Global Long-Term Trends Shaping the Corporate Landscape

Global Long-Term Trends Shaping the Corporate Landscape

Macro-economic Trends Shaping the Corporate Landscape

  1. Shift of economic activity between and within regions
  2. Growing number of consumers in emerging economies / changing consumer tastes
  3. Development of technologies that empower consumers and communities
  4. An aging population in developed economies
  5. Geopolitical instability
  6. Increasing needs in the public sector

Social and Environmental Trends Shaping the Corporate Landscape

  1. Competition for talent will intensify and become more global
  2. Increasing constraints on supply or use of natural resources
  3. Role and behavior of business will come under increasing scrutiny

Organizational, Business, and Economic Trends Shaping the Corporate Landscape

  1. A faster pace of technological innovation
  2. Increasing availability of knowledge/ability to exploit it
  3. Adoption of increasingly scientific, data-driven management techniques
  4. Shifting industry structures / emerging forms of organization
  5. Organizations will become larger and more complex
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Posted in Global Business Management and Leadership

THAILAND: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

Thailand - Land of Smiles

Millions of visitors flock to the ‘Land of Smiles’ every year and it is easy to see why. Whether you want to party, laze on a beach, or stuff yourself with local delicacies, Thailand has something for everyone. Beyond its more obvious attractions, however, a little deeper exploration yields up Thailand’s subtler charms.

Thailand: At a Glance

Experience the Best Attractions of Thailand

  1. Muay Thai, Thai Boxing Boxing Days: Grueling training sessions, a rudimentary diet and sparse facilities—these are the staples of training for Muay Thai or Thai boxing. There are special camps run across the country that offer short-term courses for visitors. Most have English-speaking instructors, and training periods can range from one day to a few weeks. Check out the Lanna Muay Thai Boxing Camp in Chiang Mai and the Muay Thai Institute in Bangkok.
  2. Biking in Thailand Biker Fun: Thailand is great for two-wheeled exploration, as long as you can deal with crazy traffic. Check out the Big Bike Company in Patong. They rent out Honda CB 400 cc motorbikes that are fun and fast. Your inner petrol head will certainly be happy, especially when you hit the long, winding roads.
  3. Red Curry from Thai Cooking Cook up a Storm: If you love Thai food and like pottering in the kitchen, why not combine the two and take in a Thai cooking class. The Baipai Thai Cooking School in Bangkok is a well-known institute in a beautiful location, and offers short courses run by English-speaking instructors. If you are in Phuket, the Phuket Thai Cookery School offers you a haven from the noise and bustle of the city. Located on Siray Beach, you can couple your cooking classes with panoramic ocean views and then walk off a meal in the evening or even take a siesta on the wooden sundeck.
  4. Adventure Sports in Nakhon Nayok, Thailand Leave the Road Behind: Go off the beaten track and indulge in some soft adventure sports in Nakhon Nayok. From rappelling to cutting through forests and streams on ATVs and white-water rafting, there are lots here for the intrepid adventure-lover.
  5. Unrestrained water fight, Songkran Festival, Thailand Get Wet: Thailand turns into a free-for-all water park once a year. The Songkran Festival is an unrestrained water fight, and visitors are fair game, both to be soaked and to do the soaking Images of the Buddha are ‘bathed’ and young Thais seek the blessing of their elders by pouring scented water over their hands. Held at the peak of the hot season, Songkran is quite literally a chance for the entire country, and all its visitors, to cool off.
  6. Turquoise Waters, Phuket, Thailand Join the (Yacht) Club: If your sailor self has been feeling neglected for a while, and you are feeling especially indulgent, Thailand has many great yachting options. A sailing holiday in Thailand is an especially beautiful experience with the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea and swimming and snorkeling at your leisure. Most trips are around Phuket and Koh Samui, and you will get to see other islands as well.
  7. Koh Phangan's Sanctuary Island Resort Kick Back: Take a break from all that activity at Koh Phangan’s Sanctuary Island Resort. The Sanctuary is a laid back, alternative health resort on a isolated beach fringed by tropical forest and tropical seas. Your mind and body will both leave refreshed and ready to take on the world again.
  8. Loi Krathong, Thailand's festival of lights Festival of Lights: Come November, Thailand transforms into a veritable fairyland of lights, Loi Krathong is Thailand’s festival of lights held on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month of the year. If you are lucky enough to be staying on the coast, you will be able to see lights stretching far out across the water. The word ‘loy’ means ‘to float’ while ‘krathong’ is the lotus-shaped receptacle. Originally, the krathong was made of banana leaves or a spider lily plant; it contains food, betel nuts, flowers, candles, and coins.
  9. Tom Yum Thai Soup Soup It Up: Thailand is known for its spicy, flavorful food and tom yum soup is one of the country’s best-known dishes. This clear, hot-and-sour soup combines herbs, spices, and seafood to great effect.
  10. Wat Bang Phra, Yantra Tattoos, Thailand Get Inked: Experience tattooing like no place else at Wat Bang Phra. The monks here create delicate sak yant (also known as yantra tattoos) following age-old methods, and bless them afterwards.
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Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

