Where to put your best people. Meditation instead of detention. Circle of competence. How to build the future. Did you choose this path?

Value Improvement Curiosity: Issue #44

Business & Money

One of the books I’m currently enjoying is called Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t. It’s all about what separates the really great companies from the rest of the pack. Jim Collins, the author, discovers that one of the commonalities shared among all of the great companies is a rigorous culture. Collins lays out a number of “practical disciplines” that make up a rigorous culture, one of which being “put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.”

As an example of this, Collins points to Joe Cullman’s leadership at Philip Morris during the company’s transitional years. Cullman identified international markets as the key to long term growth at Philip Morris. Consequentially, Cullman took his top executive off the US business (99% of company revenues) and put him in charge of international. Many of the company’s executives, including the one in question, thought this must be a punishment for something he’d done. But in reality, this was a stroke of genius. Putting Philip Morris’ top executive on the international business would result in Marlboro being the best selling cigarette in the world a few years later.

Human Progress

Do you remember detention from your high school years? If i remember mine accurately, they usually involved doing homework or simply sitting in silence. One would imagine there to be far more constructive uses of that time.

One school in Baltimore is being creative and replacing detention with meditation. Not only are the kids loving it, but the school is actually seeing tangible improvements. Since beginning the program, the suspension rate at the school has fallen to 0 (though I can’t find any data about the school’s suspension level before the program). When students get in trouble they head to the mindful moment room where they practice breathing exercises and learn mindfulness mediation routines to reduce stress and anger.


Over the weekend I was at lunch for a good friend’s birthday. During the meal I found out that Kim Kardashian was apparently held up at gun point, tied up and robbed in Paris last week. People at the table were so surprised that I hadn’t heard anything about it.

As a matter of preference, I’ve decided to dedicate 0% of my brain power to tabloids and celebrity news. I just don’t find it particularly interesting or entertaining.

This got me thinking in more general terms about how I spend my very limited waking hours. There’s no possible way to know about everything, so we are forced to decide what topics or activities will consume our time and attention. For me, celebrity news happens to fall outside my circle of competence. And that’s perfectly ok with me.

My Latest Discovery

Sam Altman, Y Combintor’s president, has recently launch a video series called “How To Build The Future.” In each episode Sam sits down with a top tech leader to talk about how they got started and how they think about the future. Interviewees have included Mark Zuckerberg, Jessica Livingston, Elon Musk and Sam Altman himself (Sam is interviewed by his brother for this one). Click here to check out the interviews. I highly recommend all four!

Question Of The Week

When thinking about your current career path, did you make a conscious decision to pursue a certain path, or simply do what you thought you should do or were expected to do? Is it too late to make a change?

It’s A Wrap!

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