This Colorful Table Shows Why You Should Diversify Your Emerging Markets Portfolio

This Colorful Table Shows Why You Should Diversify Your Emerging Markets Portfolio

Sam Ro | Mar. 7, 2013, 5:37 AM | 783 | 

If you’re lucky, then you might be able to pick the right stocks that’ll help you beat the major benchmarks.  But most investors who try to be stock pickers end up losing. The same goes for emerging market investors. This is why the best strategy may be to invest in a portfolio of countries rather than just one. Below you’ll find US Funds’ Periodic Table of Emerging Markets, which ranks the annual stock market returns for various emerging markets. “Emerging markets, like all investments, can have wide price fluctuations over time,” they write.  “This table shows the ebb and flow of emerging market countries over the past decade and illustrates the principal of mean reversion — the concept that returns eventually move back toward their mean or average.”

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Study: Walmart Most Popular Place For People To Fall In Love At First Sight

Study: Walmart Most Popular Place For People To Fall In Love At First Sight

March 4, 2013 2:29 PM

HOUSTON (CBS Houston) — Forget online dating. According to one study, people just need to go to Walmart to look for love. A study in February’s Psychology Today reveals that a majority of people in 15 states felt that they fell in love at first sight at Walmart. The study, based on “missed connections” posts found on Craigslist, finds that people in Texas, Florida, Ohio, Montana and North Carolina, among others, believe that they spotted their future husband or wife at the giant retail store. The gym was another popular “missed connection” spot with people from three states believing they saw their future mister or misses there. Other popular places included the supermarket, bar and subway. One of the more surprising ones came from Kansas as people said they fell in love while eating a Big Mac and fries at McDonald’s. Psychology Today’s study was done from data based on each state’s 100 most recent “missed connections” posts on Craigslist.

China’s Top E-Commerce Site to Launch Product Searches Inside WeChat App

China’s Top E-Commerce Site to Launch Product Searches Inside WeChat App

Mar 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM by Steven Millward, in E-commerceMobileSocial Media

Taobao-search-on-WeChat-app

The new ‘Taobao Search’ account inside WeChat app.

The 300-plus million users of China-made messaging app WeChat can already use it for video calls, finding dates, or following brands and celebrities – and soon it will gain another aspect. China’s biggest e-commerce site, Taobao, is testing out a sort of e-commerce search engine insideWeChat. Once up and running, it’ll allow WeChat users to directly message Taobao on their phones by typing a kind of product that they’re looking for; then the app will respond with a link to the desired items. Read more of this post

Yacktman Wins as Heebner Is Too Volatile; Investors rewarded Yacktman, who employs an old-school buy- and-hold strategy, with a wave of deposits that helped swell his fund’s assets almost 30-fold in the past four years

Yacktman Wins as Heebner Is Too Volatile: Riskless Return

Donald Yacktman and Kenneth Heebner both crushed fund rivals over the past 13 years, racking up big gains in an era when stocks went sideways. The difference is Yacktman gave investors a smooth ride, Heebner anything but.

From March 2000 through last month, a span in which the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index returned less than 2 percent a year amid two bear markets, Heebner’s $1.5 billion CGM Focus Fund (CGMFX) had the best gain among large mutual funds that buy U.S. stocks. His clients had to stomach the highest volatility, as the fund went from an 80 percent jump in 2007 to a 48 percent drop in 2008. The $9.6 billion Yacktman Fund (YACKX), fifth by total return, avoided much of the roller-coaster ride to produce the top risk-adjusted return, according to the BLOOMBERG RISKLESS RETURN RANKING.

Investors rewarded Yacktman, who employs an old-school buy- and-hold strategy, with a wave of deposits that helped swell his fund’s assets almost 30-fold in the past four years. The rapid- trading Heebner suffered redemptions that chopped his fund’s size by almost two-thirds since 2008, as customers fled in response to what he calls “lumpy” performance. Read more of this post

How Dollar Diplomacy Spelled Doom for the British Empire

How Dollar Diplomacy Spelled Doom for the British Empire

“The British Empire seems to be running off almost as fast as the American loan,” Winston Churchill thundered before the House of Commons on Dec. 20, 1946. “The haste is appalling.”

