Monthly Archives: December 2017

Try Salabhasana (Locust Pose) To Stand Up Straighter

The culture of India has produced a great assortment of systems of spiritual beliefs and practices. Primordial seers used yoga as a method to discover the exterior and interior world and, perhaps, eventually to attain wisdom and knowledge of the sacred Indian texts: the Vedas, Upanishads, and Shastras. These great teachers, or gurus, did not equate yoga with religion but more as an art of living at the highest level in attunement with the larger life—realism. The weight in yoga was on personal verification rather than on belief. The practice of yoga was a way to inner joyfulness and outer harmony.

If you spend hours a day hunched over a computer, you may end up with a rounded upper back—a condition associated with weak and painfully tight muscles in the neck, shoulders, and spine area.

The routine of yoga in the Indian subcontinent has been documented as early as 3000 BCE. The word yoga comes from the equivalent Sanskrit origin as the word for yoke; it suggests exploiting oneself to a discipline or a way of life. This procedure has a widespread appeal in that it is not connected with religious faith, and it is deliberated a procedure of personal development. There are several types of yoga; two are Hatha and Raja yoga, the most frequently performed in the West. Yoga involves educating the mind and body through exercises and meditation.

Sage Patanjali‘s earliest description of yoga-sutra is in Sanskrit language in poetic structure. Initially taught in the oral tradition, yoga-sutra afterward was transliterated in various languages. The original translation affirms that yoga is proof in itself of its benefits and has been practiced for several hundred years. It since has stood the test of time. Salabhasana or locust pose:

Try Salabhasana (Locust Pose) To Stand Up Straighter

  1. Lie prone with arms by the side, palms facing up. Inhale and lift the head, chest, and legs off the floor simultaneously.
  2. Most of the weight should be on the stomach and not on the arms, which continue to lie on the floor.
  3. Maintain this position for a few seconds, exhale, and return to prone position.

Mind-body interventions identical to yoga are encouraging approaches for healing cancer-related fatigue. Yoga involves physical postures (asanas) that advance strength and flexibility and promote relaxation. Yoga is also a contemplative practice, because the practitioner focuses on the body and breath in each pose. A growing body of research indicates that yoga has advantageous effects on physical and social outcomes in cancer patients and survivors, embracing enhancements in quality of life, mood, and fatigue. Nevertheless, as with the behavioral interventions, none of the published yoga trials has targeted patients with fatigue. Moreover, very few of these trials have included an active control group to maneuver for attention, group support, and other broad-based components of the treatment.

There are an assortment of books and pamphlets about yoga that have included precise recommendations for the cure of soreness and even certain kinds of stiffness. Proponents of these regimens quote ancient traditions passed on from teachers to students. Ostensibly, trial and error have been included to some degree. The valuable effects of yoga on arthritis are attributed to stretching, extending, and relaxing to bring calmness of the mind. Gurus are quoted as saying that they identify root causes of disease and treat these and not only symptoms and signs.

Yoga: postures advance physical strength & flexibility and promote relaxation

Try the Locust pose, or salabhasana, a basic yoga position.

It can combat aches and poor posture by stretching and strengthening those muscles.

  1. Lie on stomach, forehead on floor, arms reaching behind your back.
  2. Keep your legs close to each other.
  3. On an inhale, lift your head, chest and legs off floor; think of broadening your chest through your collarbones.
  4. Stay lifted for 3 to 5 breaths, resting on lower ribs, stomach, and front pelvis.
  5. Gaze forward, making sure you don’t scrunch your neck. Lower and repeat 3 to 5 times.

Individually yoga and physical exercise have been distinctly found to change the physical fitness, cognitive performance, and emotional wellbeing in individuals. Yoga and physical exercise diverge in three main ways, since yoga practice places a prominence on (i) breath mindfulness, (ii) controlled breathing, and (iii) mindful relaxation. Hence randomized precise examination aimed to compare the effects of yoga with those of physical exercise on physical fitness, cognitive functions and self-esteem.

Controlling for pre-intervention health differences, children in the yoga group had healthier post-intervention undesirable behavior scores and steadiness than the non-yoga group. The bulk of children in the yoga group testified improved wellbeing. The results recommend a possible role of yoga as a precautionary technique as well as a means of cultivating children’s identified wellbeing.

