Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What I Read Today - Tuesday - October 30, 2012

From:  The New York Times October 29, 2012


The Upside of Opportunism

By DAVID BROOKS

Let’s try to imagine what the world would look like if President Obama is re-elected.

Washington over the next four years would probably look much as it has over the last two: Obama running the White House, Republicans controlling the House and Democrats managing the Senate. We’d have had a long slog of an election before a change-hungry electorate, and we’d end up with pretty much the same cast of characters as before.

Obama would probably try to enact the agenda he laid out most clearly in his recent interview with The Des Moines Register:

Obama said he would try to recreate the Obama-Boehner budget deal of two summers ago, with $2.50 of spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. Then he’d try immigration reform. Then he’d cut corporate tax rates as part of corporate reform. Then he’d “weed out” unnecessary regulations. All the while, he would implement Obamacare and increase funds for infrastructure. This is a moderate and sensible agenda.

The first order of business would be the budget deal, averting the so-called fiscal cliff. Obama would first go to Republicans in the Senate and say, “Look, we’re stuck with each other. Let’s cut a deal for the sake of the country.” He would easily find 10 Republican senators willing to go along with a version of a Grand Bargain.

Then Obama would go to the House. He’d ask Eric Cantor, the majority leader, if there were votes for such a deal. The answer would probably be no. Republican House members still have more to fear from a primary challenge from the right than from a general election challenge from the left. Obama is tremendously unpopular in their districts. By running such a negative presidential campaign, Obama has won no mandate for a Grand Bargain. Obama himself is not going to suddenly turn into a master legislative craftsman on the order of Lyndon Johnson.

There’d probably be a barrage of recriminations from all sides. The left and right would be consumed with ire and accusations. Legislators would work out some set of fudges and gimmicks to kick the fiscal can down the road.

The ensuing bitterness would doom any hopes for bipartisan immigration reform. The rest of the Obama second term would be about reasonably small things: some new infrastructure programs; more math and science teachers; implementing Obamacare; mounting debt; a president increasingly turning to foreign affairs in search of legacy projects.

If you’re a liberal Democratic, this is an acceptable outcome. Your party spent 80 years building the current welfare state. This outcome extends it.

Now let’s try to imagine the world if Mitt Romney were to win. Republicans would begin with the premise that the status quo is unsustainable. The mounting debt is ruinous. The byzantine tax and regulatory regimes are stifling innovation and growth.

Republicans would like to take the reform agenda that Republican governors have pursued in places like Indiana and take it to the national level: structural entitlement reform; fundamental tax reform. These reforms wouldn’t make government unrecognizable (we’d probably end up spending 21 percent of G.D.P. in Washington instead of about 24 percent), but they do represent a substantial shift to the right.

At the same time, Romney would probably be faced with a Democratic Senate. He would also observe the core lesson of this campaign: conservatism loses; moderation wins. Romney’s prospects began to look decent only when he shifted to the center. A President Romney would look at the way Tea Party extremism had cost the G.O.P. Senate seats in Delaware and Nevada — and possibly Missouri and Indiana.

To get re-elected in a country with a rising minority population and a shrinking Republican coalition, Romney’s shape-shifting nature would induce him to govern as a center-right moderate. To get his tax and entitlement reforms through the Democratic Senate, Romney would have to make some serious concessions: increase taxes on the rich as part of an overall reform; abandon the most draconian spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s budget; reduce the size of his lavish tax-cut promises.

As President Romney made these concessions, conservatives would be in uproar. Talk-radio hosts would be the ones accusing him of Romneysia, forgetting all the promises he made in the primary season. There’d probably be a primary challenge from the right in 2016.

But Republicans in Congress would probably go along. They wouldn’t want to destroy a Republican president. Romney would champion enough conservative reforms to allow some Republicans to justify their votes.

