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jerryking : counterintuitive   29

‘I Wish You Bad Luck,’ He Said With Good Intentions
Dec. 28, 2017 | WSJ | By Bob Greene.

In Spring 2017, Chief Justice John Roberts delivered a commencement address to his son's grade 9 graduation ceremony that offered a universal lesson about the value to be found in generosity of spirit. Roberts prepared the advice offered in his speech specifically for the commencement address, as he set out to reflect upon “some of the harsh realities that everyone will face in the course of a full life,” and how to anticipate them and learn from them....His speech was structured in pairs.....He told his audience that commencement speakers will typically “wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why.

“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice.

“I hope that you will suffer betrayal, because that will teach you the importance of loyalty.

“Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted.

“I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.

“And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship.

“I hope you’ll be ignored so that you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.

“Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Also,......“Once a week, you should write a note to someone. Not an email. A note on a piece of paper. It will take you exactly 10 minutes.” Then, Roberts urged, put the note in an envelope and send it off the old way: via the mail.

The handwritten note, he said, might express appreciation for someone who has helped you out or treated you with kindness, and who may not know how grateful you are.........here’s a toast to bad luck, and to its hidden gifts. First, though, the corner mailbox awaits. Gratitude is priceless, but conveying it costs no more than a postage stamp.
advice  betrayals  chance  commencement  failure  friendships  gratitude  handwritten  John_Roberts  judges  justice  life_skills  loyalty  luck  pairs  speeches  sportsmanship  U.S._Supreme_Court  values  compassion  listening  inspiration  teachable_moments  counterintuitive  tough_love  good_intentions 
may 2019 by jerryking
Think Like a Libel Lawyer
March 9, 2019 | The New York Times | By David McCraw, deputy general counsel of The New York Times.

It's the best way to keep an open mind in our “pick your side and stay on it” era.

My job, when I am doing it right, is to please no one. I’m a press lawyer. I’m paid by this newspaper to vet stories before publication.

Think of me as a story’s first and worst reader: doubtful, questioning, blind to subtlety, skeptical of the facts, regularly prodding editors and reporters to do something more or different. And if I have done my job well, many of the subjects of those same stories will be unhappy as well, but for all the reasons we want them to be: We got it right.

The basic idea of libel law is simple. A publisher can get sued for making a factual statement that proves to be false and hurts a person’s reputation.......I am all about the villains in many pieces — the doctor who botched the surgery, the insurance company that shafted its customers, the professor who hit on the student, the greedy industrialist who ground up workers to make a fortune. I try to look for the counternarrative that they could (and their lawyers will) build from the same set of facts. It’s a counterintuitive form of reading. It’s looking for the innocent explanation or the possibility that what appears to all the rest of the world to be nefarious may in fact just be a mistake made in good faith. It’s a tricky skill to take into the real world....for a libel lawyer, a little sympathy for the villain is almost an occupational requirement. And maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for all of us in the tribalized “pick your side and stay on it” era we are living in......Libel lawyers don’t serve as the fairness police. If anything, they are more like fact cops. Coverage can be wildly unfair and still be true. .....Over the past half-decade, The Times and others had reoriented themselves to reader-centered journalism. The shift in attitude has been like opening a window after a long winter. Journalism should be done as if the readers mattered.

But in a divided America there was a risk, too — the risk that we would set our compass by what people wanted rather than giving them the journalism they needed.......It was discouraging that so many people apparently believed that the time-honored journalistic act of telling a story straight had become a problem and that The Times needed instead to take sides and coach readers on what to think.

Journalism is hard when people feel the failure to take sides is in and of itself a surrender....The great risk we face comes not in giving them (the alt-right) voice but in taking their worst instincts and making them our own.

The First Amendment gives a lot of protection to even nasty speakers.....we write about people in the news, not just the people we agree with.....that is how the First Amendment works — thanks to our “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide open,......Speakers are allowed to be provocative, colorful, contradictory and wrong.

....
counternarratives  counterintuitive  dark_side  facts  First_Amendment  free-press  journalism  lawyers  libel  NYT  skepticism  open_mind  villains 
march 2019 by jerryking
The opportunities left behind when innovation shakes up old industries
November 28, 2018 | The Globe and Mail | GUY NICHOLSON.

early meetings and phone calls were casual conversations with a couple of landscape photographers who specialize in golf.

The very nature of their business had changed fundamentally...After the Internet disrupted print magazines and media, they recast themselves as digital marketers, selling online rights to images created with high-tech arrays of digital cameras, drones and processing software. But even while embracing technology to take their work to new artistic heights, there were dramatically fewer places left for golfers to come across this art in print......Had their little corner of publishing been so thoroughly disrupted and abandoned that it now had more demand than supply? .....Technological innovation can be extremely disruptive and painful – and in the digital era, capable of changing entire industries seemingly overnight. But when creative destruction puts good things in peril, slivers of opportunity can emerge. After the masses and the smart money have flocked to newer technologies, formerly ultra-competitive spaces can be left wide open for innovation – abandoned fields for small businesses, start-ups and niche players to occupy.

It helps to offer a level of quality or service the bigger players consider uneconomical. Look at the travel industry, which has been thoroughly remade under waves of innovation: cellphones, digital cameras, GPS, Google Maps. Between internet comparison shopping and Airbnb, travel agents could have gone the way of the traveller’s cheque. But in the wake of all that disruption, tiny bespoke agencies specializing in advice, unique experiences, complicated itineraries and group travel have re-emerged to offer services too niche for the big digital players.....Similar things are happening in industries such as gaming, where video games have cleared the way for board-game cafes, and vinyl music, which survived the onslaught of MP3s and streaming music on the strength of nostalgia, millennial fascination and sound quality. As the rest of the industry moved into digital, neighbourhood record stores and small manufacturers picked up the pieces, catering to an enthusiastic subset of music buyers.

“We were growing very rapidly, not because vinyl was growing, but because a lot of pressing plants were going out of business,” Ton Vermeulen, a Dutch DJ and artist manager who bought a former Sony record plant in 1998, told Toronto journalist David Sax in his 2016 book The Revenge of Analog. Vinyl is back in the mainstream, but its disruption cleared the field for smaller players.

Abandoned fields aren’t for everyone. Building a business around an off-trend service or product can be a tough slog (jck: hard work)for fledgling businesses and entrepreneurs, and risky. In the case of the golf photographers, two dozen artists signed up to create a high-end subscription magazine. It’s beautiful, but with two years of work riding on a four-week Kickstarter campaign, there’s no guarantee this particular field will prove to have been worth reclaiming.

Of course, risk has always been part of small business. But a market waiting to be served – that’s a precious thing. As long as there is disruption, it will create opportunities for small businesses to reoccupy abandoned fields
abandoned_fields  analog  bespoke  books  counterintuitive  creative_destruction  David_Sax  digital_artifacts  digital_cameras  disruption  hard_work  high-risk  high-touch  innovation  Kickstarter  new_businesses  niches  off-trends  opportunities  photography  print_journalism  small_business  start_ups  structural_decline  travel_agents 
december 2018 by jerryking
Opinion | The Real China Challenge: Managing Its Decline - The New York Times
By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist

Nov. 29, 2018

.Bret Stephens read a deeply reported and thought-provoking series in The Times about another country of the future: China. The phrase “rise of China” has now become so commonplace that we treat it more as a fact of nature than as a prediction of a very familiar sort — one made erroneously about the Soviet Union in the 1950s and ’60s; about Japan in the ’70s and ’80s; and about the European Union in the ’90s and ’00s.....Beijing has ignored orthodox economic nostrums about the need for ever-greater market liberalization and fewer state controls while still managing to thrive. ....cruelty.... forced laborers....Tyrannies do not work in the long run....capital flight.... 46 % of wealthy Chinese wish to emigrate, most of them to the U.S.....individual rights, democratic choices, rule of law, competitive markets, high levels of transparency, low levels of government corruption, independent news sources, and freedoms of thought, conscience and speech are assets beyond price.....If you define power as the power to attract and not simply compel [jk: that is, soft power], then Beijing — with its dystopian vision to fully surveil and rate all citizens by 2020 — isn’t a rising power at all. It’s a collapsing one.......What about the skyscrapers of Guangzhou? What about the world-beating test scores of students in Shanghai?.....China’s rise is not some kind of mirage. But what matters is the future, not the past, and whether a nation built on constraining the freedoms granted to ordinary people can outpace, outsmart, and outlast another nation built on defending and broadening those freedoms....American policymakers and pundits often talk about the challenge of managing China’s rise. They had better start thinking instead of the challenge of managing its decline, beginning at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires this weekend. Japan and Europe went gently into eclipse, and the Soviet Union surrendered without a fight (at least until its current revanchist phase).

Will China’s current leadership accept the possibility of their own decline so philosophically, after having convinced themselves of their rapid rise to primacy? Nobody should bet on it. A wounded tiger is rarely a placid one.
Bret_Stephens  capital_flight  China  China_rising  clichés  counterintuitive  decline  institutional_integrity  op-ed  rule_of_law  soft_power  thought-provoking  U.S.-China_relations 
november 2018 by jerryking
Global shipping boss charts course through troubled waters
August 14, 2017 | Financial Times | by Richard Milne.

