Saturday 27 October 2012

Economics at Beach Club, KL

Economics at Beach Club, KL


Kula Lampur has no beaches but still tourists flock to this Beach. Unlike most beaches worldwide this beach has highest foot falls between 11 in the night and 4 in the morning. Beach club is a pick up joint.

Economics has a lot of similarity across the globe and this club is no exception.

Important to note that Men (more so married man) are hungry more when away from home and can be a nuisance for the Host city. Even Singapore has a pick up joint even though isolated to a complex. Malaysia is even more liberal. Singapore hotels charge extra if a guest joins in even for a short time. KL hotel staff just look the other way.

The Beach club is like any other disc in a large city. Loud music, smoke filled room with dim but colorful lights.

The club is pretty deseted at 9 pm and the crowd builds up around 10. There is a cover charge of 20 Ringets and it gets you a free drink. Most people who come with clarity in their need do not buy the next drink.

There are sellers all over soliciting bussiness, making fast moves from one deal discussion to the other.

There is a supply demand equilibrium and the seller and buyers change quotes accordingly. On Friday deals are must faster to crack and painfully long drawn on Sunday nights. Sunday nights have clear discounts (20 to 40%) being mentioned. Even the cabbie gives you this tip.

There are clear time slots when the economics change. At 11 there is a mad rush as quiet a few deals close and the seller, buyer move out. Desperation is in the air and boys negotiating longer end up loosing the deal. Some smart ones are seen doing multiple deals and they end up as loosers. Then there is a lull and bussiness goes on as usual. At around 2 in the morning some of the sellers who closed deals at 11 start returning into the club. Tense moments for some....rates crash. Kind of clearance sale starts.

Then there are different kinds of buyers. Some who are very clear so as to come single and go back single but would like to mingle. These are identified very fast and isolated very soon. Only a new seller or a desperate seller would approch them.

Then there are negotiating kinds, some negotiate in groups and deals are closed for the group. Some negotiators have a wandering eye and would be on the look out even when discussing one deal. Some seek Value added services and freebies.

Some shy ones have their friends negotiating for them.

Some are not sure of what they want and do the want at all. These are not focussed in negotiations and usually get stuff not picked up fast.

The club also understands the highs and lows of the market and employs more manpower to service on Weekends(Trainee written on their shirts). They make more money when rotations are fast.

Then there are some (seen it all, done it all types) who sit in corners and observe the market making ocassional comments sipping their drinks.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Breakout Nations, By Ruchir Sharma -- book rvw


It's not just China and Brazil: from Mexico to Korea, the big beasts of tomorrow's world are already roaring.


The story hits the headlines every day. How China has become the world's second largest economy. How Tata of India has rescued Jaguar Land-Rover. How Russian money has transformed British football. And so on. It is a story of a shift of power away from the so-called advanced world to what has been dubbed the emerging world, or the BRIC countries, Goldman Sachs's acronym for the four largest such economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China.
There has even been a BRICS summit, with South Africa forming the "S". The shift has become so familiar that it is hard to remember that 20 years ago these countries played a modest role in the world economy, aside from reports about economic disasters and the need for aid relief. Now it seems likely that within another 20 years China will have passed the US to become the world's largest economy (it is already the world's largest car market) and India will have become number three. It is an astounding turnabout of fortune.
Yet we know little about it. We lump together countries that are utterly different, not just in their political systems – contrast the four
BRICs – but in the structure of their economies, their policies, and indeed their prospects. That clever acronym diverts our attention from the other powerful middle-income economies, such as Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey, and the African giant, Nigeria. What we need is a primer to guide us. That is the core contribution of Ruchir Sharma's thoughtful analysis of these nations: what they are doing, why they are different, their prospects, their achievements, their errors, and the threats they face.
He starts, as one must, with China. For anyone who has been to China recently and particularly anyone who knew it even a decade ago, the story will be a familiar one: the helter-skelter race for growth, the wealth this has brought to the new middle class, the self-confidence generated by this achievement, but also the human and environmental costs of untrammelled growth – the swagger and the squalor. But this race for growth will come to an end as China's population ages and as development reaches a natural plateau.
Sharma brings out very well the need for the country to become more "normal", with slower growth and more consumption, spreading the fruits of growth more widely. It will still become the world's largest economy but may be an easier bedfellow for the rest of us. "A slower China means a less disruptive China, producing less geographical friction, fewer trade battles, and less fear of a rising 'Red Dragon'. So perhaps this is not a bad thing."

