Best content from the best source handpicked by Shyam. The source include The Harvard University, MIT, Mckinsey & Co, Wharton, Stanford,and other top educational institutions. domains include Cybersecurity, Machine learning, Deep Learning, Bigdata, Education, Information Technology, Management, others.
Schoolboy, 4, over the moon with Nasa's help on his homework
Four-year-old Lucas Whiteley wrote to Nasa asking for help on a school project and became the star of his class when the space agency replied
It was one small step for a Nasa engineer but one giant leap for a four-year-old schoolboy from Yorkshire who wrote to the space agency asking for help with a science project.
Lucas Whiteley enlisted the help of his father to record a video of himself asking three questions which he posted on the Nasa website and was over the moon when the space agency replied.
He was sent a an email and 10-minute film from the space agency’s engineer Ted Garbeff which included a virtual tour of his Mountain View base in California.
Lucas presented the video to delighted teachers at Sunny Hill Primary in Wrenthorpe, West Yorks, who played it at the school assembly.
Mr Garbeff, an expert in experimental fluid physics who studies the wake of space capsules, answered Lucas’s queries about the number of stars, which countries had landed on the Moon and whether any animals had been there.
4 year old Lucas Whiteley got a detailed reply from NASA (Photo: Ross Parry)
He explained the huge number of stars by comparing them to grains of sand on a beach.
“You might see a lot of stars, but the truth is there are more stars than you can even see,” he wrote.
“There are so many stars that it’s really hard to imagine how many there are.”
Mr Garbeff also told Lucas that the US was the only country to put a man on the moon but that Russia and then China had landed rovers and he described the role of animals in space exploration including Russian dog Laika, the first living thing to be sent into space.
Lucas’s father James Whiteley, 37, of Roberttown, West Yorks, said: “When I was a kid I wrote to
NASA and got a brochure, so when Lucas was doing a project on space I thought
we might be lucky if we sent a video of Lucas asking some questions.
“What we got back was amazing. Obviously Ted has thought about his audience and
gone to a lot of trouble just for them.
“When I sat down to watch it with Lucas he had a big smile on his face.
“Ted is a fantastic bloke to go out of his way to do something for someone he
doesn't know on the other side of the world.”
In his response to Lucas, Mr Garbeff claimed it had been difficult to get his job at NASA and urged Lucas and his classmates to listen to their teachers, adding he hoped to see them all "up in space one day."
He said the video had been "super fun" to make, "especially as Lucas asked such
He added: "I'm always happy to talk about NASA."
Lucas’s questions and Mr Garbeff’s answers
Q: How many stars are there?
A: You might see a lot of stars, but the truth is there are more stars than you can even see. There are so many stars that it’s really hard to imagine how many there are. So we haven’t counted every single star in the universe, that would take a really long time. But instead engineers and scientists are really good at estimating really large numbers.
- he told Lucas there were about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars.
Q: Who came second and third in the race to the moon?
A: The US did land the first people on the moon and in fact no other country has made it back to the moon. But Russia did manage to land a rover on the moon to drive around. So I guess I would probably give Russia second place. Very recently, a country called China has landed a rover on the moon so China would have third place.
Q: Did any animals go to the moon?
A: No. But animals have really helped us understand the way space works and how well humans can live in space. In fact one of the first living things to go into space was a Russian dog named Laika. Laika’s now very much a space hero. She was the first living thing to go into space. Nasa also launched animals into space (including) the first primate, a chimpanzee named Ham. But none of them made it to the moon, they orbited around the Earth.
Strategic Humor: Cartoons from the April 2014 Issue
Enjoy these cartoons from the April issue of HBR, and test your management wit in the HBR Cartoon Caption Contest at the bottom of this post. If we choose your caption as the winner, you will be featured in the next magazine issue and win a free Harvard Business Review Press book.
“This passive-aggressive stuff is getting to me.”
“I appreciate your concern, but I’ll be fine. I always leave a trail of breadcrumbs whenever I venture in there.”
And congratulations to our April caption contest winner, John Gregor of Edmonton, Alberta. Here’s his winning caption:
“Thanks for the dramatic reenactment of our quarterly growth chart, but you could have used PowerPoint.”
Cartoonist: Susan Camilleri Konar
NEW CAPTION CONTEST Enter your own caption for this cartoon in the comments below — you could be featured in the next magazine issue and win a free book. To be considered for the prize, please submit your caption byMarch 13.
Real-time social media like Twitter could be used to track HIV incidence and drug-related behaviors with the aim of detecting and potentially preventing outbreaks, a new UCLA-led study shows.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Preventive Medicine, suggests it may be possible to predict sexual risk and drug use behaviors by monitoring tweets, mapping where those messages come from and linking them with data on the geographical distribution of HIV cases. The use of various drugs had been associated in previous studies with HIV sexual risk behaviors and transmission of infectious disease.
“Ultimately, these methods suggest that we can use ‘big data’ from social media for remote monitoring and surveillance of HIV risk behaviors and potential outbreaks,” said Sean Young, assistant professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-director of the Center for Digital Behavior at UCLA.
Founded by Young, the new interdisciplinary center brings together academic researchers and private sector companies to study how social media and mobile technologies can be used to predict and change behavior. (See the center’s Twitter account.)
Other studies have examined how Twitter can be used to predict outbreaks of infections like influenza, said Young, who is also a member of the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine; UCLA’s Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services; and the UCLA AIDS Institute. “But this is the first to suggest that Twitter can be used to predict people’s health-related behaviors and as a method for monitoring HIV risk behaviors and drug use,” he said.
For the study, researchers collected more than 550 million tweets between May 26 and Dec. 9, 2012, and created an algorithm to find words and phrases in them suggesting drug use or potentially risky behaviors, such as “sex” or “get high.” They then plotted those tweets on a map to discover where they originated, running statistical models to see if these were areas where HIV cases had been reported.
The algorithm captured 8,538 tweets indicating sexually risky behavior and 1,342 suggesting stimulant drug use. The geographical data on HIV cases to which researchers linked the tweets came from AIDSVu.org, an interactive online map that illustrates the prevalence of HIV in the U.S.; this mapping data was from 2009.
The states with the largest proportion of geo-located tweets, both general as well as HIV-related, were California (9.4 percent), Texas (9.0 percent), New York (5.7 percent) and Florida (5.4 percent). On a per capita basis, the largest raw number of HIV risk–related tweets came from the District of Columbia, Delaware, Louisiana and South Carolina. States with the highest per capita rate of tweets were Utah, North Dakota and Nevada.
When the researchers linked the tweets to data on HIV cases, they found a significant relationship between those indicating risky behavior and counties where the highest numbers of HIV cases were reported.
Based on this study, the researchers conclude that it is possible to collect “big data” on real-time social media like Twitter about sexual and drug use behaviors, create a map of where the tweets are occur and use this information to understand and possibly predict where HIV cases and drug use occur.
The study’s main weakness, the researchers say, is that the HIV data comes from 2009, so in order to test if this approach can be used to predict future behaviors and outbreaks there is a need for a “gold standard” of frequently updated data. In this way, tweets can be accessed instantly to compare them with disease outbreaks.
The study does however demonstrate the feasibility of using real-time social networking to identify and map HIV risk-related communications and link them to national HIV data, the researchers write.
“This study was designed to call for future research to understand the potential cost-effectiveness of this approach and to refine methods of using real-time social networking data for HIV and public health prevention and detection,” they conclude.
Why Half of Wal-Mart's Groceries Are Banned by Whole Foods
Ben Blatt of Slate magazine conducted an interesting and in-depth study recently to determine how many of the grocery products on a Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) shelf are outright banned from the more upscale retailer Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) . The results might surprise you.
According to Blatt's research, Whole Foods bans roughly 54% of Wal-Mart's fare due to the presence, in its words, of "unacceptable ingredients for foods." These 78 banned ingredients include everything from recognizable sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup to the tongue-tying dimethylpolysiloxane.
In the process, Blatt left some cartons unturned, since Wal-Mart's website only discloses ingredients for approximately 50% of its grocery inventory. As a result, his survey is not scientific or comprehensive. Nevertheless, the findings are revealing for customers and investors alike.
Whole Foods store in Oklahoma City. Source: Whole Foods Market.
For example, it's no surprise that shoppers would be hard-pressed to find a liter of Coke or bag of Doritos at Whole Foods, but Blatt discovers that even household brands ranging from Minute Maid lemonade to Cracker Barrel cheese are deemed unworthy for Whole Foods' choosy clientele. Whole Foods claims these foods fall short of "safety, necessity, manufacturing methods and compatibility with our overall core values."
While the art of stocking retail shelves might seem quite mundane, the contrast presents two starkly different approaches to running a grocery store. Consider the following statistics:
97% of the soft drinks sold at Wal-Mart contain ingredients that Whole Foods considers "unacceptable." If you ever wondered why a Whole Foods drink aisle makes you feel like you're in a foreign country, well, there's your explanation.
Wal-Mart's "Great Value 100% Whole Wheat Bread" contains seven ingredients that Whole Foods scoffs at, including everything from high-fructose corn syrup to calcium propionate. Not one or two "unacceptable" items, but seven. All in a staple product that you have to imagine just flies off the shelves. We're not talking about an obscure frozen dinner here; we're talking about sandwich bread.
More than 80% of the candy sold at Wal-Mart would never be found at Whole Foods due to artificial flavors, while 31% of the bacon and sausage products have been blacklisted due to monosodium glutamate, or MSG.
