Work on Stuff that Matters: First Principles – Work on something that matters to you more than money.

Work on Stuff that Matters: First Principles

by Tim O’Reilly | @timoreilly | +Tim O’Reilly | Comments: 91 | January 11, 2009

I spent a lot of last year urging people to work on stuff that matters. This led to many questions about what that “stuff” might be. I’ve been a bit reluctant to answer those questions, because the list is different for everyone. I thought I’d do better to start the new year with some ideas about how to think about this for yourself. First off, though, I want to make clear that “work on stuff that matters” does not mean focusing on non-profit work, “causes, or any other form of “do-goodism.” Non-profit projects often do matter a great deal, and people with tech skills can make important contributions, but it’s essential to get beyond that narrow box. I’m a strong believer in the social value of business done right. We need to build an economy in which the important things are paid for in self-sustaining ways rather than as charities to be funded out of the goodness of our hearts. There are a number of half-unconscious litmus tests I use in my own life. I’m going to try to tease them out here, and hope that you can help me think this through in the comments.

Work on something that matters to you more than money. Read more of this post

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants: Malcolm Gladwell’s study of unlikely victors is his most enjoyable book yet, writes Lucy Kellaway

October 4, 2013 7:04 pm

Lucy Kellaway on ‘David and Goliath’ by Malcolm Gladwell

Review by Lucy Kellaway

Malcolm Gladwell’s study of unlikely victors is his most enjoyable book yet, writes Lucy Kellaway

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell, Allen Lane, RRP£16.99/Little, Brown, RRP$29, 320 pages

David and Goliath is an ill-assorted collection of anecdotes that demonstrates various things we already know. It tells us that having nothing to lose can make you bolder. That if you deploy power indiscriminately, it may backfire. And that losing a parent early on can give you a leg up if you plan on becoming a genius. Malcolm Gladwell’s new book comes without the single, catchy idea that made his earlier ones such stonking successes. The Tipping Point (2000) introduced us to the instant at which a trend became a trend. Blink (2005) told us how we make decisions without thinking. And Outliers (2008) warned that if you want to get good at something, you’ll need to spend 10,000 hours practising. Yet David and Goliath is Gladwell’s most enjoyable book so far. It is a feel-good extravaganza, nourishing both heart and mind. Each of its stories – set in Northern Ireland, Alabama, California, Vichy France and ancient Palestine – has an ending that is both happy and surprising. Gladwell is a master at marching us off in one direction, only to end up taking us somewhere else instead – somewhere better. Read more of this post

Pull closet indexing out of the closet; Fund manager practice is a tax on millions of investors

October 4, 2013 2:15 pm

Pull closet indexing out of the closet

John Authers

Fund manager practice is a tax on millions of investors

In the UK, people are trying to pull closet indexing out of the closet. It is a fight that could have global implications. This is one issue on which there is no need to sit on the fence. The debate betweenactive managers, who try to beat their benchmark, and passive managers, who merely track it, will go on and on. But everyone can agree that there is no case for closet indexing – the practice of running an “active” fund, charging active management fees but, in practice, offering an investment that merely hugs the index. Read more of this post

Tongyang Group Chairman Hyun Jae-hyun’s risky bets have led the mid-tier conglomerate to head toward a tragic end, producing innocent victims

2013-10-04 17:46

Tongyang investors to take fall

Financial regulator launches taskforce to help victims
By Kim Tae-jong

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Aletter to Tongyang Group Chairman Hyun Jae-hyun was found in the car where a female employee at a Jeju branch of Tongyang Securities committed suicide on Oct. 2, feeling guilty about customers’ losses

Tongyang Group Chairman Hyun Jae-hyun’s risky bets have led the mid-tier conglomerate to head toward a tragic end, producing innocent victims.
The group’s five affiliates including Tongyang Cement & Energy and Tongyang Networks have been placed under court receivership, and its previous efforts to keep afloat through bond issuance have also harmed tens of thousands of retail investors.
Pressured by the guilt over customer losses, a female employee from a Jeju branch of Tongyang Securities took her own life on Oct. 2. The brokerage affiliate sold more than half of corporate bills and bonds issued by the group.
Identified only by her surname Ko, she was found dead in her car in an apparent suicide with a suicide note and letter to chairman Hyun found in the scene.
“Chairman Hyun, you can’t do this to your employees and customers,” she wrote in her letter to Hyun. “I recommended to customers (to buy our corporate bonds and bills) to offer them high interests. I really trusted Tongynag Group.”
She also expressed her deep regret over the financial damage caused to customers, demanding the group take measures to make full compensation for them.
The police stated she made a tragic decision, and that she suffered from complaints from customers who were subject to huge losses from their investment, after the group’s five affiliates sought court receivership. Read more of this post

Capturing the Innovation Mindset at Bally Technologies

Capturing the Innovation Mindset at Bally Technologies

by Vijay Govindarajan and Srikanth Srinivas  |   9:00 AM October 4, 2013

Bally Technologies, a leading provider of gaming systems for casinos, has earned more than 60 awards for innovation in just the last four years. It increased R&D spending from 7-8% of revenue before 2009 to 11-12% of revenue starting in 2010, and maximized the return on that increased investment. The result: Its return on assets tripled, from an industry-lagging position below 4% to an industry-leading position above 12%. How did Bally Technologies do it? Through an innovation excellence framework. This framework is not new; we introduced a similar mindset in an earlier post with 3M. But while the foundational elements are the same, Bally Technologies uses them in a distinct way. It has a more rigorous organization structure that divides responsibilities between the innovation team and development team, and strengthens management around the opportunity pipeline. The company combines this with an intense focus on execution and weekly course correction — but also uses innovation as a means to get the employees energized. Bally Technologies has achieved great success, but only after making this framework its own. Using the five tenets we introduced before, here’s a breakdown of how the company does just that. Read more of this post

Tips for entrepreneurs from Yammer co-founder Adam Pisoni

Caitlin Fitzsimmons Online editor

Tips for entrepreneurs from Yammer co-founder Adam Pisoni

Published 04 October 2013 12:02, Updated 04 October 2013 14:36

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Adam Pisoni co-founded a software company and sold it to Microsoft for $US1.2 billion five years later.

The product, Yammer, is a social networking tool to foster collaboration inside companies and is being integrated into the Microsoft Office suite. Pisoni is still running the business, based in downtown San Francisco with about 350 staff. A year after the acquisition, Pisoni claims to want to stay at Microsoft to see Yammer “change every company on the planet” – although he would be bucking a trend if he did so. (Statistics show the majority of start-up founders leave within two years of an acquisition). BRW caught up with Pisoni last month at Microsoft Australia’s TechEd conference on the Gold Coast and he shared his tips for aspiring entrepreneurs. Read more of this post

On today’s campuses, the Socratic ideal of genuine intellectual encounters has largely disappeared

October 4, 2013, 3:51 p.m. ET

Book Review: ‘Why Teach?’ by Mark Edmundson

On today’s campuses, the Socratic ideal of genuine intellectual encounters has largely disappeared.

HARRY GRAVER

Picture a day in the life of an ambitious American undergrad. Morning starts with a pre-law course that does little to nourish his soul but that has been commended to him by an adviser. After an internship interview with an investment firm, he’ll spend the afternoon on elective courses with titles like “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity” (actually taught at the University of Virginia) or “Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond” (University of Texas at Austin). The evening is reserved for drunken revelry. Read more of this post

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