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Opinion | ‘You Promised You Wouldn’t Kill Me’ - The New York Times
By Kimberlé Crenshaw
Ms. Crenshaw is an expert on civil rights and black feminist legal theory.

Oct. 28, 2019
African-Americans  killings  women 
october 2019
A millennial’s hymn to Generation X
October 25, 2019 | Financial Times | by Janan Ganesh

Thought-provoking article by Janan Ganesh arguing that the Gen X cohort are passing through life without having left anywhere near the kind of societal impact of either their larger numbered predecessors, the baby boomers, or their larger numbered successors, the millennials.  Generation X have avoided embracing big ideas,  or embracing nobel causes or political zeal.  lack of passion, big vision, no protest movements, no electoral shocks, etc.  Ganesh argues that Generation X's unpretentiousness--their unwillingness to  made a big splash--is standing them in good stead...."No living generation has shown less interest in changing the world. As a result, no living generation looks wiser today." This is because those who are wildly engaged in causes today (e.g. populism, climate activism, etc.) look like utopian true believers.  By contrast, Generation X'ers look like healthy, sober, sceptics....representing a certain hardheadedness or tough-mindedness or prudence.  Even Generation X' popular cultural touch points, movies like Pulp Fiction and Fargo are really more about the  particular and personal rather the evincing a larger societal message.

Ganan concludes by arguing that it is a category error to misinterpret Generation X's circumspection for mediocrity or ineffectiveness. Many tech company founders are Generation X members. " It is just that these gifts were seldom deployed in public life. The cream of the generation chose business and the arts over politics," Janan mistrusts vision. Sometimes, vision results in blameless people having to pack their things in the night and flee their own country to survive. I like caution. I like moderately countercyclical fiscal policy with a view to 2.25 per cent annual growth over the period, thanks.
'90s  baby_boomers  demographic_changes  generations  Generation_X  Janan_Ganesh  millennials  popular_culture 
october 2019
Don Valentine, Founder of Sequoia Capital, Is Dead at 87 -
Oct. 25, 2019 | The New York Times | By Erin Griffith

In 1959, when Don Valentine joined a silicon company, “the word ‘Silicon Valley’ hadn’t been created yet,” he said in an interview at a technology conference in 2013.

In 1972, Mr. Valentine established Sequoia, and it soon became one of Silicon Valley’s most successful and enduring firms. Sequoia backed companies including Oracle, Microchip Technology, Linear Technology and Network Appliance. Several tech giants, including Electronic Arts and Sierra Semiconductor, were created in Sequoia’s offices.

Mr. Valentine invested in Atari in 1975, and three years later, he wrote a $150,000 check for Apple Computer. He also invested in Cisco Systems and was the networking equipment company’s chairman for three decades.......Unlike other venture capital investors at the time, he played an active role in the companies he backed....Venture capital is often called a “people business,” and many top firms have stumbled as they have tried to pass the reins from one generation to another. But Sequoia survived that transition when Mr. Valentine handed control to Michael Moritz and Doug Leone in the mid-1990s. He continued to attend partner meetings for the next decade. Mr. Valentine evaluated start-ups by their ability to answer the question “Who cares?”.........Mr. Valentine explained one element of his success. “The key to making great investments is to assume that the past is wrong, and to do something that’s not part of the past, to do something entirely differently,” he said.
Don_Valentine  founders  Michael_Moritz  obituaries  Sequoia  Silicon_Valley  start_ups  vc  venture_capital 
october 2019
Investment managers need to become coders, says former CPPIB CEO - The Globe and Mail
CLARE O’HARAWEALTH MANAGEMENT REPORTER
DAVID MILSTEADINSTITUTIONAL INVESTMENT REPORTER

Mark Wiseman is learning Python, one of the world’s top computer programming languages.

The former chief executive officer of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is not trying to become a master coder, but instead believes investment managers must become proficient in manipulating large data sets to beat the market.

“If you are waiting to get a company’s quarterly or annual report and you think that is how you’re going to make an investment, you are dead meat,”........

“Sources of information are completely different than they were even 10 years ago for investors,” he says.

Today, BlackRock has already begun using “alternative data sources” to gain more in-depth information on companies such as sales predictions, customer traffic and inventory......“As we look at data in industry and how fast it’s moving, there is going to be an increasing bifurcation between proprietary and non-proprietary data."

Non-proprietary data is information that is readily available on the internet and can easily be used by competitors. Now, money managers are increasingly looking for proprietary data to win a competitive advantage.

For BlackRock’s equities business alone, Mr. Wiseman says the firm has tripled the budget for data over the past two years and holds between 400 and 500 proprietary data sets at a time.......learning Python is a more important skill for a young investment manager than learning foreign languages, or even some of the curriculum taught to chartered financial analysts.

“But this is what investing is about today,” he said. “So those of you who are spending your time on your CFA Level III, that is really nice to have the letters after your name on the business card. But you probably would have been better off spending your time learning how to code Python.”
alternative_data  BlackRock  coding  commoditization_of_information  CPPIB  information_sources  investment_management  Mark_Wiseman  massive_data_sets  proprietary  software_developers  software_development 
october 2019
The myth of green growth
October 24, 2019 | | Financial Times | by Simon Kuper.

voters tend to place their personal interests ahead of their political ideals.
aviation  carbon_emissions  climate_catastrophe  climate_change  de-growth  electric_cars  energy  environment  fuel-efficiency  green  growth  myths  One_Belt_One_Road  reality_checks  renewable  shipping  Simon_Kuper  society  tradeoffs  William_Jevons 
october 2019
Susan Rice Recounts Making Policy at the Highest Levels
Oct. 10, 2019 | The New York Times | By Abby D. Phillip.

TOUGH LOVE
My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For
By Susan Rice
Illustrated. 531 pp. Simon & Schuster. $30.

Tough Love is Susan Rice's memoir. Susan Rice doesn't allow herself to be defined by the events of September 2012 in Benghazi, Libya, after which she was demonized by the right-wingers in the U.S. ....Rice’s personal story is rooted partly in slavery in America and partly in economic migration to the United States.....Rice benefitted from privilege that gave her access to well-heeled private schooling, elite advanced degrees (i.e. Stanford University, and later was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford) and membership in the even more elite Washington society. Rice’s unflagging work ethic and drive stems from her family's belief that, "The only constraints we faced were our own ambition, effort and skill.” ......Early in her career at the National Security Council, Rice navigated some of the most difficult foreign policy challenges the country has faced in recent history, and in a pattern that continued into the Obama years her fate seemed constantly intertwined with Africa. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda provided an object lesson in the moral failures of inaction. Later, she dealt with another major crisis that would reverberate later in her career. The 1998 Nairobi embassy and Dar es Salaam embassy bombings.
Rice is clinical in her retelling of the foreign policy decisions of the Clinton and Obama administrations. And there is no attempt to neatly sew together an overarching narrative about her approach to foreign policy challenges based on her years of experience in government. In fact, that may be the lesson of her tale of “tough love.” Public policy, Rice argues, is pragmatic, and sometimes a little dark: “We did fail, we will fail. Our aim must be to minimize the frequency and the price of failure.”.....Rice's “assertiveness and relentlessness” has cost her reputation within the State Department as a difficult boss. Rice has considered--and ruled out--pursuit of elected office, preferring the comfort of policy-focused, behind-the-scenes roles.
African-Americans  APNSA  assertiveness  Benghazi  books  book_reviews  cost_of_inaction  failure  memoirs  NSC  Obama  policymaking  public_policy  relentlessness  Rhodes  Stanford  Susan_Rice  tough_love  U.S.foreign_policy  U.S._State_Department  women  work_ethic 
october 2019
The lesson for all investors arising from the lewd comments of a billionaire fund manager
OCTOBER 23, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by IAN MCGUGAN

