Marissa Mayer: Creativity Loves Constraints

Marissa Mayer, then Vice-President for Search Products and User Experience at Google, and presently CEO of Yahoo, had the following thoughts on creativity:

Marissa Mayer on Creativity Constraints shape and focus problems and provide clear challenges to overcome. Creativity thrives best when constrained.

Constraints can actually speed development. For instance, we often can get a sense of just how good a new concept is if we only prototype for a single day or week. Or we’ll keep team size to three people or fewer. By limiting how long we work on something or how many people work on it, we limit our investment.

… constraints alone can stifle and kill creativity. While we need them to spur passion and insight, we also need a sense of hopefulness to keep us engaged and unwavering in our search for the right idea. Innovation is born from the interaction between constraint and vision.

Henry Ford once said: “If I’d listened to customers, I’d have given them a faster horse.” True creativity makes the impossible possible. It can revolutionize a product, a business, the economy, and the world around us.

Think about that the next time someone interprets the results of a customer survey or focus group.

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

The Four Filters of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

In the 2007 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Warren Buffett wrote, “Charlie and I look for companies that have a) a business we understand; b) favorable long-term economics; c) able and trustworthy management; and d) a sensible price tag.” Based on this sage advice, value investors must look for:

  • A business that we can understand. A business within your circle of competence.
  • A business with favorable long-term prospects. A business with a line of business that is not easy to duplicate. A business with excellent cash flow profile: excellent ability to generate and invest cash.
  • A business led and perated by honest and competent people.
  • A business available for sale at a very attractive price.
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Posted in Investing and Finance

Richard Branson’s 10 Tips for Success

Richard Branson's 10 Tips for Success

  1. Follow your dreams and just do it. “Follow your dreams, get involved in life, in the things that interest you. If you are going to create a business, make sure it is your hobby, your passion or something that you really enjoy.”
  2. Make a positive difference and do some good. “The first thing to do if you want to become an entrepreneur is basically to have an idea that is going to make a positive difference to other people’s lives. A business is simply that.”
  3. 'Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way' by Richard Branson (ISBN 0307720748) Believe in your ideas and be the best. “You definitely need to believe in your idea. There’s really no point in doing something in life unless people feel really good about it and proud about it. You’ve got to have passion for it and you’ve got to be able to inspire other people to have a passion for it too.”
  4. Have fun and look after your team. “Make sure that you’ve got the kinds of people running your companies who genuinely care about people, who look for the best in people and who praise and don’t criticise.”
  5. Don’t give up. “It’s extremely important not to give up. There have been situations in my adventures, like crossing the pacific in a balloon, where the odds were stacked very heavily against us surviving.”
  6. Make lots of lists and keep setting yourself new challenges. “I make copious lists because I think it’s the little details that make for an exceptional company over an average company. Details are very important and I think it’s important to keep setting yourself new challenges and targets.”
  7. Spend time with your family and learn to delegate. “One of the early things you have to do as an entrepreneur is learn the art of delegation. Find people who are better than you to run the companies on a day-to-day basis, freeing yourself up to think about the bigger picture and spend time with your family.”
  8. 'Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur' by Richard Branson (ISBN 1591844061) Try turning off the TV and get out there and do things. “My mum brought us up very much to get out there and do things, don’t watch other people do things, and don’t watch television. I think that was a good way of bringing up kids. With my own kids, we’ve spent quite a lot of time in the Caribbean and we never watch television there.”
  9. When people say bad things about you, just prove them wrong. “There are people who hang onto the coat tails of successful people and try to sell a few books on the back of their name. It’s unpleasant but you know that if you sue them or kick up a fuss, all it will do is publicise the book. So I’ve had to learn the art of ignoring people like that.”
  10. Do what you love and have a sofa in the kitchen. “You only live one life, so I would do the thing that you are going to enjoy. When life boils down, this might sound like a little much coming from me, I do have my own little island in the Caribbean, but when we are on that island, we tend to just live in the kitchen.”
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Posted in Leaders and Innovators

The Economic Impact of Aging Japan

The Economic Impact of Aging Japan

The saving rates in Japan will fall dramatically by 2024 and make Japan’s financial wealth decline. There are two direct reasons for this fall: one is that by 2024, more than a third of Japan’s population will be over the age of 65, which will lead the retired household to outnumber households in their prime saving years. Another reason is that the younger generation is saving far less than older generations have, and this truth will amplify the effects of a decline in the number of savers.

