Any management consultant worth his/her salt has used the saying, "think out of the box" a time or two when speaking, working with clients, etc.
For some reason, this image (which I saw on Facebook today) made me wonder -- What happens when everyone
adopts a certain perspective that was once considered "unconventional wisdom?" Does it become conventional wisdom?
Don't get me wrong, I have used this saying myself along with countless others when trying to make a point. After reading the Discipline of Market Leaders
, I began using the term "value proposition" the next day. After reading Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future
, I adopted the term "paradigm shift." After reading Only the Paranoid Survive
, I incorporated the term "inflection point" in all my presentations. I could go on and on...
It occurs to me that most of us adopt sayings like this without taking the time to figure out (or question) what they really mean. For example, WHAT BOX ARE WE REFERRING TO? I am fully aware that "think outside the box" is a harmless suggestion to think creatively but to paraphrase my original question -- What happens when EVERYONE starts looking outside the box for inspiration???
With this in mind, I would like to offer an unconventional view of what now seems like a rather conventional dose of wisdom, which is this...
When everyone is looking outside the box for inspiration, maybe it's time to look INSIDE!
And, with all due respect to Mr. Chopra (whom I admire greatly) I say it depends on your box :-)
If you have a box of rocks, get rid of it.
If you have a box of wisdom, share it.
If you have a box of books, read them.
If you have a box of tools, fix something.
If you have a box of crayons, color something.
If you have a box of recipes, feed someone.
If you have a box of chocolates, eat some.
And, if you are lucky enough to have a box of love, be kind to someone.
Do you think Tiffany's would really engrave it for us? I mean, you don't think they would feel it was beneath them or anything like that...
Regardless of where you stand on the "gun control" debate this story should interest you on some level...
On February 19, 2013 the investment committee of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) pension fund voted to divest the fund of its investments in two companies (Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson) that manufacture certain weapons that are not available for public sale in the State of California. Interestingly, the CalPERS investment committee was not asked to divest the fund of its position in Wal-Mart, the fund's 14th largest holding and the largest distributor of these weapons in the United States.
For those unfamiliar with this organization, CalPERS is the nation's largest public pension fund with assets totaling $248.8 billion as of December 31, 2012. As with most "institutional" investors, the CalPERS investment committee wields significant power because its portfolio management decisions (which are made within the framework of the fund's investment policies) can have a material impact on markets and/or specific companies (and other entities) in which it invests.
As it turns out, the total exposure to the CalPERS portfolio (roughly $5 million) represented by the shares of these two weapons makers was deemed to be “de minimis." In other words, the divestiture of these two stocks would not have a material impact on the portfolio. Instead, the investment committee voted to divest the fund of these two stocks because they wanted to send a message to their members, many of whom are teachers and other education professionals. They also felt that retaining these (controversial) holdings would cause more headaches for the committee in the long run. Rob Feckner, CalPERS Board of Administration President summed it up this way...
“As trustees, we take divestment very seriously. As Californians, we also take gun violence very seriously. Eliminating these investments allows us to keep our duty to our members and, in some small part, do what we can to help stop the proliferation of weapons that can magnify and multiply horrific acts of mass violence."
The video below contains the portion of the Feb. 19 meeting in which the investment committee considered and voted to approve this motion. The discussion, which is quite interesting (especially for investment professionals) begins at 00:21:00 and ends at around 00:50:00. You will hear the investment committee members talk about a wide range of issues including fiduciary duty, investment policies, divestment policy, efficient market hypothesis, plan governance, public policy, socially responsible investing and more.
CalPERS Investment Committee Meeting: Feb. 19, 2013
The discussion about the divestiture of assault weapons related holdings begins at 00:21:00
Following the tragic events that took place on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown CT, CalPERS Board Member, Bill Lockyer, California State Treasurer, requested CalPERS conduct a review of its exposure to firearms manufacturing within the investment portfolio. The purpose was to identify exposure to firearms manufacturers that produce and distribute to the general public, assault weapons illegal for public sale under California law (Attachments 2, 3, and 4).
