Financial Ratios to save your life

Understanding a company’s worth first starts with knowing its Profitability, Productivity, and Leverage ratios that allow you to make a call on whether it’s worth going down the path to valuing the company. This can quickly become messy when you start estimating the cash flows because you are making many assumptions based on numbers you pull out of thin air rather than how the company has been performing. In the next couple of months, I will be writing more on this topic and breaking down some companies, along with stories based on what these numbers tell me, then I will walk through how I think of a company’s worth.

*I really created the list for me to find quickly. Will update when I find new measures.

RatioMeasureVariablesWhat it tells u?
Profitability RatioGross MarginGross Profit/ RevenueTells you what are you keeping after you pay for COGS
Profitability RatioOperating MarginOperating income/ RevenueMeasure how much you keep after you pay for SG&A and admin expenses
Profitability RatioProfit MarginNet Profit/ RevenueWhat you keep after you pay for everything
Profitability RatioReturn on Equity (ROE)Net profit/ Shareholder equityReturn to owners
Profitability RatioReturn on Assets (ROA)Net Profit/ Total AssetsHow much profit for every dollar of assets
Profitability RatioEBITDA MarginEBITDA/ RevenueIt try to add back those non cash items and non operating cash. Focus on Finance not accounting
Productivity RatioAsset TurnoverRevenue/ Total AssetsHow effectively am i generating for assets in place to revenue
Productivity RatioInventory TurnoverCogs/ InventoryHigher the number – more the company is getting rid of it.
Productivity RatioInventory Turnover days365/ Inventory turnoverYou want this low – How long i keep it on the shelf before i sell it
Productivity RatioReceivables Collection Period365/ (Sales/ Receivables)After it is off the self, how long to pay.. Lower the number – better your can reserves
LeverageDebt to AssetsTotal debt / total AssetsProportion of assets financed by debt
LeverageDebt to capitalizationDebt/ debt+ Shareholder equityMeasure of leverage by mix of debt and equity
LeverageAssets to shareholder equityAssets/ Shareholder equityControl of assets more than what can be controlled
LeverageInterest coverage RatioEBIT/ Interest expenseability to cover interest from operations

2020 Book List

Books I read in 2020👇🏽. Let me know your thoughts or recommendations for my 2021 list!

2020 has been a year of a massive amount of reading. Why reading you ask? Well, it is quite simple. There is just too much I don’t know. I figured I would share the books that have made it to my reading list. They span quite a lot of genres and interests- those that know me would not be too surprised as there is quite a lot that sparks my curiosity. My favourite books are highlighted!

  1. Rahm Emmanuel – The Nation City – 3 Stars
  2. Prediction Machines – Ajay Agarwal – 5 Stars
  3. Deep Work – Cal Newport – 4 Stars
  4. Den of Thieves – James B. Stewart – 5 Stars
  5. Bob Iger – Ride of a Lifetime -5 stars
  6. Erik Larson – The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz – 5 star 
  7. Sarah Frier – No Filter – 2 star 
  8. Phil Knight – Shoe Dog – 4 star
  9. Nassim Taleb- Fooled by Randomness- 5 star
  10. Peniel E. Joseph – The Sword and the Shield -1 star 
  11. Michael Pollan – Caffeine – 3 star
  12. Maria Konnikova – The Biggest Bluff – 5 star
  13. Jordan Peterson – 12 Rules for Life – 4.5 star
  14. Christopher Chabis & Daniel Simons – The Invisible Gorilla -4 star
  15. Ben Shapiro – How to destroy America – 3 star
  16. James Clear – Atomic Habits – 5 star
  17. Nassim Taleb – Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder – 5 star
  18. Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff – The Coddling of the American Mind – 5 star
  19. 1984 – George Orwell – 5 star 
  20. Alexandra Horowitz – Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know – 4 star
  21. Candace Owens – Blackout – 4 star
  22. Reed Hastings – No Rules Rules 
  23. Esther Perel – Mating in Captivity
  24. Ron Chernow – Alexander Hamilton 
  25. Gaad Saad – The Parasitic Mind
  26. Barack Obama – A promised land
  27. BJ Fogg – Tiny Habits
  28. Chris Voss – Never split the difference 
  29. Yuval Noah Harari – Sapiens 
  30. Jack Weatherford – Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world 
  31. Anne case – deaths of despair and the future of capitalism 
  32. Guy Raz – How i Built this
  33. Curtis Jackson  – Hustle Harder. Hustle Smarter
  34. Robert Greene – The 50th law

The best advice to any young person

I came across the below speech given by John Roberts to his son when he graduated. I can’t seem to stop pondering on how profound and insightful his words were to a young mind. I don’t believe there is much else to add, or to explain. I hope you also ponder on its meaning in your life and how you wish to give advice to any young mind out there.

“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes. ” – John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States

COVID Puppy Boom: What you need to know before you take that step.

