Laptops are a big distraction in the class room

I am inconsistent. I some contexts I have banned computers and more importantly smartphone use in classrooms because it became apparent that large number of students were distracted by it. It others I have allowed it because I myself like to take notes on a laptop. Here is the evidence why at least internet connections need to be turned off in classrooms.

Over time, a wealth of studies on students’ use of computers in the classroom has accumulated [...]. Among the most famous is a landmark Cornell University study from 2003 called “The Laptop and the Lecture,” wherein half of a class was allowed unfettered access to their computers during a lecture while the other half was asked to keep their laptops closed. The experiment showed that, regardless of the kind or duration of the computer use, the disconnected students performed better on a post-lecture quiz. The message of the study aligns pretty well with the evidence that multitasking degrades task performance across the board.
Pop quizzes, of course, are not the best measure of learning, which is an iterative and reflective process. Recent Princeton University and University of California studies took this into account while investigating the differences between note-taking on a laptop and note-taking by hand. While more words were recorded, with more precision, by laptop typists, more ended up being less: regardless of whether a quiz on the material immediately followed the lecture or took place after a week, the pen-and-paper students performed better. The act of typing effectively turns the note-taker into a transcription zombie, while the imperfect recordings of the pencil-pusher reflect and excite a process of integration, creating more textured and effective modes of recall.

Read full story in New Yorker

How to tell stories in graphical way

With his books on how to present data in a graphical way, Edward Tufte has taught many of us to be more creative in how we try to communicate a story based on quantitative data. Here is a short video that explains the power of communicating complex data in a graphical way. Tufte appears in the video.

David Gonski on Leadership

Gonski is a towering figure of Australian life. But his ideas of leadership apply everywhere in the Western world. To appreciate a bit more Gonski’s words, read this profile on him.

Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory

This is a very thought-provoking Ted talk on happiness and how we construct our judgement of happiness. TED summarizes: Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently.

One of the interesting facts that he reports based on a Gallup survey of Americans is this:  People who make more than $60,000 do not experience more happiness as they make more money. Above this threshold, money does not make you happy. Below this threshold ever dollar less will make decrease your experience of happiness. This leads Kahneman to remark:  “Money does not buy happiness. But lack of money causes misery.”

BBC Documentary on Facebook

The Hollywood movies about Facebook gave us an outline of the history Zuckerberg and the firm he founded. While this BBC documentary retells some of the facts from the Hollywood film, it brings to light many other interesting features of the facebook phenomenon.

Daniel Pink: What really motivates us

Understanding Introverts

I discovered a very useful article describing introverts. All managers, especially if they are extroverts can benefit from getting a deeper understanding of introverts.

Caring for Your Introvert: The habits and needs of a little-understood group.
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice? If so, do you tell this person he is “too serious,” or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out? If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren’t caring for him properly. Read more in the Atlantic.

Rudy Giulani’s Six Principles of Leadership

I am only a moderate fan of Rudy Giulani, but I strongly agree with the 6 (eight) principles of leadership he recently shared at a conference in Sydney as reported in BRW, June 23-29, 2011, p. 50.

1. Leaders have strong belief and vision
You can’t expect to have people follow you if you don’t know where you are going yourself. A leader must convey his vision to his people, “Be clear, consistent and have goals,” he says. Engage your people in the vision. People will help you achieve your vision if they have instrumental in brining that vision through.”

2. Be optimistic and solve problems
“You have to be an optimist. People follow people who have hope and who help solve problems.  The only people who succeed in life overcome problems in and find solutions.”

3. Be courageous
“If you are not afraid, then you’re not alive, because things go wrong. It’s the unpredictable thing that happen, which you will need to be prepared for,” he says.

4. Preparation
Prepare as much as you can so when things go wrong, you’re able to put into practice the techniques you’ve learned. “No matter how much you practice or prepare, something will always go wrong. But by having practices in place, you’re better prepared.”

5. Teamwork
Ask your what are your strengths and weaknesses?  Find people who have the skills to balance out your weaknesses.

6. Communication and Leadership
Everything you say means nothing if people don’t understand you. Leaders establish loyalty, he says, because they are teachers and they motivate people. “Take good care of people who work for you.”



Burt Teplitzky on Using Humor in Sales Pitches

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: How do you go about incorporating humor into sales presentations?

I use humor to reinforce a point in selling a product or service. My formula is punch them with the joke, stick them with the point and leave them with the benefit. When you take a joke and incorporate it into a conversation or a presentation, it carries a lot more power. It carries the power to change people’s minds, reinforce what they think or feel, and to sell something. That chosen joke is no longer just a joke. It becomes a gem, a humor gem.

Speaking in front of an audience for fun and profit only requires one laugh every three to six minutes. This should be your goal. In a comedy club, you need to have at least three laughs per minute to get regular stage time.

Remember, your audience wants humor and they fear that if they don’t laugh, you will stop using it. They don’t want to have to suffer through a dry presentation.

Read full interview in the WSJ.

PM: The general point being made here is that you need to figure out how to establish a relationship with the person you want to sell to. In the end, you need to provide them with reason to go with you rather than competitor. Everything else being equal, the reason might be that they like you more because it fun to be around you.


Andy Penn’s Tips for Doing Business in Asia

1. Be patient.
2. Focus on building relationships.
3. Get the right people and invest in them.
4. Have a high level of cultural sensitivity and awareness.
5. Diversify across Asian markets as the risks are higher.
6. Build a regional model with a distinct platform that can handle all different tax and regulatory environments.

