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They Sure Don’t Build Houses Like They Used Too (Survivorship Bias)

How often do we hear the expression “They sure don’t build houses like they used too”. How often do we think that maybe thats a good thing?

In this TedX Talk David McRaney gives us some great insights into the important concept of understand Survivorship Bias (and gives a ever so slight introduction to the work of Daniel Kahneman and even Nassim Taleb).

What’s this have to do with building and remodeling homes and commercial structures? If you don’t want to wait for it you can start your listening at 8:26.

Why am I writing about this today? Today on my FaceBook feed an old David McRaney popped up with his article on Survivorship Bias – You Are Not So Smart

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A Short Story About How Being Curious On the Internet Has It’s Rewards

Okay so earlier this evening maybe even this afternoon I read this blog post from a blog I subscribe to and semi-regularly read entitled: Marketing Value | The Business Renegade while it’s a great blog I like to read I didn’t find anything particularly spectacular in that article but the last line of it read:

"If you want to be amused, you might want to read this article on his blog about Tiger Woods – pure brilliance"

And I clicked on the this article link and read;

Why on earth has Accenture ditched Tiger Woods?

Surely Tiger’s decision to outsouce sexual services to a range of competing providers is in line with Management Consultancy’s established best practice?

Previously he had been tied to a monopoly Scandinavian supplier – with the cripplingly high social costs this usually entails.  Moreover, given his wife’s age, it is possible that she was on the brink of becoming a depreciating asset who needed to be moved off the balance sheet as soon as possible.

Admittedly he could have off-shored more – to girls from low-wage economies. But the arrangement where he could have anything from nil to three girls on call at any one time allows for better load-balancing, enabling him to handle the peaks and troughs of demand better than under the previous inflexible arrangement. By sourcing girls locally, he was also reducing distribution costs and helping the environment…… while allowing him to adopt a best-of-breed approach to sexual delivery, rather than depending on a single source.

I thought that was a good bit of stinging and biting corporate criticism and satire. Curious since to the best of my knowledge I had never been on that site I navigated myself upwards there to Blogs & Forums – Brand Republic and I see an article: Dave Trott’s Blog – It may not be wrong, it may be inappropriate. Seeing that the article is about a recent blog post by Seth Godin (who I also subscribe to and read unite regularly but hadn’t yet read the post Trott was commenting on). Trott loves Godin’s "binary" descriptions of people as being either "hunters" or "farmers" and in his (Trott’s) article he writes:

Seth Godin references the educational specialist Thom Hartmann. who feels an inability to understand the Hunter personality may be why some children have problems at school.

“A kid who has innate hunting skills is easily distracted, because noticing small movements in the brush is exactly what you’d need to do if you were hunting.

Scan and scan and pounce.

That same kid is able to drop everything and focus like a laser–for a while–if it’s urgent.

The farming kid, on the other hand, is particularly good at tilling the fields of endless homework problems, each a bit like the other. Just don’t ask him to change gears instantly

Trott then makes a good analysis for ad agency execs about how some of their clients of their are farmers while some are hunters and how that’s important to identify and I think that apropos for us as business owners too so if your an owner or salesperson you should read the full text of Trott’s article there too.

But anyway getting back to my curious journey reading Trott’s article then had me go on a trip to find Seth Godin’s original Hunter & Farmers article which I do and you can all read here: Seth’s Blog: Hunters and Farmers.

By the way I personally identify myself as being a "Hunter" but that is still not the end of my little curious journey.

While moving through Seth Blog post by post looking for the ‘Hunters and Farmers’ article I ran into another article: Jacqueline Novogratz on recognizing a linchpin. Now as I mentioned in my post here the other day: ReWork, Crush It, Linchpin & The 4 Hour Workweek (again) Seth has written a new book called Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? and the video in the post is Jacqueline Novogratz take on recognizing a linchpin.

