Weekend Reading – March 10, 2018

1. Simon Kuper’s essay on the ‘businessman (never woman) as politician fallacy‘ in the FT.

Unfortunately, the experiences of Trump / Kushner are unlikely to be the death knell on this argument they should be. The fallacy doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – maybe just moving West – Peter Thiel, Sam Altman, maybe even Mark Zuckerberg all count themselves as aspiring entrants to the political ring.

2. A re-writing of the Communist Manifesto to tackle our modern income inequality, replacing the ‘burgeois with “Have,” and the ‘proletariat’ with “Have-Not” summarized in the FT.

74% of the pamphlet’s words were kept intact, reflecting its longstanding relevance, even has communism has undergone many forms and failures since its inception. The entirety of the project, and a comparison between the two is at http://activistmanifesto.org/.

3. Chief business commentator John Gapper sits down with childrens’ author Michael Morpurgo for a delightfully British and characteristic Lunch with the FT

4. Steve Francis’ incredible piece for the Players Tribune ranks up there with the best – Dion Waiters, and (less objectively) Lane Johnson and Alshon Jeffery.

Hakeem and Steve Francis could’ve made a great buddy cop movie. A related NYTimes Mag article on the quandary that the Players Tribune presents to the future of sports journalism.

5. Continued discussion on The Case Against an MBA – a 2010 blog post written by start-up vet and former Tuck MBA Jason Freedman

Most people get an MBA because of the network.  They have learned that having a group of successful friends will open doors for you.  Pedigree from a top school=better opportunities for success. 

For start-ups, only one thing matters.  Can you build something that people want. Your pedigree is exactly worthless compared to this simple ability to execute.  And for an MBA that just spent 3 years (remember, the application process takes a year!) and over $120,000 building a network, it’s really difficult to hear that the network and the education are no longer as big of an asset as you had hoped.

In my discussion with individuals in the start-up and entrepreneurship through acquisition world (though mostly those without an MBA) – this is a common argument made – the fact that while an MBA can definitely yield an impressive network, there are likely cheaper and less time consuming ways to go about it. Not to mention the opportunity cost of spending time studying, versus “building.”

In the ensuing discussion on Hacker News (excellent arguments both pro and con) someone links to words from Silicon Valley sage Paul Graham:

The cause of the apparent paradox is that “business” spans a huge range. MBAs train you to be junior officers in the armies of managerial capitalism. But there is almost zero overlap between that sort of work and what startups do.

Actually I would say it’s a slight net minus to have an MBA when doing a startup. You learn nothing of use to you, but investors discriminate against you slightly.

6. Fascinating behind-the-scenes article on the recent opening of communications between The US and North Korea, which the NYTimes argues is a “a case study in international relations in the Trump era.”

The impulse-leading-action that the story conveys, and the unilateral decisions taken on by Trump at the expense of his advisors / international allies is truly scary, and leads one to the conclusion that far from any hope for progress, Trump is most likely being played on all sides.

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