Profits Allow You to Make Great Products, But the Products, Not the Profits, Are the Motivation

The following passage is Steve Jobs speaking, as quoted by Walter Isaacson.

(p. 567) My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything: the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.

Source:
Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Organic Food May Be Less Healthy than Non-Organic Food

Schwarcz, Joe - The Right Chemistry BK 2013-01-12.jpeg

Source of book image: http://www.leckeragency.com/sites/default/files/books/Schwarcz,%20Joe%20-%20The%20Right%20Chemistry%20Cover.jpeg

(p. D7) . . . , when did “chemical” become a dirty word? That’s a question raised by one of Canada’s brightest scientific minds: Joe Schwarcz, director of the Office for Science and Society at McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Schwarcz, who has received high honors from Canadian and American scientific societies, is the author of several best-selling books that attempt to set the record straight on a host of issues that commonly concern health-conscious people.

I’ve read two of his books, “Science, Sense and Nonsense” (published in 2009) and “The Right Chemistry” (2012), and recently attended a symposium on the science of food that Dr. Schwarcz organized at McGill.
What follows are tips from his books and the symposium that can help you make wiser choices about what does, and does not, pass your lips in 2013.
. . .
ORGANIC OR NOT? Wherever I shop for food these days, I find an ever-widening array of food products labeled “organic” and “natural.” But are consumers getting the health benefits they pay a premium for?
Until the 20th century, Dr. Schwarcz wrote, all farming was “organic,” with manure and compost used as fertilizer and “natural” compounds of arsenic, mercury and lead used as pesticides.
Might manure used today on organic farms contain disease-causing micro-organisms? Might organic produce unprotected by insecticides harbor cancer-causing molds? It’s a possibility, Dr. Schwarcz said. But consumers aren’t looking beyond the organic sales pitch.
Also questionable is whether organic foods, which are certainly kinder to the environment, are more nutritious. Though some may contain slightly higher levels of essential micronutrients, like vitamin C, the difference between them and conventionally grown crops may depend more on where they are produced than how.
A further concern: Organic producers disavow genetic modification, which can be used to improve a crop’s nutritional content, enhance resistance to pests and diminish its need for water. A genetically modified tomato developed at the University of Exeter, for example, contains nearly 80 times the antioxidants of conventional tomatoes. Healthier, yes — but it can’t be called organic.

For the full story, see:
JANE E. BRODY. “PERSONAL HEALTH; What You Think You Know (but Don’t) About Wise Eating.” The New York Times (Tues., January 1, 2013): D7.
(Note: ellipses added; bold in original.)
(Note: the online version of the article has the date DECEMBER 31, 2012.)

The Schwarcz books mentioned above, are:
Schwarcz, Joe. The Right Chemistry: 108 Enlightening, Nutritious, Health-Conscious and Occasionally Bizarre Inquiries into the Science of Daily Life. Toronto, Ontario: Doubleday Canada, 2012.
Schwarcz, Joe. Science, Sense & Nonsense. Toronto, Ontario: Doubleday Canada, 2009.

Google’s Eric Schmidt Saw that “Regulation Prohibits Real Innovation”

(p. A13) Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, gave a remarkable interview this month to The Washington Post. So remarkable that Post editors preceded the transcript with this disclosure: “He had just come from the dentist. And he had a toothache.”
Perhaps it was the Novocain talking, but Mr. Schmidt has done us a service. He said in public what most technologists will say only in private. Whatever caused him to speak forthrightly about the disconnects between Silicon Valley and Washington, his comments deserve wider attention.
Mr. Schmidt had just given his first congressional testimony. He was called before the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee to answer allegations that Google is a monopolist, a charge the Federal Trade Commission is also investigating.
“So we get hauled in front of the Congress for developing a product that’s free, that serves a billion people. OK? I mean, I don’t know how to say it any clearer,” Mr. Schmidt told the Post. “It’s not like we raised prices. We could lower prices from free to . . . lower than free? You see what I’m saying?”
. . .
“Regulation prohibits real innovation, because the regulation essentially defines a path to follow,” Mr. Schmidt said. This “by definition has a bias to the current outcome, because it’s a path for the current outcome.”
. . .
Washington is always slow to recognize technological change, which is why in their time IBM and Microsoft were also investigated after competing technologies had emerged.
Mr. Schmidt recounted a dinner in 1995 featuring a talk by Andy Grove, a founder of Intel: “He says, ‘This is easy to understand. High tech runs three times faster than normal businesses. And the government runs three times slower than normal businesses. So we have a nine-times gap.’ All of my experiences are consistent with Andy Grove’s observation.”
Mr. Schmidt explained there was only one way to deal with this nine-times gap, which this column hereby christens “Grove’s Law of Government.” That is “to make sure that the government does not get in the way and slow things down.”
Mr. Schmidt recounted that when Silicon Valley first started playing a large role in the economy in the 1990s, “all of a sudden the politicians showed up. We thought the politicians showed up because they loved us. It’s fair to say they loved us for our money.”
He contrasted innovation in Silicon Valley with innovation in Washington. “Now there are startups in Washington,” he said, “founded by people who were policy makers. . . . They’re very clever people, and they’ve figured out a way in regulation to discriminate, to find a new satellite spectrum or a new frequency or whatever. They immediately hired a whole bunch of lobbyists. They raised some money to do that. And they’re trying to innovate through regulation. So that’s what passes for innovation in Washington.”

For the full commentary, see:
L. GORDON CROVITZ. “INFORMATION AGE; Google Speaks Truth to Power; About the growing regulatory state, even Google’s Eric Schmidt–a big supporter of the Obama administration–now feels the need to tell it like it is.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., October 24, 2011): A13.
(Note: ellipses between paragraphs added; ellipsis internal to Schmidt quote, in original WSJ commentary.)

The original Eric Schmidt interview with the Washington Post, can be read at:
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-10-01/national/35278181_1_google-chairman-eric-schmidt-regulation-disconnects