When AP Moller-Maersk came under cyber attack this year, chief executive Soren Skou was presented with a very basic problem: how to contact anyone. The June attack was so devastating that the Danish conglomerate shut down all its IT systems. The attack hit Maersk hard. Its container ships stood still at sea and its 76 port terminals around the world ground to a halt. ...Skou had no intuitive idea on how to move forward....Skou was “at a loss”, but he decided to do three things quickly.
(1) “I got deep in.” He participated in all crisis calls and meetings. “To begin with, I was just trying to find out what was happening. It was important to be visible, and take some decisions,” he says. Maersk is a conglomerate, so IT workers needed to know whether to get a system working for its oil business or container shipping line first.
(2) He focused on internal and external communication. Maersk sent out daily updates detailing which ports were open and closed; which booking systems were running and more. It also constructed a makeshift booking service from scratch.
(3)Skou says he made sure frontline staff in the 130 countries it operates in were able to “do what you think is right to serve the customer — don’t wait for the HQ, we’ll accept the cost”.

He says that he has learnt there is no way to prevent an attack. But in future, the company must “isolate an attack quicker and restore systems quicker”. He adds that Maersk will now approach its annual risk management exercises in a different spirit. “Until you have experienced something like this — people call them ‘black swan’ events — you don’t realize just what can happen, just how serious it can be.”

Danish conglomerate AP Moller-Maersk is planning to expand into transport and logistics ...

....Mr Skou’s plan for Maersk is about shrinking the company to grow — a “counterintuitive” approach, he concedes. Maersk’s revenues have stagnated since the global financial crisis and the solution has been to jettison what has often been its main provider of profits, the oil business.

In its place, Mr Skou has already placed his bet on consolidation in the shipping industry.....His real push is in bringing together the container shipping, port terminals, and freight forwarding businesses so as to make it “as simple to send a container from one end of the world to the other as it is to send a parcel with FedEx or UPS”. That requires quite a cultural shift in a group where independence was previously prized.....Another priority is to digitalise the group. “It is pretty messy,” Mr Skou says cheerfully. Unlike most businesses selling to consumers who offer few possibilities to change much, almost everything is up for negotiation between Maersk and its business customers — from delivery time, destination, cost, speed, and so on. “It’s easy to talk about digitalising things; it’s quite difficult to do in a B2B environment. It’s hard to digitalise that complexity,”
crisis  crisis_management  malware  cyber_security  cyberattacks  conglomerates  black_swan  improbables  CEOs  Denmark  Danish  IT  information_systems  think_threes  post-deal_integration  internal_communications  counterintuitive  digitalization  shipping  ports  containers  Maersk 
august 2017 by jerryking
How cosmopolitans can win the argument
9 April/10 April 2016 | Financial Times | Simon Kuper

1. Don't lead with facts. They rarely persuade anyone any more.
2. DOn't use elite spokespeople
3. You win arguments by winning over the middle.
4. Talk mainstream values
5. Don't repeat the other side's story, not even to refute it.
6. Avoid "Them and Us" stories
7. Show, don't tell.
8. Don't call people racists.
9. Don't be boring
Donald_Trump  cosmopolitan  howto  Simon_Kuper  logic_&_reasoning  nationalism  rhetoric  buy-in  emotional_commitment  counterintuitive  skeptics  disagreements  argumentation 
may 2016 by jerryking
A Burglar’s Guide to the City
Ways of thinking/looking at the built environment. Consider "security architecture".

Studying architecture the way a burglar would, Geoff Manaugh takes readers through walls, down elevator shafts, into panic rooms, and out across the rooftops of an unsuspecting city.

At the core of A Burglar’s Guide to the City is an unexpected and thrilling insight: how any building transforms when seen through the eyes of someone hoping to break into it.

Encompassing nearly 2,000 years of heists and break-ins, the book draws on the expertise of reformed bank robbers, FBI Special Agents, private security consultants, the L.A.P.D. Air Support Division, and architects past and present.