The list goes on and on. Beyond the statistics, however, Blatt attempts to answer the intriguing question for customers and investors alike: Why does Whole Foods limit consumer choice?
As he points out, the Food and Drug Administration has deemed every food product sold in a Wal-Mart store safe for consumption. Whole Foods, however, holds itself to a higher standard. Is Whole Foods, then, playing the role of Big Brother for health-conscious customers or simply catering to the finicky demands of foodies?
Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at NYU, was interviewed for Slate's article. She points the finger at health-conscious customers: "Whole Foods is giving their demographic what their demographic wants." The "top comment" in Blatt's piece -- which has so far collected more than 580 comments in total -- claims Nestle's conclusion is "the only relevant statement in the whole article." But is it really that cut-and-dry?
Not according to Whole Foods founder John Mackey. When he first started selling natural and organic foods at a small co-op in Austin, Texas, die-hard foodies were a blip on the radar in a massive national grocery industry. Now, the organic food industry, for example, is a $28 billion market that's more than doubled in size since 2004. This health-conscious trend didn't just spring out of thin air. For several decades, grocers like Whole Foods, recognized as America's first Certified Organic store, have ushered in a new wave of health-focused customers.
In the book he co-authored with Raj Sisodia, Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, Mackey claims that Whole Foods plays an important role in leading the consumer toward better choices. Instead of catering to the wants of consumers, Whole Foods educates -- without lecturing -- their clientele: "If the business is able to see unarticulated or latent needs that customers don't yet recognize, it has a responsibility to educate them about the potential value they are not yet seeing. ... We have to satisfy those customers in terms of what they want in the moment, while steering them toward better choices over time."
For Whole Foods, it's as much of a push from the grocer as it is a pull from the consumer to accommodate healthier food options. Mackey believes this makes sense because his grocers study everything from food to organisms to the environment and therefore have a deep understanding that customers might lack.
At the end of the day, it's always a dialogue between the two, but Mackey says a relationship built on trust has led customers to "increasingly look to Whole Foods Market to be their 'editors,' as we carefully examine and evaluate the products we sell." Or, to use another analogy, Whole Foods aims to maximize healthy outcomes for customers like a good mechanic would optimize the performance of an automobile.
As Whole Foods nudges the consumer to make better eating choices, it's in turn expanding that demographic. Their motto might as well be "Educate and they will come."
Produce aisle in Wal-Mart. Source: Wal-Mart.
But Wal-Mart's heading down a divergent path. From Blatt's point of view, the Bentonville retail giant offers a "laissez-faire" approach to curating the products it sells. Instead of banning ingredients, Wal-Mart's adopted a model for purchasing that provides lower prices and greater choice.
On the surface, this formula looks like a win-win for the consumer, but it comes with a small caveat: Shoppers are increasingly concerned about the ingredients and origins of food and are looking for guidance from a source they can trust. While no one wants their parent -- or grocer, for that matter -- telling them to eat their vegetables, many customers want to know that their grocer supports transparent and sustainable food practices. After all, their health and well-being depends, to a large extent, on the quality of foods in their diet.
Consequently, grocers who carefully monitor everything from ingredients to sourcing are riding on a wave of growth while others are lagging behind. The organic market, for example, makes up only 3.5% of total food sales, but it grew at double the annual growth rate of all food sales in 2012.
Grocers like Whole Foods and its natural-foods competitor Sprouts Farmers Market see increasing opportunity: Both stores recently upped their potential nationwide store count to 1,200 locations, which would triple Whole Foods' size and increase Sprouts' footprint by 7.5 times. While Wal-Mart towers above them with an estimated 3,000 grocery locations, its momentum is slowing. The world's largest retailer struggled to achieve 1.5% year-over-year global-revenue growth in the most recent quarter.
To reach its full potential, Whole Foods will likely continue to educate customers and may even ban a few ingredients along the way. For its part, that seems to be a time-tested recipe for success, translating to a seven-bagger stock over the last five years.
Wal-Mart, on the other hand, has to hope a cornucopia of products offers more for consumers than a carefully curated experience. From my perspective, focusing on rock-bottom prices looks less and less like a viable long-term strategy for the retail juggernaut.
Produce section in Whole Foods. Source: Whole Foods Market.
The future kings of retailThe face of retail is changing fast, and it's evident from the moment you step into a store. The best retailers are separating themselves from the pack through quality and service, while age-old veterans like Wal-Mart are struggling to compete on price alone. We recently surveyed the landscape and identified the cash kings trying to remove Wal-Mart from its throne.
Warren Buffett's Brand-New Advice on How to Get Rich
Two small investments Warren Buffett made more than two decades ago can teach us all something about how we should view our money.
Each year, investors anxiously await the annual report from Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) , which contains a letter from Warren Buffett that containsindispensable insight into the decisions he's made both over the last year and his entire life.
While his letter for 2013 has yet to be released in its entirety, Fortune Magazine recently obtained an excerpt where Buffett outlines how two small real estate investments he made more than 20 years ago forever shaped his view on investing, but can prepare everyone for a future of success.
Source: Richard Hurd on Flickr.
The investments Buffett describes his purchase of a 400-acre farm 50 miles north of Omaha, Neb., in 1986. Just a few years prior, farmland in Nebraska and the entire Midwest was booming, but a bursting of the bubble caused prices to decline rapidly. Buffett was able to buy the land for $280,000, which was "considerably less" than what a failed bank valued it a few years earlier.
While Buffett notes he "knew nothing about operating a farm," he enlisted the help of a son -- who was an avid farmer himself -- and the two estimated the return on the investment would be 10% annually.
He then describes the purchase of a "small investment" -- the price wasn't mentioned -- of a retail property in New York City that was next to New York University in 1993. He joined two other friends to buy the property following the collapse of the commercial real estate bubble and once again estimated he could earn about 10% each year.
Source: Insider Monkey.
As typical with Buffett, he is somewhat muted on what he has actually made from the initial investments, but notes, "The farm has tripled its earnings and is worth five times or more what I paid," and he now receives 35% of his initial investment in the real estate property annual in the form of distributions.
Although the investments were small -- Berkshire Hathaway had a book value of more than $2 billion in 1986 and almost $9 billion in 1993 -- and he has never seen the property in New York and the farmland only twice, Buffett notes that "the two investments will be solid and satisfactory holdings for my lifetime and, subsequently, for my children and grandchildren."
The lessons First, Buffett says, "You don't need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns," and a recognition of personal limits while ensuring things are kept simple navigating along a "course certain to work reasonably well" is critical.
He adds that when an investment decision is made, it's always critical to evaluate "future productivity" to determine if it's a worthwhile investment. If an investor is unable to gauge a "rough estimate" of what the future return of the investment is, Buffett says the best step is to simply "forget it and move on."
Buffett continues by highlighting that he focuses on productivity, not price, which is a critical distinction. Often investors are lulled into thinking it's only the price that matters, but prices are merely speculations of a value, whereas the productivity of a business is where the actual value is created.
The final lesson Buffett extols from these two small investments is that he didn't consider the broader macroeconomic or market predictions from others because those "may blur your vision of the facts that are truly important."
Next, he says speculation surrounding future price and daily prices are superfluous when making a decision. Again, he harps on the truth that he "thought only of what the properties would produce and cared not at all about their daily valuations."
Changing your life In all five points, Buffett highlights things that can be taught to all investors, both those in real estate and those preparing for retirement through the stock market.
Investments are to be made in businesses that generate returns to their investors, not simply the names and numbers of stock tickers.
While it is easy to be swayed by daily trends, long-term investments at reasonable prices are always a winning formula. And if that sounds too daunting or difficult, Buffett says a very low-cost index fund is a wonderful solution.
Buffett concludes by reminding readers of his oft-repeated but immensely valuable advice he learned from his professor and mentor Ben Graham: "Price is what you pay; value is what you get," which is something everyone must remember when making any investment.
Beginning in the mid-1850s, Paris experienced a grand transformation. At the orders of Napoleon III, old, narrow streets made way for wide boulevards, thousands of gas lamps lit the streets at night, and a host of other public projects thoroughly modernized the city. Charles Marville, a photographer employed by the city, was charged with documenting those changes. “The random, organic city, the city built by successive generations on top of itself, was pushed back and de-emphasized. The standardized city we see today was replaced,” said Jeff Rosenheim, curator of “Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris,” now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Marville worked as an illustrator before taking up photography in the 1850s. As he developed his craft, Marville initially used the paper negative process for his photographs, which created a soft, romantic view. Later on, he adopted the glass negative process, which delivered a clearer, more precise view of the world and allowed him to record even the smallest details of a street scene. “Almost immediately he made technically masterful and visually rich images where you can tell the difference between the sidewalk and the facade of the building and the difference between iron work and glass. The paper negative blended those things, but the glass negative defined those differences,” Rosenheim said. “For someone interested in the changing shape of the city, that glass negative transformed the potential of the description of photography.”
Top of the Rue Champlain, View to the Right (Twentieth Arrondissement), 1877–78
Banks of the Bièvre River at the Bottom of the Rue des Gobelins (Fifth Arrondissement), 1862
Impasse de la Bouteille, Fom the Rue Montorgeuil (Second Arrondissement), 1865–68
Urinal, Jennings System, Plateau de l’Ambigu, 1876
Sky Study, Paris, 1856–57
Marville understood that the photos were for the purposes of the city’s archives. As a result, Marville’s work varies stylistically from his contemporaries, who were working privately to make a mark in the word of fine arts. “He was well aware that his goal was very specific, which makes the photos attractive to people and contemporary artists. The idea of the archive is a powerful idea in the modern idiom. Many find this way of working appealing, the idea of the city itself as the author rather than the picture-maker—the stylelessness of it,” Rosenheim said.
