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jerryking : romans   17

Tristan Walker on the Roman Empire and Selling a Start-Up to Procter & Gamble - The New York Times
By David Gelles
Dec. 12, 2018

Tristan Walker founded Walker & Company, a maker of health and beauty products for people of color, in 2013. On Wednesday, the company was acquired by Procter & Gamble for an undisclosed sum. The deal represents a successful exit for Mr. Walker and his investors. It also signals an effort by Procter & Gamble, the maker of Gillette, to reach new markets with its shaving products. But while many start-up founders make a hasty exit after getting acquired, Mr. Walker is planning to stay on and grow Bevel, his men’s shaving brand, and Form, his women’s hair care brand. “We’re a team of 15 with very grandiose ambitions,” he said of Walker & Company, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., but will move to Atlanta as part of the deal. “We want this company and its purpose to still be around 150 years from now.”

What’s that book you’ve got there?

It’s “Parallel Lives” by Plutarch. I’ve really been getting into Greek and Roman mythology. I’m reading something right now about the history of Rome during the 53 years when they really came into power, and this idea of the Roman state growing, the Greek state growing, and the differences therein fascinate me beyond belief. I’ve just been devouring it for the past few weeks now.

Walker attended the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn. And from there, he got to see how the other half lived. It completely changed his life. He got to see what success could look like. He got to see what wealth was. And it completely changed his worldview.

How so?

I would walk down the halls and see last names like Ford, go to some classes and realize they’re Rockefellers. These are names that were in my imagination. It taught me the importance of name and what that can mean, not only for you but your progeny. When I started at Hotchkiss, I didn’t know what a verb was. So I spent all of my time in the library studying. I spent all of my time thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up.

What are your priorities as you keep building the company?

I’m dedicating my life to the demographic shift happening in this country. Not only for Silicon Valley. Not only for business. But for this country’s competitiveness. It’s changing. And folks need to respect that and they need to celebrate it.
African-Americans  Bevel  biographies  books  demographic_changes  entrepreneur  entrepreneurship  exits  Form  insights  long-term  P&G  Romans  Silicon_Valley  start_ups  Tristan_Walker  wealth_creation  black-owned  brands  consumer_goods  personal_care_products  personal_grooming 
yesterday by jerryking
Rules for Modern Living From the Ancient Stoics -
May 25, 2017 | WSJ | By Massimo Pigliucci.

Stoicism is practical and humane, and it has plenty to teach us. The philosophy may have been developed around 300 B.C. by Zeno of Cyprus, but it is increasingly relevant today, as evidenced by the popularity of events such as Stoicon, an international conference set to hold its fourth annual gathering in Toronto this October.

The Stoics had centuries to think deeply about how to live, and they developed a potent set of exercises to help us navigate our existence, appreciating the good while handling the bad. These techniques have stood the test of time over two millennia. Here are five of my favorites.

(1) Learn to separate what is and isn’t in your power. This lets you approach everything with equanimity and tranquility of mind. ...Understand and internalize the difference, and you will be happier with your efforts, regardless of the outcome.

(2) Contemplate the broader picture. Looking from time to time at what the Stoics called “the view from above” will help you to put things in perspective and sometimes even let you laugh away troubles that are not worth worrying about. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius made a note of this in his famous personal diary, “The Meditations”: “Altogether the interval is small between birth and death; and consider with how much trouble, and in company with what sort of people and in what a feeble body, this interval is laboriously passed.”

(3) Think in advance about challenges you may face during the day. A prepared mind may make all the difference between success and disaster.

(4) Be mindful of the here and now. The past is no longer under your control: Let it go. The future will come eventually, but the best way to prepare for it is to act where and when you are most effective—right here, right now.

(5) Before going to bed, write in a personal philosophical diary. This exercise will help you to learn from your experiences—and forgive yourself for your mistakes.

Stoicism was meant to be a practical philosophy. It isn’t about suppressing emotions or stalking through life with a stiff upper lip. It is about adjusting your responses to what happens, enduring what must be endured and enjoying what can be enjoyed.
chance  Stoics  philosophy  Romans  journaling  self-discipline  mindfulness  span_of_control  preparation  beforemath  sense_of_proportion  the_big_picture  anticipating  contextual  forward_looking  foresight  GTD  perspectives  affirmations  beyond_one's_control 
june 2017 by jerryking
Stoics in Silicon Valley learn to manage disappointment
17 Dec. 2016 |Financial Times | Byline: Philip Delves Broughton.
* Stoicism is the new Zen, a rediscovered set of ideas that seem tailor-made for a period of rapid change.
* The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
* Keep moving forward

History will one day tell us more about the meeting this week between Donald Trump and the biggest names in Silicon Valley. We will find out why these usually swagge...
Silicon_Valley  Stoics  Philip_Delves_Broughton  books  MLK  Vietnam_War  suffering  joyless  tough-mindedness  Romans  Jim_Collins  endurance  rapid_change  disappointment 
february 2017 by jerryking
Small words make a big difference: how to ask incisive usability questions for richer results | Loop11
abbreviated “ASK” – which helps me to focus on crafting constructive questions. Here it is:

A. Avoid starting with words like “Are”, “Do”, and “Have”. Questions that start with these type of verbs are a surefire way to nip insights in the bud. It can lead to what’s called a closed question, i.e. something that can literally close a conversation with a “Yes” or “No” answer. While it may be useful to gather this sort of data at times, try instead to open it up. Using open questions, as Changing Minds notes, gives us time to think, reflect, and provide opinions.
S. Start with W. The 5 W’s – i.e. who, what, when, where, and why – are the building blocks for information-gathering. It’s a tool from rhetoric, historically attributed to the Greeks and Romans. Essentially, the 5 W’s help us pull out the particulars. The magic behind them is that none of them can be answered with just a “yes” or “no”, so we’re always going to get a bit more of an expressive answer from subjects.
K. Keep it short. As researchers, we can often let curiosity get the best of us. Excited, we may list out a string of questions, asking more than necessary. By asking more than one question at a time, we ruin the focus of a conversation. We should try to keep our questions short and sweet, so that they may be digested more appropriately.
quizzics  questions  open-ended  brevity  howto  insights  small_moves  rhetoric  Romans  Greek  focus  incisiveness  5_W’s 
december 2014 by jerryking
Best Books on Making the Most of Later Life - WSJ
By DIANE COLE
Nov. 30, 2014

Classic Thinking
More than 2,000 years have passed since Cicero, the Roman philosopher and statesman, wrote his essay “On Old Age.” Today, his advice to embrace later life sounds refreshingly contemporary in retired classics professor Richard Gerberding’s clever adaptation, “How To Be Old: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Retirement.”

Cicero’s ideas—based on his belief that “the best weapons against old age are your inner qualities, those virtues which you have cultivated at every stage of your lives”—remain intact. But Mr. Gerberding makes them more accessible by replacing Cicero’s references to ancient Greek and Roman statesmen with modern figures like William Fulbright, Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy.

“Someone who doesn’t have much in the way of inner resources will find all stages of life irksome,” Cicero wrote. That’s advice for the ages, whatever your age.
aging  retirement  books  thinking  virtues  advice  Romans  Greek  timeless  Cicero  longevity 
december 2014 by jerryking
Learning to Love Volatility: Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the Antifragile
November 16, 2012 | WSJ | Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way, we must learn to benefit from disorder, writes Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Some made the mistake of thinking that I hoped to see us develop better methods for predicting black swans. Others asked if we should just give up and throw our hands in the air: If we could not measure the risks of potential blowups, what were we to do? The answer is simple: We should try to create institutions that won't fall apart when we encounter black swans—or that might even gain from these unexpected events....To deal with black swans, we instead need things that gain from volatility, variability, stress and disorder. My (admittedly inelegant) term for this crucial quality is "antifragile." The only existing expression remotely close to the concept of antifragility is what we derivatives traders call "long gamma," to describe financial packages that benefit from market volatility. Crucially, both fragility and antifragility are measurable.

As a practical matter, emphasizing antifragility means that our private and public sectors should be able to thrive and improve in the face of disorder. By grasping the mechanisms of antifragility, we can make better decisions without the illusion of being able to predict the next big thing. We can navigate situations in which the unknown predominates and our understanding is limited.

Herewith are five policy rules that can help us to establish antifragility as a principle of our socioeconomic life.

Rule 1:Think of the economy as being more like a cat than a washing machine.

We are victims of the post-Enlightenment view that the world functions like a sophisticated machine, to be understood like a textbook engineering problem and run by wonks. In other words, like a home appliance, not like the human body. If this were so, our institutions would have no self-healing properties and would need someone to run and micromanage them, to protect their safety, because they cannot survive on their own.

By contrast, natural or organic systems are antifragile: They need some dose of disorder in order to develop. Deprive your bones of stress and they become brittle. This denial of the antifragility of living or complex systems is the costliest mistake that we have made in modern times.

Rule 2:Favor businesses that benefit from their own mistakes,not those whose mistakes percolate into the system.

Some businesses and political systems respond to stress better than others. The airline industry is set up in such a way as to make travel safer after every plane crash.

Rule 3:Small is beautiful, but it is also efficient.

Experts in business and government are always talking about economies of scale. They say that increasing the size of projects and institutions brings costs savings. But the "efficient," when too large, isn't so efficient. Size produces visible benefits but also hidden risks; it increases exposure to the probability of large losses.
Rule 4:Trial and error beats academic knowledge.
Rule 5:Decision makers must have skin in the game.

In the business world, the solution is simple: Bonuses that go to managers whose firms subsequently fail should be clawed back, and there should be additional financial penalties for those who hide risks under the rug. This has an excellent precedent in the practices of the ancients. The Romans forced engineers to sleep under a bridge once it was completed
Nassim_Taleb  resilience  black_swan  volatility  turmoil  penalties  brittle  antifragility  trial_&_error  unknowns  size  stress  unexpected  economies_of_scale  risks  hidden  compounded  disorder  latent  financial_penalties  Romans  skin_in_the_game  deprivations 
november 2012 by jerryking
Book Review: Rome: An Empire's Story - WSJ.com
August 27, 2012, | WSJ | By DAVID GRESS.

A Daring Tale Of Arms and Men
The Romans created an image of themselves that outlived their empire and flourished in the attempts, by others, to re-create it.
book_reviews  books  Romans 
august 2012 by jerryking
All he is saying is give war a chance: Democracy and world peace are really not such great ideas. Just ask author Robert Kaplan
11 Mar 2000| National Post pg B5 |Alexander Rose.

Whatever else journalist Robert D. Kaplan picked up during his sojourn in the Great Back of Beyond, it wasn't universal love, touch-feely harmony and a We-Are-The-World attitude. In this newspaper last weekend, reviewing The Coming Anarchy -- a collection of his recent assays he was in Canada to promote this week — Misha Glenny aptly remarked: "If you want to feel uplifted about the human condition, you should steer clear of Kaplan's work as a general rule." An example; The way to make this world a better place Kaplan casually proposes in his new collection of essays (named after his famous 1994 article in The Atlantic Monthly predicting cultural clashes, tribal and widespread environmental meltdown), is for Congress to reauthorize assassination as a political instrument to grasp that democracy is not suitable for everyone; and that world peace would actually make war likelier.

"I've spent a great deal of my life covering wars," he says. Moreover, "unlike a lot of journalists, I read -- I read a lot, a lot of history, a lot of philosophy.

Look at Livy (the ancient Roman historian)...'Drew him to classical philosophy. ''If you read the ancient Chinese, or Cicero, Machiavelli or Herodotus, these a strain running through them - which is that if you always think about might go wrong, things might start going right and you can avoid tragedy.'' Thus, ''tragedy is avoidable if you always maintain a sense of it.''

The problem, however, is that "the times we live in are so prosperous for us that it's hard to think tragically." And, most alarmingly, "Revolutions and upheavals happen when things are getting better, not worse."

...When Mr. Kaplan speaks of "realists" he is describing the Hobbesian view that man has a rapacious, brutal, selfish nature. On the world stage, this translates as furiously competing sovereign states battling over their respective interests, many of which are intractable. Realists therefore believe eternal and armed vigilance, not highfalutin UN declarations, are the key to ensuring "human security". ...Kaplan believes that there are three strands of "realism" battle for supremacy...."You don't have to believe in global warming, but we're entering a world in which there will be six billion of us and you have to realize that there are now enough of us living in urbanized conditions that we're occupying zones which are climatically and tectonically fragile. "Now, we've got 70% of the Chinese population producing two-thirds of the industrial output living in flood zones. Forget about Mozambique -- that's a sideshow."...So what advice would he give our Department of Foreign Affairs so that Canada could punch above its weight in the world?

Says Kaplan, without skipping a beat: "It's hard for a country of 30 million to have a pivotal impact. So the way to do it is to get behind an idea everyone knows is smart but nobody has the time or the inclination to push."

Is Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy's position on human rights and human security one such "smart idea"? Mr. Kaplan gives it short shrift (actually, no shrift at all). "It's far too flaccid and formless to be taken seriously because all he's really stating is a kind of easy truth. Tough truths, on the other hand, are things like when and where you intervene and under what circumstances.

