In reading all the posts for this week's Carnival of the Capitalists, I ran into some background info in case you are new to CotC over at The Business Pundit's blog.
Jay Solo and I [Rob at Business Pundit] came up with the idea a while back because there were so many good business blogs we couldn't read them all and sometimes missed good posts.
My favorite part of hosting is getting exposed to quite diverse blogs and posts from all over the business blogosphere that I don't always have the chance to read. It's fascinating to think there are over 4 million weblogs according to Technorati and with each new blog I discovered - and that includes following a ton of links and reading recent posts and getting sucked into the rabbit's hole - I realized each of these had a universe onto its own to explore.
I enjoy reading and hosting and I hope you enjoy this week's fine collection! - Evelyn
Benjamin Kepple's Daily Rant fisks a recent USA Today report on small investors' dealings with large brokerage firms in a post titled "Stupid Investing Tricks, and Other Matters." Ben considers the report inadequately researched and unfair in its tone and scope, which he feels leads it to largely ignore reasonable arguments about little trifles like profit motive. Also, in making its case, the report offers up as examples what Ben refers to as "truly hideous investment ideas".
Karsten Junge of CurryBlog discusses "risk" as in your tolerance for risk in personal investments in her post, "It's risk Jim, but not as we know it!" She says that some investing concepts have become so ingrained in our minds that we don't really bother to think about what they mean. Could your investment advisor's take on risk be different than yours? This post tries to shed some light on the subject.
Dave Foster over at PhotonCourier shares some significant improvements in the availability of information about bond trading (bond markups are usually 'hidden' or embedded in the price) in his post, "Bond Market Transparency."
With a global perspective, Tex the Pontificator gives us his two cents on what he considers "The Latest French Scam." I won't spoil the surprise, but he thinks there are better ways to aid the poor, including
"economic freedom, security in property and contract rights, and order under the law."
In this post, "What's in a Non-Agreement", Anthony Cerminaro shares his published article at Bizz Bang Buzz. Anthony explains some of the legal considerations involved in signing employment contracts, nondisclosure, noncompetition and other "non" agreements. As most of the readers of this blog are aware, executives, IT professionals, consultants and others are frequently asked to sign these "non" agreements.
Jeff Cornwall of The Entrepreneurial Mind's post "More Evidence of Red Tape Slowing the Entrepreneurial Economic Engine World Wide" discusses a world bank report that shows the level of governmental red tape getting in the way of entrepreneurial development around the globe. It's a fascinating report, here's just one tidbit: In developed countries it takes 8% of annual income to pay for government regulatory fees to launch a new business; while in poorer countries, it's a whopping 129% of annual income.
Travis McMenimon of Oddyssey of the Mind in "Odd Man Out II" shares his recent quest to be true to himself as he debates between taking the road less traveled (entrepreneurship) and the corporate world.
In-the-trenches entrepreneur, Lachlan Gemmel, laments about finding out that a competitor to his software product has just been swallowed up by a major software company and ponders what's next in "What's Left for the Little Guy?" Will they corner the market or is there any point going on with the project? He's grateful for the many helpful comments from readers which helped him get back on track.
Annually 4% of the population starts a new business. Anita Campbell at Small Business Trends says that startups are more popular then ever, but as her post title states "Entrepreneurs Finding it Harder to be Successful". So what do you do to ensure your startup is successful? For one thing, you can start a technology business. (Hmm, now this is interesting for one living in Silicon Valley.) Ten factors for a 21st century tech start-up success from the author of the book, Finding Fertile Ground: Identifying Extraordinary Opportunities for New Ventures, are shared.
Paul Noonan of The Electric Commentary has an interesting inquiry into the level of scrutiny that drug
companies face compared to other businesses, in this case, television in his post "Drugs and Television". (Now this is a creative juxtaposition and comparison...) He espouses the idea that producing failures is not a bad thing, and is actually a sign of a robust industry, as long as successes are produced as well.
The RFID Weblog offers insight into the implications of ubiquitous, pervasive computing. “The Internet of Things" is a world where sensors read conditions around them and communicate that information via the Internet. It has the power to monitor our environment so that we can protect it better, and it has the power to make business more intelligent.
Mitch at The Window Manager muses about the lasting legacy of a marketer - or for that matter - any modern worker in his post "My Work Won't Survive Me, Much Less The Product". While a director or an artist can point to a "body of work" or be heralded for their "masterpiece" do these terms have meaning in business?
Jay Solo at Accidental Verbosity offers a cautionary tale and sage advice for makers of products that require assembly or usage directions. He relates problems with a product experience when assembly instructions, if not the product too, has design flaws. In his note with his submission, he says this parallels his advice to software companies reminding them that support and documentation are part and parcel of a product and not afterthoughts. So true - hear that product managers?
Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World explains in his post "Ensight blog sale important for bloggers" the significance of the $15,000 sale of Jeremy Wright's popular Ensight blog to an outside buyer. What's in it for the cash buyer? "[T]the value is in the level of visitor traffic, link, incoming link values, and content building for the regular readers and for the search engines."
Mario Jurkovic Thoughts and Observations has unearthed some info on a pilot project for a Google Instant Messenger and discusses how it could be potentially used as an advertising platform. "If Google persuades its userbase to actually use the Instant Messenger we are talking about huge volumes of potential transactions and therefore the sheer amount of communication carried out over IM nowadays will ultimately lead to lots of leads that can be converted into sales."
Robert Hayes at Let's Try Freedom ponders whether a market-driven approach could work in higher education in his post, "Service Guarantees In Colleges And Universities?" He notes: "Most schools offer no particular guarantee or service warranty for the educational services they provide." And then drills down through the criteria that service marketers use for the appropriateness of a service guarantee.