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Posted in Health and Fitness

Inspiring Buddhist Quotes from Nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Inspiring Buddhist Quotes from Nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (born 1943) was born Diane Perry Woolmers Park, Hertfordshire, during the Blitz to an English house cleaner and a fishmonger. Although spiritualist meetings were held in her childhood home, at age eighteen, she decided she was a Buddhist in 1961 when she read a library book on the subject. She then traveled by sea to India in search of a teacher. On her twenty-first birthday, she met her religious teacher, the eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche. Three weeks later, she became the second Western woman (after Freda Bedi, another English woman who in 1966 became the first Western woman to take ordination in Tibetan Buddhism) to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun.

'Reflections On A Mountain Lake' by Tenzin Palmo (ISBN 1559391758) At thirty-three, with her lama’s sanction, Tenzin Palmo took up residence in a six-by-six-foot cave, 13,200 feet up in the Himalayan valley of Lahaul, and lived there for twelve years. Since then, she has given her uniquely practical teachings around the world in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery, in Himachal Pradesh, India, which she founded in 2000.

Tenzin Palmo is recognized as one of the very few Western yoginis trained in the East, having spent twelve years living in a remote cave in the Himalayas, three of those years in strict meditation retreat.

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is the author of such well-known books as Reflections On A Mountain Lake: Teachings On Practical Buddhism and Into the Heart of Life. Four quotations from her interview called “No Excuses: There are no obstacles, just opportunities.” with Lucy Powell for the Tricycle Winter 2009 magazine:

  • “It is really very impressive how many excuses we can invent for why we aren’t sitting. This idea we have that when things are perfect, then we’ll start practicing—things will never be perfect. This is samsara!”
  • “Our fundamental problems are our ignorance and ego-grasping. We grasp at our identity as being our personality, memories, opinions, judgments, hopes, fears, chattering away—all revolving around this me me me me.”
  • “Our mind is a treasure. But it’s very absorbent, so we must also be very discriminating in what we hear, read, and see. And in the spiritual life, our fence is our ethics. If we know we are living ethically to the best of our ability, the mind will become peaceful.”
  • “The difference between love and attachment … Attachment is the very opposite of love. Love says, “I want you to be happy.” Attachment says, “I want you to make me happy.””
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Posted in Faith and Religion

St. Thomas Aquinas on God and Causation

St. Thomas Aquinas receiving the Holy Spirit (in the shape of a dove), by Andrea di Bartolo (c. 1368-1428)

The view that God does not work directly in the world, but through secondary causes, can be attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas.

In his unfinished work Summa Theologica (1265-74), philosopher, priest, and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) refers to God as the “Primary Cause” of all of creation, which God then sustains through his presence.

The inhabitants of God’s creation—including humankind—are his “Secondary Causes.” The idea of “causation” is not always as linear as the example of creator followed by creation suggests. The “chicken and the egg” causality dilemma (which came first, the chicken or the egg?) means different things to different people. A literal reading of Genesis makes it clear that the chicken (God) came first; but in evolution it is the egg that first appeared. In Summa Theologica (1265-74), St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “All intermediate causes are inferior in power to the first cause … .”

According to Rene Descartes (1596-1650), a primary cause is able to “cause itself” and is not dependent upon anything before it for its existence. For Aquinas, creation was the radical “causing” of the universe—it was not a change to the universe, or to space or time; it was not an altering of existing materials. If anything had already existed to aid in or be added to the causing of the universe, then God would not have been the maker of it. As the initiator of the first, primary cause, God is responsible for the means by which all subsequent secondary causes are enabled and sustained. These secondary causes are truly causal, and are variable and arbitrary according to the whims and vagaries of its agents, whether they are humans, or the laws of nature, or the mechanjcs of physics. For Aquinas, humans cause their own actions and God influences the actions of humans, and neither impinges upon the freedom of the other.

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Posted in Faith and Religion

Six Megatrends of Retailing

Survive and Prosper the Consumer Megatrends

The New Shopping-as-life Model Has a Broad Competitive Perspective

As we enter the 21st century, the nature of shopping and the role it plays in life has changed dramatically. Shopping is about much more than feeding and clothing the family, it is about who we are, how we live, and how we spend our time. It is no longer about shopping versus life. It is about shopping as life. In fact, shopping has become so integrated into everyday life that consumers do it almost without thinking as they juggle family, work, and social activity.