On February 17, 2009, the Investment Committee adopted a Statement of Investment Policy Regarding Divestment (Attachment 1). This policy provides a framework for staff to analyze investments targeted for divestment. The policy also provides criteria by which divestment shall be undertaken. In general, CalPERS policy prefers constructive engagement to divesting as a means of affecting the conduct of entities in which it invests. However, the policy provides specific circumstances under which divestment can be undertaken.
~ CalPERS Investment Committee Memo
on Assault Weapon Manufacturers Portfolio Review
Explore some more...
- CalPERS Investment Policies (different ones for different issues)
- CalPERS Pensions & Investments (meeting agendas, videos, etc.)
- CalPERS Global Governance Plan (excellent framework)
- Don't Let Your Invest Exp Become A Horror Show (previous post)
- Investment Planning & Policy Development (slides)
- A Written Plan Can Help Your Portfolio, WSJ
- Making Your Investment Policy, Morningstar
- Investment Policy Statement, Bogleheads
- Developing A Strong Investment Policy Statement, Putnam
- Socially Responsible Investing, Wikipedia
- Moskowitz Prize for Socially Responsible Investing, UC Berkeley
- Sustainable and Responsible Investing Facts, US SIF
- Impact Investing, Stanford
- Harnessing the Power of Impact Investing, Rockefeller Foundation
- Impact Investing Gets a University Center, Forbes
Dynamic Wealth Optimization™
Having worked in the financial services industry since 1984, I have seen my fair share of unethical behavior. For most of this time, I have always believed that the over-developed need (desire) to achieve financial success and power were mostly to blame for this unsavory behavior.
I still believe that but, after watching the presentation below and doing some additional reading on the subject, I now believe that sports may play an important role in shaping our business ethics and resulting behavior.
I'm here on a mission of mercy...
In his epic book, the 7 Habit of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen Covey said that we live in a WIN-LOSE society. Many children are raised to think that winning is everything. They also grow up idolizing sports figures as if they were mythical Gods. We won't solve the problem anytime soon but maybe some additional awareness will increase our sensitivity to the issue. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.
Where do we draw the line?
| |Competition: what's fair today? Where we draw that line in sports, and in the general culture, shapes the games we play and the society in which we live. Our panel explores the murky ethical terrain of extreme competition as reflected in sports. Featuring Craig Robinson, Jeremy Schaap, Jim Brown and William E. Mayer.
Source: FORA.tvAspen Ideas Festival
Are we taking college sports too seriously?
Last month, Ohio State hired Urban Meyer to coach football for $4 million a year plus bonuses (playing in the B.C.S. National Championship game nets him an extra $250,000; a graduation rate over 80 percent would be worth $150,000). He has personal use of a private jet.
Dr. Aubrecht, a physics professor at Ohio State, says he doesn't have enough money in his own budget to cover attendance at conferences. “From a business perspective,” he can see why Coach Meyer was hired, but he calls the package just more evidence that the “tail is wagging the dog.”
~ Excerpt from How Big-Time Sports Ate College Life
by Laura Pappano -- New York Times, 01.20.2012
Click on image to access the 3A website
Do we live in a "win-lose" society?
Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing--that is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life becomes a zero-sum game. There is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me; it's not fair, and I'm going to make sure you don't get anymore. We all play the game, but how much fun is it really?
Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, and it tastes pretty darn good!
~ Stephen R. Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Click in image to access 3rd Alternative website
On a related note...
Coming to a planet near you: $57 trillion in infrastructure investments...
INFRASTRUCTURE (think bulldozers, pipelines, power grids, etc.) has always been an important investment theme but in the past ten years it has taken on a life of it's own.
In the late 00's investment firms, management consultancies and academic institutions began talking about infrastructure as a new "asset class," like equities, fixed income and precious metals. As we did with emerging markets, managed futures and alternative investments many touted the virtues of this relatively new asset class. Wall Street loves new asset classes!
| |Papers were written
about the diversification benefits of infrastructure investments as they relate to portfolio management. Management consultancies such as Ernst & Young
established infrastructure practices. At the academic level
, analysts debated whether infrastructure was, in fact, a true asset class. The consensus, by the way, was that infrastructure is indeed an asset class.
