FIGHT for Your RIGHT to be HAPPY

by Connie Podesta

For All Who Need It

When I wrote my book Redefining Happiness, I did so with so many people in mind. My clients. Audience members. Online followers. Friends. Family. Colleagues. I wrote it redefining-happiness-coverbecause I think in our sometimes crazy world we tend to put a lot of things on the top of our to-do lists and somehow happiness, joy, and celebration seemingly creep to the bottom more often than not. We get busy. Overwhelmed. Worked and worked some more. And here’s the crazy part – you won’t believe how many people feel GUILTY about being happy. About self-care. About having fun. About being “off the clock”. STOP.

Here’s the truth: There’s a lot that we CAN’T control in this world and the stress of that makes people so anxious and even fearful. My goal? Is to help people kick that stress to the curb and instead of fighting for their right to be SAD, or ANGRY, or WORRIED – they’ll instead FIGHT for their RIGHT to be HAPPY. Because I can tell you, as someone who speaks to thousands of people a year and who has counseled countless people as a therapist and human behavior expert – when you fight for your HAPPINESS as hard as you fight for status quo – your whole world changes. Your relationships improve. Your quality of life skyrockets. Your success level goes through the roof. It all starts with putting happiness first.

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Is America’s Military Losing Its Edge?

By Vikram Mansharamani

The United States spends more money on its military than any other country in the world. The American defense budget of almost $600 billion is more than four times that of China’s. In fact, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) notes the US spends almost as much as the next fourteen countries – combined.

But rather than simply leave the interpretation of this data to readers, IISS warns this large budget does not necessarily buy sustainable US military superiority.  In February of this year, John Chipman, director general of IISS, noted that the proliferation of military-relevant technologies has large strategic consequences that appear to be undermining Western might.

This point was driven home during a recent talk at the Harvard Kennedy School by former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy. She explicitly stated “our military technological edge…is no longer a given, because many of the technologies we rely on are becoming ubiquitous.”

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The Best Advice From 2016 Commencement Speeches

By Vikram Mansharamani


Graduation season is a wonderful time for celebration. Teachers applaud students, and parents praise their children. All eyes focus on the graduates, and rightfully so. After all, for many college graduates, commencement is well, just that: a beginning. And like most beginnings, graduation ceremonies are filled with a contagious optimism and energy.

I love graduations and am a commencement speech junkie. As a parent and educator, I am keenly interested in how best to advise young people. I also find the ceremonies inspiring, energizing, and renewing. So each spring I get my fix by reading or listening to dozens of commencement speeches.

We can all learn from the nuggets of wisdom shared during the proceedings. Here are five of the most valuable tidbits I’ve taken from some of the best addresses delivered to the class of 2016:

1. Get in the Way
Speaking at Washington University in St. Louis, legendary Georgia congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis urged seniors to be proactive—even if it means ruffling feathers. Noting inspiration from Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Lewis said, “I got in the way…I got in trouble…Good trouble, necessary trouble.” This lesson is as important today as it was in the 1950s and 1960s. As Lewis continued, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you must have the courage to stand up, to speak up, and find a way to get in the way.” The advice Lewis offers is as valid for working professionals as it is for ambitious and idealistic graduates. Convention and inertia are often impediments to progress. Get in the way to force change. The world may be better off because of it.

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you must have the courage to stand up, to speak up, and find a way to get in the way.”

2. Cherish “Uh-Oh” Moments

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounted to University of Rhode Island students an embarrassing story in which she choked during one of her first job interviews. These “‘uh-oh’ moments are worth cherishing just as much as ‘ah-ha’ moments,” she said. “Mistakes, failures, embarrassments and disappointments are a necessary component of growing wise.” The logic of learning from failure is not new, but Sotomayor’s reminder to embrace the “uh-oh” moments is refreshing in an era in which every corner of life has grown competitive and perfection is a ubiquitous expectation. When navigating the crosscurrents of global economic uncertainties, failure is almost certain at some point. Reframing setbacks as wisdom acquisition will empower and energize— precisely at the point when a boost is most needed.

Reframing setbacks as wisdom acquisition will empower and energize— precisely at the point when a boost is most needed.

