Something New, Daily

Continuing into 2012, blogging weekly to stay fresh and thoughtful. Thanks for joining me.

May 4. Corner Office, Part 5.

This is the last segment of the 5 parts promised. 

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Fearlessness

"Are you comfortable being uncomfortable? Do you like situations where there’s no road map or compass? Do you start twitching when things are operating smoothly, and want to shake things up? Are you willing to make surprising career moves to learn new skills? Is discomfort your comfort zone?

In other words, are you fearless?

Risk-taking is often a quality associated with entrepreneurs, the kind of people who make bet-the-farm wagers on a new idea. But risk-taking doesn’t quite capture the quality that many C.E.O.’s embody and look for and encourage in others.

With the business world in seemingly endless turmoil, maintaining the status quo - even when things appear to be working well - is only going to put you behind the competition. So when chief executives talk about executives on their staffs who are fearless, there is a reverence in their voices. They wish they could bottle it and pass it out to all their employees. They’re looking for calculated and informed risk-taking, but mostly they want people to do things - and not just what they’re told to do.

"One of the things that I characterize as fearlessness is seeing an opportunity, even though things are not broken," said Ursula M. Burns, the C.E.O. of Xerox. "Someone will say: ‘Things are good, but I’m going to destabilize them because they can be much better and should be much better. We should change this.’ The easiest thing to do is to just keep it going the way it’s going, especially if it’s not perfect but it’s not broken. But you have to be a little bit ahead of it, and you have to try to fix it well before you have to. Companies get into trouble when they get really complacent, when they settle in and say, ‘O.K., we’re doing O.K. now.’ "

Many executives said fearlessness was one of the top qualities they’re looking for when they were interviewing job candidates.

"Specifically, in this culture I have to have people who not only can manage change but have an appetite for it," said Mindy F. Grossman, the C.E.O. of HSN, the parent company of Home Shopping Network. "They tend to be more intellectually curious, so they don’t just have vertical climbs. I ask for those stories. I love hearing them and it gives me a real sense of the person."

Like the other four keys to success, fearlessness is an attitude, and because attitude is one of the few things over which everyone has complete control, it is a character trait that can be developed. It can be fostered with a simple approach to taking more risks.

Chief executives advise that you will be rewarded for fearlessness, because so few people live that way and bring this attitude to work. It is risky. You may unsettle people by shaking up the status quo. But if you have the best interests of the organization in mind, you can unlock new opportunities for the company and for yourself.

These five qualities help determine who will be chosen for bigger roles and more responsibility. Those promotions will inevitably bring challenges that require learning through trial and error.

C.E.O.’s can act as mentors to speed people along that learning curve. They may not develop silver-bullet theories, but they are experts in leadership because they practice it daily. And many of them have spent years honing their leadership styles, studying what works and what doesn’t, and then teaching others.

Chief executives face criticism from many corners, and it is often deserved. But there is no arguing that they have achieved a great deal.

Through their stories, lessons and insights, they have much to offer beyond the hard numbers.”

May 3. Too Easily Amused

Maybe the library contrasts too much with the normal world that even small things will crack me up for minutes.  And alas, thanks to Teya, I hope you will get a kick out of this one:

And, btw, today is the official last day of classes.  The real work begins now though.  I definitely work harder now, compared to when classes were still going on.  May 17th, 6pm = End of 1L year! 

(Source: I Can Has Cheezburger?)

May 2. Osama bin Laden died.

After 10 years, the U.S. finally succeeded in finding bin Laden and effectively ending his life.  According to various news outlets, the U.S. government currently has bin Laden’s body.

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Here’s a short excerpt from financial times:

President Barack Obama will announce that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks on the United States, is dead, according to US media outlets.

The expected announcement marks the end of a nearly 10 year search for the man who represented the face of radical Islamist terrorism. CNN and other US media outlets reported that the US was in possession of Mr bin Laden’s body, moments before Mr Obama was to due to speak in an impromptu address to the nation.

The leader of al-Qaeda became a household name following the 2001 attacks against the US, in which four American airliners were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center in New York, and into the Pentagon in Virginia. The fourth plane crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.

(Source: ft.com)

May 1. Corner Office, Part 4

Part 4 of the series.  Confession - I copied and pasted this one.  The writing is clear. And an insightful piece. Enjoy! 

*A Simple Mind-Set*

There is a stubborn disconnect in many companies. Most senior executives want the same thing from people who present to them: be concise, get to the point, make it simple. Yet few people can deliver the simplicity that many bosses want. Instead, they mistakenly assume that the bosses will be impressed by a long PowerPoint presentation that shows how diligently they researched a topic, or that they will win over their superiors by talking more, not less.