Marville died largely uncelebrated after he stopped getting commissions. It took nearly a century before his archive was recognized for its historic and artistic value. Now it is widely known as an invaluable record of a city’s urbanization. “In most cases those buildings and those courtyards and those streets he photographed would be destroyed. We not only have pictures of them but we have pictures filled with information,” Rosenheim said.
When I saw Joe* my stomach lurched. The last time I'd seen him was 20 years ago. The day I fired him.
Time is unkind to all but seemed especially unkind to Joe. His face was etched with lines and his eyes, once bright, were flat and lifeless.
He shuffled over and I hesitantly reached to shake his hand.
"Hi Joe," I said. "How are you?"
He glanced away. "I guess I'm doing all right," he said.
Then he asked to borrow a twenty.
I was a manufacturing supervisor in the late 1990s when our department implemented an employee-empowerment program designed to shift as much responsibility as possible down to the team level. In time, employee committees became responsible for scheduling vacations, evaluating team members, and making hiring decisions, and we became coaches and "facilitators" rather than supervisors.
I definitely supported it. I started on the shop floor, so I know employees at every level are always capable of handling greater responsibility than normally given. Plus, responsibility yields accountability. Accountability creates engagement. Empowerment fuels a powerful cycle that can take on an awesome life of its own.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, with a little training and guidance, some employees turned out to be far better leaders than many supervisors.
Of course at first most of our employees were skeptical. How much responsibility would we truly delegate? How much authority would we truly give up? At the first sign of trouble, would we stop guiding and start dictating?
In response, we went too far, too fast, erring on the side of greater employee authority so they could learn to trust our commitment.
Two weeks after Joe was hired, Mike*, the evaluation coordinator for his team, came to my office to discuss Joe's performance.
"He's terrible," Mike said.
I asked for examples. We identified weaknesses and deficiencies. We brought Joe in to review his evaluation and detail areas for improvement. Standard stuff: some employees are slower to catch on, others just need a reality check, but most come up to speed.
Two weeks later, Mike said Joe's performance had not improved. So we put him on a performance plan, listing skills he needed to display and specific performance targets he needed to reach. Joe said he understood.
Later, though, he came to me and said, "I know I'm a little slow, but I also think they're too hard on me. It's not that I can't do the job. I think the real problem is they don't like me."
So I found ways without being obvious to see better for myself, like hanging out on the line talking to an operator while keeping one eye on Joe. (After all, I couldn't make it seem like I didn't trust the team's input.) He was definitely slow. Still, Mike's assessment seemed, possibly, a little harsh.
Yet the team worked with him every day and no matter how hard I tried I would never know his performance as well as they did. (Which, of course, was the reason we wanted employees to evaluate each other; the people who know your performance best are the people who work beside you every day.)
Two months into his 90-day probationary period Mike said Joe's performance was still sub-par. We brought Joe in, gave him a formal warning, and explained exactly what he needed to do in order to meet job requirements. We created a plan to provide additional training. He said he was trying hard but would try even harder.
A month later Mike turned in Joe's 90-day evaluation. "He doesn't cut it," he said. "We need to fire him."
"That's a big step," I said. "Are you sure?"
"I am," Mike said. "We all are. Check out the individual reviews from the rest of the team."
According to their evaluations it was clear Joe hadn't met requirements. While I still had doubts, the proof was in front of me. The system had spoken. Joe needed to go. So I fired him.
And he cried.
He said he had tried really hard. He said he knew he didn't fit in but he couldn't help it. He told me he had never fit in, not in school, not with friends, not at jobs. He didn't know why but he always seemed to be the outsider. He felt his work wasn't the problem for other employees; working with him was the problem.
He begged for one more chance.
I told Joe we had given him a number of chances and unfortunately there were no chances left. I walked him to the plant entrance (we had to escort fired employees from the building, a "walk of shame" I always hated because it only served to further humiliate a person already devastated), shook his hand, and wished him well.
But I never forgot Joe. Unlike some other employees I fired, I sometimes questioned whether I had done the right thing. Sure, based on our system I had done everything "right," but had I actually done the right thing? Had I ignored the intuition that comes from long years of experience?
Had I let Joe become a victim of our drive towards empowerment?
What makes it worse is that some months earlier I facilitated a promotion committee meeting made up of employees using evaluation data to rank employees eligible for an open machine-operator position.
Gene* emerged as the top candidate. Yet some in the room had doubts. "I know he looks good on paper," one explained, "but I don't think he has what it takes." Others agreed.
I didn't. "I understand you have concerns," I said, "but by every standard he's the best candidate. You can't bypass him based on feelings you can't quantify. How would you feel if that happened to you?" The dissenters grumbled but grudgingly agreed.
In the weeks to come, I had to step in a few more times. Several operators on his team felt he wasn't learning quickly enough and wanted him demoted. So I watched. Gene was slow, but once he knew how to do something, he really knew how. Experience -- experience shop floor employees didn't yet have -- told me all Gene needed was a little patience and a little time.
So I made sure he got it.
But I didn't do the same for Joe.
I reached for my wallet as Joe told me his story. He had worked a bunch of jobs but none that lasted. He had messed up his knee and didn't have health insurance so it never healed right. He talked about opportunities missed and turns not taken.
Later I thought about the role I had played in his life. Maybe if I had tried harder or better trusted my judgment things would have turned out differently. He may never have been an outstanding employee, but in time he might have turned out OK.
Working for what was at the time a leading employer in the area, holding a solid job with good benefits and plenty of overtime... who knows what Joe's life might have been?
Would he have someday been like Gene, who turned out to be an outstanding operator and then went on to become a machinist with an incredible eye for detail and precision? Probably not. After all, Joe had under-performed in an unskilled position where effort was 90% of the success equation.
But who knows?
Hiring, firing, disciplining, promoting... each is an everyday task for a leader. You need to make difficult and agonizing decisions about employees. So you think, you decide, you act, and then you put that decision behind you and move on.
That's the job.
Yet doing that job can dramatically change the life of other people. No matter how hard you try to get every decision that changes another person's life right, sometimes you won't. Those decisions -- and those regrets -- you soon realize you will live with forever.
Those decisions -- and those regrets -- you soon realize will also change your life.
Hats off to all of you who try desperately to get every people decision right... and then pay the unseen price of wondering whether you got one wrong.
The ranks of the world’s billionaires have swelled to a record 1,645 including 268 newcomers. While wealth spreads to new corners of the world, including for the first time places like Tanzania and Lithuania, the U.S. still dominates with Bill Gates back on top after four-year hiatus and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg the year’s biggest gainer. View More
At India’s Top Business School, The Jobs Are Plentiful & The Students Satisfied
Many of India’s business elite seem worried. Economic growth has slowed. Corruption remains untamed, a result of poorly paid civil servants who demand bribes in exchange for favors. The country’s infrastructure, long inferior to many other nations, still lags woefully behind. And nearly everyone agrees that an inept and bureaucratic government is holding back the country’s progress.
But if you ask the students at the Indian School of Business who will graduate in early April how things are going, you get nothing but a positive vibe. And why not? By the time the employment numbers get counted, the school is expecting record numbers all around: higher domestic and international salaries for students and an unprecedented number of offers from such leading companies as Amazon, Deloitte Consulting, McKinsey, and one of the hottest e-commerce outfits in India, Flipkart.
“This is the best year I’ve had in ten years,” says V.K. Menon, senior director of careers, admissions and financial aid. Last year some 423 companies showed up on campus to recruit the school’s students, a 21% increase from 348 the previous year. Menon concedes that enough companies went away empty handed that he thinks it would be better if fewer recruiters had showed up, though he expects roughly the same number for this year’s graduating class. He also predicts that the school’s 770 students will receive more than 1,000 signed job offers this year, up from 819 in 2013 and 631 two years ago.
FOR STUDENTS, NUMEROUS INTERVIEWS AND MULTIPLE JOB OFFERS
Upsana Wahi, 27, had interviews with six companies, ranging from a real estate developer and a hospital chain to a high tech startup and the hot e-commerce company. She ended up deciding between two offers and is joining IBM’s global business consulting unit in Bangalore upon graduation. Girish Kumar S.N., 30, interviewed with five companies, also landed two offers and is excited to be joining a three-year mobile platform startup called Zipdial in a product management role. Lokesh Jain, 26, had 12 interviews and three offers.
There’s no greater symbol of how strong the market is for ISB’s students than the story, told by Menon, of an oil equipment company that came to recruit the school’s students for the first time this year. A dozen students were initially offered tax-free $50,000 salaries—nearly double the the average for graduates who remain in India—along with free housing and a car in the Middle East. When the firm found no takers, it returned and doubled the offers to $100,000 each. The 12 students quickly signed up for the deal.
“For us, the MBA market is still buoyant,” says Ajit Rangnekar, who has been dean of the school since January of 2010. “We are seeing a steady and robust interest in our students from companies. Last year, 200 students were placed one month before the previous year. This year, we’re doing even better than that.” (See How ISB Grads Fared In the 2013 Job Market).
ONLY 13 YEARS OLD, ISB HAS BECOME INDIA’S LEADING BUSINESS SCHOOL
Even students who have yet to connect with an employer don’t seem worried about their prospects. Harmanjot Singh, 27, says he has had 27 interviews with firms that range from Johnson & Johnson to the Times of India. A medical doctor by training, he wants to use his degree to switch to a marketing career and is having trouble convincing recruiters to take him on. “ISB has not given up on me and that is something I am so grateful for,” says Singh, who notes that the career staff has done everything it could to help him.