The bottom line is this: If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What I Read Today - Wednesday October 24, 2012

From:  The New York Times - Tuesday October 23, 2012

Our Secret Sauce


By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

It was striking how much Monday’s presidential debate on foreign policy came down to two subjects: America and the Middle East. The two actually provide some instructive contrasts, starting with one that I’ve noted since the onset of this campaign: the contrast between the high degree of American pluralism and trust that makes our country work, and the near total absence of it in the Middle East, the region most vexing us and most likely to blow up on the next president. Muslims are killing Muslims across the Middle East and Central Asia today: Sunnis versus Shiites, Pashtuns versus Pashtuns and Kurds versus Turks. Christians are not faring well there, either. The absence of pluralism and the prevalence of “rule or die” politics — either my sect or party is in power or I’m dead — is the dominant political trend in the Arab-Muslim region today. Nobody trusts anybody, but it is impossible to build a modern state or an innovation economy without trust. Meanwhile, here in America, we are debating whether to replace our first black president — whose middle name is Hussein and whose grandfather was a Muslim — with a Mormon! Who does that? Nobody else. That radical pluralism is the secret of our sauce, and blessedly so. America, take a bow.

But not for too long.

We have a very special country, but we have to take care of it, not kick it around like it’s a football. And we can’t do that if we’re imitating the Middle East’s rule-or-die politics: my party or scorched earth. Barack Obama has been far from a perfect president. At times, he has treated friends and opponents with arrogance or just a stubborn unwillingness to play the game of politics to co-opt those who needed to be co-opted (he should have embraced the Bowles-Simpson federal debt plan) to get legislation passed. No one would confuse Obama for Lyndon Johnson. But no one would confuse today’s Republican Party for the G.O.P. of the 1960s or 1970s, either.

It is impossible to look at the G.O.P.’s behavior in the last four years — from its unwillingness to consider Obama’s jobs bill, which was praised by independent economists, to the unwillingness of its presidential candidates to consider a $1 increase in taxes for $10 of spending cuts, to the time it spent on sheer lunacy such as questioning the president’s birth certificate — and not conclude that many in the party just wanted Obama to fail in the hope that they could pick up the pieces. Too many Republicans, particularly moderate business types, don’t want to admit how much their party has been led around of late, not by traditional conservatives, but by a radical Tea Party base that has driven decent, smart conservatives — like Bob Bennett of Utah, Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Olympia Snowe of Maine — out of office.

What I’d say about Obama’s domestic and Middle East policies is that, given the messes and political constraints he inherited in both arenas, he did about as well as anyone could. He kept the homeland safe, prevented us from getting drawn into any sinkholes and killed bad guys. It is not the stuff of foreign policy legend, but it was not bad. I’d say the same at home. He stanched the bleeding in the economy and initiated some smart reforms in education, energy and health — the true effectiveness of which we will only know in the future. It was not exactly the New Deal, but considering the deep hole created by the years of George W. Bush, it also was not a New Depression. A quick turnaround in either arena was never possible.

But while that kind of politics got us through the last four years, it won’t get us through the next four. We cannot have another term of partisan gridlock. We are heading into a world where the breakdown of the European supranational state system, combined with the breakdown of the Arab nation state system, combined with climate change, combined with a much greater global interdependence, means that we will be more and more buffeted by problems that are too dangerous to ignore but too complicated and big to fix alone. And when a country finds itself in that kind of situation, there is one thing it absolutely must do, and that is build resiliency.

We need to weatherproof our house so we can control our destiny and play the vital stabilizing role the world needs us to play. And that leads to another difference between us and the Middle East. We don’t know how to fix their problems anymore. But we do know how to fix our problems. In the short run, we have to invest in infrastructure, education and research — the sources of our strength to stimulate growth — while simultaneously putting in place a credible long-term plan to cut spending and both raise and reform taxes as our economy improves.

Regardless of what they have on their Web sites, neither candidate has spoken honestly to voters in their speeches or commercials about what this will take. Hey, it’s election time. What else is new? Well, there is something new. Just doing as well as our domestic political constraints will allow will not cut it anymore — not given where the global economy, the Middle East and climate change are going. Just doing what the political traffic will bear will not lead us to resiliency. It will lead us to painful, destabilizing vulnerability.

We need a whole new traffic pattern. That will require a president who will dare to challenge the country to do big, hard things together, not just tack with the winds of public opinion, and it will require an electorate that is ready to value and demand such leadership.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What I Read Today - Monday October 22, 2012

Note from Steve - I thought this was a neat story and worthy of posting on this blog.

From:  The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - Sunday October 21, 2012
By Tom Dillard

LITTLE ROCK — I just finished reading a wonderful collection of World War II letters. These letters only incidentally report on the brave battle against Hitler’s brutal legions. Rather, they tell of the growing love a young Pope County draftee had for the girl he left behind. Published by the University of Arkansas Press, Dearest Letty contains scores of remarkable letters from Private (later Sergeant) Leland Duvall of rural Moreland in Pope County to Letty Jones, a resident of nearby Crow Mountain.