Investors want to make a good return on their investment but they will only be able to if the country has a functioning legal system and the political stability associated with the need to see that wealth spreads down the line. So he is reasonably positive about India, bar its crony capitalism and official corruption: "no other large economy has so many stars aligned in its favour". He is more concerned about Brazil, given its bumpy record of economic management; and he is very critical of Russia, in particular the way it has failed to build a substantial middle class.
There are a series of snapshots about the other important emerging economies, in which he makes a series of sensible judgements. His gold medal goes to South Korea, the "Germany of Asia", in particular for the way it has become a manufacturing powerhouse in one generation and managed to turn adversity to advantage. In the Asian financial crisis of 1998, it had to go to the IMF for a bail-out loan. But it used this crisis to reorganise its industry, allowing many weaker companies to go under or be taken over, and by the middle of 2001 had repaid the debt. Sharma believes South Korea will manage a successful unification with the North.
He is intrigued by Africa, in particular by South Africa and Nigeria; by Turkey; by Indonesia; and by emerging Eastern Europe. These are snapshots, but thoughtful ones that enable one to calibrate ones own views and expectations.
A big message? Well, not really, because there is no magic wand that creates sustainable growth, and we should recognise that much of what is happening is catch-up. He wisely notes: "All the hottest new things, from tablet PCs to cloud computing to social networking, are emanating largely from the United States." But this is a great road-map to the new and better-balanced world in which we will all live, and an encouraging one.

Sunday 1 January 2012

Success in 2012

My golden list to embrace success in 2012

Like to handle in 2 parts.

1. Personal. 2. Professional

Personal -- Family, self and social.

1. Spend quality time with family. Even if your work involves a lot of travel whatever time you are at home,be physically and mentally be with them. Newspaper and TV are no good. Draw a pic with your kid, thank your spouse for being there. Let them know you love them the most. Say it.

2. Self grooming is a must. Both mentally and physically. To keep up with the changing world Learn -- read books, reviews, new software. Open a cloud account. Play a game, join yoga.

3. Social life is very important. Develop friends, give back to the society. You will love it.

Professional -- Discipline, matrix, mentor.

1. Discipline is only mantra for sustainable success. Take complete ownership, do not hide behind excuses of team members inability to deliver. Drive it...get going. Be harsh on yourself for gaps in execution. You are lucky to have an opportunity to execute. Many more talented guys do not have a job. Do not loose this...opportunity to perform.

2. Data is all over the place. Know what matrix to look at. Deep dive into details to know cause and effect. Do not run blindly after any graph or chart..build your own. Recreate if you started with wrong insights.

3. Mentor at workplace helps a long way. Gives you a birds eye view. Must have.

Above all be humble, do not speak in a manner in which you would not like to be spoken. Be firm in your discussion but not arrogant.

All the best. Do share your views and success as you go along.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Great by Choice

Great by Choice

Great by Choice

We can be great by choosing Discipline in execution...Leaders win by this. No longer do Leaders need to be the visionary kinds.

Discipline is key...execution requires only discipline.

First, the successful leaders were not the most "visionary" or the biggest risk-takers; instead, they tended to be more empirical and disciplined, relying on evidence over gut instinct and preferring consistent gains to blow-out winners. The successful companies were not more innovative than the control companies; indeed, they were in some cases less innovative.

Summary By ALAN MURRAY

'Great by Choice" is a sequel to Jim Collins's best-selling "Good to Great" (2001), which identified seven characteristics that enabled companies to become truly great over an extended period of time.