Did you finally decide to take part in the Coronavirus Puppy Boom and get a dog? Great – I applaud your ability to persuade yourself and partner to bring this fantastic companion into your life. But maybe you are doing this to win that coveted award from your kids: Best Parent of the Year award. Whatever your reasons, congrats. I must warn you, however, that dog ownership is no joke; many people have gone down this path but ended up failing due to lack of planning and not being adequately informed of the full extent of a dog owner’s responsibility. Recent reports had shown that dogs were given up to shelters for losing the “cuteness” factor, which is usually after six (6) months, and they became too much to handle. A study by Petfinder investigated the reasons for pet brought to shelters and concluded the following:

  1. The majority of dogs had been owned from 7 months to 1 year.
  2. Approximately half of the dogs surrendered were not neutered.
  3. A third of the dogs surrendered had not been to a veterinarian.
  4. A third of dogs acquired from friends were surrendered in higher numbers than from any other source.
  5. Most dogs (96%) had not received any obedience training.


1. Training starts with you. Train yourself first, then the dog.

If you look at the list above, you’ll agree that the terrible decision to surrender a dog could have been avoided by owners being well aware of their responsibility and taking the time to be mentally and financially prepared. I’m no saint in this arena, as I thought I was well prepared when we picked up our Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, Nairobi. I will be honest in saying that I wanted to take him back to the breeder within the first month. It was a lot of work, and he was a troublemaker: he nipped on our fingers and arms with his shark-like puppy teeth, he jumped on us, and acted like he was getting murdered every time we cut his nails, among other antics. However, with constant training and a partner that did all the heavy lifting, we now have a somewhat well behaved 16-month old who has become a permanent member of our household. I do not have the magic potion, but I can share some of the not-so-obvious advice I wish someone had given me before getting a dog.

A dog is simply a bundle of joy. Nairobi does all the right (read: cute) things to make my heart drop. And like a fool, I give in to his demands and manipulative ways. I tried so hard to be likeable that I treated him like he was the pack leader. But, my partner – the strict disciplinarian – would have none of it. She would chastise me for letting him lead the way on walks or for giving him treats for “free” (he must work for every treat given, I learned, by demonstrating good manners or doing the trick on command). I was reprimanded for being a doormat and reminded that, if my servility were left unchecked, we would have an unruly dog with no manners. It might be cute when you have a Chihuahua jumping on you, but the same cannot be said for a 100-lb Ridgeback, she would say.

We made a plan of the right behaviours we wanted to foster and what we absolutely would not tolerate of our dog. I needed to be on board and agree to these rules. If not, Nairobi wouldn’t see me as an authority figure and would be confused about what is allowed and not allowed. All dogs need structure and pack leaders that are stable. My best advice here is to start prepping yourself to be the pack leader; don’t let the dog train you to give in to his every whim. And do not think a one-time obedience class is all a dog needs; that is just the minimum. They need consistency and constant reinforcement. For example, if you have a no-dog-on-the-couch rule, letting him on the couch once in a while is not acceptable and will only confuse him; either let him on the sofa or not at all. If you enforce consistent rules, your dog will know what is expected of him and will respect your authority. The result? Good behaviour. The stats show that 97% of dogs given up to shelters did not receive any obedience training.

2. A dog is not cheap!

I did as much research as possible before getting a dog, along with cost estimates – I was proud. I thought my spreadsheet was comprehensive…until it wasn’t. One big expense has been dog sitting. I still wanted to go on vacations and had assumed that my parents or in-laws (both willing and able) would take care of Nairobi when we couldn’t. But you must understand: our boy isn’t small; he isan enormous and extremely stubborn teen with a rebellious streak. We simply didn’t trust our parents to enforce the behaviours we wanted to cultivate. Nairobi is manipulative and can be a lot of work; he knows how to truly use his charm and sad puppy eyes to make you bend to his will. We needed an experienced individual to take care of him. Enter dog sitters. They charge up to $100 a day. That is no trivial sum of money when you’re talking days of vacation. For example, if I went on a 2-week vacation and used a dog sitter who charges $50/day, the total cost is $700. Say you go on a 2-week vacation every year, and the average lifespan of a Rhodesian Ridgeback is 10 years, then you’re paying $7000 for dog sitting services alone. The more vacation days you want to take, the more that cost goes up.