Continue reading The Best Advice From 2016 Commencement Speeches

Change Management – It Begins With Me

By Mike Abrashoff

It’s tough out there today and no organization is safe. There are a lot of variables that many of us have absolutely no control over. It’s easy to feel like a victim and obsess over the uncontrollable. My advice to you is to forget about what you can’t control and obsess only over that which you can influence.

The most important mentor in my life once told me before I took command of USS Benfold, “Mike, no matter how hard you try, your ship is never going to be perfect. You are going to have disappointments every day. When you are disappointed in an outcome, don’t ever blame your shipmates first. Assume they want to do a great job. Look inward first and focus on the process. Did you clearly communicate the goals? Did you give your crew the resources to do a great job? Did you give them the training to deliver the excellence you were hoping for?”

You know what?  80% of the time that I was disappointed in an outcome, there was something I could have done differently to improve the outcome. This mentor caused me to constantly challenge our processes to see if we couldn’t do things a little bit better. That intellectual curiosity, always striving to improve, ingrained a culture that thrived on change and embraced it. It was implemented on terms that were favorable to us. Nobody became a victim of change and instead we led change.

I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t predict what your industry is going to look like five years from now or ten years from now. What I can tell you, with great certainty, is that if you don’t foster a culture that celebrates and cultivates change, your best days will have been behind you.

Change management begins with your own attitude and how you show up at work. Embrace it and stay safe. Fear it and lose control of your own destiny. It’s all up to you. After all, IT’S YOUR SHIP!!!

Why You Must Morph to Stay Relevant

by Colette Carlson

colette-carlson-why-you-must-morpWhen visiting my parents recently to celebrate Dad’s 90th, I watched as he carefully pushed the phone buttons with his oversized, arthritic fingers to re-order his medicine from the VA. I smiled and told him what a rock star he was for adapting to technology. A Baby Boomer friend, who reluctantly learned to use her bank’s mobile app, is thrilled with how convenient and time-saving it is – far fewer bank visits. Yet she avoided the technology for a long time, telling herself and anyone who would listen, “I’m not tech-savvy.” To that, I say, “It’s time to step up and get in the game.”

It’s what we all must do, not only in our personal lives, but most especially on our career path.

It’s imperative that we be willing to #morph – or risk becoming irrelevant.

Just because something is not part of your current skillset, doesn’t mean you can’t learn. If your company is transitioning to a new software application or implementing new systems, you can balk and complain about the change – we’ve all seen colleagues choose that behavior – or you can get on board with your company’s evolution and take advantage of the opportunity to learn something new. Besides, it’s good for the neural pathways in your brain!

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Is The Sharing Economy About To Stop Sharing?

By Vikram Mansharamani

Today’s sharing economy has a cutting edge feel to it. It screams “innovation” and disruption. It’s seems futuristic.  We’re living in a world where the most valuable media company — Facebook — produces no content; the world’s biggest taxi company — Uber — owns no vehicles, and the world’s most valuable hospitality company — Airbnb — owns no hotels.


Networks, it seems, are more valuable than the services they facilitate. And in some ways, this makes sense. They are enabling stranded assets liked parked cars or empty beds to be economically productive. The networks are valuable precisely because they connect those with needs and those who can help fulfill them.

There’s reason to believe, though, that the so-called “sharing economy” is a fleeting moment in economic history. Digital giants and upstarts alike are realizing that networks can be fickle, while ownership of and control over the services they facilitate hold the key to a sustainable advantage and long term profits.

Take transportation, for example. Uber is famous for being a giant, car-less taxi company, preferring to let its drivers supply the vehicles. In doing so, though, it has to give them a significant cut. What if it didn’t have to pay for drivers at all? That’s the promise of driverless cars.

As Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick told a tech conference in 2014, the service is more expensive than it should be “because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car. When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.”

What happens to car demand in a world where it’s cheaper to take an Uber than own a car? Sure, it might shrink a bit as cars are more heavily utilized and meet more driving needs. But the more interesting fact may be that the network suddenly owns all the cars.

Last year, Uber launched a lab in Pittsburgh to facilitate the development of autonomous car technology. While Uber may be a car-less taxi company today, it has its sights on owning all the cars in the future.