Few things seem to get C.E.O.’s riled up more than lengthy PowerPoint presentations. It’s not the software they dislike; that’s just a tool. What irks them is the unfocused thinking that leads to an overlong slide presentation. There is wide agreement it’s a problem: death by PowerPoint has become a cliche.

If so many executives in positions of authority are clear about what they want, why can’t they get the people who report to them to lose the ”Power” part of their presentations and simply get to the “Point”?

There are a few likely explanations. A lot of people have trouble being concise. Next time you’re in a meeting, ask somebody to give you the 10-word summary of his or her idea. Some people can do a quick bit of mental jujitsu, and they’ll summarize an idea with a “Here’s what’s important” or “the bottom line is”.  Others will have trouble identifying the core point.

Another possible explanation is that a lag exists in the business world. There was a time when simply having certain information was a competitive advantage. Now, in the Internet era, most people have easy access to the same information. That puts a greater premium on the ability to synthesize, to connect dots in new ways and to ask simple, smart questions that lead to untapped opportunities.

"I’d love to teach a course called "The Idea," said Dany Levy, the founder of DailyCandy.com. Which is, basically, so you want to start a company, how’s it going to work? Let’s figure it out: just a very practical plan, but not a business plan, because I feel like business plans now feel weighty and outdated. It seems, back in the day, that the longer your business plan was, the more promising it was going to be. And now, the shorter your business plan is, the more succinct and to the point it is, the better. You want people to get why your business is going to work pretty quickly."

Steven A. Ballmer, the C.E.O. of Microsoft said he understood the impulse in presentations to share all the underlying research that led to a conclusion. But he changed the way he runs meetings to get to the conclusion first.

"The mode of Microsoft meetings used to be: You come with something we haven’t seen in a slide deck or presentation," he said. "You deliver the presentation. You probably take what I will call the long and winding road."  You take the listener through your path of discovery and exploration, and you arrive at a conclusion.

I decided that it’s not what I want to do anymore. I don’t think it’s efficient. So most meetings nowadays, you send me the materials and I read them in advance. And I can come in and say: I’ve got the following four questions. Please don’t present the deck.  That lets us go, whether they’ve organized it that way or not, to their recommendation. And if I have questions about the long and winding road and the data and the supporting evidence, I can ask them. But it gives us greater focus.

April 30. Corner Office, Part 3

Continuing on with the synopsis of 5 great qualities in leaders, here’s part three of the Corner Office.  

"Have you ever wondered what the common traits are amongst top CEO’s? Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a top-level leader? Here’s a great article from the New York Times, based upon the book The Corner Officethat shares these basic traits. These principles were distilled from interviews with 70 top executives.”

3. Team Smarts: “The most effective executives are more than team players. They understand how teams work and how to get the most out of the group. Just as some people have street smarts, others have team smarts…Mark Pincus, the C.E.O. of the Zynga Game Network, the online gaming company, said he learned lessons about teamwork playing soccer in school. Even today, when he plays in Sunday-morning games, he said, he can spot people who would be good hires because of how they play.”

April 29. Reflecting on Tension

Someone said in our Criminal Law class, “If the definition of Terrorism is the spreading of terror to the masses, then all our news media should be held criminally liable.”

Our criminal justice system also incriminates Blackmail, which is the “Extortion of money or something else of value from a person by the threat of exposing a criminal act or discreditable information.”  Yet, for one, our civil law system protects and encourages settlement between parties in order to avoid litigation- which is merely glorified blackmail in suits and ties. And two, this same criminal system boasts of some 87% of Plea bargains on the state and federal levels annually. while 5.2% receive a jury trial. 

Tension?

Speaking of which, the two biggest headlines today were 1) Prince William and Kate’s royal wedding and 2) the 250+ deaths via tornadoes sweeping through the southern states.

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Maybe the bad news would’ve been manageable had it not been juxtaposed against the only happy piece of news we’ve received this entire year.

(Source: Wikipedia)

April 28. Color Coded.

imagewe learn fun things once in a while. :)

[Criminal Law]

black·mail 

n.1. a. Extortion of money or something else of value from a person by the threat of exposing a criminal act or discreditable information.b. Something of value extorted in this manner.2. Tribute formerly paid to freebooters along the Scottish border for protection from pillage.
Trivia: The “mail” in blackmail is Scottish for “tax, tribute,” referring to the tribute demanded by rebel chiefs in return for their protection

[Corporations]


green·mail
n. An antitakeover maneuver in which the target firm purchases the raider’s stock at a price above that available to other stockholders

(Source: thefreedictionary.com)

April 27. Myth Dispelled: Coriolis Force

Spending lunch time out on the Golding Terrace was a fabulous idea: a great combination of studying, soaking up the sun, catching up with friends, and thinking about random things. 