So, before you get a dog, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is your lifestyle? Can you really fit a dog into your lifestyle? If you enjoy travelling extensively or would not be home all the time, rethink if you genuinely have the time and energy to devote to caring for a dog.
    1. The stay-at-home order is temporary. How do life and work look like after COVID-19?
    2. Can you truly afford a dog? Make a budget and consider the following expenses (these are estimates, and there is a lot of variances):
      • Vet visits: ~$100 per visit (will need quite a few the first year)
      • Vaccines: $100-150 in the first year
      • Purchase of Pet: There truly is no average that would be meaningful to provide here. You can adopt or go to a quality breeder. You get what you pay for, so beware of backyard breeders on Kijiji.  
      • Dog food: $400 – $1200 a year (depends if you choose kibble or go raw). Remember, more $ does not necessarily mean more quality. Do your research and make decisions backed by science and not based on what is trendy.  
      • Dog sitters (overnight boarding): $50-$100 a day (depends on sitter’s experience and sometimes size or age of pet)
      • Dog walkers: ~$30/half hour 
      • Obedience classes: $400 and up (you may not need these if you are experienced and can train your dog on your own)
      • Neutering/spaying: $200-$700 (the bigger the dog, the more $$$)

3. Be emotionally ready for the ups and down

As much as I love Nairobi, I had once thought about giving him up because he was just too much work, and I felt I would not be able to give him the attention he deserves. When I was at work, I was always worried about having left him home alone. He would howl in his crate for the first few weeks of being left alone. I worried that my neighbours would file a noise complaint. While in the office, I would periodically check on him through the baby monitor to see if he was okay. I would try to leave work around 2 or 3 pm so I could get home before the 7-hour mark to let him out to relieve his bladder, and I would continue working from home. It was a lot, and I had to adapt my lifestyle completely. When I travelled, I also worried about how the dog sitters were treating him: are they showing him the love I show him every day with cuddles and kisses? Is he getting his long walks and runs? I worried a lot. You never will stop worrying, which is normal because you love your dog, and he is part of your family. I do not have a kid, but I believe parents know what I mean. The difference, however, is that you would not give up your child after 8 months because he is a terror, and you cannot handle it. Giving up a dog is not like giving up a human child; we see the consequences for each of these as being very different.

I understand that the transition to fully working from home has created the perfect opportunity to raise a puppy. So many people who have always wanted a dog now have the time for a dog. I get it; it makes sense. But I strongly urge you: if you are planning to get, or recently got a dog, please give it some more thought and reflect on what dog ownership means to you and whether you would make a good owner. If you would like to talk about it, please feel free to reach out and I can share some hard-earned wisdom. A dog is a wonderful addition to any family and they can bring much joy and love to your life.

I leave you with these last words: a dog is only 12 years of your life, but you are his whole life and world.

Group-shaming, cancel culture and self-censorship – a case for a truly open dialogue

In a democracy, we protect the rights of individuals to dissent, speak up and share their ideas. However in today’s world, social media has made it very easy for people to make quick and harsh judgments about someone that can have lasting ramifications. Are you noticing like I am that there are more and more instances of someone asking a question or sharing an unpopular opinion getting ostracized, shamed or Fired? How can we get to the root cause of problems or come up with solutions if people are afraid to share their views and are working off assumptions? Recently, I have noticed that we are in a “cancel culture” or “group-shaming” environment that is forcing government and companies to take actions against reasonable people who share an unpopular view, which is leading to self-censorship from many individuals who would like to be part of the solution.

Taking things out of context
Recently, Steven Pinker, an acclaimed cognitive psychologist, linguist, popular science author, and professor of psychology at Harvard, was the latest to come under attack, whom through his writing, has tried to answer complex questions relating to violence with data, along with sharing works of researchers on Twitter years ago, which is now being taken out of context. Individuals are accusing him of racism through his various works and is requesting that he be stripped of his academic standing (Link to letter of complaint , Link to analysis of complaint).

Does fear of being cancelled or shamed stifle open dialogue?
Other such examples are: Individuals are being fired for simply stating all lives matter, companies are being shamed to change terminology, brand names, or label individual’s post as truth or not etc. If you care about justice, and you absolutely should, then you should care about facts and the ability to discuss them openly. Free speech is the mechanism to keep our society working. However, our sense of justice come from those who claim to be the most offended by the conversation itself. There has been an open letter circulating with over 150 signatories that highlights how individuals are being ostracized for speaking up and offering a counter view(Link) . Additionally, an individual who has signed the letter is being shamed or attacked – I am not quite sure – by a colleague saying they feel “unsafe” because he signed his name with other individuals that may have views on other issues not related to the letter (Refer to Appendix ).

Emotional vs. rational approach
We, as humans have biases, we are irrational and we simply do not understand our own emotions. Our primal selves are hard-wired by experiences and hot emotion, which distorts and limits our view of things, sometimes magnifying threats and opportunities. We often like to think we are rational and we are operating from facts and logic, however we fall short of that. I believe we are all entitled to our opinions, and we should be able to express that in a way that is respectful – by both parties free from labels and judgement. A beautiful example of this is, Sam Harris (atheist) and a pastor having a conversation in front of a church congregation (Link ). The respectful manner this was conducted was absolutely beautiful.  We should aim to understand and change minds versus the current trend I’m noticing of labeling someone and seeking them to be cancelled or shamed. We all have very different lived experiences and through those we have formed an opinion. It may be wrong or right. However, it is your truth, which may not be aligned to current scientific research, data, or biology.

