Week of May 6th

Black Swans…or Gray Rhinos?

In recent years we’ve heard the term “Black Swans”  to describe events like the 2008 real estate crisis:  events that are supposedly not foreseeable.  Policy strategist Michele Wucker’s TED Talk  “urges us to replace the myth of the ‘black swan’ — that rare, unforeseeable, unavoidable catastrophe — with the reality of the ‘gray rhino,’ the preventable danger that we choose to ignore.

She shows why predictable crises catch us by surprise — and lays out some signs that there may be a charging rhino in your life right now.”


Days of Disruption No. 26: The Once and Future Store

Brands born on the internet have created widespread havoc for traditional brick and mortar retailers.  We all know that thousands of traditional stores have been shuttered due to Amazon and other disruptive retailers.  But these digitally native brands are now opening brick and mortar outlets of their own, perhaps as many as 800 over the next five years according to this short post from RetailDive summarizing events at the Future Stores Miami 2019 conference.

For many of these brands, the purpose is not to create a place to shop, but something more subtle and perhaps more significant in terms of driving sales: education.  Ironically, it’s something the traditional retailers could have done themselves.  Learn how DTC brands see the purpose of stores. 


Hail CEOsar!!

It’s easy to look at failed organizations that once appeared to be indestructible and conclude that because they did not endure that they have nothing to teach us.  The truth is, everything ends.  But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn from those companies, institutions, and kingdoms that lasted far longer than those we know today.

To wit:  Rome. From it’s founding as a republic in 510 BC to the empire’s fall in the West in 476 AD, its survival for nearly a millennium is remarkable.  This short article from Knowledge at Wharton explores how the leaders of Rome faced similar challenges to the CEOs of today be it strategy, succession, planning, public relations and many other areas of leadership.  Spend a few minutes to explore What CEOs Can Learn from Roman Emperors.


Econ Recon

Is this the economy that won’t die?  A week ago GDP came in at a strong 3.2 % and yesterday’s employment report shows unemployment at a 50 year low.   Herbert Stein, President Nixon’s economic advisor (and father of comic Ben Stein) once remarked that “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t”.  Even so, Brian Wesbury continues to find reason for continued optimism in his latest Wesbury 101 video  Conventional Wisdom Wrong Again.”

Warren Buffet’s partner, Charlie Munger, once remarked: “Show me the incentive and I will show you the outcome.” Business people need to have a clear view of the economy.  This is hard enough to do when watching the free market by itself, but when the government starts to provide ill-considered incentives, the view can become distorted.   ITR CEO Brian Beaulieu gives some examples of how the government can get in the way of the signals a free market sends to its participants.   Check out his insights on “Government versus the Free Market.”

As yourself…Am I a Leader?

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