Monday, December 31, 2012

Understanding Facebook's Monopoly

Anti-trust regulators are living in the past. Here's why Facebook is technology's number-one monopoly.

Read more in Datamation. (Thanks, Jules)

HBR Daily Stat: Presence of U.S. Troops Boosts Countries' Growth

A tenfold rise in deployment of U.S. troops in a foreign country leads to an increase in that nation's annual growth rate of one-third of a percentage point, on average, say Garett Jones of George Mason University and Tim Kane of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. One reason may be the U.S. military's role as change agent promoting the diffusion of productivity-enhancing technologies and institutions, the researchers say. The number of U.S. troops deployed overseas has stood at about 400,000 over the past decade.

Read the George Mason University research paper.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Demand a Plan


It’s time. Join more than 750 mayors and 750,000 grassroots supporters to demand that President Obama and Congress step forward with a plan to end gun violence.

Our efforts cannot bring back the 20 innocent children murdered in Newtown, CT -- or the 34 people murdered with guns every day in America. But we can prevent future tragedies by passing common sense legislation that will:
  • Require a criminal background check for every gun sold in America
  • Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime, including real penalties for “straw purchasers”
Demand that your members of Congress and the president support these legislative priorities. See Mayor Bloomberg's Organization. (Thanks, Tom)

Externalities: When Is a Potato Chip Not Just a Potato Chip?


Go Duke! Check out Professor Munger's video. (Thanks, Ed)

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek

Heartwrenching piece of journalism. NYT masters the future of online journalism with videos, graphics. Very moving, and sad story.

Most pungent line: "They wondered how so many smart, experienced people could make the types of decisions that turned complex, rich, enviable lives into a growing stack of statistics."

See the NYT Project. (Thanks, Jules)

Excerpt from "The Feminine Mystique"

In 1963, Betty Friedan had a suprising grasp of many issues we still face today:
The Strange, terrifying jumping off point that American women reach-18-21-25-41-has been noticed for many years by sociologists, psychologists, analysts, educators. But I think it has not been understood for what it is. It has been called a "discontinuity" in cultural conditioning, it has been called woman's "role crisis". It has been blamed on the education which made American girls grow up feeling free and equal to boys-playing baseball, riding bicycles, conquering geometry and college boards, going away to college going out in the world to get a job, living alone in an apartment in NY or chicago or san franscisco, testing and discovering their own powers in the world. All this gave girls the feeling they could be and do whatever they wanted to do, with the same freedom as boys, the critic said. It did not prepare them for their role as women. The crisis comes when they are forced to adjust this role. Today;s high rate of emotional distress and breakdown among women in their twenties and thirties is usually attributed to "role crisis".

But I think they have only seen half the truth!

What if the terror a girl faces at twenty one is the terror of freedom to decide her own life, with no one to order which path she will take? What if those who choose the path of "feminine adjustment"-evading this terror by marrying at 18, losing themselves in having babies and the details of housekeeping-are simply refusing to grow up, to face the question of their own identity?

Mine was the first college generation to run head-on into the new mystique of feminine fulfillment. Before then while most women did indeed end up as housewives and mothers, the point of education was to discover the life of the mind, to pursue truth, and to take a place in the world. There was a sense, already dulling when i went to college, that we would be the New Women. Our world would be much larger than home. Forty per cent of my college at Smith had career plans. But I remember how, even then, some of the seniors, suffering the pangs of that bleak fear of the future, envied the few who escaped it by getting married right away.

The ones we envied then are now suffering that terror at 40.

You can order the book on Amazon. (Thanks, Kate!)

Follow a Career Passion? Let It Follow You

Cal Newport writes about Gen Y and the passion problem. My favorite line: "I offer this advice: Passion is not something you follow. It’s something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world."

Read his NYT article. Reminds me of the CRACKED article (NSFW). (Thanks Alessia)

Solving Gen Y's Passion Problem


 He writes about how career happiness and "passion" is something that is developed over many years -- decades. Here's a favorite excerpt:

The early stages of a fantastic career might not feel fantastic at all, a reality that clashes with the fantasy world implied by the advice to "follow your passion" — an alternate universe where there's a perfect job waiting for you, one that you'll love right away once you discover it. It shouldn't be surprising that members of Generation Y demand a lot from their working life right away and are frequently disappointed about what they experience instead. 
The good news is that this explanation yields a clear solution: we need a more nuanced conversation surrounding the quest for a compelling career. We currently lack, for example, a good phrase for describing those tough first years on a job where you grind away at building up skills while being shoveled less-than-inspiring entry-level work. This tough skill-building phase can provide the foundation for a wonderful career, but in this common scenario the "follow your passion" dogma would tell you that this work is not immediately enjoyable and therefore is not your passion. We need a deeper way to discuss the value of this early period in a long working life.

Read more in Cal Newport's HBR post.

How the next generation will surpass Gen Y

Penelope Trunk write about the differences between Gen X, Y, and the newly minted Z. Lots of thoughts around how Gen Y is "immobilized by their passions." She writes (aptly) that the worst career advice that anyone can get is to "do what you love."

