Listed below are the links to my all-time favorite SLOG posts. These are my favorites because of the subjects and the amount of work that went into them...
In honor of my SLOG's one-year anniversary, I decided to create a slide show featuring some of my favorite posts from the past year...
Copied below is an excerpt of the welcome message I recorded for my business website. I have had a number of positive comments about this so decided to transcribe the presentation so people can read and listen to it. The theme of the message is a very costly and prevalent trap that many people get caught in without realizing it. I call it the "A to B Syndrome."
When you talk to entrepreneurs or business leaders a lot of times they have no idea where "B" is. In fact, a lot of times they have no idea where "A" is.
If you're really good and if you ask the right questions and start peeling back the layers of the proverbial onion, what you are going to find is that, a lot of times, the client is better off going to another destination – maybe C or D or G. Sometimes, B is really not the best place for them to go.
What happens, if you have a young (and nothing against young consultants or young creative people) but, if you have someone who lacks experience, it is very easy and very common for them to accept a job. That can be everything from a speaking engagement to a consulting gig or designing social media and web pages for someone. They will accept the job because the client says, “I need to go from A to B” and they will help them get from A to B. But, again, the problem is if the client is better off going to C or D or E, do you see what just happened? Without anyone knowing it, without anyone intending to do harm, you can spend a lot of time, money and energy getting the client to a place they really don't belong.
If you have someone who lacks experience, it is very easy and very common for them to accept any job. That can be everything from a speaking engagement to a consulting gig or designing social media and web pages for someone.
To become an airline pilot, you cannot buy or go to college to get your hours in the cockpit. You just have to sit up there and fly the airplane!
The same is true when it comes to consulting. Sometimes you have to challenge the clients, sometimes you have to push them a little bit. Make sure you are asking deep, penetrating questions that help everybody get to the truth. Frankly, that is what you are looking for.
Common examples of mistaken "B" identity*
* While it is plausible that you "need" these things, it is more probable that you need some other things first, like a well-designed client experience process or a clear and compelling story for your business.
Hands down, one of the best presentation I have EVER heard...
Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.
This is definitely inside baseball talk so, if you're not in the financial services industry, it probably won't make sense to you. That said, you should probably understand what it means if you work with a financial advisor. This is my response to an article that appeared in Financial Advisor IQ entitled, Why Advisors’ Fees Are All Over the Map...
MY RESPONSE TO THE ARTICLE
In most cases, especially in the investment business, pricing anomalies like this are squeezed out of the system pretty quickly. Not sure if this article really answers the WHY question posed in the headline although Bob touches on it at the end. Lack of information on the part of advisors and clients partially explains it. But, after 30 years of working under the hood of advisor practices, I would offer some additional reasons to consider...
* To appreciate this leverage please review the Lifetime Value of a Loyal Client chart below...
If you knew the truth about the "Farm Bill" (or most of what goes on in Washington for that matter) you would be crying too. Click on her nose to get the full story...
I can count on one hand the number of new ideas I have come across that can truly change the trajectory of a person's life. This is one of them. It's called RESILIENCE THINKING and I learned about it by listening to an interview by Krista Tippett with Andrew Zolli. Regardless of who you are or how you found your way to my slog, I urge you to take this one in slowly and carefully. When you're done, take it in again.
Steve Saenz, Atlanta -- May 2013
Just click on the image below to get started...
We're in a moment now as a species, as societies, as communities, at all different levels, where we are experiencing increasing amounts of volatility. So 10 years ago, we used to marvel — and you could sort of see it entered the culture — that a butterfly could flap its wings on one side of the planet and you could have a hurricane on the other side of the planet. Well, in an era where every butterfly is connected to every hurricane, you start to worry about the flapping of those butterfly wings. Oh my goodness, what can we do to stop that from happening? Because the ecological system, the economic system, the geopolitical system, the climate system, the food security system are all connected to each other in ways that cause very complex highly unpredictable nonlinear outcomes. So all of those systems being connected leads us to a place where increasingly instead of trying to find an equilibrium in a planet that's out of balance, we also have to try and manage with the unbalances, the imbalances. We have to manage in a world that's intrinsically out of order. And that means protecting, especially vulnerable people from the shocks and disruptions that are becoming the hallmark of the age. ~ Andrew Zolli
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 :-)
Regardless of where you stand on the "gun control" debate this story should interest you on some level...
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...
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?
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
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
On a related note...
Coming to a planet near you: $57 trillion in infrastructure investments...
Papers were written about the diversification benefits of infrastructure investments as they relate to portfolio management. Management consultancies such as Ernst & Young, McKinsey, KPMG and PwC 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.
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.
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
The entire video (worth watching) can be found on the McKinsey website
Excellent Primer on Global Infrastructure as an Asset Class...