The money management industry that, in one way or another, is trying to seduce you.....The key to arriving at a mature relationship is seeing through the patter. Every fund company can trot out attractive, well-educated people with well-researched insights about the market. But look beyond the superficial charm.
More often than not, this will result in disappointment. The performance of most actively managed funds consistently lags passive market benchmarks, especially as you look at longer periods. In Canada, more than nine in every 10 funds underperformed their respective benchmarks over the 10 years to the end of 2018, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

In the United States, similar long-term trends hold true. Even the endowments of Ivy League universities, managed by teams of highly paid professionals, have failed to keep pace with a simple 60/40 portfolio of 60 per cent U.S. stocks and 40 per cent U.S. bonds over the past decade, according to research firm Markov Processes International. One simple lesson to take away from this is that indexing should be the default strategy for most small investors. Unless you have a strong view of where the market is going next, or a compelling reason to believe in a specific money manager, putting money into a low-cost, widely diversified index fund makes sense. No, it’s not going to work all the time – no investing strategy does – but it is hard to shrug off the long-term evidence of superior performance.

John Huber at Saber Capital Management, is often asked what his edge, or advantage, is. “Institutional investors seem especially interested in this question, and the edge that they are almost always looking for is some form of informational edge or insight that the rest of the market isn’t aware of,”......The problem is that such edges don’t exist any more. Oceans of financial and corporate information are available to any professional investor. Legions of professionals pore over that data, looking for reasons to buy or sell. Nobody knows more than anyone else – at least, not legally.......The only sustainable edge, Mr. Huber argues, is maintaining a different time horizon than the overall market.....
active_investing  commoditization_of_information  disappointment  index_funds  informational_advantages  investors  Ken_Fisher  lessons  money_management  passive_investing  slight_edge  time_horizons 
october 2019
Sleep Hygiene Instructions
* "No More Sleepless Nights" by Dr. Peter Hauri
* "Goodnight Mind" by Dr. Colleen Carney
* Sleepontario.com -Selfmanagement of Insomnia
best_practices  books  howto  insomnia  sleep 
october 2019
Winners in Silicon Valley put in the hard yards
October 24, 2019 | | Financial Times | by Michael Moritz 6 HOURS AGO

The genuine formula for success among Silicon Valley's "real companies" are longevity and persistence against all odds. It is no coincidence that the greatest companies to emerge from Silicon Valley and its sister regions in China share hallmarks that are very different from popular perception. These companies are never “overnight sensations”, and they have usually had plenty of close encounters of the worst kind.

Their founders will not be leading the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Instead, they will be strapped to the mast displaying single-minded devotion to their business, jealous of every minute that is not associated with the welfare and sustenance of their company.

Their reading lists will be long; they will be voracious in their willingness to learn from others; harbour insatiable curiosity; display a fetching mixture of supreme confidence and humility; and have a keen understanding of how to make the impossible possible.

They will also adopt healthy corporate habits in their early days, have a sound appreciation for how their company will become profitable and refuse to pursue a strategy for growth come what may. They will pay keen attention to unit economics, operating expenses, cash balances, positive cash flows and dilution. The founders of the flagship technology companies of the past 50 years — Intel, Cisco, Qualcomm, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Alibaba and Tencent — have all shared these traits and that is true for today’s best privately held companies.......In the technology world, fatuous slogans, broken promises, unlaced basketball shoes and black turtlenecks can only get you so far. It is then that the absence of a sound business model suddenly becomes evident. It is then that heaps of protective voting rights melt away. It is then that people understand gravity has not been repealed and that patience is the best way to build what you want. That’s the life of the persistent majority.
business_models  character_traits  dotcom  founders  hard_work  illusions  Juul  ksfs  longevity  Michael_Moritz  persistence  Silicon_Valley  reading  Sequoia  single-minded_focus  start_ups  WeWork 
october 2019
Opinion | H.B.C.U.s’ Sink-or-Swim Moment - The New York Times
By Delece Smith-Barrow
Ms. Smith-Barrow is a senior editor at The Hechinger Report.

Oct. 21, 2019
African-Americans  Colleges_&_Universities  education  HBCUs 
october 2019
Fidelity’s search for the technology of tomorrow
October 20, 2109 | Financial Times | by Robin Wigglesworth in Boston.

Buffeted by falling fees and rising costs, the asset manager is investing heavily in an effort to remain competitive...
Bolstered by 2.8 tn invested in their  mutual funds, Fidelity administers another $7.7tn on behalf of various clients, making it one of the biggest, broadest and most powerful financial groups in the world. ....The investment industry has come under intense pressure in recent years, buffeted by falling fees and rising costs.......Abigail Johnson is trying to reforge Fidelity for a new era, where technology permeates and reshapes every aspect of the company’s disparate businesses.......“Across all financial services, the trend is towards fee compression....Fidelity is dabbling in cryptocurrencies...  Ms Johnson is now spending about $3bn a year on tech to modernise every business line, from trading to retirement planning. “Financial services is becoming another winner-takes-all industry, so you need to spend a lot of money on tech to get the advantages of scale and play both offence and defence,”.... the question is whether an organisation as big, established and complex — and with a culture as ingrained as Fidelity’s — can evolve quickly enough to navigate the industry’s ferocious headwinds.......Fidelity is exploring whether virtual reality can make it more palatable to consumers via the Fidelity Center for Applied Technology. .....The technology centre is also where Fidelity’s initial bitcoin experiments took place, which last year evolved into a standalone company, Fidelity Digital Asset Services.....Ms Johnson has embraced the index funds once mocked by her father. Fidelity now has about $530bn in passive funds, making it one of the biggest providers.......Fidelity last year promoted Steve Neff, its chief technology officer, to lead its $2.8tn asset management division....... A lot of asset managers are spending a lot of money on computer scientists, and they don’t end up being used.” Upgrading Fidelity’s core tech infrastructure — which was largely developed in the 1980s — is time-consuming and expensive......Fidelity is using artificial intelligence to write more neutral job ads shorn of subconscious biases, to test the outcomes, and to better target job sites that might have more prospective hires from minorities.
Abigail_Johnson  artificial_intelligence  asset_management  blockchain  CEOs  Fidelity_Investments  financial_services  investment_management  legacy_tech  money_management  organizational_culture  the_great_game  virtual_reality  winner-take-all 
october 2019
Labels in finance have become meaningless     | Financial Times
OCTOBER 18, 2019 | Financial TImes | by Tom Braithwaite.