As if secretly synchronized, the pillars of empire and the international acceptability of the pound sterling were crumbling in tandem.

In late 1945, President Harry S. Truman’s administration had grudgingly agreed to provide the bankrupt U.K. with a $3.75 billion loan — but on the condition that the pound sterling be made fully convertible to dollars at the rate of $4.03 to the pound by July 15, 1947. This would allow Britain’s colonies and dominions to sell sterling for dollars, satisfying a long- standing demand of U.S. exporters and anti-imperialists while depleting the U.K.’s meager official reserves.

Now dollars hung over every question of how the empire would be dismantled. In February 1946, the great economist John Maynard Keynes had been full of foreboding about the British government’s inertial desire to “cut a dash in the world considerably above our means.” The country, he observed, was “not prepared to accept peacefully and wisely the fact that her position and her resources are not what they once were.” Read more of this post

Where Have China’s Workers Gone? China’s large pool of surplus labor has fueled its rapid industrial growth. Now this “demographic dividend” may be almost exhausted, and its economy reaching a Lewis turning point

Where Have China’s Workers Gone?

March 7 (Bloomberg) – Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are taking over China’s leadership at a time when growth has slackened and labor issues have become more complex.

Reports that businesses such as Foxconn Technology Group are raising wages and struggling to recruit workers in China have intensified debate over just how many surplus workers the country still has. Meanwhile, a boom in college-educated Chinese has raised concerns of an impending threat to U.S. competitiveness. These seemingly disparate concerns about China’s labor force are actually linked by common underlying factors, with critical implications for China’s ability to remain the growth engine of the world.

China’s large pool of surplus labor has fueled its rapid industrial growth. Now this “demographic dividend” may be almost exhausted, and its economy reaching a Lewis turning point: a shift named after the Nobel prize-winning Arthur Lewis, who was the first to describe how poor economies can develop by transferring surplus labor from agriculture to the more productive industrial sector until the point when surplus labor disappears, wages begin to rise and growth slows. Read more of this post

China’s Richer-Than-Romney Lawmakers Show Xi’s Reform Challenge

China’s Richer-Than-Romney Lawmakers Show Xi’s Reform Challenge

The ranks of China’s ultra-wealthy in its legislature swelled 20 percent this year, highlighting the vested interests that may oppose any measures by incoming President Xi Jinping to reduce the nation’s wealth gap.

Ninety members of the National People’s Congress are on a list of China’s 1,000 richest people published by the Shanghai- based Hurun Report, up from 75 last year, according to a review of the data by Bloomberg News. Everyone on the Hurun list had a fortune of at least 1.8 billion yuan ($289.4 million), more than former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The growing presence of wealthy people in the legislature coincides with efforts by Xi to stem corruption and the public display of luxury by officials as he seeks to address concern the Communist Party no longer represents interests of ordinary Chinese. Xi’s task may become more difficult as the rich move to cement their gains through legislation, said Yang Fengchun, an associate professor of government and management at Peking University.

“The National People’s Congress has a lot of rich businesspeople who have the knowledge and the means to make laws, and that’s a privilege the rest of society doesn’t have,” Yang said in a telephone interview. “The common people believe that they can’t protect the rights of the weak.” Read more of this post

China: Interest rate hikes ‘cannot be ruled out’

Interest rate hikes ‘cannot be ruled out’

Updated: 2013-03-07 09:51

By Wang Xiaotian ( China Daily)

Diverse measures could be used to help control inflation, says adviser Read more of this post

Prices of traditional Chinese medicine cordyceps (“caterpillar fungus”) surge out of control; US$19/kg in 1982 to US$142,680/kg

Prices of caterpillar fungus surge out of control

Staff Reporter

  • 2013-03-07

Prices of cordyceps — a traditional Chinese medicine better known in English as caterpillar fungus — have flown skywards in recent years as new buyers in the market purchase in unusually high quantities, the Shanghai-based First Financial Daily reported.

