Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

Are Older People Less Likely to Start Businesses? It’s All a Matter of Self-Image

Wonder if women have more challenge with the "time running out" component of this argument when they think about the work/family trade-off?
Regardless of chronological age, people who are 1 standard deviation above the norm in “age-based self-image” are significantly more likely to act on entrepreneurial ideas and start their own businesses than those who are below the norm on this measure, according to a survey study led by Teemu Kautonen of Aalto University School of Business in Finland. Age-based self-image is an individual’s view of his or her willingness and ability to engage in the kinds of knowledge-acquisition activities required for pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities. A negative age-based self-image reflects a belief that with time running out and future options limited, it’s better to work on reinforcing social ties than to engage in the hard, risky work of entrepreneurship, the researchers say.
Read more in HBR.

The Personality Traits That Make Us Feel Like Frauds

Read more in HBR.

Thanks, +Cong Ding 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Planet-Saving, Capitalism-Subverting, Surprisingly Lucrative Investment Secrets of Al Gore

"The former vice president has led his [investment] firm to financial success. But what he really wants to do is create a whole new version of capitalism." Read more in the Atlantic.

Thanks, Sam and Steve

Monday, October 19, 2015

Divide and Conquer: How the Essence of Mindfulness Parallels the Nuts and Bolts of Science

Shinzen Young gave a Tech Talk at Google.

Thanks, Apoorva

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

One of the best talks I've seen that explains that not all calories are the same, and how sugar is making us sick.

"Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin." 

Thanks, Apoorva

Monday, October 12, 2015

Why you shouldn’t be surprised that prisoners crushed Harvard’s debate team

An excerpt from the inmate preparing for the competition:
“If we win, it’s going to make a lot of people question what goes on in here,” Alex Hall, a 31-year-old from Manhattan who was convicted of manslaughter, told the Journal. “We might not be as naturally rhetorically gifted, but we work really hard.”
Read more in the Washington Post.

Reminds me of this post in the Atlantic. Thanks, Tom

A little praise goes a long way

A couple excerpts:
It’s time to start fishing for compliments and lapping up praise, because people who are reminded of times they’re at their best are more likely to succeed once again. 
A Harvard Business School working paper, published on Sept. 17, found that praise from friends, family, and colleagues creates “best-self activation,” which leads people to perform at their best. 
...In other words, being stingy with your praise won’t help anyone: “These results suggest that there is considerable lost potential in keeping silent about how others affect us when they are at their best.”
Read more in Quartz.

Is There Really Such a Thing as Equal Parenting?

This piece made me realize how easy it is to slide into the "home warrior" position. Read more in Vogue.

Thanks, +Melody Wang 

No.1 Major for Women at Stanford? It's Now Computer Science

Yay. Now lets see if the "declarations" to be a computer science major will result in a similar level of conferred degrees. Read more in Reuters.

Thanks, +Christine Schatz 

Intro to Computer Science overtakes Econ as Harvard’s most popular class

The students have spoken. Read more in Fortune.

What Really Keeps Women Out of Tech

There a lot of articles about gender diversity in tech. Though this one had two insights that were particularly notable:
The percentage of women studying computer science actually has fallen since the 1980s. Dr. Cheryan theorizes that this decline might be partly attributable to the rise of pop-culture portrayals of scientists as white or Asian male geeks in movies and TV shows like “Revenge of the Nerds” and “The Big Bang Theory.” The media’s intense focus on start-up culture and male geniuses such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates might also have inspired more young men than women to enter the field. 
Men sometimes scoff that if young women let such nebulous factors deter them from careers in physics or computer science, the women are exercising their own free choice, and if girls were tough enough, such exaggerated stereotypes and feelings of discomfort wouldn’t discourage them. 
Yet I wonder how many young men would choose to major in computer science if they suspected they might need to carry out their coding while sitting in a pink cubicle decorated with posters of “Sex and the City,” with copies of Vogue and Cosmo scattered around the lunchroom. In fact, Dr. Cheryan’s research shows that young men tend not to major in English for the same reasons women don’t pick computer science: They compare their notions of who they are to their stereotypes of English majors and decide they won’t fit in.
And this:
At the college level, some fairly simple changes have proved stunningly effective. At Harvey Mudd College, strategies such as creating separate introductory classes for students with no programming experience and renaming courses (“Introduction to programming in Java” became “Creative approaches to problem solving in science and engineering using Python”) led to an increase in the percentage of computer science majors who are female, from 10 to 40 percent, in four years.
Read more in the NYT.

How AI is finding gender biases at work

"Several companies are now using language-and-image processing tech to spot what we humans can't -- or won't." An excerpt:
Sudhof gives this example of how the process can work: "You ask them, ‘Hey, what’s on your mind?’ If they mention work-life culture and kind of the immediate workplace environment, and if they mention them negatively, it’s hugely predictive of very low intent to stay." 
Kanjoya then aggregates the perceived sentiments from employee surveys and crosses it with hard information like demographics, allowing HR to slice into the data by different criteria, including gender. 
If a lot of women mention topics such as leadership and learning in a negative light, that’s a sign the company is not giving women the same opportunities as men, says Sudhof. Another red flag: when topics like attitude and teamwork skills come up more in women’s employee evaluations, while leadership skills show up more in men’s evals.
Read more in FastCompany.