In the hunt for returns, investment banks now offer credit cards and hedge funds sell books

Some of Goldman’s investment bankers fear the company’s diffuse range of activities dilute its core role. Once, Goldman Sachs touted itself as “a leading global investment banking and securities firm” advising on mergers and trading debt and equities, Goldman is now: a venture capitalist investing in the likes of Uber and WeWork; a retail bank offering accounts and short-term loans to ordinary consumers; a credit card issuer in partnership with Apple; and a software developer with a suite of applications. ....The finance industry is now full of companies uncomfortable in their own skins and trying to adopt more fluid identities. Blackstone, notionally a private equity firm, today makes more money from property. BlackRock, famous as one of the world’s biggest owners of public equities, is now getting into private equity buyouts. Elliott Management, an activist hedge fund, has ended up owning a football club, AC Milan, and two bookstore chains, Barnes & Noble and Waterstones. Barriers are breaking down and labels are fraying......It is this yield-starved world that sends financial companies roaming far and wide in a hunt for returns.....the IMF has pointed to renewed risks from pension funds’ headlong rush into alternative assets. The allocation to alternatives such as property and private equity has risen from just over 5 per cent in 2007 to more than 20 per cent today. The IMF warns of Woodford-like runs on a grand scale when investors rush to withdraw assets from such “open-ended funds”, yet another misnomer. “Such runs could force fund managers to engage in fire sales, further depressing asset prices, inflicting losses on other market participants, and, in the extreme case, increasing the risk for the financial system,” the economists warned. Always read the label, but never rely on it.
alternative_investments  Blackstone  BlackRock  Elliott_Management  finance  Goldman_Sachs  layer_mastery  selling_off  special_sauce 
october 2019
Actor Wendell Pierce: ‘Fame is obscurity in waiting’
October 18, 2019 | Financial Times | by Henry Mance YESTERDAY
actors  African-Americans  HBO  The_Wire 
october 2019
City Parks Piggyback on Infrastructure
Oct. 8, 2019 | The New York Times | By Jane Margolies.

With land scarce, green space is being built into needs like transit hubs and power stations. But the projects come with challenges.....Salesforce Park is a lush landscape that stretches four city blocks atop a transit center in San Francisco. With lawns, hillocks, lavender beds, leafy trees and a walking path, it gives commuters a relaxing place to wait for their bus and attracts people who live and work nearby looking for respite in the middle of a busy city.

Despite its presence as a calming oasis, Salesforce Park faced stressful start-up challenges....Building a park 70 feet in the air atop a transit center showed how complex it can be to piggyback green space on active infrastructure. Such projects require coordination among many consultants and, often, multiple levels of government, with possible construction delays, cost overruns and pushback from residents....still, with land for urban parks scarce and prohibitively expensive, the practice is becoming increasingly common......“It’s a way of making infrastructure do double or even triple duty,” ....Parks add value not only for relaxation, recreation and human health,....but also for combating heat, absorbing storm water and providing habitat for wildlife....an infrastructure project with a park can cost less than two projects undertaken independently, ......“There’s an economy of scale and an efficiency,”....The idea of building parks on infrastructure can be traced to the rails-to-trails movement, which for four decades has transformed abandoned rail corridors into walking and biking paths.......The wildly popular High Line in Manhattan, which opened in 2009, gave impetus to the idea of adding greenery to infrastructure that is raised off the ground.....The High Line is considered a design and tourism triumph, but it has also drawn criticism for accelerating gentrification along its route and not better serving residents of nearby public housing.... adding green space to functioning infrastructure has gained traction.....The vast majority of projects are built on transportation infrastructure, however, including so-called deck parks over highways — adding green space while stitching back together sections of cities that the roadways ripped apart long ago...
economies_of_scale  green_spaces  High_Line  infrastructure  parks  public_spaces  repurposing  Salesforce  San_Francisco  overlay_networks 
october 2019
Ad Giant Wins Over Disney With Big Data Pitch
Oct. 15, 2019 | The New York Times | By Tiffany Hsu.

Advertising pitches have come a long way since the 1960s, when creative teams tried to impress potential clients with snappy slogans, catchy jingles and arresting visuals while pledging to attract the housewife segment or the businessman demographic.

These days, big companies look to ad companies for their data smarts as much as their marketing expertise. The agencies with the most persuasive pitches are those that have increasingly personalized data on the patterns and preferences of a broad range of consumers.

Disney already has plenty of data on its customers. But the prospect of precisely targeting potential moviegoers, theme-park visitors, hotel guests and subscribers for its coming Disney Plus streaming service appealed to the company, according to two people familiar with the pitch process.

While the Disney-Publicis deal may benefit both companies, some worry that it may put consumer privacy at risk.

“This is in essence creating a data broker division to Disney, expanding what Disney already knows, which is a lot,” said Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. “You’re telling your entire life history to Mickey Mouse.”

On Nov. 12, the Disney will start its streaming challenger to Netflix, Disney Plus.
In North America, Publicis will take charge of media strategy for the Disney Plus streaming service as well as Disney resorts and amusement parks. Epsilon was a major draw because of the extremely detailed data it has compiled. The company may very well know if you are lactose intolerant or are in the market for a pickup truck with 60,000 miles on it. If you are into astrology or have taken out a home-equity loan, it may know that too. Epsilon could, for example, beam a Disney Plus ad to parents who have bought a Lion King costume for their toddler.....“They have the capacity to really understand who is a likely prospect for the streaming service and where that person resides online, and they can send messages in the appropriate media to that individual,” .....most of the advertising industry is struggling to compete against Facebook and Google, analysts said. The platforms dominate the business of buying and selling digital ads, leaving the agencies little room to negotiate. Facebook and Google have also started working directly with many advertising clients, luring them away from traditional ad companies.

In leaning on data to improve its fortunes, Publicis is part of a larger industry trend. Dentsu bought a majority stake in the data marketing firm Merkle Group in 2016, and Interpublic Group bought the data marketing firm Acxiom in 2018.....a “huge consolidation” within advertising that has allowed huge holding companies to gobble up agencies and data companies that are increasingly looking for ways to advertise using personal data.

He said that viewership data from the ad-free Disney Plus, including details involving children, could be passed on to Epsilon, which could use the information to target consumers with marketing for other Disney offerings.

“It’s Madison Avenue bringing you Silicon Valley,”
advertising  advertising_agencies  analytics  big_bets  data  Disney  Epsilon  Madison_Avenue  marketing  Omnicom  personal_data  pitches  privacy  Publicis  Silicon_Valley  streaming  target_marketing  theme_parks 
october 2019
Dyson and the art of making quick decisions
October 16, 2019 | Financial Times | by John Gapper.

Article is arguing for enforcing a “shot clock” on lingering decisions and to put plans into action faster and regain competitive footing in your industry/business.

