Sunday, February 16, 2014

'80 Makes Waves in NY Times as Greg Mankiw, John Rogers Share Thoughts on Wealth, Leadership

February 15 was an orange-letter day for the New York Times as Harvard professor Greg Mankiw and Ariel Investments CEO, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer John W. Rogers Jr. shared their thoughts on critical current business topics.

Rogers spoke about leadership, in a Q&A titled "A Great Teammate is a Great Listener." He recalled his time on the Princeton basketball team under coach Pete Carrill. Rogers said,

What were some lessons you learned playing basketball at Princeton?I was not a great player, so I don’t want to give any false impressions. I was fortunate to be on the team, and the coach, Pete Carril, said he kept me around because I worked so hard. I spent most of the time on the bench, but senior year, he asked me if I would be captain.
And Coach Carril taught two things better than anyone. The first lesson was about teamwork and caring about your teammates first. He pounded it home and eventually it became such a freeing and fun way to play. There was a transformation. He no longer had to push the idea; the team fully embraced it. You’re not thinking about who scores the points or who gets the credit; you’re thinking instead about how you can help your teammate succeed on the court. Coaches talk about it, but they don’t always get it through to the kids. Many kids still play selfishly. Princeton basketball is all about the team. It was just transformative. It changed my life. 
The other key thing is that he was very demanding about precision. The angle of the cut mattered; the footwork mattered. If the pass was off just a few inches, it mattered. Every detail mattered for the ultimate success of the team. He’d always say, “Do you want me not to notice?” He would stop you and constantly show you what you needed to see and what you needed to understand.
Mankiw, meanwhile, tackled the high-profile issue of compensation of corporate executives and linked pay to risk-taking and value creation in the essay, "Yes, the Wealth Can Be Deserving." He wrote,

A typical chief executive is overseeing billions of dollars of shareholder wealth as well as thousands of employees. The value of making the right decisions is tremendous. Just consider the role of Steve Jobs in the rise of Apple and its path-breaking products.
A similar case is the finance industry, where many hefty compensation packages can be found. There is no doubt that this sector plays a crucial economic role. Those who work in banking, venture capital and other financial firms are in charge of allocating the economy’s investment resources. They decide, in a decentralized and competitive way, which companies and industries will shrink and which will grow. It makes sense that a nation would allocate many of its most talented and thus highly compensated individuals to the task.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

John Wetmore Talks to Nerdwallet About Trend Toward Less Driving

Pedestrian pundit John Wetmore spoke with about the ongoing trend of young people driving less, and the impact of this on urban environments and planning.

In the article "The Impact of Fewer Drivers on Cities," Wetmore told the website,

John Z. Wetmore is a firm believer in taking the road less traveled. He produces a television program entitled “Perils for Pedestrians.” His goal is to urge urban planners and local governments to build and maintain more sidewalks and crosswalks, as well as reduce speeding traffic, dangerous intersections and other hazards to cyclists and walkers. 
“The drop in vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) started before the economic downturn, and after several years VMT has not returned to its growth trends of past decades. This should not be surprising,” Wetmore says. “At some point, you have saturated the population with automobiles and hit the maximum mode share for driving. Additionally, people like having choices. As alternatives to driving improve, people will make the appropriate mode choice for each trip, and it will not always be driving.” 
Wetmore believes the big problem is not the drop in VMT, but the failure of transportation planners to respond to it. 
“Roads are typically built for traffic projections going out 20 years in the future,” he tells NerdWallet. “When those projections are based on outdated trends, we spend too much building roads that are too wide for the traffic they will actually see. When we build roads that are too wide, we have less space and fewer dollars for the modes that actually are growing in use, such as walking, bicycling and transit.”