Thanks, +Christine Schatz 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

YC Research

YC is launching a research lab. Read more of the inspiration behind its start in Sam Altman's blog.

These Diagrams Reveal How To Negotiate With People Around The World

So good! Read more in Business Insider.

Thanks, +Jeremy Au 

A Sex Scandal Rocks Stanford’s Business School

This excerpt highlighted on of the great business debates that I've always wondered about:

The day’s keynote, “What it takes to get to the top,” featured a debate between two of the school’s best-known professors. Joel Peterson, who’s also chairman of JetBlue Airways, told a packed auditorium of 800 that trust and respect for others are essential in leadership; intimidation and manipulation always fail in the end. Jeffrey Pfeffer, who’s taught a popular class on power at the school for 36 years, said odds are you can’t be nice, honest, fair, and also successful; the path to power is paved with ruthless self-promotion.
Are you in the Peterson camp or the Pfeffer camp? Read more in Bloomberg.

5-Ways You Can Use Language to Be an Effective Ally to the LGBT Community

Read more on LGBTexcetra.

Thanks, Dave

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Introducing The Information’s Future List

The Information conducted a three-month study with SocialCapital, a VC firm. They had two missions:
First, we wanted to contribute to the discussion around the poor state of diversity in the tech industry by zeroing in on the profiles of the decision-makers. 
Second, we wanted to rank firms based on their ethnic and gender diversity as well as the age of people on their investment teams. We named the rankings 'The Future List' because we believe diversity and age will bear on how well these firms will perform in the future as the talent pool of entrepreneurs grows more diverse.

Here's two excerpts that stuck with me: 
  • Less than one percent of senior VCs involved in investment decision are Black—four of 546 people. And only 1.3% are Hispanic.
  • Of course, it’s easy for a two-partner firm to score very high or low on the ranking. More interesting, perhaps are the rankings of the bigger firms. Y Combinator, for instance, scored top in overall diversity among firms with more than 10 people on its investment team. Its 11-person senior investment team includes four Asian men, a black man and a white woman. A16Z, in contrast, which scored second lowest on big firms, has a single woman and Asian man on its 16-member team. The other 14 are all white men.

Thanks, +Deepa Talwar 

Monday, October 5, 2015

HBR Management Tip: Don’t Make These Common Writing Mistakes

This is a good one:
People judge you by your writing, so getting a word wrong can make you look bad. Be sure to avoid these common writing errors in your next email:
  • Affect/Effect: Affect is a verb; effect is a noun. It affected him. The effect was startling.
  • All Right/Alright: Although alright is gaining ground, the correct choice is still all right.
  • A Lot: A lot is two words, not one. Allot means “to parcel out.”
  • Between You and I: Nope. Between you and me is the correct phrase.
  • Complement/Compliment: Things that work well together complement each other.Compliments are a form of praise.
  • Farther/Further: Farther is for physical distance; further is for metaphorical distance. How much farther? Our plan can’t go any further.
  • Lay/Lie: Subjects lie down; objects are laid down. He should lie down. Lay the reports there.
And remember: If you’re unsure about a word, just write the sentence another way. 

Read more in HBR.

Tech Companies Try to Make More Room for Women

"Slack Technologies is one of several companies pushing to change the industry’s mind-set." Read more in the WSJ.

Thanks, +Daniel Romero 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My unconsciously biased address book

Check out Rick Klau's post on Medium. Takes courage to publish this to the world.

"Don’t become a programmer like me"

Check out Preethi Kasireddy's post in Medium.

994 mass shootings in 1,004 days: this is what America's gun crisis looks like

"The Oregon school shooting is evidence that the US response to gun violence ‘has become routine’, Barack Obama says. The data compiled by the crowd-sourced site Mass Shooting Tracker reveals an even more shocking human toll: there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident – nearly every day"

Read more in the Guardian. This is beyond depressing. Why are we funding so many anti-terrorism campaigns when gun violence is clearly killing more Americans every day?

Google’s ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Becomes Alphabet’s ‘Do the Right Thing’

Hm, peculiar change. Are there any circumstances where being evil could be the "right" thing? Read more in the WSJ.

The model minority is losing patience

"Asian-Americans are the United States’ most successful minority, but they are complaining ever more vigorously about discrimination, especially in academia." Makes sense. Read more in the Economist.

Thanks, +Zuhair Khan 

Deaths Draw Attention to Wall Street’s Grueling Pace

This is sad -- and underscores a problem so many of us have seen first hand. Read more in the NYT.

Thanks, +Zuhair Khan 

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 .