Read more in her blog.

What Gen Yers don’t know about themselves

Penelope Trunk, who founded Brazen Careerist and two other startups, writes her perspective on Gen Y. My favorite section was her (unconventional?) view of how Gen Y sees entrepreneurs:
3. Gen Y misunderstands entrepreneurship.
Gen Y is scared of being screwed-over by corporate America because they saw their parents give up everything for corporate life and then get let down. Gen Y does not want to repeat this in their own lives. So for Gen Y, entrepreneurship is the ultimate expression of their conservatism.

Gen Y thinks the safest route in employment is entrepreneurship, so in poll after poll, the vast majority of Gen Y-ers says they want to own their own business. But what they really mean is they want to have a safety net. They want to feel like if they get laid off they will not be left high and dry like their parents were.

In general, though, Gen Y likes working for someone else. Gen Y likes assignments, they like feedback, they like meetings, group efforts, and after-work happy-hours. These are all the trappings of people who work for someone else. Entrepreneurs are mostly lonely, anxious people, living on the edge of what’s normal. And when Gen Y gets an inkling of those feelings, they run back to corporate life.

Read the full post at her blog. (Thanks, Chris)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

50 Things You Will Never Get For Christmas Again


Warning: This is the saddest thing you'll read all day.

 Read the Buzzfeed post. (Thanks, Claire)

Don’t Blame Autism for Newtown

On Sale at Last

Twine includes sensors for temperature, moisture, position, and soon, vibration. The uses are myriad. For example: Twine can tweet when your house hits a certain temperature, or when your basement floods.  

Read more in Fast Co-Design. (Thanks, Cassie)

Why I Quit Instagram

Amen. Read Mat Honan's post in WIRED. (Thanks, Jules)

From The Almost-But-Not-Quite Unbelievable Symbol Of Our Time


A bulletproof Disney princess backpack is selling fast:
In the wake of December 14's nightmare-come-true in Newtown, CT, sales of Amendment II’s bulletproof backpacks have apparently skyrocketed. "Basically, there’s three models," said a company representative to Mother Jones. "A SwissGear that’s made for teens, and we’ve got an Avengers and a Disney Princess backpack for little kids."
 Read more in FastCompany.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Facebook's photo-sharing site Instagram has updated its privacy policy giving it the right to sell users' photos to advertisers without notification

Unless users delete their Instagram accounts by a deadline of 16 January, they cannot opt out.

I sadly and immediately deleted my Instagram account today. Read the BBC article. (Thanks, Julia)

UNREAL Candy


(Thanks, Claire)

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person


Hilariously written, and brutally honest. Might be the funniest thing I've read all month. NSFW. Read the Cracked post.

Why I Dumped My iPhone—And Why I'm Not Going Back

Extreme, but a convincing argument. Read more in Good.Is. (Thanks, Cassie)

Global Gas Push Stalls


Shale oil and natural gas have rejuvenated the North American energy industry and boosted the economy by supplying companies and consumers with cheap fuel. There are huge shale deposits outside of North America that global energy companies and governments are eager to tap.

But oil companies are running into obstacles as they try to replicate the US experience on other continents, including government ownership of mineral rights, environmental concerns, and a lack of infrastructure to drill and transport gas and oil.

For instance, France and Bulgaria, have banned hydraulic fracking because of environmental issues, essentially stopping development in its tracks. As another complication, much less is known about the geology in most foreign countries than in the US, where drilling activity has been going on for more than a century.

The result of such problems: the US and Canada could remain the main countries to reap the economic advantages of shale development for some time. Read more in the WSJ.

Monday, December 17, 2012

HBR Daily Stat: Men Prefer Aisle Seats on Planes; Women Like Windows

Men prefer aisle seats to window seats almost 2 to 1 when they fly, according to US Airways frequent-flier data reported by the Wall Street Journal. Fortunately, women tend to prefer the window, but everyone likes to use the arm rest between seats. In interviews, women say men often insist on taking the arm rest, the Journal says.

So true. Read more in the WSJ.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away

Read more in the NYT. (Thanks, Mom)

IPCC Draft Report Leaked, Shows Global Warming is NOT Due to the Sun

The full draft report has been leaked by a voluntary reviewer on this site.  Official publication is not until September 2013. 

The posting was by a climate skeptic, whose views have been addressed in this scientific rebuttal.

Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce


(Thanks, Jamie!)

"I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother"

A chilling, but important piece on mental illness in America. Liza Long writes in Gawker. (Thanks, Lucy)

TOBIAS ROSE-STOCKWELL: Let go to succeed

Moving:
So you made it, congratulations! You pushed on the world and the world changed in your image. Enjoy it. Bask in it while it’s there. Then let it go.

If it happens to you early enough in your career, and you’re an entrepreneur or a creative person, external success can be an intoxicating and dangerous thing to hold on to. And if that outward recognition defines you, you won’t succeed again.
Read Tobias's story in Revolution.Is.