Mr. Collins's new book tackles the question of how to steer a company to lasting success in an environment characterized by change, uncertainty and even chaos.

Lessons of "Great by Choice" are not meant to apply to a particular moment of economic turbulence but to a continuous condition—a business world "full of rapid change and dramatic disruption."

For their study, the authors chose a set of major companies that achieved spectacular results over 15 or more years while operating in unstable environments; Messrs. Collins and Hansen call them "10Xers" for providing shareholder returns at least 10 times greater than their industry. Then the authors compared those companies—Amgen, Biomet, Intel, Microsoft, Progressive Insurance, Southwest Airlines, Stryker—to similar, but less successful, "control" companies: Genentech, Kirschner, AMD, Apple, Safeco, PSA and United States Surgical. It is an indication of the volatile nature of today's business success that, using 2002 numbers, Microsoft came out as a "10Xer" while Apple was its less successful "control" company, a ranking now reversed. More on that below.

Messrs. Collins and Hansen draw some interesting and counterintuitive conclusions from their research.First, the successful leaders were not the most "visionary" or the biggest risk-takers; instead, they tended to be more empirical and disciplined, relying on evidence over gut instinct and preferring consistent gains to blow-out winners. The successful companies were not more innovative than the control companies; indeed, they were in some cases less innovative. Rather, they managed to "scale innovation"—introducing changes gradually, then moving quickly to capitalize on those that showed promise. The successful companies weren't necessarily the most likely to adopt internal changes as a response to a changing environment. "The 10X companies changed less in reaction to their changing world than the comparison cases," the authors conclude.

Like its predecessor, "Great by Choice" is far from a dry work of social science. Mr. Collins has a way with words, not least with metaphor. A whole chapter is devoted to pursuing a "bullets-then-cannonballs" approach to competition. The book's organizing metaphor is built around the story of Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott, the two men who set out separately, in October 1911, to become the first explorers to reach the South Pole. Amundsen won the race by setting ambitious goals for each day's progress but also by being careful not to overshoot on good days or undershoot on bad ones, a disciplined approach shared by the 10Xers, according to Messrs. Collins and Hansen. Scott, by contrast, overreached on the good days and fell apart on the bad, mirroring the control companies in "Great by Choice."

The authors find Amundsen-style discipline in Peter Lewis of Progressive Insurance, who refused to play the analysts' game of "predicting" quarterly earnings and made Progressive the first SEC-company to publish monthly financial statements so that analysts could follow actual results instead. Another disciplined leader is Andy Grove, who was willing to take decisive action at Intel, such as abandoning the business of memory chips in 1985, but only after immersing himself thoroughly in the evidence of a changed marketplace. Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, the authors say, was always preparing for the next recession even when none was in sight.

If "Great by Choice" shares the qualities that made "Good to Great" so popular, it also shares some that drew criticism. The authors' conclusions sometimes feel like the claims of a well-written horoscope—so broadly stated that they are hard to disprove. Their 10X leaders are both "disciplined" and "creative," "prudent" and "bold"; they go fast when they must but slow when they can; they are consistent but open to change. This encompassing approach allows the authors to fit pretty much any leader who achieves 10X performance into their analysis. Would it ever be possible, one wonders, to find a leader whose success contradicted their thesis?

Which brings us back to Apple. Messrs. Collins and Hansen had no way of knowing, when they began sifting through their data in 2002, that Apple would become one of the most stunning turnaround stories in business history, soaring past Microsoft in market value. The late Steve Jobs accomplished that turnaround with a run of boldness, innovation, visionary thinking and egotism that might seem counter to the studied conclusions of "Great by Choice" as well as those of "Good to Great," in which Mr. Collins found that one of the leading attributes of the best business leaders was "humility." Steve Jobs?

But Messrs. Collins and Hansen have no trouble fitting Mr. Jobs into their framework. They write that his first task in getting Apple back on track was "not iTunes, not the iPhone, not the iPad"—i.e., not an act of innovative brilliance. Instead, "he increased discipline. That's right, discipline, for without discipline there'd be no chance to do creative work." A veritable Amundsen.

