Monday 17th February 2020
  • People Born Blind Are Mysteriously Protected From Schizophrenia

    The possible explanations could help us better understand the condition.

    It was something Tom Pollak had heard whispers about - an odd factoid, referred to now and again, usually with bewilderment: No person who was born blind has ever been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

    Over the past 60-some years, scientists around the world have been writing about this mystery. They've analyzed past studies, combed the wards of psychiatric hospitals, and looked through agencies that treat blind people, trying to find a case.

    As time goes on, larger data sets have emerged: In 2018, a study led by a researcher named Vera Morgan at the University of Western Australia looked at nearly half a million children born between 1980 and 2001 and strengthened this negative association. Pollak, a psychiatrist and researcher at King's College London, remembered checking in the mental health facility where he works after learning about it; he too was unable to find a single patient with congenital blindness who had schizophrenia.

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  • After the Honeymoon Ends: Making Corporate-Startup Relationships Work

    Accelerating market forces are pressuring even well-established companies to innovate and tap new markets in order to stay ahead of the competition. While many corporates have been content to pursue internal, incremental change in response to global competition and disruptive technologies, others have boosted their innovation engines by collaborating with startups. These relationships give corporates access to startups' creativity, new ways of working, and proficiency with new technologies. In return, startups gain access to corporates' markets, customers, and industry expertise - and the reputational boost of working with major industry players.

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  • How to (Literally) Clean Your Brain

    What the past decade of glymphatic research tells us about sleep and its important implications for brain health

    The brain: whether you give it credit or not, the soft gelatinous mass floating in your skull is responsible for life as you know it. At this moment, your brain is simultaneously maintaining your breathing and heart rate, while turning these black squiggles on a screen into coherent words and thoughts.

    The brain is a workhorse and a hungry one at that. While accounting for approximately 2% of the average adult's weight, it accounts for 20% of its energy consumption, more than any other organ.

    Go ahead and give your brain a mental compliment and then think about how meta that was. Fascinated yet? You're not alone. Neuroscience research is booming.

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  • Want to scale your business? Think small instead.

    We often think of the possibilities of an idea before we expand on it. If it's too small, it sounds boring, unexciting - we think: this won't work, I'll probably only have 10 customers. I need something bigger.

    I recently listened to a Tim Ferris podcast episode by Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn and Brian Chesky of Airbnb and here are the really useful insights I gained.

    The truth is, it's really hard to get even 10 people to love something.

    But if you spend enough time with them, it's not that hard. So, learn what people love. Sit in the shoes of a child about to play building blocks, the user of your product, the one paying for your service. Design with empathy.

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  • Understanding the leader's 'identity mindtrap': Personal growth for the C-suite

    If you're shackled to who you are now, you can't recognize - or reach for - who you might become next

    Millions of years of evolution have shaped our brains, with nature selecting for many adaptive and energy-saving, if imperfect, shortcuts. Some are easy to spot - for example, how we systematically fall for optical illusions and how our loss-aversion reflex biases our choices. Other ancient shortcuts trip us up in subtler, more personal ways.

    A CEO named Hans experienced this firsthand as he debriefed his executive team on what he'd learned at his leadership retreat. Hans gestured to a printout - a feedback report drawn from a combination of psychometric tests and 360-degree feedback. He told the team that the report found him intelligent, passionate, and purpose led. However, he added, he was also seen as too controlling, prone to quick judgments, and mostly certain of the rightness of his own opinions.

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  • Why I quit being a Startup Dad

    At the age of 49, I had to face it. I am not Elon Musk. There was no way I could do the startup thing and at the same time take care of four little ones. I have been trying for some time, just to realize there is no way I can provide security and stability, while being out there exploring new frontiers. Startups are for kamikaze pilots. And while some may survive (even thrive) most will perish, and without the glory attached.

    I know this because I have been an entrepreneur for 20+ years. I have had success and failure. I have done the startup thing more than once. I have worked for years without being paid properly. I have had to pay the hired people before providing for myself. I even did that while having kids.

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  • The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age

    Executives around the world are out of touch with what it will take to win, and to lead, in the digital economy. Digitalization, upstart competitors, the need for breakneck speed and agility, and an increasingly diverse and demanding workforce require more from leaders than what most can offer.

    Although a significant segment of the current generation of leaders might be out of touch, they still have control - over strategic decisions, who gets hired and promoted, and the culture of their organizations - but not for long. The need for change is urgent, and time is running out for leaders who are holding on to old ways of working and leading.

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  • How to dramatically lower your customer acquisition costs? Move from funnels to flywheels

    One of the most used structures are the sales and marketing funnels. This structure reflects a flow we need to "push" our customer through. There is a nearly complete and unnatural separation between the sales and marketing funnels as they are often viewed side by side or one on top of the other. However, in reality marketing tends to nurture sales throughout the process. Therefore, the natural progression is a more intertwined relationship between the two.

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  • What 15 Years of Y Combinator Investments Can Teach Us About Startups

    There are thousands of smart people who could start companies and don't, and with a relatively small amount of force applied at just the right place, we can spring on the world a stream of new startups that might otherwise not have existed.
    - Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator

    I recently wrote a recommendation letter for a former co-worker who wanted to change careers by going back to school. Not just any school but a very specific world-class, prestigious institution with an acceptance rate in the low single digits. Harvard or Stanford MBA you might guess? Nope, something even harder to get into: Y Combinator. Entering its 15th year of operation, Y Combinator (or YC for short), has put over 2,000 companies through its program and produced 100 companies valued at over $150 million and 19 companies valued at over $1 billion.

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  • Why Hiring 'Rebel Talent' Is the Best Way to Grow Your Business

    By their very definition, rebels represent a threat to a leader who has a command-and-control mentality. Such leaders issue commands to their workers and reward the people who carry out those commands the most effectively. If you are such a leader, it seems to me that you'll have trouble hiring rebels and letting them do their thing.

    Companies that encourage rebel talent -- who share five traits: novelty, curiosity, perspective, diversity, and authenticity -- achieve better outcomes. For instance, Francesca Gino, (the Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School) cites studies that tie novelty to engagement at work. A case in point is Pal's Sudden Service, a burger chain in Tennessee and Virginia known for fast service and low turnover, where employees are continually challenged to do new tasks.

    Here are three principles leaders should follow to get the benefits of rebel talent:

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