It’s no surprise, then, that GM recently announced a $500 million investment in Uber’s main rival Lyft, building a network-manufacturer partnership that could compete with the prospect of a vertically integrated Uber. As NPR reported, “In the short-term, GM will rent cars to drivers. In the long-term, GM will build a self-driving fleet in which cars are owned by a company — not bought by individual consumers.” Meanwhile, Google plans on spinning off its driverless car unit into a standalone business later this year.


The “sharing economy” may eventually morph into the “platform owns everything” economy. Just consider what’s going on in the entertainment sector. Netflix, which has grown rapidly by connecting other people’s content to end users, is now focused on producing its own original content. In 2016, the company plans to produce 600 hours of original programming. Amazon is now producing original shows as well, and doing so quite well. Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” recently won two Golden Globe Awards. At one point in early January, the top 5 TV shows, according to ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, were produced by either Netflix or Amazon.

While Facebook has not announced plans to produce news (which is not particularly lucrative anyway), it is getting publishers to host their content with them. Much more consequential, however, is its approach to virtual reality. Facebook bought Oculus in 2014…and drum roll please… Oculus has a studio of its own—Oculus Story Studio—which is funding original content. If the future of visual media is in VR, then Facebook will be one of its earliest producers.

Might Airbnb someday find itself wanting to scoop up some property of its own? It’s too soon to tell, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they did. One thing seems clear: we can’t assume that network owners will be content until they have control.

Leadership Lessons: Why “My Way or the Highway” Leadership is History

by Mike Abrashoff

The neat thing about what I do is that I get to meet and learn from all sorts of people from all walks of life. Whatever my experience, I realize that I don’t know everything and more important, that I still have tremendous opportunity for growth as a leader.

Last week, I was chatting with my seat-mate on a flight and it turns out, he is a highly sought-after television director in Hollywood. He says his phone is constantly ringing off the hook from TV executives wanting him to direct their shows. I asked him why he was in such great demand – thinking he had some technical ability few others possessed. He said that had nothing to do with it. Instead, what he is known for is his leadership ability on the set in dealing not only with the highly paid actors, but also with the people behind the scenes, the grips, the caterers, the a/v guys and the like. It seems they have so much respect for him that they have become a disciplined and cohesive unit that meets or beats the demanding deadlines because they work well together and get it done in one take.

I told him that my impression of a television director is one of a dictator that barks orders to everyone. He told me that there are many out there like that but that the ones who are most in demand these days are the ones who can execute on budget while delivering an excellent product. I asked him his secret and he replied: “on our set, you don’t have to do it my way as long as your way is just as good if not better. What I make sure I do is to create a climate whereby people feel free to tell me their ideas and a climate where I will give them a respectful hearing.”

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Millennial Alert: How to Handle Older Folks in the Workplace 12 Insights from Someone Who’s Been There, Done That

by Connie Podesta

I recently spoke to a large audience made up mostly of millennials. And they had tons of questions about working with “older people”. And I realized… hey, that’s me! I am always teaching people how to deal with the millennials, but I never teach them how to deal with us. So, in fun, here are a few good tips when working with the rest of us that just might come in handy. Whichever side of the generational fence you’re on – these will be good tips to take with you!

12 Top Millennial Tips for Working with Baby Boomers

1. Make a “voice call” on your phone. I know. It seems archaic. But they seem to like it. ConniePodestaGo figure. It’s a grand way to communicate while hearing a person’s voice at the same time. Even though they are capable of texting, their ADHD skills aren’t as honed as yours and they don’t mind the extra time it takes to get through a conversation. For some reason it makes them feel closer to you when they can attach a voice to the words.

2. Be patient. Give them some leeway if they don’t return your texts immediately within a few seconds. When they were young they had something called “a life” which means they did other things besides having constant communication with their friends. They often go back to those days and have experiences that are phone-free. During those times they may not even look at their phone for minutes at a time. And texting again asking “are you there?” won’t help. You may have to just wait it out. For some reason they seem to be even better focused once they return to the real world of constant chatter.

