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Archive for the 'Columbia Business School Publishing' Category

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Wall Streeters: Michael Milken, Junk Bond King, Part 1

Wall Streeters

“While the investment logic for junk bonds may have been compelling, their lack of liquidity in the marketplace often remained a final stumbling block for the potential buyer. With few buyers and sellers in the high-yield bond market, investors faced an unwelcome prospect of holding a bond to its maturity date as the only sure way to be paid. Milken solved that liquidity issue by assuring those investors that Drexel would always be ready to buy or sell the bonds it was promoting.” — Edward Morris

This week, our featured book is Wall Streeters: The Creators and Corruptors of American Finance, by Edward Morris. Today, we have an excerpt from Morris’s explanation of Michael Milken’s rise to prominence on Wall Street.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Wall Streeters!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Wall Streeters: J. Pierpont Morgan

Wall Streeters

“Pierpont had a quick and practiced financial mind, but he was also a large man with a commanding, sometimes terrifying presence. He spoke infrequently, but often explosively, and always with the certainty of someone whose word was challenged at peril. A persistent but unverified story circulated about Pierpont’s throwing “Jubilee Jim” Fisk (among the most notorious of the nineteenth-century robber barons) down a flight of stairs when a railroad negotiation turned into a business brawl.” — Edward Morris

This week, our featured book is Wall Streeters: The Creators and Corruptors of American Finance, by Edward Morris. Today, we have an excerpt from Morris’s section discussing J. Pierpont Morgan, a pivotal figure in the history of American finance.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Wall Streeters!

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Has ‘Financialization’ Been Good for Us?

Wall Streeters

‘Most perplexing of all has been the continued existence of banks that are “too big to fail.” After the hundreds of billions of dollars used to bail out the eight mega-banks following the 2008 debacle, most of the same banks have only grown larger, and the banking industry more concentrated—and more politically influential. In the banks’ defense, their continued growth has made it possible for them to repay the rescue money that was provided to forestall their financial collapse; yet the repayments are hardly sufficient recompense for the widespread and long-lasting economic hardship suffered in the aftermath of the crisis.’ — Edward Morris

This week, our featured book is Wall Streeters: The Creators and Corruptors of American Finance, by Edward Morris. Today, we have an excerpt from Morris’s conclusion, in which he explains his goal in writing his book, and asks readers to consider the finance sector’s increasingly powerful role in the economy, particularly in light of the 2008 financial crisis.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Wall Streeters!

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Book Giveaway! Wall Streeters: The Creators and Corruptors of American Finance

Wall Streeters

“Enjoyable to read, easy to understand, Wall Streeters is a compendium of the last 150 years of ups and downs in American finance. Ed Morris uses the informative lens of biography to bring this history alive, and they are all here, from the saints to the sinners. Along the way readers will learn the problems and value of finance and Wall Street to our nation.” — David Cowen, president, Museum of American Finance

This week, our featured book is Wall Streeters: The Creators and Corruptors of American Finance, by Edward Morris. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its authors on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Wall Streeters. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, October 9th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, September 18th, 2015

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger About Risk, Part 2

Charlie Munger

“When any person offers you a chance to earn lots of money without risk, don’t listen to the rest of their sentence. Follow this and you’ll save yourself a lot of misery.” — Charlie Munger

This week our featured book is Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor, by Tren Griffin. For our final two posts (read the first here), we are happy to present a post from Tren Griffin explaining Charlie Munger’s take on the importance of understanding and being aware of risk in investing. The post was originally featured on Griffin’s blog, 25iq.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor!

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger About Risk, Part 2
By Tren Griffin

7.
“[With] a lot of judgment, a lot of discipline and an absence of hyperactivity… I think most intelligent people can take a lot of risk out of life.”
The three best ways to reduce risk are diversification, hedging and buying with a margin of safety argues Seth Klarman. Making life less risky is also assisted greatly if you make fewer decisions in domains where you do not know what you are doing after doing a significant amount of thinking about the domain involved and the decision. Doing this requires discipline since we all make psychological and emotional mistakes. One technique for avoiding risk is to place decisions that fall in the domain of “I don’t know” into a “too hard” pile if you can. Sometimes a decision is unavoidable and judgment will be required. Munger puts the investor’s objective simply: “What you have to learn is to fold early when the odds are against you, or if you have a big edge, back it heavily because you don’t get a big edge often.”

