Visual communication goes a long way

In the time of the pandemic, we have to follow the social distancing. Most importantly when we are shopping for our daily essentials. Below is the sign from Tesco’s

The sign talks about maintaining a social distance of 2m. However, it could have done a better job of communicating this. 2m is not easy to visualise. 
There were markers like the one shown on the right which again shows that you have to be 2m meters apart. All well and good but the lack of clarity remains, how much is two meters? I am unable to visualise. Give me a context. Make it foolproof.
And along comes Sainsbury's for the rescue. The visual is strong! You need to be two trolleys apart. IT is easy to remember as well, 2 m = 2 trolleys. It may not be accurate but it gets the message across. And most of the people use trolleys, so it is full proof too!

Incredible design is intricate, but once you nail it, it can work wonders—no room for doubt. Good design is crystal clear. Well done the designers who worked on these visual for Sainsbury’s

Factfulness – Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund

Coverpage of the book titled Factfulness

Our Technical Director had this book on his shelf for a long time, I would always see it when I entered his office. So I bought it when I last finished a book on investing.

One of the most important books I’ve ever read – an indispensable guide to thinking cleaely about the world

Bill Gates

With a review like that from Mr Gates himself, who am I to say anything? I completely echo Bill’s thoughts. Being a data drive guy and also someone who is aware of our built-in biases I am always looking to ensure I am aware of these shortcomings and to develops skills to counter the downsides.

I have seen Hans Rosling’s TED talks and the passion that man had was infectious. Anyone can be inspired by his energy. This is a fascinating book who shows how ill-informed we are and how our worldview is distorted, to say the least. This distorted view always leads us to act in a way which is not correct.

Each chapter talks about a potential pitfall when it comes to how to analyse data

  1. The gap instinct
  2. The negative instinct
  3. The straight line instinct
  4. The fear instinct
  5. The size instinct
  6. The generalisation instinct
  7. The destiny instinct
  8. The single perspective instinct
  9. The blame instinct
  10. The urgency instinct

Few interesting highlights

  • ignorance (by which I do not mean stupidity, or anything intentional, but simply the lack of correct knowledge)
  • Everyone seems to get the world devastatingly wrong. Not only devastatingly wrong but systematically wrong. By which I mean that these test results are not random. They are worse than random: they are worse than the results I would get if the people answering my questions had no knowledge at all.
  • Every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent, and more hopeless—in short, more dramatic—than it really is.
  • Step-by-step, year-by-year, the world is improving. Not on every single measure every single year, but as a rule. Though the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress. This is the fact-based worldview.
  • the overdramatic worldview is so difficult to shift because it comes from the very way our brains work.

The three Ps

All businesses are dependent on 3 Ps and no, none of these P refer to profit! All the 3 Ps are in fact people, but different groups of people.

The first group of people who are critical are the team, people who work for the organisation. You need to look after your team as an absolute priority.

The second group of people are your clients. People who believe in your products and services and who spend their money with you.

If you are the publically traded company then the third group of people are the shareholders, the investors. And if you look after the first two groups of people the third P takes care of itself. Profit becomes by product of taking care of your team and your clients.

In this difficult time of the pandemic, the companies who treat their teams will define if they will succeed when things go back to normal. And I am sure we will have a normal society going forward. This too shall pass.

Saw it in the news yesterday at the football clubs have sent their wider group of support staff on furlough but are paying the insanely overpaid footballers are paid their full salaries. (I have no issues with the footballer salaries, they must create that kind of value to be paid that salary, is how I understand it.) My issue is, if you look at the outgoings of a company as a cost and apply the Pareto rule to it, then the 20% of their employees are responsible for the 80% of their costs! And this 20 % are the footballers and senior staff. This group of people are already well to do! So the focus should be on paying 80% of the team whose salaries account for only 20% of the Club’s budget.

But sadly, this is not the case.

Bitcoin and Zero by Robert Breedlove

A fantastic long read by Robert Breedlove of Parallax Digital. If you do not yet have an opinion about Bitcoin, then this article should only give you more insight into Bitcoin.

I have been long Bitcoin since the second half of 2019, and this was based on Plan B’s stock to flow model; I topped this up with The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking by Saifedean Ammous. He’s also got a course on Udemy which is recommended as well.

Values change

We look at values as something that is static. For certain universal values that is true. Example, kindness, this is a universal value and should remain constant.

But values, as defined by the cultures we live in, are constantly being changed, the rate of change if slow and hence its effects are not seen immediately. Values adapt too. In fact, these should change and evolve because cultures evolve too. Change is the only constant and if you try to keep the culture and values static they will conflict with the reality. Because times have changed and everything around it should change too. The hallmark of a healthy society where cultures, values, traditions keep up with the changing times and technologies.

Emergency funds

We are in a total lockdown now due to Coronavirus. The situation is grim. I have never experience the economic machine to come to a complete standstill around the world! This is indeed unprecedented.

People are saying this is a Black Swan, but I personally do not think so. We knew this would happen; it was a matter of when and not if! People are being made to go, and this will put the financial wellbeing of most of us in danger. The Government has kicked in and has done an impressive job to support a majority of us; however, if you look at it, we have borrowed from our future to ensure we survive our present. I do not know what the long term repercussions are when we restart the process of going back to being normal.

This is indeed an emergency, and the best way to be protected yourself during an emergency is to be financially stable. You need to have cash or cash equivalents of at least six months of your bills you.  No ifs no buts. If you have to SAVE every month! Pennies make a pound.

I know someone who can sustain his lifestyle for 12 years without having to work! And this is not because he’s a multi-millionaire but because his expenses and needs are well below the norm. Things are simple, but they are not easy, and its never too late to start.

We live in a world of instant gratification and pay the price. Marshmallow test, learn this and teach this to others. Some of us are naturally inclined, and some have to train daily to practice it. I am in the latter group.

 

Misinformation and Whatsapp

WhatsApp has become the default messenger of today. Yahoo messenger and BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) were its iconic equals of the past.

The network effect and the ease of using WhatsApp are impressive. With the voice call and video call features, WhatsApp has become indispensable. However, every good has to come with an undesirable side effect. This is a fundamental law I suppose.

I remember having to pay money for texting someone! So when you sent the text, you made sure that the message was worth the price you were going to be charged. With mobile data being dirt cheap and the cost of sending messages is next to zero, there is no intrinsic barrier to refrain yourself. People find it easy to send anything they like without the courtesy of verifying its source. During this critical time of lockdown due to Coronavirus, it is even more important that we refrain from spreading unverified messages!

An important rule that everyone should follow is to ask this question before forwarding any message, “would I have sent this message if I had to pay for it?”

Bailing out companies

One of the most important duties of any CEO is to deploy capital to generate returns for the company as well as shareholders. Since 2008 the amount of buybacks means, the leadership bought the company’s own share to boost the price of the shares and be rewarded! My view on this is explained best by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

 

Corporate Socialism: The Government is Bailing Out Investors & Managers Not You

 

And if you do not know what buybacks are, below is the video which can help.