How then do we manage this shopping life? We do it by being more efficient, smarter about our choices, and by blending shopping seamlessly into our lives, sometimes as a practical function and sometimes as entertainment, adventure, and emotional reward. We are shopping more at the outlets of choice and for more product categories.

Heighten the Emotional Quotient in Retail Branding

In the last four years, consumers have doubled the number of outlets they shop during their weekly shopping trips. However, they are not making more shopping trips, they are shopping more stores on each trip. The increase in outlets and categories shopped is partly due to the range of new, convenient, and affordable shopping options.

However, this increase in shopping is also driven by the level of shopping confidence and experience exhibited by female shoppers who willingly and eagerly shop everywhere.

Consumers have changed their weekly shopping matrix, overlaying the traditional supermarket with the increasingly accessible, discount-oriented mass merchandiser and the local convenience store. While three out of four American women still shop the local supermarket weekly, one-out-of two now shops a mass merchandiser once a week and one-in-five shops a drug store weekly. We now see the interrelationship between convenience and price. Retailers can no longer trade one for the other. Consumers demand both. If it is not conveniently located, reliable, and easy to shop, if the prices are not right, consumers will not integrate the outlet into their weekly shopping matrix.

One-in-two consumers of all ages shop at a mass merchandiser weekly (more than double five years ago). Mass merchandisers have affected supermarkets and caused declines in all outlets that compete with them.

Six Megatrends of Retailing

Six Consumer and Retail Mega-Trends

  • The Walmart-ing of America. This trend is not about mass merchandisers as a whole, it is about Walmart. Walmart has redefined the American consumers’ shopping experience and expectations. Stunningly, four-out-of-10 American female consumers now shop Walmart weekly. Walmart has become the benchmark against which American consumers evaluate not just the functional aspects of shopping (price, convenience, selection, service) but also the emotional experience of shopping. Not only is it the outlet consumers rate as the best place to get the lowest prices but also the place they look for what’s new.
  • The new value equation. Consumers now demand the functional aspects of convenience, price, selection and service as basic requirements of any and all retail outlets-be they discount-oriented national chains, catalogues, department stores or e-commerce sites. No longer can an outlet define itself by a singular functional dimension, such as low price, convenience or service. Today, all consumers demand convenience, good prices, selection (always in stock) as basic minimums wherever they shop. Now consumers view shopping as part necessity and part adventure, part pragmatism and part emotion. A retailer can no longer survive unless it satisfies consumers on both functional and emotional issues.
  • Retailers on the rise. Mass merchandisers are clearly leading the way as the outlet of choice. Not only do nine-out-of-10 primary shoppers of all ages and income levels shop a mass merchandiser quarterly but also one-out-of two shop there weekly! Mass merchandisers reflected the largest increases in consumers shopping for all the core categories they carry, with the exception of clothing. Mass merchandisers are now the primary outlet for all major beauty care categories, skin care, hair care, and cosmetics, overtaking department stores and drug stores, and second only to department stores in fragrance. As the big get bigger, the opportunity for the more concise, more personal, more specialized retailer grows. More consumers are shopping specialty stores in areas that did not even exist 10 years ago—in beauty care, hair care, skin care, fragrance, and cosmetics.
  • Retailers at risk. Retailers that fail to offer more than price or convenience or service are struggling to survive. Drug stores have become convenience store—places where Americans fill their prescriptions and pick up a container of milk. Seven of every ten consumers still fill their prescriptions at the drug store; however, the margins on the prescriptions have declined significantly in this era of managed care. Since 1996, the percentage of consumers shopping department stores has declined in all core categories with the exception of clothing. Most department stores focus on attracting younger consumers. However, they are not doing it as effectively as the specialty stores. The result? Older consumers with more disposable income are disenfranchised, and younger consumers are not compelled to make the department store their primary fashion outlet. The warehouse club is no longer the adventurous shopping outing. Other retailers have learned how to compete on selection and price. The result: the percentage of consumers who shop a warehouse club declined significantly. Supermarkets beware. Mass merchandisers have moved ahead of supermarkets as the outlet more consumers use.

