• 70% OF FAMILY BUSINESSES DO NOT SURVIVE INTO THE 2ND GENERATION, 88% ARE GONE BY THE 3RD AND 96½ % BEYOND THAT, according to Family Business Institute. A predominant cause is that very often Founders who are control-oriented are reluctant to “hand the reins over to heirs and do little succession planning,” so siblings who inherit the business have no models, little experience, and end up “fighting about everything from who’s in charge to how to run the company” which sets the stage for failure. DCG has successfully guided family business transition for decades. Let us help. [BUSINESS WEEK – May 18, 15]
  • IT WILL SOON BE A MILLENNIAL-MAJORITY WORLD. In the U.S., over 75 million people born between 1980 and 2000 will soon overtake Baby Boomers as the largest generational group. Latest substantive studies (by U Massachusetts researchers and CEB pollsters) have further defined millennial sectors and characteristics including: (1) generally practical-minded, preferring ‘access’ to ‘ownership’ (e.g. Netflix or Zipcar); (2) less likely to count compensation as a job priority, prioritizing ‘future career opportunity’ with shortened learning curves, rotation programs and on-job training; (3) less likely to identify with any specific gender or ethnic stereotype, political party, religion, fashion or labels; (4) one in five currently married despite lack of financial security; (5) 13% under age 25 unemployed and still living with parents; (6) that around 43% are Hispanic or Asian and majorly influencing social and financial trends.  [CFO MAGAZINE – May 15; QRGA LLP Nwsltr – May 18, 15]
  • RESEARCH INTO THE ‘DEEP LEARNING’ FIELD OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (A.I.) involves computers “teaching themselves tasks by producing a semblance of intelligence through brute number-crunching of large sets of data… without any capacity approaching the wide, fluid ability to infer, judge and decide that which is associated with intelligence in the conventional sense… However, the threat of autonomous machines with superhuman cognitive capacity and interests that conflict” with humans has concerned some of our planets smartest minds. Steven Hawkings warns “the development of full A.I. could spell the end of the human race;” Elon Musk describes A.I. as “summoning the demon” and similarly fears “the biggest existential threat humanity faces;” Bill Gates urges people to “beware of it.” Reality is that “psychologists, neurologists, sociologists and philosophers are still a long way from an understanding of how a mind might be made or what one is. And the business case for even limited intelligence of the general sort – with interests and autonomy – is far from clear. A car that drives itself better than its owner sounds like a boon; a car with its own ideas about where to go, less so.” [THE ECONOMIST – May 9, 15]      Check out a distant ancestor of today’s programmable computer: an automaton doll which writes cursive: chonday.com/Videos/the-writer-automaton
  • FRUSTRATION AT THE ‘INEQUALITY’ IN AMERICA creates much of the desperation which prompts class-based riots, with ‘capitalism’ increasingly blamed for creating Indeed, last year “just year-end bonuses for Wall Street finance workers dwarfed the combined annual earnings of all Americans working at the federal minimum wage.” But inequality is a reflection of our policy choices more so than a condition of capitalism. “We as a nation have chosen to prioritize tax shelters over minimum wages, subsidies for private jets over robust services for children to break the cycle of poverty. And the political conversation is often not about free rides by corporations, but about free rides by the impoverished” – not about families living in squalor or children without parental guidance or education, but about expanding tax benefits for the wealthier. Since, according to a Pew survey last year, “the American public views inequality as the greatest threat to the world,” this gross misperception by the underclass will almost certainly increase both the quantity of ‘protest’ and level of violence. [NEW YORK TIMES – May 2, 15]
  • 10 favorite thoughtful fiction novels for enlightened summer reading, in response to many requests: REPLAY – Ken Grimwood; THE FIRST IMMORTAL – James Halperin; THE EIGHT – Katherine Neville; THE HUMAN STAIN – Philip Roth; JITTERBUG PERFUME – Tom Robbins; NIGHTFILM – Marisha Pessl;  HEADHUNTER – Timothy Findley; SHIBUMI – Trevanian; ONE SECOND AFTER – William Forstchen;  ATLAS SHRUGGED – Ayn Rand.
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK:  “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”  – George Bernard Shaw
  • ABOUT PERCEPTION:  Psychological subtleties are pretty big influences. Now look away from this simple image, wait two seconds, think ‘Quack Quack’ and look back at the image.   Do it again and think ‘Bugs Bunny.’