Continue reading Millennial Alert: How to Handle Older Folks in the Workplace 12 Insights from Someone Who’s Been There, Done That

16 Predictions

by Vikram Mansharamani

2015 was a roller coaster of a year for analysts of global economics and politics. Terrorist tragedies from the US and France to Nigeria and Iraq shocked us, Nepal suffered a devastating earthquake, and Volkswagen’s massive fraud surfaced.  A million migrants flowed into Europe, and a nuclear deal was reached with Iran.  The US and Cuba made progress in restoring relations, and Donald Trump grabbed global headlines.  Nations reached a new set of climate accords in Paris, and the Islamic State persisted.  China’s slowdown continued, it ended its one-child policy, and energy and industrial commodity prices stayed lower than expected.  And of course, the Fed began its effort to normalize interest rates.

How can we possibly navigate the radical uncertainty presented by this chaotic tangle of events and trends? Some use a Magic 8 ball, while others turn to Ouija boards. I’m more conventional. Rather than try to predict what will happen in the coming year—to me, a fool’s errand, due to the short time-horizon—I try to look through the noise by analyzing structural signals and making predictions over a five-year window.  Last year, I made 15 Predictions for 2015-2020. But as noted by the late Yogi Berra, “The future ain’t what it used to be!” So I’ve incorporated feedback from last year into my predictions for the next five years.

2016-2021 Predictions

  1. China posts a GDP growth rate below 5% before a consumption boom re-accelerates the economy. Animal protein demand skyrockets. In the meantime, saber rattling in the South China Sea and towards Taiwan and Japan aim to distract popular attention away from domestic economic matters, but rising unrest and economic insecurity call the long-term viability of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule into question.
  2. In Australia, low prices for industrial commodities drive budget deficits, generating additional volatility in economic growth and the Australian dollar. Exports ultimately rebound thanks to growing Chinese demand for consumer goods and services, but housing prices in Melbourne and Sydney correct amidst slower inbound immigration.
  3. Low oil prices spur a transition to consumption-led growth in many emerging nations.  Formerly hedged North American producers find themselves losing money and (temporarily) shut down. OPEC eventually curtails production, and tensions escalate in the Arctic over seemingly large resources. Coal markets suffer but don’t disappear. Oil ultimately rebounds as rising Middle Eastern instability combines with aggressive investment cutbacks.Fusion emerges as a viable long-term alternative energy source.
  4. In Canada, the combination of high household debt, high home prices, and anemic job growth due to low oil prices leads to stubbornly persistent economic stagnation.  An emerging market consumer boom eventually drives Saskatchewan real estate prices as potash prices rise dramatically.
  5. In Africa, a growing middle class booms, boosting consumption and driving higher food prices worldwide.  Low oil prices force Nigeria’s economy to diversify away from commodities and towards services. High unemployment and domestic unrest continue in South Africa, leading the once dominant ANC to lose ground, power, and legitimacy.Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam spurs a water war.
  6. The current technology bubble deflates even as a few champions of the sharing economy enter the Fortune 500.  The biggest casualty proves to be employees ofnaked unicorns as venture capitalists and institutional investors utilize ratchets to limit their losses.  The Internet of Things takes off, generating concerns from privacy and security experts alike. Calico becomes the world’s hottest company.
  7. A Robolution in Manufacturing massively increases productivity and also decreases employment. Robotsprove deflationary as the labor component of goods drops and the fall in aggregate workers’ income reduces demand for the very goods the robots make.  The markets for drones, driverless vehicles, and industrial robots boom.
  8. Saudi Arabia faces rising domestic unrest and regime-threatening instability. Regional tensions escalate, distracting the regime from addressing domestic concerns. Due to oil price pressures, the government cuts budgets for social services, giving momentum to demands for increased freedoms.
  9. Despite initial success, Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India” campaign proves ill-timed, as productivity gains in automated manufacturing make the Chinese development model obsolete. Speculation arises thatIndia may never emerge as the economic powerhouse it was once generally assumed it would become. Leaders discuss the possibility of demographic controls.
  10. Cyber risks continue to rise as a top concern for global boardrooms. Financial regulators begin mandating independent information audits comparable to today’s financial audits. National governments create military-like cyber teams to hunt down and bring cyber-terrorists to justice, but they are not able to avert a destabilizing attack on critical infrastructure.  Ted Koppel’s Lights Out proves prophetic.
  11. Japan acknowledges its demographic problem and opens the doors to immigrants. It begins allowing Southeast Asian healthcare workers (nurses from the Philippines?) to care for the elderly. Economists come to understand that the older Japanese population, living on fixed incomes, actually prefers deflation.
  12. The United States of Europe fails to congeal as expected. The refugee crisis hastens the disintegration of the attempt at political and monetary union. Even as some countries see refugees as demographic saviors, nationalism rises in others. Separate currencies emerge.
  13. Central bankers struggle to unwind quantitative easing without generating massive instability. Equities suffer, credit markets tremble, and gold surges as investors lose confidence in responsible central banking. Martin Wolf’s “chronic demand deficiency syndrome” worsens leading economists to question the usefulness of productivity. The Fed finds it can’t raise rates as much as it has planned and eventually reverses course.
  14. In the wake of 2014’s successful containment of the Ebola virus, a new epidemic (MERS?) rears its ugly head. The global public health community again scrambles (and again succeeds) to avert a disaster that might have threatened millions of lives. Despite more health-conscious border control efforts, healthcare continues to globalizeCuba’s economy accelerates on the back of strong medical tourism from the United States.
  15. The Pacific Alliance, a trading bloc centered on Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Peru, grows its profile and emerges as Asia’s preferred economic entry point into Latin America.  Mexico tries to deal with its corruption problem and makes progress towards establishing rule of law. The Colombia peace talksare ultimately successful, resulting in the end of the 50+ year civil war.
  16. Whoever wins the 2016 US presidential election, the American people are sorely disappointed and vote with their feet in the 2018 midterm elections, resulting in a rapid and unexpected swing of control in Congress.

