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Perthblog

This is the official Perth blog site for posts, comments, and other contributions about leadership, behavioral finance and economics, and about management generally, as well as other related topics that take our fancy.

Amazon Eats Whole Foods – Are Authentic Leaders Too Predictable?


So we didn’t expect Amazon to do the Whole Foods thing right? Bezos is an unpredictable guy. Reminds me of Elon Musk, Richard Branson, even (especially) Donald Trump. Unpredictable to a fault. Never know what they’re gonna do next. The traditional leadership canon teaches that leaders should be predictable; authentic they call it. But what I see is...
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Uber-Leading - Are empathy and disruptiveness incompatible?


So Travis Kalanick of Uber has been given the boot. What’s that all about? He’s promoted a hostile and sexually harassing culture. He needs to be reformed. Is his departure going to kill the company? Probably. I can think of several leaders who totally lacked empathy; more; they were unsympathetic, bullies, sometimes narcissistic and unappealing hu...
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What’s wrong with quant approaches?


You know the old story: when a celebrity gets to be Time Person of the Year, it’s time to short them. Obama received the honor twice, in 2008 and 2012 and look where that got him! Trump was Time Person of the Year 2016 so look out! In the same vein I notice that the Wall Street Journal now has a new and separate section on quants. Does that mean th...
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Are dynasties the future of democracy?


So I know I don’t have to remind you that we have a family running the US of A. Let’s say that it continues, with or without a gap between other family members also getting into the saddle. That’s what a dynasty is, in both cases. And this is hardly new. In modern times we’ve had the Kennedys, the Bushes and the Clintons. The Roosevelts before that...
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Shouldn’t leadership be about business outcome, not about traits?


Did you notice that Tesla is now worth as much as General Motors? Quite a milestone given the fact that Tesla sells 80,000 cars a year versus GM’s 2 million plus.  Does that tell us something about leadership? My go-to reference Wikipedia defines a leadership style as a way of “providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people ”. ...
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Does Big Data Diminish Leadership Purpose?


Big data is really big. So is analytics. Our interns all want to get a job in those areas, so they can hit one out of the park. The big idea is that Big Data can help us uncover insights especially into how consumers act, so we can get them to buy more, and, to be fair, to better meet their needs. Big Data is transforming business, companies and ev...
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The leaderati are out of touch with the masses!


I guess there’s no need to engage in any further exegesis concerning the latest Black Swans on the political front, domestically and globally. But I’ve been surprised that the leadership literati (let’s call them the leaderati) haven’t been talking about what this all means for leadership thinking. Seems to me it means a whole lot. So what does lea...
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Is real behavioral change ever possible?


Well this is taking a different view. There is a huge supply of companies and methods to make you a better person, a better leader, a better manager and so on. And the vast majority, if not every last man-jack of them, are based on the assumption that people can change their behavior, if not a lot, then at least a little. Aren’t we humans just a li...
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Leadership gurus lose to Robo-Coaches!


Did you know that the classic book “Moby Dick” has been translated into emojis? Yep, to wit, “ Emoji Dick ”. What’s the world coming to? I guess like almost everyone in the world you use messaging on your phone. Maybe you have even been known to use emojis, but only with your kids, right?. Same here, but I have also been known to use them (suitably...
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Labor still beats capital in leadership development


As is my wont I was recently idly surfing the net checking out stuff about leadership. I ran across the latest issue of Entrepreneur magazine , a very good publication I am sure. Here were its three top headlines on the leadership page: 3 Tough Habits You Must Drop to Succeed 9 Things Managers Do That Make Good Employees Quit 22 Qualities That Make...
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How do negative interest rates impact leadership and risk globally?


It just came out that the Bank of Ireland and RBS bank have introduced negative interest rates on large deposits. Germany and Japan both have banks with negative interest rates, as well as some of the Scandinavians. That’s got to qualify as a megatrend. It looks like negative interest rates are spreading fast. We are in uncharted territory. Likely ...
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Is organizational culture over-hyped?


If you’re in HR, or you’re the CEO of an organization, chances are that you talk a lot about your “unique” organizational culture. It’s also a favorite of academics. Definitely politically correct. But even the promoters of organizational culture don’t exactly know what it means – see for example this article, direct from the PC headquarters of aca...
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Could you purposely redesign your personality with a pill?


Another apparently useless piece of information, courtesy of researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Massachusetts medical School. It looks like particular chemicals in your immune system cause you to be social . Specifically it’s a molecule called gamma interferon. Who would have thunk it? For some reason, the immune system...
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The Difference between Agile and Supple Leadership


So where did I get “supple leadership” from? I made it up of course! Actually I was reflecting on the now widespread use of the term “agile leadership”. It’s in use by many companies and there are even assessments for it now such as one from Korn/Ferry . Even I have been guilty of using the term (see my post “ Can Behavioral Agility Be Learned? ”) ...
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A Turing Test for Leadership?


Did you notice that the next Apple developer’s conference will focus on Siri ? Meanwhile the digital assistants’ wars have heated up with Google Assistant , Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa . These all aim to create a human-like assistant that can interact through voice. Nor are these the only entries. We also have Watson from IBM, NELL from ...
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Would Trump be a Billionaire without his Inheritance?


Is this the elephant in the room? Trump's frequent allusions to his vast wealth and to how smart he is sounds awfully like the rich son who inherited it all but wants to convince everyone else – and himself – that really he did it all himself. So I thought I would do an analysis of this question. I think I’m well qualified to do that. For the past ...
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An Inconvenient Truth - Alpha Financial Styles Beget Ginormous Returns


Apologies to Al Gore for another inconvenient truth. There’s been a lot of talk about alpha these days, but not just about investments. Trump, Putin - alpha is definitely in vogue. As in alpha male. Like Tarzan. Does that tell us something about the investing world? Yep it does. Check out my book The Three Financial Styles of Very Successful Leader...
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We need the Interplanetary Monetary Fund now!


So finally SpaceX made it and soft-landed its booster rocket. An epochal achievement. And Bezos’ Blue Origin did much the same although on a lower orbit. So now the race is on. Next it will be the Russians, Chinese, Japanese, maybe even the North Koreans, God forbid. It’s now obvious that we have pretty much everything we need up there to keep body...
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Behavioral M&A – Yahoo Needed It But Too Late Now


So what’s behavioral M&A anyhows? See here for the skinny , will tell you more below. When Marissa Mayer was appointed CEO I predicted she would fail. Right on the money (“ Yahoo – Product Bling 1, Business Acumen 0 ”). Was the problem Ms. Mayer or something else? How about the 70 or so acquisitions she made? They cost around $4 billion; it’s n...
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“The Big Short” – The Real Problem with Ratings


Did you see “The Big Short”? I’m sure Bernie Sanders is having a field day, his ticket to the big job he thinks. It’s worth seeing if only to reveal the zeitgeist in 2007, a fin de siècle moment. Naturally it paints the banks and the ratings companies in the darkest of colors. So what went wrong with the mortgage bonds and such-like? The film sugge...
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