Mr. Murray is deputy managing editor of the Journal and the author of "The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management."

Friday 18 March 2011

The Implications of Rising Inequality


Extreme levels of inequality breed social unrest and violence.  This is not a political statement.  It is a statement of fact.  Add to this three other facts:

1. Inequality is on the rise in the U.S. as well as throughout much of the developed and developing world.  This may well be the inevitable result of the evolution of our global economy.  The "haves" have always been able to use their resources to accumulate more - but with globalization they are able to do so on an even grander scale. 

2. Technology-fueled people power is enabling those at the bottom of the income distribution to organize, and in so doing disrupt the status quo as never before. 

3. This disruption is contagious. 

Left unfettered, this process leads to a tipping point that wrenches control and assets from the most privileged.  The historic events of the last two months in the Middle East (and now China) make it clear that autocratic forms of governance, while still dangerously powerful, are a threatened species.

This new political, social and economic reality has vast implications for every form of governance - including corporate.  And the U.S. and other highly developed democracies are not immune to these implications.  At a minimum this means that:
Inclusivity in decision-making is an increasingly necessary strategy.
Improving equality of opportunity is essential for stability.
Enhancing the management and development of "human capital" is the path forward at both a micro- and macroeconomic level.

Those entities - governments and commercial - that take to heart the implications of this defining moment in humanity's evolution will be the ones that endure, create prosperity, and contribute to a more peaceful world. 

Those that don't will be increasingly be viewed for what they are - the bad guys.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Change Management - MANTHAN

No one wants a change...except a crying baby whose pants are wet.

We all want to maintain status quo...the house we live in, the job we do the path we take , nothing should change. As a community we are very tolerant  and we begin to tolerate a lot, corruption, politics et all. Try not to become the frog in this ppt.

My views on change and the way to manage a change are in these presentation.

Hope you like it..do let me know.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Coaching People -- Book Extract


Good managers use coaching skills as part of their repertoire. The focus is on cooperation and facilitation of the other person's development. Coaching involves crating a comfortable environment where action plans can be developed together.
To become the most effective coach possible, work on mastering the following skills:
  • Listening actively
  • Asking the right questions
  • Advocating your opinions
  • Giving feedback as a coach
  • Receiving feedback as a coach
  • Building agreement
"I never could figure out why people didn't seem to follow my advice much. When I started to learn about the true art of coaching, it became painfully clear that my brilliance was failing on deaf ears because I hadn't done a bit of inquiry to learn what they were thinking, what they'd already tried, what their biggest priority was. Inquiry has made all the difference. It turns out most people want less advice but more opportunity to explore their own thinking with a caring coach who is paying attention." -- PattyMcManus, consultant, Interaction Associates
Tip: Those who coach regularly, coach better. Find opportunities to develop your coaching skills
Listen actively
As a coach you need to be tuned into the other person's feelings and motivations. You do this through active listening. Active listening encourages communication and puts other people at ease. Active listening also clarifies what's been said to avoid misunderstanding. As an active listener, give the coachee your full attention by following guidelines:
  • Maintain eye contact with the coachee.
  • Smile to put the other person at ease.
  • Avoid anything that will distract your attention. For example, don't answer the telephone. Only take notes if necessary.
  • Be sensitive to body language such as posture and arm position. Is the person tense or relaxed?
  • Listen first and evaluate later.
  • Do not interrupt the other person except to ask questions to clarify and to encourage him to continue.
  • Repeat in your own words what you think the other person has said.
  • Wait until after he has finished talking to plan your responses.
What Would you Do? No Sign of Change
As Paula Sat through Tony's presentation, bored as a rock, the sad truth slowly dawned on her. He was making the same mistakes now that he had been making six months ago! His nose was buried in his notes. He was droning on and on, and he had not incorporated a single visual into the entire presentation! Yet they had spoken about his need to work on this very skill.