Social Entrepreneurs with proven models for including low-income populations convene to refine their impact scaling strategies and collectively overcome ecosystem barriers.
Great business ideas go global to serve customers around the world. Great social innovations, however, too often remain local or national because market forces do not work as efficiently in low-income markets. Although many of the ideas and the entrepreneurs behind them have the potential for global spread, the inclusive business sector still lacks the processes, resources and mechanisms necessary for scaling impact successfully. The Ashoka Globalizer is working to help change this scenario. Founded in 2010, Globalizer capitalizes on Ashoka’s global reach, selection process and network of social and business entrepreneurs to connect “ready to globalize” innovations with the strategic and intellectual support they need to go global rapidly and efficiently.
At the end of February 2014, a group of 20 international Ashoka Fellows will convene for the Economic Inclusion Globalizer Summit in Chennai, India. During three days of structured interactions with business and impact sector thought leaders, they will share and synthesize knowledge and best practices around emerging scaling pathways, exchange practical advice to support each other’s endeavors, and distill their stories to share with the sector at large. In preparation for the summit, Fellows spent several months working to distill or “unbundle” the core elements of their theory of change and refine their strategies for scaling with support from teams of advisors from Ashoka and our business sector partners.
Systems changing innovations for Economic Inclusion
Much has been written about the great treasure that lies within low-income markets: Four billion people living on less than $3,000 per year who collectively spend $5 trillion per year. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to increase by 3 billion, with growth rates being highest in developing countries. This treasure, however, lies buried at great depth. In order to access it, entrepreneurs have to overcome significant systemic barriers such as low levels of education, inadequate infrastructure, and poorly designed and enforced regulations. Including low-income groups as pure consumers will not necessarily improve their livelihoods. This is why the most promising social entrepreneurship models go beyond increasing peoples’ access to critical goods, services, and financial markets. Rather, they also engage them in creating local value through stimulating economic opportunities. More than 500 of Ashoka’s 3,100 Fellows around the world work on solutions that engage low-income populations in economic value chains as contributors, producers, and micro-entrepreneurs.
Here are three examples of successful models that several Ashoka Fellows are using:
Creating employment and access to markets in remote areas through the set-up of locally owned last-mile distribution infrastructure: Katherine Lucey’s organization Solar Sister trains women in rural Uganda to become last-mile micro-franchise entrepreneurs who bridge the gap in the distribution of affordable, renewable energy products through peer-to-peer sales networks. Greg van Kirk’s Community Enterprise Solutions is delivering health-related goods and services to remote villages using a micro-consignment model in Central America.
Spurring economic opportunity through the support of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs): Through his organization Agora Partnerships, Ben Powell is equipping promising impact entrepreneurs with business knowledge and access to investment capital to run for-profit businesses that help address social problems and promote development in their communities. Paul Basil’s Villgro provides mentoring and funding to early stage innovation-based social enterprises, which positively impact the lives of India's poor.
Empowering informal workers through lobbying and information: Arbind Singh’s organization NIDAN in India provides excluded informal workers with access to markets through large people-owned and managed institutions – large enough to influence policy and act as legitimate competitors in a globalizing marketplace. Ananya Raihan is ushering in an era of information-on-demand in the rural areas of Bangladesh by building a network of locally run kiosks that offer villagers access to everything from up-to-date market prices for their rice to health information and legal forms, all through a centralized, Bengali-language information clearinghouse.
How to scale the impact of inclusive business models in low-income markets
Over the last decade, the notion of “scaling what works” has emerged as a broadly shared priority across the social sector. Still, the challenge of enabling powerful inclusive business innovations to spread to where they are most needed continues to frustrate social entrepreneurs and their supporters. Many failed attempts to scale economic inclusion initiatives are due to widespread overreliance on the conventional wisdom of the business sector, in which scaling efforts typically focus on increasing the size of organizations. In recent years, however, the social entrepreneurship sector has increasingly focused on scaling social impact without necessarily increasing the size of the organization. Indeed, Richard Bradach may have framed the current thinking best when he wrote that “finding ways to scale impact without scaling the size of an organization is the new frontier for work in our field.”(1) This emerging paradigm holds the promise of shaping strategies that succeed, thanks to the defining characteristics of the social sector. Leveraging the collaborative potential of mission-driven innovators while keeping organizational footprints— and attendant resource needs—to a minimum are key. The Economic Inclusion Globalizer seeks to accelerate this paradigm shift in the field of economic inclusion.
All businesses, whether standard or inclusive, face similar challenges when growing such as lack of access to appropriate financing mechanisms and qualified human capital, or the lack of a conducive regulatory environment. When operating in low-income environments, however, structural barriers make coping with these challenges even more difficult: Consumers are even harder to reach; support organizations, such as training providers, are not available; and the general business infrastructure is less developed. This is why the first day of the Globalizer summit focuses on the systemic barriers preventing economic inclusion initiatives from scaling their impact to meet their full demand. Ashoka’s social entrepreneurs will come together with leading minds from different sectors, industries, and markets to share their challenges, solutions, and new ideas for tackling these systemic barriers collectively. A special pool of funds will benefit the most outstanding solutions that emerge, thanks to GIZ and eBay Foundation, in partnership with Ashoka India and Ashoka Globalizer. The Globalizer Summit seeks to facilitate the creation of a strong economic inclusion ecosystem that truly allows economic opportunities to thrive where they are most needed..
Read the Full List of Winners of the 86th Academy Awards
Even though the Best Picture race seemed to be a close one, the 86th Annual Academy Awards yielded few surprises, with the top awards mostly shaking out the way pundits expected. In a rare split, Best Picture went to 12 Years a Slave, while Best Director went to Alfonso Cuarón of Gravity. Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett took the top acting prizes for Dallas Buyers Club and Blue Jasmine, respectively. Lupita Nyong'o ended up edging out Jennifer Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress.
Read the full results below.
Best Picture American Hustle Captain Phillips Dallas Buyers Club Gravity Her Nebraska Philomena 12 Years a Slave The Wolf of Wall Street
Predicted winner:12 Years a Slave
Actual winner: 12 Years a Slave. "Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live," director Steve McQueen said in his acceptance speech. The win made history. McQueen became the first black person to win a Best Picture trophy. The movie was the first film by a black director to win the Oscars' top prize.
Best Actor Christian Bale, American Hustle Bruce Dern, Nebraska Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Predicted winner:Matthew McConaughey
Actual winner: Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey's speech is long and rambling. All right, all right, all right.
Best Actress Amy Adams, American Hustle Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine Sandra Bullock, Gravity Judi Dench, Philomena Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Predicted winner:Cate Blanchett
Actual winner: Cate Blanchett. This result is not surprising, she had swept basically every award up until this point.
Best Director David O. Russell, American Hustle Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity Alexander Payne, Nebraska Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
Predicted winner:Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Actual winner: Cuarón wins, making him the first Latino man to win the award. The award was handed out by Angelina Jolie and Sidney Poitier, who was the first black man to win Best Actor.
Best Supporting Actor Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips Bradley Cooper, American Hustle Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Predicted winner: Jared Leto
Actual winner: Jared Leto. Leto gave an emotional speech about his mother. He also brought up both Venezuela and Ukraine in his speech and said: "this is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS."
Best Supporting Actress Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave Julia Roberts, August: Osage County June Squibb, Nebraska
Predicted winner:Jennifer Lawrence
Actual winner: Lupita Nyong'o. She gets a standing ovation. Read her full speech here.
Best Costume Design American Hustle The Grandmaster The Great Gatsby The Invisible Woman 12 Years Slave
Actual winner: Gatsby
Best Makeup and Hairstyling Dallas Buyers Club Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa The Lone Ranger
Predicted winner:The Lone Ranger
Actual winner: Dallas Buyers Club. The hair and makeup budget for the film was insanely low, just $250.
Best Animated Short Film Feral Get a Horse! Mr. Hublot Possessions Room on the Broom
Predicted winner:Get a Horse!
Actual winner: Mr. Hublot. No Disney love here.
Best Animated Feature
The Croods Despicable Me 2 Ernest & Celestine Frozen The Wind Rises
Actual winner: Frozen. Of course.
Best Visual Effects Gravity The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Iron Man 2 The Lone Ranger Star Trek Into Darkness
Actual winner: Gravity
Best Live-Action Short Film Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me) Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) Helium Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) The Voorman Problem
Predicted winner: Helium
Actual winner: Helium, definitely the sentimental favorite. It's the story of a child suffering from cancer.
Best Documentary Short Subject CaveDigger Facing Fear Karama Has No Walls The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
Predicted winner:The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Actual winner: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, which is about theworld's oldest living Holocaust survivor. The subject died last week.
Best Documentary Feature
The Act of Killing Cutie and the Boxer Dirty Wars The Square 20 Feet From Stardom
Predicted winner:The Square
Actual winner: 20 Feet From Stardom, the biggest crowd-pleaser. Darlene Love, one of the film's subjects, took the stage, and closed out the acceptance speech by singing her heart out.
Best Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium) The Missing Picture (Cambodia) The Hunt (Denmark) The Great Beauty (Italy) Omar (Palestine)
Predicted winner:The Great Beauty
Actual winner: The Great Beauty. Read our Q&A with the director here.
Best Sound Mixing Captain Phillips Gravity The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Inside Llewyn Davis Lone Survivor
Actual winner: Gravity
Best Sound Editing All Is Lost Captain Phillips Gravity The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Lone Survivor
Actual winner: Gravity. "My heart is beating faster than Sandra's," winner Glenn Freemantle said.