Whether picking locks or climbing the walls of high-rise apartments, finding gaps in a museum’s surveillance routine or discussing home invasions in ancient Rome, A Burglar's Guide to the City ensures readers will never enter a bank again without imagining how to loot the vault or walk down the street without planning the perfect getaway.
Achilles’_heel  architecture  books  counterintuitive  dark_side  fresh_eyes  hacks  heists  mindsets  observations  pay_attention  security  security_consciousness 
april 2016 by jerryking
A 25-Question Twitter Quiz to Predict Retweets - NYTimes.com
JULY 1, 2014 | NYT | Sendhil Mullainathan.

how “smart” algorithms are created from big data: Large data sets with known correct answers serve as a training bed and then new data serves as a test bed — not too differently from how we might learn what our co-workers find funny....one of the miracles of big data: Algorithms find information in unexpected places, uncovering “signal” in places we thought contained only “noise.”... the Achilles’ heel of prediction algorithms--being good at prediction often does not mean being better at creation. (1) One barrier is the oldest of statistical problems: Correlation is not causation.(2) an inherent paradox lies in predicting what is interesting. Rarity and novelty often contribute to interestingness — or at the least to drawing attention. But once an algorithm finds those things that draw attention and starts exploiting them, their value erodes. (3) Finally, and perhaps most perversely, some of the most predictive variables are circular....The new big-data tools, amazing as they are, are not magic. Like every great invention before them — whether antibiotics, electricity or even the computer itself — they have boundaries in which they excel and beyond which they can do little.
predictive_analytics  massive_data_sets  limitations  algorithms  Twitter  analytics  data  data_driven  Albert_Gore  Achilles’_heel  boundary_conditions  noise  signals  paradoxes  correlations  causality  counterintuitive  training_beds  test_beds  rarity  novelty  interestingness  hard_to_find 
july 2014 by jerryking
Old like me. Why elderly care needs more risk - The Globe and Mail
Saskia Sivananthan

Contributed to The Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Mar. 23 2014

We must rethink our approach to managing risk in nursing homes, especially when doing so means limiting residents’ freedom to choose their own way.

It’s a poignant reminder of the daily challenges staff and residents at every nursing home face. They are also part of a theme that played into almost every aspect of my stay: How do you balance safety with autonomy for residents?

Safety is clearly important; often people move to nursing homes precisely because they can no longer manage living without 24-hour care. At the same time, this tightrope balance invokes the fear paramount in most people’s mind when they think about institutional living – losing their autonomy, not choking on breakfast.

The regulations for long-term care in most provinces prioritize medical needs and safety over autonomy. Public reporting of quality indicators at long-term care homes include safety as one of five attributes of a high-performing system – but autonomy is not considered.....we take these calculated risks every day: slicing bread, crossing the street, staying up late. Suddenly being regarded as unable to make decisions you’ve made all your life contributes to a feeling of disempowerment. In our attempt to remove all risk in nursing homes we have ended up with regulations that are so extreme that residents may no longer have autonomy or feel at home....Many of the new models of long-term care homes coming out of Europe have embraced this concept of calculated risk. There is a much lauded dementia village Hogeweyk in the Netherlands.....Denmark also focuses on autonomy. Nursing homes there are truly run as ‘homes’ rather than institutions, with the result that residents become family. One facility of 23 residents, 70 per cent of whom have dementia, takes Caribbean vacations together. Imagine the risk.

We must rethink our approach to managing risk in nursing homes, especially when doing so means limiting residents’ freedom to choose their own way.

One writer described a nursing home in Denmark as a place where “…old people could drink, laugh and love themselves into death.” When I have to go back to a nursing home, that’s where I want to go.
aging  elderly  free_will  freedom  nursing_homes  safety  autonomy  tradeoffs  disempowerment  risks  risk-taking  counterintuitive 
march 2014 by jerryking
In Search of the Next Big Thing
May 2013 | HBR | Adi Ignatius interviews Marc Andreessen.

Tries to find CEOs who are product innovators, have bandwidth and discipline to become CEO. It is hard to pair those skills if they do not reside in one person. It is easier to train an innovator to become CEO than to train a CEO to become an innovator. Andreessen is counter-intuitive: he went into venture capital precisely because the prior decade to his launch had been the worst decade in the industry's history. He believes in cycles and so thought that 2009 was a good time to launch Andreessen Horowitz... Take/Understand a long view....Build "fortresses"--a company so big, so powerful , so well defended that it can withstand the pressures of going public. Focus on the substance of what your company is all about. Be about the substance....companies that are built to be independent are the most attractive...generally companies need to have at least two years' worth of cash on the balance sheet in case your revenue goes to zero....takes sales and marketing seriously--lots of products are being sold and you need a way to get the word about your company into the public space...companies are worth investing in (it's value)only if its going to be an innovation factory for years to come....We are in the early phases of Andreessen's "Software is Eating the World" thesis....best of companies AH is looking at today are unbelievably good at analytics. Good at the feedback loop created by analyzing data and feeding those number sback into the process in real time, running a continuous improvement loop....The best founders are artists in their domain. They operate instinctively in their industry because they are in touch with every relevant data point. They‘re able to synthesize in their gut a tremendous amount of data—pulling together technology trends, their companies’ capabilities, their competitor's’ activities, market psychology, every conceivable aspect of how you run a company.
Marc_Andreessen  Andreessen_Horowitz  venture_capital  start_ups  vc  HBR  hedge_funds  SOX  IPOs  lean  analytics  lessons_learned  fingerspitzengefühl  contextual_intelligence  counterintuitive  specificity  long-term  software  virtuous_cycles  software_is_eating_the_world  pairs  skills  founders  product-orientated 
december 2013 by jerryking
When it comes to innovation, Canada needs more inquisitive minds
Sept. 11 2013 | The Globe and Mail | by TODD HIRSCH.