Millions of love letters must have been exchanged during the four long years of World War II, but I doubt that any were more interestingly written than the Duvall letters.

One would never expect a young man like Leland Duvall to write such literate letters. He grew up in a struggling farm family that did not have the means to send young Leland to school beyond the eighth grade. He scratched out a living as a farm laborer and periodically taught in the rural schools. He was working as a farmhand on the Texas plains when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He returned home to await the draft.

Duvall and most of his childhood buddies were drafted in the spring of 1942, several of them being sent to Camp Cooke in California for initial training. While on the train headed to California, Duvall ran into Martin F. Drittler, a fellow from back home who was supposed to be engaged to Letty Jones—a young woman Duvall had admired from afar. He was pleased to learn that the engagement had ended, and he screwed up his courage and sent a postcard asking Letty if she would correspond with him. Delighted to receive a prompt letter in which Letty agreed to write—and she even included some light banter—Duvall penned an immediate reply in which he described the beauty of the California countryside in early summer.

Duvall’s closing paragraph hinted at the depth of his infatuation; and it also demonstrated his interesting, funny, and slightly manipulative writing style: “I am afraid if I let this run on you will become so bored and disgusted that you won’t write again. That would be one of the great tragedies of my young life. Youth is so emotionally unstable, you know, and things like that can undermine the morale of the Army.”

Within a few months, Duvall is signing his letters “Love, Leland.” His letters are laced with references to his reading at the military base. In one early letter he mentions reading T.S. Eliot “and some of the other Imagists and I am experimenting with impressions.” He asked Letty’s indulgence for his descriptive writing: “In the afternoon the sun comes through the fog and investigates the landscapes . . . Before sundown the fog thickens and the sun becomes a dim lamp set on the window ledge of the horizon.”

Duvall worked hard to write interesting letters, and each letter has a distinctively original introduction. “Hold your hat, folks,” Duvall wrote, “here we go again.” Mimicking a carnival barker, Duvall wrote: “Right this way, ladies and gentlemen, and see the greatest mystery man of all time. A dogface who finds time to write his girl every night. A man who combines the qualities of Romeo, Napoleon, Elmer and Joe.”

It is remarkable that Duvall could write weekly much less daily, but he usually managed to write at least a brief note to “Dearest Lenny.” He carried a bottle of Carter’s ink and a variety of pens and nibs, but he also hoarded pencils in case his ink bottle froze. And, as a member of the Fifth Armored Division, Duvall experienced plenty of cold as the unit pushed across France, Belgium, and Germany in the bitter winter of 1944-45.

Duvall’s unit worked as scouts, and they were sometimes behind German lines. Duvall usually only hinted at the danger he faced, and he made light of being hit by shrapnel on multiple occasions. A letter sent from Belgium tells of living in an abandoned farmhouse, though he did not mention being surrounded. “While we were lingering over our coffee and cigarettes, the Jerries opened up with their artillery. One shell landed on a side room . . . and blew the roof away. It knocked soot into all our coffee.”

Leland Duvall was mustered out of the Army in October of 1945, and he immediately boarded a train for Russellville. Awaiting him at the depot was Letty Jones. They kissed publicly, as Leland had earlier demanded. They were married two weeks later.

After a long and productive career in journalism, including many years as farm editor and editorial writer at the Arkansas Gazette, Duvall retired in 1990. The couple moved to a cottage on their beloved Crow Mountain in Pope County, where Leland died in 2006. Letty now lives in a Russellville retirement residence.

These letters, over 400 in number, barely escaped destruction when Letty sold the cottage. Fortunately, one of Letty’s new neighbors recognized their value, and ultimately, Ernie Dumas, a colleague of Duvall’s at the Gazette, edited the letters for publication. The letters have been donated to the UA Library in Fayetteville.

—–––––

Tom Dillard is a historian and retired archivist. Email him at tomd@pgtc.com.

Editorial, Pages 80 on 10/21/2012

Print Headline: A man of letters

What I Read Today - Monday October 22, 2012

From:  The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette  -  Sunday Octocber 21, 2012
By Paul Greenberg

LITTLE ROCK —

“A lot of people leave Arkansas and most of them come back sooner or later. They can’t quite achieve escape velocity.”—Charles Portis, Dog of the South

Those are the lucky ones, the Arkies/Arkansawyers who can’t ever make it out of this small, wonderfully interconnected planetary system called Arkansas. Or are drawn back into it by some inexorable force. Call it fate or failure or necessity or whatever you like if you’re one of those folks embarrassed by any mention of the will of God.