The Demographic Divide Trends in Retailing

  • The demographic divide. While everyone is shopping more, younger consumers, 18 to 34 years of age, are driving the increases. Consumers 55 to 70 are shopping more selectively. This creates a demographic divide in retailing that has major implications, especially since consumers over 50 now represent 38 percent of the U.S. adult population and have 55 percent of the disposable income. When retailers and manufacturers concentrate on youth to the exclusion of older shoppers, older consumers stop shopping. They only replenish their basics. They spend their discretionary funds on investments, travel, computers, and their gardens, eating out—not on clothes, accessories, beauty products, home decorating products, or entertainment.
  • The truth about E-commerce. The outlook is clear: e-commerce will play an important role in retailing. However, today’s reality is that only 10 percent of primary female shoppers use the Internet as regular shopping alternative. E-tailing will have an impact on where consumers shop. The growth over the last two years has been dramatic. In 2000, 10 percent of respondents said they had shopped on-line in the last three months, up from five. The fact that one-in-four upper income women have embraced this new shopping outlet is an indicator of its potential.

How to Survive and Prosper the Consumer Megatrends

How can a company profitably capture the consumers’ attention and hold it when at every moment, on every corner, at every event there is an enticement to shop and spend. It is not just about opening more stores. It is not only about adding entertainment. It is not solely about offering e-commerce. What it is about is integrating a brand into the consumers’ life and embracing their lifestyle so that the outlet or product is indelibly inscribed in the consumers’ shopping life. Here are six keys for success:

  • Expand the landscape. It is no longer enough to present a singular concept in a singular landscape and assume it will satisfy your target customers and maintain their loyalty. Ensure that the real estate or the assumption that your target customer will shop there regardless because what you offer is so compelling does not limit the concept.
  • Increase share of consumer’s mind and life. Create multiple reasons for consumers to think of you for more. Once the consumer “buys” into the initial concept, they are encouraged to embrace you as part of their life and community—and thus buy more. By creating multiple layers of value, it is harder for a competing outlet to entice customers away.
  • Any way the customer wants it. Enable consumers to shop when, where and how they want since consumers can readily find somewhere else to shop. For consumers to keep coming back they need more than random access; they need to be assured they can count on you whenever they need you.

The Truth About E-commerce

  • Retail branding. Loyalty is built when consumers see and believe that the company reflects and satisfies both the practical and emotional tenor of their life, that it mirrors their attitudes and their sense of community, that it clearly resonates, “this outlet is like me and for me.” By creating a format—be it web site or store—with such affinity to a consumer’s life, it ensures that the consumer will stay true and loyal in spite of the shopping alternatives.
  • Heighten the emotional quotient. Pragmatism and functionality are merely the foundations of customer loyalty. Every company must provide convenient, easy-to-shop outlets, with a mix of merchandise always in stock at fair prices. What keeps customers coming back is the emotional bond they form with the outlet or brand. This is not solely about entertainment or novelty. It is about the trust and affinity customers feel a company offers them.
  • Recognize its global. The model against which you must evaluate your opportunities is global.

To build loyalty you need to establish a clear functional and emotionally satisfying matrix Study the trends and apply the six keys.

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Posted in Global Business

Zen Koan #14: Parable of Muddy Road – Buddhist Teaching on Living with Reality

Zen Koan #14: Parable of Muddy Road - Buddhist Teaching on Living with Reality Renunciation is not a spiritual destination, nor a heroic experience dependent upon great striving and will. Repudiation is a practice of kindness and compassion undertaken in the midst of the small details and intense experiences of our lives. You’re not endeavoring to document your cognizance. You are endeavoring to practice it. You climb until you are completely exhausted, and suddenly you find yourself on the top of the mountain.

Meditation is only one part of the path to enlightenment. If you use a gentle flame, the rice will be perfect and easy to digest, whereas with a high flame, it will burn before it is done.