KKR Can't Crack Japan's Deal Club

Japan has long been a tough market for buyout firms, particularly foreign ones, due to a historical aversion to job cuts and the perception that "vulture funds" - as they're often dubbed in Japan - focus solely on profits, not the health of the companies they buy. Earlier this year, when struggling Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics Corp. was looking for an investor to bolster its finances, US private-equity giant KKR & Co. stepped up to the plate, say people close to the talks.

But when Renesas announces the new investment - as early as this month - the benefactor won't be KKR but a group led by the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, a government-backed fund that bid against KKR at the urging of Japan's powerful industry ministry and Renesas customers such as Toyota Motor Corp.

The story of how KKR was shouldered aside in the Renesas deal underscores the hurdles private-equity firms face in Japan, and how the government and big corporations still wield influence over strategic industries.

Read more in the WSJ.

The truth about good listening skills

One take on MBTI:
Powerful people do not have good listening skills. They hate to listen. They succeed by getting good at faking it. Here’s how I know. There are sixteen Myers Briggs personality types. Only 4% of people are ENTJs, but almost all Fortune 500 CEOs are ENTJs. Each type has an Achilles’ heel. The ESFP can’t stand being alone. The INTP can’t get their head out of the clouds. The ENTJ can’t listen.
Read Penelope Trunk's blog post.

Why We Can't Solve Big Problems

Since Apollo 17's flight in 1972, no humans have been back to the moon, or gone anywhere beyond low earth orbit. No one has traveled faster than the crew of Apollo 10 in 1969. Blithe optimism about technology's powers has evaporated, too, as big problems that people had imagined technology would solve, such as hunger, poverty, malaria, climate change, cancer, and the diseases of old age, have come to seem intractably hard.

That something happened to humanity's capacity to solve big problems is a commonplace. Recently, however, the complaint has developed a new stridency among Silicon Valley's investors and entrepreneurs, although it is usually expressed a little differently: people say there is a paucity of real innovations. Instead, they worry that technologists have diverted us and enriched themselves with trivial toys.

While this may be true, it is difficult to believe Silicon Valley's claim that the incentives offered by venture capitalists to entrepreneurs are to blame. In reality, there are many factors that interfere with our ability to solve big problems, including resistance to change among government and industry leaders, an inflated belief in the power of technology to solve all ills, and a lack of understanding about complex issues.

Read more in the MIT Technology Review.

There's No Perfect Time to Start Having Kids

Let's all take a deep breath, and read more in the Atlantic. (Thanks, Melody)

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - That's What's Up


Sweet video. (Thanks, Lucy!)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mary Meeker releases stunning data on the state of the Internet (Internet Trends 2012)

Read more at Venture Beat. (Thanks, Jules)

Fryer and Levitt Go Ghetto

From Steven Levitt: "Back in 2004, Roland and I published a piece in the journal Education Next describing our research on racial test-score gaps. That paper was recently translated into ghetto English. The new version is here. It is a must-read (although very, very NSFW). Usually something gets lost in the translation, but I would say in this case it is an improvement."

(Thanks, Tom)

Zeitgeist 2012: Year In Review


(Thanks, Julia and Claire)

HBR Daily Stat: Criminals Are More Likely to Target You If You're Seen as Socially Deviant

Car-wash attendants who cleaned the interiors of automobiles stole loose change 30% of the time, but the rate doubled if the driver had left a beer can and a racy magazine in the car, say Ronald Burns, Patrick Kinkade, and Michael Bachmann of Texas Christian University. The experiment suggests that you're more likely to become a victim of petty crime if would-be criminals see you as more socially "deviant," the researchers say.

Read more at Science Direct.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

HBR Daily Stat: Hackers Make a Killing by Locking PCs and Demanding Money

On a single day recently, a group of criminal hackers was successful in 93% of its attempts to infect personal computers, freezing 18,941 PCs and displaying messages demanding money, in most cases 100 euros, to unlock the machines, according to research reported in The New York Times. 15% of the victims paid, giving the criminals a one-day haul of more than $400,000. Even when payments are made, the hackers don't unlock the PCs.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Secrets of the Corporate Subconscious

Do men and women make equally good business leaders? Put the question to 1,000 business managers across the world and the great majority will say "yes." Ask those same managers to submit to a test that reveals their subconscious reactions and reasoning and you get a different response.

The Internet-based test, conducted by Diverseo, a Paris-based company, involved flashing pictures of unknown men in ties and well-known women in powerful positions, such as Julia Gillard, Australia's prime minister. "We found that people more readily identified the unknown men with leadership than they did these famous women who had proved their leadership abilities," says Nathalie Malige, founder of Diverseo. "They did this automatically, unconsciously."

That unconscious reflex - or "cognitive bias," in the jargon - is what prevents companies appointing more women and people of different nationalities and backgrounds as senior managers, says Ms. Malige. Potentially, it also has a significant impact on business, as restrictive preconceptions are unlikely to apply solely to gender and race, and could encompass attitudes to employment issues such as part-time working and disability.

Read more in the Financial Times

Stephen Colbert

"A candid conversation with Comedy Central's other satiric genius about politics, grief, growing up and why it's terrible when Bill O'Rielly acts normally."

Surprisingly, it's a Playboy interview. (Likely NSFW depending on your work's settings -- thanks Gloria!)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Consult, Therefore I Am: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast



There are more than 500,000 management consultants in the U.S. – more than 700,000 if you count the self-employed. And even more are on the way. So we thought it was worthwhile to ask a few questions about the industry. For instance: Where did management consultants come from? What do they actually do? And … does it work?

Check out Stephen Dubner's post in Freakonomics. (Thanks, Olivia)

Kyle Singler gets all the buckets



And check out his other Duke BUCKETS video. So good. (Thanks Jamie)

Friday, December 7, 2012

HBR Daily Stat: Mom and Dad's Attitude About Risk Affects Kids' Achievement

Children of risk-averse parents have lower test scores and are 1.34 percentage points less likely to attend college than offspring of parents with more tolerant attitudes toward risk, says a team led by Sarah Brown of the University of Sheffield in the UK. Aversion to risk may prevent parents from making inherently uncertain investments in their children's human capital; it's also possible that risk attitudes reflect cognitive ability, the researchers say.

Read more in Wiley.

Thank You Can Be the Hardest Words

Many researchers have investigated whether gratitude improves behavior. The short answer: it does, a lot. That makes it all the more perplexing that, in most workplaces, simple (and cheap) thank-yous are undervalued as motivational tools, while complex cash-based incentive packages abound. This is not to imply that bosses never say thanks. But they mix messages and often offer public displays of gratitude when it's too late - the valued employee is leaving.

So why are many people wary of simple expressions of gratitude, such as emailed or handwritten notes of congratulation? It must be in part because purveyors of the workplace thank-you so often pollute its positive impact by using it incorrectly. For instance, they may believe that gratitude alone is a valid alternative to a raise or promotion, or they may disguise thanks as an order, as in the hollow pre-gratitude of memos that begin: "Thanks in advance for coming in over the holiday period to complete the project."

In addition to avoiding such faux pas, everyone must follow one golden rule: thank-yous have to be sincere.

Read more in the FT.

I am Eleven: The documentary

What it is like to drive in Russia

(Thanks, Rushi)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

7 deadly sins of business growth

There are several underlying issues that make growing your company completely different from everything else you do in your business. But there's hope.

Read CNN's Fortune post. (Thanks, Gloria)

HBR Daily Stat: Companies' Political Activities Hurt Shareholder Value

Big U.S. corporations that created political action committees and made other forays into politics bounced back with less bounce from the financial crisis, according to a study of S&P 500 firms by John C. Coates IV of Harvard Law School. The post-2008 increase in these companies' industry-relative shareholder value was 8% lower, on average, than increases registered by politically inactive firms. Political engagement may dilute a company's strategic focus and lead it to make wasteful investments, Coates says.

Read more at Wiley.

[revolution.is] Get clear about what you want

The hardest thing often isn't finding your dream job -- it's articulating it.

Read one of my favorite Revolution.Is posts of this year.

Introducing the Contact Lens Refresh Card



If you wear contact lens and like Old Spice commercials, you will probably find this video hilarious. Especially the part with the solo cup.

And they just won Duke's Start-up Challenge! Congrats Collin.

How Washington, D.C., Schools Cheat Their Students Twice

Kids who fail their courses go to phony Credit Recovery classes. No wonder so many high-school graduates are at or near a fifth-grade level.

Ugh. Read more in the WSJ. (Thanks, Tom)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

High-Speed Internet Spawns Prairie Startups

Over the past two decades, a handful of US cities have become hubs of start-up activity, from Seattle to Boston to Austin, Texas. Now, in the nation's heartland, entrepreneurs are building what they call the Silicon Prairie in three cities better known for their agrarian roots: Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; and Kansas City, Missouri. Part of the organizers' strategy in these cities is to create clusters of tech start-ups with the idea that their density will, in turn, attract more entrepreneurs and help them flourish - a concept gathering steam in business circles.

In Kansas City, the major force behind the tech boom was Google's decision to locate its first fiber-optic broadband network there - one that boasts speeds up to 150 times as fast as the average online feed in the US. Since the September announcement, a handful of players from the local technology scene have come together to turn the old antique district into Kansas City's "start-up village." By the time Google began installing its fiber service, nearly a dozen start-ups had moved into a six-block radius, including companies building a search engine for social-network data and security software for smartphones that identifies users by vein patterns in their eyes.

Read more in the WSJ.

Monday, December 3, 2012

40 Things To Say Before You Die

Before you’re sprawled on your deathbed, there are some things you really have to say. They’re not complicated. They’re not poetry.

They’re just short sentences with big meaning.

I hope they get you talking.

#10 “Your secret is safe with me.”


The little quote on #21 made me laugh, too. Read more at Forbes. (Great find, Chrissy!)

