These 5 Words Will Open Thousands of Doors For You

Every person is a world. Life at work, in business and even in the family is full of complex relationships, where each person has their own agenda, their own history and particular dimensions.

As we have seen previously, the projects that go ahead are not always the best; And those people who are right are not the ones who win the discussions, because the most important element in a communication process is not the content or the technique but, above all, the relationship and connection.

To be completely clear: your success doesn’t just depend on your talents or your ideas; Above all, it depends on you knowing how to forge relationships . Talent and ideas are necessary, but the relationships you form along the way give them direction, direction, power and dimension.

However, in the process of making our projects come true; be it our own businesses or projects in our company, we constantly find:

  • Closed doors.
  • People in high positions or unreachable.
  • Inaccessible uncomfortable people.
  • Adversaries or people who do not want us to do well.
  • People we would like to address, but we don’t know how.

How can we break down social and personal barriers to build bridges with people who can be part of our path?

A powerful phrase

The answer lies in this magical phrase that took me years to discover, and that today I am happy to share with you, hoping it will be useful to you. Remember that with great power comes great responsibility .

The opener phrase is this: Can I ask you for advice?

“Can I ask you for advice?” It is a simple and short phrase; easy to say, remember and repeat. It is a phrase that can be used constantly without losing its validity and, above all, has behind it the power of science to open the doors that until then were closed.

I have used it at different times where it seems to me to be in a dead end; where I lack answers or in which I feel that I need to form a closer relationship with a colleague, a superior, a subordinate and, even, someone who perceives me as his enemy.

After using it for a couple of years – with excellent results – I started recommending it to other people, who also reported their own success stories. Now I am sure that this is one of the most useful phrases in my professional life … and that it can also be in yours.

It is not about magic, but about communication and science. How does it work?

1. The Ben Franklin effect

The Ben Franklin effect is a known psychological effect to change the perception that others have of us by allowing them to do us a favor.

Yes, you heard right: let them do you a favor; not you to them.

It is, at first glance, counterintuitive. We may think that, to please, we must “do” favors, but it turns out that when others do us favors, it is proven that their perception of us improves, since considering ourselves worthy of their time and attention forces them to see ourselves in a more favorable light , as valuable and kind people.

They must be favors that are not heavy, annoying or expensive. For example, asking a colleague for a ride or letting him buy us a coffee… and simply thanking him, without making him feel bad and without seeking to pay him immediately. Receive a favor … and thank you! opens more doors than applause and flattery.

2. An elegant compliment

When asking for advice, the Ben Franklin effect is activated; But that is not all.

On the one hand, a tip is a favor or a service that costs nothing: it is free. Maybe they can deny you -for whatever reason- a ride or a coffee, but who can deny advice? Until now, for many years of using this phrase, I have never encountered someone who refuses to give advice that is asked with kindness and humility.

But there is still more! When it comes to asking for advice, we are asking for a favor as well as making a compliment. We are telling the other person that they are smart, that they are brilliant, that we respect them, and that their opinion is important . It is a gift to your own ego – a gift that no one will stop receiving. People, in general, like to be heard and taken into account.

That is why this phrase is magical. It seems like a favor, but it is also a gift.

3. Let the other shine

It can be personal advice, about work, about a project, or about an important decision. The key is to state the advice simply and clearly and then let the other speak, always respecting the 80/20 rule . When it comes to asking for advice, we are placing the conversation firmly on the other person’s court, letting them speak and express their own personality and history.

When you have asked for advice, do not make excuses or explanations. Answer the question they ask you, but soon return the voice to the other person.

A rule of life: everyone likes to talk about themselves. So it will also allow you to get to know him more and forge – without feeling forced – a real human relationship, one of friendship and trust. Without his realizing it … now they are part of the same team.

4. Peripatetic effect

When we ask another person for advice about something that interests us and we get them to be interested in it, it is possible that due to the effect of mirror neurons , which generate empathy and neural alignment between two people, both can find a solution to a real problem.

In this way, you will not only have strengthened the relationship, but you will also have a practical answer or tangible progress in your project. The best of all? The other person will feel that the idea was theirs – let them take all the credit! – and will defend and promote it with passion.

This is not a manipulative system, but a method of thinking called peripatetic , in which, through questions, we can help other people reach conclusions that they feel as their own . It is widely used in communication and negotiation. It can also be your great ally with the magic phrase.

5. Create real conversations

We waste too much time in innocuous and empty conversations, small talk to fill the time. But how much real conversations are needed! It is impressive what you can discover and achieve if you learn to master the art of conversation .

Nobody asks for advice on worthless things. We ask for advice on things that matter and concern us, that can peek into our privacy or explore big issues. The best friendships are born – says CS Lewis – when one person says to another “How? Do you also think that way? I thought I was the only one! ”

Asking for advice is one of the five avenues of wealth in silence and will help you forge business, personal and friendship relationships that will pave the way for a better life.

So now you know. When you find a closed door, the best key is to ask for advice.

Francisco García Pimentel

 

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Source: These 5 words will open thousands of doors for you

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Critics:

For businesses, this could mean: creating new ideas, new product development through research and development, or improving existing services. Innovation can be the central focus of a business and this can help them to grow and become a market leader if they execute their ideas properly. Businesses that are focused on innovation are usually more efficient, cost-effective, and productive.

Successful innovation should be built into the business strategy, where you can create a culture of innovation and drive forward creative problem-solving. Success is the state or condition of meeting a defined range of expectations. It may be viewed as the opposite of failure. The criteria for success depend on context, and may be relative to a particular observer or belief system. One person might consider a success what another person considers a failure, particularly in cases of direct competition or a zero-sum game.

Similarly, the degree of success or failure in a situation may be differently viewed by distinct observers or participants, such that a situation that one considers to be a success, another might consider to be a failure, a qualified success or a neutral situation. For example, a film that is a commercial failure or even a box-office bomb can go on to receive a cult following, with the initial lack of commercial success even lending a cachet of subcultural coolness.

The fields of probability and statistics often study situations where events are labeled as “successes” or “failures”. For example, a Bernoulli trial is a random experiment with exactly two possible outcomes, “success” and “failure”, in which the probability of success is the same every time the experiment is conducted. The concept is named after Jacob Bernoulli, a 17th-century Swiss mathematician, who analyzed them in his Ars Conjectandi (1713).

The term “success” in this sense consists in the result meeting specified conditions, not in any moral judgement. For example, the experiment could be the act of rolling a single die, with the result of rolling a six being declared a “success” and all other outcomes grouped together under the designation “failure”. Assuming a fair die, the probability of success would then be 1 / 6…

References

Hedge Fund Launches Are Surging

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In the first quarter of 2021, 189 new hedge funds were launched, the highest number since the end of 2017, according to data from Hedge Fund Research.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, 190 hedge funds were started. Since then, the number of launches has been consistently lower, hitting its lowest in the first quarter of 2020 with a total of 84 launches and 304 liquidations.

“The only ones that did get launched [that quarter] were before March,” Kenneth Heinz, president of HFR, told Institutional Investor.

Heinz attributed the newfound surge in launches to three factors: performance, inflation, and risk aversion. According to a statement, the top decile of hedge funds tracked by HFR gained 126.8 percent in the 12-month period ending in the first quarter of 2021. In this quarter alone, the top decile gained 29.7 percent.

Institutional investors are also looking to hedge against inflation, Heinz said. “As the world emerges from the lockdown, inflation is present, and it will continue to build,” he said. “The different strategies provide great protection from inflation.”

These strategies include equity hedge funds and event-driven funds. As of the first quarter of 2021, the greatest portion of industry assets — 30.42 percent — were invested in equity hedge funds. Event-driven funds came in second with 27.53 percent of total industry assets.

Heinz said these particular strategies are appealing to investors because they provide exposure to some hot “meme” stocks. Plus, as the world emerges from a global quarantine, he said there is a large appetite for strategic activity in mergers and acquisitions — a strong point for event-driven funds.

Since the first quarter of 2020 and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Heinz said investors have left their risk complacency in 2019. Heinz said 2019 was a “super beta year,” prompting inventors to worry less about risk and more about returns.

“I liken 2019 to the easiest year in the world to make money because everything went up,” Heinz said. “But then March reminded investors they had become complacent about risk.”

As they move into the new year and recover from the pandemic, investors have taken more defensive positioning against risks that were overlooked in 2019. As for the future of the hedge fund industry, Heinz said he believes the market has entered a period of expansion.

“Even though the markets have recovered and they’ve gone back to record highs, I think institutions that are allocating are still very much more cognizant of risk than they were prior to the first quarter of 2020,” he said. “I think that’s the reason that you’re seeing more capital inflows and more funds launching.”

https://i0.wp.com/onlinemarketingscoops.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Hamlin.jpg?resize=79%2C79&ssl=1

By: Jessica Hamlin

Source: Hedge Fund Launches Are Surging | Institutional Investor

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Critics:

A hedge fund is a pooled investment fund that trades in relatively liquid assets and is able to make extensive use of more complex trading, portfolio-construction and risk management techniques in an attempt to improve performance, such as short selling, leverage, and derivatives. Financial regulators generally restrict hedge fund marketing except to institutional investors, high net worth individuals and others who are considered sufficiently sophisticated.

Hedge funds are regarded as alternative investments. Their ability to make more extensive use of leverage and more complex investment techniques distinguishes them from regulated investment funds available to the retail market, such as mutual funds and ETFs. They are also considered distinct from private-equity funds and other similar closed-end funds.

As hedge funds generally invest in relatively liquid assets and are generally open-ended, meaning that they allow investors to invest and withdraw capital periodically based on the fund’s net asset value, whereas private-equity funds generally invest in illiquid assets and only return capital after a number of years. However, other than a fund’s regulatory status there are no formal or fixed definitions of fund types, and so there are different views of what can constitute a “hedge fund”.

What’s Worse Than a Pandemic? A Twindemic

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On the record of issues to fret about within the age of SARS-CoV-2, boring, outdated winter flu most likely doesn’t rank extremely. Particularly not in the course of a summer season warmth wave. And but it ought to.

Humanity has grown so accustomed to annual waves of influenza that it was the baseline comparability when Covid first arrived. (It’ll be simply one other flu, we stated.) The implication was that ranges of influenza illness, hospitalization and loss of life have been acceptable, even inevitable.

I used to be definitely responsible of that considering. Though my employer provides an annual flu shot, I typically didn’t hassle to get it. However the pandemic has uncovered the weak spot of our attitudes and insurance policies towards influenza. We now have a possibility to do issues otherwise. This isn’t an argument for flu-driven lockdowns or a nationwide paranoia about any bug. However we are able to construct higher defenses towards influenza at comparatively little value, and for a acquire in lives and health-care capability.

One purpose to get extra severe about flu is its value, each economically and in human phrases. Annual prices of treating influenza (routinely in extra of $10 billion within the U.S.) are vital, even whenever you simply have a look at hospital outlays for these most severely affected.

Influenza epidemics within the northern hemisphere have an effect on anyplace from 5% to fifteen% of the inhabitants yearly. On common, about 8% of the U.S. inhabitants get sick from flu every season. For many, it’s normally a light, if disagreeable expertise. However for some, it may be lethal.

The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management estimates that, on common, 36,000 folks have died of flu every year during the last decade, with 61,000 deaths within the 2017-2018 flu season. Within the U.Okay., the common is about 17,000 annual deaths. Clearly, Covid is a unique order of magnitude, however the prices to the health-care system from flu should not trivial.

The aged are most susceptible to flu, however so are pregnant ladies, very younger youngsters and people with different medical circumstances and weakened immune methods. Some who contract and recuperate from flu find yourself with post-viral signs that drag on. Lengthy Covid has confirmed us simply how debilitating these could be.

What occurs whenever you layer flu on high of Covid-19? We don’t actually know, since final winter noticed an extremely delicate flu season, principally as a consequence of measures equivalent to lockdowns, social distancing and masking. Infections charges for flu have been two-thirds decrease than in the course of the 2011-2012 season, which had file low charges.

We are able to’t depend on a repeat. The low prevalence of flu final 12 months makes it tougher to foretell which strains to incorporate on this winter’s vaccine. We might get fortunate once more, or issues might worsen: Lowered ranges of pure immunity after a couple of low-flu seasons might make it simpler for brand new variants to take maintain.

Britain, with its overstretched nationwide health-care system and gargantuan backlog of surgical procedures and different procedures, can scarcely afford a foul flu season. Consultations for influenza-like diseases take up substantial GP time and hospital capability in a standard 12 months. Excessive charges of flu on high of Covid can be a pressure too far, requiring substantial new authorities sources and leaving many individuals with out remedy.

However it’s not simply the compounded well being burden that ought to make us rethink influenza. The very fact is, we’ve got been far too complacent about flu for too lengthy. Many flu deaths are preventable with jabs and the sorts of behavioral modifications we’ve grown accustomed to from Covid.

Not solely did the social-distancing measures imposed in the course of the pandemic lower the unfold of flu, they’re additionally estimated to have led to a 20% drop within the widespread respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) within the U.S. RSV accounts for five% of the deaths in youngsters below 5 globally. The issue now, nonetheless, is that the current lifting of Covid restrictions has coincided with unseasonably excessive RSV circumstances within the U.S.

Larger ranges of flu vaccination can be a game-changer. Final winter, flu vaccine uptake in Britain reached file ranges, with the Nationwide Well being Service vaccinating greater than 80% of these over 65 — 10% increased than the earlier 12 months and forward of the World Well being Group purpose of 75% for the primary time.

However the vaccination price drops off with the younger. Lower than 45% of these below 65 with a number of underlying danger components will get vaccinated. Though greater than 2.5 million youngsters have been vaccinated by means of college packages, that’s nonetheless properly below half (47.5%) of all children. Uptake additionally varies throughout ethnic teams, with some minorities lagging in getting vaccines. Within the U.S., Black communities (the place vaccine charges are round 41%) had the best flu-related hospitalization price of any ethnicity.

A examine on the College of Bristol is presently searching for to find out what negative effects folks get when given the really useful flu vaccine together with both the Oxford/AstraZeneca or the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. Getting a joint Covid-19 booster shot and flu shot might guarantee that there’s extra flu vaccine protection.

In fact, the effectiveness of flu vaccines can range from one season to the following and from individual to individual. They’re usually between 40% and 60% efficient once they match up properly with the variants circulating.

So we’d be properly served to additionally apply our Covid habits to diseases like flu. Which may imply extra hybrid working throughout peak flu months or if there’s an outbreak. Masking at sure occasions, even when not obligatory, makes loads of sense too.

If Covid-19, like flu, goes to be a recurrent seasonal affliction — as appears possible — we might want to higher handle the stress on the well being methods in the course of the winter. Meaning being ready to finance increased ranges of care throughout these crunch intervals or doing extra to cut back the pressure on the system. We’ll most probably by no means remove influenza and different viruses, however we are able to make winters more cost effective and fewer depressing by elevating the bar on an sickness that many people handled too casually.

Source: What’s worse than a pandemic? A twindemic | Asia Post

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Critics:

As public health officials look to fall and winter, the specter of a new surge of Covid-19 gives them chills. But there is a scenario they dread even more: a severe flu season, resulting in a “twindemic.”

Even a mild flu season could stagger hospitals already coping with Covid-19 cases. And though officials don’t know yet what degree of severity to anticipate this year, they are worried large numbers of people could forgo flu shots, increasing the risk of widespread outbreaks.

The concern about a twindemic is so great that officials around the world are pushing the flu shot even before it becomes available in clinics and doctors’ offices. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been talking it up, urging corporate leaders to figure out ways to inoculate employees. The C.D.C. usually purchases 500,000 doses for uninsured adults but this year ordered an additional 9.3 million doses.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been imploring people to get the flu shot, “so that you could at least blunt the effect of one of those two potential respiratory infections.”

The flu vaccine is rarely mandated in the U.S. except by some health care facilities and nursery schools, but this month the statewide University of California system announced that because of the pandemic, it is requiring all 230,000 employees and 280,000 students to get the flu vaccine by November 1.

According to the C.D.C., flu season occurs in the fall and winter, peaking from December to February, and so was nearing its end as the pandemic began to flare in the United States in March.

Vaccine mandates are controversial. They’re also effective.

Guam tries to revive tourism with vaccine vacations.

Chicago will require masks in school this fall, regardless of vaccination status.

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Banks Are Giving the Ultra-Rich Cheap Loans to Fund Their Lifestyle

Billionaire hedge fund manager Alan Howard paid $59 million for a Manhattan townhouse in March. Just two months later he obtained a $30 million mortgage from Citigroup Inc.

Denis Sverdlov, worth $6.1 billion thanks to his shares in electric-vehicle maker Arrival, recently pledged part of that stake for a line of credit from the same bank. For Edgar and Clarissa Bronfman the loan collateral is paintings by Damien Hirst and Diego Rivera, among others. Philippe Laffont, meanwhile, pledged stakes in a dozen funds at his Coatue Management for a credit line at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

In the realm of personal finance, debt is largely viewed as a necessary evil, one that should be kept to a minimum. But with interest rates at record lows and many assets appreciating in value, it’s one of the most important pieces of the billionaire toolkit — and one of the hottest parts of private banking.

Thanks to the Bronfmans, Howards and Sverdlovs of the world, the biggest U.S. investment banks reported a sizable jump in the value of loans they’ve extended to their richest clients, driven mainly by demand for asset-backed debt.

Morgan Stanley’s tailored and securities-based lending portfolio approached $76 billion last quarter, a 43% increase from a year earlier. Bank of America Corp. reported a $67 billion balance of such loans, up more than 20% year-over-year, while loans at Citigroup’s private bank — including but not limited to securities-backed loans — rose 17%. Appetite for such credit was the primary driver of the 21% bump in average loans at JPMorgan’s asset- and wealth-management division. And at UBS Group AG, U.S. securities-based lending rose by $4 billion.

