Being Right vs Being Effective

We have all encountered this situation: you disagree with someone over some nontrivial issue -a friend, a classmate, a coworker – and you KNOW you are right and they are just so wrong. So you make sure they know it over and over again … but they still won’t budge.

The question you have to ask yourself here is: “Am I more concerned with being RIGHT or being EFFECTIVE?” If it’s the former, then keep doing what you’re doing. They’ll see the brillance in your ideas, I’m sure. Meanwhile, nothing will move forward.

If it’s the latter, then I advise you change tactics. Admit your view has flaws. Think about how their values affect their decision making. Ask someone they trust to talk to them. Provide some data from the real world that solidifies your stance. Or just let them have this issue and use the chits elsewhere.

Being right is never enough. No one wants to hear “Well it would have worked if s/he had just listened to me”. It is YOUR responsibility to ensure the right outcome.

Save the Constellation Program

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve learned that the in your proposed budget, you are planning to shut down NASA’s manned space flight program and use the funds to invest in commercial ventures designed to replace the Constellation Program. I’m a big fan of market based solutions – after all, I live in Silicon Valley  – but I don’t think this is the right move. We’ve lost a vision to rally behind as a nation, and ambitious goals for space exploration are what this country needs. Returning to the Moon or going to Mars are not the kind of ideas with 10x ROI that most venture capitalists are looking for.

I’m very excited about burgeoning space travel industry, but it’s still in its infancy. Instead of shutting down the Constellation Program, let’s give it a bold vision, lots of support and then hold it accountable for results. Space is something we still need to pursue as a nation – and don’t worry, the corporations will come soon enough.

Respectfully,

Jason Shen

Thank You! | The White House

Open Letter to Daily Staffers

Hey Daily staffers,

I’m frequently in contact with business managers at other colleges and a few months ago the Stanford Daily was invited to attend CONBY – Conference for Newspaper Business at Yale. Hosted by Yale Daily News’s Business Division, it featured opening and closing keynote speeches by senior executives at The Wall Street Journal and Time Inc, and workshops and round tables with business staff at Brown, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, and others.

We sent along a Stanford contingent of myself, Mary Liz, VP of Sales, Nikhil Joshi, Director of Strategy and Jane LePham, Head Copy Editor. It was a fun trip and well worth the time and cost. We tweeted much of the trip on the hashtag #yaletrip but I just wanted to recap on some of what came out of the event.

Education

I find learning about how other papers operate fascinating:

  • Most other schools have a sizable student business staff with a few older adults manning the offices.
  • My counterpart and Kamil’s at Yale is always junior, and it is a highly competitive (read cuthroat) position.
  • The Wall Street Journal guy advocated finding people who will pay for the content we produce that no one else can offer. Subscriptions to parents & alumni and Stanford admissions advice come to mind, but I’m sure you can think of others.

Collaboration

Another great thing from this trip is a trial collaboration between many of the papers at the event. We are planning to build a top tier college paper ad network and earn ad revenue from national firms that want to reach top tier students, at lower cost than current ad agencies.Other schools also wanted advice and support on going independent or renegotiating their lease with the University. We have a lot of experience here and it’s great to be able to help these smaller papers get established.

Appreciation

One thing we don’t appreciate enough is our (relatively) friendly biz/edit relationship.Discussions between biz/edit teams at other schools often, in their own words, degenerate to shouting matches. Other schools make less money than us, have fewer distribution points, less support from the administration and for the most part don’t pay any staff. Nice to be reminded of our blessings.

Action

Finally, we came away with some action items to generate more revenue:

  • Subscriptions – We’re going to push this during Parents weekend and next year at Homecoming. UPenn says they have over 1000’s of paying subscribers (which would be 100k’s worth of revenue for us)
  • Be more consultative to clients – Our account executives have really tried to give our clients “options” and now we’ll try to be more directive and offer specific dates and sizes to our advertisers, to help make the buying decisions easier for them
  • Offer web ads as an upsell – one of the challenges of online advertising is that we don’t want to cannibalize our print ad revenue so we rarely sell them directly. Going forward, we’re going to offer web ads as a bonus to people already buying a print ad.

Here in the business division, we are also trying to work with an overall strategic vision toward a better future. Thanks for reading and keep up the good work everyone. Despite the challenges ahead, I’m optimistic for the future of the Daily.

Jason

Notes from Too Big To Fail

It’s been a year and half since the turmoil of the US & Global financial markets really came to a head. I remember being throughly confused about everything that was going on. Words like sub-prime mortagage, credit crisis, bailouts, Fannie & Freddie, were thrown around. It’s a big deal and something that everyone in our generation should seek to understand.

I didn’t really understand what was going on and it was hard to stay on top of all the new developments. I like to get the whole picture – not just the facts but the context and a insight into the how and why it all happened.

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book, Too Big to Fail is a wonderful segway into the this whole story. Sorkin introduces the major players of the crisis, their background, and the roles they played. The fact that he got so many in depth interviews with people featured in the book is a double-edged sword. On one hand, he can provide narrative and details that no one else can, on the other, he has an incentive to keep all this big shots happy so that his access remains unfettered. Even so, I trust his journalistic integrity enough to believe that we get a fairly accurate portrayal of what happened – and the narrative makes the complicated financial jargon easier to swallow.

I’m going to start with just some observations I had after reading the first 207 pages or so. Please forgive me if any of this sounds naive, simple or just uninformed.

  • there are five major types of “characters” on Wall Street: traders, (investment) bankers, insurers, commercial bankers, and hedge fund guys.

  • a major problem for many of the firms in the crisis was poor liquidity, or lack of cash on hand. The bailout $$ was needed to keep companies from collapsing due to insufficient funds

  • the lack of cash was due to an improper assessment of the risks involved in and the value of certain assets that were bought/sold/owned by these financial characters

  • it’s hard to keep talented people from jumping off a sinking ship, like many of of these companies were, especially when your compensation is closely tied to overal company proofs. Big bonuses were promised to key people in exchange for staying on and risking their reputations on a potential failed firm.

  • the people who end up leading major firms are a self-selected group of aggressive workaholics who really care about their performance, and even more about their reputation (both within the industry and externally)

  • these firms are marked by a paradoxical mix of meritocracy, nepotism, loyalty, and betrayal. You can’t make it to the top with out ability -but you also need a great deal of political savvy and some ruthlessness.

Random Thoughts From People Our Age

This person is a genius.

yasminspired:

  1. -I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.
  2. -More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can’t wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that’s not only better, but also more directly involves me.
  3. -Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
  4. -I don’t understand the purpose of the line, “I don’t need to drink to have fun.” Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they’ve invented the lighter?
  5. -Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.
  6. -That’s enough, Nickelback.
  7. -I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
  8. -Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the “people you may know” feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?
  9. -Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn’t work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ’s. We just figured it out. Today’s kids are soft.
  10. -There is a great need for sarcasm font.
  11. -Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the f was going on when I first saw it.
  12. -I think everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I’ll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone’s laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I’m still the only one who really, really gets it.
  13. -How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  14. -I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
  15. – I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
  16. -The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text.
  17. – A recent study has shown that playing beer pong contributes to the spread of mono and the flu. Yeah, if you suck at it.
  18. – Was learning cursive really necessary?
  19. – Lol has gone from meaning, “laugh out loud” to “I have nothing else to say”.
  20. – I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
  21. – Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.
  22. – My brother’s Municipal League baseball team is named the Stepdads. Seeing as none of the guys on the team are actual stepdads, I inquired about the name. He explained, “Cuz we beat you, and you hate us.” Classy, bro.
  23. – Whenever someone says “I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart”, all I hear is “I’m not real smart, but I’m imaginary smart”.
  24. – How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?
  25. – I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a dick from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!
  26. – Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using ‘as in’ examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss’s last name to an attorney and said “Yes that’s G as in…(10 second lapse)..ummm…Goonies”
  27. -What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?
  28. – While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it…thanks Mario Kart.
  29. – MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
  30. – Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
  31. – I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.
  32. -Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
  33. – I would like to officially coin the phrase ‘catching the swine flu’ to be used as a way to make fun of a friend for hooking up with an overweight woman. Example: “Dave caught the swine flu last night.”
  34. -I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.
  35. – Bad decisions make good stories
  36. -Whenever I’m Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don’t mind if I do!
  37. – Is it just me or do high school girls get sluttier & sluttier every year?
  38. -If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.
  39. -Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I’m from, this shouldn’t be a problem….
  40. -You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you’ve made up your mind that you just aren’t doing anything productive for the rest of the day.
  41. -Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection.
  42. -There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.
  43. -I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
  44. – “Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this ever.
  45. -I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There’s so much pressure. ‘I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren’t watching this. It’s only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?’
  46. -I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Dammit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?
  47. – I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
  48. -When I meet a new girl, I’m terrified of mentioning something she hasn’t already told me but that I have learned from some light internet stalking.
  49. -I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it’s on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.
  50. -Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles…
  51. – As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.
  52. -Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
  53. -It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.
  54. -I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  55. -Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn’t know what to do with it.
  56. -Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, hitting the G-spot, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet my ass everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time…
  57. -My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day “Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?” How the hell do I respond to that?
  58. -It really pisses me off when I want to read a story on CNN.com and the link takes me to a video instead of text.
  59. -I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.
  60. -I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
  61. -I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.

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