Ten Quotes from Bill Hewlett and David Packard that Every Manager and Leader Must Read and Follow

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard

On 23-Aug-1937, two electrical engineers who had recently graduated from Stanford University met to consider the idea of founding a new company. During the course of their studies at Stanford, they had developed a strong friendship and respect for each other. Bill Hewlett and David Packard put their ideas to paper, starting with a broad declaration about design and manufacture of products in the electrical engineering field. Initially, Hewlett and Packard any engineering product would be fair game to move the company forward, and expand beyond their Palo Alto garage. Therefore, they were unfocused and worked on a wide range of electronic products for industry and agriculture. Through hard work, perseverance, and forethought, Bill Hewlett and David Packard developed Hewlett Packard into an instrumentation and computing powerhouse before retiring and handing over management to a new crop of business leaders.

  1. “The greatest success goes to the person who is not afraid to fail in front of even the largest audience.”
  2. “Set out to build a company and make a contribution, not an empire, and a fortune.”
  3. 'The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company' by David Packard (ISBN 887307477) “The best possible company management is one that combines a sense of corporate greatness and destiny, with empathy for, and fidelity to, the average employee.”
  4. “The biggest competitive advantage is to do the right thing at the worst time.”
  5. “A company that focuses solely on profits ultimately betrays both itself and society.”
  6. “Corporate reorganizations should be made for cultural reasons more than financial ones.”
  7. 'Bill & Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World's Greatest Company' by Michael S. Malone (ISBN 1591841526) “A frustrated employee is a greater threat than a merely unhappy one.”
  8. “The job of a manager is to support his or her staff, not vice versa and that begins by being among them.”
  9. “The best business decisions are the most humane decisions. And, all other talents being even, the greatest managers are also the most human managers.”
  10. “Investing in new product development and expanding the product catalog are the most difficult things to do in hard times, and among the most important.

'Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation' by Phil McKinney (ISBN 1401324460) Source: “Beyond The Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game Changing Innovation” by Phil McKinney. Phil McKinney was an innovation manager at Hewlett Packard. Phil’s book has great questions for managing and leading businesses.

For Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard’s legendary management style and the history of Hewlett Packard, read ‘Bill & Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World’s Greatest Company’ by Michael S. Malone and ‘The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company’ by David Packard.

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Advice to Entrepreneurs: Microsoft’s Bill Gates on Overcoming the Feeling of Risk

Entrepreneurs are not necessarily more tolerant to risk and the possibility of failure than the rest of us. They simply define risk differently. Most entrepreneurs tend to prioritize incessantly and can afford to risk a few outputs for an outcome they believe in. Here is advice from Bill Gates on overcoming the feeling of risk. Bill Gates is the cofounder, chairman, and former CEO of Microsoft, the software and hardware company.

Bill Gates, cofounder, chairman, and former CEO of Microsoft If you’re going to start a company, it takes so much energy that you’d better overcome your feeling of risk. Also, I don’t think that you should necessarily start a company at the beginning of your career. There’s a lot to be said for working in a company and learning how they do things first.

On his management style: I do know that if people say things that are wrong, others shouldn’t just sit there silently. They should speak. Great organizations demand a high level of commitment by the people involved.

