Practical Wisdom for business - presentation at Yale in July, 2013

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I presented at a conference at Yale on Practical Wisdom for Management. These slides are about a few things my father and grandmother told me that made all the difference in the world, and helped me stand up to the evil that could have resulted from my MBA education!

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  • Haha Tak, this is great!!
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  • Really liked the perspectives.
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  • Brooke,
    I absolutely think this is a brilliant presentation. Insights like this often blossom later in life than we would wish. It sometimes seems to take an especially long time before our children become as wise as we tell them we have always been. Insight doesn’t come before someone plants the seeds and others water and nurture them. You show that brilliantly here and I will share this widely so it can help plant, water or nurture seeds that will blossom in others. Always care!
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  • The quote made my Margaret Thatcher is worth considering; it’s made before Social media became a factor of real power. Your destiny as person and leader is no longer only made upon your own actions but also upon how some people regard you and how their comments are regarded by others (perhaps millions of others). It takes a lot to stand to principles when you are not actually judged by your actions but more of words written by others.

    Lars-Ake Severin
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Practical Wisdom for business - presentation at Yale in July, 2013

  1. 1. Copyright 2013 by Brooke Allen 1 Words I Hold Dear Meeting on Practical Wisdom in Management Yale Divinity School – July, 2013 Brooke Allen Brooke@BrookeAllen.com Computer programmer and quant trader. Founder of seven businesses plus Q4Colleges.com, NoShortageOfWork.com, and Q54Club.org “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.” - Margaret Thatcher
  2. 2. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 2 Whenever faced with a choice between two things that are the same in all other regards, always choose the thing that promises the most adventure. - Said by my Grandmother My Son
  3. 3. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 3 Your education is your most valuable asset because it is the one thing they cannot take from you at the border. -Said by my Mom (who escaped the Fascists on the last plane out of Rome) Your reputation is your most valuable asset. -Said by my Dad (sculptor and entrepreneur) Other people may also have said what my parents said, but it is important that my parents said it too.
  4. 4. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 4 Two things you must know about money: 1. It is easier to make money doing what makes you happy than to buy happiness with the money you are paid for doing what makes you miserable. 2. Money should buy freedom, not chains. Said by my Dad (right before he gave me $500, wished me luck with college, and quit business to go back to sculpture full-time.) Silver Jaguar (Which they had to sell because they could not afford it and me at the same time.)
  5. 5. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 5 Two things you must know about sex: 1. Don’t lie. 2. Beware of the lie you tell yourself because it is the lie people will believe. Said by my Dad (right before dropping me at college.) Silver Jaguar (Babe magnet.) Babe He meant that in order to get laid you will tell lies like “I love you” when you have no idea what you are talking about.
  6. 6. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 6 Two things you must know about right vs. wrong: 1. You do not need permission to do the right thing. 2. No one can give you permission to do the wrong thing. - Said by a successful inventor who had been a bootlegger during prohibition. In 1973 I was hitching cross-country when I was given a ride by a man who taught me many things. Babe He said most things are not about “yes” vs. “no” but about right vs. wrong.
  7. 7. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 7 The sole objective of the professional manager is to maximize the net present value of the wealth of the owners of the firm. - First words I heard when I began my MBA. I thought business was going to be hard, but this will be a piece of cake. - Said by me. Because I was a math major I knew how to calculate NPV and do optimizations - both quadratic and linear. Bullshit. What about everyone else? Owners come last, not first. - Said by my dad, upon telling him what I was learning.
  8. 8. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 8 Two more things you must know about money: 1. Don’t lie. 2. Beware of the lie you tell yourself because it is the lie people will believe. Said by my Dad (when I was in business school.) Silver Jaguar (Which says “I’m rich” when the truth is he was a starving artist.) Confused My dad was wiser than my professors. He meant that in order to get money you will tell lies like “greed is good” when you have no idea what you are talking about.
  9. 9. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 9 Education is not the product nor is the student the customer. The student is the product and society is the customer. - Said by Henry Mintzberg, McGill University professor and author of Managers, Not MBAs Perhaps business schools should issue recall notices. - Said by a friend of a friend who was unable to hold on to his professorship at Harvard Business School. Nearly everything I learned in business school was either a definition, self- evident, or false. My MBA took 5 years to get, and 3 years to get over.
  10. 10. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 10 I think you have no f#@king idea what you are talking about, so if you decide to come down here and do all the analysis, programming, and trading, then I promise you only one thing: If you f#@k up, you will never work here again and you cannot go back to where you came from. - Said by Marty Kaplan, head of equity trading at Merrill Lynch five minutes into a two hour presentation on some research I had been doing. Me (and Tom Hanks) on the trading floor where I worked (and Bonfire of the Vanities was filmed). I decided to accept the offer because: • Marty wanted me to take responsibility, and that was good enough for me. • My grandmother always said to choose the path that promised the most adventure.
  11. 11. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 11 Customers Employees Vendors Creditors Regulators Society Managers ... then owners. OUR GOAL is to act such that every person associated with our endeavor will feel that at the end of the day they were better for it. -I wrote these words in 1999 so as to guide our business. These words changed our behavior in ways we had not expected, and by considering everyone’s interests we avoided many of the problems that plague the finance industry.
  12. 12. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 12 The problem is not regulation but self-regulation. I always found it easier to figure out what is the right thing than to figure out the rules. I was never saved by the rules, but by the imagined stern voice of my father saying, “I am ashamed of you.” - Said by me at the Chicago Quantitative Alliance at their Spring meeting, 2009, following the worst financial disaster of recent times. If you are confident that you can bear responsibility, and will not do anything immoral, illegal, or unethical, then it is not too hard to choose the path that promises the most adventure.
  13. 13. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 13 MY QUESTION FOR JOB APPLICANTS An Economist and a Trader are out walking when they come upon a dollar bill. The Economist says, "We know that is counterfeit because otherwise someone would have picked it up already.“ The Trader says, "You're right," and pockets the bill. That’s Funny! This is the real world where theory doesn’t count. Instead we must do the right thing. So, what do you do? I pocket the money! Job Candidate Me
  14. 14. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 14 What’s really funny is that I might have said the same thing when I graduated business school, but then I lived in Japan for a while where they teach their children that the only thing you know about it is that it is not yours. Uh. Oh! Does that mean I don’t get the job? Let’s just say that most of the problems in business today boil down to spectacularly bad parenting.Job Candidate Me
  15. 15. Brooke@BrookeAllen.com 15 I asked a Japanese war veteran how his country had been able to change so much since 1945. He said there are... Two things you must know about change: 1. There is nothing you can change right now. 2. There is nothing you cannot change in a generation if you raise your children to be different from you. Not the man I asked Are we giving our children the stuff character is made of, or just lots of stuff?
  16. 16. Some things I am working on: NoShortageOfWork.com explorations into the nature of work. Q4Colleges.com tough questions and honest answers about higher education. Q54Club.org 54 questions that can help you find your life’s purpose while you learn about yourself, others, the world, and work. BrookeAllen.com Brooke@BrookeAllen.com Please write. CREDITS. Ishinosuke Uwano photo: http://news.kievukraine.info/2006/04/long-lost-soldier-83-returns-to.html Cartoon illustrations: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/YOdesigner Platinum rule (and others) from Ethics for the Real World by Howard and Korver

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