Influencer Dennis Arrindell: value creator and capturer
Interview October 2021
Could you share with us some information about your family life? Were you born here in Curaçao? How supportive were your parents in letting you become who you are right now? Do you have other brothers and sisters? Are married and do you have children? Anything else of your family life?
I was born and raised in Curaçao. Between 2019 and 2014 I lived in the Netherlands for my studies. My parents have been and are very supportive in shaping me into the person that I am today. I have two older brothers. Both my brothers live in the Netherlands. I married in 2020 and became a father to a baby boy in 2021.
Could you share something about your educational background and your experience?
I have a VWO diploma from MIL (Curaçao), a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health (2013), and a Master’s degree in Health Economics (2015), both from Maastricht University. After this, I also obtained a Master in Business Administration at ICUC in Curaçao (2019). Since 2014, I am working as a health economist at the Social Insurance Bank of Curaçao.
We know you to be a young upcoming economist that has a very explicit opinion on the productivity of our labor force and this is related to a pervasive mindset. Can you expand a little on that and tell us more on this subject matter?
People tend to think that poverty is the result of unfair treatment, wealth inequality, etc. The focus, therefore, tends to be on wealth redistribution rather than wealth creation. Our labor laws reflect this mentality. They are meant to protect laborers from (1) employers, by making it hard to fire and discipline laborers and protect laborers from (2) other laborers, by making it hard to enter the labor market. The Minimum wage for example has as its real purpose to keep young and low-skilled people from competing with the already established working class. People tend to think minimum wage laws are to protect all laborers, but the actual intent is very dark and sinister. It protects established workers from new workers by pricing the new workers out of the market. Other laws such as those prohibiting foreigners to work or the fact that employers need to ask permission from the Ministry of Social Affairs to fire people are other examples of protectionism. This culture of protectionism is so deeply ingrained in our population and political rhetoric, that many laborers are very comfortable in their position. Too comfortable indeed. After all, you practically can’t fire people, so why should they work hard? The result is a labor force full of entitled people that knowingly produce less than is expected from them. A labor force full of people that don’t need to learn new skills because the labor laws and labor unions will protect their position anyway. Economically speaking, this is a disaster.
Our society is geared towards thinking that to advance in one’s life, one must rely on political capital.
An important concept here is the difference between human capital and political capital. Our society is geared towards thinking that to advance in one’s life, one must rely on political capital. Political capital means lobbying for protectionist laws, lobbying for subsidies, voting for politicians that offer free houses, etc. Political capital is not a durable source of progress. If you rely on political capital, you will always be dependent on what the government is doing next. The more durable option is to focus instead on human capital. This involves acquiring the relevant knowledge, attitude, and skills to thrive in a marketplace. Once acquired, nobody can take these traits from you. If you listen to labor union’s demands, for example, you will notice that they exclusively focus on political capital and never on human capital. This way of life creates people that are fragile because they are always dependent on the government. For more information about this concept, see the book ‘False Black Power’ by Jason Riley.
To come back to the cause of poverty, poverty has no cause. Poverty is the default state of humankind. So the real question should not be ‘what causes poverty?” The relevant question is “What are the factors that create and sustain a high level of prosperity?” The answer to that question is straightforward: (1) Pursue long-term durable goals whilst (2) finding ways to add value to others (especially in the market). The main challenge with regards to Mindset in Curaçao is that a large part of our population has no long-term goals that they pursue and are not in the habit of adding value to others, but instead prefer to extract value from others. A typical example of that behavior can be found in the stories of Kompa Nanzi, the spider famous in African and Afro-Caribbean folklore. Kompa Nanzi lives ‘day by day and is always out to trick and defraud those around him. Sadly, this figure is one of the most prominent figures used in children’s stories, thereby creating new generations of people that have no durable goals and don’t understand that to get ahead in life, you need to add value to others first. Like Zig Ziglar used to say: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be who you are right now?
A concept by which to describe my WHY can be found in the work of John Maxwell. He suggests that one can aim to be successful or aim to be significant. Aiming for success asking the question “How Can I add value to myself?”. Aiming for significance means asking the question “How can I add value to others?”. According to Maxwell, significance does not always follow success, but success always follows significance. With this in mind, pursuing significance is a big driving factor for who I am right now. One way for me to pursue significance is by persuading people that to get ahead in life they should focus on pursuing durable goals and adding value to others.
What are your plans for the coming years and when do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
The first part of my professional plan is to achieve a high level of financial independence. For me, this means that my passive income cash flow from my assets should exceed my total monthly expenses. For more information about this concept, see the book ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. With this in mind, I invest heavily in assets that produce monthly passive income cash flow.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
A major challenge that I have to deal with relates to public policy matters that I am involved with. Public policy is riddled with many private economic interests and hidden agendas, also known as ‘rent-seeking’ in public choice literature. Ultimately, very little change is made in Curaçao because there are so many rent-seeking people and institutions that all exert influence on policymakers to maintain the status quo. Because of my function as a health economist in the public sector, I have to deal with rent-seeking people and institutions daily and I feel that it makes me somewhat cynical. It requires a lot of strategic maneuvering and power to improve the status quo. The way I address this challenge is by implementing a concept called the ‘Circumventing Technology’ proposed by Carrol Quigley in his book ‘Tragedy and Hope’. The circumventing technology means that you do not spend time on fighting the vested interests, but instead use new technology to go around these interests completely. A simple abstract example of this would be to ignore the local advertising market and its vested interest, and use Facebook instead to advertise in Curaçao, thereby completely circumventing these local vested interests. That same principle can be applied in many ways, and I think is a much more effective and safer way to improve the status quo.
