5 Habits Of The Most Creative People




What do a startup king, a social network innovator, a hip hop prince, perhaps the best actor on television, and two absolutely hilarious dudes have in common? They’re all among the Most Creative People–and we can learn quite a bit from the way they work.

Max Levchin: Always be asking questions

We talked to PayPal founder Max Levchin about how he keeps snagging startup ideas. Turns out it’s a lot about controlling chaos in ways we’ve discussed about why ideas come at random and why you need to document everything.

Levchin’s method is like this: He talks to tons of random creative people, asks them questions about their craft, takes extensive notes of their quandaries, and then compiles–and reviews–all of his research. What comes out of it? Companies–like his new mobile payment solution Affirm–and loads of paper. Dude has a crate of 200 legal pads sitting in his garage.

Kirthiga Reddy: Go flat

The director of online operations for Facebook India, Kirthiga Reddy has helped growthe social network’s user base from 8 to 71 million users over two years. What did it? A little California import: the flat culture of Silicon Valley, so different than the hierarchical norm in India.

“You’re not here to do just what you’re told,” she says. “You’re here to see gaps and to act upon them.” Read more of this post

Harvard-for-Free Meets Resistance as U.S. Professors See Threat

Harvard-for-Free Meets Resistance as U.S. Professors See Threat

Professors across the U.S. are criticizing a rush to offer free online college courses, challenging a movement designed to spread knowledge and reduce higher-education costs.

Amherst College faculty voted last month against joining an initiative led by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The provost at American University issued a moratorium this month on such massive open online courses, or MOOCs. At San Jose State University, the philosophy department refused to use a free Web course from a Harvard professor.

As college costs soar, professors are concerned that MOOCs may primarily become a way for universities to reduce expenses. Even at Harvard, some faculty members said at a meeting last week that the movement could damage higher education by leading institutions to cut face-to-face instruction. Read more of this post

Massive fund outflow challenges China’s forex management

Massive fund outflow challenges China’s forex management

Staff Reporter


The influx of hot money and outflow of funds via various channels in China underscores the increasing challenge to the country’s foreign exchange management system, reports the Beijing-based China Economic Weekly. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, a multinational real estate service firm, overseas commercial property investments by Chinese investors have jumped by 33% last year to US$4 billion and may reach US$5 billion by the end of this year. The investments coincide with an increase of Chinese nationals choosing to emigrate, a group which totaled more than 150,000 people in 2011. The huge amount of funds flowing out of the nation via various channels are reportedly due to the official restriction on outward forex remittance, which is capped at US$50,000 per person a year. The People’s Bank of China, aware of the futility of efforts to stem the outflow of money, recently summoned representatives from a number of foreign banks, including HSBC, Citibank, Standard Chartered, and DBS, to discuss the establishment of a system governing offshore investments by Chinese nationals, the China Economic Weekly said. The government also discussed the issue during a meeting of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on May 6, and will now aim to monitor cross-border fund movements, which currently evades government inspection. Liu Jinchuan, a financial expert, said that underground channels for fund outflows include underground financiers, assets transferred via trade and investment, money laundering via offshore casinos and offshore bank cards. There are many brokers for overseas investments in Shenzhen, on the border with Hong Kong, with many of them operating as local underground financiers, the paper said. Adi (pseudonym), a money broker, said that the State Foreign Exchange Administration, while capable of controlling the cross-border movement of large amounts of funds, is powerless to regulate the movement of smaller amounts of money, equivalent to several millions or tens of millions of renminbi. Adi said he can remit funds out of the country within half an hour of receiving notice from his clients, for which he charges a fee of 0.8%-1.5%, adding that the transfer of large-scale funds can be carried out in installments. Chinese investors have also been funneling funds abroad via foreign trade, such as bloating import prices or underreporting export prices, especially in the case of hi-tech products. The underground outflow of funds via foreign-trade channels explains in part the increase of Hong Kong’s export value, which shot up by 74.2% year-on-year to US$105.6 billion in the first quarter of this year, much higher than its import figures.

That sighing sound you hear from China… is strategists everywhere cutting their GDP forecasts