Jacqueline Novogratz on how to recognize a linchpin from Seth Godin on Vimeo.

Liking what she had to say I then clicked on the Vimeo link to see if could learn some more about just who Jacqueline Novogratz is.

Now on the Vimeo site under the screen containing the video I had just watched I read:

Jacqueline Novogratz is founder and CEO of Acumen Fund ( a fast-growing non-profit that is pioneering the idea of patient capital. Acumen funds entrepreneurs that build significant for-profit companies that do business with the poorest people in the world.

And I think "Wow, what an incredibly kool and noble great idea! "

So I click on the link to her web site. While there I see a link to "Jacqueline Shares Her Blue Sweater Story" and click on it get here: Jacqueline Shares Her Blue Sweater Story and click on that to discover this heartwarming and inspiring story:

The Blue Sweater is the inspiring story of a woman who has spent her life on a quest to understand global poverty and to find powerful new ways of tackling it. From her first stumbling efforts as a young idealist venturing forth in Africa to the creation of the trailblazing organization she runs today, Jacqueline Novogratz brings us a series of insightful stories and unforgettable characters — from women dancing in a Nairobi slum, to unwed mothers starting a bakery, to courageous survivors of the Rwandan genocide, to entrepreneurs building services for the poor against impossible odds.

She shows, in ways both hilarious and heartbreaking, how traditional charity often fails, but how a new form of philanthropic investing called "patient capital" can help make people self-sufficient and change millions of lives. More than just an auto-biography or a how-to guide to tackling poverty, this book challenges us to grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world.

Sometimes it really pays to be a curious hunter on the internet. It was a good day hunting.

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Doing the Right Thing: JumpStart International

We’re coming up on the time of year where we give thanks for what we have and we are asked by so many sources to give where help in this world is needed and I thought I make mention of an organization that I am working with called JumpStart International . Let me start by telling you who they are by quoting from their home page:

JumpStart International Home Page"JumpStart International, a humanitarian organization with NGO (non-governmental organization) status, offers immediate engineering response in areas of conflict and disaster by providing quick, visible signs of progress through active projects of employment and reconstruction. JumpStart believes that people do not want a "hand-out" but rather a "hand-up" so they may begin their own recovery toward redevelopment and sustainable economic stability.

Whether it is necessitated by war, natural disaster, or other crises, rebuilding on the JumpStart model accomplishes much more than one may immediately realize. Given its engineer-based, results-oriented focus, JumpStart offers tangible solutions to tangible problems. But in the process, it can’t help but offer intangible benefits as well – reducing tensions, fostering peace and facilitating cultural understanding."

I’d like to encourage you to take a few minutes and read a great article from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumni Magazine reBuildingHope articlecalled reBuilding Hope which describes how RPI graduate and successful IT entrepreneur (one of the founders of MapInfo) Sean O’Sullivan identified an opportunity to help get Iraqis back on their feet and then created JumpStart to do just that. In short what JumpStart does is go to places in the world hit by conflict or disaster and put the people there back to work rebuilding their homes their schools and in that process rebuilding their lives.

Since the organization has been endowed with a grant to cover their operating and administration costs 100% of any donations you or anyone makes go directly towards the projects and therefore eventually into the hands of the local people building those projects as wages for the work they do. Visiting the Jumpstart Photo Gallery you can begin to get an idea of the kinds of projects they put local people to work on rebuilding their communities.

I like to encourage all my friends to give what they can as a tax deductible donation (Support JumpStart) and invite your friends and acquaintances to give what they can too. As I already mentioned 100% of any donations you or anyone makes go directly towards the projects they do and not applied to the overhead of running such an organization.

What am I doing for Jumpstart? I’m customizing the production/project management software I’ve written (360Diffference) to work for their operation and I’m working with them on the fundraising end to see what I can do to help them approach some high end donors especially from my area.

Every little bit counts and makes a difference and ultimately builds a safer more secure world.

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