Best Cinematography The Grandmaster Gravity Inside Llewyn Davis Nebraska Prisoners
Predicted winner:Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Actual winner: Gravity. When announcing the award with Amy Adams, Bill Murray tacked on Harold Ramis' name to the list of nominees.
Best Film Editing American Hustle Captain Phillips Dallas Buyers Club Gravity 12 Years a Slave
Predicted winner: Captain Phillips
Actual winner: Gravity
Best Production Design
American Hustle Gravity The Great Gatsby Her 12 Years a Slave
Predicted winner: The Great Gatsby
Actual winner: The Great Gatsby, which makes sense since some would argue that the movie is entirely production design.
Best Original Score
John Williams for The Book Thief Steven Price for Gravity William Butler and Owen Pallett for Her Alexandre Desplat for Philomena Thomas Newman for Saving Mr. Banks
Predicted winner:Steven Price for Gravity
Actual winner: Gravity
Best Original Song
"Happy" from Despicable Me 2 "Let it Go" from Frozen "The Moon Song" from Her "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Predicted winner:"Let It Go"
Actual winner: "Let it Go." Bobby Lopez, who co-wrote the song with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, just got an EGOT with this win!
Best Adapted Screenplay
Before Midnight Captain Phillips Philomena 12 Years a Slave The Wolf of Wall Street
Predicted winner:12 Years a Slave
Actual winner: 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay
American Hustle Blue Jasmine Dallas Buyers Club Her Nebraska
Using Social Media to Teach Visual Literacy in the 21st Century Classroom
Increasingly, educators are acknowledging and welcoming the relative advantages of social media into the teaching and learning process. From creating school Facebook pages to connecting students with experts via Twitter, social media has taken root as a legitimate classroom learning and communication tool. The highly linguistic nature of social media allows us to create and consume ideas and information unlike ever before. Much attention has been given to composing an articulate blog post and condensing our messages to 140 characters or less. However, effective use of this 21st century technology requires that we not only become proficient in textual communication, but also in our ability to express ourselves and interpret others' ideas through visual literacy.
Why Visual Literacy Matters
Visual literacy is the ability to:
Process and make meaning of information presented in an image.
Communicate our own ideas through principles of design.
Create our own messages that capture our visual thinking in a way that conceptualizes problems to given solutions.
The importance of including visual literacy instruction for our students in the classroom comes from the discovery that students gain a deeper understanding of a concept when they are encouraged and enabled to create a nonlinguistic representation of that concept. When paired with linguistic -- or text-based -- literacy, visual literacy can multiply students' ability to recall and think about what they have learned.
So, what does visual literacy in the classroom look like? If we were to answer this question from our students' points of view, we would likely say Instagram, Emoji and memes. But do any of these platforms offer value to the learning experience? Perhaps that depends on what, or rather, how you are trying to teach.
3 Modes of Visual Communication
As a photo editing and sharing network, Instagram offers much to the educational process simply in its ability to allow students to create and publish original content. But when considered from the context of instructional design, it takes on new dimensions that would otherwise be nonexistent. As stated before, visual literacy includes the ability to create messages that capture our own visual thinking. Imagine what this might look like when issuing students the challenge of capturing what Robert Frost was writing about in his timeless poem "The Road Not Taken" with a single Instagram photo sent to a common classroom hashtag. Not only would this approach encourage students to consider this piece of prose at higher-ordered levels of thinking, it would also free them to do so in the context of their own creativity.
Similarly, Emoji, or ideograms often used in text messaging, have incredible potential in directing our students to effectively communicate through visual designs. At the most basic level, people use Emoji to illustrate their emotions through minute smiley faces and faces with tears. But when utilized as an instructional tool, these otherwise informationally cosmetic accessories could encourage students to consider the emotional tapestry and perspectives of figures from history had they been provided the communication tools and platforms of today.
Would President Lincoln have included a smiley face with an ideogram of theater tickets along with his social media update about going to Ford's Theater, or would he have conveyed the premonitions that some have attributed to him having on that fateful evening with something a little more sullen? Whatever it may have been, students empathizing with our 16th president would have to determine the message they want to share and then evaluate the effectiveness of symbols to do so.
Memes require this same level of analysis and application to share one’s intended message with social stickiness. Lending itself more to commentary on a given topic, understanding what a meme is saying requires mature linguistic and social dexterity. One of my favorite trendy meme characters is the Philosoraptor, an animated dinosaur apparently scratching his chin as he ponders the elusive meaning of life. Recently, I saw a meme created with this image that read,
"What if math teachers were really just pirates who wanted us to find X just so they could locate buried treasure?" Understanding the humor inherent in this meme not only requires a basic comprehension of algebraic variability, it also asks us to process the demeanor of the Philosoraptor to identify the rhetorical sarcasm in the image. And while viewing and responding to memes requires one set of intellectual skills, creating them based on a current unit of study requires a skillset entirely different.
Embracing a Cognitive Opportunity
That we have evolved our favorite forms of communication is obvious without more than simply watching our students walk through the hallways. It would be easy to demonize social media and each medium that it provides for human interaction. But it would be educationally valuable to embrace it, turning it into an opportunity for our students to develop an appreciation for the advanced cognitive skills they employ on a daily basis. Why not study the highly visual communication models connecting the thoughts that mean the most to them with the social networks where they live their lives?
'Budget is not just about numbers, it's about our values'
Good morning, everybody. I'm here at Powell Elementary School, and just had a chance to see some of the outstanding students here. And I thought it was appropriate for me to say a few words about theBudgetthat I sent to Congress this morning - because obviously the Budget is not just about numbers, it's about our values and it's about our future, and how well we are laying the groundwork for those young children that I was with just a few moments ago to be able to succeed here in America. These kids may not be the most excited people in town on Budget day, but my Budget is designed with their generation and future generations in mind.
In my State of the Union address, I laid out an agenda to restore opportunity for all people - to uphold the principle that no matter who you are, no matter where you started, you can make it if you try here in America.
This opportunity agenda is built on four parts - more good jobs and good wages; making sure that we're training workers with the skills they need to get those good jobs; guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education; and making sure that our economy is one in which hard work is rewarded.
The Budget I sent Congress this morning lays out how we'll implement this agenda in a balanced and responsible way. It's a road map for creating jobs with good wages and expanding opportunity for all Americans. And at a time when our deficits have been cut in half, it allows us to meet our obligations to future generations without leaving them a mountain of debt. This Budget adheres to the spending levels that both parties in both houses of Congress already agreed to. But it also builds on that progress with what we're calling an Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative that invests in our economic priorities in a smart way that is fully paid for by making smart spending cuts and closing tax loopholes that right now only benefit the well-off and the well-connected.
I'll give you an example. Right now, our tax system provides benefits to wealthy individuals who save, even after they've amassed multi million-dollar retirement accounts. By closing that loophole, we can help create jobs and grow our economy, and expand opportunity without adding a dime to the deficit.
We know that the country that wins the race for new technologies will win the race for new jobs, so this Budget creates 45 high-tech manufacturing hubs where businesses and universities will partner to turn groundbreaking research into new industries and new jobs made in America.
We know - and this is part of the reason why we're here today - that education has to start at the earliest possible ages. So this Budget expands access to the kind of high-quality pre-school and other early learning programmes to give all of our children the same kinds of opportunities that those wonderful children that we just saw are getting right here at Powell.
We know that while not all of today's good jobs are going to require a four-year college degree, more and more of them are going to require some form of higher education or specialised training. So this Budget expands apprenticeships to connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs. And we know that future generations will continue to deal with the effects of a warming planet, so this Budget proposes a smarter way to address the costs of wildfires. And it includes over $1 billion in new funding for new technologies to help communities prepare for a changing climate today, and set up incentives to build smarter and more resilient infrastructure.
We also know that the most effective and historically bipartisan ways to reduce poverty and help hard-working families pull themselves up is the earned income tax credit. Right now, it helps about half of all parents in America at some point in their lives. This Budget gives millions more workers the opportunity to take advantage of the tax credit. And it pays for it by closing loopholes like the ones that let wealthy individuals classify themselves as a small business to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
This Budget will also continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long term - not by putting the burden on folks who can least afford it, but by reforming our tax code and our immigration system and building on the progress that we've made to reduce health care costs under the Affordable Care Act. And it puts our debt on a downward path as a share of our total economy, which independent experts have set as a critical target for fiscal responsibility.
As I said at the outset, our Budget is about choices. It's about our values. As a country, we've got to make a decision if we're going to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, or if we're going to make smart investments necessary to create jobs and grow our economy, and expand opportunity for every American. At a time when our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years, we've got to decide if we're going to keep squeezing the middle class, or if we're going to continue to reduce the deficits responsibly, while taking steps to grow and strengthen the middle class.
The American people have made clear time and again which approach they prefer. That's the approach that my Budget offers. That's why I'm going to fight for it this year and in the years to come as president. Thank you very much, everybody.
There is a lot that 19-month-old children can’t do: They can’t tie their shoes or get their mittens on the correct hands. But they can use words they do know to learn new ones.
New research from Northwestern University demonstrates that even before infants begin to talk in sentences, they are paying careful attention to the way a new word is used in conversations, and they learn new words from this information in sentences.
For example, if you take an infant to the zoo and say, “Look at the gorilla” while pointing at the cage, the infant may not know what exactly is being referred to. However, if you say, “Look! The gorilla is eating,” the infant can use the word that they do know — “eating” — to conclude that “gorilla” must refer to the animal and not, for example, the swing she is sitting on.