'World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It' by John A. Byrne (ISBN 1591844509) Source: “World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It” by John A. Byrne. John Byrne, a former editor at BusinessWeek and Fast Company magazines, co-authored Jack: Straight from the Gut with Jack Welch, former General Electric Chairman and CEO. In “World Changers,” John Byrne presents potent advice on entrepreneurism and fascinating insights into what it takes to succeed as entrepreneurs from successful business luminaries such as Apple’s Steve Jobs to HARPO’s Oprah, from India’s Ratan Tata to Brazil’s Eike Batista. John Byrne concludes that the three distinguishing characteristics of successful entrepreneurism are the opportunistic mindset, an ability to embrace risk, and sense of independence, control and urgency.

Recommended Reading

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Jeff Immelt’s Push for the Cultural Revolution at General Electric

Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric

Under previous superstar-CEO, Jack Welch, General Electric prized above all skills cost-cutting, efficiency and deal-making—a unyielding focus on the bottom line. Continual improvement of operations and a ruthless pursuit of efficiency mattered the most. By the time Jack Welch retired from GE, that hard-hitting mindset had turned General Electric into a $152 billion industrial and finance behemoth. But, efficient manufacturing programs like Six Sigma and lean manufacturing gained enough popularity and had been around long enough for other companies to successfully implement these efficiency programs and catch up to General Electric thereby reducing GE’s cost advantage.

'Jeff Immelt and the New GE Way' by David Magee (ISBN B001VCD7X8) Under Jeffrey Immelt, the new imperatives and valued sskills are risk-taking, clever marketing, and innovation. During the Immelt years, General Electric has successfully pursued durable synergies and opportunities for information-sharing across business lines. With its archetypal ability to drive process improvements and operating efficiencies, General Electric has been able to generate healthy returns on invested capital in many of its key businesses. GE has also invested large amounts of money and expanding businesses, all the while reducing leverage, improving liquidity, shedding underperforming and non-core assets, and growing at high margins.

Under Jeff Immelt, GE has focused on building its wide-moat industrial businesses. It has discarded underperforming businesses during the past few years and focused heavily on energy infrastructure. Power infrastructure will become the backbone for the General Electric’s growth in the decades to come. Investments in product development, marketing, and talent across a diverse product and geographical-end markets will mitigate some of the historical volatility and cyclical earnings.

Recommended Reading: ‘Jeff Immelt and the New GE Way’ by David Magee.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Value Investing: Volatility is Your Friend If You Keep a Business Owner’s Perspective

Value Investing: Volatility is Your Friend If You Keep a Business Owner's Perspective

An intelligent investor understands that stocks become more risky, not less, as their prices rise, and less risky, not more, as their prices fall. Risk is not the same as volatility as some people might appeal. There are many money managers who want you to suppose and convince others that volatility is equal to risk because volatility is a foremost risk for them since if stocks drop in price investors will abscond the money manager. These managers also adore equating risk with volatility since it gives investors the idea that risk can be accurately quantified which justifies their fees. Some probabilities are unidentified and some future states are unfamiliar, “risk” is not computable number. “Volatility” enables an investor to benefit from the market’s bi-polar behavior. In other words, volatility is actually the source of a value investor’s opportunity. In Berkshire Hathaway’s 2005 Chairman’s letter and annual report, Warren Buffett wrote,

I consider there to be three basic ideas, ideas that if they are really ground into your intellectual framework, I don’t see how you could help but do reasonably well in stocks. None of them are complicated. None of them take mathematical talent or anything of the sort. [Graham] said you should look at stocks as small pieces of the business. Look at [market] fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy—profit from folly rather than participate in it. And in [the last chapter of The Intelligent Investor], he said the three most important words of investing: “margin of safety.” I think those ideas, 100 years from now, will still be regarded as the three cornerstones of sound investing.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the market. Individual stocks have a tendency to have highly volatile prices, and the returns that an investor might receive on any single stock may vary wildly. Remember Warren Buffett’s famous dictum, “If they [investors] insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Price volatility is an inevitable aspect of investing in common stocks. Throughout periods when emotions are overlooking reason and logic, price volatility can become more noticeable than is normal during quieter times. In Berkshire Hathaway’s 1990 Chairman’s letter and annual report, Warren Buffett wrote,

[Many] investors who expect to be ongoing buyers of investments throughout their lifetimes … illogically become euphoric when stock prices rise and unhappy when they fall. They show no such confusion in their reaction to food prices: Knowing they are forever going to be buyers of food, they welcome falling prices and deplore price increases. (It’s the seller of food who doesn’t like declining prices.) Similarly, at the Buffalo News we would cheer lower prices for newsprint—even though it would mean marking down the value of the large inventory of newsprint we always keep on hand—because we know we are going to be perpetually buying the product.