One issue I want to resolve is about this “Coriolis Force”, or basically, why (if at all) does the water drain in different directions in different hemispheres?

I did not go on Wikipedia for this one … so if you have more accurate information, please correct me. 

Basically, the claim is: “The Coriolis force influences which direction water spirals down drains and toilets in different hemispheres.”

The answer is: This statement is false.

The typical explanation for the claim may look like this:  

 

Water in a pan, sink, or toilet rotates counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. This is due to the Coriolis Effect, which is caused by the rotation of the Earth

(the following are not my words, but I’ve made some edits) 
imageOrigins:   Because the Earth is a globe spinning on an invisible axis, a point at its equator will make a circuit of 25,000 miles in the space of a day, but any point not on the equator will make a shorter round trip; the closer that point is to either of the poles, the shorter its trip will be: a pencil at the equator travels 1,030 miles an hour, whereas another at Sarasota, Florida, moves at 930 miles per hour, and one at the North pole doesn’t move at all. 

The difference in speed creates the Coriolis force, which imparts a twist on events happening away from the equator. Best illustration: air mass speed is that at their point of origin, and it appears to be faster than that of the surface they travel over. Coriolis deflection sets cyclonic systems turning counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. Likewise, a cannonball fired due north will seemingly veer a teeny bit to the east, and one fired to the south will apparently deflect ever so slightly to the west, deviations a skilled gunner would know to adjust for. 

The twisting effect of the Coriolis force is real and does influence certain large things like the movement of air masses, but the effect is so small that it plays no role in determining the direction in which water rotates as it exits from a draining sink or toilet. The Coriolis effect produces a measurable effect over huge distances and long periods of time, neither of which applies to your bathroom. Toilets and sinks drain in the directions they do because of the way water is directed into them or pulled from them. If water enters in a swirling motion (as it does when a toilet is flushed, for example), the water will exit in that same swirling pattern; as well, most basins have irregular surfaces and are not perfectly level, factors that influence the direction in which water spirals down their drains. The configuration of taps and drains is responsible for the direction of spin given to water draining from sinks and bathtubs to a degree that overwhelms the slight influence of the Coriolis force. 


The belief that the Coriolis force influences the direction in which water drains from plumbing fixtures is widespread and has been repeated as fact in a number of venues, including popular television shows and even in textbooks (!!!). Fortunately, a recently published introductory meteorology textbook includes (and addresses) this misbelief as one of the subjects students commonly ask about:


Q: I’ve been told that water goes down a sink in one direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere. Is that true? 

A: No! The origin of this myth comes from applying a scientific principle to a situation where it does not fit. The Coriolis deflection causes cyclonic systems to rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. It was inevitable that someone would suggest (without checking) that a sink should drain in a similar manner. 

However, a cyclone is more than 1000 kilometers in diameter and may exist for several days. By contrast, a typical sink is less than a meter in diameter and drains in a matter of seconds. On this scale, the Coriolis force is miniscule. Therefore, the shape of the sink and how level it is has more to do with the direction of water flow than the Coriolis force.

(Thank you, Holmes 101 and the scientific community for correcting my ways.)

(Source: snopes.com)

April 26. Cherry Blossoms Make for a Great Study Break!

Spent the morning at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and did not regret a minute of it. (So glad that a bunch of y’all came! and so sad that a bunch of y’all didn’t)

So … i took my camera out for a ride, but didn’t realize I set 1) the ISO too high and 2) the shutter speed too low. But here are a few pictures I enjoyed - no editing on them … don’t have that luxury right now. hahaha

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(our lovely Remi)

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part of the crew - we unintentionally split up, and this was the last picture before we went our separate ways. 

and here are a couple of pictures unfortunately overexposured…but I find them somewhat pretty :)

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April 25. World Malaria Day

One World Health gave notice that today is World Malaria Day.  Whatever the reason is, why not use today to recap the state of Malaria in the world?

One World Health has done a lot to fight malaria.  “For the past six years [One World Health has] led a collaborative effort to develop semisynthetic artemisinin (ART) - an alternative source of ART, which is a key component in anti-malaria treatment. Semisynthetic artemisinin is designed to be an affordable, non-seasonal, complementary source of ART that is hoped to stabilize price volatility, alleviate shortages and meet future global demand.”

The initiative started its production and distribution phase last week, aiming to integrate in the supply chain by 2012. 

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“The toll of malaria is unacceptable.  It infects more than 220 million people each year and kills more than one million, primarily young children and pregnant women in developing countries.  [One World Health’s] goal is that one day, no child will die from malaria. Providing a new and affordable source of artemisinin is a breakthrough in the global fight against this neglected disease.”

Fight on.