This trend will decrease the accumulation of wealth and erode Japanese living standards. What’s more, since Japan has played an important role in financing the massive US current-account deficit, as Japanese funding dries up, this damage may extend to other countries and bring negative impact for economic system of America. For example, if other rapidly industrializing countries could not step up to fill the gap in savings as Japan’s savings rate declines, the United States will probably be forced to trim its trade deficit and this could have enormous repercussion for the global economy.

There are only two ways to mitigate the coming demographic pressure in a meaningful way: increasing household savings and boosting the returns earned on them.

  • Increasing savings: Given the significant increase in average life spans during the past 50 years, rising the retirement age is a way to extent the period when households are most prone to save. In addition, encouraging younger Japanese households to save more is also a helpful step to increase household savings.
  • Raise the rates of return: The most effective change for Japan would be to raise the rates of return on its financial assets. To do so, Japan will have to raise productivity throughout the economy and increase the efficiency of the financial system in allocating capital.

On one hand, basic structural reform, such as elimination of market regulations that would increase competition and spark innovation, tax policies protecting inefficient companies, and ease zoning and land regulations that reduce large companies’ expanding and creating jobs to protect start-ups to do business, could increase the economic-wide productivity.

On the other hand, increasing the financial system’s efficiency ensures the savings are channeled to the most productive investments and improves legal protection for investors and creditors. The diversification of Japan’s household financial assets is also an important means of increasing the efficiency of capital allocation.

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Posted in Global Business

Yale’s Steven Novella on Skepticism of Anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW)

Anthropomorphic Global Warming

Steve Novella, clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, writes:

On many issues, however, there is a nuanced opinion somewhere in between the two extremes. I have no reason to doubt the scientific consensus on AGW, but we have to remember the current consensus is that AGW is 95% probable, meaning (if accurate) that one in 20 such statements will turn out to be wrong. Also, it is reasonable to question the efficacy of individual proposed solutions to AGW. I am still solidly in the “AGW is probably real and if we are going to do something about it we better start acting now,” camp, but I also don’t think we should white wash over current uncertainties in order to present a clean and united front. Science is messy and we have to deal with it.

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Posted in Global Business

Drink your Tea the Turkish way in this beautifully ornate Gold- and Sapphire-Colored Turkish Set

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

There’s nothing like a Turkish tea to set you up for the day.

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

It’s the right time to drink a cup of turkish tea at this cold weather to feel warm.

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

Turkish Tea Set. Beautiful at home or work. We love this colorful set!

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

Gold and Sapphire Colored Turkish Tea & Coffee Cups

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Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

Gandhi on God

'Mahatma Gandhi: Essays and Reflections on His Life and Work' Edited by S. Radhakrishnan (ISBN 1553940261) There is an indefinable mysterious Power that pervades everything. I feel it, though I do not see it. It is this unseen Power which makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses. It transcends the senses. But it is possible to reason out the existence of God to a limited extent.

There is an unalterable Law governing everything and every being that exists or lives. It is not a blind law; for no blind law can govern the conduct of living beings.

That Law, then, which governs all life is God. Law and the Law-Giver are one. I may not deny the Law or the Law-Giver because I know so little about It or Him. Just as my denial or ignorance of the existence of an earthly power will avail me nothing, even so my denial of God and His law will not liberate me from its operation; whereas humble and mute acceptance of divine authority makes life’s journey easier even as the acceptance of earthly rule makes life under it easier.

Source: ‘Mahatma Gandhi: Essays and Reflections on His Life and Work’ edited by S. Radhakrishnan

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Posted in Faith and Religion

WSJ’s Jonathan Clements Thinks it’s a Good Time to be an Investor

In a recent interview with Vanguard, Jonathan Clements argues that this is a great time to be an investor:

'Money Guide 2015' by Jonathan Clements (ISBN B00PGE26A2) The financial world has become a kinder place for investors for three reasons:

  1. Investment costs have dropped sharply.
  2. The tax code has become much friendlier to investors.
  3. We have seen a proliferation of investment choices, so ordinary investors today can build extraordinarily sophisticated portfolios.