Something Missing in Chinese Newspaper’s Entirely Accurate Summary of Onion Report

"A state-run newspaper in China reported, accurately, that The Onion has named North Korea’s leader its Sexiest Man Alive for 2012. Left unsaid in the report, which was featured on the English-language home page of People’s Daily Online on Tuesday, is whether the editors of the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper are in on the joke that the American publication is, well, kidding.
"A state-run newspaper in China reported, accurately, that The Onion has named North Korea’s leader its Sexiest Man Alive for 2012. Left unsaid in the report, which was featured on the English-language home page of People’s Daily Online on Tuesday, is whether the editors of the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper are in on the joke that the American publication is, well, kidding."

Read the NYT's the Lede. (Thanks, Tom)

Rich Nations Spend 5x More Money on Subsidizing Fossil Fuels Than Climate Change Assistance

HBR Management Tip: Keep Your To-Do List Fresh with the 3-Day Rule

A to-do list is only useful if you cross things off as often as you add tasks on. If something's been on your list for more than three days, do one of the following:
  • Do it immediately. It may take you less time than you think. 
  • Schedule it. Find a time slot on your calendar when you can get the task done. If it's important enough to have on your list, then commit to doing it at a specific time and day. 
  • Let it die. If you're not willing to do something immediately or schedule it for later, you won't ever do it. Accept that it's not really a priority and take it off your list.

19 People Who Are Having A Way Worse Day Than You

My favorite:
5. Anyone who just discovered they had superpowers at the WORST POSSIBLE MOMENT

Read the BuzzFeed post. (Thanks, Jess)

Does advertising help or harm the economy?

Economists have long debated whether advertising can actually boost competition or is simply a form of pollution. Now a natural experiment from Austria can help shed light on the question.

Read more in the Washington Post. (Thanks, JJ)

Getting Ready to Profit from the ‘Next Billion' Consumers

By 2020, 1.2 billion people will move out of subsistence poverty. They're the world's newest consumers, those living in households where annual disposable incomes will surpass $5,000 for the first time. It will be their initial experience with discretionary income and they'll have distinct ideas about how they want to spend it. These new consumers are already starting to develop tastes and demonstrate preferences in some categories.

And consumer-products companies that don't act quickly enough will risk losing out to faster global or local competitors. This article, which is part of Bain's newsletter, Insights, describes country and category trends to illustrate how consumer-goods companies can benefit from the demographic boom.

Read Bain's Insights newsletter.

Monitor's End

Last month, Monitor, a consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sought bankruptcy protection. Failing a higher bid at auction, Monitor will be bought by Deloitte, an enormous professional-services firm, for $116 million or less. Monitor had seen bright days, but since the 2008 recession, few companies have shelled out for pure strategy consulting. Meanwhile, the top-tier firms have long since started pushing into operations as well as strategy, and continue to be hired as companies seek help getting lean. That, plus their sheer size, has helped those firms ride out the storm.

Monitor has not been so lucky; pure advisory consulting has taken years to recover, as economic uncertainty keeps companies sitting on their plans (and cash) for taking over the world. Many of Monitor's consultants will likely not remain at Deloitte, which is best known for accounting. But those whom the firm can convince to stay will strengthen its claim that it can compete with the top-tier firms in consulting.

Read more in the Economist.

HBR Daily Stat: Materialism Underlies Singapore's Low Birth Rate

People living in Singapore are more materialistic and less satisfied with life than their American counterparts and thus have a lower desire for children, says a team led by Norman P. Li of Singapore Management University. It is apparently at least in part for this reason that the fertility rate in Singapore, at 1.09 births per woman's lifetime, is about half the U.S. fertility rate of 2.05, the researchers say. Fertility rates in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan have dropped below levels required to sustain the countries' populations.

Read more at Springer.

The cost of pennies

“If you carry a penny in your coin tray, how long would it take for that penny to cost you more than a cent in extra gas?”

Read the (hilarious) XKCD post. (Thanks Nishant)

A Health Insurance Detective Story

Read the scary Opinion in the NYT.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Costco's Dividend Tax Epiphany

When President Obama needed a business executive to come to his campaign defense, Jim Sinegal was there. The Costco co-founder, director and former CEO even made a prime-time speech at the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte. So what a surprise this week to see that Mr. Sinegal and the rest of the Costco board voted to give themselves a special dividend to avoid Mr. Obama's looming tax increase. Is this what the President means by "tax fairness"?

Read more in the WSJ. (Thanks, Tom)

HBR Daily Stat: Why Firms with Female Directors Make Fewer Financial Mistakes

Companies whose directors include one or more women are 38% less likely to have to restate their financial-performance figures to correct errors than firms with all-male boards, says a team led by Lawrence J. Abbott of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Gender diversity may make a board more open to viewpoints that oppose the CEO's and may encourage a more deliberative and collaborative decision-making process, according to the research, published in the American Accounting Association journal Accounting Horizons.

Read more at the American Accounting Association

'I'm Not Your Wife!' A New Study Points to a Hidden Form of Sexism

Men may be subconsciously looking at women through the lenses of their own marriages. Read more in the Atlantic. (Thanks, Tom)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Extremely Scary Ghost Elevator Prank in Brazil


If this happened to me, I'd be in therapy forever. Or, maybe end up in the situation below. (Thanks, North)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Obama’s Way


To understand how air-force navigator Tyler Stark ended up in a thornbush in the Libyan desert in March 2011, one must understand what it’s like to be president of the United States—and this president in particular. Hanging around Barack Obama for six months, in the White House, aboard Air Force One, and on the basketball court, Michael Lewis learns the reality of the Nobel Peace Prize winner who sent Stark into combat.