Common Mistakes when Doing Business in Asia

1. Barriers to entry are very high, so don’t overestimate how long it will take to reach objectives.
2. Don’t underestimate the importance of relationships. Early discussions probably won’t focus on business but on areas such as family and interests.
3. Don’t underestimate cultural differences and how they can lead to a situation of being exploited or causing exploitation.
4. The rest of the world is not blind to the opportunities Asia represents. Competition is fierce and there is a higher risk of failure. Don’t go unprepared.

From BRW, April 14- 20, 2011, pp. 30-31   Biographical Information on Andy Penn

New Management Focus: Invest in Relationships!

Designing an organization requires making a million decisions both large (e.g. picking a strategy) and small (e.g. picking out paper for the PC printer). It is easy to get lost in the trivial instead of focusing on getting the critical elements right. In my courses, I try to present ideas and frameworks that help identify what is important. At the recent Academy of Management Conference in Montreal I came across a phrase that was new to me. In my view,  it crystallizes what managers need to do to design an organization that is able to respond to all the unexpected events that invariably occur in the life of an organization:

Invest in relationships!


You Don’t Have to Pay Employees More Than the Competition to Keep Them Happy

Returning to Chicago for the first time in three years, I went to two of my favorite restaurants. In one, Lulu’s, most of the waitresses and busboys I had seen three years ago were still there. In the other, I recognized no one except for the owner. So I asked the owner of Lulu’s if he was paying his people more.  He said: “No.” I asked him a second time. He still said:  “No.” Confirming the lesson that many management professors emphasize in the context of the Southwest airline example, you don’t have to pay people more than the competition to keep them happy. Lulu’s is a fun place and the interior design is attractive, providing employees non-monetary rewards. Evidently the owner is also not getting on the nerves of his staff.  Jokingly he says in front of one of his female employees: “I cannot even get rid of the people I would like to see go.” The lady—who must have been working there for at least 8 years—interjects: “I knew you were going to say this.” The general lesson (except perhaps for Wall Street before the crash) is: You don’t need to pay people more than the competition. But the total rewards of working for you have to be more than the total rewards of working for someone else. Otherwise people will leave.

The Wrong Stuff Blog

We seem to have a built-in tendency to want to learn from successful people and pay little attention to failures. We also have a hard time admitting mistakes. In fact, what dintinguihses mature and, dare I say, clever,  indivdiuals is precisely that they can admit mistakes and learn from them.  Kathryn Schulz, who is about to publish a book on the subject, has published on Slate a number of great interviews and reflections on being wrong. The one with Alan Dershowitz is particularly interesting. If you want to start with the most recent entry, start here: The Wrong Stuff

CEO Q&A: Lincoln Crawely

What has been your greatest regret in Business?

That I didn’t really get to know and accept my strengths and weaknesses earlier.

What is your number one tip for managing people?

Fairness and balance, which must not be confused with compromise.

From BRW, April 15-21, 2010, p. 10.

Apple did not forsee the success of the application store

It is hard to forsee the future as the recent episode with Apple’s application store demonstrates.  The NY Times reports:

The App Store’s success — as much a surprise to Apple as it has been to competitors — has given rise to a new digital ecosystem. Today, hundreds of software aspirants, from individuals tinkering in their bedrooms late at night to established companies looking for lucrative new revenue streams, are jumping into the App Store fray.

When making a decision, managers often make the mistakes of only considering the potential upsides, but not the cost of downsides. Positive surprises don’t kill firms. It is the negative surprises that bring you down. 

Phil Tetlock Critically Reviews Three Books on Forecasting the Future

Telock does us the service of giving a close reading of three books that what to overcome the obstacle that Yogi Berra identified in his qib: “Prediction is very hard, especially about the future.”

The Fat Tail: The Power of Political Knowledge for Strategic Investing by Ian Bremmer and Preston Keat.

The Predictioneer’s Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman

Read Telock’s excellent review at National Interest.

Debate: Do Women Make Better Managers

The jury is still out. But read this interesting exchange on Rember that just because on average women may be different than men, this does not mean that it is true for the person in front of you.

Susan Pinker: Whether we’re talking about mentoring, managing or office politics, the research is clear: “Men and women together are the best.”

Sharon Meers: Women often take an alternative approach to leading teams — encouraging more open discussion, cultivating talent and sharing credit. Feedback is the place where women bosses may add the most value.

Three Books on the Origins of the Financial Crisis and its Lessons

John Lanchester reviews three books on the origins of the financial crisis and its lessons in the New Yorker.  Two of them are useful for the general reader.

Gillian Tett, “Fool’s Gold” (Free Press)

Richard A. Posner, “A Failure of Capitalism” (Harvard)

I personally personally found Fools Gold the most rewarding of all the books and a higly recommend it to anyone who works in the finance industy or simply wants to understand what caused the recent financial crisis.

Read full review here.

Risk will always equal potential reward

Greed, as it periodically does when traders and bankers forget the lessons of the past, clouded judgments. Some very smart people talked themselves into believing in the repeal of one of the fundamental laws of economics: risk will always equal potential reward. The idea that risk can be eliminated and high yields guaranteed is as idiotic as the idea that gravity can be suspended. Remember Long-Term Capital Management? Ten years ago it figured out how to eliminate risk using highly sophisticated computer programs and rolled up annual returns averaging 40 percent — until it collapsed in a heap.

Read more by John Steele Gordon on the Financial Mess: Greed, Stupidity, Delusion — and Some More Greed here.

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