Humans are flawed, history shows this in many ways by the various atrocities. However, we can learn from our mistakes and be better. But, we first need to collectively understand (3) things:

  1. First, we need to be aware that we are forming an opinion or world view from a place of personal lived experiences and unconscious bias.
  2. Second, take a step back and really assess what we are saying and our expectation for change – Sometimes we can go too far in calling out oppressive behavior and we can end up committing oppressive behavior ourselves.
  3. Third, be open to changing your mind. Butter and Cannabis used to be controversial and demonized for reasons that can lead to bad outcomes, but now the thinking has changed.

Expanding my perspective by learning from other experiences
I am a person of color. Born in Suriname and grown up in Guyana, I slept on the floor, I used a Coco-Cola crate as a chair, ate onions or milk with rice. I mention this because this plays a role in how I view the world, along with my religion – I was born in a Hindu household, later converted to Christianity. I am aware that my lived experience is very different than others, so I constantly read and try to understand rather than cast my views, based solely on my experience. I want to be informed and approach solutions with lasting change.  Many of my stance contradicts with my religion and/or views, simply because it is the right thing to do. However lately, I find myself hesitant to speak-up or ask questions on some events out of fear that I might be group-shamed or cancelled. The writing of this article may rub some the wrong way, but that is not my intention as I’m not leaning a certain way on a particular issue. I would like us to find a better mode of open dialogue rather than the use of social media.


2019 book list with rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
  • Korea: The Impossible Country by Daniel Tudor
  • Talking to strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Billion Dollar Whale by Tom Wright
  • Doing justice – Preet Bharara
  • Red notice by Bull Browder
  • Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
  • Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins
  • Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
  • Black Edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar
  • Spider Network by David Enrich

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • The laws of human nature by Robert Greene

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • How to change your mind by Micheal Pollan
  • The courage to act by Ben Bernanke
  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • Mastering the market cycle by Howard Marks
  • Good to great by Jim Collins
  • Enlightment now by Steven Pinklet
  • Game Changers by Dave Asprey
  • The Fifth Risk by Micheal Lewis

Maintaining privacy working from home during COVID-19

Working from home (WFH) has become the norm, and it is expected to stay in place until further notice. This is a blessing and a curse. Blessing, due to time saved on your commute and increased time spent with your family. Curse, the added pressure of you being responsible for protecting your organizations’ privacy. We all have smart devices in our home and carry around a mobile device designed to make our life easier. However, these devices are continually trying to be better, which means learning about you: the consumer. How you choose to interpret this is entirely up to you, so go wild. My objective is to inform and provide some tips you can follow to protect your privacy and hopefully get you to think where else might you be vulnerable. Don’t limit your thinking to those mentioned previously, but think of anything that connects and sends information to its creator :).

Mobile applications and your privacy settings (Mic, Camera, etc.) 

There are a lot of simple applications you use on your device: the most popular of the group are social media applications. These are your run of the mill bad boys innovator type: FB, Instagram, etc. Now, what you don’t know is that they listen and use this data for target advertising. I recently experienced when I was speaking to my partner about a few things that needed to be bough, most notably was lentils and oats. Later, on Instagram, I was casually scrolling my feed and noticed ads from organizations that manufacture lentils and oat. Coincident? I do not believe so. FB owns Instagram, and FB had that massive Cambridge -Analytica scandal. Also, FB revenue is mainly from advertising…..Target advertising. After some research, I disabled my microphone access to Instagram (Settings -> Privacy -> Microphone), and noticed the type of ads I see have dramatically changed. I urge you to perform an inventory of your mobile device privacy and make necessary changes. I also noticed other apps that are non-social media type apps had access to my microphone. Social media platforms have provided some guidance on privacy settings, click to find out more :

There are millions of apps in the virtual app store, some with great developers that mean well, but some apps have bugs that exposes you, and those around you. Apps place on the store does not go through the most robust review process, and in some cases, can be installed without the use of an app store. Apps on your cell phone alter many settings on your device and, without your knowledge, can be listening, recording, or just learning about you.

 Smart Devices – They only get smart by learning about YOU.

 There are all these smart devices- too many to mention, so, here are two (2) questions to ask when you are unsure:

  1.  Can voice command activate them?
  2. Can they work without the need to be connected to your home network?

 If you answer yes to any of the above questions, well, I believe it is time you revisit or modify your security settings. Investigations over the last year have brought to light many interesting findings: 

-Amazon has thousands of people listening to Alexa data(Link), 

-Facebook listens and transcribes your audio (Link), 

-Apple captures what you tell Siri (Link), 

-Google eavesdrop (Link). 

