TradeBriefs Editorial From the Editor's Desk

Vanguard's Chief Economist highlights the 4 areas that will see the most advancement in the next 5 years
Joe Davis (chief economist at Vanguard) has an interesting research metric to predict which areas will see the most innovation in the future. His team's "Ideas Multiplier" metric tracks over 2 million records of research (academic, medical, etc) and finds the ratio of good ideas spawned from an original idea, over time. During the 1990s (just before the internet really took off), it was at 200:1 in the area of computer technology. At other times, it has averaged 40:1 in most areas.
Today, it is at over 400:1 in 4 different areas - Material Sciences, Oncology (Cancer Research), Agriculture and Genome Research. Interestingly, AI is not on the list because AI is a general purpose technology that cuts across all areas and has even helped the above areas peak. The excitement in research in these four areas indicates some breakthrough applications coming up in probably a 4-5 year timeframe. In Material Sciences, think ultra-thin skyscrapers possible because of new materials used in columns. In Agriculture, think special-purpose seeds that can help crops withstand floods. Cancer and Genome Research are progressing a lot faster today than before, with possible applications in 5 years.

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TradeBriefs Editorial From the Editor's Desk

Trickle-down workaholism in startups
There's an ingrained mythology around startups that not only celebrates burn-out efforts, but damn well requires it. It's the logical outcome of trying to compress a lifetime's worth of work into the abbreviated timeline of a venture fund.
It's not hard to understand why such a mythology serves the interest of money men who spread their bets wide and only succeed when unicorns emerge. Of course they're going to desire fairytale sacrifices. There's little to no consequence to them if the many fall by the wayside, spent to completion trying to hit that home run. Make me rich or die tryin'.
The entrepreneurs who sign up for such pressures may have asked for it. If you, knowing their sentiments, ask Rabois or Suster for millions to fund your venture, then you probably should expect to have your vacations, weekends, hobbies, family time, or outings with the kids questioned.
But the pressures don't stop with the person who signs the term sheet. That shit trickles down. In fact, it's likely to amplify as it rolls down the hill, like a snowball gathering mass. Because once the millions have cleared, and the headcount has been boosted, it's usually other people who actually have to make good on those exponential expectations.
The sly entrepreneur seeks to cajole their employees with carrots. Organic, locally-sourced ones, delightfully prepared by a master chef, of course. In the office. Along with all the other pampering and indulgent spoils AT THE OFFICE. The game is to make it appear as though employees choose this life for themselves, that they just love spending all their waking (and in some cases, even sleeping) hours at that damn office.

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TradeBriefs Editorial From the Editor's Desk

The real reason why diversity is good for business- and why we don't see enough
We keep hearing that diversity is a good thing at the workplace. Beyond the fact that it "is the right thing to do", which it is; there is also a strong business reason for it. This is explained by Katherine Phillips (professor at Columbia University), who has been studying organizational and leadership behaviour for nearly two decades. "I bring people into a room, and I videotape their discussions so that I can understand exactly who's saying what and to whom. And what I've discovered is that when you have a group that has some social diversity present - everyone knows that there are some differences between the individuals in the room - they are more likely to share their information, that unique information that's in their heads. They are more likely to utilize that information, and they're more likely to get the right answer than the homogeneous groups - the groups where everyone in the room thinks that they're the same, they're from the same social group. Now one of the things that was really striking about that research is that when you ask people, after they have gone through this group discussion and they've made their decision about what they think the right answer is, the homogeneous groups consistently say that they were more effective. That they are more confident that they have the right answer, despite the fact that the objective data tells us the complete opposite - that the diverse groups performed more effectively. So I know that there's potential for diversity to be beneficial, but people don't see it."

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