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The100: Acquisitions, artaraxy and nuns’ brains

$1.85 gold filled spectacles

Amazon is often served dishes of disdain in response to their in-house brands, with Peak Design’s 90 seconds of (understandable) snark being a recent example. 

Yet, as Ben Evans pointed out, Amazon isn’t doing anything different to those that came before them. Sears, for example, was even doing private label back in 1908:

So why the Amazon Basics pitchforks? 

You can certainly object to private label, believe it’s unethical, and even think it should be illegal […] But in doing that, you do have to recognise that your objection is not to something that Amazon does, but to something that retail does […] And sometimes, you should ask whether this is just moral panic, and there’s really nothing wrong with this particular issue at all.

In more retail detail, this graph from a 14 min video on the future of shopping certainly makes you (well, me at least) reassess a viewpoint or two.

Enter the buyouts

Takeover bids often seem to go hand in hand with mayhem. Pandemonium ensues. Shares go wild. Small kittens die. The world turns. 

Similar turmoil was seen last year when the FTC blocked Edgewell’s acquisition of Harry’s. As disappointed as Harry’s said they were, Matt Stoller argued that it was in fact good for (some) businesses:  

Blocking this merger helped everyone in the market – consumers got cheaper razors, Harry’s owners got more value, and now there’s going to be more competition in consumer packaged goods more generally. The only entities who lost out were P&G and Edgewell.

When the whole world is tired

How do you lead when you and your team are exhausted?

“With difficulty” was my initial answer. 

Thankfully, HBR have much more constructive advice: 

  1. Understand the difference between urgency and importance. In a crisis we fix the short term (urgency) and put off thinking about the long term (importance). 
  2. Balance caring and challenging – “[telling people] you are good enough as you are” versus “[let’s] get moving and get to the next level.”
  3. Find new ways to energize yourself and others – set up competitions, divide long projects into sprints, shorten endless zoom meetings, cut tumbleweed projects.

Prestige paradox

prominence is a heuristic for skill

Rob Henderson has been plumbing the depths of status and persuasion, looking at  how we’re persuaded by people of status and how the prospect of gaining status can tempt us into saying things we don’t believe.

People have a mechanism in their minds. It stops them from saying something that could lower their status, even if it’s true. And it propels them to say something that could increase their status, even if it’s false.

The most likely culprits? 

The individuals most likely to express certain opinions in order to preserve or enhance their status are also those who are already on the upper rungs of the social ladder.

678 elderly nuns’ brains

Some good news for the forgetful among us, courtesy of neuroscientist Lisa Genova, some nuns, and a summary of her book on memory:

Forgetfulness is our default setting, and that’s a good thing.

Slightly more concerning is how our memories are subject to ‘creative editing’:

To remember an event is to reimagine it; in the reimagining, we inadvertently introduce new information, often colored by our current emotional state […] It is sobering to realize that three out of four prisoners who are later exonerated through DNA evidence were initially convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony.

The artaraxy in apricity

Me neither, till I read this article on resurrecting positive words.

What did the chicken not want to be?

George Pointon, a teacher to young British brains, asked his English class to come up with jokes (and analysed their performance).  

And if you thought such a request for jokes from a group of 5 to 6 year olds would only end up going downhill, you’d be right.