Read the VanityFair article. (Thanks, Lucy)

How to Live Without Irony


Here's the kick-start:
If irony is the ethos of our age — and it is — then the hipster is our archetype of ironic living.
The hipster haunts every city street and university town. Manifesting a nostalgia for times he never lived himself, this contemporary urban harlequin appropriates outmoded fashions (the mustache, the tiny shorts), mechanisms (fixed-gear bicycles, portable record players) and hobbies (home brewing, playing trombone). He harvests awkwardness and self-consciousness. Before he makes any choice, he has proceeded through several stages of self-scrutiny. The hipster is a scholar of social forms, a student of cool. He studies relentlessly, foraging for what has yet to be found by the mainstream. He is a walking citation; his clothes refer to much more than themselves. He tries to negotiate the age-old problem of individuality, not with concepts, but with material things. 
He is an easy target for mockery. However, scoffing at the hipster is only a diluted form of his own affliction...

Read the NYT post. (Thanks, Lucy)

America’s Mid-20th-Century Infrastructure

"Europeans visiting the Northeastern United States – and many parts of the East Coast — can show their children what Europe’s infrastructure looked like during the 1960s."

Read more in the NYT. (Thanks, Claire)

Why Radi-Aid


Imagine if every person in Africa saw the “Africa for Norway”-video, and this was the only information they ever got about Norway. What would they think about Norway? (Thanks, Cassie)

Saudi Arabia Struggles to Employ its Most-Educated Women

A rising generation of young Saudi women is caught between a government spending billions to educate and employ them, and a deeply conservative religious society that fiercely resists women in the workplace. Unemployment among Saudi women who want to work is 34 percent - almost five times as great as the 7 percent unemployment rate for men, according to government figures. Those unemployed women are disproportionately college-educated. Of Saudis receiving unemployment benefits, 86 percent are women, and 40 percent of those women have college degrees. Saudi women have traditionally worked in fields such as medicine, nursing, and teaching. It is still unusual to see a woman working in public anywhere other than shop, and even then mostly in shops that cater to women by selling clothing, lingerie, or groceries. King Abdullah's government is trying to open more jobs for women, in some cases by urging employers to create gender-segregated work areas in factories and other businesses. It also trying to encourage the private sector to hire more Saudis, male and female, for jobs that have traditionally gone to foreigners.

I wonder why.

Read more in the WashingtonPost.

U.S. to Be World’s Top Oil Producer in 5 Years, Report Says

Here's something no one guessed five or ten years ago:
The US will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's leading oil producer by about 2017 and will become a net oil exporter by 2030, the International Energy Agency said recently. That increased oil production, combined with new US policies to improve energy efficiency, means that the US will become "all but self-sufficient" in meeting its energy needs in about two decades - a "dramatic reversal of the trend" in most developed countries, a new report released by the agency says. The report also predicted that global energy demand would grow between 35 and 46 percent from 2010 to 2035. Most of that growth will come from China, India, and the Middle East, where the consuming class is growing rapidly. The consequences are "potentially far-reaching" for global energy markets and trade. For instance, Middle Eastern oil once bound for the United States would probably be rerouted to China. Although there are several components of the sudden shift in the world's energy supply, the prime mover is a resurgence of oil and gas production in the US, particularly the unlocking of new reserves of oil and gas found in shale rock.
Read more in the NYT.

Entrepreneurs Don’t Think Enough. Here’s What You Can Do About It …

The entire post is fantastic. Here's my favorite excerpt:
There is a sort of rhythm to people’s personality types that often slot them into one of three buckets. 
1. I think the best leaders are Thinkers. They often need teams of people to help them Plan how to turn their ideas into realities. They are “shapers” not “completer / finishers.” The best leaders know this about themselves and surround themselves with people who complement them. Without c/f’s I’d be hosed. Just ask my wife.  
2. The best managers are Planners. They are really good at creating lists of actions and monitoring performance of those actions. Manager isn’t a bad word. They are the absolute lifeblood of any organization. If this is you, you know the drill. You’re very organized. You keep meticulous notes. You are very good about getting things done and make sure others do as well. You keep the trains running on time. You’re not quite as creative in “breaking out of the box” and doing daring new things. That’s ok. You know that about yourself. And you’re comfortable having that crazy CEO around you. Secretly, you love that you know she couldn’t do her job effective without you. 
3. And the best individual contributors are Doers. This can be your star Chief Architect who loves to code but hates having to handle the admin like testing, documentation, recruiting, etc. It can also be your star salesperson who doesn’t want to have to manage a team because he simply wants to earn his paycheck and get on with his life. I’ve written about these sales mavericks before. A great team needs all types. And you need to identify your own strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur and how to surround yourself with people who complement you.
Read Mark Suster's blog, Both Side of the Table, for the full post

"A Few Things I Learned in College"

Really enjoyed Ted Gonder's (founder of MoneyThink) list of things he learned in college. Check out on his blog -- and make sure to click on a few of the links.

