May 24, 2015

Sears CEO Ed Telling Opposed the "Sloppiness" of Across-the-Board Layoffs



(p. 46) It was never that layoffs were anathema to Telling as such; he just resented the sloppiness of a 10-percent across-the-board layoff when some areas of the company should have been cut by 40 percent and some built up by half.


Source:

Katz, Donald R. The Big Store: Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears. New York: Viking Adult, 1987.






May 23, 2015

Henry Paulson Fears Chinese Economy "Will Face a Reckoning"



(p. B1) About 340 pages into Henry M. Paulson's new book on China, a sentence comes almost out of nowhere that stops readers in their tracks.

"Frankly, it's not a question of if, but when, China's financial system," he writes, "will face a reckoning and have to contend with a wave of credit losses and debt restructurings."


. . .


(p. B2) Like the United States crisis in 2008, Mr. Paulson worries that in China "the trigger would be a collapse in the real estate market," and he declared in an interview that China is experiencing a real estate bubble. He noted that debt as a percentage of gross domestic product in China rose to 204 percent in June 2014 from 130 percent in 2008.

"Slowing economic growth and rapidly rising debt levels are rarely a happy combination, and China's borrowing spree seems certain to lead to trouble," he wrote.

Mr. Paulson's analysis in his book, "Dealing With China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower," is all the more remarkable because he has long been a bull on China and has deep friendships with its senior leaders, who could frown upon his straightforward comments.



For the full commentary, see:

Andrew Ross Sorkin. "DEALBOOK; A Veteran of the Crisis Tells China to Be Wary." The New York Times (Tues., APRIL 21, 2015): B1-B2.

(Note: the online version of the review has the date APRIL 20, 2015, and has the title "DEALBOOK; A Veteran of the Financial Crisis Tells China to Be Wary.")


The book discussed above is:

Paulson, Henry M. Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower. New York: Twelve, 2015.






May 22, 2015

Longevity and Frugality Allow More Happiness Through New "Second Act" Jobs



(p. B7) Research suggests that happiness over the course of our lives is U-shaped, with our satisfaction deteriorating through our 20s and 30s, hitting bottom in our 40s and then bouncing back from there.

What causes the decline in our happiness during our early adult years? We don't know for sure. It might be the stress of juggling work and home life, or it could be the gradual realization that we won't fulfill all of our youthful ambitions.

But for some, midlife dissatisfaction may reflect growing disenchantment with their chosen career. The good news: Today, thanks to our longer life expectancy, we have time for a second act.

In fact, that second act may be necessary if we are laid off. Our new career could prove more fulfilling, but it might come with a smaller paycheck.

This is a reason to start saving as soon as we enter the workforce. If we do that, we likely will have the financial flexibility to swap into a less lucrative job. What if we haven't been good savers? We may be stuck in a job we have come to hate.



For the full commentary, see:

JONATHAN CLEMENTS. "Can You Afford a Long Life?" The Wall Street Journal (Sat., APRIL 25, 2015): B7.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date APRIL 23, 2015, and has the title "What Long Life Spans Mean for Your Money and Career.")






May 21, 2015

Instead of Becoming a Lobbyist, Harry Reid Would "Rather Go to Singapore and Have Them Beat Me with Whips"




Finally an issue on which Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell can agree:



(p. A14) "I've had calls from lots of people," Mr. Reid said. "For example, Al Gore called me. Maybe I want to do something with Al Gore? I have no idea."

But on one matter he was clear: He said he would not be a lobbyist.

"I'd rather go to Singapore and have them beat me with whips," he said.



For the full story, see:

ADAM NAGOURNEY. "Reid to Head Home on New Mission." The New York Times (Thurs., APRIL 3, 2015): A14.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 2, 2015, and has the title "Harry Reid Hopes to Ensure Democrats' Success as Tenure Winds Down.")







May 20, 2015

Sears CEO Ed Telling Had an Introverted Fury




Writing of Ed Telling, the eventual entrepreneurial CEO of Sears:



(p. 488) Slowly, the introverted Field soldier from Danville moved up through the organization. He eventually managed the same Midwestern zone he was once made to ride. He found himself in the decadent city-state called the New York group, and it was there, in the strangely methodical fury with which he fell upon the corruption of the group and the profligacy of powerful store jockeys, that certain individuals around him began to feel inspired by his quiet power, as if he'd touched some inverted desire in each of them to do justice at his beckoning and to even numerous scores. He was possessed of a determination to promulgate change such as none of them had ever seen before, and certain hard-bitten bitten veterans like Bill Bass found themselves strangely moved.



