Look east to the future? Or south?
Last week I had breakfast with a friend, Gary Hoover. Conversations with him always remind me a bit of the film “My Dinner With Andre,” because one never knows in which direction things might veer as he taps his enormous knowledge base on myriad subjects.
Ultimately, I find his brain to be more reliable than Wikipedia.
I also don’t know anyone who has more entrepreneurial energy. He recently finished a stint as entrepreneur-in-residence at the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas. He co-founded the business information company Hoovers.com as well as Bookstop (snapped up by Barnes and Noble, it became the prototype for their superstores) and the ill-fated Travelfest, which brought the big-box format to travel and failed after opening just three stores.
He’s currently working on an e-game in which players try to build successful businesses. Now in beta, its differentiator is that it’s powered by real, proprietary business data that he licenses.
And he’s a travel junkie. Exploring the world ranks high among our shared interests.
“No nation on Earth is more important to the future prosperity of the United States than Mexico,” he said.
I said I had expected him to finish the sentence with China.
“We write, tweet and talk about China, India, Iraq, Afghanistan, Britain, Korea, but none is more important to our future success than Mexico,” he said. “We’re attached at the hip. If Mexico does badly, it will hurt the U.S. more than almost anything we can imagine in the Middle East. If it does well, there will be no better news for the U.S.”
He loves the country as a tourist destination — he has visited more than a third of its states — and thinks its culture and its potential as a commercial partner are both vastly undervalued by Americans. To that end, he gave a presentation at Austin’s South by Southwest conference titled “Why Mexico Will Change Your Life.”
“Mexico City is one of the most underestimated cities by Americans,” he said. “It reportedly has more museums than any city on Earth, and I believe that. There were 28 museums and historic sites within a few blocks of my hotel. Food and music are world-class.
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