Cordyceps are caterpillars infected with a parasitic fungus, which kills its host in the end. They are mainly collected in the mountains of the frigid Tibetan Plateau during a period of over two months beginning April 20.

With researchers discovering more medicinal value in cordyceps after the 1990s, prices of the top-class medical fungus have skyrocketed from 1982’s 120 yuan (US$19) per kilogram to 1993’s 3,000 yuan (US$482) per kilogram.

Its prices shot up further to 16,000 yuan (US$2,571) per kilogram in 2003, when SARS hit China. As of last year, there were no signs of slowing up as they touched 888,000 yuan (US$142,680) per kilogram in 2012, the newspaper said, Read more of this post

With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection

March 6, 2013

With Positions to Fill, Employers Wait for Perfection

By CATHERINE RAMPELL

unemp

American employers have a variety of job vacancies, piles of cash and countless well-qualified candidates. But despite a slowly improving economy, many companies remain reluctant to actually hire, stringing job applicants along for weeks or months before they make a decision.

If they ever do.

The number of job openings has increased to levels not seen since the height of the financial crisis, but vacancies are staying unfilled much longer than they used to — an average of 23 business days today compared to a low of 15 in mid-2009, according to a new measure of Labor Department data by the economists Steven J. Davis, Jason Faberman and John Haltiwanger. Read more of this post

Internet rumors and xenophobia cost the world’s biggest instant noodle maker Tingyi/Master Kong $2.4 billion

Internet rumors and xenophobia cost the world’s biggest instant noodle maker $2.4 billion

By Gwynn Guilford — 4 hours ago

When most people think “ramen” they think Japan, but that association has landed Master Kong, the world’s biggest instant noodle maker, in a lot of hot water. The company, which is based in Taiwan and listed in Hong Kong, has lost some $2.4 billion in market capitalization after false rumors about its ownership circulated during Japan and China’s showdown over islands in the East China Sea. Japanese products and companies have been hit with damaging boycotts and protests since the crisis began last fall. That’s also when spurious rumors began circulating online that Master Kong’s parent company Tingyi was majority-owned by a Japanese company. Then a mass campaign encouraged a boycott  via internet and SMS, alleging that the Hong Kong-listed noodle-maker had donated ¥300 million to Japan’s purchase of the controversial islands, as reported by Chinese media blog Danwei, which also created this great chart: 

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The smear campaign got its facts wrong—the Japanese instant food company Sanyo owns 33.18% of Tingyi, just behind Taiwan’s Ting Hsin, which owns 33.27%. And the company didn’t make any pledges to buy the islands for Japan. But the facts are little consolation to the company or its investors. Tingyi says the originator of what it calls “Japanese investment-gate” (link in Chinese) was its biggest competitor in the ramen market, Uni-President (which, for its part, denies involvement). But this just goes to show how volatile a mix of social media, misinformation, and xenophobia can be—even before you add the extra spicy packet.

For App Makers, China Is Untapped and Untamed

Updated March 6, 2013, 7:29 p.m. ET

For App Makers, China Is Untapped and Untamed

The biggest app makers are increasingly setting their sights on China, as the internationalization of the apps business creates no only greater opportunities for developers but also heightened risks, Scott Austin reports. Photo: Getty Images.

By JESSICA E. LESSIN

China is emerging as the next battleground for global app makers—but cracking the world’s largest smartphone market is proving to be vexing.

App makers must navigate dozens of app stores with looser rules than in the U.S., fend off a proliferation of cloned apps, and steer around a thicket of regulations and intense competition from local developers.