Borrowing Binge

“It’s a real business winner for the banks,” said Robert Weeber, chief executive officer of wealth-management firm Tiedemann Constantia, adding his clients have recently been offered the opportunity to borrow against real estate, security portfolios and even single-stock holdings.

Spokespeople for Howard, Arrival and Laffont declined to comment, while the Bronfmans didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Rock-bottom interest rates have fueled the biggest borrowing binge on record and even billionaires with enough cash to fill a swimming pool are loathe to sit it out.

And for good reason. With assets both public and private at historically lofty valuations, shareholders are hesitant to cash out and miss higher heights. Appian Corp. co-founder Matthew Calkins has pledged a chunk of his roughly $3.5 billion stake in the software company — whose shares have risen about 145% in the past year — for a loan.

“Families with wealth of $100 million or more can borrow at less than 1%,” said Dan Gimbel, principal at NEPC Private Wealth. “For their lifestyle, there may be things they want to purchase — a car or a boat or even a small business — and they may turn to that line of credit for those types of things rather than take money from the portfolio as they want that to be fully invested.”

Yachts and private jets have been especially popular buys in the past year, according to wealth managers, one of whom described it as borrowing to buy social distance.

‘Significant Benefit’

Loans also allow the ultra-wealthy to avoid the hit of capital gains taxes at a time when valuations are high and rates are poised to increase, perhaps even almost double. Postponing tax is a “significant benefit” for portfolios concentrated and diversified alike, according to Michael Farrell, managing director for SEI Private Wealth Management.

Critics say such loans are just one more wedge in America’s ever-widening wealth gap. “Asset-backed loans are one of the principal tools that the ultra-wealthy are using to game their tax obligations down to zero,” said Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies.

While using public equities as collateral is the most common tactic for banks loaning to the merely affluent, clients further up the wealth scale usually have a bevy of possessions they can feasibly pledge against, such as mansions, planes and even more esoteric collectibles, like watches and classic cars.

One big advantage for the wealthy borrowing now is the possibility that rates will ultimately rise and they can lock in low borrowing costs for decades. Some private banks offer mortgages on homes for as long as 20 years with fixed interest rates as low as 1% for the period.

The wealthy can also hedge against higher borrowing costs for a fraction of their pledged assets’ value, according to Ali Jamal, the founder of multifamily office Azura.

“With ultra-high-net worth clients, you’re often thinking about the next generation,” said Jamal, a former Julius Baer Group Ltd. managing director. “If you have a son or a daughter and you know they want to live one day in Milan, St. Moritz or Paris, you can now secure a future home for them and the bank is fixing your interest rate for as long as two decades.”

Risks Involved

Securities-based lending does comes with risks for the bank and the borrower. If asset values plunge, borrowers may have to cough up cash to meet margin calls. Banks prize their relationships with their richest clients, but foundered loans are both costly and humiliating.

Ask JPMorgan. The bank helped arrange a $500 million credit facility for WeWork founder Adam Neumann, pledged against the value of his stock, according to the Wall Street Journal. As the value of the co-working startup imploded, Softbank Group Corp. had to swoop in to help Neumann repay the loans and avert a significant loss for the bank.

A spokesperson for JPMorgan declined to comment.

Still, for the banks it’s a risk worth taking. Asked about securities-backed loans on last week’s earnings call, Morgan Stanley Chief Financial Officer Sharon Yeshaya said they’d “historically seen minimal losses.” Among the bank’s past clients is Elon Musk, who turned to them for $61 million in mortgages on five California properties in 2019, and who also has Tesla Inc. shares worth billions pledged to secure loans.

“As James [Gorman] has always said, it’s a product in which you lend wealthy clients their money back,” Yeshaya said, referring to Morgan Stanley’s chief executive officer. “And this is something that is resonating.”

By:

Source: Banks Are Giving the Ultra-Rich Cheap Loans to Fund Their Lifestyle

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How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

A client (who I’ll call “Alex”) asked me to help him prepare to interview for a CEO role with a start-up. It was the first time he had interviewed for the C-level, and when we met, he was visibly agitated. I asked what was wrong, and he explained that he felt “paralyzed” by his fear of failing at the high-stakes meeting.

Digging deeper, I discovered that Alex’s concern about the quality of his performance stemmed from a “setback” he had experienced and internalized while working at his previous company. As I listened to him describe the situation, it became clear that the failure was related to his company and outside industry factors, rather than to any misstep on his part. Despite that fact, Alex could not shake the perception that he himself had not succeeded, even though there was nothing he could have logically done to anticipate or change this outcome.

People are quick to blame themselves for failure, and companies hedge against it even if they pay lip service to the noble concept of trial and error. What can you do if you, like Alex, want to face your fear of screwing up and push beyond it to success? Here are four steps you can take:

Redefine failure. Behind many fears is worry about doing something wrong, looking foolish, or not meeting expectations — in other words, fear of failure. By framing a situation you’re dreading differently before you attempt it, you may be able to avoid some stress and anxiety.

Let’s go back to Alex as an example of how to execute this. As he thought about his interview, he realized that his initial bar for failing the task — “not being hired for the position” — was perhaps too high given that he’d never been a CEO and had never previously tried for that top job. Even if his interview went flawlessly, other factors might influence the hiring committee’s decision — such as predetermined preferences on the part of board members.

In coaching Alex through this approach, I encouraged him to redefine how he would view his performance in the interview. Was there a way he might interpret it differently from the get-go and be more open to signs of success, even if they were small? Could he, for example, redefine failure as not being able to answer any of the questions posed or receiving specific negative feedback? Could he redefine success as being able to answer each question to the best of his ability and receiving no criticisms about how he interviewed?

As it turned out, Alex did advance to the second round and was complimented on his preparedness. Ultimately, he did not get the job. But because he had shifted his mindset and redefined what constituted failure and success, he was able to absorb the results of the experience more gracefully and with less angst than he had expected.

Set approach goals (not avoidance goals). Goals can be classified as approach goals or avoidance goals based on whether you are motivated by wanting to achieve a positive outcome or avoid an adverse one. Psychologists have found that creating approach goals, or positively reframing avoidance goals, is beneficial for well-being. When you’re dreading a tough task and expect it to be difficult and unpleasant, you may unconsciously set goals around what you don’t want to happen rather than what you do want.

Though nervous about the process, Alex’s desire to become a CEO was an approach goal because it focused on what he wanted to achieve in his career rather than what he hoped to avoid. Although he didn’t land the first CEO job he tried to get, he did not let that fact deter him from keeping that as his objective and getting back out there.

If Alex had instead become discouraged about the outcome of his first C-level interview and decided to actively avoid the pain of rejection by never vying for the top spot again, he would have shifted from approach to avoidance mode. While developing an avoidance goal is a common response to a perceived failure, it’s important to keep in mind the costs of doing so. Research has shown that employees who take on an avoidance focus become twice as mentally fatigued as their approach-focused colleagues.

Create a “fear list.” Author and investor Tim Ferriss recommends “fear-setting,” creating a checklist of what you are afraid to do and what you fear will happen if you do it. In his Ted Talk on the subject, he shares how doing this enabled him to tackle some of his hardest challenges, resulting in some of his biggest successes.

I asked Alex to make three lists: first, the worst-case scenarios if he bombed the interview; second, things he could do to prevent the failure; and third, in the event the flop occurred, what could he do to repair it. Next, I asked him to write down the benefits of the attempted effort and the cost of inaction. This exercise helped him realize that although he was anxious, walking away from the opportunity would be more harmful to his career in the long run.

Focus on learning. The chips aren’t always going to fall where you want them to — but if you understand that reality going in, you can be prepared to wring the most value out of the experience, no matter the outcome.

To return to Alex, he was able to recognize through the coaching process that being hyper-focused on his previous company’s flop — and overestimating his role in it — caused him to panic about the CEO interview. When he shifted gears to focus not on his potential for failure but on what he would learn from competing at a higher level than he had before, he stopped sweating that first attempt and was able to see it as a steppingstone on a longer journey to the CEO seat.

With that mindset, he quickly pivoted away from his disappointment at not getting the offer to quickly planning for the next opportunity to interview for a similar role at another company.

Remember: it’s when you feel comfortable that you should be fearful, because it’s a sign that you’re not stepping far enough out of your comfort zone to take steps that will help you rise and thrive. By rethinking your fears using the four steps above, you can come to see apprehension as a teacher and guide to help you achieve your most important goals.

By: Susan Peppercorn / Harvard Business Review

Susan Peppercorn is an executive career transition coach and speaker. She is the author of Ditch Your Inner Critic at Work: Evidence-Based Strategies to Thrive in Your Career. Numerous publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, the Boston Globe, and SELF Magazine have tapped her for career advice. You can download her free Career Fit Self-Assessment and 25 Steps to a Successful Career Transition.

Source: Pocket

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References:

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The Shareholders Are Not The Owners Of A Corporation

The contention that the shareholders own companies is based, at best, on lack of understanding of the law, of business, and of history. At worst, it is driven by greed, power, and the desire to protect a business governance that has devastated much of America for some 40 years.