Identical reasoning guides our thinking about Berkshire’s investments. We will be buying businesses—or small parts of businesses, called stocks—year in, year out as long as I live (and longer, if Berkshire’s directors attend the seances I have scheduled). Given these intentions, declining prices for businesses benefit us, and rising prices hurt us.

The most common cause of low prices is pessimism—some times pervasive, some times specific to a company or industry. We want to do business in such an environment, not because we like pessimism but because we like the prices it produces. It’s optimism that is the enemy of the rational buyer.

None of this means, however, that a business or stock is an intelligent purchase simply because it is unpopular; a contrarian approach is just as foolish as a follow-the-crowd strategy. What’s required is thinking rather than polling. Unfortunately, Bertrand Russell’s observation about life in general applies with unusual force in the financial world: “Most men would rather die than think. Many do.”

Investors are susceptible to assess risk and build their portfolios based on the volatility of the market rather than the market—and more precisely their investments’—actual risks, even though an suitable dimension of risk in investing, especially for long-term investors, is the very reason for failure to realize a final outcome. In his seminal treatise on value investing, ‘The Intelligent Investor’, Warren Buffett’s mentor Benjamin Graham wrote,

Basically, price fluctuations have only one significant meaning for the true investor. They provide him with an opportunity to buy wisely when prices fall sharply and to sell wisely when they advance a great deal. At other times he will do better if he forgets about the stock market and pays attention to his dividend returns and to the operating results of his companies.

Recommended Reading on Warren Buffett & Value Investing

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Posted in Investing and Finance

Ecological and Environmental Reasons for Vegetarianism

Ecological and Environmental Reasons for Vegetarianism

Since the 1970s vegetarianism has gained strength from three major lines of argument: health, ecology, and concern for animals.

The view that people should keep away from eating meat or fish could be traced to ancient philosophical roots. In Hinduism, the Upanishads prescribe that the doctrine of reincarnation leads to disagreement with the consumption of meat. In Buddhism, all animals are sentient beings and deserve compassion. The Buddha prescribed that Buddhist monks should neither kill animals nor eat meat unless they identified that the animal had not been killed for their explicit consumption. In Jainism, ahimsa or non-violence toward any living creature is a central part concept of the belief system, and consequently adherents are not to consume meat.

Ecological and environmental concerns about eating meat stem from the acknowledged inefficiency of raising animals. The systemic inefficiency applies particularly to intensive farming, in which grain is grown on good agricultural land and fed to animals restrained indoors, or in the case of cattle, in packed feed-lots. A large amount of the nutritional value of the grain is lost in the process. In addition, this type of animal production is energy-intensive. For this reason, concern for world hunger, for the land, and for energy conservation provides a moral basis for a vegetarian diet, or as a minimum one in which meat consumption is curtailed.

Recommended Reading

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Posted in Faith and Religion Philosophy and Wisdom

Definition: Atheism and Agnosticism

Atheism and Agnosticism Poster in Bus.jpg

Atheism is broadly regarded as the doctrine that there is no God. Various atheists reinforce this assertion by arguments. However, these arguments are usually aimed against the Abrahamic notion of God—more specifically the Christian concept of God—and are generally irrelevant to gods probable in other faiths. Consequently, much Western atheism may be better identified as the doctrine that the Abrahamic God does not exist.

Agnosticism may perhaps be actually individual and confessional—”I have no definite belief about God”—or it may be the more motivated declaration that no one ought to have a definite belief for or against the divine existence. Often, only the motivated refutation invites contention. A promising version of agnosticism may merge William Clifford’s dictum that one must not hold a belief on inadequate evidence with the claim that the existence of God is evidentially unknowable. Both of these claims have been strongly contested by Christian apologetics.

Many people fail to make a precise distinction between atheism and agnosticism. It is possible that many people passionately identify themselves as agnostics were in fact atheists, and those who described themselves as atheists were agnostics because they have suspended their judgment of the existence of the Abrahamic God on the basis of inadequate evidence.