What’s more, companies that charge for their apps are finding they need to get more creative about business models in China since users there are accustomed to getting most digital content free. Read more of this post

From chair maker to chairman of Index Group ($300m sales): Leading with trust; “Trust is a key element of leadership quality. We should trust our team members for their honesty and be able to let them trust us as well,”

From chair maker to chairman: Leading with trust

Published: 7 Mar 2013 at 00.00’Just responding to the competition is not enough. We have to bear in mind all the time that we need to keep our business growing,” says Pisith Patamasatayasonthi, the president and chief executive of Index Living Mall Co Ltd. “Since Index was established in 1973, I have tried to expand the business in different aspects in order to grow and be competitive at all times.”

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Pisith: Managing people is key

A modest and soft-spoken executive, Mr Pisith says he learned the value of constantly seeking new ideas through his own work experience, especially when dealing with foreign customers. “I came from a small family retail business upcountry,” he says. “My first product was a folding chair. Although I’m not a carpenter myself, I was able to manage and work through my people, who were experienced chair makers. “At this very early stage of my own business, I saw clearly that the rule of management _ whether one is a small retailer or a chair maker _ is the same, which is effective management of people. However, managing through people is not as easy as it seems to be.” Read more of this post

Former Thai DPM and chief economic architect Somkid: “The country is like a Monet painting – nice to look at from a distance but just a blur at closer inspection”; Thailand may become a country without a future if its leaders continue to overlook visionary and sustainable development

Somkid scathing on ‘lip service’ of populist govt

JEERAPONG PRASERTPOLKRUNG
THE NATION March 7, 2013 1:00 am

Thailand may become a country without a future if its leaders continue to overlook visionary and sustainable development, Somkid Jatusripitak, a former deputy prime minister, said on Tuesday.

“The country is like a Monet painting – nice to look at from a distance but just a blur at closer inspection,” he said, referring to French impressionist Claude Monet, who died in 1926.

Somkid was a guest speaker at an event to mark the 58th anniversary of the Thai Journalists Association. On the surface, the Thai economy is at the forefront of Asean countries, he said. But underneath the apparent success story lurk worrisome trends that could lead to decay. Read more of this post

Bosowa boss Aksa Mahmud tells of humble beginnings; Aksa always insists that his children gain people’s trust. “I will not be very sad if they become poor, but it will break my heart to find out that they cannot be trusted by people,” he said. “It will also shorten my life.”

Bosowa boss tells of humble beginnings, rivalry with Kalla

Tassia Sipahutar, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Wed, March 06 2013, 10:59 AM

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Family affairs: (From left to right) Bosowa Corporation founder Aksa Mahmud, wife Ramlah and eldest child Erwin celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary in Makassar, South Sulawesi, in this file photo. Established in 1973, Bosowa is now one of the country’s major companies, with strong presence in eastern Indonesia. (Antara/Yusran Uccang)

Aksa Mahmud, founder of conglomerate Bosowa Corporation, is a self-made businessman. Despite his lack of business education, he managed to build a US$1.2 billion business empire from scratch and became one of the nation’s richest people.

Aksa developed his business sense at an early age while growing up in a small village in Lapasu, South Sulawesi.

“I have always wanted to make my own money. At school, I used to sell candy, cakes, whatever snacks I could get my hands on. I also sold ice blocks and dates during the fasting month,” the 67-year-old said while sipping coffee at his Aryaduta hotel in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

At present, Bosowa is one of the most successful companies in the country, with a strong presence in the eastern part of Indonesia. It spans a wide variety of sectors, from infrastructure to finance.