8.
“Each person has to play the game given his own marginal utility considerations and in a way that takes into account his own psychology. If losses are going to make you miserable – and some losses are inevitable – you might be wise to utilize a very conservative patterns of investment and saving all your life. So you have to adapt your strategy to your own nature and your own talents. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all investment strategy that I can give you.” “If we’d used the leverage that some others did, Berkshire would have been much bigger… But we would have been sweating at night. It’s crazy to sweat at night.”
There is no recipe or formula for investing or dealing with risk. Everyone has a unique tolerance for risk since we are all more or less comfortable with various factors that create it. Some people find it useful to have heuristics (rules of thumb) to guide them in assessing whether a comfortable level of risk tolerance exists. Whether you can sleep soundly at night is a one heuristic. If your investments are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep it may be wise to adjust your portfolio so that it is consistent with a comfortable sleep. Seth Klarman agrees with Charlie Munger on this point: “Investors should always keep in mind that the most important metric is not the returns achieved but the returns weighed against the risks incurred. Ultimately, nothing should be more important to investors than the ability to sleep soundly at night.”

9.
“This is an amazingly sound place. We are more disaster-resistant than most other places. We haven’t pushed it as hard as other people would have pushed it. I don’t want to go back to Go. I’ve been to Go. A lot of our shareholders have a majority of their net worth in Berkshire, and they don’t want to go back to Go either.” “I wanted to get rich so I could be independent, and so I could do other things like give talks on the intersection of psychology and economics.”
The factors which determine the level of risk that is appropriate for any given person include life goals, age and wealth. For example, Charlie Munger left the practice of law to become an investor since he had a fierce desire to acquire wealth so he could be independent. He did not want to have other people dictate what he did in life. The value of that freedom once acquired can be so high that a person can become unwilling to put at risk the amount of money require to ensure that this independence continues. Playing the game of life with house money (money that you don’t really need to be happy) is underrated. At the point where you are playing with house money the game substantially changes since your basic financially driven level of happiness is not at stake. Of course, you can still be rich and miserable, but that comes from other problems, attitudes and mistakes.

10.
“There is a lot to be said that when the world is going crazy, to put yourself in a position where you take risk off the table.” “Here’s one truth that perhaps your typical investment counselor would disagree with: if you’re comfortably rich and someone else is getting richer faster than you by, for example, investing in risky stocks, so what? Someone will always be getting richer faster than you. This is not a tragedy.”
There are times in life when the world will not make much sense, at least to you. As an example, the Intent bubble of 1999-2001 was a time like that. In my book on Charlie Munger I describe a decision I made to sell half of my telecom and Internet portfolio near the height of the bubble. The sale ensured that I would not be a burden to anyone in my retirement and that my children would be able to go to college with my financial assistance. Taking a little risk off the table if you plan to double down on some new risky investments is wise.

11.
“A lot of our major capitalistic institutions that parade as really respectable, they’re just casinos in drag. What do you think a derivative trading desk is? It’s a casino in drag. People feeling they’re contributing to the economy, and they’re managing risk. They make the witch doctors look good.” “I knew a guy who had $5 million and owned his house free and clear. But he wanted to make a bit more money to support his spending, so at the peak of the internet bubble he was selling puts on internet stocks. He lost all of his money and his house and now works in a restaurant. It’s not a smart thing for the country to legalize gambling [in the stock market] and make it very accessible.” “Gambling does not become wonderful just because it pertains to commerce. It’s a casino.”
One definition of gambling is: an activity involving chance that has a negative net present value after fees. Some people find gambling entertaining, since it produces brain chemicals that can be pleasurable. I don’t personally see the point of doing something that could potentially turn into a destructive addiction and potentially wipe you out financially. In my view there are many other non-addictive things that one can do to get a dopamine buzz that are not addictive and are potentially profitable. Munger says: “intelligent people make decisions based on opportunity costs — in other words, it’s your alternatives that matter. That’s how we make all of our decisions…. Opportunity cost is a huge filter in life. If you’ve got two suitors who are really eager to have you and one is way the hell better than the other, you do not have to spend much time with the other.” Gambling fails the opportunity cost test for me. The other point Munger is making is that gambling is not a productive activity. You are not building anything valuable when you gamble. The societal contribution of the activity is negative.

12.
“When any person offers you a chance to earn lots of money without risk, don’t listen to the rest of their sentence. Follow this and you’ll save yourself a lot of misery.”
When it comes to investing it is wise to follow the advice of Howard Marks and think of the future as a probability distribution rather than some fixed outcome that is knowable or predictable in advance. Almost nothing about the future is certain except death and taxes. No one says it better than Howard Marks when it comes to risk: “not being able to know the future doesn’t mean we can’t deal with it. It’s one thing to know what’s going to happen and something very different to have a feeling for the range of possible outcomes and the likelihood of each one happening. Saying we can’t do the former doesn’t mean we can’t do the latter.”

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger About Risk, Part 1

Charlie Munger

“This great emphasis on volatility in corporate finance we regard as nonsense. Let me put it this way; as long as the odds are in our favor and we’re not risking the whole company on one throw of the dice or anything close to it, we don’t mind volatility in results. What we want are favorable odds.” — Charlie Munger

This week our featured book is Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor, by Tren Griffin. For our final two posts, we are happy to present a post from Tren Griffin explaining Charlie Munger’s take on the importance of understanding and being aware of risk in investing. The post was originally featured on Griffin’s blog, 25iq.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor!

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger About Risk, Part 1
By Tren Griffin

1.
“Risk to us is 1) the risk of permanent loss of capital, or 2) the risk of inadequate return.”
Risk has many different dimensions that must be considered including sources, magnitude, outcomes and decision making inputs. In terms of a definition, Seth Klarman writes that risk is: “described by both the probability and the potential amount of loss.” Charlie Munger emphasizes an important point in his quotation since it is the permanent loss which should be the focus of investors since temporary drops can actually represent an opportunity for an investor if they can purchase more of an asset at the lower price and ride out the drop in price. The focus of this definition of risk is on potential “outcomes.” In terms of “sources” of risk, Warren Buffett believes that “risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing” and that “the best way to minimize risk is to think.” This is why Charlie Munger spends so much time thinking about thinking. The magnitude of risk assumed by a given investor on any investment depends on the nature of the asset, but also the price paid for the asset. In addition to not knowing what you are doing, one way to increase risk to pay such a high price for an asset that there is no margin for error. Seth Klarman makes the important point that “risk and return must be assessed independently or every investment…. risk does not create incremental return only price can do that.” Howard Marks makes the insightful point that risk itself cannot be counted on to generate higher financial returns, since if this was the case the assets would not actually be riskier. Richard Zeckhauser has his own definition of risk focused on the “inputs” a person has in the decision-making process rather that the “outcome” based definition of Buffett and Klarman. Zeckhauser believes that “risk” is limited to situations where all potential future states and their probabilities are known. Roulette in his view involves risk since you know all future states and probabilities in playing the game. When the probabilities of potential future states are not known, Zeckhauser calls that situation “uncertainty” and when you don’t know all potential future states he refers to that as “ignorance.” Most of life is uncertain rather than risky. True risk, as Zeckhauser defines it, is actually not that common in real life. For the rest of this blog post when I refer to “risk” I will be referring to the Klarman/Buffett/Marks definition of risk as an outcome (‘the possibility of loss or injury”) because that is what I believe Charlie Munger is referring to in each quotation. (more…)

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Ky Trang Ho talks to Tren Griffin about Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger

“There are many great investments that Munger has made, but arguably none was more important than the purchase of See’s Candies. It was the first investment made by Munger and Buffett for which they paid a purchase price reflecting a bargain based on qualitative factors.” — Tren Griffin

This week our featured book is Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor, by Tren Griffin. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from an interview with Tren Griffin, conducted by Ky Trang Ho and originally posted at Forbes. In the interview, Griffin and Ho discuss the inspiration behind the book, some of Charlie Munger’s greatest investment hits, Munger’s greatest investment failures, and much more!

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor!

Berkshire’s Charlie Munger: The Legendary Investor’s Strategy And Best ETF, Mutual Fund Picks
Ky Trang Ho and Tren Griffin

Ho: What inspired you to write a book about Charlie Munger?

Griffin: During the peak of the Internet bubble I began to search for an explanation of what was happening in the world since it made little sense to me at that time. Far too much paper wealth was being created far too quickly for what was happening during this bubble to be real. I had for many years been aware of the work and writing of Warren Buffett but decided at that time to re-read his work and think about it much more deeply.

I took off a full week from work to re-read everything he had ever written and think about it. As part of that process I was attracted more and more to the ideas and methods of Charlie Munger who was mentioned and talked about in this material written by and about Buffett. To understand Munger better I decided to compile his work from various sources into a private book written just for me. Writing about anything helps you understand the topic better. It forces you to think everything through from start to finish.

Warren Buffett has said that if you can’t write it down, you have not thought it through. As I compiled the material and wrote about Munger I began to understand his methods better and that they are applicable far beyond investing. (more…)

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

Read the Introduction to Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor

Charlie Munger

“Much of what is interesting about Munger is explained by this simple sentence: ‘I observe what works and what doesn’t and why.’ Life happens to Munger as it does to everyone, but unlike many people, he thinks deeply about why things happen and works hard to learn from the experience.” — Tren Griffin

This week our featured book is Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor, by Tren Griffin. In this post, we are happy to present an excerpt from Tren Griffin’s Introduction, in which Griffin introduces his readers to Charlie Munger, the man and the investor, and explains why Munger is such a fascinating and successful character.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor!

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger About Making Rational Decisions, Part 2

Charlie Munger

“Rationality … requires developing systems of thought that improve your batting average over time.” “Luckily, I have selected very easy problems all my life, and I have a reasonable batting average.” “You don’t have to have perfect wisdom to get very rich – just a bit better than average over a long period of time.” — Charlie Munger

This week our featured book is Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor, by Tren Griffin. In today’s post, we are happy to present the second half of a post from Tren Griffin explaining Charlie Munger’s take on rationality, and why being rational is crucial for both investing and for life (view the first part here). The post was originally featured on Griffin’s blog, 25iq.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor!

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger about Making Rational Decisions, Part 2
By Tren Griffin

6.
“Second, what are the subconscious influences where the brain at a subconscious level is automatically doing these things-which by and large are useful, but which often malfunctions.” “Ordinary people [are] subconsciously affected by their inborn tendencies.”
After an expected value process is completed and you believe your decisions is rational, Charlie Munger suggests that the decision be cross-checked for possible errors. The reality is that no one has a fully rational mindset. It would not be possible to get out of bed in the morning if every human decision had to be made based on careful expected value calculations. Heuristics have been developed by humans to get through a day which sometimes cause decisions to become irrational, especially in a modern world which is very unlike most of history. In other words, no human is perfectly rational because everyone is impacted by emotional and psychological tendencies when making decisions. As a result, thinking rationally is a trained response. To be as rational in your daily life as Richard Zeckhauser is in playing bridge a person must overcome errors based on emotional or psychological mistakes. Rationality is in practical terms relative. Charlie Munger believes staying rational is hard work and requires constant practice and lifelong effort. Making mistakes is inevitable and will never stop, but you can learn to make less than your statistical share of mistakes. (more…)

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger About Making Rational Decisions, Part 1

Charlie Munger

“Rationality … requires developing systems of thought that improve your batting average over time.” “Luckily, I have selected very easy problems all my life, and I have a reasonable batting average.” “You don’t have to have perfect wisdom to get very rich – just a bit better than average over a long period of time.” — Charlie Munger

This week our featured book is Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor, by Tren Griffin. In today’s second post (check out the first for Charlie Munger’s take on the importance of reading for the investor!), we are happy to present the first half of a post from Tren Griffin explaining Charlie Munger’s take on rationality, and why being rational is crucial for both investing and for life. The post was originally featured on Griffin’s blog, 25iq.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor!

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Charlie Munger about Making Rational Decisions, Part 1
By Tren Griffin

The subtitle of my recently published book is “The Complete Investor.” While the book is written in the context of investing, understanding what Charlie Muunger teaches will help readers make rational decisions about anything in their life. Everyone must make decisions in life and by understanding how Charlie Munger thinks, you can improve your decision making skills. Learning to make better decisions requires that you spend some time thinking about thinking. The good news is that this learning process is fun. Charlie Munger puts it this way: “Learning has never been work for me. It’s play.” Life gets better if you adopt this approach to learning.

1.
“‘Charlie,’ she said, ‘What one word accounts for your remarkable success in life?’ I told her I was rational.”
If the actor in the television commercials for the famous beer is “the most interesting man in the world,” then perhaps Charlie Munger is “the most rational investor in the world.” His rationality and honesty in no small part explain why he is so popular. What Charlie Munger says is often so funny because he is perfectly willing to speak the truth in a completely unrestrained and direct manner. In other words, he appeals to so many people because of his honest insight about life, in much the same way as great comics like Louis C.K., Amy Schumer, or Chris Rock are so appealing. Individuals who speak the truth openly are often interesting, insightful and funny. To understand Charlie Munger’s appeal it is useful to think about the nature of rationality. Michael Mauboussin explains that there are different forms of rationality: “Cognitive scientists and philosophers talk about ‘instrumental’ and ‘epistemic’ rationality. Instrumental rationality is behaving in such a way that you get what you want the most, subject to constraints. Expected utility theory, which is based on a series of axioms, provides a normative framework for how to do this. You’ll be instrumentally rational if you follow the axioms. Epistemic rationality describes how well a person’s beliefs map onto the world. If you believe in the tooth fairy, for instance, you are showing a lack of epistemic rationality. Here’s a catchier way to remember the two terms: instrumental rationality is ‘what to do’ and epistemic rationality is ‘what is true.’” Charlie Munger understands and is focused on being both epistemically and instrumentally rational. (more…)

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

A Dozen Things Charlie Munger Has Said About Reading

Charlie Munger

“I don’t think you can get to be a really good investor over a broad range without doing a massive amount of reading. I don’t think any one book will do it for you.” — Charlie Munger

This week our featured book is Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor, by Tren Griffin. In order to get the feature started on the right note, we are happy to present a collection of quotes from Charlie Munger himself on the importance of reading for the investor, collected by Tren Griffin.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor!

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Book Giveaway! Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor, by Tren Griffin

Charlie Munger

“What if I told you that the world’s greatest living investor was also one of the most prolific writers and thinkers on the subject? And what if there were a single book containing all of his most insightful comments in a highly focused series of lessons, anecdotes, and instructions for success? I’m happy to tell you that, in Tren Griffin’s Charlie Munger, that book has finally arrived.” — Joshua M. Brown, CEO, Ritholtz Wealth Management, author of Backstage Wall Street

This week our featured book is Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor, by Tren Griffin. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its authors on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Charlie Munger. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, September 18th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Ideas for Life — The Introduction to “The 7th Sense,” by William Duggan

We conclude our week-long feature on The Seventh Sense: How Flashes of Insight Change Your Life, by William Duggan by returning to the book’s beginning and its introduction (see below). In “Ideas for Life” Duggan explains “the seventh sense” and why it is so important for developing new ideas. Duggan writes:

The seventh sense is the mechanism of the human mind that produces new ideas. It’s the epiphany, the flash of insight, the Eureka moment—in the form of an idea that not else had before either. The seventh sense is how new ideas are born. And not just new ideas, but useful ideas. Human achievement advances through flashes of insight that come from the seventh sense.

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Presence of Mind and Kobe Bryant’s Jump Shot — William Duggan’s “The 7th Sense”

The Seventh Sense, William Duggan

One of the concepts that William Duggan explores in The Seventh Sense: How Flashes of Insight Change Your Life is presence of mind. Given that we are nearing the NBA finals, we thought we would excerpt the section in which Duggan explains how presence of mind improved Kobe Bryant’s jump shot:

Presence of mind means that all the elements of your idea are open to alteration, all the time. You ask yourself every morning: Is there something I need to add, subtract, or change? The answer is probably no. But if you don’t ask, you’ll miss that rare time when the answer is yes. Changing your idea every day is bad—you’ll never get anywhere. But staying open every day to changing your idea—that’s essential to presence of mind.

Here’s a recent example of presence of mind and how it can help you stay alert to examples from history from far afield. Kobe Bryant, one of the most successful basketball players of all time, told this story in an interview in September 2014 in the New York Times. He spoke about his fadeaway shot, where you jump up and backward, away from your oppo­nent in front of you. The usual way to do it is to jump with both legs together, so your body is perfectly straight, leaning back. Bryant explained:

When you watch me shoot my fadeaway jumper, you’ll notice my leg is always extended. I had problems making that shot in the past. It’s tough. So one day I’m watching the Discovery Channel and see a cheetah hunting. When the cheetah runs, its tail always gives it balance, even if it’s cutting a sharp angle. And that’s when I was like: My leg could be the tail, right? Inspiration surrounds us.

What amazing presence of mind. He was watching a nature program to relax, not for research. But relaxing helped, so his mind was free and open. Bryant saw the cheetah using its tail for balance when cutting left or right, and applied that to his own movement in a different direction: backward. And this example highlights again the difference between the sixth sense and the seventh.

Professional athletes like Bryant have tremendous intuition from long hours of practice and many, many games played. His sixth sense helps him do the same move better next time. But only his seventh sense can give him a new move.

Presence of mind is hard to achieve and sustain, so you can’t expect other people to have it. When you tell someone else your new idea, the most common reaction is for them to tell you their own ideas on the topic. That’s because every­one puts a tremendous amount of conscious and unconscious thought into their own ideas. Think of it this way: someone has worked long and hard on building a house. You come along and say you’re going to knock down their house and build them a better one. How do they react? They defend their house. They tell you it’s better than the one you aim to build. They don’t want to admit that all their hard work has gone to waste. And you’re not just criticizing their house, you’re criticizing them: you’re telling them they don’t know how to build a good house.

The mistake here is simple but deep: people take their ideas personally. If my idea is not worthy, then I’m not worthy. Especially at work, and especially if I’m the boss: the com­pany promoted me because I’m an expert. I know the right answers. If someone else comes up with a different idea, and it’s right, then I don’t deserve to be boss. Especially if that person reports to me. Then they deserve to be boss instead. But that can’t be right. So their idea can’t be right.

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Your Seventh Sense: Beyond Mindfulness

The Seventh Sense, William Duggan

The following post is by William Duggan, author of The Seventh Sense: How Flashes of Insight Change Your Life:

You need more than meditation to calm your mind.

Over the past decade, meditation has become a popular method in the business world for promoting “mindfulness” among employees. The benefits are better health in general and a calmer mind to concentrate better at work. And a calm mind promotes creativity: that’s why you have your best ideas when your brain is relaxed, in the shower, driving, on the train or plane, at the gym, running, walking, or falling asleep at night. In a calm mind, pieces of a puzzle come together in a flash of insight, otherwise known as your “seventh sense.”

Your sixth sense is rapid recognition from experience: for example, when you hear a relative’s footsteps and know exactly who it is. Your seventh sense is slower, and draws from everything you know, not just your own experience. The calmer your mind, the better your brain can search through more and more connections until the solution comes in a flash.

Meditation makes you more “mindful.” That is, you train your mind to appreciate the present moment rather than dwell on past sorrows or future worries. There are two basic kinds of mindfulness training: samatha and vipassana, both from the Hindu tradition. Most forms of meditation today follow one or the other method, or combine them both.

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Book Giveaway! The Seventh Sense, by William Duggan

This week our featured book is The Seventh Sense: How Flashes of Insight Change Your Life by William Duggan.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of The Seventh Sense to one winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, May 29th at 1:00 pm.

