In the first three parts of this series, I wrote about what was on my iPod for the trip from LA to DC (by car). More recently, I drove from Ottawa to DC, which allowed me to listen to a number of new podcasts and lectures. In this post, I’ll go over the lectures/podcasts and some of the knowledge I gleaned from them.
I had two podcasts. One of them was from the Chicago Booth Podcast Series:
Chicago Booth Podcast: Should Executive Pay Be Regulated? (12/02/2009) – I thought I would start with one of the most interesting tracks I listened to on the trip. Given that I’m about to start an MBA, I thought it would be prudent of me to learn about this topic (executive pay). I will say, I was quite surprised to hear the statistics that the speaker, Randall Kroszner, offered on the topic. While he raised the point about athletes who make (equal or more) money than the CEOs, the surprising fact was that executive pay (now) is actually down in relation to executive pay from the ’80s. And maybe more poignant, executives make less money than athletes and entertainers.
The second podcast was from Knowledge@Wharton Interviews:
Nassim Taleb on Living with Black Swans (04/13/2011) – Nassim Taleb has written a number of articles and books, and is affiliated with some very prestigious institutions. He has so many important things to say, but I think the thing that I found the most transferable was the problem with specialization. He didnt actually put it this way, but this is how Im interpreting it. In particular, he talks about how important it is to in an effort to account for randomness and variability diversify. If youre investing, dont invest in just one company. Dont invest in just one industry. Dont invest in just one kind of investment. Or we could relate it to business, specifically, Im reminded of the book Trade-Off, by Kevin Maney. In Maneys book, among other things, he talks about those times within an industry where companies are blind-sided by some sort of innovation (example: think about cameras 20 years ago and now how cell phones have revolutionized the way we take pictures). Taleb would argue the importance of guarding against a Black Swan, which from our example, would be cell phones with cameras.
The remaining 6 tracks were all lectures I downloaded through iTunes U. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it! The first lecture I listened to came courtesy of the University of Cambridge called:
What’s the Point of Economics? – The text from the website: “Evan Davis, BBC Today presenter, outlines five things everyone should know about economics, Mike Kitson looks at the relevance of economics to everyday life and Professor Willy Brown describes the growing impact of the minimum wage over its first ten years.”
There were two lectures I listened to that came from a class at Yale on Game Theory. I didn’t have the time to listen to every lecture from the course, so I picked two of the higher rated lectures:
02 – Putting Yourselves Into Other People’s Shoes and 03 – Iterative Deletion and the Median-Voter Theorem – I found these lectures highly informative. The first (or should I say second?) lecture gave a really good example of how important it is to put yourself into other people’s shoes. This example is related to how another person would approach a game (the same one that you’re playing) and exemplifies the importance of knowing your “opponent.” Like in one of the podcast, this lesson is very transferable to other parts of life. In the second (or third) lecture, Professor Polak does a great job of explaining the median-voter theorem, and more importantly, uses the example of political positions to make the theorem more accessible to the students.
The last three lectures I listened to all came from Stanford and its Graduate School of Business:
Hire the Right People, Carlos Brito – This was an interesting talk, especially because it came from someone I usually wouldn’t necessarily voluntarily hear from. Brito is the CEO of Anheuser-Busch and he has some intriguing ideas that he has put into practice in many of his offices. He thinks that separate offices foster LESS work. In fact, he talks about how, in his experience, having no walls has actually made work easier and motivated people to do more work. It’s his opinion that offices are for people who want to hide and do no work. With the open concept office, he explains how meetings are much “shorter;” 2- or 5-minute meetings can happen much quicker without having to “schedule” everything.
Dave Blakely on Fostering Innovation – From the description of this lecture’s YouTube video: “In this talk, Dave Blakely presents a set of principles for successful innovation, regardless of an organization’s size, type or location. The heart of any innovation agenda is a carefully chosen interdisciplinary team, typically including members with backgrounds in technology, business, and other relevant industry-specific knowledge. Creative leaps can be inspired by empathetic human research, and insights are distilled in synthesis sessions. Techniques such as brainstorming can help teams to direct their creativity, and prototypes can be used to improve visualization and mitigate risk.”
Changing Behavior and Changing Policies – BJ Fogg runs the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. To get a better idea of Fogg’s perspective on behavior, I would say (listen to this talk, as it’s only 20 minutes or so), or check out his site: BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model.
I don’t have any “planned” long trips on the horizon, but I am considering integrating podcasts and iTunes U lectures to daily life. If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments, via email, or even on Twitter.