The Heart Grows Smarter

Here's an excerpt:
...Body type was useless as a predictor of how the men would fare in life. So was birth order or political affiliation. Even social class had a limited effect. But having a warm childhood was powerful. As George Vaillant, the study director, sums it up in “Triumphs of Experience,” his most recent summary of the research, “It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.”  
Of the 31 men in the study incapable of establishing intimate bonds, only four are still alive. Of those who were better at forming relationships, more than a third are living...
Check out David Brook's NYT Op-Ed piece. (Thanks, Claire)

8 Signs You Are Becoming Boring

Two of my favorites:
1. You see students out having fun and are exasperated. It starts with the high school kids. You see them out at the mall, scowling at things, drinking their energy drinks and just generally being assholes in front of the Pacsun or the Hot Topic. You think, “God, what irritating little warts. Good thing I was never 15,” and then carry on your boring way to go get a loofah at Bed Bath and Beyond or whatever you are there to do. Then you see college kids, getting rowdy in a bar, potentially using terrible fake IDs but still getting away with it because the bartender is cool and they want the money. Despite the fact that you, too, used a fake ID just a few short years ago, you are filled with righteous indignation. “Wait your turn, you brats,” you long to say, “Go drink 4 Loko in your bedrooms until you turn 21, like God intended. The bar is for people with jobs."  
5. You are excited when people cancel plans.
I think we’ve all had a moment or two where you are sitting there, not at all pumped to go to this social outing that you agreed to (it’s not that you don’t like the person, you just don’t like having to go outside right now), when all of a sudden they call you with the thrilling news that they are unable to make it! It’s as though the heavens themselves have parted and shone a light down on your lazy, boring ass personally to sing to you with the voice of a thousand golden angels “Fear not, for you have a few more hours of dicking around on Tumblr ahead of ye."
Read more at Thought Catalog. (Thanks, Katie)

The People’s Bailout: Occupy Wall Street To Erase $1 Million In Debt—Maybe Even Yours

"It might be Occupy’s most radical idea: buy up overdue debt on the secondary market and cancel it, leaving lucky people across the country debt free."

If you really think about this -- the ones that will truly benefit are going to be the banks who get this debt off their balance sheet. It would take a lot of legal maneuvering to stop turn around the credit-report hit.

Read more in Fast CoExist.

Sh*t Project Managers Say

For all the consultants out there...

(Thanks, Sean!)

Electronic tracking: new constraint for Saudi women

Really?
Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.  
Since last week, Saudi women's male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.  
Manal al-Sherif, who became the symbol of a campaign launched last year urging Saudi women to defy a driving ban, began spreading the information on Twitter, after she was alerted by a couple. 
The husband, who was travelling with his wife, received a text message from the immigration authorities informing him that his wife had left the international airport in Riyadh.
Read more in France 24. (Thanks, Tom)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

HBR Daily Stat: Why You Feel Broke When You're Raising a Child

The total cost of raising a child to full independence in the Northeast U.S., including food, clothing, health care, housing, transportation, entertainment, half of a typical college tuition, and Mom's lost wages, comes to $1.8 million, calculates journalist Nadia Taha. Concern that she might not be able to guarantee financial security for her family is a major factor in her decision not to have children, Ms. Taha writes in The New York Times.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Girl Football Player, 9, Dominates Boys Program (interview with dad)



(Thanks, Tom!)

9-Year-Old Girl Sam Gordon Beasting At Her Youth Football League! (Destroys the boys)

The least helpful Yahoo! Answers responses ever.

Yahoo! Answers provides Internet users with a place to go to solve life's problems. It's also a great example of how the Internet can be both the best and worst thing in the world. When users join forces to solve a problem, Yahoo! Answers is a great tool. When users gang up on a stupid, crazy or just plain confused questioner, then all hell breaks loose. Here's a collection of the least-helpful Yahoo! Answers interactions ever.

Incredible. (Thanks, North)

Special team

If you can spare it, take a few minutes to read this article about Chy Johnson (yes it's from ESPN, but no, it's not really about sports).

You will be bawling like it's the first 5 minutes of "Up" but it will be worth it. (Thanks, David)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What The 2012 Election Would Have Looked Like Without Universal Suffrage

These five maps look at how the 2012 election would have played out before everyone could vote.

Map 1: 1850
Before 1870, only white men could vote. Here's how the election would have looked before the 15th Amendment.


Check out the other four at Buzzfeed. (Thanks, Olivia)

HBR Daily Stat: Just a Little Meditation Causes Brain-Wave Changes

After just 5 weeks of daily 5-to-16-minute training sessions in focused-attention meditation ("Relax with your eyes closed, and focus on the flow of your breath…"), research subjects showed strong brain-wave changes associated with positive emotions, says a team led by Christopher A. Moyer of the University of Wisconsin. The findings suggest that the benefits of meditation may be more accessible than was previously believed, the researchers say.

Read more at SagePub.