The zoo scenario mirrors the method the researchers used for their experiment. First, infants at ages 15 and 19 months were shown several pairs of pictures on a large screen. Each pair included one new kind of animal and a non-living object. Next, the objects disappeared from view and infants overheard a conversation that included a new word, “blick.” Finally, the two objects re-appeared, and infants heard, for example, “Look at the blick.”
“After overhearing this new word in conversation, infants who hear a helpful sentence such as ‘the blick is eating’ should look more towards the animal than the other, non-living object,” said Brock Ferguson, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Northwestern and lead author of the study. “We show that by 19 months, they do just that. In contrast, if infants heard the new word in an unhelpful sentence such as ‘the blick is over here’ during the conversation, they don’t focus specifically on the animal because, after all, in this kind of sentence, ‘blick’ could mean anything.”
The researchers said many people believe that word learning occurs only in clear teaching conditions — for example, when someone picks up an object, brings it to the baby, points to it and says its name. In fact, infants usually hear a new word for the first time under much more natural and complex circumstances such as the zoo example described.
“What’s remarkable is that infants learned so much from hearing the conversation alone,” said Sandra Waxman, senior author of the study, the Louis W. Menk Professor of Psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern. “This shows how attuned even very young infants are to the conversation around them. It also shows how well infants build upon what they do know to build their vocabulary.”
Ferguson said that this study underscores that the amount of language a child hears on a daily basis can have significant consequences on their language outcomes later in life.
“One implication of our new study is that infants who hear relatively little language in the first few years may also be missing out on critical word learning opportunities that arise everyday in the conversations that surround them,” said Ferguson. He said future research includes examining the link between language input, processing efficiency and the kind of word learning revealed in the study to better understand how to best support children’s language development from a very early age.
Harvard still sits on top. MIT comes in second. Stanford is in third place. Those are the three universities with the best reputations in the world, according to a ranking just released by Times Higher Education (THE), a London magazine that tracks the higher education market.
THE also releases a more established list, the World University Ranking, which it has been putting together for the past 10 years, where it uses 13 different metrics, from the number of academic citations schools receive to the percentage of their faculty members with Ph.D.s But THE rankings editor Phil Baty explains that four years ago, he and his colleagues realized that it could also be meaningful to look purely at reputation.
So THE decided to poll senior, published professors at universities in more than 100 countries around the world. It asked them to do one thing: Nominate 15 or fewer institutions in their field which they considered to have the best departments in their area of study.
(A company called IpsosMediaCT collected the poll data and gave it to ThomsonReuters, which tallied the numbers for THE.) ThenTHE took the data and divided it into six disciplines: social sciences, engineering, technology, physical sciences, medicine and life sciences, and arts and humanities, and did its tally from there.
“This is purely subjective data,” explains Phil Baty,THE’s rankings editor. “It’s completely based on opinion. But it’s opinion from the people whose opinions really count.”
Why is reputation so important? “Reputation is almost like the currency of higher education,” says Baty. “It’s the way scholars decide whom to do business with, whom to collaborate with and where they’ll go for their next career move.” The same goes for students, he says. “Reputation often comes out as the No. 1 factor that students use to decide where they want to go to school.”
Of course there is something circular about college rankings. If a school comes out on top of the U.S. News ranking, or the Forbes ranking for that matter, it enhances the public perception of that school, which then ups the number of applicants and the quality of students the school can accept. It’s interesting to note that Forbes ranks Harvard down at No. 8 on its list, while Stanford is No. 1 and MIT a distant No. 10. As our readers know, Forbes ranks only U.S. institutions and we use a unique set of criteria including grads’ salaries as calculated by PayScale, faculty comments on RateMyProfessor.com, number of graduates who have landed in Who’s Who and four-year graduation rates.
But arguably THE’s reputation ranking is more serious than other ratings since it’s entirely the result of a poll of scholars. This year’s ranking is based on 10,500 responses from published senior academics who reported an average of 18 years working in higher education.
As in previous years, U.S. institutions dominate the list. In addition to taking the top three spots, it has eight of the top 10, up from seven last year. Of the top 100, U.S. schools take 46 slots, up from 43 in 2013. Several U.S. universities gained quite a few places this year. Example: Columbia University rose to 12th from 23rd. (It’s No. 5 on the Forbes list.)
The majority of U.S. schools that have lost ground are public universities hit by spending cuts. The University of Michigan fell from 12th to 15th place, the University of Texas from 27th to 33rd and the University of Massachusetts from 42nd to the 61-70 band (THE doesn’t give specific numbers to schools in that range). The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Florida and Rutgers all fell as well. At least two top California institutions are hanging on within the top 10: U.C. Berkeley and U.C.L.A.
What about schools in other nations? The U.K. has two slots in the top 10: the well-known University of Cambridge and University of Oxford in fourth and fifth place. But Baty notes that several Asian universities are gaining ground, as their financial backing grows. The National University of Singapore is in 21st place, up one slot from last year. Seoul National University has risen to 26th from 41st and Peking University is in 41st place, up from 45th.
Here are the top 10 most reputable universities:
1. Harvard 2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 3. Stanford University 4. University of Cambridge 5. University of Oxford 6. University of California, Berkeley 7. Princeton University 8. Yale University 9. California Institute of Technology 10. University of California, Los Angeles
Locust Walk on a beautiful fall day just outside the Wharton School of Business
................................................................................................................................ Just six months ago, The Wall Street Journal provocatively asked “What’s Wrong With Wharton?”
The answer is absolutely nothing, according to U.S. News & World Report’s new ranking of the best MBA programs in the U.S. published today (March 11).
For the first time ever, Wharton muscled its way into a three-way tie for first place with Harvard Business School and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. It was highest rank ever achieved by Wharton in the U.S. News survey. The school had finished as high as second place and as low as fifth and last year it was third.
Yet, just last September, the Journal had written a negative take on the highly prominent business school, quoting admission consultants who claimed the school had lost momentum and stature. But record-high average GMAT scores of 725–just two points shy of HBS–and stellar compensation and placement stats helped Wharton improve its standing in the U.S. News ranking.
Wharton MBAs earned average salary and bonus last year of $141,243, beating every other surveyed school including Harvard ($138,346) and Stanford ($137,525). The reported comp numbers by Wharton to U.S. News were especially surprising because they represent something of a reversal of the normal pecking order for MBA pay. In 2012, for example, HBS grads had average salary and bonus of $142,501, while Stanford MBAs landed salary and bonus packages of $140,459. Wharton trailed both schools, as well as MIT Sloan and Dartmouth Tuck grads, with a $138,302 average.
A slightly higher percentage of Wharton MBAs also were employed at graduation and three months later. Some 93.4% of Wharton’s MBAs had jobs 90 days after commencement, the highest percentage of any Top 10 school, for example, compared with 89.7% at Stanford and 89.4% at Harvard. Those tiny fractions add up in a ranking, allowing Wharton to boast its bestU.S. News finish ever. Pay and placement rates account for 35% of U.S. News’ ranking.
How The Top Ten Compare On U.S. News’ Ranking Metrics
Accept Rate (1.25%
Average Pay (14%)
Jobs At Grad (7%)
Jobs Later (14%)
VANDERBILT, NOTRE DAME & MICHIGAN TOP 25 WINNERS
Among the top 25 business schools, the most significant ranking improvements were scored by Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business, which jumped five places, to finish in a tie for 25th place with the University of Washington’s Foster School. Notre Dame University’s Mendoza School also rose four places to climb into the top 25 by placing 23rd from 27th a year ago. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, which decreased its incoming class size by 47 students to 455 so it could improve its admission stats, gained three places to earn a two-way tie with the University of Virginia’s Darden School at 11th.
Ross, for example, was able to bring its acceptance rate down to 33.7%, from an unusually high 40.6% a year earlier. The school’s admit rate ballooned as a result of a decision to end co-signer loans for international students in the middle of its admissions cycle. Ross expected the decision to cause a greater number of international admits to turn down their acceptances so it accepted a greater percentage of prospective students to offset a decline in yield—the percentage of accepted applicants who enroll at a school. Ross also managed a slight one point increase in its average GMAT score to 704.
For every school that went up in the rankings, there was at least another that lost ground. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business slipped three places to finish 14th, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management dropped two places to a rank of sixth, and UCLA’s Anderson School also declined two spots to place 16th (see Winners & Losers In The 2014 U.S. News MBA Ranking).
Just how tightly clustered many schools are can be seen by the number of MBA programs that are tied with others for the same rank. In the Top 50, some 32 out of the 50 schools have the exact same rank of at least one other school. A half dozen schools are tied for 27th place: Arizona State, Brigham Young, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Southern California, and Wisconsin. Even worse, eight different schools are tied for a rank of 65th.
HOW U.S. NEWS RANKS FULL-TIME MBA PROGRAMS
As is typical of most rankings, the biggest tumbles and gains occur further down the list where very slim and often statistically meaningless separations among the schools exist. The University of Minnesota’s Carlson School plunged 10 places to a rank of 33, even though its underlying index score fell by only a single point to 68 from 69 a year ago. The business school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagn jumped 12 places to finish 35th from 47th in 2013, while Temple University’s Fox School in Philadelphia climbed ten spots to rank 48.
