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Eleven Life Hacks for a Better Brain

There is an explosion of research into brain health. One result is a growing knowledge base on steps one can take to maintain brain health and even improve focus, memory, and attention. These techniques are good at every stage of life from youth into older age.

Exercise is really good for brain health. Actually, one of the most important things you can do. 

Mixing up the kinds of exercise that you do seems to be even better.


Aerobic/cardio exercise helps keep strong healthy blood flow up into the brain.For some reason, resistance and weight-training may even be better for brain health than cardio. But, again, let’s assume that mixing up resistance and cardio is better than one or the other.Walking, running, jumping, dancing and the like are brain-healthy. Something to do with nerve connections from the sole of the feet to the brain. Or maybe it is just the cardio benefit.  But, as the Nike folks say, “Just Do It”. Eating right is correlated to brain health in two ways.
Here’s a mantra: i…
Recent posts
Have you ever watched, or been involved in, a business failure, where, despite the best efforts of hardworking people, the business doesn’t survive? Scott Sonenshein lived through it, as he describes in the Introduction to his engrossing book Stretch.  (In some books, the reader can skip the intro- not this one; the introduction is a must-read part of the book.) He was hired by start-up Vividence in Silicon Valley at the very apex of the tech boom.  Despite prestige VC backers, top-tier hires and $50 million, Vividence didn’t make it. As his career continued, that experience led to an interest in why some well-funded operations don’t succeed, while other, more resource constrained, do. Peter Senge wrote about reinforcing cycles as part of his book The Fifth Discipline, which I consider one of the finest business books ever penned. In it, Senge describes the downward cycle that some companies fall into, and why it is so difficult to reverse. Sonenshein explores those cycles from diffe…
Here’s our annual high-level comparison of Amazon vs. Walmart.
From a growth perspective, Amazon wiped the floor with Walmart. AMZN added $18 billion in revenue for a 20.2% growth rate, while WMT shrank by $(3.5) billion or (0.7%).  WMT’s revenue was negatively affected by currency exchange rates moving against it, but even adjusting for that WMT’s revenue wasn’t in the realm of AMZN
From a GAAP earnings perspective, WMT maintains its lead, although that is diminishing. WMT’s GAAP operating margin was 5.0%, which was a 0.6 PPT improvement, while AMZN delivered 2.1% operating margin. However, AMZN’s margin improved a whopping 1.9 PPT.
WMT’s net income still dwarfs AMZN at $14.7 billion vs. $0.6 billion. But again, the change is informative: as WMT launched programs for higher associate pay and stronger e-commerce capability, its net income fell by 10.2% or $1.7 billion. Conversely, AMZN increased income by $0.8 billion from a prior year loss. While this is an annual comparison, I’d be…

Tax Inversions

A savvy businessman once told me “it’s important to know what problem you are trying to solve”.
Let’s ignore for the moment whether or not Treasury or the IRS had the power to change the rules on so-called tax inversions without Congressional action. (The power they said they didn’t have only a few months ago.)
Rather, let’s focus on what problem we are trying to solve. That is, why is the greatest country on earth chasing companies away? Shouldn’t the U.S. be the place that companies want to locate their headquarters?
Imagine this: the U.S. legal structure and tax regime was so attractive that Mercedes, Toyota, Astra Zeneca, Samsung, Total, Singapore Air, Banco Santander, Petrobras, Fujitsu, Nokia, SAP, Audi, Tata Group, Lenovo, Pirelli, Deutsche Bank, Honda, LG, Hyundai, Roche, Credit Suisse, Four Seasons, Siemens, Phillips, Bridgestone, Anglo-America, DeBeers, Volkswagen, Canon,  L’OrĂ©al, Swatch, Armani, LVMH, Toshiba, H&M, Mahindra, Aldi, Kubota, Onex, Ducati, Pemex, Saudi-Ara…

The Acceleration of Asset Lite Business Models

The number of asset lite businesses is steadily increasing, as is the breadth of industries effected.  I first noticed them in the 1970’s, when Baron Hilton sold several flagship Hilton hotels while retaining management contracts that entitled Hilton Corporation to a share of revenue and earnings. Over the next two decades, Marriott Corp copied and then perfected the hotel management agreement business approach, coupling a Marriott franchise with a management agreement for any one of a growing stable of brands (Fairfield Inns, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inns, J.W. Marriott, etc. etc.), enabling absentee investor/owners.  It turns out, however, that asset lite business structures date back much earlier.
Franchises and Dealers Early versions of asset lite businesses include franchise and dealer organizations. Soft drink and beer distributors, auto dealers and tire and repair franchises date to the early nineteen hundreds, as manufacturers needed mass distribution. The dealers furn…

On An Alternative Theory of Income Inequality

Why is there growing earnings gap between the highest earners and the rest of the U.S. workforce? While a number of hypotheses have been advanced, I think many miss important developments. In my view, the following culprits have materially affected the wages, salaries and income of the lowest ranks. Both governmental and cultural destruction of the family. I’m not going to dwell on this, but, statistically, the fastest path to poverty is to be a single mom. Want to not be poor? Finish high school and get married before getting pregnant. Harsh perhaps, but statistically unarguable.The Federal Reserve continues to oppress lower earners. For most folks, building wealth starts with home ownership. Replacing rent payments with mortgage payments generally results in owning an asset (home). In some markets, that asset appreciates. When my wife and I were apartment dwellers, we saved for a home down payment. Our savings earned interest. Now, I won’t say that the interest was huge, but it was …

Don't Die of F****** Pneumonia

One of my cousins was recently admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, and went straight into the ICU. People tend to ignore pneumonia, or minimize its seriousness. You might have even heard people talking about “walking pneumonia”. That, in technical terms, is BS. Pneumonia is a badass illness. According to Centers for Disease Control, 53,000 people died of pneumonia last year. For those of us over 65, vaccinations are recommended, with the usual exceptions for certain conditions. And it is recommended for many under 65 with certain conditions. There are two different vaccines that cover different strains. You need both shots. Of course it isn’t foolproof. The vaccines aren’t 100% effective, and new strains emerge. Still, there is no reason to get seriously ill from a strain that a vax would have likely prevented.
If you are over 65 and haven’t had the shots, go see your doc. Don’t screw around. And if you are younger, check with your parents, other relatives and friends to make su…