The Anti-Store

Finally! The NPR Planet Money episode on Price Club / Costco. Why they purposely make shopping harder and why people love it. The quotes in this podcast are priceless; from the founder himself “I was adamant that we would not have signs telling people where things were because that would make it likely that they would wander through all the aisles and find other things to buy.”

Here’s something I don’t understand about people shopping at Costco. Clearly Costco is not a “quick stop” experience. There are no express cashiers! So why do people still insist on going to Costco to buy a single item???

Image of Costco patron buying only two items (that’s my stuff on the left) on Oct 30, 2015 – bananas and bread?:


The Fastest Growing, Least Popular Airline In America

NPR Planet Money explores our preferences, specifically the difference between what people say and what people do. Economists call this “stated preferences” (What they say they want) vs “revealed preferences” (what people actually choose). Bargain basement airlines are a perfect example as heard in this podcast.

The End of Emergency Broadcasts – Now a Pull, Not a Push

One would think an emergency broadcast makes sense for everyone. What I noticed today was that my shortwave weather radio has a weekly test so you know you’re getting broadcasts. Then I noticed that I receive emergency alerts via twitter & email; neither of which have test messages. Presumably because we are all so afraid of “spam”?  Never mind that in the modern age, you can use filters to put the test messages in a folder you don’t see unless you want to confirm your getting emergency messages.

I think I’m on to something profound here but not exactly sure what it is… Hopefully twitter and email work in the Zombie Apocalypse.

The Best Definition of an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are often talked about but frequently misunderstood. Yet it’s important to understand it because everybody can and should be an entrepreneur. As mentioned in the article, “Entrepreneurship becomes a mindset rather than the caricature we’re used to, of the driven, risk-addicted, type-A serial business-starter.” Explore what is meant by entrepreneurship defined as “…the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled” by reading the article. Because “…[w]hen you make [this] …brand of entrepreneurship part of the organizational culture, you ensure that people are empowered to take creative initiative when they spot an opportunity. It makes employees’ working days more exhilarating and rewarding, keeps them engaged, and makes your company stronger.”

Adhering to “The MBA oath” helps create a better world

The MBA Oath was mentioned in NPR’s Planet Money Podcast “…about the people and agencies who were supposed to be watching out for the economy, and why all that watching somehow failed to stave off the financial crisis [of 2008].”

Review of TED talk “How great leaders inspire action”

Inspirational leadership begins with what you believe (the why), not how or what. After listening to this podcast, I started looking at things I always felt were not quite right and have to hand it to Simon Sinek. I think he got it right. Quotable: “The goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. … Hire people who believe what you believe. … People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Contrarian Views Matter – A lot

We humans have certain innate traits that often get us in trouble and they are the reason why people who approach an issue from a thoughtfully contrarian point of view are important in contributing to progress.

Abraham Maslow famously described the situation via his famous quote “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” (Maslow’s Hammer)  This essentially tells us that we tend to see the world through our own history and perspective, desperately trying to reduce all information to bits we can understand in our own frameworks and this often leaves us astray.

Along the same lines is the parable from India that discusses blind men and an elephant: Each man touches the elephant in one spot — the trunk, the tail, the belly, etc. — and comes away with a different description of the creature. Every man is both right and wrong at the same time. All of them failed to see the entire elephant, and none accepted the points of view of the others.


Podcast Review: The Economist’s Guide To Drinking While Pregnant

For some reason health advice is black and white but the research it’s based on is anything but. Example: You’re not allowed to drink while pregnant. Turns out that most of the studies this is based on, most of the participants were on cocaine. Of the people not on crack, they were heavy drinkers – 5-6 beverages per day, every day. Turns out, it’s hard to tell if there is any effect for someone who occasionally drinks (less than 1 a day). But doctors are pre-disposed to be more cautious since they can get sued if they take a liberal approach.  This podcast speaks to Economist Emily Oster and how she used economics to approach her own pregnancy and pregnancy related health research.

Review of TED talk “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clay Christensen

Clay explains that why companies & individuals fail is that we are predisposed to focus on activities that provide an immediate/tangible evidence of achievement. In this way activities that do not pay off for years or decades in the future are neglected. That is, there is no investment for the long term.

Clay suggests that instead of being measured by an aggregate measure (e.g. big pools of money), at our death, we will be measured on our impact on others. Choosing the right measure is important. Our actions are influenced by the measure we choose.

For a corporation, I interpret this as companies that invest enable sustained, positive long term growth. Their investors and employees experience symptoms of safe & nurturing environments (e.g. dividend growth for their personal financial situation, positive workplace where innovation is rewarded).

This is in contrast to the high pressure cooker “meet today’s targets to bolster today’s stock price” environment. Symptoms of this situation are constant stress and a feeling that you’ve missed an opportunity to contribute meaningfully.

BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill incident offers a learning opportunity for the Industry

Oil & Gas faces cultural difficulties. This article is from a key executive from the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill incident (the Macondo blow-out) in which he explains the problem and offers solution insights. A few key takeaways: 1. Leadership. 2. Tie consequences directly to the decision maker.