I recommend you turn off your smart device during working hours to ensure your company privacy. If this might not be possible, here are some tips:

  •  Delete History – Alexa or Google captures your voice, they store recordings indefinitely, Clear your history through your mobile privacy settings.
  • Create a Secure network – Create a separate guest WiFi network for these devices to keep them apart from your computers and other secure devices. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada recommends that the network be password protected and choosing a WAP2 network when prompted.
  • Read privacy information – Get in the habit of reading privacy information. This information will often explain to you how the information is collected and used.

Working from home is new and represents a risk that many overlook in the digital world. It is not only the responsibility of the company’s IT department, but every remote worker to ensure security and privacy.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.

52 things I missed in 2019

2019 was an eventful year; we saw an impeachment trial, big fines levied on tech companies; the unprecedented amount of CEO shake-ups, and the on-going saga of the US-China trade war. These are the things that we saw in the news almost daily, and it drowned out some of the other news that would require coverage. Tom Whitwell publishes a yearly list of things he learnt and recently published his 2019 list; as I was reading all the articles I realized, I missed all of the things he learnt, which led me to my blog post.

The ones that drew my attention the most were:

  • #7 three private companies have fallen victim to ‘deep fake’ audio fraud – The fact that companies have fallen victim to deep fake audios are quite concerning in my world. Deep fake is an emerging risk and companies need to investigate protocols and controls to put into place, not to mention training for companies to discern or detect deep fakes.
  • #19 Google and Facebook lost $100 million between them to one scammer – It’s concerning when big tech companies like Google and Facebook has fallen preyed to fake invoices, not a nominal amount, but 100 MILLION (yes, all caps). This might be less than 1% of total revenue. However, it highlights that cyber awareness is crucial and the companies first defense.
  • #20 Teenagers with acne get higher marks, are more likely to complete college and, if female, eventually get paid more than people without teenage acne – Mhmmmm, this one is interesting…. I may have to conduct my own research on some of my friends that have acne to validate if they are getting paid more than me 🙂
  • #23 in the 1990s, it seems the US forgot how to make a critical component of some nuclear warheads – It’s hilarious to think the biggest employer in the US forgot how to make a critical component of a nuclear warhead…. Make sure you document everything!!!!! use this report as a driving force for your companies.
  • #28 Fashion++ is a Facebook-funded computer vision project that looks at a photo of your outfit and suggests ‘minimal edits for outfit improvement’ like tucking in a shirt or removing an accessory – Facebook getting into fashion advice scares me for the reason that: A) They are analyzing your picture and every part of your body, this is a perfect way to train their AI to know you and can pick you out on a street with thousands of people, all they need is access to a CCTV camera… Maybe, after they train their model, they can sell their model to the US government to monitor it’s citizens , which is against the law  FYI. But, that did not stop them……. Be worried!
  • #30 No babies born in Britain in 2016 were named Nigel – No babies in Britain named Nigel……Immigrants are definitely taking over LOL.
  • #34 28% of people like the smell of (their own) urine after eating asparagus – 28% of people like the smell of their own urine after eating asparagus? that’s just wrong, but if you are in that 28%, all the luck to you.
  • #35 AliBaba is investing $15m to research Chinese dialects, hoping to improve the performance of their voice recognition systems – Sure…………… very skeptical of AliBaba and their ties to the government. This just allows them to create amazing tech to use by the government.
  • #41 Disco, a Japanese high tech manufacturing company, has introduced an internal billing and payment system, where every cost is charged back to workers. Renting a conference room costs $100. “People really cut back on useless meetings,” says one staffer – Now, that is what I call innovation and efficiency
Below is the full list of 52 things Tom learnt in 2019.
  1. Each year humanity produces 1,000 times more transistors than grains of rice and wheat combined. [Mark P Mills]
  2. The maths of queuing are absolutely brutal and counter-intuitive. [John D Cook]
  3. Emojis are starting to appear in evidence in court cases, and lawyers are worried: “When emoji symbols are strung together, we don’t have a reliable way of interpreting their meaning.” (In 2017, an Israeli judge had to decide if one emoji-filled message constituted a verbal contract) [Eric Goldman]