Tony had told her that public speaking was something he just couldn't do. Paula had assured him that with hard work and practice he could do it. He believed her and he kept trying. So why, then, was he still so bad at it? Was there something more she could do to help him improve?
Tip: Coach your direct reports; don't play psychologist. It's not appropriate and you are probably not qualified.
Ask questions
Asking questions is a valuable tool for understanding the other person and determining his or her perspective. Use both open-ended and close-ended questions. Each yields a different response.
Tip: Ask a lot of open questions
Most managers ask too few.
Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions invite participation and idea sharing. Use them to:
  • Explore alternatives: "What would happen if…"
  • Uncover attitudes or needs: "How do you feel about our progress to date?"
  • Establish priorities and allow elaboration: "What do you think the major issues are with this project?"
When you want to find out more about the other person's motivations and feelings, think of open-ended questions. Though this type of questioning you can uncover your coache's true concerns. This, in turn, will help you formulate better advice and ideas about how you can help her.
Use close-ended questions carefully. Close-ended questions lead to "yes" or "no" answers. Use them to:
  • Focus the response: "Is the project on schedule?"
  • Confirm what the other person has said: "So, the critical issue is cost?"
Advocate for your opinions
Effective coaches offer their ideas and advice in such a way that the person receiving it can hear them, respond to them, and consider their value. It is important to advocate for your opinions in a clear and balanced way.
  • Describe the individual's situation as you see it.
  • State your opinion about the situation.
  • Make the thoughts behind your opinion explicit, and share your experiences.
  • Encourage the other person to provide her perspective.
Your collaboration with the coachee will be most successful if you use both inquiry and advocacy in your communications. Over-reliance on inquiry can result in the participants' withholding important information and positions. Conversely, if you emphasize advocacy too heavily, you create a controlling atmosphere that can undermine the coaching partnership.
Give feedback as a coach
Feedback differs from advocacy in that you are responding to a specific behavior or action rather than presenting and arguing your position on the overall problem or need for change. Giving and receiving feedback is a critical part of managing in general, but it is an especially important part of coaching. This give-and-take goes on throughout the coaching process as you identify issues to work on, develop action plans together, and assess the follow-through.
When giving feedback -- whether positive or negative -- try to do the following:
Focus on behavior -- not character, attitudes, or personality: Describe the other person's behavior and its effect on projects and/or coworkers. Avoid judgmental language, which only makes people defensive. For example, instead of saying, "You're rude and domineering," say, "I observed that you interrupted Fred several times during each of our last three meetings."
Be specific: Avoid generalizations. Instead of saying, "You did a really good job," you could say, "The transparencies you used for your presentation were effective in getting the message across."
Be sincere: Give feedback with the clear intent of helping the person improve.
Be realistic: Focus on factors that the other person can control.
Give feedback early and often in the coaching process: Frequent feedback that is delivered soon after the fact is more effective than infrequent feedback.
"Good coaches have coaches of their own. I can remember one time when I received timely and exquisite coaching. My boss gave me feedback about a self-defeating communication habit I'd gotten into. Because she was compassionate, caring, and clear as a bell in her description, I was able to see exactly what she was talking about and explore why I was caught in this pattern. I was then able to shift my style and get the kind of results I intended."
-- Patty McManus, consultant
Receive feedback as a coach
You also need to be open to feedback on how effective you are as a coach. Coaches who are able to request and process feedback about themselves learn more about the effectiveness of their management styles and create greater trust among members of their groups. To improve you ability to receive feedback:
Ask for specific information. For example, "What did I say that made you think I wasn't interested in your proposal?" or "How were my suggestions helpful to you?"
When you ask for clarification, do so in a way that doesn't put the other person on the defensive. Instead of saying, "What do you mean I seemed hostile to your idea?" say, "Could you give me an example?"
Be willing to receive both negative and positive feedback.
Encourage the other person to avoid emotion-laden terms. For example, "You said that I am often inflexible. Give me an example of things I do that give you the sense that I am not flexible."
Don't be defensive. Only justify your actions if asked. Tell the other person when you've gotten all the feedback you can effectively process.
Thank the person for being willing to share feedback with you, both positive and negative. This will improve trust and model productive behavior to the person you are coaching.
Building agreement
Agreements are the foundation of coaching. You build agreements in the beginning as you commit to working together, and throughout your relationship as you pursue the coaching objectives. The agreement process includes all the above activities from initially recognizing the need for coaching to observing to listening actively to one another and collaboratively coming to agreement about the issues and resolutions.
There has to be agreement between the coach and the coachee for the coaching process to work. However, agreement can range from skeptical acceptance to wholehearted involvement. When your coachee sees progress being made on changing behavior or building skills, then agreement will become easier to achieve

My favourite presentation on Leadership

Leadership is no longer about Ladders in an organization.

Its not about how many peolpe report to you..

Its all about Influence and in many cases without Authority.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Gates’ Rules

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your
Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7:
Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually
have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to
nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Bill Gates Commencement Speech to Harvard:


President Bok, former President Rudenstine, incoming President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, parents, and especially, the graduates:

I've been waiting more than 30 years to say this: "Dad, I always told you I'd come back and get my degree."

I want to thank Harvard for this timely honor. I'll be changing my job next year … and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my resume.

I applaud the graduates today for taking a much more direct route to your degrees. For my part, I'm just happy that the Crimson has called me "Harvard's most successful dropout." I guess that makes me valedictorian of my own special class … I did the best of everyone who failed.

But I also want to be recognized as the guy who got Steve Ballmer to drop out of business school. I'm a bad influence. That's why I was invited to speak at your graduation. If I had spoken at your orientation, fewer of you might be here today.

Harvard was just a phenomenal experience for me. Academic life was fascinating. I  used to sit in on lots of classes I hadn't even signed up for. And dorm life was terrific. I lived up at Radcliffe, in Currier House. There were always lots of people in my dorm room late at night discussing things, because everyone knew I didn't worry about
getting up in the morning. That's how I came to be the leader of the anti-social group. We clung to each other as a way of validating our rejection of all those social people.

Radcliffe was a great place to live. There were more women up there, and most of the guys were science-math types. That combination offered me the best odds, if you know what I mean. This is where I learned the sad lesson that improving your odds doesn't guarantee success.

One of my biggest memories of Harvard came in January 1975, when I made a call from Currier House to a company in Albuquerque that had begun making the world's first personal computers. I offered to sell them software.

I worried that they would realize I was just a student in a dorm and hang up on me. Instead they said: "We're not quite ready, come see us in a month," which was a good thing, because we hadn't written the software yet. From that moment, I worked day and night on this little extra credit project that marked the end of my college education and
the beginning of a remarkable journey with Microsoft.

What I remember above all about Harvard was being in the midst of so much energy and intelligence. It could be exhilarating, intimidating,sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging. It was an amazing privilege – and though I left early, I was transformed by my years at Harvard, the friendships I made, and the ideas I worked on.

But taking a serious look back … I do have one big regret.

I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences.

But humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity – reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.

I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities here in this country. And I  knew nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries.

It took me decades to find out.

You graduates came to Harvard at a different time. You know more about the world's inequities than the classes that came before. In your years here, I hope you've had a chance to think about how – in this age of accelerating technology – we can finally take on these inequities, and we can solve them.

Imagine, just for the sake of discussion, that you had a few hours a week and a few dollars a month to donate to a cause – and you wanted to spend that time and money where it would have the greatest impact in saving and improving lives. Where would you spend it?

For Melinda and for me, the challenge is the same: how can we do the most good for the greatest number with the resources we have.

During our discussions on this question, Melinda and I read an article about the millions of children who were dying every year in poor countries from diseases that we had long ago made harmless in this country. Measles, malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis B, yellow fever. One disease I had never even heard of, rotavirus, was killing half a million kids each year – none of them in the United States.

We were shocked. We had just assumed that if millions of children were dying and they could be saved, the world would make it a priority to discover and deliver the medicines to save them. But it did not. For under a dollar, there were interventions that could save lives that just weren't being delivered.