Entrepreneur, James Dyson, unceremoniously abandoned a Dyson initiative to build an electric car.  It demonstrated how unsentimental he was about unsuccessful experiments.....Better to acknowledge defeat as early as possible rather than after having thrown away hundreds of millions...For any business to thrive, difficult decisions need to be made, from new projects to corporate strategy. “The job of the CEO, everyone knows, is to make decisions,” wrote Ram Charan, a veteran strategy adviser. This is especially true when entire industries are facing disruption to their business models......Indecision is common in companies facing myriad possibilities, when executives are struggling to assess alternatives for future strategy. Many managers become frustrated by the glacial pace of corporate decision-making. McKinsey, the consultancy, surveyed executives who complained of “over-reliance on consensus and death by committee”, among other irritations....It is not always the chief executive’s fault. Some managers are comfortable with making simple decisions but struggle when they are promoted to a level where they are exposed to ambiguity and uncertainty. They need to employ their judgment, rather than consulting the data like an oracle. Their indecision can also infect the CEO. But your business is not a democracy....Some executives promote a “five second rule” to prompt executives who report to them to reach decisions (i.e. summarise the alternatives and options for any strategy, pause and pick one).....Being forced to use intuition after considering the evidence helps to avoid being paralysed by a question when there is no easy answer......Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, observed that “managers think of themselves as captains of a ship on a stormy sea” who respond skilfully to the elements around them. It feels better to pick a destination and sail in that direction than to wallow around.....But Prof Kahneman won his economics Nobel for research on the cognitive biases that affect human choices. Making quick decisions, even informed by experience and expertise, is valuable but not foolproof. As he noted, “intuition feels just the same when it’s wrong and when it’s right, that’s the problem.”....Those who consider a challenge from all angles and act prudently and decisively may still be wrong. “Even highly experienced, superbly competent and well-intentioned managers are fallible,” Prof Kahneman wrote. Among the traps is the “halo effect” of believing that an executive who has succeeded before will make any project work. It follows that leaders should not be trapped by their decisions, or the confirmation bias of believing that the chosen path must be correct...... It is difficult when a leader place the entire company on another course, only to discover the pitfalls. It may take a successor to come along and reverse those choices. But decisions will at least prove right some of the time; indecision is always mistaken.
ambiguities  analysis_paralysis  CEOs  clock_speed  confirmation_bias  decision_making  Daniel_Kahneman  Dyson  halo_effects  hard_choices  HBR  humility  indecision  intuition  leaders  James_Dyson  judgment  mistakes  Ram_Charan  shot_clock  speed  tough-mindedness  uncertainty  unsentimental 
october 2019
The management wisdom of Bill Campbell - Bartleby
May 23rd 2019

three Google executives—Eric Schmidt (a former director of The Economist), Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle—who have written a book in praise of their mentor, Bill Campbell. His influence on Silicon Valley was so profound that they have called the book “Trillion Dollar Coach”.

Most outsiders will not have heard of Campbell, who began his career as a college coach of American football. Later, he worked at Apple, heading the marketing campaign for the original Macintosh, and then became chief executive at Intuit, a financial-software company. But his most effective role, until his death in 2016, was in the background, as a board member at Apple (and close friend of Steve Jobs) and as a coach to companies backed by Kleiner Perkins, a venture-capital firm.

Google was one of Kleiner’s investments and when Mr Schmidt was appointed chief executive of the company in 2001, Kleiner’s John Doerr suggested that he recruit Campbell as his coach. Although Mr Schmidt was initially reluctant to accept the need for coaching, he learned to value Campbell’s advice. In 2004 Campbell helped to persuade the Google boss not to quit when his roles as chairman and chief executive were split.

Campbell acted as an unpaid mentor at Google until his death in 2016. He also coached executives at eBay, Facebook and Twitter, among others. In 2000 he advised the Amazon board not to replace Jeff Bezos as chief executive of the e-commerce company.

As a coach, Campbell’s role was not to be in charge of particular projects, or to make strategic decisions, but to make other people work better. Although he advised individuals, his focus was on ensuring that teams were able to co-operate properly. His motto was that “your title makes you a manager, your people make you a leader.”

While he was happy to dish out praise in group meetings, and was a generous man in his spare time, he was not a soft touch. He simply believed in giving harsh feedback in private, and was usually adept enough to make the recipient grateful for the telling-off.

When he talked to people, he gave them his undivided attention; the discussions were never interrupted and he never checked his smartphone. But coaching had to be a two-way process. Some people were temperamentally incapable of responding properly. To be coachable, Campbell believed, managers need to be honest, humble and willing to learn.

A sign of his unique personality is that he has not been replaced since he died. Instead Google is attempting to incorporate his principles into the way the company is run. All managers should, in part, be coaches. The idea seems to be gaining popularity. In their book, “It’s the Manager”, Jim Clifton and Jim Harter of Gallup, a polling organisation, include a whole section called “Boss to Coach”.

This is linked to the importance of employee engagement. Gallup cites research showing that when managers involve employees in setting their own work goals, the latter are four times more likely to report feeling engaged. Managers are responsible for 70% of the variance in how engaged employees were.

The primary job of any manager is to help people be more effective in their job. One benefit should be that workers will stay with the company; the main reason they change jobs, according to what they tell Gallup, is for “career growth opportunities”. Workers should get regular feedback from their managers—daily if possible, surveys show. An annual performance review is of little use.

But this approach will only work if it comes from the top down. Middle managers tend to emulate their superiors and to respond to incentives; they will coach underlings if this behaviour is reinforced and rewarded.

Of course, even the best coaches and managers have to give their employees scope to find their own way, and make their own mistakes.
advice  boards_&_directors_&_governance  books  book_review  coaching  Google  mentoring  Silicon_Valley  Bill_Campbell 
october 2019
For some in Brazil, commemorating slavery is vital - Giving up the ghosts
Print edition | Books and arts
May 23rd 2019| RIO DE JANEIRO
Brazil commemoration life-changing myths Senegal slavery waterfronts
May 23rd 2019| RIO DE JANEIRO
Africa  Afro-Brazilians  ancestry  Brazil  commemoration  life-changing  myths  Rio_de_Janeiro  Senegal  slavery  waterfronts 
october 2019
The regulatory woes of Big Tech multiply - In the crosshairs
In a twist, Microsoft, the world’s most valuable listed firm, with a market capitalisation of over $1trn, has hardly been touched by the techlash. It has learned hard lessons from going through the regulatory wringer at the turn of the century: look beyond the cash cow (Windows); rapaciousness ultimately does not pay; and work with regulators. Another Hemingway quote is less well-known among geeks: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
'90s  antitrust  Big_Tech  cash_cows  lessons_learned  Microsoft  rapaciousness  regulators 
october 2019
Where Women Fall Behind at Work: The First Step Into Management - WSJ
Oct. 15, 2019 | WSJ | By Vanessa Fuhrmans.

Long before bumping into any glass ceiling, many women run into obstacles trying to grasp the very first rung of the management ladder—and not because they are pausing their careers to raise children—a new, five-year landmark study shows. As a result, it’s early in many women’s careers, not later, when they fall dramatically behind men in promotions, blowing open a gender gap that then widens every step up the chain...... fix that broken bottom rung of the corporate ladder, and companies could reach near-parity all the way up to their top leadership roles within a generation.....“Bias still gets in the way—bias of who you know, who’s like you, or who performs and operates the same way you perform and operate, whose style is more similar.....Employers’ moves to diversify their most senior echelons could provide a road map.....“We’ve seen that if companies really put their minds to it, they can bring about change that matters,” Ms. Thomas says. “If they can apply the same extra elbow grease that they do at the top to the broken rung.........The numbers show that the first step is the steepest for women. But why is that? What’s holding women back from climbing that first rung into management?