As I mentioned in last year’s predictions, it’s worth recalling the prescient words of John Kenneth Galbraith: “There are two types of forecasters: those who don’t know and those who don’t know they don’t know.” I’ll let you decide which I am, but I do hope these 16 ideas provoke thought!

Does prevention save money? __ Yes __ No

DocWPatientOr…it’s complicated.

The New York Times today published a story titled, “No, Giving More People Health Insurance Doesn’t Save Money.” A piece of the argument is, as the author Margo Sanger-Katz puts it, “Almost all preventive health care costs more than it saves.”

What do you think? What’s the evidence? Leave aside, for the moment, the “big duh” fact that at least in the long term saving people’s lives in any way will cost more, because we are all going to die of something, and will use a lot of healthcare on the way. Leave aside as well the other “big duh” argument: It may cost money, but that money is worth it to save lives and relieve suffering. Leave that argument aside as well. The question here is: Does getting people more preventive care actually lower healthcare costs for whoever is paying them?

My thoughts? #1: No consultant worth his or her salt trying to help people who are actually running healthcare systems would take such a blanket, simple answer as a steering guide. Many people running healthcare systems across the country are seriously trying to drop real costs, and how you do that through preventive care is a live, complex and difficult conversation all across healthcare.

#2 thought: It depends. It needs analysis. It depends on which preventive tests, screens, and prescriptions you’re talking about, and how it is decided whom to help with them. Sanger-Katz’ article only shows that we cannot assume that every preventive screening or test saves money and/or is worth the money spent. Mammograms, for instance, show no benefit (no extra tumors caught, no lives saved) over breast exams alone (Canadian Breast Cancer Study, n=89,000 over 25 years).

This is true of many preventive items, including the annual checkup — it’s hard to show a true benefit from them. So yes, if you assume that every preventive test, screen, or prescription is worth it, and then you give more people access to those, you’ll end up spending more money. Equally important, the assumption is that you screen everyone, and you do it the most expensive way, like giving older people regular colonoscopies as a test for colon cancer. There are far less expensive ways to pre-screen people for that. This one assumption alone costs an estimated $10 billion per year in the U.S..

The problem is that these assumptions mean giving a lot of medical care, much of it not even effective, to people who are well. There are reasonable ways to narrow the focus of expensive, personal, procedural preventive care and maintenance to the 5% or so who really need it. Find that 5%, give them extra care, and you will save money.