Priceless evidence that obsessing over the details of a negotiation isn’t always the best idea. As I dimly recall, sometimes one should just step up to the balcony, have a good look at one’s BATNA and ZOPA and if possible build a golden bridge to the other side. Don’t just try to carve up the existing pie (or in this case the stir fried chicken with spicy capsicum), Professor Ben Edelman. Find a way to expand it! Don’t make it a zero-sum game. Make it win-win! For you and the Sichuan Garden of Woburn, MA.
Congratulations to Hilary Sargent and Boston.com for their excellent scoop.
Yesterday, I found myself back on the HBS campus for the first time since I graduated to talk to a group of MBA students about writing and publishing. The campus is festooned – Ok, a few lampposts are festooned – with these banners displaying quotes from alumni and faculty intended to stoke interest in yet another fund-raising campaign. Perhaps I’m getting slow, but it took a couple of reads before I could grasp what they were trying to say. If “You’re only as good as the leaders you have underneath you,” then who are you??? That aside it was great to go back and meet some of the classes of 2015 & 2016. Thank you for the invitation, Gong Ke Gouldstone, and all who showed up.
…12/2/14. To quote one email in response: “Humankind is an evil and amoral animal and has always been so…Humankind doesn’t have any more wisdom, foresight and free will than an ebola virus.” Hmmm.
Reading Andrew Carnegie’s autobiography this morning, I came upon this passage. He argues that owning shares is a monstrous distraction from the more important ways in which we can earn and accumulate wealth – notably by working. His point could be applied more broadly to the insanity of letting the stock market dictate any analysis of the health of the economy. The stock market has become like some aging Vegas hoofer gyrating ever more preposterously to seize our attention, while deserving ever less.
I have never bought or sold a share of stock speculatively in my life, except one small lot of Pennsylvania Railroad shares that I bought early in life for investment and for which I did not pay at the time because bankers offered to carry it for me at a low rate. I have adhered to the rule never to purchase what I did not pay for, and never to sell what I did not own. In those early days, however, I had several interests that were taken over in the course of business. They included some stocks and securities that were quoted on the New York Stock Exchange, and I found that when I opened my paper in the morning I was tempted to look first at the quotations of the stock market. As I had determined to sell all my interests in every outside concern and concentrate my attention upon our manufacturing concerns in Pittsburgh, I further resolved not even to own any stock that was bought and sold upon any stock exchange. With the exception of trifling amounts which came to me in various ways I have adhered strictly to this rule.
Such a course should commend itself to every man in the manufacturing business and to all professional men. For the manufacturing man especially the rule would seem all-important. His mind must be kept calm and free if he is to decide wisely the problems which are continually coming before him. Nothing tells in the long run like good judgment, and no sound judgment can remain with the man whose mind is disturbed by the mercurial changes of the Stock Exchange. It places him under an influence akin to intoxication. What is not, he sees, and what he sees, is not. He cannot judge of relative values or get the true perspective of things. The molehill seems to him a mountain and the mountain a molehill, and he jumps at conclusions which he should arrive at by reason. His mind is upon the stock quotations and not upon the points that require calm thought. Speculation is a parasite feeding upon values, creating none.
A profile of Stephen Colbert in the Chicago Tribune, marking his appointment to succeed David Letterman, noted that when he was at the Second City improvisational comedy troupe in Chicago, he proved a great salesman.
According to Second City’s CEO Andrew Alexander: “He was working in the box office and became the highest-selling T-shirt salesman we had. I suspect he was very focused, and it sort of speaks to his mentality: ‘This is my job and I’m going to do it well.’” Alexander described Colbert as the “quintessential Second City player.” “That axiom of working at the top of your intelligence was a mantra for Stephen,” he said.
The playwright Israel Horowitz, 75 years old, the author of more than 70 plays, winner of numerous prizes, on selling his new movie “My Old Lady”, the first he had ever directed because he wanted “to do something terrifying”:
“At Festival de Cannes, I had 15-minute meetings with potential distributors, one after another. At some point, I felt like a storm door and window salesman. I had to keep reminding myself that if I wanted to have a movie, I needed to go with it.”
I also recommend reading Ian Leslie’s new book Curious, which I just reviewed for the WSJ. It’s a very well put together inquiry into the value of deep, engaged curiosity, and how the easy answers we can all summon up using technology is jeopardizing it.