Some interesting stuff that would be worth your time today …
- Shareholder value can’t be pursued. Like happiness, it must ensue, argues Roger L. Martin in his article in HBR …
…pursuit of shareholder value maximization does a crummy job of maximizing shareholder value. The reason is that it cannot be pursued directly. Shareholder value only grows when other things – like making customers happy, creating a create environment for employees, being a great corporate citizen – happen. As Aristotle once opined: if you seek happiness, you probably won’t end up happy; but if you seek to lead a worthy life, you are likely to end up happy. Shareholder value and happiness are counterproductive to pursue directly; rather they will happen when other things are pursued.
- When to fire your financial adviser
..unlike the pizza with everything on it, a portfolio with everything on it is just expensive without giving you a return kicker…Ask for the details of what is sold and what is bought from your adviser. If you see funds being recommended for a ‘sell’ within 2 years of being put on the buy list, ask why. There could be a genuine reason—such as a fund house sale or the exit of a star fund manager —but it could be that the guy is churning you; maybe to win a junket his fund house is offering.
- John Medina’s Brain Rules for Baby is a must read for every parent. And even if you aren’t a parent, you’ll find quite a few remarkable insights in it. John uses Evolution, the big idea from the field of Biology, to explain why human beings have relatively shorter gestation period for their unborn offspring and a pretty long period of dependent childhood. He writes –
It’s a question that bothers many evolutionary scientists: How come it takes so long to raise a human child? Aside from perhaps a whale or two, we have the longest childhood on the planet. Where did this decades-long sojourn come from, and why don’t other animals have to endure what we go through?
Blame our big, fat, overweight, gold-plated, nothing-else-like-it brains. We evolved to have larger brains with higher IQs, which allowed us to move from leopard food to Masters of the Universe in 10 million very short years. We gained those brains through the energy savings of walking on two legs instead of four. But attaining the balance necessary to walk upright required the narrowing of the Homo sapiens pelvic canal. For females, that meant one thing: excruciatingly painful, often fatal births. An arms race quickly developed, evolutionary biologists theorized, between the width of the birth canal and the size of the brain. If the baby’s head were too small, the baby would die (without extraordinary and immediate medical intervention, premature infants won’t last five minutes). If the baby’s head were too big, the mother would die. The solution? Give birth to babies before their skulls become too big to kill mom. The consequence? Bringing kids into the world before their brains are fully developed. The result? Parenthood.
Because the bun is forced to come out of the oven before it is done, the child needs instruction from veteran brains for years. Clearly, childhood is a vulnerable time. More than a decade passes between the birth of a baby and its ability to reproduce—an eternity compared with other species. This gap shows not only the depth of the brain’s developmental immaturity but also the evolutionary need for unflinchingly attentive parenting.
- India’s most important business group is socially responsible but financially disappointing…
Tata remains active in 100 different business lines, many of which are themselves diversified. Far from slimming down, Tata is eyeing still further expansion: defence, infrastructure and financial services are the latest targets…One former adviser to several Tata CEOs says that “the risk is that Tata uses its long-term emphasis and ethical way of doing business as an excuse to tolerate underperformance.”…Mr Mistry has shown some signs that he knows what needs to be done. For the moment, however, he appears dangerously content just to sit atop what has grown into an impressive but lumbering pachyderm.
- Trying to predict the future is futile. However, imagining future as a spectrum of probabilistic outcomes can turn out to be an interesting thought experiment. Today India is leaning on the edge of massive technological disruption. Here’s a stimulating discussion on what could unfold, not as a prophecy but as an alternative view of the future, over next few decades in Indian economy as a result of this disruption.
Fortunately, I was in the audience when the talk was being delivered. It was a pleasant surprise to find this on youtube and I just couldn’t help sharing it.
- William Zinsser, in his book On Writing Well, sites the World War II incident when the government drafted the order for blackout. The 1942 memo read –
Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and non-Federal buildings occupied by the Federal government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination.
President Franklin Roosevelt saw the memo and said, “Tell them that in buildings where they have to keep the work going to put something across the windows.”
- A science-backed guide to taking truly restful breaks.
Psychologists and business scholars have recently started studying the most effective ways to relax during a workday – they call them “micro breaks”…[But] Cognitive activities during work breaks actually made fatigue worse, likely because reading websites or checking emails taxes many of the same mental processes that we use when we’re working.
Pomodoro technique is very effective in this context. It essentially allows you to work in bursts of 25-30 minutes followed by 5 minutes of break.
There’s a work zeitgeist today that says you have to be constantly busy to succeed. If you’ve got time to go for a short walk, you’re obviously not consumed by drive and ambition, so the mistaken ethos goes. The psychological reality is that your mental and physical reserves are limited and it is only by taking frequent short breaks of a truly restful nature that you will fulfil your true potential.
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