Seeking advice and maintaining relationships with mentors is a skill on its own.
Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemmas show up? How does that work for you?
I do, but I tend to openly talk to others about my challenges and dilemmas and seek advice rather than keeping it all to myself. Seeking advice and maintaining relationships with mentors is a skill on its own.
How are you trying also to keep up with your knowledge and skills levels?
I regularly follow (online) training, go to seminars and read books. Most of the time when I’m driving, working out, or doing chores, I listen to educational audiobooks and podcasts.
What are your strengths?
I have a lot of Grit, meaning passion and perseverance for long-term goals. I’m a firm believer in the ability of the human mind to achieve what it can conceive (Quote by Napoleon Hill, author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’). I consider myself a devout adherent of this philosophy.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
I like to do different forms of fitness and sport. Also, I like to study history as a hobby. However, all my hobbies tend to link back to some practical goals and are always utilitarian in one way or another.
If you as Dennis would meet a stranger on the bus (let say in New York or Kingston Jamaica) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
I usually introduce myself as a health economist as that is my primary profession. But over time I want to be able to introduce myself as an inventor of a creative and super useful product that creates and captures value.
How would you describe Dennis in one word or one sentence?
Value creator and capturer.
Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
My parents, Napoleon Bonaparte and Peter Thiel.
What is a trait that is still a work in progress?
I sometimes struggle to relate to other people on an emotional level. For that reason, I continuously work on traits such as small talk, empathy, and emotional intelligence.
What was a defining moment in your life?
Being exposed to Libertarian Economics of Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell. Being exposed to the economic philosophy of Peter Thiel of the Creative Monopoly. Buying and creating my first passive income assets. And since recently, getting married and becoming a father. In many ways, being a husband and father adds more fuel to my driving motivation.
Where do you want to be 10 years from now with your career?
I intend to be an inventor of a product that can create and capture value. This product should be at least 10 times cheaper and faster than any alternative, or preferably, have no alternative at all because it is so new. I am captivated by the concept of the ‘Creative Monopoly’ by technology investor Peter Thiel.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends, and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
That I managed to consolidate the foundation for an intergenerational wealth of my family by creating and durably capturing value. By creating this value, I also improved the overall levels of wellbeing of the global community and environment. Preferably, how I create and capture value should open completely new and unexplored avenues for the rapid advancement of technological development.
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao as we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, recession, and in the middle of growing environmental challenges because of the global warming consequences?
I am not very worried about these topics. I am worried about the slower pace of technological advancements over the last decades as explained by Peter Thiel. We trick ourselves into believing that science is progressing faster and faster every year, but we are rather stagnant for decades when compared to scientific progress between the early 1900s up until 1970. The only area of rapid advancement since the 1970s is in the world of ‘bits’ meaning computer technology. In the world of ‘atoms’, meaning the physical world, scientific progress has been very slow. This I think is a far larger problem than all the problems stated in your question. It is also related to many of the problems stated in your question. For example, economic recessions are ultimately caused by a slower rate of productivity, and this productivity is to a large part the result of the lack of technological advancement. To provide another example in the context of global warming, transportation technology has not advanced much since the 1970s. It still takes 9 to 12 hours to get from Curaçao to Amsterdam by plane, the same speed as 50 years ago. This means that there have not been any significant advancements in the use of energy for transportation. It can be argued that this also contributes to things such as global warming. This worldview has inspired me to focus more on technology and innovations, hence also my interest in inventing a product that radically improves productivity.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
No, but people interested in contacting me can find me on LinkedIn.
One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Dennis Arrindell is a young, opinionated, health economist with an innovative, creative and entrepreneurial mindset. His opinions on our protective labor market society that creates an entitlement mindset and a mindset that is geared towards relying on political capital instead of relying on human capital, meaning acquiring the relevant knowledge, attitude, and skills to thrive in a marketplace. The view that a large part of our population in Curaçao has no long-term goals that they pursue and are not in the habit of adding value to others, makes him stand out in his opinions.
Dennis firmly believes in creating value, believes in hard work and investing to create a monthly passive income cash flow and as an investor, he wants to become the creator and capturer of a super useful product.
His vision is that Public policy is riddled with many private economic interests and hidden agendas that exert influence on policymakers to maintain the status quo he wants to address by implementing ‘Circumventing Technology’. This means that you do not spend time fighting the vested interests, but instead use new technology to go around these interests completely. A simple abstract example of this would be to ignore the local advertising market and its vested interest, and use Facebook instead to advertise in Curaçao, thereby completely circumventing these local vested interests.
That same principle can be applied in many ways, that is a much more effective and safer way to improve the status quo. For these reasons, we respect him and consider him one of the 250 influencers of the islands representing the business sector.
Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now.