Money

On Karoshi

“Karoshi” is a Japanese word that means, literally, “death by overwork.” For nearly half a century it’s been quite common for Japanese workers, usually the legendary “salarymen,” simply to drop dead, almost always from heart problems, after working long hours for many years. Other Asian cultures, especially, South Korea and China, experience a similar phenomenon. …

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The Illusion of Control, Part III

In my last post I pointed out that, contrary to the claims of Modern Portfolio Theory, families who own businesses aren’t at all uncomfortable with the “single stock risk” they are taking. (I’m not counting startup companies, which mostly fail.) I also pointed out that, once a family sells its company and invests the proceeds …

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The Illusion of Control, Part II

When I was writing my last book, Family Capital, my objective was to make it appealing—well, tolerable—for people who didn’t care much for investment issues but who knew they really should learn something about them. Adult children, for example. But also spouses, cousins, attorneys, accountants, bankers, trustees and others who needed a working knowledge of …

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Whistleblower

In 1991, the smell of Nabisco saturated the air in Pittsburgh’s eastern neighborhoods. The cookie factory was still just that, years away from its second act as a Google anchor. Sears was closed, but its big blue shell sat fading in the parking lot on Highland Avenue. Peabody wasn’t Obama and Bush I was in …

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The Illusion of Control

“Tell me, sweet lord, what is’t that takes from thee/Thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep? *** In thy faint slumbers I by thee have watched,/And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars.” —From Lady Percy’s soliloquy in Henry IV, Part I Toward the end of World War II, and afterward, psychologists tried to come …

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Happy 200th Anniversary! Part IV

In celebration of my 200th blog post, I’m blogging about blogging. Last week I talked about my (mostly boring) writing habits. This week I’m answering this question: Many of your blog posts adopt a position quite different from those we read about in the mainstream media, left or right. Are you naturally contrarian or do …

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The Puzzle of “E”

If you didn’t read my first piece, I was prompted to consider writing this blog by my own passage through late middle age to advanced middle age. I can see the end of the road, career-wise, through the haze. My younger, more energetic colleagues are assuming more of the responsibility in our office and are …

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Happy 200th Anniversary! Part III

In celebration of my 200th blog post, I’m blogging about blogging. Last week I went over the terrifying issue of how to come up with a new topic to write about every week. This week I’m answering the question: You have a day job and six kids, so how do you find time to write …

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Happy 200th Anniversary! Part II

In celebration of my 200th blog post last week, I’m blogging about blogging. Last Friday I went over some details about the blog and addressed a question about whether I’m really writing an investment blog or not. (Read “Happy 200th Anniversary! Part I” here.) This week I’m answering the question: Isn’t it hard to come up …

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Meet Jack Roseman, the Tech Whisperer

Shortly after Keith LeJeune helped found Agentase, a company that developed tools to detect hazardous chemicals, he called on Jack Roseman. LeJeune was so impressed with Roseman that he hired him as a consultant. When Sue Parker needed an exit strategy for her software start-up, Paragon Systems, she tapped Roseman, who helped her sell Paragon …

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Happy 200th Anniversary!

No, it only seems like I’ve been writing this blog for 200 years. I’ve actually been writing it for 200 weeks. As the anniversary approached, I naturally gave some thought about how to celebrate it, and my first notion was to give myself the week off. But nobody gets time off work just because it’s …

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On the (Inevitable) Donald, Part V

We’ve talked about school desegregation and we’ve talked about the fight against discrimination, two highly desirable movements that were, unfortunately, built on the backs of working families, leaving the elites who sponsored them untouched. Unsurprisingly, many of those working families now support Donald Trump and, whether he wins or loses, will continue to support Trump-like, …

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On the (Inevitable) Donald, Part IV

Let’s talk about discrimination. I had a friend, now deceased, we’ll call Millie. Millie grew up in a wealthy and influential family and graduated from law school in the 1930s—a real gender pioneer. But getting a law degree and getting a law job were two different things. Whenever Millie would show up for a job …

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On the (Inevitable) Donald, Part III

I’ll be talking about delicate issues in these posts, so let me be clear about what I’m saying—and what I’m not. Hundreds of years from now, when historians look back on our era—say, the period beginning just after World War II—the glory of our time won’t have anything to do with technology or arts or …

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On the (Inevitable) Donald, Part II

One reason I dislike Trump but also dislike his elite critics is because I have the misfortune to live in both camps. If you merely took a quick, casual glance at my vita you might conclude (as I try to trick everybody into concluding) that I am a card-carrying member of the elite American intelligentsia. …

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On the (Inevitable) Donald

Right-thinking person that I am, I’ve spent my adult life in broad agreement with elite American opinion on all the major issues and movements of the age: opposition to the War in Vietnam, support for the Civil Rights Movement, gender equity, reproductive rights, immigration reform, environmentalism, equality for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, etc., etc. Yet, …

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Contemporary Colonialism

“The fundamental decisions affecting the lives of … colonized people are made and implemented by the … rulers in pursuit of interests that are often defined in a distant metropolis. Rejecting cultural compromises with the colonized population, the colonizers are convinced of their own superiority and their ordained mandate to rule.” – Jürgen Osterhammel, Colonialism: …

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Waking Up on the Wrong Side of History, Part V

“The UK is a divided society where the richest receive the lion’s share, leaving crumbs for the rest.” – The Equality Trust I’ve argued that the Remain voters in Britain were mainly looking out for their own economic self-interest, without considering what might be good for the UK. Meanwhile, the supposed lunkheads – the Leave …

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Thoughts on the Search Business

I‘ve been ruminating recently—one tends to do that at a certain stage in life—about the business I’m in: executive search. It’s a nice business, especially if you enjoy introducing interesting, talented people to other interesting talented people, which I do, and don’t mind rejection, which I don’t. The business is never as good as it …

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Waking Up on the Wrong Side of History, Part IV

“Brexit changed everything.” – Paul Singer, Elliott Management Corp. My thesis in this group of posts on Brexit is that Leave voters were concerned about four issues: the lack of democracy in the EU, the increasing financialization of the UK economy, the ever-growing mountain of debt that had resulted from globally coordinated central banker policies, and …

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Waking Up on the Wrong Side of History, Part III

“If bankers are busy, something is wrong.” —Walter Bagehot I’ve argued that the Leave vote in the UK was driven by concern about four important issues facing the country: the lack of democracy in the EU, the increasing financialization of the UK economy, the ever-growing mountain of debt that had resulted from globally coordinated central …

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Boom and Bust

All over rural pennsylvania, motel parking lots, which just a couple of years ago were teeming with lumbering pickup trucks with out-of-state plates, are nearly empty. So are the hastily constructed “man camps” that not so long ago provided temporary shelter for roughnecks and roustabouts. So are the breakfast joints where they used to eat. …

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