  4. Harbinger customers are customers who buy products that tend to fail. They group together, forming harbinger zip codes. If households in those zip codes buy a product, it is likely to fail. If they back a political candidate, they are likely to lose the election. [Simester, Tucker & Yang]
  5. Baijiu is the world’s most popular spirit, with 10bn litres sold each year, almost entirely in China. The second most popular spirit in the world is vodka, with just 5bn litres sold. [Feyi Fawehinmi]
  6. A Python script, an Instagram account and quite a bit of free time can get you free meals in New York City. [Chris Buetti]
  7. At least three private companies have fallen victim to ‘deep fake’ audio fraud. In each case, a computerised voice clone of the company CEO “called a senior financial officer to request an urgent money transfer.” [Kaveh Waddell, Jennifer A. Kingson]
  8. Drunk shopping could be a $45bn /year industry, and only 6% of people regret their drunk purchases. [Zachary Crockett]
  9. Placebos are so effective that placebo placebos work: A pain cream with no active ingredients worked even when not used by the patient. Just owning the cream was enough to reduce pain. [Victoria Wai-lanYeung]
  10. Since the 1960s, British motorways have been deliberately designed by computer as series of long curves, rather than straight lines. This is done for both safety (less hypnotic) and aesthetic (“sculpture on an exciting, grand scale”) reasons. [Joe Moran]
  11. Between 1880 and 1916, Ireland had its own timezone, which was 25m 21s behind Greenwich Mean Time. After the Easter Rising, the House of Commons in London introduced GMT in Ireland and abolished Dublin Mean Time [Elena Goukassian]
  12. Drug names are changing: X and Z names (Prozac, Seroxat) are giving way to names ending in O or A (Natesto, Qsymia) which are more appealing to speakers of Romance languages in Europe and South America. [Pascaline Faure]
  13. The UK male suicide rate is the lowest since accurate records began in 1981. [Office for National Statistics]
  14. The goal of walking 10,000 steps per day may have originated when a Japanese pedometer manufacturer noticed that the 万 symbol (which means 10,000) looks a little like someone walking. The actual health merits of that number ‘have never been validated by research.’ [Amanda Mull]
  15. People hate asking sensitive questions. However, it turns out that people don’t hate being asked sensitive questions. So talking around difficult questions in research interviews is a waste of time and money. [Hart, VanEpps, Schweitzer]
  16. The Korean Police force includes five labradors who are clones of ‘Quinn’, a bomb-sniffing dog who found fame after finding a missing girl’s body in a 2007 kidnapping. [Kim Tong-hyung]
  17. As mobile phones became mainstream in the US in the early 1990s, the murder rate fell sharply. Street drug dealing became less popular, so gang-related turf wars were less common. (Other factors were also involved, obviously.) [Alexis C. Madrigal]
  18. Mechanical devices to cheat your phone pedometer (for health insurance fraud or vanity) are now all over AliExpress. [Matthew Brennan]
  19. In 2017 Google and Facebook lost $100 million between them to one scammer who sent them fake invoices. [Jeff John Roberts] [found by TomBot*]
  20. Teenagers with acne get higher marks, are more likely to complete college and, if female, eventually get paid more than people without teenage acne. [Hugo M. Mialon & Erik T. Nesson]
  21. 72% of classical musicians have taken beta blockers for performance anxiety. [Composed]
  22. Black women in the United States die in childbirth at roughly the same rate as women in Mongolia. [Annie Lowrey]
  23. Sometime in the 1990s, it seems the US forgot how to make a critical component of some nuclear warheads. [Nick Baumann]
  24. “Mushrooms and truffles are fungi, more closely related to humans than they are to plants.” [Lynne Peskoe-Yang]
  25. In the US Northwest, rain can damage the fruit on cherry trees. So helicopter pilots are paid to fly over the orchards, using their downdraft to dry the fruit as it ripens. For the pilots, it’s a risky but potentially profitable job. [Maria Langer]
  26. Gravitricity is a Scottish startup planning to store energy by lifting huge weights up a disused mine shaft when electricity is cheap, dropping them down to generate power when it is expensive. Using a 12,000 tonne weight (roughly the weight of the Eiffel tower), it should be half as expensive as equivalent lithium ion battery. [Jillian Ambrose]
  27. Spotify pays by the song. Two three minute songs are twice as profitable as one six minute song. So songs are getting shorter. [Dan Kopf]
  28. Fashion++ is a Facebook-funded computer vision project that looks at a photo of your outfit and suggests ‘minimal edits for outfit improvement’ like tucking in a shirt or removing an accessory. [Wei-Lin Hsiao & co] (In 2019, Fluxx helped launch Vogue Business.)
  29. Three million students at US schools don’t have the internet at home. [Michael Melia & co]
  30. No babies born in Britain in 2016 were named Nigel. [Jonathan Ore] (Correction: Robert Colvile, who broke the original story, points out that there could have been one or two Nigels in 2016 — the ONS only reports names with three or more examples)