Why, you might ask, is the issue of who owns the corporation so vitally important? Because at the heart of the debate between two versions of capitalism lies controversy. One side feels a deep need to protect the interests of the shareholder first and foremost. The other side feels the pain that comes from de-prioritizing the other stakeholders in a corporation – including its employees, customers, and the community in which it lives.

In truth, the shareholder almost certainly will do as well with either version of capitalism. Change is always hard and threatening to those wanting to protect the status quo even if it won’t cost them a thing. But I contend there is a problem with the status quo, with the current version of capitalism, which serves the shareholders well, but has proven to be catastrophic for the vast majority of the American people and detrimental to American competitiveness on the global stage, particularly in our economic rivalry with China.

Further, it is now proving to be a major threat to our democracy. Thus, a change away from shareholder primacy capitalism must be made decisively and with utmost urgency. The defense of the status quo—shareholder primacy governance—rests increasingly on the rationale that the shareholders are the true owners of the corporation and therefore have the right to demand whatever is in their best interest.

But before we blindly adhere to that idea, it is vital we examine these versions of capitalism, the experience the nation has had with each; and why the issue of corporate ownership becomes an important – if not central — consideration.

Capitalism And Its Multiple Versions Of Governance

The ferocious debate in the U.S. today is really between two forms of capitalism. Not of capitalism itself which continues to be the most powerful economic engine ever created by humankind. Capitalism by itself with access to needed resources, including capital, labor, and a sustainable supply chain and embracing the principles of prudent risk taking, wise apportionment of incentives and rewards, and a commitment to practical long-term investment—acts like a brilliant inanimate engine.

It has no ethical or moral components. And that’s why the governance, the rules of engagement, become so very critical. Vitally, governance identifies the beneficiary of this amazing capitalist engine. In China, the capitalism engine is working brilliantly given what China intended. And there, the major beneficiary of much of the value creation goes to the Communist government. In some Nordic European nations, capitalism rewards both shareholders and, through taxes, government projects which provide citizens with some combination of free education and/or free healthcare. Much of Europe, through taxes, has a very elaborate societal safety net. But the engine is still primarily free enterprise capitalism.

Shareholder Primacy Capitalism

In the United States, the governance for the last 40 years has been clearly committed to give the shareholder priority over any other company stakeholders. This is the concept of shareholder primacy every CEO and board director knows: The purpose of business is to maximize short-term shareholder value. Recently, it has been contended that this is fair and just because the shareholders own the company.

The other stakeholders, for the last four decades, became secondary: the customers, the workers, the corporation itself, the vendors, community, the planet. Even in this system, the capitalist engine worked magnificently. As intended, it drove short-term shareholder value to unimaginable wealth and prosperity. The other stakeholders became deprived and exploited. And the guardians of this governance became the financial community which enforced the system with aggressive brutality.

The CEOs and others in the C-suite of top corporations became corrupted by equally unimaginable compensation, as long as they delivered on this shareholder demand. And if they couldn’t or didn’t do it, they were summarily dismissed. If and when the CEOs and boards of directors tried to deviate from this strict behavior, the company was punished by the financial community which has the power to drive down the company’s price in the stock market.

Before the pandemic, Bank of America downgraded Chipotle’s stock because an analyst decided the company was paying its workers too much. As a result, the company’s price declined by 3%. When American Airlines announced pay raises for its pilots and flight attendants, Wall Street punished the company by dropping its stock price 5%. The message sent to the market was clear — workers were to be squeezed and the benefits belong to shareholders. So, for 40 years workers’ wages have been relatively flat sitting at, or often below, inflation.

Lastly, in the past decade, shareholder primacy expanded the intensity of activists who acted like terrorists, blackmailing and terrorizing CEOs and corporate boards alike. Historically, activists have served the business community well. Often, they worked with management to help increase value creation. Occasionally, they did take over the company with intention to hold the stock and capitalize on the inherent, but previously underperforming, value creation.

But this new group of activists employ a different strategy. They take over the company, take out the cash, cut R&D, fire as many people as possible and in the shortest possible time, flipping the company after taking it public or selling the corpse to a strategic buyer. All in the name of maximizing short-term value. Of late, they don’t even have to take over the company. They buy in to the target company and threaten to run their standard play if the company will not “voluntarily” provide that extra short-term value at the expense of all the other stakeholders.

Another brutal tactic to drive shareholder value is the tax efficient practice of stock buybacks. Trillions of dollars have been created to benefit current shareholders in the stock market by reducing the number of available shares. This artificially increased the value of the remaining shares, without creating organic value to the enterprise. This is financial engineering at its best. (Prior to 1982, stock buybacks were illegal and were considered stock manipulation.)

Before the pandemic, 54% of business’ operating profits went to shareholders through stock buybacks and an additional 37% were distributed in dividends. Some 90% of American businesses’ operating profits ended up with shareholders. As a result, 25% of Americans by income, almost all shareholders, came to own close to 98% of the value of the stock market.

In the first four months of 2021, the stock buybacks practice continued and recorded the highest levels in 20 years. And what a negative impact this extraordinary use of operating profits turns out to be. Workers are grossly underpaid. And corporations that used to lead the way by investments in R&D and basic research were starved by this choice. America used to be the leader in technology, transportation, semiconductors, computers, medical science and more.

For example, America invented synthetic biology but now we trail Chinese scientists. And where are we on 5G technology? In a recent interview, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger cried out, “Our competition is out to eat our lunch. And if we don’t fight for it, every single frickin’ day, we are at risk of losing it.” Government investment support continues to be anemic as well. Simply put, business must step up. Because right now we’re setting stock buyback records. We are world champions at this, indeed.

But the most cruelly treated victims of shareholder primacy were the workers. Their unfair, unjust, and unreasonable wages created a catastrophic microeconomic disaster. It affected families; it created an unequal quality of education which placed American kids at the bottom half of the developed world. It also catapulted America as the most unequal nation with the most immobile society among peer nations. Just one more fact.

Prior to the pandemic, some 60% of American homes had to borrow money most months to put food on the table, or to pay to keep from losing the roof over their heads. So, this is the fallout from the shareholder primacy system. A perverse version of capitalism that the shareholder community today is fighting to protect. And it’s finding some allies in Congress as well, who are the recipients of huge contributions to their reelection campaigns.

Another serious impact of four decades of shareholder primacy is our democratic way of life. The affected Americans are losing hope in our government’s ability to be fair and just. Populist forces have exploited this group and authoritarian forms of government sprang forth in various parts of the world in the last 40 years (Turkey, Hungary, Poland). The same movement has been active and threatening our democratic institutions here in the United States.

This unjust version of capitalism is the driving force that created our vast socio-economic inequality here at home. It must be noted that the most egregiously affected and deprived groups in our society have been the black and brown communities as the Covid-19 pandemic so tragically demonstrated.

But if the shareholders do not own a public corporation, how can one continue to defend such a flawed and damaging form of capitalism? And this is why the question of who owns the corporation becomes an important part of why a better, more just, more balanced form of capitalism is absolutely America’s best choice moving forward.

So, Who Really Owns The Corporation?

Simply and clearly, the corporation owns its own assets. In the simplest terms, a private company became a public company when the original owners gave up ownership. In turn, they received a stock certificate outlining certain rights to profits and other privileges. What they got, again, was a stock certificate not a certificate of ownership. The word “ownership” does not appear in that document.

Additionally, while the shareholders are entitled to a portion of profits, as shareholders, they are no longer exposed to liabilities of the companies in which they hold shares. They are granted, in essence, total immunity! Furthermore, the shareholders can come into a stock whenever they want, and leave when they want (with very, very few exceptions). In today’s world, the stock owner may be a machine and shares may be held in a timeframe of milliseconds.

To me, these facts are ample and logical evidence that preclude a shareholder from being a true owner. Do you know any business “owner” large or small who assumes no risk or liability?  I highly doubt it. Legally, there is no evidence that stakeholders are owners. No law – absolutely none— can be found which states that shareholders own the corporation.

In her 2012 book The Shareholder Value Myth, Lynn Stout, who taught at Cornell University Law School, successfully argued that shareholders don’t own the company – this was the foundational insight of that book. The lie being purveyed was that the law required companies to serve shareholders with as much profit as quickly as possible. She was quick to dispel the notion, citing three core reasons:

  • Directors of public companies aren’t required by law to maximize shareholder value. Companies are formed to conduct legal activities, that’s all, and profit is not a mandatory requirement, though profitability is always an advantage.
  • Directors of a company have full control of it. Shareholders have no legal right to govern the activity of a company for their own benefit. Directors can decide to reduce, not increase share price, if they believe it’s in the best interest of the company itself.
  • Shareholder primacy, where short-term profits are the primary goal, often leads to tragic consequences for the common good.

How prescient Stout’s comments turned out to be.

For those desiring a more in-depth explanation, one can find it in the words of Marty Lipton, arguably one of the most respected iconic stewards of American corporate law. When participating in a roundtable discussion hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, Lipton concludes that the shareholder fundamentally does not own the corporation. In his own words, “I don’t view the shareholders as outright owners of the corporation in a way one would own a house or a car.

They’re investors in the corporation and own the equity, and they are thus important constituents, but they are not the owners of the corporation as a whole. And for that reason the company should not be run solely in the interest of the shareholders.” He adds, “corporations can only exist within the overall umbrella of government and society.” His dispassionate rigor and logic are most convincing.

The full roundtable transcript for those interested is here. Then there’s an “agency” ownership argument. Joseph Bower and Lynn Paine laid that argument to rest in a seminal piece in the Harvard Business Review in 2017. Conclusively, the shareholders are owners of stock in the corporation. They are not the owners of a corporation’s assets. There can be no further, reasonable argument.

The Best Path Forward For Business: Stakeholder Capitalism

Multi-Stakeholder Capitalism was the capitalist governance that started the modern capitalism era in America in 1945. It lasted for some 40 years. During this period, America became the most dominant economic and military nation in the world. In addition, America’s middle class grew to remarkable size and wealth. This group became the world’s largest economic market.

Remarkably, in this 40-year period, the middle class’s value grew more than twice the rate of America’s top one percent (by income). It was a period when most all segments in America saw significant economic progress (a tragic exception was most of the African American community). Business clearly understood the power and meaning of this multi-stakeholder capitalism.

The Johnson & Johnson Credo brilliantly encapsulated this business responsibility in a truly authentic document of historic importance. Thus, multi-stakeholder capitalism is not an experiment. It is a remarkable 40-year demonstration period in our business history. Moving from history to present day relevance, JUST Capital has become the leading not-for-profit organization promoting the adoption of stakeholder capitalism.

(As a disclosure, I serve as a director of JUST Capital.) It ranks the largest 1,000 corporations in America on a “justness” criterion — as defined by the American people via polling —a surrogate for the principles of stakeholder capitalism. The findings are dramatic. Many of the most “just” companies also deliver the greatest return to the shareholders. As I noted earlier, stakeholder capitalism works superbly well in producing long-term shareholder value. Think about it. Workers now receive a proper living wage.

They produce incremental value for the corporation, motivated by sharing in the incremental value they create. The key is that incremental value is now produced. Next, corporations invest more in R&D and Basic Research to compete with China and other nations. The planet will become more livable by their ESG commitments. All these activities in a synergistic and symbiotic way produce that greater long-term value for shareholders. This is what Milton Friedman truly advocated.

It turns out that shareholder primacy and its devastating consequences promptly belong in the dustbin of history. Freed of the false myth of corporate ownership and it’s dangerous governance, stakeholder capitalism opens the door to the entrepreneurial power of a truly free version of capitalism that can lift all boats and create inclusive prosperity for all Americans.

In the end, stakeholder capitalism is one of the essential pillars of a sustainable democracy and the journey to create an equal opportunity for all future generations. That vision is worth the battles we must fight today. So, onwards.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Peter Georgescu is the Chairman Emeritus of Young & Rubicam Inc., a network of preeminent commercial communications companies dedicated to helping clients build their businesses through the power of brands. I served as the company’s Chairman and CEO from 1994 until January 2000. For my contributions to the marketing industry I have been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. I immigrated to the United States from Romania in 1954. I graduated from Exeter Academy, received my B.A. with cum laude honors from Princeton and earned an MBA from the Stanford Business School. In 2006, I published my first book The Source of Success, asserting that personal values and creativity are the leading drivers of business success in the 21st Century. My second book, The Constant Choice, was published in January 2013. My latest book is Capitalists Arise! which deals with the consequences of income inequality and how business must begin to help solve the problem

Source: The Shareholders Are Not The Owners Of A Corporation

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“We are seeing a historic surge of cargo volume coming into our ports,” says Tom Bellerud, the chief operations officer of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which manages all cargo processing at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. “The terminals are having a difficult time keeping up with processing all the cargo off these vessels fast enough.”

On both land and at sea, the entire supply chain is struggling to keep up. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s become such a clusterfest that the U.S. Coast Guard has been redirecting boats to anchor off the coast of Whidbey Island and other places they typically don’t park. Ship crews are having to wait days, even weeks, for the chance to dock at the ports and offload their precious goods.

It’s the same story up and down the West Coast. In San Francisco Bay, the traffic jam of container ships has gotten so bad that the U.S. Coast Guard has been asking ships not to enter the bay at all. Robert Blomerth, director of the USCG’s San Francisco Vessel Traffic Service, said last week that there were 16 container ships waiting in the open ocean outside the Golden Gate to get in and unload their cargo. He says it’s “completely abnormal.”

When we spoke to Gene Seroka, the head of the Port of Los Angeles, he said his port had 19 ships waiting to dock and they’re now waiting, on average, about five days to get in. In normal times, they don’t have to wait at all.

Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Maritime, has spent 20 years studying the industry and he says what’s going on is unprecedented. “The container shipping industry is in a state of chaos that I don’t think it has ever been since it was invented,” he says.

The maiden voyage of the first container ship set sail from Newark, N.J., back in 1956. It may be hard to fathom just how big a deal this innovation was. It was just a big ship that carried containers, literally metal boxes. But these metal boxes enabled ships to carry dramatically more cargo, and, by standardizing shipping practices and using new machines to handle the boxes, shippers were able to slash costs and the time it takes to load, unload and transport that cargo.

Economists credit these metal boxes with increasing the efficiency of shipping so much that it stitched the modern global economy together more than anything else — more than all free-trade agreements put together.

Now economists are concerned that the plumbing provided by these miracle boxes and the vessels that transport them is clogged. It’s making it more difficult for stores to restock their shelves, manufacturers, carmakers and builders to get the parts they need, and farmers to export their products. It’s an important reason, analysts say, that we’re seeing consumer prices surge.

How did shipping get topsy-turvy?

In the early days of the pandemic, global trade hit an iceberg and sank into the abyss. The decline of maritime shipping was so dramatic that American scientists saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study what happened to whales in the absence of a constant deluge of vessels. The noise from the ships apparently stresses them out — kind of like they’re currently stressing out the residents of Whidbey Island.

Greater tranquility for whales in the first half of 2020 was the result of shipping companies canceling their trips and docking their ships. Then the economy rebounded, and American consumers unleashed a tidal wave of demand that swept through the shipping industry when they started shifting their spending patterns. Unable to spend money on going out, many started spending their money (and their stimulus checks) on manufactured goods — stuff that largely comes from China on container ships.

At first, it wasn’t the ships that were the problem; it was the containers. When the buying spree began, Chinese exporters struggled to get their hands on enough empty boxes, many of which were still stranded in the U.S. because of all the canceled trips at the beginning of the pandemic. More importantly, processing containers here has been taking longer because of all the disruptions and inefficiencies brought about by the pandemic. Containers have been piling up at dockyards, and trains and trucks have struggled to get them out fast enough.

“The pandemic has exacerbated longstanding problems with the nation’s supply chain, not just at the ports but in the warehouses, distribution centers, railroads, and other places that need to run smoothly in order for Longshore workers to move cargo off of the ships,” says Cameron Williams.

He’s an official at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dock workers, primarily on the West Coast. Dock workers have been working through the pandemic to handle the increased cargo volume, he says, and at least 17 ILWU workers lost their lives to COVID-19. “We continue to work hard and break records month after month to clear the cargo as quickly as the supply chain allows,” Williams says.

It’s been all hands on deck to supply ravenous consumers and businesses with the stuff they want. The resulting traffic jams at West Coast ports means it takes longer to unload stuff, which then extends the time it takes for ships to get back across the Pacific to reload.

That congestion was already creating massive delays on both ends of the shipping supply chain, tying up large numbers of containers and ships and leading to growing backlogs and shortages. Then, in March 2021, the Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, got stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt. While the blockage didn’t directly affect the Asia-West Coast shipping corridor, it added to the global shortage of ships and containers by stranding even more of them out at sea.

As if all this weren’t enough, last month there was a COVID-19 outbreak at the Yantian International Container Terminal in China, which is normally one of the busiest ports in the world. The Chinese government implemented stringent measures to control the outbreak, and as a result, more than 40 container ships had to anchor and wait. “In terms of the amount of cargo, what’s going on in South China right now is an even larger disturbance than the Suez canal incident,” Jensen says.

The effects on the American economy

With so much shipping capacity bogged down, importers and exporters have been competing for scarce containers and vessels and bidding up the price of shipping. The cost of shipping a container from China/East Asia to the West Coast has tripled since 2019, according to the Freightos Baltic Index. Many big importers pay for shipping through annual contracts, which means they’ve been somewhat insulated from surging prices, but they are starting to feel the pain as they renegotiate contracts.

Rising shipping costs and delays are starving the economy of the stuff it needs and contributing to shortages and inflation. It’s not just consumers and retailers that are affected: American exporters are complaining that shipping companies are so desperate to get containers back to China quickly that they’re making the return trip across the Pacific without waiting to fill up containers with American-made products. That’s bad news for those exporters — and for America’s ballooning trade deficit.

As for when it’s going to get better, none of the people we spoke to believes it’ll be anytime soon. And it’s not even considered peak season for the shipping industry yet. That typically begins in August, when American stores start building their inventories for the back-to-school and holiday seasons. The residents of Whidbey Island may have to continue dealing with the nuisance of gigantic, noisy ships cluttering up the horizon for the foreseeable future.

By:

Source: How ‘Chaos’ In The Shipping Industry Is Choking The Economy : Planet Money : NPR

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References:

Shipbuilding NewsCruise Ship News, Ports News ,Salvage News ,Training News ,Government News, Environment News,Corporate News, Maritime Executive , Volga Targets Market, Nuclear-Powered Cargo Ship, China’s Exports, American Vulkan’s Service Team, JFE Steel, OMSA, OceanManager Inc.

How To Become a Master at Talking To Strangers

A couple of years ago, I started to talk to strangers. That’s not to say I hadn’t talked to strangers before that, because I had. I’m the son and brother of highly social small-­business owners, and I’m a journalist, so talking to strangers has been both a way of life and a livelihood for me. And yet, a few years ago I noticed I wasn’t doing it much anymore — if at all. Between balancing a demanding job and a really demanding small child, I was often tired, distracted, and overscheduled. The prospect of striking up conversations with random strangers in coffee shops, or bars, or on the bus started to feel daunting. Eventually, I just stopped doing it.

This was a coping strategy, of course. I was overwhelmed, so something had to go. And talking to strangers can, as it turns out, be taxing. Psychologists have found that just making with a stranger can be cognitively demanding, tiring, and even stressful. That makes sense. You don’t know the person, you don’t know where the conversation is going, so you must pay closer attention than you would if you were talking to someone you know well. But psychologists have found that talking to a stranger actually boosts your mental performance — for that same reason: It’s a workout. I was saving myself a bit of effort, but I also noticed that my life was becoming less interesting, less surprising, maybe even a little lonely.

Related: 3 Ways to Make Memorable Small Talk That Gets People Interested In Working With You

After my epiphany, I got to wondering: Why don’t we talk to strangers more, what happens when we do, and how can we get better at it? It turns out, many researchers are asking the same questions. I started flying around the world to meet them: psychologists, evolutionary scientists, historians, urban planners, entrepreneurs, sociologists, and — you guessed it — a ton of fascinating strangers I met along the way. They all taught me that talking to strangers can not only be fun but also enhance our sense of well-being, make us smarter, expand our social and professional networks, and even help us overcome some of our most intractable social problems. (I detail this all in my new book, The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World.)

And as I researched the book, I kept coming back to the implications talking to strangers could have for entrepreneurs. Because I come from a family of small-business owners — and for a while served as executive editor at this magazine — I have seen firsthand how beneficial it is for businesspeople to hone those social skills. I have also spoken to a lot of college professors who lament that their students struggle to make the sorts of serendipitous social connections that will serve them so well once they start their careers. And, like all of us, I’m coming out of a year spent in relative quarantine. I’m rusty on these skills and need to get used to the sorts of fun, fruitful, and, yes, sometimes difficult freewheeling social interactions we were deprived of for more than a year.

All of which is to say, I decided that I needed to become an expert at talking to strangers. How? I signed up for a class unlike anything I’d ever taken before and bought a plane ticket to London.


Our journey begins on a bright day in a small classroom at Regent’s University. I’m sitting on a chair, limp with jet lag, clutching my third cup of coffee. There are four other people there, too. They appear to be functioning at a higher level than I am, thankfully. We have come to this classroom to learn how to talk to strangers.

Our teacher is an energetic 20-something named Georgie Nightingall. She’s the founder of Trigger Conversations, an acclaimed London-based “human connection organization” that hosts social events and immersive workshops aimed at helping people have meaningful interactions with strangers. Since she founded it in 2016, Nightingall has done more than 100 events and many training sessions — with strangers, companies, communities, universities, and conferences, both in London and around the world.

Related: How to Start a Conversation With Strangers at a Networking Event

Nightingall has learned that, for a lot of people, the hardest thing about talking to strangers is initiating the conversation: approaching someone, making them feel safe, and quickly conveying the idea that you don’t have an agenda, that you’re just being friendly or curious. She found that older people are much more likely to initiate a conversation, for instance, whereas younger people require a little more assurance. But she also found that in all her own attempts to speak to strangers, the vast majority of those interactions were substantial, and many went great.

She came to believe, too — and this is important — that making a practice of talking to strangers could offer more than a jolt of good feeling for an individual. There was joy in it, profundity, real communion. If practiced widely enough, she believed it could help repair a fracturing society. “We’re not just talking about a few individualized things,” she says. “We’re talking about a different way to live.”

Nightingall stands before our class, bright, engaging, and articulate, and walks us through what to expect over the coming days. She wants to take us “from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, and from conscious competence to unconscious competence,” she says. In other words, we are currently bad at this and we’re unaware of why or how. We will learn what we are lacking. We will improve on it. And we will, hopefully, become so proficient that it will become second nature to us.

Our first lesson is small talk. A lot of people hate small talk, which is understandable, because a lot of small talk is deadly boring. Nightingall concedes the point. Yes, she says, small talk can be dull. But that’s because most people don’t understand what it’s for. It’s not the conversation. It’s the opener for a better conversation. It’s a way to get comfortable with one another and cast around for something you want to talk about. That, she says, is why it’s important to be aware of your response when someone asks something like “What do you do?” You are failing to understand what that question is really asking, which is this: “What should you and I talk about?”

Nightingall came to this insight via a couple of sources. She had done improve comedy in the past, and in improve, you start a sketch with something familiar to everyone in the audience — something relevant, timely, or present in the room — to bind the room together. Only then can you really take the audience on a ride. That’s small talk. But Nightingall has also followed the work of social anthropologist Kate Fox, who has studied, for instance, the seemingly inexhaustible English desire to discuss weather. While some critics have pointed to this affinity as evidence of a listless and unimaginative people, Fox argued that weather wasn’t the point. Instead, it is a means of social bonding, a greeting ritual. “English weather-speak is a form of code, evolved to help us overcome our natural reserve and actually talk to each other,” Fox writes. The content is not the point — familiarity, connection, and reassurance are. Once those are in place, a real conversation can happen.

When you recognize that small talk is just a door to a better conversation, Nightingall says, then it can be useful, because it’s structured in a way that naturally leads you toward common ground. We have all experienced how these conversations, if given the time, can move in ever-tightening circles until you both zero in on something you have in common and want to talk about. With that in place, you can wander, get a little personal, go deeper. But it’s probably on you to take it there, Nightingall says. “Everyone is interesting, but it’s not up to them to show you — it’s up to you to discover it.”

The best way to discover that interesting stuff, Nightingall says, is by “breaking the script.” That means using the techniques of small talk, but resisting the temptation to go on autopilot. For example, you go into a store and say, “How are you doing?” and the clerk says, “Fine; how are you?” and the conversation contains no information and goes nowhere. That’s a script. We use scripts to make interactions more efficient, particularly in busy, dense, fast-moving places like big cities. But in doing so, we deny ourselves the chance at a better experience and maybe a new contact, and we wall ourselves off from all the benefits that can come from talking to strangers.

Related: 10 Ways to Connect With Absolutely Anyone You Meet

So how do you break those scripts? With specificity and surprise, Nightingall says. For example, when someone says, “How are you?” she doesn’t say, “Fine.” Instead, she says, “I’d say I’m a 7.5 out of 10.” She briefly explains why she’s a 7.5, asks them how they’re doing, and then just waits. This is when mirroring kicks in; it’s a phenomenon where people naturally follow the lead of their conversational partners. If you say something generic, they will say something generic. If you say something specific, they are likely to as well. Thus, because Nightingall gave a number, her partner is likely to give a number themselves. If they say they’re a 6, Nightingall will ask, “What’ll it take to get you to an 8?” This specificity creates a light atmosphere and makes it harder for the other person to maintain the that you’re of a lesser mind, because it instantly demonstrates complexity, feeling, and humor: humanity, in other words. “Straightaway, they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re a human,’ ” Nightingall says. “You have that bond, and then, naturally, things open up.”

Here are other ways Nightingall suggests breaking a script. When a shop clerk asks, “Can I help you?” you can reply, “Can I help you?” Or instead of asking people at a party what they do, ask them what they’d like to do more of, or what they don’t do. Or instead of asking someone how their day went, ask, “Has your day lived up to your expectations?” All these things require a certain measure of confidence to pull off, Nightingall says. But they work. And when they do, they will reveal a little nugget of what it’s like to be that person. That is meaningful, because that nugget is indicative of what is beneath the surface. “How you do anything is how you do everything,” Nightingall says. That nugget tells you where to go next in the conversation.


Once you’ve established a little connection, what do you do? I normally start asking questions. Which makes sense: I’m showing an interest in the other person, and I demonstrate my interest by indulging my curiosity. But one paradox about talking to a stranger, Nightingall explains, is that while curiosity is indispensable, a barrage of questions out of the gate can feel like prying, or an interview. They don’t quite know where you’re coming from yet, and they don’t know if you have some kind of agenda. Even one personal question asked too early can create an uncomfortable dynamic because you’re asking something of someone. You’re making a demand.

Nightingall suggests that statements, not questions, can be a better way to open a conversation. A question compels an answer, whereas a statement leaves it up to the other person to decide whether they want to talk. It’s not a demand; it’s an offer. You notice something about your shared surroundings, offer an observation, and leave it to the other party to respond. If they do, you respond with another statement that builds on what they said.

These observations should ideally not be moronic — “I noticed that the sun came up today!” — but they can be simple. Like weather talk in England, the point is to indicate a shared experience. Nightingall has found that proximity helps, too. If you are at a museum, walking right up to someone looking at a painting and blurting out “What do you think?” is very different from making an observation about a painting after standing next to them for 30 seconds looking at it. That’s because you have been in their proximity. They have adjusted to your being there, and you have demonstrated a measure of self-control. Then you can speak. It feels less like an invasion.

Related: How to Become a Master Communicator by Following This One Rule

One day in class, my fellow students and I pair off to practice our technique. I’m partnered with “Paula,” who tells me that one of her favorite things is making a cup of good coffee for herself on the weekends and just sitting alone. I try to remember Nightingall’s advice about opening with statements, not questions, but now we’re in a groove — so I dig in. After four questions, Paula is talking about how resentful she is at having to work for other people. I’m obviously quite pleased with myself as I trot back to Nightingall with this pheasant in my mouth. But she is less impressed. She delicately explains that while “it’s clear you’re a person who asks questions for a living,” everything about my suggested I was looking for something to pounce on. I asked questions too quickly, she said. I was leaning forward. This wasn’t a conversation; it was an interview. Possibly an interrogation.

Nightingall suggested asking simpler and more open-ended questions. Instead of saying, “Do you think this was because you were a control freak?” just echo, or say, “Why do you think that is?” That is the opposite of what I usually do, but it’s what I must learn to do. In a good conversation, you must relinquish control. Your job is to help your partner arrive at their own conclusion and surprise you, not to ferret out whatever it is, slap a bow on it, and go, Next! There’s a powerful lesson there: If you’re interested only in things you know you’re interested in, you will never be surprised. You’ll never learn anything new, or gain a fresh perspective, or make a new friend or contact. The key to talking to strangers, it turns out, is letting go, letting them lead. Then the world opens itself to you.

Why don’t we talk to strangers? The answer I heard, over and over again from experts, is simply that we don’t talk to strangers. In many places, for many reasons, it has become a social norm, and social norms are really powerful. That is why Nightingall uses what she calls a foolproof method to not just violate the norm — but to openly acknowledge that you are violating the norm.

She asks us to imagine riding mass transit — which, as we know, is the last place anyone ever talks to a stranger. There is someone who strikes us as interesting. We can’t turn to that person and say, “Why do I find you so interesting?” because if you said something like that to a stranger on the subway, they’re going to assume this is the initiation of a chain of events that will ultimately conclude with their becoming crude homemade taxidermy. So Nightingall suggests something called a pre-frame. It’s an idea based in the field of neurolinguistic programming, which coaches people to “reframe” the possible negative thoughts of others — ­­in essence redefining their expectations for the interaction to come. Ordinarily, we might be wary if a stranger just starts talking to us. We don’t know who they are, or what they want, or whether they’re right in the head. What a pre-frame does is reassure them that you know all this.

To do it, you acknowledge out of the gate that this is a violation of a social norm. You say something like “Look, I know we’re not supposed to talk to people on the subway, but…” This demonstrates that you’re in full possession of your faculties. You’re not erratic, disturbed, or otherwise off in some way. It helps alleviate wariness and opens the possibility of a connection. Once that is established, Nightingall says, you follow the pre-frame with your statement — “I really like your sunglasses,” for instance. Then you follow that with a justification: “I just lost mine and I’ve been looking for a new pair.” The justification eases the person’s suspicion that you have some kind of agenda and allows you to talk a little more openly.

Related: What to Do When You Don’t Know Anyone in the Room

That’s when questions become more important, Nightingall says. Questions serve a multitude of functions, which is why, as I learned in my exercise with Paula, they can be so complicated. Yes, questions help you obtain information. And yes, on a deeper level, they help your conversational partner clarify the point they are trying to make. But they also help us emotionally bond with other people. In a series of studies in 2017, psychologist Karen Huang and her colleagues discovered that “people who ask more questions, particularly follow-up questions, are better liked by their conversation partners.” Those who ask more questions, the authors found, are perceived as higher in responsiveness — which is defined as “listening, , validation, and care.” In other words, people like us because we are interested in them.

And yet, the researchers noted, people tend not to ask a lot of questions. Why? Several reasons. “First,” Huang writes, “people may not think to ask questions at all…because people are egocentric — ­focused on expressing their own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs with little or no interest in hearing what another person has to say. Or they may be so distracted by other aspects of the conversation that they do not realize that asking a question is an option.” Even if a question does pop into someone’s head, they may not ask it, because they worry it’ll land badly and be “perceived as rude, inappropriate, intrusive, or incompetent.” In these cases, people will probably just talk about themselves, which studies show they do twice as often as they talk about other matters — ­which, ironically, makes people like them less. (Good work, everybody.)

But what’s a good question to ask? Nightingall has us complete an exercise in which we are given banal statements — the sort commonly offered in small talk—and tasked with coming up with good questions. For instance, one student says she ran along the Thames yesterday. There is almost nothing in the world less interesting to me than running, and usually I’d take this as my cue to begin plotting my escape. But, working from the idea that small talk is the means, not the end, the class brainstorms good questions to ask that might lead to something more personal or interesting: “Do you run every day?” “Is that a passion for you?” “What would you do if you couldn’t run every day?” I suggest, “What are you running from?” which is meant as a joke, but the class seems to go for it.

Then we move on to the flip side of question-asking: It is listening. When people do start talking, you must listen, make eye contact, and generally show you’re engaged. We know this, of course. But we are not always good at showing it. Two effective techniques to signal engagement are paraphrasing what people have just said — “It seems like you’re saying…” — and echoing — which is simply occasionally repeating things your partner just said—both of which are commonly used by therapists and hostage negotiators to foster connection and build trust. For instance, if they say, “I guess at that point I was frustrated,” you say, “You were frustrated.” This seems deeply weird and unnatural, and feels awkward to do, and if you overdo it, your partner is going to think something’s wrong with you. But I am here to attest that, done well, it is extremely effective. It’s like a magic trick. Researchers have concluded as much. According to the French psychologists Nicolas Guéguen and Angélique Martin, “Research has shown that mimicry…leads to greater liking of the mimicker” and helps create rapport during a social interaction.

Nightingall breaks down listening into three levels. There is listening for things you know about. That’s the most superficial level. That’s when someone says something about baseball and you jump on it and start talking about baseball. Then there is listening for information — you show curiosity about someone but your questions are about collecting factual data. That’s also more about you and your interests. And then there’s the deepest level of listening: listening for experiences, feelings, motivations, and values. That kind of listening is more than simply hearing, or self-­affirmation. It’s paying attention and endeavoring to understand. It is demonstrated with eye contact, echoing, and paraphrasing, and it can be deepened by asking clarifying questions —­ Why? How? Who? — that help the person get to the heart of the matter.

In other words, at this level of listening, you are not simply listening for something you want to talk about, or offering advice, or trying to think of something smart to say in response. It’s not about your agenda. It is a level of engagement that is about helping your partner get to what they really want to talk about, and you going along for the ride. You still want to talk about yourself a bit, Nightingall says — to give a little, and not leave the person feeling like you’ve just rummaged around in the bureau of their personal life and made off with a watch. But you want most of the focus to be on them. It is, again, a form of . You are hosting someone. You are surrendering a measure of control. You are giving them space. You are taking a risk. That risk opens you to the potential rewards of talking to a stranger.

During lunch and after class, I try out some of these techniques around London. I ask a 20-something bartender at a pub if the day has met her expectations, and she confesses with very little prompting that yes, it has. She’s about to quit her day job. She feels she’s been sold a bill of goods about the merits of a straight corporate career, and she’s going to empty her savings and travel the world. She hasn’t told anyone this yet, she says. But she will soon.

At lunch at a Lebanese takeout restaurant, I ask the owner what items he’s most proud of — because that’s what I want. He starts taking bits of this and that and dropping them into my bag. I tell him I grew up in a white neighborhood, and when I was a kid, a Lebanese family moved in behind us and used to hand us plates over the fence of what was at that time very exotic food. Since then, Lebanese food has always been among my favorites. Curiously, when I eat it, I think about home. This, as Nightingall instructed, was me opening up the conversation with a statement, not a question. The owner tells me that in Lebanon, that kind of hospitality is a big deal; people always make a lot of food for visitors. While he talks, he keeps dropping more food into my bag. When he’s done, the bag weighs about five pounds and he charges me for maybe a third of it.

Related: Here’s How to Strike Up a Conversation With Almost Anyone

At the end of the final day of class, Nightingall tells us that practice will be everything. Some encounters will go poorly, she says, and some will be great, but in time, we will get more comfortable with doing this as we internalize the techniques we have learned. We will be able to get a little bolder or more playful. Our confidence, tone, and body language will alleviate people’s wariness at the flagrant violation of a social norm of long standing.