Sooner or later these blessed souls come home and settle in as one of the minor satellites making their appointed rounds, having discovered or rediscovered their natural habitat, aka destiny. As for those who never make it back, call them Arkansans, which always did have an imported, artificial, yankeefied sound to it. They may spend the rest of their lives bound in by shallows and miseries. Strangers in a strange land.

They must tell themselves they’re happy, or at least successful, or at the very least cosmopolitan. But what they’ve found is their own private, pointless Hell, the most hellish aspect of which is that the poor souls may not realize it. Or can’t afford to admit it. They think it’s New York, New York. The big apple. Or some mini, bite-sized version thereof. They’re supposed to have made it. Never mind the absence they may be vaguely aware of down deep.

Much like other vegetation, the transplanted may not thrive in other than native soil, which is why it is necessary, when inserting them into inhospitable climes, to leave their roots intact, sustained by at least some of the nutrients that made them what they are, or used to be.

No wonder the surest instinct of those cast into the Southern diaspora is to seek out other Southerners, just to hear a soft word, a familiar tone, or feel the unspoken comfort of home and old times there not forgotten. Their ears perk up at the sound of a Southern accent across a crowded room. They grow nostalgic, that is, homesick for the past. Sometimes in the worst ways. The South can assume freakish proportions in their telling. Especially in the worst of the breed, the professional Southerner. Pitiful. If I encounter one more mezzotint in a New York drawing room of Lee and Jackson drawing up the order of battle for Chancellorsville with a stick in the middle of a dirt road . . . . Some of these lost souls finally make it home, where even the damned are welcomed like the prodigals they are. As if they’d never left. Think of Willie Morris, whose memoir and comic masterpiece, North Toward Home, is unimaginable without his having had a home that he was destined to return to after all his wandering and realize, like Jacob, that this place was holy and he knew it not. Those who never leave may never come to that realization, or at least not declare it openly, fearing they’ll sound unsophisticated. Others make poetry of it, or at least country songs. Hey porter! Hey porter! Would you tell me the time? How much longer will it be till we cross that Mason Dixon Line? . . . Hey porter! Hey porter! Please open up the door. When they stop the train I’m gonna get off first ’Cause I can’t wait no more. Tell that engineer I said thanks a lot, and I didn’t mind the fare. I’m gonna set my feet on Southern soil and breathe that Southern air. Naturally enough Buddy Portis came home to Arkansas, not that he ever left it in disposition. He had the good sense to stay a kind of Southerner—the best, unpretentious, slightly detached kind, even if he was elsewhere physically. Like in the London bureau of the New York Herald-Tribune. Oh, the glory that was the New York Times, the grandeur that was the Herald-Trib, the writer’s paper! Gone, gone forever short of some messianic resurrection of the dead. Unfortunately, the merely decadent may not qualify for revival. They no longer have a soul to revive.

But the self-exiled may return at any time, and walk in as though they’d never left. (“Haven’t seen you around lately. You been sick?”) Then they’ll sit down to throw off a masterpiece or two, like True Grit. And lesser works—Norwood, Dog of the South—that still tower above anything on the meager market today. Portis keeps on being discovered, or rather being periodically re-discovered. That’s the way it is with old friends and good writers.

Now we have a collection of Portis’ miscellany preserved, dished up under the title Escape Velocity, and emphasizing what long has needed emphasizing—his journalism.

As expected, Buddy Portis didn’t show for the book launch at the Butler Center here in Little Rock the other night. He’s a writer, not a celebrity. His appearance at the party would have been superfluous, maybe even in the way. His books were there. And the writing’s the thing.

Just don’t let the self-absorbed introductions and marginalia in this miscellany spoil the taste of Buddy Portis’ own dry vintage. Much of the commentary surrounding it can be pretty awful, self-absorbed stuff. (“I had read True Grit sometime in my teens . . . . The earliest inclusion in my Portis file . . . . The article was a review of my book and it began. . . .”) Skip ’em all. They annoy. They bring to mind the big-name politician who comes to town to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of some local notable: “I remember the first time I met dear old Joe. It was early in my brilliant career, when I . . . .” Embarassing. Or would be if the politician were capable of being embarrassed. But being a politician, he isn’t.