This deep mutuality is the essence of the Zen process. It’s been wonderful training for a stubborn person like me, softening me considerably over the years, and expanding my horizons. Nevertheless, you have no cull. Bodies melt into waves. As long as you stay in a state of one mind, nothing can bother, tempt, or excite you. It is only then that you realize that even this one is not ultimate. Likewise, you should not hold on to any experiences that may come up. We don’t have an inordinate quantity of ambitions. We must look after ourselves. In addition, where there is an object there must be a subject, namely, the self.

Zen Koan: “Muddy Road” Parable

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

“Come on, girl” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”

“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

Buddhist Insight on A Way to Live with Reality

In Zen Buddhism, everyone ought to try to live without doing harm to any one either in word or in act. The wounded bird by right belongs to the one who saved its life. That is the way to live. The most hazardous, but also the most interesting, is the category where you embellish it without sensing the reality. Life is like an empty bubble, or like a furrow drawn on the water, which immediately disappears again. The British Zen Buddhist author and psychotherapist David Brazier writes in The Feeling Buddha,

The Buddha taught enlightenment. He did not teach that we will never be depressed. he taught us not to be defeated by it. He did not teach us how to avoid suffering. He taught is to meet affliction and live nobly, so that suffering in not necessarily multiplied. There is suffering enough in the world. He did not put himself above us. he was a man who never claimed divinity. He showed a way to live with reality, with all its alternations and with all the emotions and internal changes that result from them, and to see that this is our path.

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Posted in Faith and Religion

Crowd Psychology

Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology, focused on crowd behavior.

Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology, focused on crowd behavior.

Theory on the behavior of crowds, going back as far as Plato, originally assumed that crowd behavior was that of an unthinking mob. Substantive study of crowds in the social sciences was reinvigorated by The Origins of Contemporary France (1875/1893), by the conservative historian Hippolyte Taine (1828-93). But it was in [[The Psychology of Crowds|Le Bon[The Psychology of Crowds (1895) that French sociologist Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931) first mined the writings of existing theorists on crowd behavior to create the new discipline of crowd psychology.

Le Bon listed th ree primary elements of crowd behavior, including,

  1. a unity of collective identification, giving a sense of limitless power;
  2. the creation of a sensitivity to emotional appeals due to that unity;
  3. collective intelligence in the crowd dropping to that of the lowest common denominator.

'The Wisdom of Crowds' by James Surowiecki (ISBN 0385721706) Crowds, said Le Bon, are easily subject to collective hallucinations, suggestions originated by individuals in the crowd that are thoughtlessly and contagiously adopted throughout the whole. Le Ban’s theory of crowd psychology received little significant challenge until the later works of sociologists such as George Rude (1910-93) and E. P Thompson (1924-93). Thompson’s studies of the actual behavior of crowds focused primarily on the social context and demands of crowds, while Rude looked at the composition of existing crowds. Their studies challenged views of the crowd as essentially primal and irrational, and instead showed crowds as often being composed of relatively better-off members of communities who are responding to specific threats to their communities, at the same time acting on cultural assumptions that are widely shared.

The study of the psychology and behavior of crowds had long been merely speculation before Le Bon, whose influential studies integrated the study of crowd behavior into formal social science.

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology

The Horizon is out There Somewhere

The Horizon is Only the Limit of Our Sight

The Horizon is out There Somewhere I look out upon the far horizon. Where does it end? The line drawn by my eye is only imaginary. It will recede as I come near it. Space, like time, is continuous, and there are no sharp interruptions to differentiate one thing from another.

In addition, is it not likewise with my life? I look back into my past. I cannot tell where it began. I am familiar with some of my ancestors, but my life did not begin with them, it stretches far back into time beyond my reckoning. A long line of generations labored to produce me.

The peculiarity of my walk, of my smile, may go back to one, and the bent of my mind to another. The sound of my voice may carry an echo of some unknown benefactor who passed something of himself on to me. The seed that develops in me was planted in a faraway past, and as I reap the harvest, I know that other hands made it possible.

Equally long is the line of my spiritual ancestors. The love of life, and the sense of kinship I feel for my fellow man is but a simple expression of my spirit, but men achieved it after groping and suffering. The first man who rubbed two stones to produce fire is my ancestor, and so is the first man who discovered the glow of friendship in the clasp of two hands. The men who explored the seas and the mountains and who brought up the hidden riches of the earth are my ancestors. They enriched me with the fruit of their discoveries, as well as with the spirit of their daring. Rethinking assumptions about who contributes to a culture is a prescribed shift, she adds, considering that people under the age of 15, one usual definition of childhood, make up about a one-third of most ethnic groups.

I am what I am because of the first amoeba, which developed into a more complex form, impelled by the divine imperative to grow. A thousand sunsets have shaped my sense of beauty; and a thousand soft voices have taught me to be kind. Waters from a thousand springs have quenched my thirst. I look out upon my world and act in it with all that is mine, with every experience, and with everything that entered into it.

In addition, it really does have an impact, which is why we develop this mental attitude to begin with to make sure that it truly animates our thoughts, words, and deeds in a way that leads to a happiness that is harmless for all. He cautions that this is a long-term dedication and does not produce quick results.

Overcoming the Fearfulness of Suffering

Overcoming the Fearfulness of Suffering Perhaps happiness did not have to be about the big, traverse circumstances, about having everything in your life in place. Maybe it was about stringing in concert a bunch of humble pleasures. Means of preserving the wellness of seamen. The Russian Novelist Leo Tolstoy writes in A Calendar of Wisdom,

To tell the truth is the same as to be a good tailor, or to be a good farmer, or to write beautifully. To be good at any activity requires practice: no matter how hard you try, you cannot do naturally what you have not done repeatedly. In order to get accustomed to speaking the truth, you should tell only the truth, even in the smallest of things.

The limitation in number, for instance, of beer and spirit houses, for the accurate function of interpreting them more difficult of access, and diminishing the occasions of enticement, not simply exposes all to an trouble because there are some by whom the adeptness would be abused, but is suited only to a state of society in which the toiling classes are confessedly treated as children or savages, and placed under an instruction of restraint, to fit them for futurity admission to the privileges of exemption. The men and women had well-disposed faces.

As I think of the long line stretching far into the past, I also cast my glance forward. The line into the future is just as unbroken. It moves through me into generations yet unborn. In addition, as I think of this I am comforted. For I am a point in that line, and die course of existence travels through me. I have inherited from all the past and I will bequeath to all the future. In the movement of that line lies the secret of immortality and I am a part of it.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Ethics and Compliance in Business: The Road Ahead

Designing an Effective Compliance and Ethics Program

In two years, the climate for investment has turned from irrational exuberance—as Alan Greenspan called it—to excessive worry and downright pessimism. Can we correct the excesses and build on the achievements of the booming 90s? Or was it all a mirage—a passing fever that caused many to lose touch with reality?

Designing an Effective Compliance and Ethics Program We can’t take progress for granted. We must nurture the spread of market-based economies and work toward a more open, integrated, and flexible world economy. We need to extend an information-led upsurge in innovation.

The initiation of all wise or noble things comes and must come from individuals; generally at first from some one individual.

Partly because of the growth in corporate profits, economists at JP Morgan Chase anticipate GDP growth of about 3.5 percent this year. While consumer spending gains are likely to slow, that should be offset by higher business spending on capital goods and inventories. We have the lowest inflation (1.5 percent) and interest rates in 40 years—together with GDP growth of 3.5 percent and an unemployment rate of just 6 percent. And, the S&P 500 closed the books on 2002 with a sharp increase in reported earnings (up 27 percent) and a 21 percent increase in operating earnings. From this transfer of the world into the consciousness, this beholding of all things in the mind, follow easily his whole ethics.

Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right.

Looking ahead, we believe that the stage is set for sustained, long-term growth. Inflation is low, and we have rising productivity, or increasing output per hour worked—the best single measure of economic health. Over the past four quarters, productivity growth in U.S. reached about 5 percent, suggesting that the transformation of the workplace—fueled by innovation, technology, and globalization—has not slowed.

I do not assert that anything better is compatible, as a general rule, with the present low state of the human mind. All he can claim is, freedom to point out the way. In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service.

Business Ethics and Compliance

By the end of this year, global growth should return to the 3 percent-plus annual pace that was the average during 1995 to 2000. China is booming, growing at 7 percent or more—a dramatic example of the power of market-driven economic advancement. Better results are possible longer-term, especially if Europe and Japan make their economies more flexible.

Business Ethics and Compliance If the U.S. recovery is underway and the global outlook is reasonably good, why don’t people feel better? Why the sour mood about financial markets?

As I see it, we are still recovering from the excesses and outsized optimism of the late 90s. But not all of the optimism was unjustified. We saw a surge in innovation and entrepreneurship, an investment boom, economic prosperity, equity market expansion, wealth enhancement, job creation, low unemployment, a focus on future growth, and financial innovation.

But expectations become outsized. By early 2000, things changed. Suddenly, our system began to look dysfunctional. We witnessed the bursting of the stock market bubble, a decline of more than 25 percent in the market capitalization of stocks, shrinkage in the retirement and savings accounts of millions of people, accounting scandals, outrage over pay packages for top executives, and a loss of confidence in accounting, Wall Street, and corporate America.

I believe that other ethics than any which can be evolved from exclusively Christian sources, must exist side by side with Christian ethics to produce the moral regeneration of mankind; and that the Christian system is no exception to the rule, that in an imperfect state of the human mind the interests of truth require a diversity of opinions.

Ten Lessons for Ethics and Compliance in Business

  1. We have been going through unusual volatility in financial markets because we have been going through unusual change. Part of the shift has been increased reliance on the sale of marketable securities—stocks, bonds, and other instruments—rather than bank lending. Individuals and businesses alike became less risk averse.
  2. While our capitalist model is prone to excesses in a boom, our system is transparent, efficient, and self-correcting. Our system does not prop up losers or sweep problems under the rug. It exposes and punishes speculative excesses through bankruptcy and loss of capital. It puts the heat of publicity on executive crime, and it sends criminals to prison. Even in ugly circumstances, this system works.
  3. We need to dose the gap between pay and performance, especially at the top. Sure, we can debate the merits of large compensation packages to CEOs and other top officers. But the stock market remains today sharply higher than in the past, and the gains have been widely dispersed. Indeed, that is one big reason for our long-term optimism.
  4. We have a true shareholding democracy. In 1982, when the Dow was struggling to top 1,000, fewer than 20 percent of U.S. households owned stock. Today more than 50 percent own stocks. If the wealth created by a rising stock market is spread among many people, the pain of a falling market is more widely shared. Even though the Dow is down about 3,000 points from its high in early 2000, it is still up eight times from 1982.
  5. Ten Lessons for Ethics and Compliance in Business We have seen tremendous job creation over the past decade. You can add up all of the job creation in Europe and Japan over the past two decades—and multiply that by a double-digit number—and it still won’t equal the number of new jobs created here.
  6. We are still adjusting to the downside. Is the market overpriced or underpriced today? I don’t know, but I do know that it is closer to fair valuation than it was at its peak in early 2000. I count that as another plus.
  7. Individuals who engage in fraud—treating ordinary expenses as capital expenditures and inflating profits—should go to jail. The visible enforcement of laws designed to protect shareholders and other investors is essential in capital markets. Our free market system depends highly on trust. Fraud and corruption highlight the need for transparency and governance. Still, we shouldn’t indict the many because of the actions of a few.
  8. The regulatory and legislative process can help restore trust in our system. As the CEO of a publicly owned company, I am comfortable with the new requirement that the CFO and I personally certify the financial statements. I regard many of the new rules and regulations as healthy. Value-based leadership can’t be an oxymoron. But in the long run, the attempt to impose ethics or morality from the outside with new rules and regulations is less likely to succeed than what we do on the inside to promote high standards of integrity.
  9. Integrity is imperative, and must be combined with innovation and an enterprising spirit—the essence of real progress. In a market-based system, there is pain to be felt and a price to be paid for change and progress. Corporate America must continue to reinvent itself—finding new ways to motivate, reward, and inspire people.
  10. Our mistakes have been mistakes of judgment, not mistakes of principle or ethics. Yes, we have made mistakes as JPMorgan Chase. We concentrated too much in the telecom sector. We were misled by Enron. And we did not anticipate the sudden collapse of numerous investment-grade companies into bankruptcy. So, we have made mistakes—but they have been mistakes of judgment.

Compliance-based and Integrity-based Code of Ethics

Compliance-based and Integrity-based Code of Ethics We have been through a lot over the last two years. We have created a global financial firm through a series of mergers, culminating with the merger of J.P. Morgan and Chase. All mergers are difficult, but we are gaining market share in key areas and receiving positive feedback from our clients.

But if our leaders only had a rudimentary understanding of how management works, perhaps the most important question about any ethics policy up for consideration would not only have a better chance of being asked (before ever needing to entertain the questions of ethics, morals, politics, or constitutionality), but also of being answered correctly: will it work?

Our strategy is based on diversity and balance of wholesale and retail business. On the wholesale side, clients prefer a global, broad-based firm that can deliver integrated capabilities. In retail, we have great strengths. Our financial performance has been disappointing, but we are not making excuses—we are learning from our mistakes and making changes to gain strength from the challenges.

Markets allow us to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes—to change, adapt, innovate and grow.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Learning and Productivity Compound Over Time

Mathematician and computer scientist Richard Hamming on how learning and productivity compound over time

How are some people more industrious and prolific than others? Are they merely smarter or do they just toil a bit harder than everyone else?

In 1986, mathematician and computer scientist Richard Hamming gave a talk at Bell Communications Research about how people can do great work, “Nobel-Prize type of work.” One of the characteristics he talked about was possessing great drive:

Now for the matter of drive. You observe that most great scientists have tremendous drive. I worked for ten years with John Tukey at Bell Labs. He had tremendous drive. One day about three or four years after I joined, I discovered that John Tukey was slightly younger than I was. John was a genius and I clearly was not. Well I went storming into Bode’s office and said, “How can anybody my age know as much as John Tukey does?” He leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, grinned slightly, and said, “You would be surprised Hamming, how much you would know if you worked as hard as he did that many years.” I simply slunk out of the office!

What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.” Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity—it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime.

Thinking of investing your time and energy in terms of this compounding effect can be a very useful way to go about life. Early and rigorous investment in anything you are interested in cultivating—friendships, relationships, wealth, understanding, spirituality, know-how, etc.—often generates exponentially superior results over time than even marginally less effort.

Success begets success, and that counts for small investments, too.

Try to have “more experience” than someone else, but it’s not by itself enough. It’s about how well you can draw the appropriate lessons from the experiences. It’s about how well you can distinguish specific experiences as generalizable versus anomalies.

Knowledge Compounds

Someone once asked Warren Buffett how to become a better investor. He pointed to a pile of company annual reports. “Read 500 pages like this every day … That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

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Posted in Education and Career

Universe is Built Out of Four Natural Elements

A 15th-century illustration of Christ surrounded by the four natural elements

Empedocles introduced the theory that the universe is built out of four natural elements.

In his poem On Nature (c. 450 BCE), Greek poet Empedocles (c. 490-430 BCE) called upon a set of gods to represent the elements of his own cosmology. The notion that everything in existence is composed of earth, air, fire, and water, or a combination of these four elements, was borrowed from the ancient Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish (c. 1800 BCE), in which the universe emerges from conflicts between gods, each of whom represent some element or force of nature.

Empedocles was seeking what is now often referred to as a “unified field theory,” a theory capable of providing the groundwork for the explanation of any given natural phenomenon. The strategy he inherited from his intellectual predecessors, such as Thales and Anaximenes (who were themselves influenced by the Babylonian myth), was to attempt to identify the most basic ingredient, or ingredients, of the universe.

In the late sixth century BCE, Thales had believed that ingredient to be water. Later, Anaximenes argued that water was too fundamentally different from certain natural phenomena (like fire) for it to be the basic ingredient of the universe. Instead, he proposed that air was the basic ingredient. Empedocles, however, saw no way to explain the vast array of natural phenomena without introducing a total of four basic ingredients: earth, air, fire, and water. These elements were what Empedocles referred to as “the four roots.”

Aristotle (384-322 BCE) added a fifth element, aether. Medieval scholars learned of Empedocles’s notion of the four elements via Aristotle, and Empedocles’s cosmological theory dominated science until the seventeenth century. Although forms of atomism emerged as early as the fifth century BCE, it was not until the work of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and Robert Boyle (1627-91) gained a hold that the four elements were replaced by the atom (or something pretty close) as the foundation of the universe.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom