➻ Vanity Fair has an excerpt up about The Blundering Herd at Merrill Lynch from one of this year’s most anticipated books, All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis. From that excerpt:
In the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008, there was no more infectious disease on Wall Street than Goldman envy. Goldman Sachs, perhaps the most storied name in all of American finance, had gone public only in 1999, the last of the big firms to do so. After the I.P.O., Goldman’s mind-boggling profits were on full display. Starting in 2003, Goldman went on a run the likes of which had rarely been seen in American business. In just three years, its revenues more than doubled, to $38 billion, as its profits skyrocketed. In 2007, C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein received a bonus of more than $68 million. Even junior traders made millions. Who wouldn’t be jealous of numbers like those? UBS, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank—they were all stricken, to varying degrees, with Goldman envy.
No firm, though, had it worse than Merrill Lynch. And once the crisis struck, there was no firm for whom the disease would prove to be more fatal.
The authors of the book are Bethany McLean, a writer for Vanity Fair and the coauthor of The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron (one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time), and Joe Nocera, a business columnist for The New York Times and author of Good Guys and Bad Guys: Behind the Scenes with the Saints and Scoundrels of American Business (and Everything in Between). It is due to be released next month.
➻ Scott Belsky (author of Making Ideas Happen), Daniel Pink (author of Drive and many other fine books), and Laura Vanderkam (author of 168 Hours) were chosen for GOOD magazine’s GOOD Guide to Making Work Better about “productivity, procrastination, and getting off your butt and back to work.” Here are each of their productivity mantras:
Scott Belsky: “Less ideas, more action.”
Dan Pink: “Get to work.”
Laura Vanderkam: “Do more of what matters. Do less of what doesn’t.”
To get more tips from each of them and find out what each of them has to say about technology’s effects on productivity, head on over to the GOOD slide show. (hat tip to the good people of Portfolio.)
➻ The New Yorker‘s Jenny Hendrix wrote a great review of a book I’ve been looking forward to for some time—Marcus Boon’s In Praise of Copying.
In Praise of Copying is not an investigation of the ethical dilemmas of copying but a Stein-like affirmation of the mimesis that happens everywhere and everyday. Boon sees copying as fundamental to existence, part of “how the universe functions and manifests.” Even on a molecular level, he writes on his blog, “all objects are made up of other objects.” We cannot learn without mimicking (whether it’s learning to write a paper or learning how to catch a football)—but the way copying is defined in legal terms obscures this fact. Boon encourages us to rethink terms like “subject,” “object,” “different,” and “the other,” in order to “account for our fear of and fascination with copying.”
If this book is anywhere near as illuminating as David Kord Murray’s Borrowing Brilliance, it’s worth picking up. And if you’re interested in the topic from a purely business perspective, you may want to check out Oded Shenkar’s Copycats.
➻ Richard Florida, author of The Great Reset and a slew of other books on the creative class—the man who, in fact, coined the term creative class—posted a gallery of the 20 Most Innovative States on The Daily Beast. He tells us in the introduction to the gallery how he defined them:
Though some argue that the rate of American innovation has declined recently, our economic recovery depends on a renewed investment in and commitment to innovation. The rate of innovation is likely to accelerate in coming years, as capital shifts back to invention and entrepreneurship in the real economy.
Our ranking of the most innovative states is based on two metrics: (1) the number of patented innovations per capita, and (2) the share of high-tech companies.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin did not make the cut. Apparently cheese curds aren’t innovative.
➻ Stewart Quealy recently interviewed Aaron Goldman, author of Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned From Google about, well… Marketing Lessons From Google. From that interview:
SQ: When it comes to consumer mindshare, you claim it’s a zero sum game. What does that mean for the Facebook vs. Google rivalry as these two giants cross into each others’ domains?
AG: It means all-out war. There are only so many hours in the day and attention span in the hours. The company that can help people make better, faster decisions will win. To be sure, those decisions can be related to information, commerce, and/or entertainment. Help me find quick answers, buy stuff I want, and connect with cool people and content, and I’ll give you the lion’s share of my time and attention.
So the central issue we must now face is this: what happens when the complexity of the problems we need to solve exceed the cognitive capabilities we have evolved to this point?
Read on to find the answer.
➻ With a thousand kisses…