Recommended Reading

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Posted in Faith and Religion

The Golden Rule in the Great Cultures and the Great Religions

The Golden Rule Poster, Golden Rule in the Great Cultures and the Great Religions

The Golden Rule or the ethic of reciprocity is the definitive, all-encompassing principle for ethical behavior. In essence, this maxim states, “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” in the positive form and “One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated” in the negative form, the latter called the Silver Rule. The utility of the Golden Rule is primarily in developing a framework of personal ethics, in forming a psychological outlook toward others, and not necessarily in directing behavior.

We find the Golden Rule in all the great cultures and the great religions of the world:

  • Golden Rule in Baha’i Faith: “Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.” [Source: Baha'u'llah, Gleanings]
  • Golden Rule in Buddhism: “Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” [Source: Udana-Varga 5.18]
  • Golden Rule in Christianity: “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” [Source: The Bible, Matthew 7:12]
  • Golden Rule in Confucianism: “One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct….loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” [Source: Confucius, Analects 15.23]
  • Golden Rule in Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” [Source: Mahabharata 5:1517]
  • Golden Rule in Hinduism: “Why does a man inflict upon other creatures those sufferings, which he has found by experience are sufferings to himself?” [Source: Tiruvalluvar, Tirukkural Verse 318]
  • Golden Rule in Islam: “Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.” [Source: The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith]
  • Golden Rule in Jainism: “One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.” [Source: Sutrakritanga 1.11.33]
  • Golden Rule in Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.” [Source: Hillel, Talmud, Shabbath 31a]
  • Golden Rule in Native Spirituality: “We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.” [Source: Chief Dan George]
  • Golden Rule in Sikhism: “I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.” [Source: Guru Granth Sahib, p.1299]
  • Golden Rule in Taoism: “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss.” [Source: Laozi, T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien, 213-218]
  • Golden Rule in Unitarianism: “We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” [Source: Unitarian principle]
  • Golden Rule in Zoroastrianism: “Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.” [Source: Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29]

Notes: Poster compiled by Paul McKenna for “Guidelines for Golden Rule” Workshop, published by Scarboro Missions, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

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Posted in Faith and Religion Philosophy and Wisdom

The Significance of the Golden Rule

Norman Rockwell Mosaic called Golden Rule at the United Nations

The Golden Rule describes a guide to a fundamental behavior and is taught in most major religious and moral traditions.

The Golden Rule has been articulated either positively as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12); or negatively, counseling that you not do to others what you would not wish them to do to you, as in the teachings of Confucius (“Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”) or Hillel (“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour”).

The Golden Rule’s all-inclusive simplicity has invited innumerable belittling counter-examples. For example, should masochists impose their favorite annoyances on unsuspicious acquaintances? Nonetheless, such counter-examples and critiques the point of the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule was never proposed as a guide to practical choice unaided of all other principles of moral conduct and behavior. In fact, the Golden Rule alludes to nothing about particular moral and ethical considerations, nor does it validate specific moral principles, qualities, and ideals.

To be more precise, the Golden Rule has to do with a perspective philosophy that is indispensable to the exercise of even the most rudimentary morality: one of seeking to situate oneself in the position of those affected by one’s actions, in an attempt to counteract the natural tendency to ignore moral considerations and ethical short-sightedness.

The Golden Rule directs one to treat others with the compassionate considerations that one wishes to contend with (in the positive form,) and, in particular, not to perpetrate misfortunes on others that one would abhor to have inflicted on oneself.

The Golden Rule has long been thought fundamental. Therefore many moral philosophers have compared it to their own principles concerning moral choice and conduct.

  • Immanuel Kant, German philosopher In “Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals”, German philosopher Immanuel Kant dismissed the Golden Rule as inconsequential and too limited to be a universal law: “Let it not be thought that the trivial quod tibi non vis fieri, etc. [what you do not will to be done to you, etc.] can here serve as a standard or principle. For it is merely derived from our principle, although with several limitations. It cannot be a universal law, for it contains the ground neither of duties to oneself nor of duties of love toward others (for many a man would gladly consent that others should not benefit him, if only he might be excused from benefiting them). Nor, finally, does it contain the ground of strict duties toward others, for the criminal would on this ground be able to dispute with the judges who punish him; and so on.”
  • John Stuart Mill, English philosopher In “Utilitarianism”, English philosopher John Stuart Mill claimed that, “In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility. To do as you would be done by, and to love your neighbour as yourself, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality.”
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Posted in Faith and Religion Philosophy and Wisdom