There are solutions to Canada’s innovation deficit. The Conference Board of Canada, which prepared the Canadian analysis for the WEF report, makes several smart suggestions. Encouraging more spending on R&D, making better use of advanced technology, and increasing the research linkages between universities and industry all make sense.

But a big part of the problem is our knee-jerk reaction to expect governments to provide the solutions. Need corporate R&D? Ask Ottawa for more tax credits. Lacking venture capital? Insist tax dollars are put into a fund. Want more high tech? Demand provincial governments to spend more on university research.

Good public policies can certainly nudge us in the right direction, but it’s lazy to sit back and wait for government to solve the problem. The truth is that tax credits and research subsidies do not drive innovation. Curiosity drives innovation.

Maybe we’re asking the wrong question. Instead of “what policy can drive innovation?”, we need to ask “how can we become a society of inquisitive individuals?” That’s a more difficult question. It is too simplistic to call for more creativity in the classrooms, but surely strong literacy skills at an early age form the bedrock of curiosity and innovative thinking in adulthood. Children who are encouraged to read, to question, to wonder and to imagine will carry those abilities with them into adulthood.
bottom-up  Todd_Hirsch  economists  innovation  competitiveness_of_nations  Canada  Canadian  WEF  rankings  curiosity  counterintuitive  public_policy  inquisitiveness  literacy  reframing  problem_framing  children  parenting  fascination  asking_the_right_questions  questions 
september 2013 by jerryking
Global Warming May Chill the North - WSJ.com
March 7, 2003 | WSJ | By SHARON BEGLEY | Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.

It helps to think of the Gulf Stream as a checkout counter. When this warm, salty current reaches its Northern terminus, the arctic air cools it, causing it to sink (cold water is denser than warm). Much like a grocery-store conveyor belt that dives underneath the counter pulls up the other end, the Gulf Stream's plunge pulls warm tropical water up to the Northeastern U.S. and Canada and Western Europe. That makes these regions at least 9.5° F. warmer than they'd be without the Gulf Stream...."We're seeing huge freshening in the North Atlantic," says Mr. Gagosian. "The sinking of the cold, salty water has slowed 20% in the last 30 years." No one knows how much of a freshwater influx would shut down the Gulf Stream (this winter's big chill in the Northeast is not a sign that the current is weakening so much as a sneak preview of what climate would be like without it). But if the tipping point were reached, the nations of the North Atlantic could face a so-called little ice age in under a decade. Icebergs would lurk off Portugal....The surprising discovery, based on airborne surveys and satellite images, is forcing scientists to re-examine the possibility that ice shelves act like corks in a bottle: Remove them, and the glaciers behind accelerate toward the sea. Glaciers are moving as much as 200% faster where an ice shelf has disappeared, says glaciologist Robert H. Thomas of NASA: "Individually, the extra water a glacier adds to the world's seas doesn't amount to much, but if more and more glaciers start surging as we lose ice shelves it's a much bigger problem."
climate_change  Arctic  Gulf_Stream  tipping_points  Sharon_Begley  counterintuitive  the_Atlantic 
january 2013 by jerryking
Connections with Integrity
February 13, 2012 |Strategy + BUsiness | by Reid Hoffman.

The venture capitalist who co-founded LinkedIn reveals the surefire system that he has used since high school for evaluating potential business relationships.....It seems counterintuitive, but the more altruistic your attitude, the more benefits you will gain from the relationship. If you insist on a quid pro quo every time you help others, you will have a much narrower network and a more limited set of opportunities. Conversely, if you set out to help others by introducing them to the right people, simply because you think it’s the right thing to do, you will rapidly reinforce your own reputation and expand your universe of possibilities. For me, that is the greatest value of understanding alliances; it can help you build the kind of network on which great careers are built.
networking  LinkedIn  Reid_Hoffman  social_networking  social_capital  serving_others  counterintuitive  transactional_relationships  integrity  quid_pro_quo  alliance  the_right_people  personal_connections 
march 2012 by jerryking
Surprised by Opportunity - WSJ.com
NOVEMBER 14, 2007 | WSJ | By WILLIAM EASTERLY.

