This is Kickstart—the daily morning management briefing on innovation, leadership, technology and the economy from the editors of Canadian Business. Sign up to get it directly to your inbox each weekday at 6 AM Eastern.
Good morning! Here’s what’s on our radar at the moment:
Since Friday, global stock markets have plunged dramatically, wiping out most their gains so far in 2018. Given the ebullient mood in the first month of the year, the sudden shift has rattled many individual investors, and some institutional ones too. We have no secret knowledge to share with you; we will instead re-quote some tried-and-true wisdom from the last notable correction, in 2014 (although it would have been true during almost any time of market turmoil): don’t panic. Just take a breath. For the vast majority of investors, the greatest risk to their portfolio is bailing out in fear at exactly the wrong moment:
By moving in and out of the market, Joe Stockpicker managed an average return of little more than two per cent a year [between 1993 and 2013], compared to an average annual return of around nine per cent for the S&P 500 index (even after the market crashes of 2000 and 2008). It proved, once again, that investors are terrible at timing the markets and that what matters most in creating wealth is time spent in the market. As [fund manager] Richard Bernstein wrote, “They bought high and sold low. When chaos occurred, investors ran away.” What we’re experiencing now is chaos, but that’s no reason to dump everything and flee. It may even provide buying opportunities.
Link: Canadian Business
Is Big Tech the new Big Tobacco?
A bunch of ex-employees of major technology companies—former Facebookers, Apple-AWOLers, Googlers gone rogue—have set up a new non-profit dedicated to fighting back against the technology giants they built. Their first major campaign will be a series of ads aimed at parents and teenagers warning about the alleged psychological harm inflicted by spending too much time on social media. The whole thing is quite consciously modeling itself on the decades-long battle that activists and lawyers waged on the big tobacco companies, arguing that Big Tech is knowingly selling the public an addictive, harmful product. That might seem like a stretch today—but so did anti-smoking campaigns in the early days.
The new Center for Humane Technology includes an unprecedented alliance of former employees of some of today’s biggest tech companies. Apart from Mr. Harris, the center includes Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook operations manager; Lynn Fox, a former Apple and Google communications executive; Dave Morin, a former Facebook executive; Justin Rosenstein, who created Facebook’s Like button and is a co-founder of Asana; Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook; and Renée DiResta, a technologist who studies bots. […] Jim Steyer, chief executive and founder of Common Sense, said the Truth About Tech campaign was modeled on antismoking drives and focused on children because of their vulnerability.
Link: The New York Times
Science hates humblebragging
Many of us are conditioned to refrain from bragging, believing that talking up our own achievements indicates a certain…lack of character. But too often that urge to self-efface can lead us to bragging’s evil twin, the humblebrag—cloaking our self-aggrandizement with insincere humility. Researchers have now proven empirically that people hate humblebragging even more than regular bragging, so ditch the fake self-deprecation and just tell everyone how straight-up awesome you are:
The researchers then carried out experiments to see how people responded to humblebrags, with a particular focus on the bragger’s perceived likability and competence. They found that regular bragging was better on both counts, because it at least comes off as genuine, Sezer says. Even complainers were more likable and seemed more competent than humblebraggers of any type. “If you want to announce something, go with the brag and at least own your self-promotion and reap the rewards of being sincere, rather than losing in all dimensions,” Sezer says.
Can we cure jet lag?
Jet lag is a problem for any business traveler, but it’s especially pernicious on longer flights, which are multiplying quickly. Improvements in plane design are enabling airlines to offer previously impractical ultra-long direct flights—New York to Singapore, L.A. to Abu Dhabi, Dallas to Sydney and more—that can last up to 20 hours, scrambling passengers’ circadian rhythms and ruining their trips. Some airlines are turning to science to try to ease the transition, using programmed lighting and meal scheduling to try to fight lag:
Qantas Airways Ltd., which will start the first non-stop service between Australia and Europe in March, is working with scientists in Sydney to discover ways to limit body-clock breakdown on the 17-hour flight. They’ve tried to make the color and intensity of the jet’s interior lights mimic dawn and dusk. Cabin temperatures and specially made meals will aim to put passengers to sleep or keep them awake—depending on the time at the destination. […] To learn more, [researchers] will wrap monitoring devices around the wrists and thighs of about 20 passengers on the Perth-London flight on March 24 to see how their bodies cope. On that route, lights nestled all over the cabin will be phased in over 15 minutes to soften the blow from jet lag, said Phil Capps, Qantas’ head of product planning & development.
Earnings reports today
Canadian publicly traded companies of note scheduled to report quarterly earnings today:
Alacer Gold (ASR), Finning International (FTT), Indigo Books & Music (IDG), Intact Financial (IFC), Genworth MI Canada (MIC), Orvana Minerals (ORV), WestHet Airlines (WJA)
- LuluLemon Athletica abruptly ousted CEO Laurent Potdevin, saying in a conspicuously vague statement that he “fell short” of its “standards of conduct.” (Reuters)
- Hudson’s Bay Co. named Helena Foulkes its new CEO. She was previously executive vice president at U.S. drugstore chain CVS. Two interesting moves: on her watch, CVS eliminated tobacco products from its stores, and announced plans to stop using Photoshopped images in its beauty-product imagery by 2020. (Footwear News)
- YouTube viewership (at least in developed economies) has pretty much reached market saturation. (Campaign)
- The digital proletariat: Facebook received a patent to algorithmically determine a user’s economic class. (Twitter)
- Doritos has considered selling a less crunchy variant aimed at women, whose gender apparently renders them mortified by the sound of crunching corn chips. Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi let the misbegotten idea slip during a podcast interview; the backlash suggests it will be quietly shelved. (Adweek, BI)
- The rise and fall of carob, the unloved ’70s chocolate substitute. (New Yorker)
- A meandering social history of waiting in line for stuff. (Racked)
Thanks for reading! Have a truly excellent day.