Indeed, Nightingall is something of a wizard at this. She once started a conversation with a man on the tube just by pointing at his hat, smiling, and saying, simply, “Hat.” She will randomly high-five people in the street, she says. She smiles at people going the opposite direction down an escalator just to see if they’ll smile back. She doesn’t order an Americano; she orders “the best Americano in the world.” And people respond. During a break one day, I walked into the campus Starbucks to get more coffee. Nightingall was already in there, talking animatedly with a barista she’d never met before. When she and I walked out, she told me he gave her the coffee on the house.

Nightingall’s free coffee, my Lebanese meal — these were not coincidences. As I learned repeatedly while testing techniques of talking to strangers, I’d often be rewarded with free food. There are, of course, far more fruitful, meaningful, and valuable reasons to talk to strangers. But the food stuck with me. Then I realized why: When you start a good conversation with a stranger, it’s like you’re giving them an uncommon gift. And more often than not, they want to give you something in return.

Joe Keohane

By: Joe Keohane / Magazine Contributor

Source: How to Become a Master at Talking to Strangers

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References:

“Micro review: ‘Talking to Strangers’ by Malcolm Gladwell – Times of India”. The Times of India. 5 October 2019. Retrieved 2020-04-07.v

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How To Squeeze Yields Up To 6.9% From Blue-Chip Stocks

Closeup of blue poker chip on red felt card table surface with spot light on chip

Preferred stocks are the little-known answer to the dividend question: How do I juice meaningful 5% to 6% yields from my favorite blue-chip stocks? “Common” blue chips stocks usually don’t pay 5% to 6%. Heck, the S&P 500’s current yield, at just 1.3%, is its lowest in decades.

But we can consider the exact same 505 companies in the popular index—names like JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Broadcom (AVGO) and NextEra Energy (NEE)—and find yields from 4.2% to 6.9%. If we’re talking about a million dollar retirement portfolio, this is the difference between $13,000 in annual dividend income and $42,000. Or, better yet, $69,000 per year with my top recommendation.

Most investors don’t know about this easy-to-find “dividend loophole” because most only buy “common” stock. Type AVGO into your brokerage account, and the quote that your machine spits back will be the common variety.

But many companies have another class of shares. This “preferred payout tier” delivers dividends that are far more generous.

Companies sometimes issue preferred stock rather than issuing bonds to raise cash. And these preferred dividends have a few benefits:

  • They receive priority over dividends paid on common shares.
  • Sometimes, preferred dividends are “cumulative”—if any dividends are missed, those dividends still have to be paid out before dividends can be paid to any other shareholders.
  • They’re typically far juicier than the modest dividends paid out on common stock. A company whose commons yield 1% or 2% might still distribute 5% to 7% to preferred shareholders.

But it’s not all gravy.

You’ll sometimes hear investors call preferreds “hybrid” securities. That’s because they act like a part-stock, part-bond holding. The way they resemble bonds is how they trade around a par value over time, so while preferreds can deliver price upside, they don’t tend to deliver much.

No, the point of preferreds is income and safety.

Now, we could go out and buy individual preferreds, but there’s precious little research out there allowing us to make a truly informed decision about any one company’s preferreds. Instead, we’re usually going to be better off buying preferred funds.

But which preferred funds make the cut? Let’s look at some of the most popular options, delivering anywhere between 4.2% to 6.9% at the moment.

Wall Street’s Two Largest Preferred ETFs

I want to start with the iShares Preferred and Income Securities (PFF, 4.2% yield) and Invesco Preferred ETF (PGX, 4.5%). These are the two largest preferred-stock ETFs on the market, collectively accounting for some $27 billion in funds under management.

On the surface, they’re pretty similar in nature. Both invest in a few hundred preferred stocks. Both have a majority of their holdings in the financial sector (PFF 60%, PGX 67%). Both offer affordable fees given their specialty (PFF 0.46%, PGX 0.52%).

There are a few notable differences, however. PGX has a better credit profile, with 54% of its preferreds in BBB-rated (investment-grade debt) and another 38% in BB, the highest level of “junk.” PFF has just 48% in BBB-graded preferreds and 22% in BBs; nearly a quarter of its portfolio isn’t rated.

Also, the Invesco fund spreads around its non-financial allocation to more sectors: utilities, real estate, communication services, consumer discretionary, energy, industrials and materials. Meanwhile, iShares’ PFF only boasts industrial and utility preferreds in addition to its massive financial-sector base.

PGX might have the edge on PFF, but both funds are limited by their plain-vanilla, indexed nature. That’s why, when it comes to preferreds, I typically look to closed-end funds.

Closed-End Preferred Funds

CEFs offer a few perks that allow us to make the most out of this asset class.

For one, most preferred ETFs are indexed, but all preferred CEFs are actively managed. That’s a big advantage in preferred stocks, where skilled pickers can take advantage of deep values and quick changes in the preferred markets, while index funds must simply wait until their next rebalancing to jump in.

Closed-end funds also allow for the use of debt to amplify their investments, both in yield and performance. Should the manager want, CEFs can also use options or other tools to further juice returns.

And they often pay out their fatter dividends every month!

Take John Hancock Preferred Income Fund II (HPF, 6.9% yield), for example. It’s a tighter portfolio than PFF or PGX, at just under 120 holdings from the likes of CenterPoint Energy (CNP), U.S. Cellular (USM) and Wells Fargo (WFC).

Manager discretion means a lot here. That is, HPF doesn’t just invest in preferreds, which are 70% of assets. It also has 22% invested in corporate bonds, another 4% or so in common stock, and trace holdings of foreign stock, U.S. government agency debt and cash. And it has a whopping 32% debt leverage ratio that really helps prop up the yield and provide better returns (though at the cost of a bumpier ride).

You have a similar situation with Flaherty & Crumrine Preferred and Income Securities Fund (FFC, 6.7%).

Here, you’re wading deep into the financial sector at nearly 80% exposure, with decent-sized holdings in utilities (7%) and energy (7%). Credit quality is roughly in between PFF and PGX, with 44% BBB, 37% BB and 19% unrated.

Nonetheless, smart management selection (and a healthy 31% in debt leverage) has led to far better, albeit noisier, returns than its indexed competitors. The Cohen & Steers Select Preferred and Income Fund (PSF, 6.0%) is about as pure a play as you could want in preferreds.

And it’s also a pure performer.

PSF is 100% invested in preferred stock (well, more like 128% if you count debt leverage), and actually breaks out its preferreds into institutionals that trade over-the-counter (83%), retail preferreds that trade on an exchange (16%) and floating-rate preferreds that trade OTC or on exchanges (1%).

Like any other preferred fund, you’re heavily invested in the financial sector at nearly 73%. But you do get geographic diversification, as only a little more than half of PSF’s assets are invested in the U.S. Other well-represented countries include the U.K. (13%), Canada (7%) and France (6%).

What’s not to love?

Brett Owens is chief investment strategist for Contrarian Outlook. For more great income ideas, get your free copy his latest special report: Your Early Retirement Portfolio: 7% Dividends Every Month Forever.

I graduated from Cornell University and soon thereafter left Corporate America permanently at age 26 to co-found two successful SaaS (Software as a Service) companies. Today they serve more than 26,000 business users combined. I took my software profits and started investing in dividend-paying stocks. Today, it’s almost impossible to find good stocks that pay a quality yield. So I employ a contrarian approach to locate high payouts that are available thanks to some sort of broader misjudgment. Renowned billionaire investor Howard Marks called this “second-level thinking.” It’s looking past the consensus belief about an investment to map out a range of probabilities to locate value. It is possible to find secure yields of 6% or more in today’s market – it just requires a second-level mindset.

Source: How To Squeeze Yields Up To 6.9% From Blue-Chip Stocks

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Critics:

A blue chip is stock in a stock corporation (contrasted with non-stock one) with a national reputation for quality, reliability, and the ability to operate profitably in good and bad times. As befits the sometimes high-risk nature of stock picking, the term “blue chip” derives from poker. The simplest sets of poker chips include white, red, and blue chips, with tradition dictating that the blues are highest in value. If a white chip is worth $1, a red is usually worth $5, and a blue $25.

In 19th-century United States, there was enough of a tradition of using blue chips for higher values that “blue chip” in noun and adjective senses signaling high-value chips and high-value property are attested since 1873 and 1894, respectively. This established connotation was first extended to the sense of a blue-chip stock in the 1920s. According to Dow Jones company folklore, this sense extension was coined by Oliver Gingold (an early employee of the company that would become Dow Jones) sometime in the 1920s, when Gingold was standing by the stock ticker at the brokerage firm that later became Merrill Lynch.

Noticing several trades at $200 or $250 a share or more, he said to Lucien Hooper of stock brokerage W.E. Hutton & Co. that he intended to return to the office to “write about these blue-chip stocks”. It has been in use ever since, originally in reference to high-priced stocks, more commonly used today to refer to high-quality stocks.

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