David Tufte of voluntaryXchange asserts in "Supply and Demand in Rathergate" that anyone with an understanding of basic economics - the law of supply and demand - could have foreseen the questionability of the memos that led up to Rathergate. That there's a $38K reward for evidence that the memos could have been created on a circa 1972 typewriter probably does demonstrate there is a market for everything.
Arnold Kling at EconLog takes a look at Washington Post statistics that compare income distributions in households from 1967 and 2003 in his post, "Squeezed Up". He puzzles over their headline "More U.S. families struggle to stay on track" when the numbers might show a different story.
Tom Carr at Pissing in the Wind got curious when a work associate make an off-hand comment along the lines of "I hope Kerry wins the election so that businesses can stop worrying about the war." He shows side-by-side comparisons of economic indicators to get an idea of how the economy has done since the start of the war in his post "The Myth of a War-Shy Economy."
Tim Worstall introduces us to a site called KickAAs: "Go and look at the web-site and absorb the delicious wisdom about the benefits of simply abolishing all agricultural subsidies overnight, as New Zealand did."
Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture warns us "Beware Economists seeking guidance from stock markets" in this week's submission. Here's a few tidbits: "These creatures make lousy economists and worse money managers...It is the height of folly to pull out a single 30 day period of market activity and declare that it reveals the basis of an economic anything."
Don Lloyd of Catallarchy in his post, "The Problem of Social Security Solvency, Beneath the Monetary Facade," recasts the Social Security problem by focusing on the total supply of goods and services rather than solely monetary calculations. One interesting premise is that even without Social Security in the picture, there's a dilemma on the production front caused by an imbalance in the labor force so that retirees and workers may be fighting over scarce consumptive goods.
Lisa Hanberg of Management Craft has nicely summed up the "Seven Diseases of Middle Management" (now why do I want to insert Deadly in there?) and they include: Managerial Amnesia, Enlarged Ego Syndrome, Blurry Vision, Productivity Blockages, Performance Management Phobia, Process Paralysis, and my favorite, Hard of Hearing. She promises to drill into even more detail on each this week.
Jim Stroup of Managing Leadership takes a look at a new, and somewhat dark, "Evolving Theories of 'Followership'" that are being promoted recently by some academics and consultants. Jim feels that the traditional view and the new thinking, which blames followers for providing support to leaders in light of recent corporate scandals, both miss the mark. I particularly liked this sentence: "Leadership, as explained in Managing Leadership, arises from within the organization, generated from the group's cohesion, which itself issues from the purpose that the members have been gathered together to collaboratively accomplish."
Rob at BusinessPundit shares his awkwardness in managing and developing employees younger than himself in his post, "Does Wisdom Come with Age?". The last line is a classic: "In my opinion though, wisdom comes more from an open mind, an ability to learn, and the willingess to admit to yourself when you are wrong." Good comments and discussion as well.
Neville Hobson of NevOn shares highlights of the recent "Driving Business Performance Through Employee Engagement" conference in his post, "Challenges and optimism for internal communication". He talks of internal communication successes in diverse organizations in Europe illustrating "the essential role that internal communication plays in engaging employees in an organization to help it achieve its business objectives." He adds why he's cautiously optimisitic and is keen on an online discussion on the three core challenges that emerged.
Ashish Hanwadikar of Ashish's Niti explores why "Consumers have an upper hand in free markets in spite of the imperfect information" in his submission. Here's one tasty tidbit: "If markets were truly free then we should have see producers much more worried about consumers and their demands than they are today."
Aunty Goob at Goobage takes a look at why Madison County, Illinois is a magnet for civil suits against corporations and rants that perhaps businesses can resort to not dealing with an anti-business county in the post, "Radical Capitalism Required."
Pegasus News (whom by the way is intending to launch local newspapers in every major market, beginning with Dallas/Ft. Worth next year combining the transparency of the blogosphere with the business models of offline media) has an interesting post "Mission" dwelving into what often gets short shrift in the pursuit of profit but goes hand-in-hand with it. "[T]hat the stark dividing line between a job/business and a mission/crusade is one of the key differences between the dying and the remarkable enterprise."
Justene Adamec at Calblog has a good overview post, "Managing the Board of Directors" on exactly that topic. Post-Enron some CEOs are finding that managing their board has become nearly a second job. Comprehensive advice for leaders so they can get back to the task of running their company - and especially useful tips for handling dicey problems and communications issues.
Frank Scavo at the Enterprise System Spectator blogs from the PeopleSoft annual user conference last week, where he noticed that PeopleSoft had a hard time getting the business press to focus on anything other than Oracle’s hostile takeover bid in his post "PeopleSoft trying to shout above Oracle takeover "noise"." Frank points out the big news was the Peoplesoft/IBM alliance which sounds deeper than most 'press release' alliances (that's my skepticism) and involves roughly $1 billion in a joint budget and headcount.
Professor Bainbridge on Wine builds on an earlier post that used Mondavi as a business case for passing a public corporation from one generation to another, this post "Mondavi for Sale?" tentatively endorses Mondavi's new plan to split the business into two pieces: one for luxury brands and one for commodity brands. One tidbit: "Indeed, high quality and high profitability seem to be incompatible."
Mike Pechar of Interested-Participant shares his views in his post "Credit Card Debt Is Unconscionable" on a recent eyebrow-raising case. Cleveland Municipal Judge Robert Triozzi threw out Discover Bank's attempt to collect on an unpaid credit card debt. Mike says "some observers believed the ruling had no legal basis" He points out a few non-customer-friendly tactics around fees that racked up $9000 on a $1900 debt.