It currently runs a cement business through PT Semen Bosowa Indonesia and PT Semen Bosowa Maros, a car dealership with Mitsubishi and Mercedes-Benz brands, and a transportation business with taxi and air services. Bosowa also holds 14.3 percent and 21.7 percent stakes in the publicly listed PT Nusantara Infrastructure and PT Bank QNB Kesawan, respectively. Read more of this post

The Dirty Laundry of Employee Award Programs: Evidence from the Field

The Dirty Laundry of Employee Award Programs: Evidence from the Field

Timothy Gubler Washington University in Saint Louis – John M. Olin Business School

Ian Larkin Harvard Business School – Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit

Lamar Pierce Washington University, Saint Louis – John M. Olin School of Business

February 11, 2013
Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 13-069 

Abstract: 
Many scholars and practitioners have recently argued that corporate awards are a “free” way to motivate employees. We use field data from an attendance award program implemented at one of five industrial laundry plants to show that awards can carry significant spillover costs and may be less effective at motivating employees than the literature suggests. Our quasi-experimental setting shows that two types of unintended consequences limit gains from the reward program. First, employees strategically game the program, improving timeliness only when eligible for the award, and call in sick to retain eligibility. Second, employees with perfect pre-program attendance or high productivity suffered a 6-8% productivity decrease after program introduction, suggesting they were demotivated by awards for good behavior they already exhibited. Overall, our results suggest the award program decreased plant productivity by 1.4%, and that positive effects from awards are accompanied by more complex employee responses that limit program effectiveness.

Cash levels in Brokerage accounts approach lowest levels in history! This is America, Now: The Dow Hits a Record High With Household Income at a Decade Low

Cash levels in Brokerage accounts approach lowest levels in history!

Posted by Chris Kimble on 03/02/2013 at 7:01 am; This entry is filed under Negative Net worthS&P 500.

The awesome chart below was created by  Doug Short, reflecting that a “ton of cash has disappeared in investors pockets this past month!”

negnetworthdshortmar21

Negative Net Worth = “Free Credit Cash accounts (cash available to spend/invest quickly) minus Margin Debt.” The chart Doug put together reflects a rapid decline in available cash/net worth this past month. Read more of this post

Steven Ujifusa on William Francis Gibbs and His Ships; A Man and His Ship: America’s Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the SS United States; what led Gibbs to build ships and how the builder’s firm became responsible for 70% of all ships built during WWII

Steven Ujifusa on William Francis Gibbs and His Ships

Published : March 06, 2013 in Knowledge@Wharton

Man-and-His-Ship

Named one of TheWall Street Journal‘s top 10 nonfiction books of 2012, Steven Ujifusa’s A Man and His Ship: America’s Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the SS United States brings William Francis Gibbs’ story to life. Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor G. Richard Shell recently sat down with Ujifusa to learn more about what inspired the author to tell Gibbs’ story, what led Gibbs to build ships and how the builder’s firm became responsible for 70% of all ships built during World War II. Read more of this post

Talking It Out: The New Conversation-centered Leadership; Leadership Conversations is part of a growing recognition that the so-called “command and control” model of organizational leadership is fast becoming outdated in today’s world

Talking It Out: The New Conversation-centered Leadership

Published : March 06, 2013 in Knowledge@Wharton

Every year, hundreds of thousands of new graduates enter the business world, eager to climb the corporate ladder. Their progress on the early rungs of that journey will often be determined by qualities like hard work, determination, knowledge and technical proficiency. But business consultants Alan S. Berson and Richard G. Stieglitz argue that those same qualities prove less helpful at higher rungs on the ladder, and may even be one’s downfall if they are not balanced by a very different set of leadership qualities. They sum up the thesis of their new book, Leadership Conversations: Challenging High-Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders, like this: “As you move into upper leadership levels, your technical skills — what you know — become less important. What counts is whom you know and, perhaps more important, who knows and trusts you.”

The importance of building strong working relationships within an organization may seem self-evident. But Berson and Stieglitz go well beyond a call to establish and maintain open lines of communication. The kind of conversations they are advocating for are not simply talk for talk’s sake. Rather, they are the heart and soul of any thriving organization’s culture: a strategic tool incorporating very specific techniques toward very specific ends.