Set big goals. Do whatever it takes to reach them. These muscular sentences form the core of commencement addresses, business-advice books, political movements and even the United Nations approach to global poverty. In "Strategic Intuition," a concise and entertaining treatise on human achievement, William Duggan says that such pronouncements are not only banal but wrong.[Duggan is therefore the perfect counterpoint to Jim Collins]

Mr. Duggan, who teaches strategy at Columbia Business School, argues that the commonplace formula has it backward. Instead of setting goals first, he says, it is better to watch for opportunities with large payoffs at low costs and only then set your goals. That is what innovators throughout history have done, as Mr. Duggan shows in a deliriously fast-paced tour of history.
[photo]

Napoleon is Mr. Duggan's canonical example -- his strategic genius was not to storm a pre-fixed position on the battlefield (the traditional approach to military strategy at the time) but to attack any old position that came along where his army was at its strongest and the enemy's at its weakest. Similarly, in the battle for civil rights, Martin Luther King Jr. seized on the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 to shift the NAACP's strategy away from filing lawsuits and toward organizing nonviolent civil disobedience.
audacity  books  book_reviews  civil_disobedience  counterintuitive  flexibility  goal-setting  goals  hard_goals  innovators  intuition  Jim_Collins  kairos  large_payoffs  MLK  NAACP  Napoleon  observations  offensive_tactics  opportunism  personal_payoffs  strategy  William_Duggan  William_Easterly 
november 2011 by jerryking
The Door-To-Door Billionaire Daryl Harms knows how to turn dull businesses into big profits. But can he really do it with your garbage? - May 1, 2003
By Ed Welles
May 1, 2003

Harms spots trends sooner and bears down harder than most entrepreneurs--a combination that has made him wildly wealthy, if not exactly famous. But his next venture--more on that later-- just might transform him into a household name on the order of, say, Warren Buffett. Like Buffett, Daryl Harms, 51, patiently trolls for perfect businesses in which he can build long-term value via his Masada Resource Group, based in Birmingham. He hunts down overlooked opportunities that don't trade on trendy brand names or cutting-edge technologies...When selling cable service, Harms went block to block, zeroing in on houses with the tallest antennas. Other salesfolk reflexively bypassed such homes because they assumed that better reception wasn't an issue for them. Harms targeted those customers first. "I told them, 'I can see you stand tall. Of all the people on the street you understand the value of TV,' " he recalls saying. " 'If we put cable in, you can compare it with what you have now. If you don't like it, we'll come back and take it out.' " Such "influencers," in Harms's lingo, made it easier for him to convert whole blocks....Spurred by a poll that showed that 92% of Americans considered themselves "environmentalists," Harms and his employees spent a year studying the recycling market only to decide that the real money lay in garbage. From there they sought out the best ethanol conversion technology. Having found it--at the Tennessee Valley Authority--they worked for five years to tweak the science, an effort that has earned Masada 18 patents. "Today's risky business climate warrants thoroughness," Harms says..."The theme is that there is always a consumer need to be addressed," explains Wheeler. "People will always talk on the phone, watch television, and produce garbage."...Asking the right question, it seems, comes naturally to Harms. Entrepreneurs fail, he believes, because they "get too microscopic in their thinking. In business it's very easy to get the right answer to the wrong question." According to Wheeler, Harms failed to ask the right question when he set up a venture called Postron, which allowed cable TV subscribers to receive their bills via cable and print them out on a printer attached to their TVs. What Harms didn't ask, says Wheeler, was "whether consumers wanted another piece of hardware." They didn't...Harms finds customers where no one else thinks to look. When he started selling burglar alarms in 1985, he didn't target high-crime areas. Instead he identified places where the perception of vulnerability was greatest--which he determined by calculating how much space the local paper devoted to crime. The first cellphone license he sought was for a desolate stretch of highway between Lincoln and Omaha rather than in a major population center. Why? Because, as Page says, "what else were people going to do in their cars but talk on the phone?" Aside from overlooked customers, Harms seeks another component to every business: recurring revenue of roughly $25 a month per user. "That's a bite that most people can get used to paying," he reasons. For him it translates into healthy cash flow, which fosters predictability and enables a business to survive hard times. Besides, "the more reliable the cash flow, the higher a multiple of that cash flow you can get for your company," he notes.
asking_the_right_questions  cash_flows  consumer_needs  counterintuitive  entrepreneur  hard_times  hidden  latent  moguls  overlooked_opportunities  missed_opportunities  predictability  questions  subscriptions  thinking_big  trend_spotting  unglamorous  wide-framing 
november 2011 by jerryking
New urban design plays a heady game of risk
Mar 12, 2005 | The Globe and Mail pg. F.3|
Doug Saunders.