Source:

Katz, Donald R. The Big Store: Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears. New York: Viking Adult, 1987.






May 19, 2015

Technicolor Entrepreneur Kalmus Was Visionary, Stubborn and "in It for the Long Haul"



(p. C15) Judy Garland opening a door from black-and-white Kansas into Technicolor Oz is one of the most enchanting effects in all of movies. But as film historians James Layton and David Pierce relate in "The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915-1935," the technology that made "The Wizard of Oz" possible came from people who were looking to start a business, not to make art.

The creators of Technicolor--engineer W. Burton Wescott and MIT graduates Daniel Comstock and Herbert T. Kalmus--were visionary, though stubborn is just as accurate.


. . .


In 1934 Fortune magazine wrote, "Businessmen regard Dr. Kalmus as a scientist, and scientists regard him as a businessman." Comstock and Westcott eventually left the company in the mid-1920s, but Kalmus was in it for the long haul. . . .

Once perfected, Technicolor had a virtual monopoly on color Hollywood productions, and it did indeed make Kalmus and his investors rich. But it took steel nerves to put money into the unprofitable, ever-tinkering Technicolor of the early days.



For the full review, see:

FARRAN SMITH NEHME. "The Very Thought of Hue; Early color films gave viewers headaches. It took decades to develop a process that didn't simply look odd." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., April 11, 2015): C15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date April 10, 2015.)


The book under review is:

Layton, James, and David Pierce. The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915-1935. Rochester, NY: George Eastman House, 2015.






May 18, 2015

Obama's Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Likens Obama's Climate Change Policies to "Burning the Constitution"



(p. A1) WASHINGTON -- Laurence H. Tribe, the highly regarded liberal scholar of constitutional law, still speaks of President Obama as a proud teacher would of a star student. "He was one of the most amazing research assistants I've ever had," Mr. Tribe said in a recent interview. Mr. Obama worked for him at Harvard Law School, where Mr. Tribe has taught for four decades.


. . .


Next week Mr. Tribe is to deliver oral arguments for Peabody in the first federal court case about Mr. Obama's climate change rules. Mr. Tribe argues in a brief for the case that in requiring states to cut carbon emissions, thus to change their energy supply from fossil fuels to renewable sources, the E.P.A. is asserting executive power far beyond its lawful authority under the Clean Air Act. At a House hearing last month, Mr. Tribe likened the climate change (p. A15) policies of Mr. Obama to "burning the Constitution."


. . .


While Mr. Tribe is one of the nation's foremost experts on constitutional law, and has argued some Supreme Court cases related to environmental law, he said he has never specialized in the Clean Air Act.


. . .


It is widely expected that the fight over the E.P.A. regulations will eventually go before the Supreme Court. If it does, Mr. Tribe said that he expects he "may well" play a role in that case -- which would be argued before two other former students, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Elena Kagan.



For the full story, see:

CORAL DAVENPORT. "Laurence Tribe Fights Climate Case Against Star Pupil From Harvard, President Obama." The New York Times (Tues., APRIL 7, 2015): A1 & A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 6, 2015, and has the title "Laurence Tribe Fights Climate Case Against Star Pupil From Harvard, President Obama.")






May 17, 2015

The Process Innovations of Ed Telling at Sears



There are a fair number of case studies and biographies of important new product innovations. Rarer are the case studies of process innovations. Two great exceptions are Marc Levinson's The Box and The Great A&P. I have recently read another exception, this one by Donald Katz, about how Ed Telling brought process innovations to Sears from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s.

In the next few weeks, I will be quoting a several of the more useful, or thought-provoking passages.


The book discussed, is:

Katz, Donald R. The Big Store: Inside the Crisis and Revolution at Sears. New York: Viking Adult, 1987.






May 16, 2015

Leadership Depends on Accumulated Experience as Much as Packaged College Courses



(p. 17) The dominant brand, Harvard Business School, claims to "educate leaders who make a difference in the world." The University of Michigan's Ross School does one better, developing "leaders who make a positive difference in the world." Kellogg at Northwestern develops "brave leaders who inspire growth in people, organizations and markets." And Duke's Fuqua says it does what it does because "the world needs leaders of consequence."


. . .


Which raises the question, once again, of whether leadership can be packaged and taught, rather than accumulated through experience.

John Van Maanen, a professor of management at M.I.T. Sloan who teaches a course named "Leading Organizations," isn't so sure it can. "Even today, three-plus decades in, there's no real definition of it," he says. "We can make people more conscious of ethical dilemmas in business, of the difficulty of directing people in times of adversity, and the confidence and communication skills necessary to do so. But the idea that such skills can be transmitted so that you can lead anybody at any time, that's ideologically vacuous."



For the full commentary, see:

DUFF McDONALD. "Can You Learn to Lead?" The New York Times, Education Life Section (Sun., APRIL 12, 2015): 17.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date APRIL 7 (sic), 2015.)






May 15, 2015

Some Immigrate to West for "Peace and Dignity"



(p. A13) There are some words that, through a sort of onomatopoeia, seem fated to be the worst epithets. In Russian, zhid is one of those. Ask any Soviet Jew who grew up in that now extinct empire what it felt like to be on the receiving end of the slur, whose English approximation is "kike," and they will mention the sound: a sinister hiss ending with a snap of the tongue against the back of the teeth.

For Lev Golinkin, the author of a new memoir about his family's immigration from Soviet Ukraine to the West, that sibilant sound dominates most of his memories of life before 1989.


. . .


All their fears--of a government that sought to both erase their Jewish identity and discriminate against them for it, as well as of the unknown ahead--reached their apogee at their moment of immigration: Mr. Golinkin's father, in a desperate attempt to save his life's work, had hidden microfilm of all his patents in his underwear. When he saw how vigorously the border police were searching people, he took the rolls of microfilm to the bathroom and threw them out the window, into a fire blazing inside a steel drum just outside the border post. Once in the West, this man of incredible will achieved the rare feat of rebuilding his career from scratch.

Things didn't work out as well for Mr. Golinkin's mother: She found work only as a security guard.

At one point, a grown Mr. Golinkin confronts her about failing to foresee how difficult re-establishing herself would be, even calling her dreams of America "naïve and ridiculous." She answers that she didn't want to be afraid of her government anymore. She didn't want to tell her son why "he should prepare for a long and painful life." The sacrifice she made, he realizes, was for "peace and dignity, not a paycheck"--and, of course, for him.



For the full review, see:

GAL BECKERMAN. "BOOKSHELF; The Sinister Hiss; The author's father, a successful engineer, hid microfilm of his patents in his underwear in a desperate attempt to save his life's work." The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Dec. 19, 2014): A13.

(Note: ellipsis added; italics in original.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Dec. 18, 2014, and has the title "Book Review: 'The Marshmallow Test' by Walter Mischel; To resist the tempting treat, kids looked away, squirmed, sang or simply pretended to take a bite.")


The book under review is:

Golinkin, Lev. A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: A Memoir. New York: Doubleday, 2014.









Eight Most Recent Comments:



Aaron said:

Interested to see how not only did Hamilton gain a vote, but also how Jefferson lost one.



Dave Megan said:

Merging of companies is always better when they have a better goal. It will give better service for the public.



Ed Rector said:

The 'quickened pace of production' of the early Reagan years was directly attributable to RR's massive deficit spending. The national debt almost tripled under the watch of St. Ronnie. BO will have to work overtime to even approach this record of accomplishment.



Aaron said:

The last two paragraphs comport perfectly with what Paul Tough describes in a book you posted on a few months ago, "How Children Succeed." Tough advocates that a stable, loving relationship between kids and their parents, especially in the first few years of life, produces self-assured and less anxious adults due to brain formation or chemical reactions that take place in a baby's brain (simplified summary). As always, appreciate the posts, especially the Paul Tough book.



Rev. Pfloyd said:

Hans' "The Best Stats You've Ever Seen" Ted Talk is my favorite Ted Talk ever, which is a pretty big statement when you share company with talks like Sir Ken Robinson's education talk and Steven Pinker's Human Nature and the Blank Slate" talk.



Rev. Pfloyd said:

Voting with your feet. And of course now people are fleeing France to move across the water to England for the same reason. It's truly a global world; soaking the rich really isn't an option anymore.



otacon said:

The media tends to be a willing participant in fanning the flames of racism. Check CNN or the Drudge Report. Every day there is at least one racially charged story. Every day. It has become a tool for news outlets to get clicks but ultimately is a disservice to pretty much everyone.



otacon said:

This is very dangerous and this doctor is acting completely irresponsibly. Are these students supposed to take Adderall for their entire lives or just until they pass American History class? Why not prescribe steroids for under performing children in sports?





HP3D5006CropSmall.jpg


















The StatCounter number above reports the number of "page loads" since the counter was installed late on 2/26/08. Page loads are defined on the site as "The number of times your page has been visited."


View My Stats