Practical analysis for investment professionals
22 May 2015

Weekend Reads for Finance Pros: Wanderlust, Memory, and Flat Heads

Posted In: Weekend Reads

It has been a while since I penned a Weekend Reads. I was in Frankfurt for the 68th CFA Institute Annual Conference, followed by a short adventure in Berlin and Istanbul. When it comes to travel, I just can’t help myself.

Do you also have the travel bug?

It has always amazed me when I meet people who have not left their home countries, let alone traveled overseas. Why is that? Why are some people driven to explore the world, while others are content with their lot at home?

It turns out wanderlust may be in our genes: “The Genetic Reason Why Some People Are Born to Travel All over the World.”

If you are a fellow traveler and are not familiar with Pico Iyer‘s musings on the subject, take some time to browse through his writing and commentary. In a compelling “TED Talk,” he says:

I’ve always felt that the beauty of being surrounded by the foreign is that it slaps you awake. You can’t take anything for granted. Travel, for me, is a little bit like being in love, because suddenly all your senses are at the setting marked “on.” Suddenly you’re alert to the secret patterns of the world. The real voyage of discovery, as Marcel Proust famously said, consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes. And of course, once you have new eyes, even the old sights, even your home, become something different.

Travel is also a wonderful opportunity to catch up on reading (I was accompanied by a copy of Atul Gawande’s latest book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End).

But you don’t need to wait to travel to read, and with a long weekend here in the United States, what better excuse to catch up on a few good reads you may have missed?

For starters, here’s a recap from the annual conference: “The Future of Finance: Seven Posts from the 68th Annual Conference.” And now for some other interesting articles:

Behavioral Finance

Due Diligence and Financial Advice

Investing

Women in Finance

  • Sallie Krawcheck recently gave a commencement speech to Columbia Business School graduates in which she made some good points about the value of diversity. Here at CFA Institute, we have been thinking a lot about this, too — in particular, the business case for diversity. As Paul Smith, CFA Institute’s chief executive, noted recently: “Mixed gender [investment] teams bring much needed diversity of thinking to the investment process and improve investment outcomes.” Here’s some of what Krawcheck had to say: “If you look at what I might call ‘business pop culture’ today, so much of what we are telling women is how to conform: how to negotiate like a man, how to ask for a raise like a man, how to get the promotion like a man. It assumes business is a box and you have to operate in the box. So much of what will come at YOU and your generation will be with that same end goal, a goal of conforming to business as it is today. Helpful people telling you to how be successful by playing by today’s rules . . . helpful people helpfully telling you to stay in the pack. But diversity — of thought, of background, of perspective, of experience, of disposition, of color, of gender, of age — is powerful. And it’s diversity, and clashes of ideas, that drives innovation and superior financial results. Indeed I would argue that the power of diversity is diversity itself . . . not taking diverse individuals and getting them to all act alike.”
  • As her TED Talk introduction notes, Dame Stephanie Shirley “is the most successful tech entrepreneur you never heard of. In the 1960s, she founded a pioneering all-woman software company in the [United Kingdom], which was ultimately valued at $3 billion, making millionaires of 70 of her team members. In this frank and often hilarious talk, she explains why she went by ‘Steve,’ how she upended the expectations of the time, and shares some sure-fire ways to identify ambitious women.” “Dame Stephanie Shirley: Why Do Ambitious Women Have Flat Heads?” (TED)
  • Another great TED talk — this time from Halla Tomasdottir: “A Feminine Response to Iceland’s Financial Crash.” (TED)
  • According to an article in Harvard Business Review, Bain & Company recently launched a study that asked more than 1,000 men and women in a mix of US companies two questions: “Do you aspire to top management within a large company?” and “Do you have the confidence you can reach top management?” What they uncovered, as you can see in the tweet below, is dispiriting to say the least. See: Companies Drain Women’s Ambition after Only Two Years  (Harvard Business Review)

And Now for Something Completely Different . . .

  • The lottery is “an almost 12-figure tax on the desperation of the least fortunate.” (The Washington Post)
  • Memory — and in particular, the creation of false memories — is a fascinating topic and something I have written about here before. (For an excellent article on this, see “Speak, Memory,” by Oliver Sacks and published in The New York Review of Books in 2013.) This week I came across an article on the frightening reality of how easy it is to build false memories: Two witnesses to a police shooting in New York City spoke to the press shortly after they witnessed the encounter, providing details of exactly what they had seen. The problem was that when the surveillance videotape was released, it showed both their accounts were wrong. See: “Witness Accounts in Midtown Hammer Attack Show the Power of False Memory” (The New York Times)
  • 10 Writing Tips from Legendary Writing Teacher William Zinsser, May He Rest in Peace” (Open Culture)
  • Do you enjoy cooking? If so, here’s a great salad dressing trip (and proverb) I recently came across in a post from the chef at a local restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia, called The Alley Light (a 2015 James Beard semifinalist for best new restaurant): “There is a French proverb that says the following: ‘You need four men to season a salad: a wise man for the salt, a mad man for the pepper, a stingy man for the vinegar, and a prodigious man for the olive oil.’ Last but not least; always in this order: vinegar first, salt second, pepper third, and oil last; you will avoid harshness as the salt will melt in the vinegar.” Bon appetit!

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/JLGutierrez

About the Author(s)
Lauren Foster

Lauren Foster is the former managing editor of Enterprising Investor and co-lead of CFA Institute’s Women in Investment Management initiative. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Barron’s and the Financial Times. Prior to her freelance work, Foster spent nearly a decade on staff at the FT as a reporter and editor based in the New York bureau. Foster holds a BA in political science from the University of Cape Town, and an MS in journalism from Columbia University.

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