Success is for the discontent..

Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell’s research finds that “there is an asymmetry in the way people compare themselves with others. We tend to look exclusively at those better off than us, rather than contemplate our position within the full range of outcomes. When the lot of others improves, we react negatively, but when our own lot improves, we shift our reference group to those who are still better off. In other words, we are never satisfied, since we quickly become accustomed to our own achievements. Perhaps that is what spurs people to earn more, and economies to grow.”

Source: Keeping up with the Karumes, Economist


It’s Okay to Love Money

Not very often that I feel too strongly about ‘most’ feminist agendas because I see an ideal world to be accommodating for both genders, as opposed to equal for both genders, but financial freedom and financial ambition is something I have felt very strongly about and all of it came back to me when I came across an article on LinkedIn called ‘Message for Women in Business: Its Okay to Love Money‘. This struck a cord with me as I remember being told, ‘its not your job to earn money’. Well, its noone’s birth right to do or don’t, its a choice – a choice people, men and women, should be able to make. Both men and women can choose to dedicate their time to building a fortune, or volunteering to something humanitarian, or both.

What makes me sad about this article, is that its intended for women only, which makes sense because men who love money are called ambitious, powerful, even arrogant (God knows when that became a compliment?). Now, by no means do I suggest earning money with wrongful means is justified (however you might define that), but its okay to have financial goals, ambitions and to work for it, for everyone, if that’s what makes you happy because at the end of the day, its not just money you’re trying to earn, its the ability to live well, experience life and make things happen.

The Techno-Culture

If luddites were alive now they would be stunned by what ‘lives’ look like and mean in this day and age. That’s probably why we don’t have many luddite-likes these days. The technology has evolved at an incremental pace and by Moarse Theorum, this is only going to increase in the future, so those of us with that luddite-side to us should probably prepare for scarier times. Earlier, I had a conversation with my friend who happens to have that luddite-self to her and some very interesting things came up which made me think.

Out of everything else that shapes our world and ‘culture’, I think social media comes under most scrutiny as it affects our social lives directly in ways so obvious to us, however the technology doesn’t limit its impact on our culture there by any means. I see that we have taken a while to completely understand what social media serves for us. I hardly think it was supposed to BE our social life. It serves a greater good for impression and connections management. This opens up the never ending and never concluding debate of how good or bad this is for us and I find myself split between the two ofcourse, but not for a second doubting how technology has done wonders to make us the most progressive (in some sense) than we have ever been in our kind.

Surely, there’s trade for quantity over quality. Now we can do so much, experience so much but what we actually take away from the experience is probably now limited. Although, that makes complete sense. The more of what you have, the less you value it and ofcourse technology does consume a part of our attention all the time. For better or for worse, I think social media and technology is beyond just an innovation and has now set values and culture for the Y-generation and this is only going to increase.

My take on the matter remains less sceptical. However, the way you incorporate technology in your life does determine it all. I believe the social media is not a substitute or form of social ‘life’, infact it is only a tool to supplement your social life and a tool for ease of staying in touch and managing your impression. This ideas is not new either as fretting over aesthetics and beauty is not a new idea for anyone and neither is that of impression management. With powerful systems handling our social media, there’s only one thing that’s changed, the information. The ‘quantity’ of information. So, now you can say more, store more, show more, know more and the down side is probably that the ‘noise’ in the system takes away from the quality we experience. If we learn to make it complement, not a substitute for our social interactions, it really wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. However, the ever increasing numbers of depressed people, irresponsible use of technology and social media and society of control and spectacle, do worry me. Guess, everything comes with pros and cons & just because it seems like an efficient lifestyle, we don’t always need that in every department of our lives.

I am sharing this video because it raised some thought provoking ideas in my mind (Thanks S).

Regulatory Split: Too costly a transition?

Cry over the hefty fines issued by FCA of over £470M in 2013 alone, one after another since mid last year really doesn’t surprise. It has been happening for a while now and despite the recovery in growth and economic indicators, the fear of penalties haunts the existence of most financial institutions. Now, here’s the perspective not many seem to be taking much notice of, the fines are if anything justified – extreme for sure, but that’s the kind of attitude that’s required for a truly deterrent impact to take effect.