Lest you think infrastructure is "old news," just two weeks ago, the US Chamber of Commerce held it's First Annual Transportation Infrastructure Summit, Let's Rebuild America
. Last week, McKinsey released an excellent piece called, Rethinking Infrastructure
, which was the inspiration for this slog post.
Don't miss the state-level report cards from the ASCE. The hyperlink in this image will lead you to those.
My purpose in sharing this information, however, is not to promote (or downplay) the notion of investing in infrastructure but rather to create awareness about a mega-trend that has important implications not only for investors but for the many children and young adults who are wondering what they should be when they grow up.
Suffice to say that the career prospects for civil engineers
and other professions associated with global infrastructure planning, building, etc.
will be pretty bright for the foreseeable future
. In short, if you know any kids who like bulldozers, they're in luck!
Regardless of how you slice it, a lot of bridges and roads need to be fixed and/or built around the world in the next several decades! These state report cards
on the condition of our infrastructure prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers bring it down to a local level that everyone can understand. In terms of it's impact and longevity, infrastructure has the potential to be as significant as the demographic (baby boom) mega-trend
. That's a powerful locomotive that many have been riding since the early-1980's and one that is still going strong.
Global Infrastructure: Evolving Asset Class Stanford University (full slide show below)
In Rethinking Infrastructure
, McKinsey's Infrastructure Practice points out that the world will have to spend $57 trillion on infrastructure by the year 2030 just to keep up with projected global growth. The video below provides an executive summary but the entire video is a must-watch
. I have also included some PDFs and links to related content at the bottom of this page.In summary, the global infrastructure story has significant and long-term implications for corporate executives, investors, financial professionals, parents, educators, government leaders, futurists and more. I say, CARPE FUTURO! There is no time like the present to seize the future -- especially if you are in college or early in your career...
Rethinking Infrastructure: Excellent Insights from McKinsey
McKinsey Global Institute (click to access report)
McKinsey Global Institute (click to access report)
Excellent Primer on Global Infrastructure as an Asset Class...
75% of Americans are overweight. Let's do something about this...
On a personal and professional level I have seen first-hand the price people pay for not taking care of themselves when it comes to eating properly. For this reason, I would like to let you know about National Nutrition Month® which begins March 1.
This page contains timely and relevant information about why everyone should care about this issue. More importantly, you will find dozens of links and other resources that will help you and your family. If you have customers or clients, sharing this information would be a great way to add value to those relationships.
Results from the 2009–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
, using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 33.0% of U.S. adults aged 20 and over are overweight, 35.7% are obese and 6.3% are extremely obese.
That means 75% of Americans are overweight or worse!
Click on image to view larger version
According to a 2012 Forbes article
obesity in America costs us $160 billion in medical bills and another $450 billion in indirect expenses. For example, it is estimated that Americans spend more than $4 billion a year in increased gas costs alone because of our weight. It's hard to believe, but it's true. Those who know and care must act.
The key to solving this problem is awareness, education and motivation.
You can make a difference by spreading the word about National Nutrition Month®, which begins Friday, March 1. To save you time, I have included some resources below. We can make a difference together just by using social media to create awareness. Thank you.
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During the month of March, I will be sharing nutritional and elder-care information through my social media channels.
About National Nutrition Month®
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National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly the American Dietetic Association. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Registered Dietitian Day, also celebrated in March, increases awareness of registered dietitians as the indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and recognizes RDs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.
| Quick & Healthy Cookbook*|
|File Size: ||3024 kb|
|File Type: || pdf|| |
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Click on image to read a very insightful article from Forbes Magazine
PP = Position Paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (substantive information)
"In the end, as First Lady, this isn't just a policy issue for me. This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition." ~ First Lady Michelle Obama
If you know of other websites or resources, feel free to post them in the comment area below. Thank you for helping me spread the word.
"Jimmy Page stole the lightening from the heavens. Robert Plant seduced like the devil. John Paul Jones made poetry out of every note. And John Bonham was a man on fire. A band like no other. They shook the world of rock." ~ from Kennedy Center Honors
If you ever wondered what you would find at the top of the stairway to heaven, wonder no more. Stick with this video and you will be supremely rewarded. If you don't have time to watch the entire video, at least watch Stairway to Heaven
which begins at 14:45, featuring John Bonham and others in a performance that will take your breath away. Other highlights include...
- A brief documentary which begins at 3:15
- Rock & Roll performed by Foo Fighters which begins at 8:00
- Ramble On performed by Kid Rock which begins 10:20 (incredible)
- Whole Lotta Love performed by Lennie Krazvitz which begins at 12:40 (brilliant)
The expressions of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Michelle Obama and Barack Obama (yep) throughout the performance say it all. Enjoy.
"Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can be weird; that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." ~ Charles Mingus
Click on the image to access Tribute Page
Woke up thinking about my late grandfather, who was born in 1899 and died in 1984...
While I was making coffee this morning, I had a flashback to my grandparents kitchen in Coral Gables. I distinctly remember that my "abuelito" (Spanish for grandpa) would dutifuly get the kitchen back to "you could eat off the floors" condition after every dinner. His duties included washing the dishes by hand and taking out the trash. For some reason, I have vivid memories of my grandfather folding every box and milk carton very carefully before placing them into the trash can. He did this to conserve space in the small receptacle, which was always lined with a brown paper grocery bag, which came from Winn-Dixie. You might say my grandfather was an early model trash compactor!
I remember walking with abuelito across his backyard, which was covered by a thick carpet of centipede grass, to the garbage cans that were located in the back right corner of their yard, next to the banana trees and coffee bushes they had planted in their garden. As if it were yesterday, I can see him carefully placing the trash bag from the kitchen, which he packed meticulously, into the large garbage cans in the back yard. What strikes me now is that he would trustingly take out the trash each night in open bags. I say "trustingly" because it never occurred to him that someone might rummage through their trash to steal sensitive information. The reason it never occurred to him is that sort of thing did not happen in the early-1960s.
Me and Abuelito circa 1957
Going to the Venetian Pool was always a treat
As I was growing up, I often heard my grand parents say that, when they first moved to Miami in 1945, they did not even lock their doors to their cars or homes. I also remember them describing Miami as "paradise."
This may seem like a long way of making my point but, since I can remember (basically a 50-year stretch) "things" have gotten progressively worse in our country. Today, many of us shred our sensitive papers and would never take the garbage out in open containers. It is very unlikely that we would leave our homes without locking the doors and arming our security systems, if not ourselves.
As I sit here an reflect on the past 50 years, I wonder why things have gotten progressively worse. I wonder if we (the people) could have done anything to prevent things from deteriorating so much. I wonder if our elected officials could have done anything to stop the slide.
Then, as I think about the news of today -- the raging debate over what to do about gun violence, our deeply divided country, our Newtowns, our sports heroes, our environment, the hatred the intolerance, the indifference; everything -- I wonder what things will be like 50 years from now. I wonder if we (the people) will do anything to prevent things from deteriorating further. I wonder if there is anything we can do. I wonder if our elected officials will do anything to keep things from sliding away any further. I wonder if we should count on those elected officials to take action on our behalf.
As I sit here and sip my pinion-infused coffee from Trader Joe's, I wonder. I really wonder what "things" will be like 50 years from today.
I also wish I could share this cup of coffee with abuelito right now and ask him what he thinks about all this.
And, you know what? To this day, I fold every box and every milk carton before I place it into the trash receptacle just like my abuelito did.
We have met the enemy and it is not liberal or conservative. It is not Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim or even Atheist. Our greatest threat does not come in the form of crime or terror. We cannot blame it on sex, drugs or guns. Nor can we blame it on communism, capitalism or even totalitarianism. It is not about the NRA, CIA or the AFL-CIO. The most brutal dictators of history pale in comparison to our most formidable foe, which is our own indifference.
Steve Saenz, Atlanta, GA / 31January2013