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jerryking : drawbacks   4

The Trouble with Optionality | Opinion | Commencement 2017 | The Harvard Crimson
By MIHIR A. DESAI May 25, 2017

This emphasis on creating optionality can backfire in surprising ways. Instead of enabling young people to take on risks and make choices, acquiring options becomes habitual. You can never create enough option value—and the longer you spend acquiring options, the harder it is to stop. The Yale undergraduate goes to work at McK for two years, then comes to HBS, then graduates and goes to work Goldman Sachs and leaves after several years to work at Blackstone. Optionality abounds!

This individual has merely acquired stamps of approval and has acquired safety net upon safety net. These safety nets don’t end up enabling big risk-taking—individuals just become habitual acquirers of safety nets. The comfort of a high-paying job at a prestigious firm surrounded by smart people is simply too much to give up. When that happens, the dreams that those options were meant to enable slowly recede into the background. For a few, those destinations are in fact their dreams come true—but for every one of those, there are ten entrepreneurs, artists, and restaurateurs that get trapped in those institutions......optionality is a means to an end.
....The shortest distance between two points is reliably a straight line. If your dreams are apparent to you, pursue them. Creating optionality and buying lottery tickets are not way stations on the road to pursuing your dreamy outcomes. They are dangerous diversions that will change you....By emphasizing optionality...students ignore the most important life lesson from finance: the pursuit of alpha. Alpha is the macho finance shorthand for an exemplary life. It is the excess return earned beyond the return required given risks assumed. It is finance nirvana.

But what do we know about alpha? In short, it is very hard to attain in a sustainable way and the only path to alpha is hard work and a disciplined dedication to a core set of beliefs. ....one never even knows if one has attained alpha......Ultimately, finding a pursuit that can sustain that illusion of alpha is all we can ask for in a life’s work.....So, give up on optionality and lottery tickets and go for alpha. Our elite graduates need to understand that they’ve already been winners in the lottery of life—and they certainly don’t need any more safety nets.
optionality  Mihir_Desai  drawbacks  safety_nets  alpha  straight-lines  hard_work  self-discipline  life_lessons 
december 2017 by jerryking
The High Cost of Raising Prices - WSJ
By Andy Kessler
July 30, 2017

The more prices rise, the more customers bolt. It’s like running up a down escalator and never getting to the top. With the stock market hitting highs just about every day, investors need to be wary of companies that raise prices to make their numbers. These stocks make for spectacular sell-offs on even the slightest earnings miss......I had a friend who worked at General Electric for decades. He told me that in strategy sessions with his management, Jack Welch would constantly berate them, saying, “Any idiot can raise prices.” Except he used a stronger word than idiot to coax them into squeezing out costs, adding features, improving services and generally delighting customers. Contrast this with Berkshire Hathaway . Vice Chairman Charlie Munger found that with See’s Candies “we could raise prices 10% a year and no one cared. Learning that changed Berkshire.” .........There’s a long list of price bumpers. Walk down any supermarket aisle. Kellogg’s prices constantly snap, crackle and mostly pop. Procter & Gamble toothpaste sizes shrink faster than my cavity count, always less for the same price. Now private-equity firms are circling P&G. Same for Nestlé . Expect rising beer and liquor prices soon....Empires are lost on rising prices. Until recently, rather than innovate in mobile or cloud computing, Microsoft kept raising the price of its Windows operating system to computer manufacturers. Tablets and phones ate their lunch. Fees rose at eBay until Amazon took its growth away. .........Increasing prices attracts others to attack your market. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos warns: “Your margin is my opportunity.”....Competition solves much of this problem. Investors love protected businesses, but eventually relentless price increases kill them all. Consumers are the kangaroo at the bar in the old cartoon: The bartender says, “Say, we don’t get a lot of kangaroos in here.” The kangaroo replies, “No, and with these prices, I can see why!” Call me a kangaroo, but I prefer to invest in companies that lower prices and offer more.
Andy_Kessler  pricing  price_hikes  drawbacks  margins  Charlie_Munger  CPG  shareholder_activism  P&G  Nestlé  Kellogg  Jack_Welch  GE  large_companies  cost-cutting  Amazon  Jeff_Bezos  staying_hungry  delighting_customers  high-cost 
july 2017 by jerryking
The Corrosive Downside of Acquihires
Mark SusterFollow
2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs — I’m on Twitter at @msuster
May 13, 2013
acquihires  drawbacks 
october 2016 by jerryking
Unlikely expansion: When retail brands go wholesale -
Apr. 16 2013 | The Globe and Mail | MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER.

Aldo Group Inc. is on the hunt for retail space – inside the stores of other retailers, as the shoe specialist pursues a cost-conscious expansion in which it is teaming up with a growing roster of indirect rivals.

Merchants ranging from Aldo to fashion purveyor Joe Fresh (owned by grocery giant Loblaw Cos. Ltd.), Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. and Hudson’s Bay Co., have stepped up their partnering efforts, even as they raise the stakes by being tied to sometimes unstable chains....multichannel distribution allows rapid expansion into new markets without the expense or time needed to open new stores....Retailers are trying to cash in on brand awareness and production expertise to reach more customers in a cost-savvy way. But the business model isn’t without drawbacks, as merchants lose some control over the placement, prominence and marketing of their products....For years, in a reverse trend, manufacturers – from Nine West to Apple – have set up their own standalone stores to showcase their products and ensure their brands are not lost among many others within a larger retailer.

“Retailers want to be wholesalers and wholesalers want to be retailers,” Mr. Lichtszral said. “The lines are blurred everywhere … Wholesale distributors are opening their own websites and shipping directly to the consumer and, in doing that, are technically competing with their retail customers.”
growth  retailers  brands  distribution_channels  Aldo  Loblaws  Nine_West  Apple  wholesalers  multichannel  omnichannel  Joe_Fresh  partnerships  Reitmans  HBC  business_models  drawbacks  merchandising  manufacturers  expansions  store_within_a_store  cost-consciousness  Marina_Strauss  standalone  Fortune_500 
may 2013 by jerryking

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