A Changed Environment

Leadership Conversations is part of a growing recognition that the so-called “command and control” model of organizational leadership is fast becoming outdated in today’s world. The reasons for this shift are many. Today’s business environment is increasingly global, diverse, fluid and unpredictable. Technological change and the rise of social media have fundamentally altered the way companies interact with their customers. Rigidly hierarchical organizations risk losing ground to more nimble, collaborative ones. Read more of this post

Michael Mauboussin on the ‘Success Equation’

Michael Mauboussin on the ‘Success Equation’

Published : March 06, 2013 in Knowledge@Wharton

How do we know which of our successes and failures can be attributed to either skill or luck? That is the question that investment strategist Michael J. Mauboussin explores in his book The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing.Wharton management professor Adam M. Grant recently sat down with Mauboussin to talk about the paradox of skill, the conditions for luck and how to avoid overconfidence.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Adam M. Grant: Michael, we’re delighted to have you here today to talk about your book The Success Equation…. I would love to hear you speak a little bit about this paradox of skill that you have discovered and the relationship between luck and skill.

Mauboussin: Let me first tell you what the definition of the “paradox of skill” is. Specifically, it says that in activities where skill and luck define outcomes, as skill improves, luck becomes more important in determining outcomes. [By that definition,] more skill means more luck, which seems very paradoxical. It’s not my idea. I learned about it from Stephen Jay Gould, the very eminent biologist at Harvard. He talked about it in the context of Ted Williams, the last player to hit over 400 in major league baseball, which he did in 1941. Gould was wondering why no one has been able to achieve over 400 since that time. He looked at [variables such as] maybe because the guys play at night, or they travel too much. Really, none of those things checked out. Then he said, maybe Williams is just this amazing player — an immortal among mortals…. But if you look at every other sport, for example, things measured against the clock — there has been absolute performance everywhere you look, so that doesn’t seem to be the case. Then he thought about it more carefully, and he realized the actual result is because everyone’s gotten better, and as a result, the standard deviation of skill has actually narrowed. If you think about batting average for your season and your player, some level of skill plus some level of luck gives you your outcome. What’s happened generally is that the standard deviation of skill has gone down. Why? Because you’re recruiting players from the world now, versus from just parts of the United States. You’re training better. You’re coaching better — all those kinds of things….

The point is this paradox of skill. We’ve seen the differential skill narrowing. We see it really all over the place. We see it in the world of investing. We see it in the world of business. I think it is very interesting. As skill improves, especially in competitive markets, luck becomes more important determining outcomes. Read more of this post

Daniel Pink on Why ‘To Sell Is Human’

Daniel Pink on Why ‘To Sell Is Human’

Published : March 06, 2013 in Knowledge@Wharton

Bestselling author Daniel Pink’s new book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others, argues we are all in the sales business. Whether you are an educator, an art director or a project manager, part of your work involves convincing people to make an exchange. Pink recently visited the University of Pennsylvania as a guest lecturer in the Authors@Wharton series, and also teaches in Wharton’s Advanced Management Program. Wharton management professor Adam M. Grant interviewed Pink while he was there to learn more about the ideas in his book, including why consumers mistrust salespeople, what the new ABCs of selling are and why questions may be the greatest selling tool.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Adam M. Grant: We’re excited to have you here to discuss your new book, To Sell Is Human. Could you start off by talking to us a little bit about why we are all in sales?

Daniel Pink: There are a couple of animating ideas in the book, Adam. One of them is that — like it or not — we’re all in sales. If you look at the labor data, one in nine people in the economy today make a living selling stuff. They are car dealers, real estate agents. But I had an instinct about those other eight in nine. I went out and did some survey research and found that those other eight in nine are people who are nominally in sales. They are managers; they are project team leaders; they are teachers and art directors. They are spending an enormous amount of their time in what I call non-sales selling. They’re selling. They’re convincing you to make an exchange. Give me something you have in exchange for something that I have. But it’s not denominated in dollars. It’s denominated in time; it’s denominated in attention; it’s denominated in effort. If you look at how white-collar workers are spending their time — whether they are in traditional sales or in some other kind of function — a lot of their time and efforts are spent convincing, persuading, cajoling and influencing people. The truth is that when you tell people you’re in sales, a lot of people don’t like it very much at all. Read more of this post

