Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst.org

Michelle Rhee set up a non-profit called StudentsFirst.org. She is now starting a campaign against the "last in, first out" system. (Thanks, Tom)

Israeli Test on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay

How could American and Isreali forces take out 1/5 of Iran's centrifuges and delay Iran's nuclear program by many, many years ...without starting a world war?

Use a hidden and seemingly harmless -- but incredibly effective -- computer virus.

Check out the NYT story about Stuxnet. (Thanks, Dave!)

New Fuel-Economy Stickers Provide Info That's Actually Helpful To Car Buyers

"Provided with real information, will car buyers start making more informed decisions?"

Read the FastCompany article.

How do physical attributes affect pay?

Men who are heavier and women who are thinner get paid more:
Being thin paid off in a big way for women, earning them about $16,000 more a year, on average. But thin men made about $8,000 less than their male co-workers.
Additionally, according to Psychology Today, taller people also get paid more:
Timothy Judge, a business professor at the University of Florida, calculated that each inch in height corresponds to $789 extra in pay each year, even when gender, weight and age are taken into account. An extra six inches, for example, results in an extra $4,734 in annual income.
(Thanks, Tom)

Friday, May 27, 2011

HBR: What It Takes to Sell a Little Viagra via Spam

It takes 12.5 million spam e-mail messages to sell $100 worth of Viagra, according to research cited by The New York Times. The research also found that a single commercial spam campaign can generate as many as 3 messages for every person on Earth.

Source: Study Sees Way to Win Spam Fight (Definitely worth reading!)

HBR Daily Stat: Why You Always Sit in the Same Place in Meetings

People exhibit territorial behavior when they take seats in public places, limiting themselves to small areas so they don't have to "renegotiate" seating arrangements with other people, researchers say. In one study by Marco Costa of the University of Bologna in Italy, university students showed strong attachments to specific areas of a lecture hall; on average, each student made use of just 2.4% to 2.7% of the seating area.

Source: Territorial Behavior in Public Settings

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pack for a Purpose

Pack for a Purpose is an online charity that links travelers with community based charities near holiday destinations that could benefit from a 2.25 kg packed donation of medical, school or sports equipment ranging from $10-1,500. They're partnered with over 120 luxury hotels, resorts and cruses worldwide so you can just drop supplies at the front desk. (Thanks, Claire)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Class That Built Apps, and Fortunes

Wish we had this class at Duke
ALL right, class, here’s your homework assignment: Devise an app. Get people to use it. Repeat.

That was the task for some Stanford students in the fall of 2007, in what became known here as the “Facebook Class.”

No one expected what happened next.

The students ended up getting millions of users for free apps that they designed to run on Facebook. And, as advertising rolled in, some of those students started making far more money than their professors...
Read the full NYT story. (Thanks, Gloria)

Are you a stress seeker?

More and more men and women and are overworked, overwhelmed, and overwrought. The bigger problem: they’re proud of it!

Check out how to break an unhealthy, addicted-to-high-anxiety lifestyle.

Religion and Sex Quiz

How well will you do on this?
"Faith is a huge force in American life, and it’s common to hear the Bible cited to bolster political and moral positions, especially against same-sex marriage and abortion."
Check out Nicholas Kristof's quiz.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Sports Executive Leaves the Safety of His Shadow Life

Rick Welts, the president of the Phoenix Suns, hopes his coming out can break the silence surrounding homosexuality in men's team sports. Check out the NYT article.
Here's another story in the NYT about two straight athletes who are combating homophobia in men's sports.

(Thanks, Jules)

The Daily Stat: Children Inherit Employers from Parents

From HBR's daily stat:
By age 33, about 40% of men have worked at some point for companies that employed their fathers — a proportion that leaps to nearly 70% for the highest-earning dads, according to a study of Canadian data by Miles Corak of the University of Ottawa and Patrizio Piraino of the University of Cape Town. Parents, particularly high earners, can influence sons' or daughters' job choices by offering contacts and knowledge of particular employers, the researchers say.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Daily Stat: ROI on Homes is Zilch Over Past 35 Years

From the HBR daily stat:
Even though the real rate of return of the U.S. national house price index was 1.3% from 1975 to 2009, the real rate of return on a typical home was below zero (–0.575%) over that period. That's assuming a 2.5% annual depreciation rate, a 1.5% property-tax rate, a 7% mortgage interest rate, and a 25% marginal income tax rate, according to Wenli Li and Fang Yang, writing in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Business Review and quoted in Monthly Labor Review. "The case for trying to achieve a nation of homeowners needs to be rethought," the authors say.
Insight from Tom: good reason to not buy a house as a forced saving mechanism. (Thanks, Tom)

Modeling Disaster

"The availability of previously inconceivable amounts of computing horsepower is enabling insurers to develop catastrophe models that can narrow the divide between what humans can imagine and what nature can do.

...AR Worldwide, a big-three catastrophe modeler, is modeling 10,000 years of weather to build a probabilistic model for flooding in Germany. 'At best, we have 100 years of historical data,' says Jayanta Guin, AIR's SVP of research and modeling. "That's not enough." So instead of simply using the data from those 100 years to make a model, AIR ran 10,000 possible permutations of that historical data to provide what Guin calls 'the full universe of possible outcomes.'

... even with the increasing comprehensiveness of catastrophe models, the ability to quantify loss and risk is still constrained by lack of data and the fundamental unpredictability of nature." Read the CFO Magazine article.

Waste Management's Quest To Turn Trash Into Power

With the company throwing money at solutions that turn refuse into energy, it may soon be about more than just garbage.

Check out the FastCompany article.

Fly Like You're Rich With Social Flights (And Private Planes)

Now that people can organize themselves online, private air travel isn’t just for the wealthy anymore. Read the FastCompany article.