The slogan of the new movement that is overtaking Europe's cities: "To make it safe, you need to make it dangerous." Iain Borden, director of the Bartlett School of Architecture in London and a leader of this new movement. Its members recently published an intriguing report titled "What Are We Scared of: The Value of Risk in Designing Public Space."

In recent months, a school of architects and urban planners has picked up disparate cues from the urban experiments taking place in northern Europe and given them a name -- risk. Our cities, they believe, are now designed predominantly to minimize risk, and this has made them dull, homogeneous, repetitious and, paradoxically, often quite dangerous.

(Risk is more than an intellectual puzzle — it invokes a profoundly physical experience. A small amount of danger surrounding the use of public spaces might act much like a vaccine immunizing the population against complacency).
Doug_Saunders  urban  design  risks  safety  public_spaces  counterintuitive  urban_planning  uncertainty  complacency  biology  psychology  dangers  life_skills  coming-of-age  risk-assessment  high-risk  low-risk  soul-enriching  physical_experiences 
october 2011 by jerryking
How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career
December 2002 | HBR | by Herminia Ibarra.

But change actually happens the other way around. Doing comes first, knowing second, because changing careers means redefining our working identity--our sense of self in our professional roles, what we convey about ourselves to others and, ultimately, how we live our working lives. Who we are and what we do are tightly connected, the result of years of action. And to change that connection, we must first resort to action--exactly what the conventional wisdom cautions us against....First, determine with as much clarity and certainty as possible what you really want to do. Next, use that knowledge to identify jobs or fields in which your passions can be coupled with your skills and experience. Seek advice from the people who know you best and from professionals in tune with the market. Then simply implement the resulting action steps. Change is seen as a one-shot deal: The plan-and-implement approach cautions us against making a move before we know exactly where we are going....It all sounds reasonable, and it is a reassuring way to proceed. Yet my research suggests that proceeding this way will lead to the most disastrous of results, which is to say no result. So if your deepest desire is to remain indefinitely in a career that grates on your nerves or stifles your self-expression, simply adhere to that conventional wisdom, presented below as a foolproof, three-point plan....what consumed 90% of the year he spent looking for a new career, is what the conventional models leave out-a lot of trial and error....that it is possible to discover one's "true self," when the reality is that none of us has such an essence. (See the sidebar "Our Many Possible Selves "for a discussion of why one's true self is so elusive.) Intense introspection also poses the danger that a potential career changer will get stuck in the realm of daydreams....We learn who we have become-in practice, not in theory-by testing fantasy and reality, not by "looking inside." Knowing oneself is crucial, but it is usually the outcome of-and not a first input to-the reinvention process....To launch ourselves anew, we need to get out of our heads. We need to act....But when it comes to reinventing ourselves, the people who know us best are the ones most likely to hinder rather than help us....Mentors and close coworkers, though well meaning, can also unwittingly hold us back...So if self-assessment, the advice of close ones, and the counsel of change professionals won't do it, then where can we find support for our reinvention?....Reaching outside our normal circles to new people, networks, and professional communities is the best way to both break frame and get psychological sustenance.
Managing_Your_Career  career_paths  career  HBR  reinvention  Second_Acts  Herminia_Ibarra  analysis_paralysis  trial_&_error  action-oriented  self-assessment  self-awareness  pragmatism  counterintuitive  conventional_wisdom  change 
august 2011 by jerryking
Excerpt: Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down
October 8, 2010 | BusinessWeek | In an edited excerpt from
their new book, John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead introduce a
counterintuitive approach to turning skeptics into advocates for your
new idea, plan, or proposal....The true buying-in of a new idea is about
winning over hearts and minds--it is an emotional commitment. The
single biggest challenge faced when obtaining buy-in for a good idea is
getting people's attention. Don't try to overcome attacks with tons of
data or logic. Instead, do what might seem to be the opposite. Keep
responses short and above all, RESPECTFUL. Goal is to "win" the thoughts
and feelings of the majority, not the 1 or 2 critics so watch the crowd
very carefully. Don't try to wing it, even if you know all the facts
thoroughly, even if the idea seems bulletproof, and even if you expect a
friendly audience. Preparation can significantly build confidence and
reduce anxiety.
resistance  obstacles  excerpts  HBS  persuasion  John_Kotter  howto  ideas  books  Communicating_&_Connecting  pitches  life_skills  Managing_Your_Career  attention  attention_spans  preparation  emotional_commitment  self-confidence  buy-in  counterintuitive  skeptics  the_single_most_important 
march 2011 by jerryking
The Case Against Corporate Social Responsibility - WSJ.com
AUGUST 23, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By ANEEL KARNANI.The
idea that companies have a duty to address social ills is not just
flawed, argues Aneel Karnani. It also makes it more likely that we'll
ignore the real solutions to these problems.
CSR  counterintuitive 
august 2010 by jerryking
The stick man's big move: China's loss, Thunder Bay's gain
May 17, 2010 | Globe & Mail | GORDON PITTS. On the
surface, it seems absurd to relocate low-margin manufacturing to Canada
from China, but an ice cream stick maker may be leading the way as
Western companies respond to dramatic cost swings and changing economic
policies
China  counterintuitive  manufacturers  Gordon_Pitts  Ontario  wood_products 
august 2010 by jerryking
The "Warning" Czar?
Oct. 17, 2009 | - Adam Smith, Esq.| by Bruce MacEwen. The US
has a "national intelligence official for warning", Kenneth Knight, who
oversees a staff of a half-dozen analysts whose job is to monitor the
rest of the intelligence community, challenging their analyses and
assumptions. The goal is to to avoid surprise. One of Knight's core
insights is the difference between what he calls the "simple
likelihood-of-the-event versus impact-of-the-event calculation." Knight
thinks you can systematize this type of analysis by being understand
and being beware of the cognitive biases of experts; by training; and by
creating an institutional check--a warning staff or Red Team. Beware
analytical frameworks--know their limitations.
Bruce_MacEwen  strategic_thinking  security_&_intelligence  systematic_approaches  contrarians  risk-management  counterintuitive  red_teams  anticipating  biases  surprises  warning_signs  devil’s_advocates  frequency_and_severity  intelligence_analysts 
october 2009 by jerryking
Weisberg: What Else Are We Wrong About? | Newsweek Newsweek Voices - Jacob Weisberg | Newsweek.com
Jacob Weisberg
What Else Are We Wrong About?

