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World’s Largest Business Organization Embraces Blockchain

From the embers of World War I emerged a new kind of organization, led by entrepreneurs, committed to ensuring the free flow of goods across the world’s war-ravaged borders.

The International Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is to streamline global business, is one of last vestiges of the League of Nations, founded in 1920 by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to peacefully settle international disputes. By 1923, following the League’s lead, the ICC had established international courts to arbitrate business disputes, and in the aftermath of WW II, it represented global business interests at the Bretton Woods conference, which established the current monetary order.

“If goods are able to move across borders without the need to be accompanied by troops,” says John Denton, the ICC’s current secretary general, “there is a higher probability of peace and prosperity.” The Paris-based group, which represents 45 million businesses in more than 130 countries and brands itself the world’s largest business organization, is now making its boldest play in a generation.

With global borders hardening once again, this time behind border walls, broken unions and looming trade wars, Denton signed an agreement with the Singapore-based blockchain startup Perlin Net Group to explore how the technology, made popular by bitcoin for its ability to move value without banks, could help the ICC continue its mission to facilitate the free flow of goods.

“We can trace back the ICC interventions that made a big impact on the global economy in the 20th century,” says Denton, who was a fellow at the Australian Institute of International Affairs before being appointed secretary general of the ICC last year. “We think this might be one which we can look back on in 100 years and say the ICC shifted blockchain in a way that enabled the private sector to function more effectively in a sustainable way and actually create more opportunities for people.”

According to the terms of the agreement, part of which was shown to Forbes, the ICC and Perlin will create a new group, the ICC Blockchain/DLT Alliance, a reference to distributed ledger technology similar to the blockchain that powers bitcoin. The companies are exploring how Perlin’s blockchain platform, which has yet to publicly launch, could be used to shine a light on obscure supply chains and simplify cross-border trade finance.

As part of the agreement, the ICC will help Perlin recruit members to its nascent blockchain alliance, specifically by making introductions to the organization’s massive member pool, which in addition to most national chambers of commerce includes direct membership from companies like Amazon, Coca Cola, Fedex, McDonalds and PayPal. Also, as part of the agreement, Perlin will join the ICC as an official technology partner, offering free access to its blockchain platform during the early stages of the project.

Denton shared his plans with the ICC Banking Commission at its annual event in Beijing earlier this week, and the agreement, which was signed on March 20, will be formally announced at an ICC event in Singapore later today.

Unlike some early blockchain consortia, the ICC Blockchain/DLT Alliance already had projects under way when it was announced. According to the agreement, the ICC and Perlin will share the results of their first blockchain proof of concept, a collaboration with the fabric giant Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), in May at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

For that project, called “Follow Our Fibre,” APR is logging data in the blockchain at every level of its supply chain, from the trees that are harvested to the chemical treatments that turn them into the silk-like rayon substance through to the massive spools that are later sold to clothing producers.

“Globally, there is a dynamic shift in the textiles and fashion sectors calling for a more traceable and transparent supply chain,” says Cherie Tan, vice president of communications and sustainability at APR. “Follow Our Fibre will enable us to leverage powerful blockchain functionality to drive greater efficiencies.”

Other proofs of concept in the works that stand to benefit from the ICC partnership include a project with Mfused, a cannabis processor in Washington State that is using Perlin’s tech to prove the origin of its plants by recording every level of its supply chain, from when they are planted to when the cannabis is inhaled, in a shared, distributed ledger; a project with an unnamed tuna processor in Latin America; and a developing project in Africa to trace the origin of cobalt, which has a long history of being mined by unethical supply chain participants.

Assuming enough supply chains are unified on the Perlin blockchain, businesses could log digital representations of the commodities, called tokens, on the platform. This will enable the counterparties to trade directly, with bills of lading required to move freight and letters of credit, which are typically handled by banks, all tracked directly on the shared ledger.

“An interesting economic model is we could effectively launch governance around this,” says Denton. “If we’re able to tokenize this we could insert ourselves as the trusted intermediary, and there would probably be an admin charge, but not much.” A 2018 report by the ICC, the World Bank and others found that 90% of the world’s trade finance was being provided by 13 banks, something Denton thinks is evidence of a need to decentralize.

Perlin’s blockchain, like ethereum’s, is being designed to let users track and move all kinds of value and write distributed applications (dapps) that don’t rely on centralized processors. Also like ethereum, Perlin will have a native cryptocurrency, called perls, which are expected to be minted over the coming three months or so, depending on regulatory considerations.

While supply chain management is increasingly seen as ripe for disruption by blockchain, models like Perlin’s, which rely on tokens, have had difficulty gaining traction as regulators clamp down on what is required of such tokens. By contrast, models using permissioned blockchains, such as what IBM is doing with a number of industry-specific consortia, and what R3 and Hyperledger are doing more generally, are seeing broader interest.

