Why Google doesn’t care about hiring top college graduates

It’s about wisdom and understanding… not knowledge. The failure to attribute a portion of one’s success to luck, particularly being at the right place at the right time… and possibly with the right connections, is many times as much, or more, of a causal force than the individual’s efforts. While no one would claim Bill Gates is not intelligent and talented, it would be foolish and ignorant to think that the success of Microsoft was his doing… it was as much the decision of IBM to focus on hardware that created the opening for Bill Gates to step in. If IBM had retained a focus on software, then there would be no Microsoft.

Personally, I can attest that this type of focus on intellectual humility is what we aim to teach when college students are required to take critical thinking courses. Having succeeded during the housing boom, and lived through the bust, it is the adaptability to change and new information that is the secret attribute that most organizations overlook. Hopefully, this move by Google will be a tipping point for others to revisit how they eliminate job candidates that didn’t attend the name brand schools, after all financial accounting at Stanford is financial accounting at a CSU school… there isn’t any secret lockbox of information that is only accessible to Stanford students!


Beyond Supply and Education, Selling Experiences For Health and Wellness

A recent NPR story notes that increasing access to fruits and vegetables is not enough to compel healthy eating habits.

A great story that highlights the problem with supply side economic thinking… supply doesn’t create demand, at least not in the rational sense that people try to argue it does. While there are many urban landscapes in which there are few, or none, local places to procure healthy food, simply opening a store does not solve the problem.

The more pervasive problem is the need to change behavior.  Similarly, extolling the benefits of good health is insufficient to compel broad changes in behavior patterns, otherwise America’s obesity problem would merely be attributable to insufficiently distributed information.  Mass media that glorifies athletes makes this a particularly absurd, or at the very minimum not very persuasive, counterfactual to anyone that wishes to defend the free market argument that it is the free flow of information that would compel the rational decision making. Read More

Amazon Flow Presents Opportunity For Artisans and Craftsman Products

I recall walking through my local grocer, sometime in early 2013, and noting that boxes of my favorite granola bars, Kashi’s Mocha Almond Bars, were on sale, 2 boxes for 6.00. I bought four boxes.

When my supply of granola bars was exhausted, the price was then 4.49 per box when I returned to my local grocer.  The sale that compelled me to “stock up” now made me keenly aware of the regular price… and I didn’t like it.  I did not purchase any that day, feeling that the regular price was more than I cared to spend, and I would seek an alternative.

The sale had successfully engaged my attention to compel my active thinking regarding price of an item that I might otherwise not have thought twice to purchase. We know from behavioral economics that anchoring plays a very big role in our evaluations of pricing value, but now this new anchor of 3.00 per box entailed a view that a favored product does go on sale and my purchasing patterns benefit from altering my consumption. Additionally, my view that the product was basically a commodity that could be had from any number of retailers compelled a view that I may wish to seek purchase elsewhere. Read More

No One Should Go Hungry, So Drink a Beer!

No One Should GoHungry, So Drink a Beer!

Screenshot 2014-02-07 09.15.13

Doing well by doing good…

Here’s an effort that I think Peter Singer, philosopher that authored the famed applied ethics paper Famine, Affluence, and Morality, would commend by tipping back a pint.  Supporting a local, quickly becoming regional, brewer has the added benefit of advancing social values in your choice of fermented beverage… supporting local farmers and combatting hunger.  Finnegan’s brews beer that donates all their profits to charity.

The key is to first have a quality product… but one path to quickly scaling your venture, to the tune of 30% growth per year, is to take on a cause to benefit the community.

Now donating all of the profit does not necessarily entail that everyone is working for free, or that the firm is unable to undertake capital budgeting for expansion… it simply means that CEO and founder Jacquie Berglund has a salary, and if sales deliver a profit, then it goes to charity.  Thus, organizations that benefit from the commerce of the community can also support that very same local community with its profits. Read More

Human Capital Is Your Greatest Asset… All Evidence To The Contrary

If an organization has to tell you how much it values you… you can be sure that it does not really value you much at all.  It’s a bit of a bromide, but one I’m sure most everyone can relate to.