It isn’t for lack of ambition..... while many employers have increased their efforts to groom and elevate more senior women—a smaller, select group—fewer have applied the same rigor to cultivating more junior female managers....The upshot: At nearly every career stage, the disparities between men and women have narrowed only marginally since the Women in the Workplace research began in 2015. Even in industries with largely female entry-level workforces, such as retail and health care, men come to dominate the management ranks—a phenomenon that Haig Nalbantian, a labor economist and co-leader of consulting firm Mercer LLC’s Workforce Sciences Institute, calls “the flip.......even in many “female-friendly” sectors, entry-level women still tend to get hired into jobs with limited upward mobility, such as bank tellers or customer-service staff. ..“When companies ask, ‘What’s the one thing we can do systemically?’ we say, ‘It’s not quotas, it’s not targets,’” says Mr. Nalbantian. “It’s about how do you position women and minorities to succeed in the roles that are likely to lead to higher-level positions.”......The takeaway for some women is that they have to assemble their own career ladder.....To secure a sponsor, “you’ve got to consistently perform, have a strong brand and deliver. That’s just table stakes,” she says. “But a lot of people do that and might still not move, because they don’t have the right support.”
barriers_to_entry  biases  coaching  diversity  entry-level  female-friendly  glass_ceilings  gender_gap  management  movingonup  obstacles  sponsorships  takeaways  talent_pipelines  up-and-comers  women  workforce  workplaces 
october 2019
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy has been harnessed for good and ill
october 14, 2019 | FT.com | by Helen Brown.
Ode to Joy is the EU's anthem, music that was written by Beethoven. But “Ode to Joy” was composed with the dream of European peace and unity very much at its heart.

“Ode to Joy” appears like a burst of sunlight in the fourth and final movement of Beethoven’s stormy Ninth (and final) Symphony. The composer’s decision to bring a choir into the piece was revolutionary, giving soaring voice to a poem that had thrilled Beethoven as a young man: Freidrich Schiller’s “An die Freude”. Written in 1785 — on the brink of the French Revolution — the popular poem expressed a yearning for peace and egalitarianism: “All men will become brothers … Be embraced, you millions!”

As soon as he heard Schiller’s words, the young Beethoven imagined setting them to music. Like many liberal, cosmopolitan youths of the time, the German composer was excited by the ideals of the French Revolution and dedicated his Third Symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte before scratching out the name.
Beethoven  choirs  composers  EU  music  Napoleon_Bonaparte  poems  songs  symphonies 
october 2019
Opinion | Dealing With China Isn’t Worth the Moral Cost
Oct. 9, 2019 | The New York Times | By Farhad Manjoo.

We thought economic growth and technology would liberate China. Instead, it corrupted us.

The People’s Republic of China is the largest, most powerful and arguably most brutal totalitarian state in the world. It denies basic human rights to all of its nearly 1.4 billion citizens. There is no freedom of speech, thought, assembly, religion, movement or any semblance of political liberty in China. Under Xi Jinping, “president for life,” the CCP has built the most technologically sophisticated repression machine the world has ever seen. In Xinjiang, in Western China, the government is using technology to mount a cultural genocide against the Muslim Uighur minority that is even more total than the one it carried out in Tibet. Human rights experts say that more than a million people are being held in detention camps in Xinjiang, two million more are in forced “re-education,” and everyone else is invasively surveilled via ubiquitous cameras, artificial intelligence and other high-tech means.

None of this is a secret. Under Xi, China has grown markedly more Orwellian;......Why do we give China a pass? In a word: capitalism. Because for 40 years, the West’s relationship with China has been governed by a strategic error the dimensions of which are only now coming into horrific view.......A parade of American presidents on the left and the right argued that by cultivating China as a market — hastening its economic growth and technological sophistication while bringing our own companies a billion new workers and customers — we would inevitably loosen the regime’s hold on its people....the West’s entire political theory about China has been spectacularly wrong. China has engineered ferocious economic growth in the past half century, lifting hundreds of millions of its citizens out of miserable poverty. But China’s growth did not come at any cost to the regime’s political chokehold....It is also now routinely corrupting the rest of us outside of China......the N.B.A.’s hasty and embarrassing apology this week after Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ general manager, tweeted — and quickly deleted — a message in support of Hong Kong’s protesters......The N.B.A. is far from the first American institution to accede to China’s limits on liberty. Hollywood, large tech companies and a variety of consumer brands — from Delta to Zara — have been more than willing to play ball. The submission is spreading: .....This sort of corporate capitulation is hardly surprising. For Western companies, China is simply too big and too rich a market to ignore, let alone to pressure or to police. .....it will only get worse from here, and we are fools to play this game. There is a school of thought that says America should not think of China as an enemy. With its far larger population, China’s economy will inevitably come to eclipse ours, but that is hardly a mortal threat. In climate change, the world faces a huge collective-action problem that will require global cooperation. According to this view, treating China like an adversary will only frustrate our own long-term goals......this perspective leaves out the threat that greater economic and technological integration with China poses to everyone outside of China. It ignores the ever-steeper capitulation that China requires of its partners. And it overlooks the most important new factor in the Chinese regime’s longevity: the seductive efficiency that technology offers to effect a breathtaking new level of control over its population......Through online surveillance, facial recognition, artificial intelligence and the propagandistic gold mine of social media, China has mobilized a set of tools that allow it to invisibly, routinely repress its citizens and shape political opinion by manipulating their feelings and grievances on just about any controversy.....Chinese-style tech-abetted surveillance authoritarianism could become a template for how much of the world works.
adversaries  artificial_intelligence  authoritarianism  brands  capitalism  capitulation  China  China_rising  Chinese_Communist_Party  climate_change  collective_action  cultural_genocide  decoupling  despots  errors  facial_recognition  Farhad_Manjoo  freedom  Hollywood  Hong_Kong  human_rights  influence  NBA  op-ed  Orwell  propaganda  repression  self-corruption  surveillance  surveillance_state  technology  threats  Tibet  totalitarianism  tyranny  Uyghurs  unintended_consequences  values  Xi_Jinping 
october 2019
He Grew Up on a Farm. Now, He Helps Protect Them.
Oct. 3, 2019 | The New York Times | By Norman Mayersohn.

Books: Warren Buffett biography, “Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist,”

Few livelihoods offer as many paths to failure as agriculture. Throughout history, farmers have been at the mercy of nature — be it weather, pests or crop diseases — even as the survival of people and livestock depended on their success...... Thomas Njeru, is a co-founder and the chief financial officer of Pula, a four-year-old microinsurance firm that serves 1.7 million smallholder farms of 0.6 acres or less in 10 African countries and India. Microinsurance — think of it as an offshoot of the microloan programs that kick-start businesses in impoverished areas — provides protection for low-income individuals who do not have access to conventional coverage....Pula, based in Nairobi, Kenya, partners with government agencies and loan providers to cover the cost of the insurance, which is included in the price of seed and fertilizer; there is no direct charge to the farmer. Among the coverages Pula provides is weather index insurance to cover failures of seed germination, using satellite data to determine whether there has been sufficient rainfall. Longer-term coverage, called yield index insurance, compensates farmers with replacement supplies in the event of a poor harvest......People in Africa don't invest in agriculture because the chance of them losing their money due to the vagaries of the weather is huge.........Pula’s mission is to give farmers confidence by providing risk mitigation. Our solutions protect a farmer’s investment by pairing it with insurance. We build business cases to persuade Fortune 500 companies, seed and fertilizer suppliers, lending institutions, and governments in Africa, that embedded insurance will help deliver better results for both businesses and food security....The sad reality is that farmers are one drought or one disease outbreak away from sliding into absolute poverty......the penetration of agriculture insurance in Africa is less than 1 percent. The reason is that insurance companies’ business models are not set up to serve the unique needs of smallholder farmers......scaling Pula’s business model to the point that insured seed and fertilizer become ubiquitous in the market......The average annual insurance premium per farmer is about $3 to $5. This includes the cost of product development, pricing, underwriting, claim adjustment and, of course, the claim costs. We use artificial intelligence, mobile-based registration systems, remote sensing and automation tools...Agriculture insurance is a cemetery of pilots and trials..
Africa  agriculture  behavioral_change  books  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  crop_insurance  farming  insurance  Kenya  low-income  microfinance  mobile_applications  poverty  precarious  Pula  seeds  smallholders  start_ups  risks  risk-mitigation  Warren_Buffett  weather 
october 2019
Quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are d...”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we
are. They are different. ”
affluence  F._Scott_Fitzgerald  high_net_worth  quotes 
october 2019
Opinion | America’s Risky Approach to Artificial Intelligence
October 7, 2019 | The New York Times | By Tim Wu
Mr. Wu is the author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.”