That sighing sound you hear from China

Kate Mackenzie

| May 15 09:45 | 1 comment Share

… is strategists everywhere cutting their GDP forecasts. Last week Standard Chartered’s China economist Stephen Green and his team slashed their 2013 forecast to 7.7 per cent from 8.3 per cent. Their 2014 forecast was cut to 7.5 per cent from 8.2 per cent. Today, BAML’s Ting Lu cut to 7.6 for both 2013 and 2014, from 8 per cent and 7.7 per cent, respectively. It seems that April data has dampened any hopes that the Q1 surprise of just 7.7 per cent growth was due to simple base effects such as a missed leap year day or variations in the Chinese New Year holiday. Here are charts of Green et al’s favoured indicators suggesting that this economy won’t be powering back to 8 per cent levels of growth: What went wrong? Green cites a slow and patchy real estate recovery and pressure on local government investment vehicle cash flows, plus slow land sales outside big cities. BAML’s Lu says that, unusually, the quarter-on-quarter rate will keep rising: To be sure, we continue to expect a recovery of sequential growth; however, we have decided to revise down quarterly year-over-year GDP growth as well as annual growth in 2013E. More specifically, we maintain the view that sequential growth (QoQ, seasonally adjusted but not annualized) could bounce from 1.6% in 1Q to around 1.9%-2.0% in 2Q-4Q this year, but we cut quarterly YoY growth to 7.7%, 7.6% and 7.5% in 2Q, 3Q and 4Q (vs 7.7% at 1Q13) from the previous 8.1%, 8.0% and 8.0% respectively. Interesting, but we’re not sure of the significance of the non-annualised quarter-on-quarter figures; it’s true the non-annualised figures have moved around a lot since they were first published a couple of years ago, but most countries give annualised figures so figures like 1.9 per cent growth probably aren’t going to float many people’s boats. Lu however argues that the focus on the year-on-year figures might leave investors overly spooked and, in turn, lead to a more bullish tone if/when the focus shifts. We’re a little more sceptical that the favoured data points change any time soon, considering China’s main quarterly GDP growth number is already quite unusual. Another bullish theory was that the surge in credit growth, particularly in March, might just take some time to generate more growth. Credit data for April however showed that even if that’s the case, it’s not a sustained surge anyway:  Finally, the chance of a renewed stimulus push looks ever less likely (not that many pundits have been openly expecting this anyway). From Bloomberg News: “To achieve this year’s targets, the room to rely on stimulus policies or government direct investment is not big — we must rely on market mechanisms,” Li said in a May 13 speech broadcast to officials around the country, according to a transcript published last night on the central government’s website. Relying on government-led investment for growth “is not only difficult to sustain but also creates new problems and risks,” he said. Incidentally, Green says big stimulus is unlikely unless unemployment begins to look like a problem. Makes sense.


Trade between Hong Kong and Guangdong artificially skewed; Firms inflate trade data to cash in on currency exchange gains

Firms inflate trade data to cash in on currency exchange gains

Staff Reporter


Many Chinese trading firms have been inflating their performance without the knowledge of the local banking system, Shanghai’s First Financial Daily has reported. The news comes in the wake of unusually high import and export data which was recorded during both March and April and prompted China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange to issue a notice that it will enhance inspections of firms’ transactions and adjust policies for goods which leave the country. China’s bilateral trade with Hong Kong jumped 66% year over year for the first four months ending April 30. The mainland’s exports to Hong Kong grew 92.9% in March from the same period a year ago, which is the highest growth reported since March 1995. Many companies are found to have made up or adjusted their import data in order to receive foreign currency loans and increase their credit limit from local banks, the report said. Many banks in China offer currency clearing services for international firms as part of the central government’s policies to help domestic firms expand globally and to internationalize the renminbi. The special clearing service is a win-win for both the companies and the banks. The services generate certain revenue for trading firms, which helps them cut down on overall expenses, and also helps the banking sector earn service fees. Companies have to make a full down payment, which translates into sizable and virtually risk-free deposits for banks, said a risk manager at a bank in Shenzhen, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the issue. The practice may result in the banks’ loose regulations on trading firms’ applications for the clearing service, he said. There is mounting speculation that the growing trading figures might be inflated by companies that routinely moved goods in and out of special trade zones to claim tax rebates. For the first four months ending April 30, exports from Guangdong province rose 35.6% from a year ago. Of that increase, Shenzhen’s share accounted for more than 90% of the growth due to the city’s special trade zones which allow for smoother processing for exports.

Trade between Hong Kong and Guangdong artificially skewed

Staff Reporter


China’s total trade reached 6.12 trillion yuan (US$995 billion) in the first quarter of the year, marking year-on-year growth of 13.4%, after excluding the effects of foreign exchange. The country recorded an 8.4% increase in exports for the quarterly period ending March 31, the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly reports. Read more of this post

Sham shampoo: China’s market for impersonal care products; A 400ml bottle passing itself off as Procter & Gamble’s Pert shampoo sells for 10 yuan (US$1.60) per bottle while the genuine article sells for US$5.30

Sham shampoo: China’s market for impersonal care products

Staff Reporter


The market for personal care products is a breeding ground for knockoffs in China, with manufacturers cashing in on the low costs and high returns involved, reports Shanghai’s First Financial Daily.

Rural areas in Henan, Guizhou and Anhui provinces have become the epicenter for cheap imitations of personal care products. Mo Lei (pseudonym), an Anhui-based entrepreneur who primarily trades in counterfeit goods, said that there are knockoff factories everywhere in China and there are also wholesale markets that primarily deal with fakes.

A 400ml bottle passing itself off as Procter & Gamble’s Pert shampoo sells for 10 yuan (US$1.60) per bottle at local retailers, while the genuine article sells for 32.80 yuan (US$5.30) for the same amount. Read more of this post

Legend Holdings, which owns Lenovo Group, the world’s second-largest PC maker, is planting itself deeper into the agricultural sector with Joyvio Group

Legend puts down deeper roots in agribusiness

Staff Reporter


Legend Holdings, which owns Lenovo Group, the world’s second-largest PC maker, is planting itself deeper into the agricultural sector with Joyvio Group, which specializes in investment in and operation of related businesses in the area of modern agribusiness, the Beijing-based The Economic Observer reports. By using satellite technology to manage its farms, Joyvio can immediately see the condition of its crops. It has installed GPS on its drug-injecting carts to monitor pesticide sprays. Read more of this post

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