Second is the idea of dynamic v static effects. All colossal changes seem impossible and painful in its initial stages, there is letting go of old habits, learning new things and getting used to them. And a change so radical is ought to be painful in the beginning, but it will only lead to a system more reliable, sustainable and greater (reasonable) profitability. This profitability doesn’t only emerge from the reliable operations, but also the investors trust in the performance of these financial institutions post-regulatory enforcement. Especially, as UK seems to be the most concerned one at this point about rising of regulatory standards. This although worries at the same time! Some foreign banks have already started to face trouble adjusting to the new UK regulatory standards, especially as their home bases including the SEC have still not put the matter under such great scrutiny. The regulatory standards for sure are a painful, yet fruitful move for a more sustainable future; however the regulatory discrepancies in a global financial space could be a problem. I think the transition might be longer than expected!

Why merge, despite the divorce rates?

What are the things we look for when thinking of a successful relationship? Compatibility, appeal, attitudes, willingness to make it work…

This blog is not about relationships, it is about mergers and acquisitions and why we see so many of them despite the fact that we all know not many of them work out well in the end. Even though M & As and relationships are two different things, the dynamics are really not that different, and neither are the factors that lead to their success and failure.

About 80% of the global foreign direct investment is made in the form of M & As and out of these 90% fail, which is much higher than the divorce rates of 40% – 50%, so why is it that facebook acquired whatsapp for $19BN, HP acquired Autonomy, Chase merged with JPM and many many more?

Understanding why would become very easy if we thought of business relations under the same light as the human relations. People all over the world are getting married because if it does work out, the life could be pretty damn fulfilling and similar is the case with businesses. If the M & As do work out there is countless benefits for businesses involved. I am not going to go into the benefits and drivers for these M & As because that’s beyond the scope or relevance for this blog.

There are things you can do to make relationships work and that’s exactly how it works with businesses. There is the potential that should you get everything right, there could be a successful future, so the success really is in your control (to some extent). Successful businesses don’t invest in M & As until they are ready financially and structurally to take on another business, and the ones that do, don’t usually end up triumphant in the end, which is very similar to being ready for a relationship – you can’t complete someone else before you complete yourself.

The way you deal with your new partner firms is also key – How much autonomy to give? How much stakes does each partner have? How much price premium do you invest in the partnership? Another factor which determines the success of M & As activity is the synergies i.e. compatibility between the two firms – what can the other partner bring into the business to add value? And how could you exploit these synergies effectively?

And in the end even if it doesn’t work out, businesses are not complete losers as they have to some extent, bridged the learning curve. So when they merge or acquire next, they would know better and do better. All these dynamics are not very different from human relationships, which is why it helps to think about businesses in an organic and ‘humane’ way, because at the end of the day businesses do exist for the people in it and for those associated with it. However, there are fundamental discrepancies in what human beings and business want and do. People want to maximize utility/ happiness and businesses wish to maximize profits, but understanding how each one of them go about doing it, does not vary very much… This is something I have learnt from economics (even though it doesn’t always work, it is an amazing stand point to start thinking about things).

World at Night: The Triad

earthlights2_dmsp_bigThis picture was taken in 2000 by a NASA satellite. A very unique and amazing picture it is, but there is something about the picture, beyond the serenity. It describes the idea of economic prosperity in very simple terms. If you haven’t already noticed the obvious, go back and spot the regions with most ‘light’. Its implications could be understood very well if you took the word ‘enlighten’ literally. It is indeed the ‘triad’ of world economic leaders which are most ‘enlightened’ in the picture and otherwise in terms of their GDP and technological development. The ‘triad’, which means three, of the world economic leaders are America, Europe and some regions of Asia (Japan/ China). These are the major trade hotspots of the world, which means the ‘prosperity’ in the world is distributed as clusters, the extent of which is beautifully and simply shown in this picture. The map below is just an illustration of world GDPs per capita, which show trends of the sort, not very different from the picture taken by satellite.