Like all rankings of business schools, the U.S. News list often engenders much controversy and debate. But it is among the most influential and most followed of several prominent rankings. The magazine only ranks U.S.-based schools, unlike BusinessWeek, The Financial Times, or The Economist which publish global rankings, either combined or separate. (One other note: As a marketing ploy, U.S. News claims this is a 2015 ranking to give it greater shelf life. It is based on 2013 data and released in 2014 which is why we label it a 2014 ranking.)
U.S. News’ methodology takes into account a wealth of proprietary and school-supplied data to crank out its annual ranking of the best business schools. The magazine does its own survey of B-school deans and MBA directors (25% of the score). This year, U.S. News said about 42% of those surveyed responded, but it did not reveal how many deans were actually surveyed or how many replied. It also does its own survey of corporate recruiters (accounting for 15% of the overall ranking and for which 18% of those surveyed responded), starting salaries and bonuses (14%), employment rates at and three months after graduation (7% to 14%, respectively), student GMATs and GREs scores (about 16%), undergrad GPAs (about 8%), and the percentage of applicants who are accepted to a school (a little over 1%). This is the second year U.S. Newsincluded GRE scores in its ranking methodology.
This year U.S. News assigned numerical ranks to 104 schools, ending the list with No. 104 North Arizona University’s Franke College of Business in Flagstaff.
To get a more confident You in the new year — or a more confident company, community, family, or team — first know what gets in the way. The best resolutions will go nowhere without the confidence to stick with them.
Confidence is an expectation of a positive outcome. It is not a personality trait; it is an assessment of a situation that sparks motivation. If you have confidence, you’re motivated to put in the effort, to invest the time and resources, and to persist in reaching the goal. It’s not confidence itself that produces success; it’s the investment and the effort. Without enough confidence, it’s too easy to give up prematurely or not get started at all. Hopelessness and despair prevent positive action.
To muster the confidence to work toward your goals, avoid these eight traps:
Self-defeating assumptions. You think you can’t, so you don’t. A British Olympic runner is so rattled by a misstep that cost her a contest that she dropped out of the next. A company team decides that a popular world leader is so far out of their league that they don’t issue an invitation to speak at their customer event. Talented women sometimes “leave before they leave,” as Sheryl Sandberg puts it, assuming that they won’t be promoted (or succeed when they have children) so they start behaving like they’re departing years before departure, thus foreclosing their options. It’s one thing to be realistic, it’s another to behave like a loser before entering the game.
Goals that are too big or too distant. I know how often leaders say they want to tackle BHAGs — “big hairy audacious goals.” But having only enormous goals can actually undermine confidence. The gap between a giant goal and today’s reality can be depressing and demotivating. Confidence comes from small wins that occur repeatedly, with each small step moving you closer to the big goal. But the small steps must be valued and turned into goals themselves. Winners think small as well as big.
Declaring victory too soon. This is the dieter’s dilemma: lose the first few pounds, and feel so good that you reward yourself with chocolate cake, and when the pounds go back on, you feel so discouraged that you have more cake to feel better. I saw this pattern in a college football team that was coming off a 9-year losing streak (yes, 9 years!). After winning the first game in nearly a decade, a team member shouted that now we’ll win the championship. First, of course, they had to win the next game — which they didn’t. Step-by-step discipline builds confidence.
Do-it-yourself-ing. It’s a trap to think you can go it alone, without a support system and without supporting others. Losing teams have stars, but they focus on their own records, not how well the whole team does; the resulting resentments and inequalities provoke internal battles that drag everyone down. To build your confidence, think about building the confidence of others and creating a culture in which everyone is more likely to succeed, whether through mentoring them or recognizing their strengths. Giving to others boosts happiness and self-esteem, as numerous research studies show. Supporting them makes it easier to ensure that they support you.
Blaming someone else. Confidence rests on taking responsibility for one’s own behavior. Even in difficult circumstances, we have choices about how to respond to adversity. Whining about past harms reduces confidence about future possibilities. When the blame game is carried out within companies, everyone loses confidence, including external stakeholders. Confidence is the art of moving on.
Defensiveness. It’s one thing to listen and respond to critics; it’s another to answer them before they’ve done anything. Don’t defend yourself if you’re not being attacked. Apologize for your mistakes, but don’t apologize for who or what you are. Instead, take pride in where you’ve come from and lead with your strengths.
Neglecting to anticipate setbacks. Confidence involves a dose of reality. It is not blind optimism, thinking that everything will be fine no matter what. Confidence stems from knowing that there will be mistakes, problems, and small losses en route to big wins. After all, even winning sports teams are often behind at some point in the game. Confidence grows when you look at what can go wrong, think through alternatives, and feel you are prepared for whatever might happen.
Over-confidence. Confidence is a sweet spot between despair and arrogance. Don’t let confidence slip over into the arrogant end. Over-confidence is the bane of economies (e.g., the irrational exuberance that preceded the global financial crisis), corrupt leaders (who assume they’re so necessary that they won’t get into trouble for a small expense account fudge), or individuals who swagger and feel entitled to success rather than working for it. Arrogance and complacency lead to neglect of the basics, deaf ears to critics, and blindness to the forces of change — a trap for companies as well as individuals. Sure enough, like the old proverb that “pride goeth before a fall,” the slide into a losing streak often begins with a winning streak. A little humility goes a long way to moderate arrogance and keep just the right amount of confidence.
Remember, it’s not enough just to feel confident. You have to do the work. But with an expectation of success, you can try new things, form new partnerships, contribute to shared success, and revel in small wins that move you toward bigger goals.
Can You See the Opportunity Right in Front of You?
Do you find your household thermostat to be endlessly fascinating? How about that smoke alarm installed in your basement — spend much time gazing at it with wonder? Tony Fadell did. The founder of Nest has had a lifelong penchant for looking at mundane everyday household devices and wondering Why hasn’t somebody improved this thing? That tendency led him to reinvent the aforementioned gadgets — and recently resulted in a $3 billion payday, when Nest was acquired earlier this year by Google.
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, became similarly fascinated by those clunky credit-card reading contraptions, used by retailers to take a card imprint. They seemed hopelessly outdated in a mobile culture of on-the-go transactions. Dorsey reasonably wondered why there wasn’t a simpler, more portable device that could be used anywhere, enabling anyone to accept a credit card. This led to the creation of Square, a sleek card reader that could be plugged into any smart phone or tablet.
The stories behind these two red-hot tech successes show that innovation opportunities are often right in front of us — but they may involve objects or situations that are so familiar, so mundane, that we fail to pay any attention to them. Which brings us to the late comedian George Carlin and the powers of vuja de.
That term was made up by Carlin, in a bit of wordplay that put a twist on the familiar concept of déjà vu, that sensation of being in a strange circumstance yet feeling as if you’ve been there before. Imagine the reverse of that: you’re in a situation that is very familiar, something you’ve seen or done countless times before, but you feel as if you’re experiencing something completely new. This isvuja de, Carlin told his audience: “the strange feeling that, somehow, none of this has ever happened before.”
Carlin died in 2008, but I spoke with his daughter, the comedian and radio host Kelly Carlin, who is writing a memoir of life with her father. She feels the vuja de way of looking at the world — of observing familiar, everyday things as if one were seeing it for the first time — is the way Carlin went through his life and it’s how he got much of his material. “When the familiar becomes this sort of alien world and you can see it fresh, then it’s like you’ve gone into a whole other section of the file folder in your brain,” Kelly Carlin said. “And now you have access to this other perspective that most people don’t have.”
Carlin used that perspective to develop a style of observational, questioning humor that could be thought of as the “Why” school of comedy. “It was observing our everyday life — baseball, dogs and cats, the way someone stands in front of the refrigerator — and asking, Why do we do things the way we do them?” Kelly Carlin explains. She often interviews other comedians on her podcast seriesWaking from the American Dream, and told me she thinks comedians in general are more apt to have a vuja de perspective. “Most comics grew up feeling like they didn’t belong,” she says. “They were the class clowns, the outsiders — it was natural for them to stand back and observe, and to wonder about what everyone is doing.”
Jerry Seinfeld, an heir to Carlin who developed a similar observational approach in his comedy, shared that same fascination with mundane behaviors and quotidian details. “I do a lot of material about the chair,” he told an interviewer recently. “I find the chair very funny. That excites me. No one’s really interested in that – but I’m going to get you interested! It’s the entire basis of my career.” But before he can make us care about a chair, Seinfeld must make it interesting to himself — he must look at it fresh, from a vuja de perspective.
Vuja De and Innovation
Stanford University professor Bob Sutton, author of the new book Scaling Up for Excellence, was among the first to make a connection, more than a decade ago, between the Carlin vuja deperspective and innovation. Sutton, and later Tom Kelley of IDEO, pointed out that innovators could potentially spark new ideas and insights if they could somehow manage to look at the familiar—their own products, their customers, their work processes—as if seeing it for the first time. Adopting this view, business leaders and managers might be more apt to notice inconsistencies and outdated methods, as well as untapped opportunities.
But it isn’t easy. IDEO’s Kelley thinks people fail to notice opportunities that may be right in front of them because, as he wrote in his book The Ten Faces of Innovation, “they stop looking too soon.” And it’s not just how long you look, but what you choose to notice: In Sutton’s writings on vuja de, he advises “shifting our focus from objects or patterns in the foreground to those in the background.”
For a change in perspective, it can be helpful to step back from everyday routines and habitual behaviors. As Sutton puts it, if you want to open yourself up to vuja de insights, stop operating “on automatic pilot.” In a business context, this might involve injecting some element of newness into overly-familiar work routines — such as shaking up teams, changing schedules, or even just holding your meetings in a different and unusual place. Getting out of the office bubble is key: powerful vuja de insights have been known to happen in kitchens, coffeehouses, and all the places where people are living their lives and doing everyday things in routine ways that bear watching.
