Potential Future Topics
1) At some point we might want to bring in a great, balanced speaker who can moderate a discussion on whether the current extraordinary government economic reaction to the credit bust is an effective path, or will lead the country to disaster? And what steps protect us from the potential disaster path? What are the signposts to look for to determine if we’re going over the cliff? Normally I’d want to stay away from economic topics so we could broaden our focus but given the uniqueness of our time and the potential impact on our children and grandchildren this is worth consideration.
2) What has worked and no worked when trying to bring up healthy kids in an environment where people are well off financially?
3) Mortality. What can we do to develop a healthy relationship to our own? How can we prepare for it? Perhaps too tied to religious beliefs.
4) Purposeful practice? What is it really? What are the best tools and pitfalls?
Balancing the benefits of discomfort with focusing on core strengths:
There are many parts of life where there seems to be a benefit to pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone – playing sports against competitors better than you improves your game; skiing on increasingly difficult slopes improves your abilitiy; challenging your brain with new puzzles improves cognitive agility. On the other hand, focusing on “core competencies” is often recommended for people and companies which are searching for the way ahead. What are the right circumstances in which to push yourself versus focusing on what you already do well and maximizing those benefits? At what point do you decide that a new activity just isn’t right for you, so the best path is to give up and go back to what you’re comfortable with?
Along those lines, this concept also touches on the dichotomy "dilettantism" -- in general, it's "good" to have lots of interests, but eventually you have to settle on one or a small number of them to focus on. On a personal, rather than organizational level, this doesn't really matter for things like hobbies or reading material that might be of interest; but for some areas of life (careers, romantic relationships, etc), it is important. As for mastery, it's easy enough for most people to figure out that they're not going to be masters at something (no matter how hard I practice, the liklihood of my playing in the NBA is very, very low), so when do you give up? Is there value in continuing to try, beyond the enjoyment of practicing? When does "diligence" and "determination" become just beating your head against a wall that won't budge?
Can we learn from GS on building sustainable organizations?
1) For fear of alienating the non-finance (aka non-geeks) in the junto I wanted to run something by you. I am about 60% done with The Partnership which is about goldman sachs… now I could frankly care less about goldman’s profits/valuation, what they do etc. However I personally believe that gs has built something truly unique over the years and I wanted to throw out a topic of the study of GS’s culture/history/success.
Long before six sigma at GE got HBS reviews and McKinsey accolades, gs was doing the same thing except they didn’t call it “six sigma.” I just wanted to mention this to you as an idea… I thought that b/t all of us we could get some former GS partners (I could probably get Lee Cooperman to come) to discuss what they thought worked at goldman to create “the firm.”
My personal view again is that they created something special by effectively managing egos, managing comp, creating very effective support networks, hiring incredibly selectively with large emphasis on “culture,” etc.
This is just a suggestion and what I wanted to know was if you think the non-finance people (who hopefully will grow in number) will get anything out of this. I’d hope the emphasis would be on building an organization with reliable incentives, etc. NOT on gs earnings power and the like but I wanted your thoughts…
Consuming less or Malthus?
2) We have gone from 2.4 children to 1.6 children per female in 30 yrs... We'll need less of everything each incremental cycle. How do we reconcile this with the population growth in emerging countries, and how do we balance consuming less of everything vs. the Malthusian view.
Can complex adaptive systems have equilibrium? Are we doomed to boom and bust?
Would love to get an ecologist's or animal
behavioralist's take on the current financial crisis and the incentive
structures that led to it...how do complex ecological systems find
balance without stifling individual ambition? Or is that peaceful,
balanced perception of nature an illusion and natural systems are full
Moral relativism and ethics
"One really interesting thing I've been reading about is Jonathan Haidt's research on morality, and how conservatives think in terms of five moral categories whereas liberals use only two of them and give no weight to the other three. Really intriguing. "
Checklists and how to know when to use them
Intuituion vs. Statistics
Outside the Box Thinking
Neuroplasticity and its applications
Is too much choice ruining us?
The will to survive - how we can learn from this inner strength to deal with regular problems?