Homeownership encourages longer commutes. And at least one study says it makes you fat and unhappy.
Published Apr 4, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Apr 13, 2009
commuting  counterintuitive  happiness  home_ownership  unhappiness 
april 2009 by jerryking
Bungee-Jumping in New Economy - WSJ.com
APRIL 1, 2009, 6:32 P.M. ET| WSJ | by MARK PENN

Microtrends is all about looking for counterintuitive patterns. Winning
strategies are rarely if ever the strategies adopted by the pack -- but
that becomes clear only later.
contrarians  Mark_Penn  microtrends  counterintuitive 
april 2009 by jerryking
Newt. Again. - The Return of Newt Gingrich - NYTimes.com
February 25, 2009 NYT Magazine article by MATT BAI profiling former speaker, Newt Gingrich.

Theodore White’s “Making of the President, 1960”
profile  counterintuitive  Newt_Gingrich  redemption  idea_factory  Matt_Bai 
march 2009 by jerryking
Six Deadly Orthodoxies of Recessions | Articles | Homepage
Jan./Feb. 2009, article in CEO Magazine by Pierre Loewe and
Dave Jones
* Reduce costs selectively, not indiscriminately, monitor carefully the
impact of cost cuts on staff.
* Don't stop investing - seek undervalued assets and opportunities to
upend rivals who only think of retrenching.
* De-risk and lower the costs of innovation efforts by reaching outside
company and by conducting well-designed experiments.
*If your company has developed a new product or business that
significantly enhances the customer value proposition, a recession is
the time to introduce it and get a lasting advantage over more timid
competitors.
*A recession is the time to bypass incremental cost reduction efforts
and to focus employees' energy on innovation aimed at dramatic cost
reduction.
*Even if you have to curtail innovation efforts to conserve cash,
maintain a sufficient level of activity so you can ramp-up efforts
quickly, retain your key innovators, and tap the pulse of the changing
dynamics of the mkt.
innovation  rethinking  lessons_learned  recessions  Michael_McDerment  counterintuitive  CEOs  Daniel_Pink  Freshbooks  economic_downturn  orthodoxy  conventional_wisdom  breakthroughs  new_products  de-risking  cost-cutting  new_categories  undervalued  incrementalism  marginal_improvements  experimentation  moonshots 
february 2009 by jerryking

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