The brilliant 2014 science fiction novel “The Three-Body Problem,” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, depicts the fate of civilizations as almost entirely dependent on winning grand races to scientific milestones. Someone in China’s leadership must have read that book, for Beijing has made winning the race to artificial intelligence a national obsession, devoting billions of dollars to the cause and setting 2030 as the target year for world dominance. Not to be outdone, President Vladimir Putin of Russia recently declared that whoever masters A.I. “will become the ruler of the world.”..... if there is even a slim chance that the race to build stronger A.I. will determine the future of the world — and that does appear to be at least a possibility — the United States and the rest of the West are taking a surprisingly lackadaisical and alarmingly risky approach to the technology........The plan seems to be for the American tech industry, which makes most of its money in advertising and selling personal gadgets, to serve as champions of the West. Those businesses, it is hoped, will research, develop and disseminate the most important basic technologies of the future. Companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are formidable entities, with great talent and resources that approximate those of small countries. But they don’t have the resources of large countries, nor do they have incentives that fully align with the public interest (JCK: that is, "business interests" vs. "public interest"]..... The history of computing research is a story not just of big corporate laboratories but also of collaboration and competition among civilian government, the military, academia and private players both big (IBM, AT&T) and small (Apple, Sun)......Some advocates of more A.I. research have called for a “Manhattan project” for A.I. — but that’s not the right model. The atomic bomb and the moon rocket were giant but discrete projects. In contrast, A.I. is a broad and vague set of scientific technologies that encompass not just recent trends in machine learning but also anything else designed to replicate or augment human cognition.....the United States government should broadly fund basic research and insist on broad dissemination..... the United States needs to support immigration laws that attract the world’s top A.I. talent. The history of breakthroughs made by start-ups also suggests the need for policies, like the enforcement of antitrust laws and the defense of net neutrality, that give small players a chance.... the computer scientist and entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee, in his book “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order,” describes a race between China and Silicon Valley, as if the latter were the sum total of Western science in this area. In the future, when we look back at this period, we may come to regret the loss of a healthy balance between privately and publicly funded A.I. research in the West, and the drift of too much scientific and engineering talent into the private sector.
antitrust  ARPA  artificial_intelligence  Beijing  Bell_Labs  Big_Tech  business_interests  China  China_Rising  FAANG  high-risk  immigration  industrial_policies  Kai-Fu_Lee  Manhattan_project  publicly_funded  R&D  risks  science_fiction  Silicon_Valley  talent  Tim_Wu  Vladimir_Putin  Xerox 
october 2019
The Disruptive World of Edward Norton - The New York Times
Oct. 7, 2019
The disruptive world
of Edward Norton.

By David Marchese Photograph by Mamadi Doumbouya
actors  category_errors  disruption  Edward_Norton  entrepreneur  start_ups 
october 2019
The Fastest Way To Blow Up Your Bench Press (4 Science-Based Steps) + Sample Program - YouTube
Step 1: Fix your bar path (the path the bar takes when viewed from the side).

To maximize strength on the bench press you should be pressing the bar BACK toward your face and then UP, not just straight up. This back and up technique will also strengthen the pecs more, since it emphasizes horizontal shoulder adduction over shoulder flexion at the toughest points in the press.

Data from Dr. Thomas McLaughlin found that while most benchers did correctly bring the bar down and slightly forward in a smooth arc on the descent, only elite level benchers drove the bar back and then up, whereas novice lifters tended to press the bar straight up first, and then slightly back.

Putting this into practice, I’d recommend filming your sets from the side to get a close look at your bar path… you can use an app like Iron Path or Dartfish to track this easily. If you’re pressing the bar straight up, make a conscious effort to press the bar back first, and then up. This might feel a bit awkward at first. You want to get to a point where it feels natural. I cue this by thinking about pushing the floor away from me while I simultaneously drive the bar back and up off my chest.

Step #2: Grip the Bar Wider

Wherever you’re currently gripping the bar, try gradually easing your grip out by about 1 finger’s width every workout over the next few weeks. Most of the world’s top benchers press with a max legal grip width, with the index fingers all the way out to the grip rings, although this may not be comfortable for everyone.

Tip #3: Bench Press More Often

The next step is to simply bench press more frequently. I think that benching 3 times per week will be the sweet spot for most people. For example, running with a set up like this, we would focus on hypertrophy on Day 1 with sets of 8 reps, power on day two with lighter speed work, and then strength work on day 3, with heavy sets of 5.

Monday: Bench 1 x 2 (RPE9), 2 x 8 (RPE7)
Wednesday: Bench 4 x 3 (RPE6) (press the bar explosively off the chest)
Friday: Pause bench 3 x 5 (2-second pause) (RPE8)

Step 4: Add Heavy Top Sets Before Volume Work

Top sets are a great way to get comfortable with lifting heavy weight on a regular basis which will improve confidence in your ability to lift heavier without frying your recovery. I’d recommending adding one heavy top set somewhere around 90 percent of your 1 rep max for 2 to 3 reps before backing off and doing your main work for that day. You only need to do this once a week, ideally before your lightest lifting day.
chest  Jeff_Nippard  strength_training  bench_press  science-based 
october 2019
(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay — why Otis Redding’s biggest hit wasn’t actually a soul song
October 6, 2019 | FT.com | by Dan Einav.

“This is my first million seller,” announced Otis Redding to nervous-looking studio bosses in early December 1967. He was referring to his upcoming record, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, which would indeed prove to be his first seven-figure release, eventually selling several times that amount. It would also be the last song he ever worked on. Two days after his second recording session on this breezy new ballad, he was dead — killed in a light-aircraft crash.

Executives at Atlantic Records cynically requested that a new song be released immediately. Redding’s collaborator and studio guitarist, and the song’s co-writer, Steve Cropper, was forced to set aside his grief and transform the rough cuts of “The Dock of the Bay” into a coherent track in just 24 hours. The result was an unassuming yet near-perfect composition that would serve as a fitting legacy for one of soul’s greatest talents.

But “The Dock of the Bay” wasn’t really a soul song in the conventional sense. In the summer of 1967, Redding immersed himself in The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper and was inspired by the band’s devotion to stress-testing the limits of popular music. “It’s time for me to change my music,” said Redding, as his wife and employers voiced concerns about his “poppy” new direction which took him away from his roots in soul and R&B.

