Excellent Sheep in the Poison Ivy….Coulds or Shoulds?….If You Build it, They MIGHT Come….Econ Recon: Labor and Capital, Properly Understood.

“Our memories are card indexes — consulted, and then put back in disorder, by authorities whom we do not control.”

 Cyril Connolly

 Excellent Sheep in the Poison Ivy (League)

Many Baby Boomers have bred their offspring for the Ivy League since diapers, in the hope that a sheepskin from the likes of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Penn and others would virtually guarantee a superior education and a material advantage throughout life. A former Yale professor in a new book says that an equal or superior education can be had at less prestigious institutions at far lower cost….and that an Ivy League experience  may actually be damaging to your child’s well-being.

If there is a young person in your life with his or her sights set on one of these schools, you might encourage a closer look. A good place to start could be a  short New York Times review of the above mentioned professor’s book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life on the pros and cons of those elite schools…and before saying yes to an acceptance letter from one of them.

Coulds or Shoulds?

It’s amazing how a small change in how we ask a question can lead to a big difference in the answers. Vistage speaker Mary Lore, in her fabulous book “Managing Thought,” discusses the power of language and how our self-talk rules our world.  Her insights from a decade ago are confirmed by recent researchers, who compared the impact on creative problem solving when a question we ask everyday was altered ever so slightly; in fact by changing only one word.  A very short article summarizes their findings and advises that you Stop Asking ‘What SHOULD I Do?’.”

 If You Build it, They MIGHT Come

Henry Ford once remarked that he didn’t do market research because if he asked people want they wanted they would have said a faster horse! He trusted his instinct as to what the customer would want even if they themselves could not articulate it today. He built it and they came. (Though he did famously get it wrong later on: Remember his famous quote: “The customer can have any color they want as long as it’s black?” Then GM began offering color choices and set Ford back on his heels. Nobody’s perfect!)

Technology writer Robert X. Cringely (former columnist for PC World and PBSTechnology show host) thinks we are now fully in a world driven by supplying what the customer may want …once they see it. Spend it a minute with Cringely’s brief musing that we now live in the Age of Supply, Not Demand and how Apple and others are stimulating demand by “appealing not to what customers said they wanted but to what customers INNATELY need,”  but cannot identify today.

 Econ Recon: Labor and Capital, Properly Understood

With Labor Day just past, economist Brian Wesbury reflects on the respective roles of capital and labor in our economy. These two elements of the economy are often in conflict, but the relationship is much deeper, and more interdependent, than most workers or managers understand.  Westbury’s one page essay on the subject should be read by both sides before any union negotiation and should be posted in employee lunchrooms and executive washrooms everywhere. . . 



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