  31. Using machine learning, researchers can now predict how likely an individual is to be involve in a car accident by looking at the image of their home address on Google Street View. [Kinga Kita-Wojciechowska]
  32. In 2018, the Nigerian government spent more on subsidies for petrol than on health, education, or defence. [Andrew S Nevin]
  33. According to WaterAid research, women spend 97 billion hours a year looking for a safe place to go to the loo. That equals 46 million working years, which is the same workforce as Germany, the fourth largest economy in the world. [Caroline Criado Perez via Tanya Gold]
  34. 28% of people like the smell of (their own) urine after eating asparagus.[Rolf Degen]
  35. AliBaba is investing $15m to research Chinese dialects, hoping to improve the performance of their voice recognition systems. [Emma Lee]
  36. At least half of the effort of most AI projects goes on data labelling, and that’s often done in rural Indian villages. [Anand Murali]
  37. Worldwide, growth in the fragrance industry is lagging behind cosmetics and skincare products. Why? ‘You can’t smell a selfie’. [Andrea Felsted and Sarah Halzack]
  38. CD sales still make up 78% of music revenue in Japan (compared with less than 30% in the UK). Japanese pop fans have been encouraged to buy multiple copies of their favourite releases to win rewards (buy 2,000 copies, win a night at a hot spring with your favourite star). One 32 year-old fan was charged with illegally dumping 585 copies of a CD on the side of a mountain. [Mark Mulligan] [found by TomBot*]
  39. Two disgruntled game developers wrote a script to generate and release identical but differently-named slot machine apps (sample names: Deer Antler Spray Slots3D Ravioli Slots). Eventually, the slot machine apps earned them $50,000. [Alex Schwartz & Ziba Scott]
  40. 80% of prisoners released late 2018 in a presidential pardon have opted to return to Kinshasa’s infamous Makala jail due to lack of means to live. [Olivier Kalume]
  41. Disco, a Japanese high tech manufacturing company, has introduced an internal billing and payment system, where every cost is charged back to workers. Renting a conference room costs $100. “People really cut back on useless meetings,” says one staffer. [Yuji Nakamura & Yuki Furukawa]
  42. A man who bought the personalised number plate NULL has received over $12,000 of parking fines, because the system records ‘NULL’ when no numberplate has been recorded. [Jack Morse]
  43. The islands of Orkney generate 120% of their energy needs using wind and solar. However, 57% of homes in Orkney are in fuel poverty, where a household spends more than 10% of income on fuel. [Chris Silver] (This year I worked briefly with Community Energy Scotland on a project with Energy Systems Catapult)
  44. Some blind people can understand speech that is almost three times faster than the fastest speech sighted people can understand. They can use speech synthesisers set at at 800 words per minute (conversational speech is 120–150 wpm). Research suggests that a section of the brain that normally responds to light is re-mapped in blind people to process sound. [Austin Hicks & R Douglas Fields]
  45. SpottedRisk is a disgrace insurance company built on data: “Firstborns are at slightly higher risk of disgrace, as are those… who’ve suffered recent breakups — until the passage of time sends the bereft partner back down the ‘risk-decay curve.’” [Boris Kachka]
  46. SDAM (Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory) is a rare syndrome where otherwise healthy, high-functioning people are unable to remember events from their own life. There is also an exhausting syndrome called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, where people can remember precise details about every single day of their life. [Palumbo & Alain]
  47. “Polling by phone has become very expensive, as the number of Americans willing to respond to unexpected or unknown callers has dropped. In the mid-to-late-20th century response rates were as high as 70%… [falling to] a mere 6% of the people it tried to survey in 2018.” [The Economist]
  48. In 2012, only one sports team (Manchester United) was worth more than $2bn. Today, there are 52 sports teams worth more than $2bn. [Kurt Badenhausen]
  49. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were invented by a cleaner at a Frito-Lay factory. He’s now VP of multicultural sales for PepsiCo America. [Zachary Crockett]
  50. Six reluctant Chinese hitmen who hired each other to carry out a murder went to jail when their outsourcing scheme collapsed. [Eric Cheung]
  51. Fast fashion is hitting the wiping rags businesses, because some clothing is just too badly made to be sold as rags. [Adam Minter] (In January, Fluxx worked with Fibretrace to develop new ways to make the circular economy work in fashion.)
  52. Asking ‘What questions do you have for me?’ can be dramatically more effective than ‘Any questions?’ at the end of a talk. (Many more good tips in this thread. [Jacqueline Antonovich]