Food for Thought: Why Auntie Anne’s Pretzels Failed in China

Food for Thought: Why Auntie Anne’s Pretzels Failed in China

Published : March 06, 2013 in Knowledge@Wharton

China-Twist

Growing up in Indiana and Washington, D.C., Taiwanese-born Wen-Szu Lin often felt torn between two cultures. When, as a young entrepreneur, he was presented with the opportunity to buy the Chinese franchise rights to Auntie Anne’s, his unique background began to feel like an advantage: Who better than a Chinese-American to sell an American product to Chinese consumers? That advantage didn’t carry the English-speaking, American-educated Lin as far as he thought it would. The China Twist: An Entrepreneur’s Cautious Tales of Franchising in China is the story of his journey. At a time when China’s global economic importance continues to grow, the book provides interesting insights into the challenges — the ones you might expect as well as those you don’t necessarily see coming — of launching a business in a dynamic and rapidly evolving consumer landscape. A year after graduating from Wharton with a degree in entrepreneurial management, Lin was working for a global strategy consulting firm. He enjoyed his job but had recently gotten engaged and was hoping for a position that would afford greater financial stability to his future family. As his academic focus might suggest, he wanted the opportunity to build a business of his own from the ground up. A franchise operation seemed like the perfect place to start, offering the best of both worlds: He would own the territory, but also have the advantage of a proven business model and a built-in support system.

Auntie Anne’s offered an enticing opportunity. Explaining the company’s background and the reasons for his enthusiasm about his entrepreneurial venture, Lin writes: “‘Anne’ of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels is Anne Beiler. In 1988, she began mixing, twisting and baking pretzels and a variety of snacks at a farmer’s market in Downingtown, Pa. One day, Anne and her husband Jonas ran out of raw ingredients to make their typical pretzels, so they used the materials they had left in their kitchen. The change in recipe caused their sales to soar. The pretzels sold so well that they decided to stop selling anything else. The recipe they discovered in 1988 is the same recipe sold today at more than a thousand stores in more than twenty countries….

“In the U.S., the stores became extremely popular in most malls and transportation hubs, so it was proven to make money. Another plus: somehow, the brand had taken on a very nostalgic, comforting feeling. Many consumers could often recall a personal experience with Auntie Anne’s. Few brands could claim this kind of emotional bond. More amazing was that Auntie Anne’s had never invested in any above-the-line advertising (that is, TV, radio, print media, etc.). Their marketing plan was simple: enthusiastic employees offering samples of piping hot pretzels to anyone walking within a few feet of the stores.”

Lin and his partner Joseph Sze believed this approach could potentially make pretzels a huge hit in China. So, with a few investors backing their plans, Lin and Sze acquired franchise rights to introduce Auntie Anne’s Pretzels in China and embarked on their venture in 2008. What followed were four harrowing years of red tape, headaches and cultural clashes. Read more of this post

Empathy, the real measure of a doctor

Empathy, the real measure of a doctor

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There is a hug I will never forget. Our twin babies had been born severely premature and had just breathed their last. An obstetrician not involved in their care, who was just walking past, looked in and stopped. We just hugged quietly; no words were needed.

5 HOURS 10 MIN AGO

There is a hug I will never forget. Our twin babies had been born severely premature and had just breathed their last. An obstetrician not involved in their care, who was just walking past, looked in and stopped. We just hugged quietly; no words were needed.

Medical school deans have identified empathy as the most important attribute they look for in potential doctors. In this era of powerful diagnostics and instant information, the relevance of empathy has never been greater. Expensive machines and elegant consultation rooms do not and cannot offer empathy. Only humans can. Read more of this post

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