"So, I would say Canada needs to go on fast forward to a Global Constabulary Force. NATO, with all its problems, worked well in Kosovo and Bosnia. So, we [i.e., Canada] will create an out-of-area military branch of NATO with some non-European members -- such as Japan, Australia, India, Brazil -- to form the core of the GCF." Then "we'll have a wider range of options during the next Rwanda, or next time something happens in a place with no strategic interest to anyone but where there's an overwhelming sense that we should 'do something.' But just talking about human security ... The minute you have something that everyone agrees with you know it's useless."

A lesson from the master himself.
Robert_Kaplan  journalists  realism  realpolitik  political_theory  history  worst-case  Niccolò_Machiavelli  middle-powers  thinking_tragically  human_rights  human_security  Romans  Greek  the_human_condition  punch-above-its-weight  world_stage 
july 2012 by jerryking
Cometh the Hour . . . - WSJ.com
October 14, 2003| WSJ | By HAROLD BLOOM.

I have been rereading Edmund Gibbon's "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," which I recommend to anyone in search of wisdom relevant at this moment. Gibbon attributes decline and fall to many varied factors, but the characters of specific Roman emperors -- good, bad and indifferent -- are viewed by him as crucial in the self-destructiveness of Rome. It is not at all clear whether we are already in decline: Bread is still available for most and circuses for all. Still, there are troubling omens, economic and diplomatic, and a hint or two from Gibbon may be of considerable use.
books  leadership  Wesley_Clark  Romans  America_in_Decline?  self-destructive  decline 
may 2012 by jerryking
Energy Lessons from Ancient Rome -
Jan. 20, 2011| BusinessWeek| By Alessandra Migliaccio &
Flavia Rotondi. The ancient Romans used water pressure to bring the
city's monumental baths and fountains to life. Flavio and Valerio
Andreoli are using it to produce clean power. Encouraged by generous
renewable energy incentives, their company, Hydrowatt, specializes in
generating electricity from turbines in aqueducts. ..The brothers tap
into modern water pipelines that follow the same routes as the old
aqueducts. Like ancient engineers who studied the land seeking sources
at higher elevations to provide the pressure needed to reach Rome,
Hydrowatt's engineers seek out places where pipelines have valves
designed to release excess pressure as the water flows rapidly down the
mountainsides. Once they identify such a site, the brothers offer local
authorities that control the aqueducts a deal to replace the valves with
Hydrowatt's turbines.
water  hydroelectric  energy  cleantech  green  Italian  start_ups  Romans  electricity 
february 2011 by jerryking
Barbarians will always storm the gates of complexity
Oct 6, 2010 | Financial Times pg. 13 | John Kay. Why do
societies and seemingly indestructible empires collapse? Because as the
empires grow, the costs of central organization rise (complexity?) and
the benefits of further expansion became ever more marginal. The
phenomenon of multiplying complexity is not confined to ancient
civilisations. The nature of bureaucracy is to generate work for other
bureaucrats to do. C. Northcote Parkinson describes how the # of people
in the British Admiralty increased faster than the number of ships, and
continued to increase even after the # of ships declined. See Edward
Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Collapse of
Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter, and Jared Diamond's book Collapse.
complexity  collapse-anxiety  ProQuest  Jared_Diamond  Romans  books  bureaucracies  scaling  sublinearity 
october 2010 by jerryking
Cool it. Slow down. Don't buy the rhetoric
November 21, 2009 | globeandmail.com | by AVNER MANDELMAN.
The formal art of convincing others is called rhetoric. The Greek and
Romans used to teach it, as did the Jesuits, British law schools of old
and certain colleges in France. There is a variety of rhetorical styles -
Roman, Greek (which includes oratory), British, French, German - but
all are meant to do one thing: convince you and push you into action.
That topic of this column - a warning against letting yourself be
convinced without checking things yourself--due diligence.
rhetoric  logic_&_reasoning  Avner_Mandelman  investment_advice  self-delusions  due_diligence  persuasion  Greek  Romans 
november 2009 by jerryking
Never Mind Machiavelli - WSJ.com
JUNE 30, 2008 WSJ book review by ARAM BAKSHIAN JR. of George Washington on Leadership
written by Richard Brookhiser. Inspired by the Roman philosopher, Seneca.
book_reviews  History  leadership  George_Washington  Niccolò_Machiavelli  Romans 
february 2009 by jerryking

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