If you believe that every life has equal value, it's revolting to learn that some lives are seen as worth saving and others are not. We said to ourselves: "This can't be true. But if it is true, it deserves to be the priority of our giving."

So we began our work in the same way anyone here would begin it. We asked: "How could the world let these children die?"

The answer is simple, and harsh. The market did not reward saving the lives of these children, and governments did not subsidize it. So the children died because their mothers and their fathers had no power in  the market and no voice in the system.
But you and I have both.

We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a more creative capitalism – if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities. We also can press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.

If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world. This task is open-ended. It can never be finished. But a conscious effort to answer this challenge will change the world.

I am optimistic that we can do this, but I talk to skeptics who claim there is no hope. They say: "Inequity has been with us since the beginning, and will be with us till the end – because people just … don't … care." I completely disagree.

I believe we have more caring than we know what to do with.

All of us here in this Yard, at one time or another, have seen human tragedies that broke our hearts, and yet we did nothing – not because we didn't care, but because we didn't know what to do. If we had known how to help, we would have acted.

The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity.

To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps.

Even with the advent of the Internet and 24-hour news, it is still a complex enterprise to get people to truly see the problems. When an airplane crashes, officials immediately call a press conference. They promise to investigate, determine the cause, and prevent similar crashes in the future.

But if the officials were brutally honest, they would say: "Of all the people in the world who died today from preventable causes, one half of one percent of them were on this plane. We're determined to do everything possible to solve the problem that took the lives of the one half of one percent."

The bigger problem is not the plane crash, but the millions of preventable deaths.

We don't read much about these deaths. The media covers what's new and millions of people dying is nothing new. So it stays in the background, where it's easier to ignore. But even when we do see it or read about it, it's difficult to keep our eyes on the problem. It's hard to look at suffering if the situation is so complex that we don't know how to help. And so we look away.

If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution.

Finding solutions is essential if we want to make the most of our caring. If we have clear and proven answers anytime an organization or individual asks "How can I help?," then we can get action – and we can make sure that none of the caring in the world is wasted. But complexity makes it hard to mark a path of action for everyone who
cares — and that makes it hard for their caring to matter.

Cutting through complexity to find a solution runs through four predictable stages: determine a goal, find the highest-leverage approach, discover the ideal technology for that approach, and in the meantime, make the smartest application of the technology that you already have — whether it's something sophisticated, like a drug, or something simpler, like a bednet.

The AIDS epidemic offers an example. The broad goal, of course, is to end the disease. The highest-leverage approach is prevention. The ideal technology would be a vaccine that gives lifetime immunity with a single dose. So governments, drug companies, and foundations fund vaccine research. But their work is likely to take more than a decade,
so in the meantime, we have to work with what we have in hand – and the best prevention approach we have now is getting people to avoid risky behavior.

Pursuing that goal starts the four-step cycle again. This is the pattern. The crucial thing is to never stop thinking and working – and never do what we did with malaria and tuberculosis in the 20th century – which is to surrender to complexity and quit.

The final step – after seeing the problem and finding an approach – is to measure the impact of your work and share your successes and failures so that others learn from your efforts.

You have to have the statistics, of course. You have to be able to show that a program is vaccinating millions more children. You have to be able to show a decline in the number of children dying from these diseases. This is essential not just to improve the program, but also to help draw more investment from business and government.

But if you want to inspire people to participate, you have to show more than numbers; you have to convey the human impact of the work – so people can feel what saving a life means to the families affected.

I remember going to Davos some years back and sitting on a global health panel that was discussing ways to save millions of lives. Millions! Think of the thrill of saving just one person's life – then multiply that by millions. … Yet this was the most boring panel I've ever been on – ever. So boring even I couldn't bear it.

What made that experience especially striking was that I had just come from an event where we were introducing version 13 of some piece of software, and we had people jumping and shouting with excitement. I love getting people excited about software – but why can't we generate even more excitement for saving lives?

