Advertisements

How Wal-Mart Became the World’s Biggest Retailer

How Wal-Mart Became the World’s Biggest Retailer

By Alex Planes
July 2, 2013 | Comments (1)

On this day in economic and business history…

The first Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) opened its doors in Rogers, Arkansas on July 2, 1962. At this point in his life, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton had already racked up over two decades of experience as a retailer. He got his start in the industry as a management traineein one of J.C. Penney‘s (NYSE: JCP  ) Iowa stores in 1940. Penney’s focus on maximizing the value of a customer’s visit goes a long way toward explaining Walton’s lifelong obsession with making his own store experiences better through research and observation. Five years later, Walton purchased his first store, a Ben Franklin five-and-dime in Newport, Arkansas with a $20,000 from his father-in-law. Walton took the unprofitable Ben Franklin and turned it into that company’s biggest success in Arkansas, learning along the way that lower prices and proper in-store marketing techniques can make a world of difference in the brutally competitive retail industry. Read more of this post

Advertisements

Do Bigger Desks Make People Dishonest? Putting people in that big corner office might not be a business strategy that helps the rest of us

Do Bigger Desks Make People Dishonest?

Putting people in that big corner office might not be a business strategy that helps the rest of us.

We know that people in large corner offices sometimes do bad things. Could the size of the space actually be one cause?

If you’re skeptical about a link between office size and dishonest behavior (and we were), take a look at a new study from Columbia, MIT, Northwestern, Harvard and Berkeley. Across four experiments, it finds that certain expansive environments make people feel more powerful, and that this sense of power can lead to dishonesty. The researchers aren’t saying all people who get big offices go out and rob banks. But they do show environment is relevant, and that might be worth thinking about (for instance, if you’re moving to a new space).  Read more of this post

Fund management: The rise of smart beta

Fund management: The rise of smart beta

Terrible name, interesting trend

Jul 6th 2013 |From the print edition

INVESTORS face a quandary. Cash offers a return of virtually zero in many developed countries; government-bond yields may have risen in recent weeks but they are still unattractive. Equities have suffered two big bear markets since 2000 and are wobbling again. It is hardly surprising that pension funds, insurers and endowments are searching for new sources of return. Step forward “smart beta”, the latest bit of jargon from the fund-management industry. “Alpha” is the skill required to choose individual assets that will outperform the market; “beta” is the return achieved from exposure to the overall market, for example via an index fund. “Smart beta” is an approach that tries to enhance the return from tracking an asset class by deviating from the traditional “cap-weighted” approach, in which investors simply buy shares or bonds in proportion to their market value. The sector is still small: there is just $142 billion in smart-beta funds, compared with more than $2 trillion stashed in hedge funds. But the concept is catching on. According to State Street Global Advisors, smart-beta funds received inflows of $15 billion in the first quarter of 2013, up by 45% on the same period a year earlier. Read more of this post

Back to the drawing-board: Design companies are applying their skills to the voluntary and public sectors

Back to the drawing-board: Design companies are applying their skills to the voluntary and public sectors

Jul 6th 2013 |From the print edition

20130706_WBD000_0

THE office looks like a cross between a Starbucks and a youth club. Bicycles are piled high in racks; there is a ping-pong table in a corner. Young people sit at long pine benches, sipping coffee and poring over laptops, the males looking as if they are taking part in a beard-growing competition. But do not be deceived by the laid-back atmosphere: this is the London branch of one of the world’s most successful design consultancies, IDEO. When it started up in Silicon Valley in 1991 one of its founders, David Kelley, said he did not want to employ more people than could fit in a school bus. Today IDEO has more than 600 employees and offices in eight countries. Read more of this post

Lincoln Mastered Wisdom of Unsent Letter After Gettysburg

Lincoln Mastered Wisdom of Unsent Letter After Gettysburg

Abraham Lincoln, remembered 150 years after a “decisive” battle of the U.S. Civil War, could have excelled in modern-day Washington politics, one of the pre-eminent scholars on the American president says.

“He would be tech savvy, he would lose the beard, he would have some cosmetic surgery, he would make an asset of his height,” historian Harold Holzer said in an interview for Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend. “He was so smart about working with the press, getting the press to work in his behalf, giving out exclusives, and he would have mastered any medium.”

As one measure of Lincoln’s political prowess, Holzer recited an often-told tale of Lincoln thinking twice before dispatching a letter upbraiding his general who defeated the enemy at the Battle of Gettysburg, a turning point for the Northern victory in the Civil War. It was a precursor to the dilemma of hitting the send button on a regrettable email. Read more of this post

How a failed book led to the creation of a new blogging platform

How a failed book led to the creation of a new blogging platform

BY NATHANIEL MOTT 
ON JULY 5, 2013

Claudio Gandelman wanted to write a book. He had been asked to write something about online dating and romance ever since he became the chief executive of Match.com Latin America, and so he reached out to a friend in publishing who might be able to help him get this book published. The only problem was Gandelman’s writing, which would have to be heavily revised by a ghost writer before a book would even become a real possibility. He decided to shelve the project and, like so many other writers whose writing wasn’t quite fit to print, decided to turn to the Web. Read more of this post

Fedspeak: Complex Monetary Policy Spawns Flights of Metaphors; Central Bankers Wax Poetic, Invoking Punch Bowls, Bulls and Scarlett Johansson

Updated July 5, 2013, 6:45 a.m. ET

Fedspeak: Complex Monetary Policy Spawns Flights of Metaphors

Central Bankers Wax Poetic, Invoking Punch Bowls, Bulls and Scarlett Johansson

VICTORIA MCGRANE

At a news conference in mid-June, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke struggled to explain what the Fed is trying to do, attempting this metaphor: “We’re going to be shifting the mix of our tools as we try to land the ship in a smooth way onto the aircraft carrier.” He then turned to automobiles, a favorite of central bankers. Trying to distinguish between reducing the Fed’s monthly bond-buying and raising short-term interest rates, he said the former is “akin to letting up a bit on the gas pedal as the car picks up speed” while the latter is “beginning to apply the brakes.” There is a long tradition of explaining complex monetary policy with metaphors. Back in 1955, in a speech littered with analogies to driving, bomb shelters and school exams, then Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin made popular the line that the duty of the Fed was to take away the punch bowl just as the party gets good. Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: