• “THE RELEVANT VERSUS THE NEW IS THE FUNDAMENTAL BATTLE OF THE CURRENT AGE, and media organizations want you to believe that ‘news’ offers you some sort of competitive advantage.” But how many of the stories we read/watch/listen to really impact better decision-making in life, career or business? Reality is that minutes of constant interruption from “limitless quantities of news flashes which are bright-colored candies for the mind,” add up to at least a half-day weekly of wasted-time distraction. For many, flashy dramatic ‘news’ is actually toxic, “leading to fear & aggression, hindering creativity and ability to think deeply” because of misfocused and misleading perspective by: (1) over-rating importance of sports, accidents or violence which “leads us to walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads” instead of awareness for the underlying causes, stresses and true issues that merit changes in personal direction or behavior; (2) exacerbating ‘confirmation bias’ through stories that “make sense even though they don’t correspond to reality” – simple and stupid explanations of world events which result in overconfidence and/or misjudgment. [“What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact” in the words of Warren Buffet]; (3) inhibiting thinking and stifling creativity by usurping concentration which disrupts comprehension, learning and imagination; and (4) promoting “learned helplessness” since news stories are “overwhelmingly about things we cannot influence, so their constant repetition makes us passive, grinding us down until we adopt a worldview that is pessimistic, desensitized, sarcastic and fatalistic.” Is media news civilization’s nemesis?  [THE GUARDIAN – May 21, 14] 
  • EQUITY STOCK PICKERS NOTE: “At the end of the day, Index Funds run by a computer (robot) consistently beat managed and mutual funds which try to select winners within a given class of equities…Over the past five years, the return on S&P 500 beat 87% of active managers in domestic large-cap equity funds.” University of Chicago researchers attribute this predominantly to (1) the fact that so many smart managers offset each other, “gaining or losing at others’ expense and winding up near the market average”; and (2) fee ratios which dilute performance – a 1% charge on invested assets translates up to 20% of expected annual return. Even CALPERS, the $300 billion fund for California pensions, is now moving assets from internally-managed and hedge funds to passively-managed Index funds, effectively saying: “Call it capitulation or sobriety, we can’t beat the market or find managers who beat the market, and even if they can, their fee structures are overwhelming.”  For more perspective, DCG can connect you with top-rated local firms who specialize in Index Fund asset allocation.   [TIME – Sep 29, 14] 
  • E-MAIL MARKETING MESSAGES ARE USUALLY TRASHED WITHOUT READING. Latest survey stats found that while 75% of marketers send out up 15 standout e-mails a year looking for customer response, over a third of consumers “could not even remember a single memorable e-mail received.” Some 40% did however acknowledge that they “buy more from retailers that cater a shopping experience based on personal preferences and history, wanting their online experience to mimic the in-store relationship… Personalization is the key to increasing customer loyalty.”   [MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT – Sep 14]
  • PERSONAL MEDICAL INFO IS NOW “WORTH TEN TIMES MORE THAN CREDIT CARD INFO ON THE BLACK MARKET… since fraudsters can create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, and combine data with a false provider number” to file bogus insurance claims. Moreover, criminals may have years to perpetuate the fraud since identity theft seldom gets discovered until unpaid co-pay bills find their way to debt collectors who track down the victims seeking payment. “Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the $3 trillion U.S. healthcare industry which has many companies still reliant on aging legacy computer systems,” opting to put money in new medical technology rather than I.T. security.   [REUTERS – Sep 24, 14]
  • HEALTH CHECK NOTES: (1) In the last dozen years, the average American’s waist has grown a chunk: Men – a full size to just under 39 inches; White women age 40 to 50, 2.6 inches; Black women age 30 to 40, 4.6 inches.  (2) “Sleep is increasingly a luxury of the rich.” In households earning above $75K, two-thirds of people sleep over six hours nightly; Where earnings are below $30K, only half get that much sleep – mostly because of multiple jobs, long commutes or poor health.   [THE WEEK – Oct 3, 14]
  • THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: “Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, yet the youngest you’ll ever yet be. So enjoy it while it lasts.”