Google Plays the Yield Curve

"Google is sitting on $37 billion in cash, but nonetheless decided to sell $3 billion worth of bonds. Why? To take advantage of low interest rates."

Check out the story in Greg Mankiw's blog.

A Field-Hopping Fan Eludes Astros Security

Check out the Deadspin post. (Thanks, Griffin)

Haka War Dance

Pretty intense. (Thanks, Tom)

The Failure of American Schools

"Who better to lead an educational revolution than Joel Klein, the prosecutor who took on the software giant Microsoft? But in his eight years as chancellor of New York City’s school system, the nation’s largest, Klein learned a few painful lessons of his own—about feckless politicians, recalcitrant unions, mediocre teachers, and other enduring obstacles to school reform."

Read one of the best Atlantic articles. (Thanks, Tom and Jules)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Beyonce Sings "Move Your Body" for Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" Campaign (Video)

Check out the TreeHugger post for the story behind the article.

And a week later she surprised students in a Harlem school, coming on to dance with them in the middle of their performance!

Read more about her surprise visit.

Are Maiden Names Really Worth $500,000?

A Dutch study suggests a way for brides to pick up an extra half million dollars by doing nothing--specifically, by not changing their names [Editor's caution: correlation does not equal causation!].

"Women who kept their maiden names were judged to be more professional than married-name doppelgangers and proved more likely to win a job, according to the research. They also attracted higher pay."

Many sources have written about this Dutch study. Check out the Global and Mail article (Thanks Tom) and the SmartMoney article (Thanks, Michael)!

Corinne Grzybowski and I wrote a paper on this topic, titled Female Surname Choice, using Duke alumni data last year.

President Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner

Obama's comedy. So funny!

This was a few hours before he ordered the kill on Bin Laden. Incredible ability to switch between mindsets. (Thanks, Eugene)

Arzu Studio Hope

Arzu Studio Hope sells Afghanistan hand-knotted artisan area rugs. They are stunning (and honored by the Skoll Foundation)!

(Thanks, Claire)

Mystery Man Gives Mind-Reading Tech More Early Cash Than Facebook, Google Combined

"The company specializes in non-invasive, wireless brain-recording tech. And its first round of funding is bigger than Google's and Facebook's first-round investments combined."

Read the Fast Company article to find out why.

How The Attack On Osama Bin Laden Was Live-Tweeted

After the news of Bin Laden's death echoed throughout the world, Twitter looked back through Tweets in the local area, and found that people were unknowingly live-tweeting the US operation.

Read the Fast Company article for news on the live-tweeing:
And other stories about how the news of Al Qaeda’s leader’s passing ping-ponged around the web and social media, from BNO News to George W. Bush. It was one of the most tweeted--but not the single most tweeted--events, Twitter tells us.

New study says Botox impairs ability to understand emotions of others

Not that surprising. Also kind of funny that this article was published in the LA section of CBS. (Duke research!)

First World Problems

Check out this Tumbler about problems you would only find in the First World.

Hilarious! (Thanks, John)

Dear Sophie

Aaron Ausland: How Microfinance Lost its Soul

Aaron Ausland writes about the 6 fundamental shifts in the practice of microfinance have left it operating more like a for-profit bank and less like an innovative pro-poor movement.

Read the article in the Huffington Post. (Thanks, Rob)

High-voltage power towers ‘twisted like bow ties'

The Times Free Press writes about the aftermath of the southern tornadoes. (Thanks, Claire)

Fail Often, Fail Well

The Economist published a special on entrepreneurial failure:
Business writers have always worshiped at the altar of success, which makes the latest management fashion all the more remarkable. The Harvard Business Review devoted its April issue to failure, featuring, among other contributors, A.G. Lafley, a successful ex-boss of Procter & Gamble, who proclaims that "we learn much more from failure than we do from success."

The cover of the current British edition of Wired magazine reads "Fail! Fast. Then succeed. What European business needs to learn from Silicon Valley." IDEO, a consultancy, has coined the slogan "Fail often in order to succeed sooner."

There are good reasons for the failure trend. Success and failure are not polar opposites: you often need to endure the second to enjoy the first. Failure can indeed be a better teacher than success. It can also be a sign of creativity.

The 5 Percent Creativity Challenge

"Very few people actually schedule time to think, create, and invent. But those that do are the ones that make history, writes Josh Linkner, CEO of Detroit Venture Partners and author of Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity.

Most of us don't have the staff and resources to disappear for weeks on end, but we all have the ability to schedule two, one-hour thinking sessions each week. Scheduling just 5 percent of your time to reflect, think, and create can yield dramatic results.

According to Linkner, companies that institutionalize the 5 percent rule benefit from an increase in the flow of new ideas and improved employee satisfaction -- and suffer no losses in productivity."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Distilling the Wisdom of C.E.O.’s

Adam Bryant interviewed 70 chief executives and other leaders for a book. He found that all of their traits were not genetic, but developed over the course of their career:
These C.E.O.’s offered myriad lessons and insights on the art of managing and leading, but they all shared five qualities: Passionate curiosity. Battle-hardened confidence. Team smarts. A simple mind-set. Fearlessness.
Read one of the most-read NYT articles of the week. It's adapted from the upcoming book. (Thanks, Claire)

Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win

Picture this: you get a merit scholarship at a law school as long as you keep a certain GPA, but there is one thing the school doesn't tell you?

Generally 1/3 of all students at this school lose their merit scholarships each year because of the grading curve L1 year. What if this happens across the US because schools are trying to lock-in high level students to increase their rankings, without having to follow through on the scholarships?

Read the NYT article.

Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

"It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s about loneliness, competition and deeply rooted barriers." Read more in the NYT .