That autumn Redding was recovering after a punishing touring schedule on a houseboat in Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco, owned by promoter Bill Graham. It was there, idly watching the ferries sail to-and-from the harbour, that he conceived of that scene-setting first verse and the basic chords for “The Dock of the Bay”. Back in the studio, he asked Cropper to flesh out the melody and the brilliant, bittersweet lyrics.
'60s  1967  Atlantic_Records  Beatles  music  music_labels  Otis_Redding  pop_music  R&B  singers  songs  soul  Stax  tributes 
october 2019
As I enter middle age, these are the fitness lessons I wish I could teach my younger self
October 6, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by PAUL LANDINI.

Mistakes have been made. Efforts were wasted. Time was lost. If I could mentor my 20-year-old self, the first thing I would do is collect all of the tattered fitness and lifestyle magazines that would soon lead me astray and throw them all in the trash where they belong. Then, I would sit myself down and impart the following hard-earned knowledge.

* IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN
Remember recess? Remember how much fun it was to be set loose upon the schoolyard after enduring hours of enforced sitting? ...Playground games such as double dutch, red rover and tag always appealed to me more than traditional sports, but as we age, society tells us to stop playing games, to get serious, to respect and follow the rules. The grown-up rules of physical fitness emphasize pain, suffering and drudgery over pleasure, joy and leisure. Exercise becomes a form of corporal punishment for simply existing; you can’t indulge in any of life’s rewards without having to pay the price on the treadmill the next day........The point here is that there is great happiness to be had in being active, you just have to find the right outlet. Powerlifting, CrossFit, kettlebell sport, parkour, gymnastics, cycling, swimming, dancing, walking, running, rowing, climbing – each of these activities has merit, each can deliver “results.” If your current workout is leaving you bored and listless, try something new. A whole world of movement possibilities awaits.

* START WITH STABILITY
Just like solving an algebra problem or landing a 747, the principles of getting in shape are governed by a specific order of operations. However, unlike the laws of mathematics and aerodynamics, the consequences for ignoring the rules of fitness aren’t as dire. The worst thing that will happen, outside of actually injuring yourself, is a complete lack of progress in reaching any of your goals.

There are variations on these steps, catchy turns of phrase that certain coaches will use to enhance their industry brand, but the gist is the same – first you enhance stability, then you build strength, then you apply that strength to some form of fast, explosive movement. The logic of this continuum is evident – you can’t be fast without being strong, and you can’t be strong without first building a stable foundation. [JCK Stability, Strength, Power] Of course, all of this was beyond me when I first started lifting, which is why I didn’t progress for a long time.

The fitness industry sells itself by using exciting images of muscular people doing cool things – Kettlebell swings! Box jumps! Deadlifts! – the implicit message being: This could be you......know planks and push-ups are boring, but you must master your body first. Then, and only then, are you ready to increase resistance.

* YOU DON’T NEED BARBELLS
This is a corollary to the last two points, if not a summary of my fitness philosophy in general. Barbells are designed to support significant weight – hundreds upon hundreds of pounds – and in that respect, they do their job very well. Now, what about you. What are you wired to do?

If your answer is “move as much weight as humanly possible,” then stick with barbell training. It will serve you well for a time, as long as your technique and programming are sound, but eventually your body will break.......For everyone else, it’s time to think outside of the squat rack. If you’re walking into your workouts with anything less than a semi-reluctant enthusiasm, freeing yourself from the confines of barbells and benches can have a dramatic impact on your mindset. Think push-ups over bench press, pull-ups over pull-downs, sled pushes over squats. Actually, everyone should squat, you just don’t need to sling a barbell on your back to do so.
aging  CrossFit  exercise  fitness  lessons_learned  midlife  play  pull-ups  push-ups  squats  stability  strength_training 
october 2019
Opinion | My Father Wanted to Prove America Wrong About Race - The New York Times
By Susan E. Rice
Ms. Rice, a contributing opinion writer, is the author of the forthcoming memoir, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For,” from which this essay is adapted.
African-Americans  books  Emmett_Rice  memoirs  Susan_Rice  tough_love 
october 2019
Get Your Digital Accounts Ready In Case of Death - The New York Times
By Melanie Pinola
Ms. Pinola is a staff writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company.

Oct. 3, 2019
dying 
october 2019
The last days of the middle-class world citizen
October 3, 2019 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
what I think Janan Ganesh is talking about; the divide between the globally mobile elite and the locally restricted peasantry is getting increasingly stark, and the middle class is being hollowed out.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
'10s  Big_Tech  climate_change  decline  deglobalization  disposable_income  downward_mobility  dystopian_futures  frictions  future  globalization  Janan_Ganesh  lifestyles  middle_class  millennials  pessimism  societal_choices  subtractive  The_One_Percent  thought-provoking  travel 
october 2019
The Extra-Secret White House Computer System, Explained - The New York Times
The White House uses a web of computer systems to store delicate information.CreditCreditAl Drago for The New York Times
By Charlie Savage, Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Goldman
Oct. 1, 2019
classified_information  code_words  covert_operations  Donald_Trump  memorialization  NSC  secrets  security_&_intelligence  transcripts  Ukraine  White_House 
october 2019
Ikea dismantles tradition to seek inspiration from car industry
October 2, 2019 | Financial Times Richard Milne in Oslo.

Sometimes the complexity of their own companies can surprise top managers. Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of the owner of the Ikea brand, looks wide-eyed as he describes how the furniture retailer has nearly 100 different cabinets, sometimes with only 4-5 millimetres difference between models.

In storage solutions it has Pax wardrobes, Godmorgon bathroom cabinets, Metod in the kitchen and Besta in the living room — similar products but with subtly different heights or widths, making things difficult not just for the customer but also for Ikea itself.

So the world’s largest furniture retailer has looked to the car industry for inspiration. Platforms have dramatically changed the process of making cars — different models with vastly different pricing can be built on the same basic chassis. Changes are made between models on the things customers see — like the dashboard and entertainment systems — but much of the back-end that is invisible to drivers can be common.

Now Ikea is looking to bring platforms into home furnishing....Ikea is experimenting with city-centre and smaller shops as well as services such as home delivery and assembly. It is looking into renting out furniture instead of selling it, and smart home technology that brings it up against Silicon Valley.

Its platform initiative is one of its most important, albeit largely invisible to customers. Much still remains to be worked out such as just how much is common between different products — a dilemma recognisable from the car industry where Volkswagen faced complaints that there was little difference between VW and Skoda models except for the price.....standardisation should lead to lower prices for both it and customers. ....“How can we scale up in an efficient way? It’s difficult if we make each product uniquely. With platforms, it’s easier to adjust to new markets,” ...The new approach is not without risks though. Developing new platforms can be a costly business and in the car industry has often led to just as much complexity as before, particularly in companies like VW that are known for overengineering their vehicles, or confusion among consumers as to how big a difference there is between supposedly rival products.

Mr Loof is aware of the problem. “We need to define what makes sense to have on the platform and what not,” he says. “If you go too far you can arguably say you have decreased your range offer.”....for the furniture group, facing the same rapid changes in the retail landscape that have caused dozens of brands to fail, there is a feeling that it needs to do as much as it can even if it is likely to have failures on the way.
automotive_industry  CEOs  complexity  furniture  home_furnishing  Ikea  inspiration  platforms  retailers  risks  small_spaces  standardization  Torbjörn_Lööf 
october 2019
What meeting Bernie Madoff taught me about our inability to read others
October 2, 2019 | Financial Times | by Gillian Tett.

