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Edition #13

October 4th, 2019


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Staff meetings: daily, weekly, or nonexistent? (Know Your Team)
+ "Ninety-one percent of employees who answered our survey said their manager could improve how they share information."

Information flow is the life-blood of companies: cut it off, and your employees are immediately left in the dark. There are real costs to limiting information flow, but also real disadvantages from meeting overload. This piece is an excellent read on how to think about scheduling meetings, whether they're needed, and what their purpose should serve. While meetings serve an important role in communicating with your team, they are not the only information tool available at your disposal. Our takeaways:

1. Decide whether to have the meeting or not based on an 'importance' threshold. In the words of Mark Cuban, meetings are a waste of time unless someone's cutting a check. Could your information flow be enhanced via email, Slack, Trello, Asana, etc. without causing a work flow stoppage?

2. Always have a 'why' for the meeting. Pointless meetings equal wasted time, which multiplies by the number of people in the room. To pull folks away from valuable tasks must require a solid and well-communicated 'why' ahead of the meeting.

3. Is the meeting a 'process' meeting or 'decision-making' meeting? The 'why' can be broken down two ways: informational (process) or decision-making. Sometimes meetings cannot be avoided because of the importance (#1) of the 'why' (#2). But if they don't meet the importance threshold, there are plenty of other tools to ensure the flow of information does not stop.

4. Employees want a continuous flow of information. Nothing makes an employee angrier than creating additional work due to a communications breakdown. However, meetings aren't always the best way to ensure that information is spread company-wide. Communication and coordination tools such as Asana, Trello, and Slack can ensure a steady flow of communications to the right parties.

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McDonalds is learning from Silicon Valley how to meld tech with an analog service business (Bloomberg $)
+ This is an interesting example of how the technology industry is combining with traditional goods and services industries to satisfy higher customer expectations.

As Old Navy and Gap splits, CEO of Old Navy has a new operational and sales vision (Fortune)
+ This is a great profile of the strategic and operational choices Old Navy's CEO has made to successfully compete in the tough brick and mortar retail arena.

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Neither and new: lessons from Uber and Vision Fund (Stratechery)
+ Ben Thompson shares key takeaways from the tech-driven business models of Uber, WeWork, and other companies that interface with the physical world of goods and services.

The future of financing comes in the form of three easy payments (The Hustle)
+ "
Fintech firms like Affirm Inc., Afterpay Touch Group Ltd., and PayPal Holdings Inc. have started offering plans that allow people to pay for purchases in installments."

One group of politicians hope to solve trade deficit by charging a fee on foreign capital entering the US (Carnegie Endowment)
+ "If the recent Senate bill had been proposed in the nineteenth century—when trade finance dominated international capital flows—the proposal to tax capital inflows wouldn’t have made much sense. But today, as I have explained before (including here and here), the global economy is overflowing with excess savings. The need to park these excess savings somewhere safe is what fuels global capital flows, in turn giving rise to trade imbalances."

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Pop up stores are the next big retail strategies (Bloomberg $)
+ The new fad of pop-up stores is becoming a stronger trend as retailers learn to adapt and be flexible with the onslaught of e-commerce by eliminating the fixed overhead of brick and mortar shops.

China learns to love second-hand goods (Bloomberg)
+ "Between 2014 and 2018, China’s secondhand market grew by more than 450%, to $100 billion. That boom isn't led by thrift stores. Instead, it's being driven by tech companies, including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd."

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Productivity hacks that increase focus and output (Will Chou)
+ While these are generally good self-help tips, they can also be good ideas for company policies to increase efficiency, decrease pointless meetings, and increase all-around employee morale.

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Sound database for malfunctioning industrial equipment (Zenodo.org)
+ Hitachi has made available a sound database of normal vs. malfunctioning industrial machinery for public use.


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