Genius And Insanity: Do You Need To Be Crazy To Be The Best?

AUGUST 19, 2013 by ERIC BARKER

Genius And Insanity: Do You Need To Be Crazy To Be The Best?

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Normally the picture I put before a post is loosely connected to the subject matter. This Dilbert image, however, might really sum things up. 10,000 hours is a lot of hours. crazy amount of hours, one might say. I’ve posted a lot about “deliberate practice” and the work habits of geniuses. They’re relentless.

Via Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

“Sooner or later,” Pritchett writes, “the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.”

Here’s the question:

Is that just something that obsessed, crazy people do? Does this prove the often-theorized connection between genius and insanity?

We assume 10,000 hours of practice means passion or dedication. How often does it just mean stone-cold obsessed?

Brilliant, Famous — And Utterly Obsessed

Steve Jobs? Brilliant and obsessed.

Via America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy That Built a Nation:

He insisted that the walls all be painted white. “No white was too white for Steve,” stated Coleman. Jobs would also don white gloves to do frequent dust checks. Whenever he spotted a few specks on either a machine or on the floor, which he was determined to keep clean enough to eat off, Coleman had to arrange for an instant scrubbing. Read more of this post

How to Make a New Product Unique

How to Make a New Product Unique

Posted: August 13, 2013

Alex Kandybin is a Booz & Company partner, based in New York, specializing in innovation in the consumer products and health care industries. Adam Michaels is the head of North American integrated business planning at Mondelez International, based in East Hanover, N.J. Previously, he was a principal at Booz & Company. Also contributing to this entry were Booz & Company senior executive advisors Shaun Holliday and Marc Robinson.

In a previous blog post, we explained why sustainable consumer product introductions are rare. We said two factors help a company stand out from the competition when introducing a new offering:

1. Unique product attributes (difficult for rivals to copy), in technology, packaging, customer experience, or design

2. Differentiated capabilities that create coherence in your company—an alignment between your business strategy and your portfolio of products

How can this inherently tricky blend be achieved? Kraft, in the food and beverage industry, offers one example. Until 2010, its strategy for launching products fared badly. Kraft tended to invest in small ideas that did not attract customers as expected. As Kraft Foods head of innovation Barry Calpino explained it at a presentation at a Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in February 2013, the company acquired a reputation for poor execution and a lack of vision. Read more of this post

Cash-Poor Companies Feed Investor Hunger for ‘Happy Meals’ Convertible Bonds Deals; Hedge Funds Use CBs To Short-Sell Issuer’s Stock

August 19, 2013, 10:36 p.m. ET

Cash-Poor Companies Feed Investor Hunger for ‘Happy Meals’

Critics Say Deals Can Exacerbate Problems for Issuing Companies

MICHAEL ROTHFELD and TOM MCGINTY

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When Energy Conversion Devices Inc. needed cash, the struggling solar-panel maker turned itself into what Wall Street likes to call a “Happy Meal.” To make $316 million in bonds more appetizing, the company agreed to lend millions of its shares to hedge funds buying the bonds so they could simultaneously sell the stock in a bet against Energy Conversion’s success. A subsequent crisis in the solar-power industry hit Energy Conversion hard. The bonds, issued in 2008, plunged in value, and last year the company filed for bankruptcy protection, wiping out shareholders. But the negative wagers paid off for the hedge funds. A Wall Street Journal examination showed that hedge funds that bought the bonds were positioned to earn upward of 20% on their investments. Facing meager returns on many fronts, some hedge funds have developed a taste for Happy Meals—deals named after the McDonald’s burger-and-toy combo. Companies strapped for cash serve up everything the funds need to profit: bonds that are convertible into stock if the borrower does well, and tools for betting against the company if its prospects sour. Read more of this post

Banks Work Around China’s Lending Limits; Latest Tactic in Cat-and-Mouse Game With Regulators Hides Risks, Analysts Say

August 19, 2013, 12:38 p.m. ET

Banks Work Around China’s Lending Limits

Latest Tactic in Cat-and-Mouse Game With Regulators Hides Risks, Analysts Say

CYNTHIA KOONS and DINNY MCMAHON

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Chinese regulators have tried for months to rein in lending by the country’s banks, most recently by instigating a cash squeeze that left some scrambling for funds. But the banks have stayed one step ahead, keeping the lending spigots open largely through increasingly complicated transactions. The banks’ latest effort in their cat-and-mouse game with regulators involves making corporate loans appear on their balance sheets as less risky loans to banks. This allows banks to skirt limits on lending to customers but hides risks that they will be hit by big losses. Read more of this post

China’s insolvent toxic-waste dump Cinda for sale; investors would be wise to think carefully before buying in to the IPOs of China’s asset management firms

China’s insolvent toxic-waste dump Cinda for sale

Monday, 19 August, 2013, 12:00am

Tom Holland

Let’s wait and see the prospectuses, but investors would be wise to think carefully before buying in to the IPOs of China’s asset management firms

At some point in the next few months, China Cinda Asset Management is likely to list on the Hong Kong stock exchange, in a mega deal that could raise HK$20 billion or more. Meanwhile, Cinda’s counterpart, Huarong Asset Management, is busy lining up strategic investors ahead of an offering some time next year. The two companies will be sold to investors as universal financial services giants, with businesses on the mainland that range from banking and insurance, through asset management and leasing, to securities broking and commodity trading. In reality, they are toxic waste dumps. Worse: by any sensible standards they are insolvent. Both Cinda and Huarong, along with potential listing candidates Great Wall Asset Management and Orient Asset Management, were set up in 1999 to shift bad loans off the balance sheets of China’s Big Four state-owned banks. Read more of this post

Elixir of Life sought from creatures of night prompted by bats’ ability to do better with DNA damage repair, live longer, have less cancer, carry viruses without disease

Bat Man Aims for Elixir of Life From Creatures of Night: Health

Count Dracula was onto something. Bats.

The immortal Prince of Darkness has been associated with the flying mammals since he first flitted through Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. Now, scientists seek to unlock another trait the vampire shares with bats: the secret of longevity.

The volume of published scientific research on bat viruses has doubled in the past decade with the discovery that they’re probably a natural reservoir for global killers such as Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome and the Middle East respiratory syndrome. Along the way, scientists have been startled by how well they respond to the genetic wear and tear that’s a feature of life, aging and diseases such as cancer. Read more of this post

How to avoid breaking your company as it grows

How to avoid breaking your company as it grows

BY ERIN GRIFFITH 
ON AUGUST 19, 2013

Jonathan Basker has seen a fair amount of employee angst in his day. As a headhunter in Silicon Valley, he specialized in ripping workers out of unhappy, dysfunctional companies and landing them new, presumably happier, roles. He applied those lessons to his role as a recruiter at Etsy, where he helped the company scale from 83 to 200 employees, and then again at Betaworks, where he built the startup studio’s hacker-in-residence program and recruited around 40 employees. He’s got plenty of lessons from those days on maintaining a healthy, functioning company as you scale, which he delivered to an audience of entrepreneurs and techies at WeWork’s summer camp over the weekend. Read more of this post

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