Books:
Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell.
The Human Swarm, by Mark Moffett.

Malcolm Gladwell, the writer, earned fame — and fortune — by producing books such as The Tipping Point (2000) that popularised human psychology. In his new study, Talking to Strangers, he looks at our propensity to misread other people. It is an increasingly pressing question for our polarised, fake-news era.

How should we interpret the signals we receive from others? This matters when it comes to detecting fraud, of course......It also matters in other ways. Today more than ever, we all suffer if we misread the signals we receive from different social groups. It is human nature to assume our own culture is the definition of “normal”, and to use this lens when we view others.....even traits that we assume are ­“universal”, such as [jck: visual cues] facial expressions, can vary hugely between cultures — and, of course, within societies that speak the same language.

Gladwell describes, for example, how social interactions between black and white communities in America are regularly marred by misunderstandings, with tragic consequences. “[This] is what happens when a society does not know how to talk to strangers,” he concludes.......Moffett then advances two broader points. First, he argues that humans (like ants) need a sense of tribal identity and belonging, with specialisations clearly defined; but, second, he insists that the way humans develop this tribal identity is crucially different from other animals.

Among some species, such as chimpanzees, trust only emerges through face-to-face contact between individuals in small groups; in others, creatures only co-operate if they can be instantly identified as coming from the same species. Ants kill anything that smells different.....what is amazing about humans – albeit rarely celebrated – is how we generally tolerate outsiders ­without instantly needing to kill them.

“Being comfortable around unfamiliar members of our society gave humans advantages from the get-go and made nations possible,” Moffett writes. “Chimpanzees need to know everybody [to ­tolerate them]. Ants need to know nobody. Humans only need to know somebody [for society to function.]” This achievement deserves far more attention, since it only works in two conditions. First, humans must feel secure in their own group (which they signal with symbols and rituals); second, “strangers” can only be smoothly absorbed if everyone learns to read different symbols too....If we want to “talk to strangers”, we need to teach our kids (and ourselves) to try to look at the world through strangers’ eyes – even if we must also recognise that we will never truly succeed.
assumptions  Bernard_Madoff  books  character_traits  cultural_identity  deception  Gillian_Tett  misinterpretations  psychopaths  signals  strangers  tribes  group_identity  lying  Malcolm_Gladwell  misjudgement  psychology  trustworthiness  visual_cues  writers 
october 2019
Productivity Without Privilege: How to Succeed When You’re Marginalized or Discriminated Against in the Workplace
Oct. 1, 2019 | The New York Times | By Alan Henry.

Productivity isn’t just about getting things done — it’s about spending less time on the things you have to do so you can spend more time on the things you want to do.....so much popular productivity advice is accessible only to people who have the option to use it in the first place (e.g. if your boss or co-workers believe that women shouldn’t be in the workplace, or that African-Americans are unmotivated, no “productivity hack” will force them to objectively look at your accomplishments and decisions the way they would employees they view without biases.)......the real factor determining whether you can take productivity advice at face value is "privilege".

* ‘Glamour work’ vs. ‘housework’: Who gets the opportunities matters.....

A 2018 story in Harvard Business Review pointed out that women of color in the workplace are asked to do “office housework” — the behind-the-scenes tasks that keep departments and teams humming — more often than white employees. That kind of work rarely raises an employee’s profile, in contrast to “glamour work,” which is highly visible, helps people make a name for themselves and leads to promotions and other career success.

* Trust your gut: Don’t get gaslit!!
Unfair treatment in the workplace often comes in the form of “microaggressions” — subtle actions that undermine a person and are often explained away by forgetfulness, ignorance, or anything but the malice that usually inspired them. ....gather proof — your own, or someone else’s — to remove doubt (e.g. collect the data — literally document the number of times you’ve been asked to do the office housework). Also, take note of the instances where colleagues are asked to do glamour work, and who they are......find colleagues you can speak with candidly. This way you have a sounding board to help you objectively see through your own self-doubt and determine whether you’ve actually been slighted or ignored, or whether you’re being paranoid.

* You don’t have to be twice as good, but you do have to “manage up”

If you're often volunteering for work that’s less glamorous — the office housework — to make a positive impact, or be seen as active and engaged..... while this drive is well meaning, it can often be counterproductive, and it gives managers cover to ignore their own behaviors and implicit biases when assigning work or handing out opportunities. Your best tool in this case, she said, is learning the fine art of saying "no" without ruining your career......learn how to “manage up” viz a viz your boss. Recognizing quickly whether something is a small or large ask, and how it fits into your personal or team priorities is essential — and asking your boss for clarity on what your team’s priorities are is also essential.

* Beware the lure of “just helping out”.
learning to, and practicing how to, hold back the urge to constantly volunteer,”

* Protect your boundaries.
when some people use methods like these (e.g. “check your email once or twice a day instead of being always available” and “leave your work at work,” ) to improve their work/life balance, they’re seen as organized and productive. When women and workers of color do the same, they can be viewed seen as unmotivated, lazy, or disengaged......call out bias when you experience it,” Ms. Tulshyan said. “Again, it only works in environments where you have the psychological safety — which, sadly, is rare for employees of color — but I’ve taken managers aside in the past and said, ‘I’ve noticed you volunteered me for this committee again, but not my white male colleagues. Could we talk about that?’” The same tactic works in reverse. If you notice that your privileged colleagues are the only ones sent to conferences or given the opportunity to discuss the work your team is doing, mention it to your manager.

* Document everything: Data is your best friend.
keep a work diary of accomplishments and challenges.....look for allies,” “I’ve had a few more-privileged colleagues at my workplaces who would spread the word to our department on my behalf if I accomplished something noteworthy. The great thing is it seems to foster a lot more trust and celebration among the group than if you are always tooting your own horn.”....if you feel frustrated and marginalized, try to keep in mind why you do the work you do, and remember the people who are positively affected by it.
biases  disrespect  equality_of_opportunity  glamour_work  gut_feelings  HBR  managing_up  marginalization  note_taking  office_housework  power_dynamics  privilege  productivity  protect_boundaries  record-keeping  say_"no"  self-doubt  sounding_boards  stereotypes  work_smarter  workplaces 
october 2019
Opinion | The Forgotten History of America’s Worst Racial Massacre - The New York Times
By Nan Elizabeth Woodruff
Dr. Woodruff is a historian and the author of “American Congo: The African American Freedom Struggle in the Delta.”

Sept. 30, 2019
bigotry  historical_amnesia  lynchings  massacres  racial_violence  racism 
october 2019
Does oat milk stack up nutritionally to other non-dairy milks?
September 30, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by LESLIE BECK

Read labels to know what your plant-based beverage provides and what it doesn’t.

If you’re replacing dairy in your diet, consider protein. Soy and pea milks have the most, followed by oat milk.

To get a vitamin and mineral content that is similar to cow’s milk, choose a fortified product (most are). If it’s fortified, the nutrition label will state a daily value of 25 to 30 per cent for calcium.

Avoid added sugars by opting for an unsweetened milk alternative.

While non-dairy milks provide nutrition, keep in mind that they are processed foods.

To get the most nutrients, along with plenty of disease-fighting natural plant compounds, include the original whole foods – e.g. oatmeal, cashews, almonds, hemp seeds, edamame, tofu, dried peas – in your regular diet.
beverages  Leslie_Beck  nondairy  nutrition  plant-based 
october 2019
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