You can't get people excited unless you can help them see and feel the impact. And how you do that – is a complex question.

Still, I'm optimistic. Yes, inequity has been with us forever, but the new tools we have to cut through complexity have not been with us forever. They are new – they can help us make the most of our caring – and that's why the future can be different from the past.

The defining and ongoing innovations of this age – biotechnology, the computer, the Internet – give us a chance we've never had before to end extreme poverty and end death from preventable disease.

Sixty years ago, George Marshall came to this commencement and announced a plan to assist the nations of post-war Europe. He said: "I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. It is virtually impossible at this distance to grasp at all the real significance of the situation."

Thirty years after Marshall made his address, as my class graduated without me, technology was emerging that would make the world smaller, more open, more visible, less distant.

The emergence of low-cost personal computers gave rise to a powerful network that has transformed opportunities for learning and communicating.

The magical thing about this network is not just that it collapses distance and makes everyone your neighbor. It also dramatically increases the number of brilliant minds we can have working together on the same problem – and that scales up the rate of innovation to a staggering degree.

At the same time, for every person in the world who has access to this technology, five people don't. That means many creative minds are left out of this discussion -- smart people with practical intelligence and  relevant experience who don't have the technology to hone their talents or contribute their ideas to the world.

We need as many people as possible to have access to this technology, because these advances are triggering a revolution in what human beings can do for one another. They are making it possible not just for national governments, but for universities, corporations, smaller organizations, and even individuals to see problems, see approaches, and measure the impact of their efforts to address the hunger, poverty, and desperation George Marshall spoke of 60 years ago.

Members of the Harvard Family: Here in the Yard is one of the great collections of intellectual talent in the world.

What for?

There is no question that the faculty, the alumni, the students, and the benefactors of Harvard have used their power to improve the lives of people here and around the world. But can we do more? Can Harvard dedicate its intellect to improving the lives of people who will never even hear its name?

Let me make a request of the deans and the professors – the intellectual leaders here at Harvard: As you hire new faculty, award tenure, review curriculum, and determine degree requirements, please ask yourselves:

Should our best minds be dedicated to solving our biggest problems?

Should Harvard encourage its faculty to take on the world's worst inequities? Should Harvard students learn about the depth of global poverty … the prevalence of world hunger … the scarcity of clean water …the girls kept out of school … the children who die from diseases we
can cure?

Should the world's most privileged people learn about the lives of the world's least privileged?

These are not rhetorical questions – you will answer with your policies.

My mother, who was filled with pride the day I was admitted here never stopped pressing me to do more for others. A few days before my wedding, she hosted a bridal event, at which she read aloud a letter about marriage that she had written to Melinda. My mother was very ill with cancer at the time, but she saw one more opportunity to deliver her message, and at the close of the letter she said: "From those to whom much is given, much is expected."

When you consider what those of us here in this Yard have been given in talent, privilege, and opportunity – there is almost no limit to what the world has a right to expect from us.

In line with the promise of this age, I want to exhort each of the graduates here to take on an issue – a complex problem, a deep inequity, and become a specialist on it. If you make it the focus of  your career, that would be phenomenal. But you don't have to do that to make an impact. For a few hours every week, you can use the growing power of the Internet to get informed, find others with the same interests, see the barriers, and find ways to cut through them.

Don't let complexity stop you. Be activists. Take on the big inequities. It will be one of the great experiences of your lives.

You graduates are coming of age in an amazing time. As you leave Harvard, you have technology that members of my class never had. You have awareness of global inequity, which we did not have. And with that awareness, you likely also have an informed conscience that will torment you if you abandon these people whose lives you could change  with very little effort. You have more than we had; you must start
sooner, and carry on longer.

Knowing what you know, how could you not?

And I hope you will come back here to Harvard 30 years from now and reflect on what you have done with your talent and your energy. I hope you will judge yourselves not on your professional accomplishments alone, but also on how well you have addressed the world's deepest inequities … on how well you treated people a world away who have nothing in common with you but their humanity.

Good luck.