Jonathan Clements is a personal finance columnist at Wall Street Journal, and is the author of the immensely popular ‘The Little Book of Main Street Money’, the forthcoming ‘Money Guide 2015′ and several other books.

Jonathan Clements on thrift to wealth:

'The Little Book of Main Street Money' by Jonathan Clements (ISBN 0470473231) Over the years, I have met thousands of everyday Americans who have amassed seven-figure portfolios—and the one attribute shared by almost all of them is that they’re extremely frugal. When I was at Citi, I used to joke to the bankers that they would know a couple was wealthy if they pulled up to the branch in a second-hand Civic, wore clothes from J.C. Penney, and asked to have their parking ticket validated.

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Posted in Investing and Finance

Can Satya Nadella Make Microsoft More Like Google?

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

One of the greatest challenges faced by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella encompasses resolving if Microsoft even now wants to be an intermediary of technology. In many ways, Google has developed into the company that Microsoft had always hoped to be. Essentially, by means of acquisitions, Google has made big, bold bets and succeeded to get its research and product groups to work together.

Microsoft has also financed capital investments in all these areas, but although it outspends Google by about $2 billion annually in R&D, a substantial portion of Microsoft’s research and development budget goes toward advancing existing franchises such as Windows and Office, it’s principal source of Microsoft’s revenues and profits. Executives at Microsoft recognize that the stakes in this battle for the future are high. Microsoft may be missing the chance to participate in potential future revenue streams by failing to bet on some of its bigger gambles with abundant resources.

For Microsoft, it is not certainly not because of a lack of talent. Microsoft’s researchers are some of the best in the world and now the company is pushing researchers to direct more of their research on more practical work. Regrettably, Microsoft’s R&D fiascoes have received far more attention and internal frustration has taken a toll. The company’s creative thinking has been sidetracked by its emphasis on Windows and by squabbling among division heads.

Microsoft could let the world know that it not only cares about partaking in the future but expects to invent the future as well. What Microsoft has lacked is a leader willing to destroy focus on some sacred cows and redefine the way the company is perceived.

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Posted in Business and Strategy

Visiting the Boeing Renton 737 Plant

Visiting the Boeing Renton 737 Plant

Boeing Renton Plant from Logan Avenue and Park Street

Boeing does not offer any tours of its Renton, Washington factory where, most prominently, Next-Generation Boeing 737 airliners are built today, and the Boeing 737-MAX will be built in the near future.

Boeing has had the following operations at the Renton plant, which is conveniently adjacent to the Renton Municipal Airport.

  • The Renton factory built B-29 Superfortress, a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber.
  • After the second world war Boeing closed the Renton plant. In 1948, Boeing re-opened the Renton facilities to build the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter for the United States Air Force.
  • Starting from the 1950s, the Boeing 367-80 and the Boeing 707 were built in Renton. The first production Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker first flew in August 1956 and the first production Boeing 707 rolled out of Renton in October 1957. Boeing produced 707s until April 1991.
  • Boeing also used the Boeing 707 final assembly building to manufacture the Boeing 727 three-engined aircraft between 1963 and 1982.
  • The Boeing 737 aircrafts built have their first flight out of the adjacent Renton Municipal Airport and then flown to Boeing Field for final preparation and delivery. Randy Tinseth, Vice President of Marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes offers great photo gallery flashback to celebrate the 737’s past, present and future.
  • The Renton plant refurbished the first four 747s ever built.
  • The Renton plant built Boeing 757, the revered twin-engine short-to-medium-range airliner.

Glimpse of Boeing Renton Plant from Cedar River Path

Visiting the Boeing Renton Plant: Cedar River Path & Logan Avenue

Google Maps for Boeing Renton 737 Plant: Cedar River

If you sincerely just want to glimpse at the plant itself, you can see it acceptably from Logan Avenue right outside of The Landing Mall. At the intersection of Logan Avenue and Park Street (map), if you cross the street there is a small grassy area right where Gate D-9 is.

Google Maps for Boeing Renton 737 Plant: Logan Avenue

There’s also a jogging / walking path along the Cedar River near the Renton Stadium where you can get pretty close to some parked 737s in various stages of manufacturing. The GPS coordinates are 47.49029,-122.211635.

Visiting Other Boeing Facilities in and around Seattle

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners