Swanson,Sneaky Centralization, and Kidney Beans

Free Market Forces – The Good, the Bad and the Swanson 

The grand daddy of who-blinks-first in the tariff war is now entering the middle rounds of a boxing match.  The image below is a a storage facility for a WI based kidney beans producer – and one who is rapidly running out of storage for surplus production.

The reason? With retaliatory tariffs from the US’s trade partners – agricultural exports have become expensive by as much as 25% (or more in some cases).  Can’t help but think – why tinker around with free market?


Source: Wall Street Journal

On a happier note – Fidelity just announced slashed fees, and removal of minimums among other changes. The battle is heating up on retaining the investor market with the models and new baseline set by firms like Vanguard and Charles Schwab. I’m always excited when the forces of free market (competition) and technology (efficiency) come together to create great wins for the end consumer.

A friend recently recommended watching the show Parks and Recreation. And while watching Leslie Knope and her special brand of antics combined with raw, unbridled passion for change has been hilarious, I found my hero on television.

Ron Swanson – the perfect mustache and a fanatical advocate for libertarian values. That perfect mustache may be out of reach but I do share his libertarian values. Laissez-faire forever! (that’s my goofy take on Wakanda Forever!)



Technology and Testing before Prime Time

David Poole, Adam Fitzgerald and Robert Oliver at the Publicis.Sapient’s Financial Services Center of Excellence do a phenomenal job of catching us and our clients up with the latest in the Fintech space.

This week’s highlight was this article from Chris Skinner. It’s a  great read for all innovators and talks about the perils of testing a technology before it’s ready for prime time.


Sneaky Centralization – I would love to take credit for this term, but it actually was coined by a friend I recently had dinner with. Ever notice how that indubitable edifice of decentralization (aka, the internet) is being chipped away at by the rapidly increasing influence of Facebook, Amazon, Google and co #world’s next oligopoly.

Data and the influence of widespread disinformation has figured prominently in the news for a while- here’s a piece on the challenges of fighting back  – the essential problem being that technology advances far more quickly than government policies. The disruptive technologies including blockchain are the one game-changer that regulators can use to counter deep fakes and increasingly democratized AI.

And while on the subject of blockchain, the big news around bitcoins is the launch of Bakkt (joint venture by NYSE, Microsoft, and Starbucks) – a federally regulated market for digital assets.


Musings on Interactions

It has become a practice for me to spend Saturday to reflect on my interactions with friends, colleagues and family every week. It has become a valuable tool for me to assess and improve the quality of my interactions. Reflections on my own success and failures for this week –

a) Never blame the amount of work on your plate for being late for a call or meeting.  I ended up doing it this week – and it just sounded hollow and fake. My mantra – acknowledge, apologize and address.

b) Feedback is an art – Holding people accountable is important, and so as is your choice of words feelings that accompany the feedback. Don’t spend time carefully phrasing the words – spend more time thinking through the emotions accompanying the feedback (concern, fear, worry, encouragement, frustration).

Here’s a great article on what causes employee disengagement  employee engagement. My personal favorite is the ubiquitous and horribly generalized “good job”.

App of the Week

On that note, I highly recommend installing Telegram – a messenger service similar to Whatsapp (you did know it was owned by Facebook, right?). It offers all the instant messaging services but also is a gateway into fascinating data science and bitcoin communities.

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