HBR Daily Stat: Would You Recommend Your Job to Your Children?

67% of people in agriculture and ranching say they'd recommend their jobs to their offspring—by far the highest percentage of any industry, according to an online survey of nearly 3,000 respondents by Salary.com.

The next highest are professional services (44%), IT (43%), health care (42%), energy and utilities (41%), engineering and design (36%), education (36%), and arts and media (36%).

The workers least likely to recommend their jobs to their kids are in hospitality and tourism (25%), finance and banking (24%), and retail (18%). Overall, just 36% say they'd recommend their line of work to the next generation.

Read more at Salary.

Academic ‘Dream Team’ Helped Obama’s Effort

A team of elite behavioral economists subtly influenced Obama's political campaign this year. Read more in the NYT. (Thanks, Alessia)

It's a more polished take on "5 Ways to Hack Voter's Brains."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect

"Sure, we have powerful jobs, well-run homes, and perfect children. But we're still not making it to the very top. There are things we can learn from the rest of the world."

Read the full DailyBeast article. (Thanks, James)

Angelina Jolie: We All Are Malala

"I told my kids—and you should too: Girls’ education is under threat in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and around the world. It’s time we all took a stand."

This is why I admire Angelina Jolie. Read her piece at the DailyBeast.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

People Lose Their Sh*t in Hilarious Haunted House Photos Part Two


These pictures are hilarious! See more at WIRED(Thanks, Chrissy)

Top 10 Things Women in Business Should Know

Check out Whitney Gretz's article in the HBS Student Newspaper.

France: Free Abortions for Teenagers

The lower house of the French Parliament voted on Friday to fully reimburse all abortions and to make contraception free for minors from the age of 15 to 18. France’s national medical insurance pays for abortions for minors and the poor, while other women are reimbursed for up to 80 percent of the procedure’s cost, which can be as much as $580. Contraception is partly reimbursed. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to pass.

Read the NYT article. (Thanks, Alessia)

Asana: the modern way to work together


New tool to minimize the times spent on busy-work and management. Great video! (Thanks, Howie)

EconomicInclusion.gov


EconomicInclusion.gov is a treasure-trove of US-based unbanked and underbanked data by state and region.

They also recently posted the 2011 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked households.

(Thanks, Nate and JJ)

Banking on Opportunity

Since its successful inception in 2006 in the city of San Francisco, the Bank On model has gained support from state and local officials across the U.S. as a way of bringing unbanked and underbanked consumers into the financial mainstream. In addition to connecting unbanked individuals to low-cost accounts, Bank On initiatives involve efforts to raise public awareness, provide targeted outreach, and expand access to financial education.

The appeal of Bank On is straightforward: it addresses the widely-recognized challenge of financial access through interventions that are low-cost and responsive to the needs of both consumers and providers of basic financial services. There are currently dozens of communities that have implemented Bank On initiatives, and many more are planned

Check out the scan of Bank On opportunities (from 2011). (Thanks, Nate)

Banking on Wealth: America’s New Retail Banking Infrastructure and Its Wealth-Building Potential

The $100 billion size of the high-cost non-bank basic financial services industry, including check cashers, payday lenders, and pawnshops, points to the high demand for basic financial services among low- and moderate-income customers. Alternative products sold by banks could meet those consumer needs, while also creating an opportunity for households to convert their current spending on high-cost services into savings and even wealth.

To explore that potential, this study conducts a comprehensive review of the location of all basic retail financial services firms to determine their accessibility to low- and moderate-income consumers. The study also generates new projections on the potential savings incurred by several scenarios of hypothetical unbanked workers if efforts were made to transfer their high-cost fees into savings or investment vehicles. The study finds:

  • Moderate- and lower-income households pay over $8 billion in fees to non-bank checkcashing and short-term loan providers to meet their basic financial services needs
  • Over 90 percent of these non-bank basic financial service providers are located within one mile of a bank or credit union branch
  • Despite popular perception, bank and credit union branches are more likely to be located in low-income and lower middle-income neighborhoods than non-bank financial services providers
  • A full-time worker without a checking account could potentially save as much as $40,000 during his career by relying on a lower-cost checking account instead of check-cashing services.


Read the 2008 Brookings Institute Report. (Thanks, Nate)

With 2 Big Deals Approaching, Rosneft Stands to Become a Global Oil Power

Russia appears poised to approve deals that would all but double the size of the state oil company Rosneft, bringing more than half of the country's oil industry under government control for the first time since the early 1990s and creating a new player on the world stage. At the heart of the maneuvering is the country's third-largest oil company, TNK-BP, which is a joint venture between the British oil giant BP and four Russian billionaires. Rosneft is negotiating to buy out one or both partners.

If both deals happen, Rosneft would become the world's largest publicly traded oil company in terms of crude-oil production, with the Russian government as the majority owner. However, the shift of BP's Russian operations from private to state hands is fraught with risks, both for the company and the Russian industry more broadly. For instance, Rosneft's expansion could tempt the Russian government to use it strategically, just as Aramco, the Saudi Arabian company, is used to influence oil prices

Read more in the NYT.

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 .