Of course, vuja de isn’t just a way of looking at things; it involves a certain mindset that questions assumptions and refuses to accept things as they are. Here again, there is much to be learned from Carlin, who not only studied the world around him but challenged it, at every turn. Carlin mapped all the inconsistencies and irrational behaviors, and railed against them: When we’ve lost our keys and are searching for them, why do we keep checking in the same few places, over and over? It doesn’t make sense!
Carlin, in the end, was a commentator; he brought inconsistencies and irrational behaviors to light, but wasn’t in a position to change them. Innovators, on the other hand, can actually address some of those failings and shortcomings they notice. Think of the creation of Airbnb, which sprang from a situation that easily could’ve been a Carlin bit: Did’ya ever notice that when the convention comes to town, nobody can get a room at a hotel—but at the same time, there’s all these empty rooms and unused sofabeds in people’s apartments. Hey, here’s a clue, people: Rent the damn sofabeds!
Carlin would’ve gotten a laugh out of it. But the founders of Airbnb, combining vuja de observation with entrepreneurial action, found a way to rent the sofabeds and launch a new industry.
The Opportunities — and Pitfalls — for Non-resident Indian Entrepreneurs
Some 25 million people of Indian origin do not live in India, according to the country’s ministry of overseas affairs. The Indian government recognizes them as People of Indian Origin (PIO). A high-profile subset of this group (though, strictly speaking, it is a classification for tax status) is the Non-resident Indian (NRI), which is loosely considered to mean Indians who have emigrated in recent times. Their ranks include many highly successful scientists, entrepreneurs and corporate executives, including PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit and Google chief business officer Nikesh Arora.
During the recent Wharton India Economic Forum, participants in a panel titled, “NRI: Leveraging Your Roots,” discussed how people with this designation can use their Indian roots and the resources at hand to build successful careers both in India and abroad. They also discussed the social and economic challenges this group faces, and, at a time when India’s growth rate has slowed, what kind of role NRIs might play in enabling India’s further emergence as a global economic leader.
The panel of four prominent NRIs included Sanjay Govil, founder and chairman of Infinite Computer Systems; Munish Narula, who founded Tiffin.com, Tashan Restaurant & Lounge and Tiffin Bistro, now part of the Narula Restaurant Group; Prasad Setty, vice-president of people analytics and compensation at Google, and Kanika Dewan, founder and chairperson of Ka Design Atelier and group president of the Bahrain-based Bramco Group. The moderator was Jagmohan Raju, a Wharton marketing professor and director of the Wharton-Indian School of Business Program.
Govil, who at Infinite provides mobility solutions and IT services to some of the world’s largest corporations, said the most important factor for any entrepreneur is “believing in what they want to do.” Passion is a very important driving factor, he noted, adding that NRIs need to be focused on customer satisfaction. “As you pursue your dream, it is also very important that you are constantly evolving your concept because the marketplace is constantly changing,” he stated.
The second panelist, Narula, was formerly an investment banker. He founded Tiffin.com, a web-only and delivery-only restaurant concept that soon evolved into a multi-platform operation offering a full e-commerce website, delivery and takeout, dine-in and catering. Following up on that success, Tiffin has opened five more locations in the Philadelphia market, and is exploring growth opportunities in both the U.S. and India. Narula said that although the required skill-set and drive are the same whether you are an entrepreneur in India or an NRI, there is “a little bit of additional pressure” associated with being an NRI.
Narula began his U.S. business career on Wall Street, but for all the wrong reasons, he noted. “I had a miserable time on Wall Street, because my only motivation was the money.” In his current career as a hospitality sector entrepreneur, “I found what I love, and I love what we do.”
Like Govil, Narula saw entrepreneurship as an opportunity to pursue his own dreams. “Being an entrepreneur is following your dream, listening to your customers” and constantly reinventing your products and managerial strategies to respond to the needs of those customers, he noted. “If you are not adapting to the market needs and demands, your company will die at some point. I don’t think that being an NRI differentiates your skill-set from others, but it does give you a bit of an edge, and it gives a bit of [additional] pressure.”
At Google, India-born Setty has spearheaded the company’s well-known data-driven approach to attract and retain the best talent by creating a positive and productive environment, and rewarding its employees in innovative ways. Although Setty believes that NRIs are playing an important role in Silicon Valley and in some Indian companies, he said that they could be playing an even more significant role if more of India’s talented young NRIs were directed into research-focused careers. “If India wants to lead the world, there needs to be a lot more research that is done there,” Setty noted. “Last year, there were only 125 computer science PhDs” in India. Although the country produced a large volume of engineers, “very few [PhDs] were doing the hard-core research” that India needs.
Eliminating Bureaucratic Corruption
Dewan stressed the importance of eliminating the deeply ingrained corruption in Indian bureaucracy. Dewan’s firm is responsible for the design and construction of the new Terminal Three of Delhi International Airport, the world’s third-largest. She recalled a particular incident that dramatizes the problem. Her firm was working on the Mumbai Airport, and had acquired rented accommodations for several hundred workers. Some people came by and said “get out of this accommodation.” When Dewan asked them why, she was told she needed to provide a payoff to a local inspector. She rejected making such a payoff because of corporate policy. She added that these types of illegal payments go beyond “the flavor of corruption to literally criminal activities. We believe the outside world or the developed world, as we call it, is going to change that.”
According to Dewan, India has been “very accepting” of non-Indians arriving from the U.S. or elsewhere, armed with skills and good ideas for doing business. Apart from welcoming this “reverse brain drain” from the West, India also provides entrepreneurs with access to a vast labor pool from the country’s huge number of villages. “That is where India needs to go to tap into the resources that are within, but we need to organize ourselves in an efficient manner; [and] this is where quality control, corruption come into play.”
Infrastructure is such a large issue, she added, and there is huge opportunity for kickbacks; this is where politicians earn their bad reputation. India’s geographical position “allows it to bring in lots of intellectual property from [both] the Middle East and Asia — which will help us — but we have to learn from the West to be able to avoid these kinds of issues.”
Govil said that accountability and inconsistency in governmental policies are major challenges for NRIs and other entrepreneurs doing business in India, so the government needs to focus on improving the consistency of its policy initiatives. “If the rules change on the fly, it is very destructive for business.” For example, a few years ago, the government was setting up special economic zones that were supposed to be tax-free. Although several companies showed interest in setting up centers for research and manufacturing in the zones, that policy was suddenly reversed. Rather than provide investors with tax-free treatment, they were now to be subject to a minimum tax of 20%. “The commitment of the government was there for three years, and then that changed,” Govil pointed out. These sorts of reversals create “indecisiveness and uncertainty in the industry. And that’s why we have seen a significant reduction in investments in India.”
In a second example of governmental inconsistency, Govil cited a new law governing corporate social responsibility or CSR. Every company having a net worth, income or net profit above certain threshold levels needs to spend at least 2% of the average net profits for the past three years on CSR activities. The challenge for NRIs and other business leaders in India, noted Govil, is that “we don’t even know if this 2% will be tax-deductible.” Too many Indian laws seem very ambiguous with gray areas that “create problems with accountability,” he added.
Has India fully capitalized on the potential of the IT industry? In response to this query by moderator Raju, Setty noted that India has “certainly become very important” for Google. However, he argued that there is still a shortage of content available in local languages and that the industry needs to try to get Indians to become “more used to using the Internet for e-commerce.”
E-commerce sites such as FlipKart and Snapdeal have enjoyed growth, but they have hardly penetrated the Indian market. For its part, Google is working with local R&D teams to address the specific needs of its Indian users.
Govil stressed that NRIs should “do something that you really want to do.” He also advised entrepreneurs to take advantage of India’s very talented labor pool. “Use India as a source of human capital. That is the biggest thing India has going for it, whether it is in infrastructure, IT, or whatever,” Govil noted. Ultimately, he added, Facebook’s recent acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion is really a big play on the Indian consumer, who will be using its online messenger service in ever larger numbers in the future.
Dewan advised female NRIs to prepare themselves for various forms of intimidation. In her sector — design and construction — “they expect women not to put their foot down so much,” she said. On one occasion, for example, a male business colleague asked her, “Shouldn’t you be shopping?” rather than attending a business meeting. Dewan noted that women should “retaliate, and stick to your guns. Get your team to support you. You can’t be scared. You have to share your problems and work as a team.”
A board at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, March 13
The man appointed to lead India’s effort in the search for MH370, the missing Malaysian Airlines jet, is 59-year-old Air Marshal P.K. Roy.
He is currently the head of the Andaman and Nicobar Command and joined the Indian Air Force in 1975 after gaining his commission from the National Defence Academy near the central city of Pune.
A trained helicopter pilot, Air Marshal Roy has 4,500 hours of flying experience and is also a qualified flying instructor.
He has held a number of high ranking positions, including as the commander of the air force station in New Delhi, and the commandant of the National Defence College, also in the Indian capital. He has also served as the military and air attaché at the Indian Embassy in Ukraine between 2002 to 2005.
Air Marshal Roy has been awarded a number of medals for distinguished service, including the Vayu Sena, Vishist Seva and Ati Vishist Seva Medal.
He will coordinate India’s search as it joins 10 other nations, including the U.S. and China, in the hunt for MH370 after it vanished from the sky early Saturday. Earlier this week, India had offered Malaysia all possible assistance in looking for the aircraft carrying 277 passengers, including five Indians, and 12 crew.