2016

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STEM to Business: 2016 year in review

Well, it’s that time. 2016 is almost done. And it’s been an awesome year here at STEM to Business. I want to cover a few items in this post. First, I want to discuss my motivation for launching, and continuing, STEM to Business. Second, I want to look back at the 5 most viewed posts
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Job loss from automation has been a fear for 100 years

Robots are coming for our jobs. That’s what we’ve been told. And it’s true, to an extent. I could cite any number of these doomsday scenarios. I’ll choose this one from David Ignatius at The Washington Post: The deeper problem facing the United States is how to provide meaningful work and good wages for the
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ExxonMobil CEO's difficult move from executive to diplomat

Donald Trump has named Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s current CEO, as his Secretary of State.  You hear a lot of arguments why business leaders should make effective politicians. And those arguments make sense, for sure. Business leaders know how to manage large organizations. They know how to combat inefficiencies. They know how to satisfy diverse stakeholder communities, and
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No, Wall Street Journal. We're not out of big ideas.

The Wall Street Journal ran a series of articles on Tuesday about the “Innovation Paradox”. The first article was written by Greg Ip, and was titled “The Economy’s Hidden Problem: We’re Out of Big Ideas”. I could not disagree more. But before I dive in, let me mention what the article is about. Ip shows
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Fake news, Facebook, and Civil War-era U.S. Senators

You probably heard about the frustration around the prevalence of fake news on Facebook. Some people even think the fake news problem is so bad that it might have swung the U.S. presidential election. Let’s leave the immediate political implications aside. What I want to focus on is one part of this story: the role
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You need a team to design good strategy

As I’ve written before, I’m slowly reading Alfred D. Chandler’s Strategy and Structure, which was published in 1962. Chandler documents the transformation of four of America’s largest companies through the early 1900s: DuPont, General Motors, Standard Oil of New Jersey, and Sears, Roebuck. The book’s thesis is that corporate structure follows strategy. As these large
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My favorite quote about criticism

Here is my favorite quote about criticism: To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing. This quote has been mistakenly attributed to Aristotle. The fair credit should go to Elbert Hubbard. I saw the quote for the very first time last week. Someone posted it on LinkedIn, linking it to Aristotle. I loved the
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Big banks are uniquely dangerous

Before we jump into banking, let’s start with a personal example. Say you make $50,000 per year. What are some of your biggest expenses? You might rent an apartment. You might buy or lease a small sedan. You might buy a big flat screen television. There are plenty of other one off items you might
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This is how the Minneapolis fed wants to break up the big banks

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis proposed a plan for breaking up the big banks. What’s the focal point of the plan? Much more aggressive capital requirements. Capital requirements 101 “Capital requirements” sounds fancy. But the concept is simple. Every business has a balance sheet. On the balance sheet, you’ll find assets and
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Innovation in commercial banking is doomed because the upside is so limited

Think about a commercial bank, the kind you see sprinkled throughout most large cities. Its business model has two parts: accepting deposits and issuing loans. The key to a commercial bank as a business is that it pays less to depositors than it collects from borrowers, in the form of interest. Commercial banks are commodity
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