The above list was originally posted on Tom’s medium blog

Principles of leadership according to Bill Campbell

I read an amazing book called the trillion-dollar coach by Eric Schmidt. Eric distilled the rules and principles that have been taught to him by Bill Campbell. These rules and principles have helped him, and some of the best-known leaders known in the tech world take their companies to super stardom. Bill Campbell was one of the most influential background players in Silicon Valley. He helped to build some of Silicon Valley’s greatest companies including Google, Apple, and Intuit, and to create over a trillion dollars in market value. He coached leaders such as:

  • Eric Schmidt, Executive chairman of Google
  • Larry Page, CEO Alphabet
  • Steve Jobs, founder of Apple
  • Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google,
  • Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg,
  • John Hennessy, former President of Stanford University,  
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

I will save you the time of reading it and share with you the principles (See Below). These principles allowed these leaders to understand its the people that makes the company worthwhile. Some of us may not have the title of “leader”, but as individuals, we are leaders when speaking with our friends and colleagues. We can use some of the below principles to be better communicator, friends, and ultimately built trust.

Your Title Makes You A Manager, Your People Make You A Leader.
To be a good leader, you first need to be a good manager. Don’t demand respect, rather accrue it.

It’s the People.
The top priority of any manger is the well-being and success of her people.

Start with Trip Reports.
To build rapport and better relationships among team members, start team meetings with trip reports or other types of personal, non-business topics.

5 Words on A White Board.
Have a structure for one-on-one’s and take the time to prepare for them, as they are the best way to help people be more effective and to grow.

Best Idea, Not Consensus.
The manager’s job is to run a decision-making process that ensures all perspectives get heard and considered, and, if necessary, to break ties and make the decision. The goal of consensus leads to “groupthink” and inferior decisions. There isn’t a head at the Round Table, but there is a throne behind it.

Lead Based on First Principles.
Define the “first principles” for the situation, the immutable truths that are the foundation for the company or product, and help guide the decision from those principles.

Manage the Aberrant Genius.
Aberrant geniuses—high-performing but difficult team members—should be tolerated and even protected, as long as their behavior isn’t unethical or abusive and their value outweighs the toll their behavior takes on management, colleagues, and teams.

Money’s Not Just About the Money.
Compensating people well demonstrates love and respect and ties them strongly to the goals of the company.

Innovation Is Where the Crazy People Have Stature.
The purpose of a company is to bring a product vision to life. All the other components are in service to product.

Let People Leave with Their Heads Held High.
If you have to let people go, be generous, treat them well, and celebrate their accomplishments.

Build an Envelope of Trust.
Listen intently, practice complete candor, and be an evangelist for courage by believing in people more than they believe in themselves.

Only Coach the Coachable.
The traits that make a person coachable include honesty and humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, and a constant openness to learning.

Practice Free-Form Listening.
Listen to people with your full and undivided attention—don’t think ahead to what you’re going to say next—and ask questions to get to the real issue.

No Gap Between Statements and Fact.
Be relentlessly honest and candid, couple negative feedback with caring, give feedback as soon as possible, and if the feedback is negative, deliver it privately.

Don’t Stick It in Their Ear.
Don’t tell people what to do, offer stories and help guide them to the best decisions for them.

Be the Evangelist for Courage.
Believe in people more than they believe in themselves and push them to be more courageous.

Full Identity Front and Center.
People are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work.

Team First.
You can’t get anything done without a team so the most important thing to look for in people is a team-first attitude. That the team wins has to be the most important thing.

Work the Team, Then the Problem.
When faced with a problem or opportunity, the first step is to ensure the right team is in place and working on it.

Pick the Right Players.
The top characteristics to look for are smarts and hearts: the ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit, empathy, and a team-first attitude.

Pair People.
Peer relationships are critical and often overlooked, so seek opportunities to pair people up on projects or decisions.

Everyone Needs to Be at the Table.
Winning depends on having the best team, and the best teams have more women.

Solve the Biggest Problem.
Identify the biggest problem, the “elephant in the room,” bring it front and center, and tackle it first.

Don’t Let the complaining Sessions Last.
Air all the negative issues, but don’t dwell on them. Move on as fast as possible.

Winning Right.
Strive to win, but always win right, with commitment, teamwork, and integrity.

Leaders Lead.
When things are going bad, teams are looking for even more loyalty, commitment, and decisiveness from their leaders. When you’re losing, recommit to the cause. Lead.

Fill the Gaps Between People.
Listen observe, and fill the communication and understanding gaps between people. Spot those fissures before they become deep and permanent, and act to fix them by filling in the information gaps and correcting and miscommunication.

Permission to Be Empathetic.
Leading teams becomes a lot more joyful, and the teams more effective, when you know and care about people.

It’s OK to Love.
The people on your team are people, and the team becomes stronger when you break down the walls between the professional and human personas and embrace the whole person with love.

To Care About People, You Have To Care About People.
Ask about their lives outside of work, understand their families, and when things get rough, show up.

Cheer Demonstrably for People and Their Success.
Don’t just sit there, stand up and show them the love for the work they are doing. 

Always Build Community.
Build communities inside and outside of work. A place is much stronger when people are connected. Invest in creating real, emotional bonds between people.

Help People.
Be generous with your time, connections, and other resources.

Love the Founders.
Hold a special reverence for—and protect—the people with the most vision and passion for the company. Campbell held a very special place in his heart for the people who have the guts and skills to start companies.

Build Relationships Whenever You Can.
When you’re in the elevator, passing someone in the hallway, or see your teammates in the cafeteria, take the time to stop and chat.

Positive Human Values Generate Positive Business Outcomes.
There are things we all care about as people—love, family, money, attention, power, meaning, purpose—that are factors in any business situation. That to create effective teams, you need to understand and pay attention to these human values.

Source: The trillion dollar coach by Eric Schmidt