The 401(k) is supposed to aid in the retirement saving AND unshackle labor from a single employer’s pension… thus increasing the macroeconomic mobility of the labor market that the free market argument depends upon.  However, AOL is leading the way to curtail the advantages of the 401(k) by matching only the employees that remain for the entire year. Apparently, just two women caused the restructure of 401k matching benefits to the entire AOL  organization, or that is how their CEO Tim Armstrong characterized it on a CNBC interview.  Additionally, Armstrong then cited 7.1 million in costs he directly associated with Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” for those inclined to display their partisan disdain.  Implicit to Armstrong’s comments is the assumption that a robust discussion and consideration of alternatives was weighed amongst the various stakeholder groups.  Specifically, Armstrong noted, “As a C.E.O. and as a management team we had to decide, do we pass the $7.1 million of Obamacare costs to our employees? Or do we try to eat as much of that as possible and cut other benefits?”

If human capital is truly a great asset, then a CEO and management team maintaining a culture conducive to producing the best output from your team is one of your key objectives, otherwise the manager is just a technician overseeing a process of instrumental drones.  AOL’s board of directors should seriously reconsider the composition of the management team if their CEO’s actions and statements serve as counterfactuals to an objective of culture maintenance.  Noting Armstrong’s conference calls, the organizational culture at AOL is likely one of a staff looking for the nearest exit after Armstrong then elaborated the reason for the benefit restructuring. Read More

CVS Sacrifices Transactional Profits For Durable Relationship Selling…

The publicly traded corporation frequently serves the interests of its shareholders via the trading price of the stock, or so the conventional thinking goes.  Any decision that threatens to curtail earnings, for any reason, must offer significant justification to overcome the short term drop in share price.  Simplistic thinkers tend to reduce their views of organizational performance to something akin to ‘more profit = good,’ but the problem is that this type of reductio fails to incorporate what is really going on both in terms of strategy and values.  While the public generally assumes that industry analysts will do the real work of critically thinking, in a manner that captures a broad picture of what is really happening in the competitive landscape, however the unfortunate reality is that financial ratios utterly fail to capture the foresight of strategy and the social norms that successful organizations must adapt to.

CVS is to stop selling cigarettes in their stores by October is an excellent example when we can point to a business strategy and tactical positioning that aligns with the mantra of ‘doing well by doing good.’

Noting that the sale of tobacco products account for less than 2% of their revenues, the move is more one of aligning a business with the values and market position that it aims to transition into.  However, if the move is to morph the retail drugstore into a mini health clinic, then how is the sale of alcohol, soda, and other products not conducive to the maintenance of well being justified?  Undoubtedly, health advocates and considerable media space will be devoted to this very question over the next few days.  What makes this a particularly interesting move is the fact that it was the company itself making the move, and not one that appears to be in response to buying patterns of the market or  public outcry. Read More

Hire ONLY Women or You’re a BAD Manager

While I think this argument will ruffle a few feathers, I am quite confident it lays bare some very faulty reasoning that is employed in defending CEO pay AND arguments against minimum/living wages.  I need to state very clearly, that this is NOT advocating for a continuance of wage disparity between men and women, but using a descriptive reality to further illustrate an injustice that is irrational and contradictory.  Additionally, utilizing the arguments of those that defend the status quo is frequently an effective means to illustrate the error in reasoning, particularly when not based on outright falsehoods or factual errors.

Recently the NY Times Economix column by Jared Bernstein offered an excellent and thorough walk through of some data supporting the view that income inequality is both problematic and harming the lower and middle class, as well as levels significant charges against marginal product theory of labor costs.  While many may find the argument a bit too academic, I offer another argument that helps to undermine a purely rational view towards wages… that they are the reflective of an individual worker’s contribution towards the end product.  If this were to be true, then a vast majority of management is executing some very poor decision making in who they choose to hire… Read More