The wise reader will go straight to the selections from Portis himself—astringent, bracing, simple, sounding like stray thoughts jotted down in a casual moment as only the artfully and arduously made can. The charm of Charles Portis’ prose isn’t easy to describe and the attempt is better not made. Just read even the shortest snippet and you’ll smile. It may even save you from the snare and delusion called escape velocity.

Paul Greenberg is editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. E-mail him at:

pgreenberg@arkansasonline.com

Perspective, Pages 77 on 10/21/2012

Print Headline: Escape Velocity

Friday, October 5, 2012

What I Read Today - Friday October 5, 2012

Excerpted from The Business Intelligence Brief (BIB) prepared by Armada Corporate Intelligence (Armada) for the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants - October 5, 2012 issue.

Note from Steve:   I did not watch the first presidential debate on tv a couple of nights ago.  All my facebook friends want to talk about is Rominey winning or Obama losing.   I have not heard anything about the content of what either canidate actually said.   Therefore I found this article about what they didn't say very interesting.

The Six Things the Candidates Didn’t Talk About


This was arguably the best opportunity the voter has had to consider the economic policies of the two candidates for President. Given that the remaining debates are supposed to deal with other issues this may be the last time they will go toe to toe on the economy in this campaign. Even if this was the seminal moment on the economy there was more than a little missing from the exchange. From an economist’s viewpoint there were at least six areas that should have been dealt with in some way. Perhaps there will be more attention paid in the next five weeks but I wouldn’t hold one’s breath.

At the top of the list was a direct discussion of the fiscal cliff. It may be a little unfair to list this issue as both men talked about some of the underlying issues that led to the existence of the issue in the first place. Granted the issue of the debt and deficit got some attention with both men giving the impression that solutions can be found with either simply raising taxes or cutting spending. What was missing was conversation about the elephant in the room. If there is no solution developed for the immediate problem the US economy slides into recession for at least the first two quarters of the year and perhaps far longer. It is understandable that they did not want to open that can of worms in this limited format but one fervently hopes that at some point the conversation gets serious. It is next to impossible that a serious attempt to address the deficit can be developed in the next three months so it would seem high time that somebody said so and indicated that a new deadline will have to be established. It might have also been a good time to assert that something like the Simpson-Bowles plan should be adopted.

The second major issue that managed to escape the attention of the debaters is the crisis that keeps building in Europe. It is not that the President has any direct influence over the Eurozone. It isn’t clear that anyone in Europe has any direct influence over this debacle. The point is that what happens in Europe is going to have a major impact on the US regardless of what the powers that be in the US come up with. Consider the impact on the dollar if the euro collapses utterly. The dollar would almost immediately gain in strength and that would complicate the US recovery in a myriad of ways. Europe is 25% of US exports and imports and trade without that partner will be cramped severely. One can tell that many of the states on the eastern seaboard are already feeling the lack of activity by looking at the data that has been coming from the manufacturing surveys from the Fed systems in New York, Philadelphia and Richmond. It would have been nice to mention that this matters to the future of the US economy.

The next omission is a little less justifiable. For four years there has been nearly constant attention focused on the impact of the housing crisis. It is arguable that the recession started with the collapse of housing and it is certain that the mortgage fiasco triggered the banking crisis, giving rise to all sorts of unpleasant developments ranging from the creation of TARP to catastrophic rates of foreclosure, the ruination of a segment of the mortgage banking community, the chaos of the mortgage backed security and the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There has been some limited good news in the last few months as the price of homes have started to gain for the first time in years. That hardly means that the crisis is at an end and there is a great deal that has to be done to fix the system. There are still millions of people underwater on their loans, still too many foreclosures for the new home market to get a foothold and too many banks that are still sitting on toxic debt they can’t work their way out of. The fact is that a real
economic recovery is not sustainable as long as housing remains in a weakened and vulnerable state.

The fourth economic sector that seemed to be ignored was that of exports. In some respects the two almost regressed on this issue as it is always too much fun to try to out bash the other when it comes to China. This has certainly been the case in the campaign as both men accuse the other of being “soft” on China. Meanwhile the President blocks a Chinese company from developing wind farm in Oregon while at the same time bringing another complaint to the WTO on Chinese trade practices. The Romney campaign vows that it
will get tough and accuse China of being a currency manipulator. Much of this is pure campaign hokum. Obama has cut deals with China on trade and the US has cheerfully sold trillions of dollars of its debt to Chinese banks. Romney’s business interests have included China for years. It couldn’t realistically be any other way as China is the second largest economy in the world. The fact is that China is both rival and partner and requires a deft touch that neither man has demonstrated as yet. It is not clear how the two communicate that nuanced approach in a debate but the fact remains that the US economy needs exports to thrive and to have exports there have to be imports. Nations will not buy from those that don’t buy from them and the US has to evolve as a real global trade player one of these days. That means facing down the anti‐trade forces that exist in both parties.

Number five in the missing in action category is any real debate over what to do about inflation. This is not at all shocking given that even the Fed has been having trouble talking about the issue these days. There is nothing imminent just yet – core rates are still way below the Fed’s threshold. On the other hand it is pretty obvious that the consumer has been dealing with the issue off and on all year. The price of fuel has gyrated and has been a shock to the pocketbook at least four times this year. Now comes the threat of higher fuel
prices due to the drought. Add in the hikes in everything from education to health care and it is obvious that real inflation exists. More importantly even the inflation skeptics agree that the set‐up exists for a major inflation crisis in a year or two unless the Fed reacts swiftly and decisively when the time comes.

That leads to point six and it would have been pretty amazing if either man had taken the time to speculate on this. In 2014 there will be a new Fed chair as Ben Bernanke has made it clear that he wants to end his term in office and nobody is going to beg him to stay. Who is the next guy? More importantly what will the next guy represent? Would Obama select another inflation dove – someone like the Vice Chair, Janet Yellen? Would Romney pick a hawk, somebody who would start ratcheting up those rates? Maybe a Glen Hubbard or a Martin Feldstein. This will never come up in a debate but it would be nice to know the thinking of the two. 

The Business Intelligence Brief (BIB) is prepared by Armada Corporate Intelligence (Armada) exclusively for the membership of the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA). The MSCPA assumes no responsibility for the editorial content, and any such editorial content shall not be construed as an official position of MSCPA. Armada has taken all reasonable steps to verify the accuracy of the content of the information in the BIB, and therefore, Armada shall not be responsible for any errors or omissions. Armada is not responsible for any advertisement placed.

Armada Staff –Chris Kuehl, Keith Prather, Karen Sanchez P.O. Box 733 – Lawrence, Kansas 66044 – intel@strategic-briefs.com

To contact the Missouri Society of CPAs please call 1-800-264-7966 or visit www.mocpa.org.

What I Read Today - Friday October 5, 2012

Don’t Be Intimidated by a Reputation


By Harvey Mackay (from his blog)

Von Clausewitz, the great military strategist, observed that it is the mark of inadequate commanders to fail to seize the initiative because they overestimate the strength of their opponents. For years, General Motors and IBM dominated their industries despite critical deficiencies. The companies that should have been willing to fight them for market share really weren’t competitors, just symbionts, looking for unfilled market niches where they could pick up a few crumbs that fell off the master’s table.

When the competition finally came, it came from people across a cultural chasm so wide they didn’t understand what it was that made these giant companies so wonderful, or from shoestring operators who had nothing to lose by ignoring the popular mythology.

It took the Japanese to show us how vulnerable GM was—and Microsoft to shake the living daylights out of IBM. GM and IBM were redefined competition. We all are, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Microsoft or Dell, Toyota or Honda. We all live or die by the competitive sword. And we always will.

*Excerpted from “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive”

Monday, October 1, 2012

What I Read Today - Monday October 1, 2012

From: Seth Godin's Blog

Seth's Blog: The easiest way to thrive as an outlier

The easiest way to thrive as an outlier


...is to avoid being one. At least among your most treasured peers.

Surround yourself with people in at least as much of a hurry, at least as inquisitive, at least as focused as you are. Surround yourself by people who encourage and experience productive failure, and who are driven to make a difference.

What's contagious: standards, ethics, culture, expectations and most of all, the bar for achievement.

The crowd has more influence on us than we have on the crowd. It's not an accident that breakthroughs in music, architecture, software, athletics, fashion and cuisine come in bunches, often geographic. If you need to move, move. At least change how and where you exchange your electrons and your ideas.

We all need leaders who challenge the tribe. We benefit even more when our leaders have peers who push them to be even better.