What caught my attention – week of 17 February 2020

Greetings from Bali this time. This week I’ve a selection of articles on geopolitics, spend-down philanthropy and travel to name a few.


1. HeartMath research

Title: Psychophysiological Coherence: A Proposed Link Among Appreciation, Cognitive Performance, and Health

Link: HeartMath

Physiological correlates of this mode can be objectively defined and measured. In addition, by using practical, positive emotion refocusing techniques designed to enhance states of appreciation, individuals can learn to self-orchestrate coherence with increased consistency, thereby reducing stress and enhancing health, emotional stability, performance and quality of life. Studies conducted across diverse populations have associated the use of techniques that increase psychophysiological coherence with a range of favorable outcomes, including reduced anxiety and depression, enhanced cognitive performance, reduced physical stress symptoms, reduced cortisol and increased DHEA. Additionally, practice of these interventions has been associated with reduced depression and improved functional capacity in patients with congestive heart failure, the restoration of normal blood pressure levels in hypertensive individuals, and improved glycemic control and quality of life in patients with diabetes.

2. Geopolitics

Title: The Future of America’s Contest with China

Link: New Yorker

Whenever Chinese leaders stage a public spectacle, it provides a chance to assess their self-portrait. In 2008, when Beijing hosted the Olympics, the opening ceremony celebrated Confucius and ignored Mao; the organizers wanted to project confidence but not brashness, a posture that China described as “Hide your strength and bide your time.” Eleven years later, China no longer hides the swagger. On the balcony, to Xi’s right, was the politburo’s reigning propagandist, Wang Huning, a former professor who once travelled the United States and honed a prickly theory about dealing with its people. “The Americans pay attention to strength,” he wrote, after attending a football game at the Naval Academy. “Football has some strategy, but it’s not elegant; mainly, it relies on strength.” He added, “The Americans apply that spirit to many fields, including the military, politics, and the economy.”

3. Philanthropy

Title: Zero is the hero

Link: Atlantic Philanthropies

Let’s start with zero. For most business and philanthropic endeavors, zero is the enemy, the obstacle— the thing you are trying to get away from as quickly as possible. Read any financial report, academic paper, or government study, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a celebrated zero—unless, of course, it’s packaged in a long, numerical series separated by many commas. After all, with so much human activity focused on productivity, growth, and action, zero is the mathematical opponent—something to be fought and defeated. At The Atlantic Philanthropies, however, zero is the hero. It’s the star, the spark, the goal. While other philanthropies focus on endless growth and increasing their endowments so they’ll have enough money to give away for perpetuity, Atlantic has spent three-plus decades striving for zero—to empty its coffers, shutter its doors, to give it all away.

4. Travel

Title: The Megatrends Defining Travel in 2020

Link: Skift

These are the 13 megatrends that this digital magazine expands on:
1. Subscription Travel Is the Next Frontier of Loyalty
2. Tourism’s New Competitive Advantage Is Protecting — Not Just Promoting — Destinations
3. The Future of Travel Will Be Driven by Urban Living Innovations
4. Gen Z Asserts Itself as Travel’s Next Big Opportunity
5. Wellness Travel Makes Aging Aspirational
6. Consumer Brands Jump Into Travel With a Hospitality Mashup
7. Travel Payments Find Path to Painless
8. Short-Term Rental Winners Emerge
9. Smart Design Is Not Just for Luxury Travel Anymore
10. Data’s Breakthrough for Events
11. The Rise of Ultra-Long-Haul Flights Is Changing the Way We Travel
12. Tech’s Power Grab for Corporate Travel
13. Google Takes Charge

5. CES

Title: CES 2020: Key trends

Link: JWT Intelligence

From “living organism” cars to AI assistants, CES 2020 demonstrated that the tech industry is more human-centric than ever. This year at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), there was a shift in the language used by technology companies to reflect a much more human-centric approach—indicating an important evolution in the tech world.

+1 Book of the week

Author and title: Joe Studwell – How Asia works

Joe Studwell is a terrific business journalist and writes all things about Asia that very much interest me. In How Asia Works, which is this third book, he answers questions on why Asian countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China turn into economic success stories and why some others fail.

He offers a 3-part formula: create conditions for for-profit small-scale agriculture to thrive -> invest excess profits in manufacturing for exports -> build the financial sector around this two (naturally with strong government support). The reality is of course much more complicated and countries have different history and “baggage” (eg wars, politics, outside influence such as colonialism, the type of leaders they have etc). This simple three part formula is a good starting point for exploring developmental economics in the region. His other book called Asian Godfathers is also a great read.