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In the News 24.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 24.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 24.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 24.05.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Why It’s So Hard to Admit You’re Wrong

Despite your best intentions and efforts, it is inevitable: At some point in your life, you will be wrong.

Mistakes can be hard to digest, so sometimes we double down rather than face them. Our confirmation bias kicks in, causing us to seek out evidence to prove what we already believe. The car you cut off has a small dent in its bumper, which obviously means that it is the other driver’s fault.

Psychologists call this cognitive dissonance the stress we experience when we hold two contradictory thoughts, beliefs, opinions or attitudes. For example, you might believe you are a kind and fair person, so when you rudely cut someone off, you experience dissonance. To cope with it, you deny your mistake and insist the other driver should have seen you, or you had the right of way even if you didn’t.

“Cognitive dissonance is what we feel when the self-concept — I’m smart, I’m kind, I’m convinced this belief is true — is threatened by evidence that we did something that wasn’t smart, that we did something that hurt another person, that the belief isn’t true,” said Carol Tavris, a co-author of the book “Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me).”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

In the News 24.05.17-01




Why Amazon is Eating the World

In the News 24.05.17-02

I co-founded a software startup in December. Each month, I send out an update to our investors to keep them updated on our progress. But the past month was a bit different — our industry (retail) is going through a transformation.

Instead of just writing about our “internal” news, I wrote about the impending apocalypse in the broader world of retail. More specifically, I included some thoughts on Amazon and why their commanding lead is only going to get larger. Amazon is the most impressive company on earth, and I think it is one of the least understood. A few people suggested that I post this publicly, so here goes.

My first company, an auto parts manufacturer, sold to Amazon both as a vendor (where Amazon issues purchase orders for bulk product) and as a “Marketplace seller” (where Amazon takes a cut of a third-party sellers’ products sold on Amazon.com) — so I have some insight into Amazon’s internal operations and initiatives that aren’t often publicly discussed.

I’ve followed AWS and Amazon’s other various offerings for some time, as well, and Amazon as a company has become something of a personal obsession of mine. I have some further thoughts on Amazon and the impending retail apocalypse that I wanted to share for those who are interested in the overall future of retail.

Read the rest of this article at: TechCrunch

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The Exquisitely English (and Amazingly Lucrative) World of London Clerks

At Fountain Court Chambers in central London, the senior clerk is called Alex Taylor. A trim, bald 54-year-old who favors Italian suiting, Taylor isn’t actually named Alex. Traditionally in English law, should a newly hired clerk have the same Christian name as an existing member of the staff, he’s given a new one, allegedly to avoid confusion on the telephone. During his career, Taylor has been through no fewer than three names. His birth certificate reads “Mark.” When he first got to Fountain Court in 1979, the presence of another Mark saw him renamed John. Taylor remained a John through moves to two other chambers. Upon returning to Fountain Court, in 2008, he became Alex. At home his wife still calls him Mark.

Alex/John/Mark Taylor belongs to one of the last surviving professions of Dickensian London. Clerks have co-existed with chimney sweeps and gene splicers. It’s a trade that one can enter as a teenager, with no formal qualifications, and that’s astonishingly well-paid. A senior clerk can earn a half-million pounds per year, or more than $650,000, and some who are especially entrenched make far more.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

In the News 24.05.17-03

Tarot Cards: A Tool of Cold Tricksters or Wise Therapists?

In the News 24.05.17-04

There are clues that this is no ordinary suburban living room. For one, we’re in Glastonbury. Then there’s the perfumed candle, the Buddha figure, the cloth draped over the television and, not least, the worn little wooden box that sits atop an occasional table hung with black silk. Inside it are 78 tarot cards. I have come to Glastonbury as a ‘querent’ – which is what tarot practitioners call a customer. A querent, traditionally, comes with a question. I have several. Assuming that tarot cards do not work as a method of reading the future, why does tarot persist? How has tarot survived as an object, a practice, a text, and a peculiarly velvety strand in European popular culture? Where did something so strange, dream-like and overburdened with symbolism come from?

In Glastonbury’s bookshops, alongside sections on stone circles, crystals and Kabbalah, I find whole shelves devoted to tarotology. Most books are by practitioners, repeating versions of the same origin myth. Tarot cards encode ancient wisdom, chiefly ancient Egyptian (but incorporating influences from Kabbalah to Celtic). Some tarotologists identify Romany fortunetellers as the custodians of that wisdom, drawing on the old European belief that ‘gypsies’ are of Egyptian origin.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

The Barbarians Are at Etsy’s Hand-Hewn, Responsibly Sourced Gates

In the News 24.05.17-05

“There is one and only one social responsibility of business,” the economist Milton Friedman famously wrote in 1962. And that is “to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.” Those words helped establish the now pervasive idea that companies are exclusively responsible, within the limits of the law, to the people who own them. Even the most soft-hearted public-company chief executive treats the idea with a measure of respect. In March, at his final annual meeting, Starbucks Corp. CEO Howard Schultz declared that, notwithstanding his plans to hire refugees and open stores in poor neighborhoods, the company’s commitment to shareholder value remained “absolute.”

But there are exceptions. “You’re all free to hiss,” Chad Dickerson said after quoting Friedman in a speech at a corporate social responsibility conference in late 2014. Dickerson, then the 42-year-old chairman and CEO of Etsy Inc., paused for a moment, as the audience hissed and laughed. Then, for good measure, he hissed himself.

At the time of the speech, Dickerson, a former journalist with soft features and a laid-back demeanor, was preparing to take Etsy public. Founded in 2005, the Brooklyn-based online marketplace hosts 1.8 million small merchants who sell vintage and handmade goods and takes a cut of every transaction. Its sellers traffic in the one-off items usually found in antique stores and boutiques: pineapple-motif throw pillows, succulent-shaped jewelry, tote bags with birds on them. The fast-growing market is often mocked as a kind of twee EBay—TweeBay, if you will. But by early 2015 the company was selling close to $2 billion in merchandise a year and generating revenue of $196 million—figures that had more than doubled from two years earlier.

 

Under Dickerson’s leadership, Etsy had not only grown quickly, it had also won a reputation as an ethical company, becoming a certified B Corporation in 2012. The do-gooder seal of approval, given out by the nonprofit B Lab, requires a business to meet standards related to the environment, workers, and suppliers. Some 2,000 companies are B Corps—including Patagonia, Warby Parker, and Kickstarter—but almost all are privately held. Today there are just a handful of public B Corps; Etsy is one of only two traded on a major U.S. exchange.

Public-market B Corps are rare because investors hate them. As part of the certification, a company must reject the shareholder valuation model and, eventually, reincorporate as a “public-benefit corporation.” (To keep its B Corp seal, Etsy will have to commit to reincorporating this summer. Dickerson said in a 2016 interview that this was unlikely.) Benefit corporations are structured so managers and board members have a legal obligation to worry about more than just their fiduciary duty to shareholders. A public-benefit corporation can get sued for wasting shareholder money just like a normal public company can, but it can also be sued for being a poor steward of the environment or for failing to pay a fair wage.

Read the rest of this article at: Bloomberg

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @styleheroine; @barenias; @evgeniya.prinsloo