Saturday 25th May 2019
  • Bridgewater Investments Founder Ray Dalio: Invest in Idea Meritocracy


    The investment icon says a system of thoughtful disagreement creates competitive advantage.

    Ray Dalio has had a lot of jobs. But the one he's best known for is founder and current co-CIO and cochair of Bridgewater Investments, the most successful hedge fund in history and one of Fortune's five most important private American companies. He has been called the "Steve Jobs of investing" and named one of Time's Most Influential People. Dalio has also written the bestseller Principles: Life and Work and, more recently, Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises.

    The investor and philanthropist spoke to Stanford GSB students in April as part of the school's 'View From The Top' series.

    Born in Queens, New York, to a jazz musician and a homemaker, Dalio made his first stock market investment at age 12 - in a company verging on bankruptcy. "Another company acquired it, and it tripled in value," he says. "I thought, 'This game is easy!' The game's not easy, but that's what got me hooked."

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  • Work Like the Client Is "You in Two Years"


    When I had a job, it was easy to know how much work to do in a day: somewhere between as much as I could, and as little as I could without someone calling me out on it.

    Now I'm my own employer, and that clear standard for "a respectable day's work" is gone. I'm constantly negotiating with myself over how hard to work, when to tackle the trickiest tasks, and when to take time off.

    I realize that many people, both employees and self-employees, don't have this problem. They work as hard as they reasonably can every day. These people get a lot done, and face problems of burnout and obsession, rather than lack of productivity.

    This article is not for them. It's for those of you who perpetually struggle to get the important things done, especially when there's flexibility in what and how much you do on a given day: entrepreneurs, novelists, inventors, or really anybody aspiring towards something that may or may not happen.

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  • The curse of genius


    We see exceptional intelligence as a blessing. So why, asks Maggie Fergusson, are so many brilliant children miserable misfits?

    Tom remembers the day he decided he wanted to be a theoretical astrophysicist. He was deep into research about black holes, and had amassed a box of papers on his theories. In one he speculated about the relationship between black holes and white holes, hypothetical celestial objects that emit colossal amounts of energy. Black holes, he thought, must be linked across space-time with white holes. I put them together and I thought, oh wow, that works! That's when I knew I wanted to do this as a job. Tom didn't know enough maths to prove his theory, but he had time to learn. He was only five.

    Tom is now 11. At home, his favourite way to relax is to devise maths exam papers complete with marking sheets. Last year for Christmas he asked his parents for the £125 registration fee to sit maths GCSE, an exam most children in Britain take at 16. He is currently working towards his maths A-level. Tom is an only child, and at first Chrissie, his mother, thought his love of numbers was normal. Gradually she realised it wasn't. She would take him to lectures about dark matter at the Royal Observatory in London and notice that there were no other children there. His teacher reported that instead of playing outside with other kids at breaks, he wanted to stay indoors and do sums.

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  • Stoicism: Practical Philosophy You Can Actually Use


    When most people think of "philosophy," their eyes glaze over. It's the last thing they want, let alone something they need.

    But this, as you already know, is silly and naive.

    Philosophy is not just about talking or lecturing, or even reading long, dense books. In fact, it is something men and women of action use - and have used throughout history - to solve their problems and achieve their greatest triumphs. Not in the classroom, but on the battlefield, in the Forum, and at court.

    It was jotted down (and practiced) by slaves, poets, emperors, politicians and soldiers, as well as ordinary folks to help with their own problems and those of their friends, family and followers. This wisdom is still there, available to us.

    Specifically, I am referring to Stoicism, which, in my opinion, is the most practical of all philosophies.

    A brief synopsis on this particular school of Hellenistic philosophy: Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC, but was famously practiced by the likes of Epictetus, Cato, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. The philosophy asserts that virtue (such as wisdom) is happiness and judgment be based on behavior, rather than words. That we don't control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.

    But at the very root of the thinking, there is a very simple, though not easy, way of living. Take obstacles in your life and turn them into your advantage, control what you can and accept what you can't.

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  • 'True Gen': Generation Z and its implications for companies


    Long before the term 'influencer' was coined, young people played that social role by creating and interpreting trends. Now a new generation of influencers has come on the scene. Members of Gen Z - loosely, people born from 1995 to 2010 - are true digital natives: from earliest youth, they have been exposed to the internet, to social networks, and to mobile systems. That context has produced a hypercognitive generation very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information and with integrating virtual and offline experiences.

    As global connectivity soars, generational shifts could come to play a more important role in setting behavior than socioeconomic differences do. Young people have become a potent influence on people of all ages and incomes, as well as on the way those people consume and relate to brands.

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  • It's people, not technology, that will decide the future of work


    As a trade union leader, I am often asked about the impending catastrophic impact of technology on jobs. Are the more extreme estimates of job loss credible or is the reality more nuanced? Are we heading towards a data dystopia or on the road to a digital promised land?

    In truth, nothing is written in stone. Technology itself will not determine the way forward. It’s all about the choices that governments, businesses, workers and their unions and societies as a whole make.

    The accelerating march of digitalisation, robotics and a plethora of technological innovations will affect production, services and life in general - in ways that are hard to predict but which will surely be profound. The challenge is to make the right decisions, putting people at the centre and technology at the service of people.

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  • Resonance: How to Open Doors For Other People


    It's only polite.

    Hold the door open for others, and they will open doors for you.

    We biologically need to connect: limbic resonance is a term used by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon in their book A General Theory of Love, to express the ability to share deep emotional states. The limbic lobe of the brain is what make a mammalian brain what it is. Without it, a mammal would be reduced to a reptilian brain with the similarly cold, unblinking attitude of a snake or lizard. This is why reptiles are often felt to be scary - unreachable and heartless. They do not care for even their own young.

    Resonance is not only a mammalian ability but an outright necessity. Our infants will die if not provided with the warmth of connection with another being, despite being provided with all their physiological needs: shelter, food, and water. This has been illustrated in somewhat inhumane 13th-century human ‘experiments’ by Frederick the Great depriving babies of human connection and more recently by Harry Harlow in rhesus monkeys. Baby monkeys choose to spend 17 hours a day with a soft, cloth mother that does not provide food compared to only one hour a day with a wire mother that actually provides milk. Connection is a far superior sustenance.

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  • Sorry Not Sorry


    Lots of us have heard the advice that we should stop apologizing so much, especially at work. But do women really say "sorry" too often? And will it actually help our careers if we stop? We turn to two experts for insight.

    Karina Schumann, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, summarizes the findings from her study "Why Women Apologize More Than Men." Then we talk with Sally Helgesen, an executive coach and a coauthor of the book How Women Rise. She explains that saying "sorry" is only one form of the minimizing language women use at the office and shares advice on how to break the habit.

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  • To Outsource, or Not to Outsource?


    Fact or fiction? Third-party manufacturing services can make supply chains more efficient. The answer varies from company to company and product to product, but many leadership teams will never know because they assume outsourcing is more expensive and overlook its strategic potential. Most companies use third-party manufacturers only to solve short-term capacity constraints.

    That's a missed opportunity. Best-in-class manufacturers are discovering that a thoughtful approach to outsourcing can help increase their competitive edge. In fact, buying a product instead of making it may prove more efficient once leadership teams add up all the costs of in-house production, many of which are hidden. One example is the added organizational complexity that comes with building and managing production lines as part of a broader network. Leaders also know that outsourcing can improve quality and reduce time to market. To get to the correct answer for each product, executive teams need to analyze all of these factors.

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  • Why 'Find Your Passion' Is Such Terrible Advice


    Prepare for a hard truth: We're pretty bad at most things when we first try them.

    Are you passionate about your work? Fulfilled in every aspect of your career?

    If yes, congratulations! You've done what we all strive for but rarely achieve.

    As for the rest of us, there’s hope: Part of why we haven't found our passion yet is that we tend to give up quickly on new things. The reason? Prepare for a hard truth: We're pretty bad at most things when we first try them.

    People "often assume that their own interest or passion just needs to be 'found' or revealed. Once revealed, it will be in a fully formed state," said Paul A. O'Keefe, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. Nonsense, of course, he said.

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