Perlin founder Dorjee Sun positions the nascent ICC network as similar to competing consortia but for small and medium-size businesses. “This is a massive democratization effort of DLT, because now any company of the 45 million ICC members can give the benefits of DLT a try,” says Sun. “Not just massive companies that can afford IBM’s services.”

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I report on how blockchain and cryptocurrencies are being adopted by enterprises and the broader business community. My coverage includes the use of cryptocurrencies suc…

Source: World’s Largest Business Organization Embraces Blockchain

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Whopper Of A Turnaround: At Burger King, The 3G Capital Model Actually Worked

Challenge: Make a 60-year-old ham­bur­ger chain into something cool. Daniel Schwartz accepted that assignment six years ago after 3G Capital took over Burger King and named Schwartz chief executive. He was 32.

Burger King was a tired outfit, with a confusing menu and sales going sideways. Its restaurants averaged half the revenue of McDonald’s. But where there is underperformance, there is ­opportunity. Schwartz slashed overhead at the Miami headquarters. He streamlined food preparation. He dished out stock to middle managers. He shrank the payroll and the capital budget by selling company-owned stores to franchisees.

In the years since, Burger King has become Restaurant Brands International (following some more classic 3G dealmaking). Restaurant Brands is now a growth stock. Bur­ger King opened up 1,000 restaurants around the globe last year, to 600 for McDonald’s. McDonald’s stores still have a bigger average volume, but Burger King’s are gaining on them; in the U.S., BK boosted its average volume per outlet by 30%, to $1.4 million, while McDonald’s had a gain of only 20%. All of Burger King’s success is, of course, in stark contrast to what’s going on at Kraft Heinz, another 3G turnaround that went the other way. In February, Kraft Heinz said it was taking a $15.4 billion write-down, a signal that its classic food brands were losing value.

The situation is different at Burger King. At the parent-company level, where revenue consists mostly of franchise fees, Restaurant Brands took in $5.4 billion last year, up 17% from 2017. McDonald’s revenue was off 8%.

“How many companies that have been around since the 1950s grow the top line at 10%?” says Schwartz, 38.

For a fast-food conglomerate that oversees 26,000 locations with combined sales of $32 billion, Restaurant Brands is quite agile. Three months ago the company introduced the Whopper Detour promotion, in which Burger King offered its signature item for a cent if the customer ordered food on the BK phone app within 600 feet of a McDonald’s location. In February came the 45-second Super Bowl ad featuring historic footage of Andy Warhol slowly unwrapping and methodically eating a Whopper. The BK app topped the charts in Apple’s App Store during the campaign; throughout the Super Bowl, “Andy Warhol” was the most searched term on Google.

Maybe Schwartz can even make his ham­bur­ger chain cool enough for New Age customers. Plans are under way to introduce a plant-protein patty from Impossible Foods, the startup backed by investors like Bill Gates and the venture capital arm of Alphabet. This is a big deal for Impossible, with an expected rollout in 7,000 Burger Kings soon.

The past decade has been a whirlwind for Schwartz, who combined a certain amount of luck—in the right place at the right time—with a large amount of energy. A lanky guy who has a big smile and a tendency to speak with his hands, Schwartz left Cornell in 2001 with a degree in applied economics. Four years later, he landed a job at 3G Capital, the private equity firm that became famous for engineering the Anheuser-Busch InBev merger (and later infamous for the sickly Kraft Heinz merger).

Schwartz became a 3G partner at 27. “The group believes in investing in young people and giving them opportunities,” he says. “I worked hard and proved that I really cared. More so than anything else, I put the business and the firm ahead of myself.” His wife tolerated the long hours, perhaps because, as a physician in residency, she worked late too.

A Burger King restaurant with the brand's new look.

McDonald’s has ruled as America’s top burger for decades, but Burger King is making gains with newly refurbished locations made to resemble this conceptual drawing.

Schwartz went hunting for deals. Burger King looked intriguing. “I’d ask my wife or my mom, ‘If McDonald’s is worth $70 billion, what do you think Burger King is worth?’ They’d say, ‘$30 billion?’ ” Schwartz recalls.

Paying a 46% premium for the publicly traded shares, 3G acquired the chain for $4 billion, ­including debt. Schwartz then raised his hand to help run it. “I wanted to be part of this. And I didn’t want to just sit in an office and get monthly reports.”

At 29, Schwartz became BK’s chief financial ­officer. He sold the corporate jet. He told employees to use Skype to make free international calls. And to get a feel for the whole business, he worked shifts off and on at Miami Burger Kings, cleaning toilets, cooking burgers and manning the drive-thru.

In 2012, 3G took Burger King public again, and Schwartz got the chief executive slot in June 2013. In the next 18 months, Burger King stock doubled, while McDonald’s lost 8%.

Focused as he was on selling hamburgers, he hadn’t left behind his deal-making instincts. ­Rechristened Restaurant Brands, his company ­acquired Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons in 2014. In 2017 it spent $1.8 billion in cash to get the Popeyes chicken chain.

Warren Buffett is a fan, having put up $3 billion in equity to help finance the Hortons deal. So is Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square hedge fund owns 5% of the stock; 3G owns 41%.

The second-largest shareholder: the employees, with more than 5% of stock. Thanks to a match for those who invest their bonuses in RBI shares, nearly all 300 middle managers (average age: 37) own shares; at least 100 have become millionaires. Schwartz is sitting on about $100 million in stock and options.

“I’m comforted as an owner when all of the key employees own a lot of stock,” Ackman says. “It makes them much less focused on short-term things. They’re much more focused on ‘Will this make the business more valuable in five years, ten years?’ ”

Recently, Schwartz was moved up to ­executive chairman, and longtime ­Bur­ger King exec Jose Cil, 49, became CEO. “We take bets on people,” Cil says. “When they are ambitious and willing to work harder than anybody because they’re driven by something beyond a paycheck, they want to do something big.”

Schwartz lives in Florida with his wife and three kids. He has been working out of RBI offices in Miami and Toronto, but now he’s going to be spending more time at the 3G office in New York, with assignments that range beyond the restaurant chains. “I’m not gonna be CEO at another company,” he says. “But we aspire to do more, and over time we can buy another business down the road.”

Or perhaps repair some of the ­businesses that 3G already owns. Could someone who has engineered a turnaround at Burger King work some magic on old ketchup and cheese brands? His diplomatic answer: “Maybe you could ask me that question in six months, when I ­hopefully get a little bit closer to the business of Kraft Heinz.”

3G’s business is as much about building as buying and selling. Schwartz says: “Most traditional investment firms, if they were in our shoes, probably would have sold [RBI] many years ago. Not only did we not sell, we bought more brands along the way. We are building this into a big company with a long-term mindset.”

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I cover all things food and drink as a staff writer at Forbes, from billionaires and ag tech startups to CPG entrepreneurs and wine. I head up the 30 Under 30 Food an

Source: Whopper Of A Turnaround: At Burger King, The 3G Capital Model Actually Worked

Where You Want To Be: The Meaning Of Mentorship

Slightly more than a decade ago, I welcomed my second child into the world, while waiting to hear if I had been selected into a dermatology residency program. After five grueling years at the country’s top medical school—while raising two babies, and continuing to accrue debt—I was more than eager to start my life as an actual doctor. Today, I am a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon specializing in hair restoration, ethnic skin care, and skin cancer surgery in Kansas City and New York City. The immense amount of unwavering determination and hard work that was necessary to arrive at this point in my career cannot be understated…….

Source: Where You Want To Be: The Meaning Of Mentorship

Meet The Billionaire Who Defied Amazon And Built Wish, The World’s Most-Downloaded E-Commerce App

On a sun-filled San Francisco afternoon, Peter Szulczewski is climbing the stairs to the top of a Sansome Street skyscraper, past floors filled with Wish data scientists and engineers, pool tables and DJ equipment. Large windows give way to a stunning view of the city. But most of Szulczewski’s customers don’t work in offices like this or live in Northern California coastal enclaves. In fact, most of them don’t have much money at all. Wish’s customers are typically working-class Americans from places like the Florida Panhandle or East Texas, Dollar Store shoppers who find Amazon Prime’s $120 annual membership too rich for their blood……..

Source: Meet The Billionaire Who Defied Amazon And Built Wish, The World’s Most-Downloaded E-Commerce App

11 Websites That Will Make You Smarter About Money

Not everyone has a financial adviser, and not everyone has the time to read a personal finance book. Luckily, there’s the internet. We’ve made learning about money easier for you by compiling a list of some of our go-to websites for money advice……..

Source: 11 Websites That Will Make You Smarter About Money

12 Daily Mindfulness Hacks for Entrepreneurs – Larry Kim

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Mindfulness is all the rage these days, and with good reason.Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. A new study from the University of Oxford even found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is as effective as antidepressants in preventing depression relapses.

What is Mindfulness?

What may at first seem like senseless hippie jargon is actually quite simple?—?mindfulness teaches an individual to observe his or her own behavior and thought process totally devoid of judgment. Individuals acknowledge their feelings and thoughts, then release them.

Mindfulness teaches individuals to be present in and embrace the moments of life, rather than be suffocated by the constant self-criticism and anxiety that so often plagues our minds.

12 Mindfulness Hacks in 24 Hours

Practicing mindfulness isn’t just for the Zen Buddhists, sitting in lotus flower positions on the tops of snow-capped mountains. In fact, you can practice numerous mindfulness techniques in a single day.

In the Morning

1. Start a Mindful Morning Routine. When waking up in the AM, instead of going about business as usual and thinking ahead about the upcoming meetings, reports, and stresses of the day ahead, give attention to the physical elements of your morning routine. Feel the water on your skin when you shower, smell the shampoo and soap, notice how your brush feels as it smooths your hair, and hear the sound your toothbrush makes rubbing against your teeth.

2. Coffee Concentration.

12 Mindfulness Hacks You Can Use in 24 Hours

Buddhist monks have a form of meditation involving a tea ceremony, in which monks devote utmost concentration to every aspect of the tea. You can do this with your own morning drink. Listen to the sounds of your coffee maker at it brews your drink and the smell the aroma. Study the color of your coffee, watching how it changes when you add milk or cream. Feel the warmth of the mug in your hands. Then, finally, study the taste in measured sips. Eating and drinking are everyday practices we often take for granted, but they can easily become mindfulness exercises that can be utilized throughout the day.

3. Exercise to Connect With Body. Exercise presents another opportunity for mindfulness, as you focus on your breathing, your form, and your body’s movement. If you’re running, listen to the pounding sound of your feet on the pavement. If you’re lifting weights, feel the cool metal bar in your hands. Don’t let negative thoughts and distractions slip in.

Afternoon Moments of Zen

4. Sketch a Doodle. Grab a notepad and pencil, find a subject, and get sketching. Don’t write this one off believing yourself to have no artistic talent. Anyone (yes, really, truly anyone) can draw. It only takes practice. Choosing a subject is simple?—?you can even draw the Starbucks cup sitting on your desk.

Begin drawing by choosing a point on your subject to start drawing from. Then, follow the lines of the object with your eyes and pencil. Study the subtle indentations, the gentle curves, and the shadows cast by the cup. Sketching is a great study in mindfulness, requiring concentration and awareness. Plus, your sketch can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like, serving as a great short or long break from constant screen time.

5. Take Time to Stretch Take a mid-day break from the office and step outside to do some basic stretching. Stretching is good for maintaining a healthy body, and taking the opportunity to study how your muscles move and feel is a great opportunity for mindfulness.

6. A Few Minutes of Deep Breathing. Focused breathing is an often-cited mantra of meditation pros and yogis, and not without reason. We breathe constantly, but are almost always unconscious of its activity. Taking the time to focus on breathing helps individuals find connection with their bodies.

Try this almost laughably simple breathing exercise: Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, breathing in air from your belly rather than your chest. Pause a moment, holding in your breath, before letting the air out slowly through your mouth. It’s that simple, just rinse and repeat!

7. Ongoing Check-Ins. Pause regularly throughout the day and assess the state of your body and mind. How is your posture? Are you clenching your jaw? Are you thirsty? You may be surprised what you learn about yourself through these regular check-ins. Try to practice these mini check-ins every hour or so. Some individuals use periodic vibrating smart watch alarms to serve as quick reminders to collect themselves and refocus.

In The Evening

8. Take Out the Ear Buds. When walking home from work or jumping on a bus, avoid the temptation to put in your ear buds. Instead, focus on what is happening around you. Hear the birds singing, listen to the children playing on the nearby jungle gym, and be fully present.

9. Meditative Mind Dump. Dedicate 10–15 minutes to sitting down with just a pen and a pad of paper. Use this time to write out any and all thoughts that are swirling about in your mind. Not only will writing down your thoughts help clear your mind and relieve built-up stress, but you also may stumble upon some genius ideas that were previously buried.

10. Clear Mind (And Dishes) With Chores. Arriving home to be greeted by mountains of dirty dishes is far from fun. Instead of attacking your dishes, laundry, and garbage duties with dread, turn those burdensome chores into mindfulness exercises. Feel the water on your hands (or gloves) and study the texture of the sponge as you go about cleaning dishes. Take care to concentrate on the shape and weight of the plates, bowls, and utensils as you clean them.

11. Get Lost In The Music. Music can be another handy tool for practicing mindfulness as part of your everyday routine. Ideally, choose a song you’ve never heard before and hit play. Avoid letting your mind drift into thoughts about the song’s genre, artist, and lyrical meaning. Instead, simply listen with attention to the song, following the beats and crescendos while keeping your mind quiet.

12. Try A Guided Meditation. As the mindfulness movement grows in popularity, more apps and resources are becoming available to aid you in your journey. Check out popular apps like Headspace and Calm. You may also try listening one of the many guided meditation videos on YouTube, which are especially calming when you’re getting ready to power down before bed.

12 Mindfulness Hacks You Can Use in 24 Hours

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