April 25, 2015

Wednesday Wrap-Up – July 24th, 2013

Some of you have asked me to share or compile lists of the stories I come across throughout the week.  I’m not sure how long it will last, but I will try to publish an update every Wednesday for those of you who like keeping up with random posts on science, art, business, music, or whatever else happened across my desk.  With all the stuff I read, if something seems interesting, I’ll try to include it on that week’s list.  My hesitation is that a lot of major news sites and other online portals do not follow best practices on the web, often deleting or moving content so that links break.  If any of these don’t work and you are reading the post more than a week after the publish date, there’s nothing I can do.

  • Your People Skills Matter: What Derails Most CEO Is the Soft Stuff – It’s not good enough to be able to crunch numbers, the only way to run a company is to be able to motivate and mobilize people in a shared mission.  If you are combative and alienate people, you are going to end up less successful than you otherwise would have been.  (Bloomberg Business).
  • The Australian Downton Abbey: If you like the English drama Downton Abbey, you will probably enjoy the new television series, A Place to Call Home, which is aired in Australia.  It follows the tensions and scandals of an upper class family in the 1950’s.  The first season just concluded with 13 episodes 42-45 minutes each.
  • Getting Rich from Pretzels: Millionaire founder of Auntie Annie Pretzels is profiled in Fortune.  She says her secret is, “the three small P’s.  We started with a purpose – counseling and helping people.  We had a product that supported our purpose.  Then we got the people to do it.  The three small P’s, in that order, result in the big P – profit.  If you stay true to your values and purpose, you will get to profit.”  She sold the business and no longer has an investment in it.  The chain has 1,200 locations and generated $410,000,000 in sales last year from 26 countries.
  • Wendy’s Has a Secret: Look at  the hidden subliminal message in Wendy’s new logo.  Two years ago, we talked about how Wendy’s was using mental models and psychology to overhaul their business and menu.  With the new logo, the trend continues.  They’ve hidden a subconscious trigger in the mascot’s clothing.
  • How Switzerland Manages to Run Their Economy Far Better Than Most Other Nations: A look back at the Swiss “Debt Brake” – Back in 2011, 85% of voters in Switzerland approved an initiative that limited government spending to increases in revenue.  This analysis from The Wall Street Journal looks at how it has worked out for the nation.   The country manages one of the highest standards of living on Earth with a debt-to-GDP ratio of only 34%, and maximum income tax rates of 11.5%, value-added tax rates of 8%, and corporate tax rates of 8.5%.
  • Snake Island – There is an island off the coast of Brazil called Ilha da Queimada Grande where every square meter (the size of a standard shower) has a Golden Lancehead pit viper, a type of snake with a bite so toxic it liquefies flesh and kills rapidly.  To avoid the certain death that would follow were someone to step foot on the island, the Brazilian military has blocked access to the land.  Even more terrifying, some of the snakes are born intersex, both male and female.  For now it isn’t a problem because most are sterile, but if they ever manage to evolve beyond that, they could be unstoppable.  We need to call Samuel L. Jackson because if these things get on a plane …
  • Sex Addiction Is Not Real – UCLA researchers discover that there is no such thing as sex addiction.  Those who claim to suffer from it are perfectly normal with no brain problems or hijacking of the neural pathways that are seen in other addictions, they just have a much higher than average libido and fall along a normal genetic distribution curve.  Thus, if you are banging waitresses in the parking lot of a restaurant, it’s not a medical or psychological condition causing it.
  • Should PepsiCo Be Split Into Two Firms? – One capital group, Train, thinks so.  I think it’s an idiotic idea. [Update: Train has since removed the PowerPoint presentation to which this item was originally linked, breaking down their math]
  • TIPs Offer First Positive Yield Since 2011 – A quick read for those of you who follow these securities.
  • Million Dollar Military Mansions – Some people are upset that the military brass are put in expensive homes.  I have no problem with it; I don’t want people near the nuclear trigger living in a neighborhood where anyone can approach them or where they have to be thinking about how to mow their own grass.  The houses aren’t even that expensive in the first place.  The security measure expenses are about equal to what Berkshire Hathaway spends keeping Warren Buffett secure.
  • Could the Galaxy Be Filled with Self-Replicating Alien Probes? – An interesting thought experiment that questions whether using planetary gravity as a slingshot would make such as design theoretically possible, permitting total exploration within 10 million years; a relatively short span.
  • Final Fantasy Re-Mixes – Hat tip to Alex, who found these; the video game fans out there should appreciate it.
  • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

    Yep – that was meant for a response to someone else as an example and the other link was put elsewhere; I just fixed it! Thanks =)

  • Austin from TX

    There was a series “How I Made My Millions” that outlined the success stories of a bunch of different people including Auntie Anne. I’m 95% confident that you will/would enjoy the show.

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      I need to check this out now; thanks!

  • Gilvus

    That Auntie Annie’s quote is creating a rift in my brain. On one hand, I hear “Auntie” and I think about a kindly, bespectacled lady serving homemade casserole. But the quote makes her sound like a general rallying her troops before marching off to battle.

    It’s brilliant.

    • http://www.joshuakennon.com/ Joshua Kennon

      I know, right? I was shocked to see her sales figures. It’s just crazy to me that a Pretzel stand can generate $400,000 to $500,000 in sales from a relatively tiny location, yet that is the average per unit.