions produced such glaringly  successful results, giving hope for the usual bleak prognosis especially in the case of cancer.

Angiogenesis and Cancer

The body naturally produces cancer cells. Autopsies of healthy people who died in a car accidents show that 40% of women ages 40-50 have microscopic cancer cells in their breasts and 50% of men in their 50′s and 60′s have microscopic cancer cells in their prostate. And by the time we reach our 70′s, 100% of us will have microscopic cancer cells in our thyroid.

Not all of these cells will develop into full-blown cancer. Without a blood supply, these cells cannot grow larger than 0.5mm³ (roughly the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen).  What determines whether these cancer cells will progress into a debilitating disease is if they form a blood supply. Angiogenesis is characteristic of every form of cancer that have progressed into disease. Without angiogenesis cancer cells remain harmless but with angiogenesis, these cells can turn into deadly tumors very rapidly.

As these cells mutate, they release angiogenic factors that stimulate vessel growth. Besides feeding the tumor with oxygen and nutrients, these blood vessels also allow the cancer cells to break off and be transported through the blood stream to other parts of the body (metastasis). When the body loses its natural ability to inhibit abnormal angiogenesis, tumors are able to flourish. Most tumors are diagnosed after angiogenesis has been turned on and left uninhibited for some time, allowing the tumor to grow and manifest as a disease.

Like cancer cells, fat cells also require a blood supply in order for it to grow. As more blood vessels grow within the fat tissue the more rapidly fat tissues grow. As in cancer, when the body lacks the natural ability to inhibit abnormal growth of blood vessels, fat tissues grow very fast leading to obesity. Angiogenesis also lies at the heart of obesity.

Angiogenesis as the Focus of Treatment

Dr. Li’s basic premise is, if angiogenesis is what causes the disease to progress, then you can stop the disease by blocking angiogenesis. This treatment is called Antiangiogenic Therapy.

Current cancer  treatments like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery focus on removing or destroying the tumor itself. These treatment will in most cases lead to the destruction of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Radiation and chemotherapy are highly toxic and may even be carcinogenic (known to cause cancer).

Antiangiogenic therapy focuses on inhibiting the growth of blood vessels to stop the blood from flowing to the tumor, thus starving the cancer. Since the blood vessels that feed the tumor, are weak and poorly constructed, they are quite vulnerable to this form of treatment. Since only the blood vessels are targeted, no healthy tissues are destroyed and the cancerous tissue simply shrinks and dies from the lack of oxygen and nutrients.  Patients enjoy a better quality of life, both during and after the treatment.

Dr. Li presented remarkable success cases using this treatment in both humans and animals for a broad spectrum of cancer types. Since 2004, more and more angiogenic drugs have been introduced into the market (see table below) as treatment for cancer. Equally effective was the use of antiangiogenic agents to control obesity. Dr. Li’s lab tests with mice showed that antiangiogenic therapy also worked very well in normalizing the weight of obese mice. He also discovered that although the therapy caused the obese mice to lose weight, it could not cause these mice to lose more weight beyond the normal weight of mice.

U. S. FDA Approved Antiangiogenic Drugs

Year Drug Treatment Target  (URL)
2004 Avastin Colon, lung , breast, brain, kidney  (http://www.drugs.com/avastin.html)
2004 Erbitux Colon, head and neck  (http://www.drugs.com/erbitux.html)
2004 Tarceva Lung, pancreatic  (http://www.drugs.com/tarceva.html)
2005 Endostar Lung  (http://cancertherapychina.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=78&Itemid=34)
2005 Nexavar Kidney, liver  (http://www.drugs.com/nexavar.html)
2005 Revlimid Multiple myeloma  (http://www.drugs.com/revlimid.html)
2006 Sutent GIST, kidney  (http://www.drugs.com/mtm/sutent.html)
2006 Thalomid Multiple myeloma  (http://www.drugs.com/thalomid.html)
2006 Torisel Kidney  (http://www.drugs.com/torisel.html)
2009 Afinitor Kidney  (http://www.drugs.com/afinitor.html)
2009 Votrient Kidney  (http://www.drugs.com/votrient.html)
2009 Palladia Mast cell tumors (canine)  (http://www.drugs.com/international/toceranib.html)

Lifestyle and Cancer

Although the survival rate for early stage cancers improved dramatically with the introduction of antiangiogenic drugs, medicine is still losing the battle with later stage cancers.  When the disease has advanced, treatment becomes difficult or impossible.  So Dr. Li started looking at the factors that contributed to cancer to find out how to prevent the disease from progressing beyond repair.

Cancer and Lifestyle

Of all the cancer causing factors, only 5-10% can be attributed to genes. 90-95% is due to environment. If we breakdown environmental factors 4-6% can be attributed to alcohol consumption, 10-20% to obesity, 15-20% to infections, 25-30% to tobacco consumption and 30-35% of the cases were pointing to diet.

So if diet was one of the largest contributors to cancer, then it deserved to be studied more intensively. The current focus was on what foods to remove from the diet. Dr.  Li wanted to know what could be added to the diet to reduce the incidence or recurrence of cancer.  Particularly he wanted to find out if we can eat to starve cancer. He tested ordinary food to see if doses attainable with a regular diet, could inhibit angiogenesis. He found out that it could.

Angiogenesis and Diet

Dr. Li’s  tests revealed that certain foods had powerful antiangiogenic properties.  He tested the effectiveness of cancer drugs, ordinary drugs and dietary factors in inhibiting abnormal growth of blood vessels in the lab. Remarkably, Dr. Li found out that there were food that were more effective than some drugs (both for common and cancer therapies). The graph from his presentation shows how these antiangiogenic agents stack up vis-a-vis each other.

Efficacy of Antiangiogenic Substances (From Dr. Li’s Presentation slide)

Efficacy of Antiangiogenic Substances

Below is a more detailed list of items included in the graph, showing the generic names, the brand names (italicized) and a link to their description:

  1. Irinotecan – Camptosar (Cancer Drug) (http://www.drugs.com/Camptosar.html)
  2. Simvastatin – Zocor (Common Drug) (http://www.drugs.com/Zocor.html)
  3. Celecoxib – Celebrex (Common Drug) (http://www.drugs.com/Celecoxib.html)
  4. Diclofenac – Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren, Voltaren-XR, Zipsor (Common Drug) (http://www.drugs.com/Diclofenac.html)
  5. Soy Extract – None (Dietary Factor)
  6. Paclitaxel-Onxol, Taxol  (Cancer Drug) (http://www.drugs.com/mtm/paclitaxel.html)
  7. Tamoxifen – (Soltamox)  (Cancer Drug)  (http://www.drugs.com/tamoxifen.html)
  8. Artichoke – None (Dietary Factor) 
  9. Doxycycline – Adoxa, Adoxa CK, Adoxa TT, Alodox, Avidoxy, Doryx, Monodox, Oracea, Oraxyl, Periostat, Vibramycin, Vibramycin Calcium, VibramycinMonohydrate, Vibra-Tabs, Doxy-D, Vibramycin Hyclate, Doxy Lemmon, Doxy-Caps, Morgidox, Morgidox 1x100mg, Morgidox 2x100mg, Ocudox Convenience Kit (Common Drug) (http://www.drugs.com/mtm/doxycycline.html)
  10. Parsley – None (Dietary Factor)
  11. Berries – None (Dietary Factor) 
  12. Soy – None (Dietary Factor)
  13. Garlic – None (Dietary Factor)
  14. Red Grapes – None (Dietary Factor) 
  15. Brassica – None (Dietary Factor) (http://www.botany.com/brassica.html)
  16. Citrus 1 – None (Dietary Factor)
  17. Citrus 2 – None (Dietary Factor)
  18. Dexamethasone – aycadron, Dexamethasone Intensol, DexPak 10 Day Taperpak, DexPak 13 DayTaperpak, DexPak 6 DayTaperpak, Dexpak Jr. Taperpak, Zema Pak 10-Day, Zema Pak 13-Day, Zema Pak 6-Day  (Common Drug) (http://www.drugs.com/mtm/dexamethasone.html)
  19. Pravastatin – Pravachol  (Common Drug) (http://www.drugs.com/mtm/pravastatin.html)
  20. Lavender – None (Dietary Factor)
  21. Green tea – None (Dietary Factor)
  22. Glucosamine – None (Dietary Factor)
  23. Tumeric – None (Dietary Factor)
  24. Tea – None (Dietary Factor)
  25. Lenalidomide – Revlimid (Cancer Drug)  (http://www.drugs.com/mtm/lenalidomide.html)
  26. Captopril – Capoten  (Common Drug) (http://www.drugs.com/captopril.html)
  27. VItamin E – None (Dietary Factor)

Introduction of these food into the diet could actually prevent cancer in people who have no cancer and deter the growth of tumors in those who have already developed the disease. Several extensive epidemiological studies already show this to be true, as in the study of effects of tomatoes in the diet of 79,000 men. Tomatoes contain lycopene which is an antiangiogenic agent. The findings are as follows:

Tomatoes and Prostate Cancer

And of all those gentlemen who did develop cancer, the tomato-eating group showed significantly smaller tumors and less vessel abnormalities.

Tomatoes and tumor size

List of Cancer-Fighting Food (Antiangiogenic)

Other food that have antiangiogenic properties were also mentioned (listed below) arranged in the order of efficacy. To get a more comprehensive list of antiangiogenic food, visit the Eat to Defeat Cancer website at http://www.eattodefeat.org/.

  1. Soy Extract
  2. Artichoke
  3. Parsley
  4. Strawberries
  5. Blackberries
  6. Raspberries
  7. Blueberries
  8. Soybeans
  9. Garlic
  10. Red Grapes
  11. Red Wine
  12. Bokchoy
  13. Kale
  14. Broccoli
  15. Brussels Sprouts
  16. Cabbage
  17. Cauliflower
  18. Mustard
  19. Turnip
  20. Oranges
  21. Grapefruit
  22. Lemons
  23. Apples
  24. Pineapple
  25. Cherries
  26. Lavender
  27. Green Tea
  28. Glucosamine
  29. Tumeric
  30. Ginseng
  31. Maitake Mushrooms
  32. Licorice
  33. Nutmeg
  34. Pumpkin
  35. Sea Cucumber
  36. Tuna
  37. Tomato
  38. Olive Oil
  39. Grape seed oil
  40. Dark Chocolate

Please note that the benefits of a healthy diet cannot be attained with a few healthy meals for a short period of time. Health attained from diet is a result of habitually eating nutritious food preferably combined with other healthy habits like exercise, getting enough rest, managing stress and maintaining nurturing relationships.

For more information on clinical trials for Antiangiogenic Therapies for cancers and other diseases, visit the Angiogenesis Foundation website at http://www.angio.org. Below is the full video of Dr. William Li’s TED Talk.

Disclaimer:  The author is not endorsing the treatments discussed herein as a replacement for  professional medical advice. The information presented here are intended to showcase the development  of new therapies in the field. The suggested diet under normal circumstances should not pose any serious threats to health and would generally provide positive benefits, however if you are under treatment or medication please discuss with your health professional, any drastic changes you intend to make in your diet.

Dr. William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer? (TED Talk Video)