For more on the book you can read the introduction:

Friday, April 10th, 2015

The Greening of Asia: Businesses’ Role in the World’s Biggest-Ever Environmental Clean-Up

The Greening of Asia

“The best way to move forward is in a three-way partnership, where government sets clear and forceful policies, business creates and invests in products and services to help clean up the environmental mess and civil society acts as an arbiter to see that governments and businesses do what they say.” — Mark L. Clifford

This week our featured book is The Greening of Asia: The Business Case for Solving Asia’s Environmental Emergency, by Mark L. Clifford. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, in the final day of the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from an article written by Mark Clifford in The World Financial Review in which he discusses how “[t]he challenge of improving Asia’s environment has been translated into business opportunities.”

The Greening of Asia: Businesses’ Role in the World’s Biggest-Ever Environmental Clean-Up
Mark L. Clifford

The East is Black. That, at least, is the conventional wisdom of anyone who has seen pictures of Beijing’s shrouded skies, India’s fetid rivers and the steel mills and cement kilns which blanket much of the countryside with a pall of smog.

Sadly, this dystopian image of Asia’s environmental misery is all too accurate. In China alone, 1.2 million people a year die prematurely from air pollution. Skies in some Indian cities are even dirtier. Large parts of the region are in danger of running out of clean water. Clusters of cancer villages testify to the human cost of fast economic development.

If this sounds like an environmental nightmare, it is. Asia is home to 4.3 billion people, six out of every ten people in the world, as well as to some of the fastest-growing economies. What’s been good for economic growth has come at a high cost for the environment.

Asia’s strategy seemed to be summed up as “get dirty, get rich, get clean.” (more…)

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Mark Clifford discusses how companies are confronting environmental emergencies in Asia

The Greening of Asia

This week our featured book is The Greening of Asia: The Business Case for Solving Asia’s Environmental Emergency, by Mark L. Clifford. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. In the video from ChinaFile below, Clifford discusses the many and varied responses of companies throughout Asia to the region’s environmental crises.

The Greening of Asia from ChinaFile on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

From Black to Green: Asia’s Challenge

The Greening of Asia

“Just as Asia’s developed economies in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore adjusted to higher wages by improving productivity and relying on better education and more innovation, so Asia will find a way to profitably do more with less in an era of resource constraints.” — Mark Clifford

This week our featured book is The Greening of Asia: The Business Case for Solving Asia’s Environmental Emergency, by Mark L. Clifford. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. In Mark Clifford’s conclusion, excerpted below, he gives a quick overview of how various countries, cities, and businesses in Asia are responding to environmental challenges, and argues that “Asia will find a way to profitably do more with less in an era of resource constraints.”

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Green Shoots Under Soot-Stained Skies

The Greening of Asia

“Asia is approaching a moment of systemic—in some cases, existential—crisis. How Asian countries react to the environmental challenges of pollution, resource shortages, and climate change will determine whether the region will continue along its unmatched path of growth or descend into an increasingly unlivable dystopia.” — Mark L. Clifford

This week our featured book is The Greening of Asia: The Business Case for Solving Asia’s Environmental Emergency, by Mark L. Clifford. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we are happy to feature part of an excerpt from the book that originally appeared on the Asian Review of Books: “Green Shoots Under Soot-Stained Skies.”

Green Shoots Under Soot-Stained Skies
Mark L. Clifford

Beijing’s air is “crazy bad,” according to the U.S. Embassy: choking pollution regularly smothers the capital, reducing visibility to near zero, grounding planes, snarling traffic, and forcing city dwellers to don protective face masks while outside. A widely used air quality index, which in the United States rarely goes above 100 and exceeds 300 only during forest fires and other extreme events, approached the 1,000 level in Beijing in early 2013.

The effect, says a Chinese researcher, is to blot out the sun as effectively as a nuclear winter. Office workers in the capital’s skyscrapers cannot see the streets below, as a bitter, blinding pall settles over a city that hosted the 2008 “Green Olympics.” Beijingers call it “air-pocalypse” or “air-mageddon,” and they have become increasingly vocal about their frustration. “I especially want to know if the party secretary or the mayor are in Beijing these days,” a senior editor at People’s Daily wrote on his blog during record smog in January 2013. “If so, how do they guarantee they can breathe safely in Beijing?” (more…)