What caught my attention – week of 6 April 2020

Greetings from sunny (and semi locked-down Hong Kong). I hope you and your loved ones are well and you’re able to make use of this time to become better and improve your lives, how- and whatever that might mean for you. The weekly selections includes a trailer of a fantastic documentary about the Compassion Prison Project, human ingenuity during this time of global lockdown, global finance and a gallery of photos on how Chinese cities are opening up. Enjoy.

1. Documentary

Title: Compassion prison project – Step inside the circle
Link: Youtube

This looks like a fantastic project and documentary. If you’re familiar with the documentary called ‘The Work‘ then this is a must watch. There is a beautiful line in the trailer: “Once we can begin to acknowledge our traumas publicly it’ll bring us all together”. It was a reminder for me while working on myself, and in this context men’s work, is so important.

You can learn more about the project and also support it financially if it resonates with you.

On February 12, 2020, 23 Crew Members, including Academy-Award nominated Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto and Grammy-Award winning producer Fritzi Horstman, began filming the documentary “Step Inside the Circle,” a penetrating examination of how childhood trauma is one of the key factors behind America’s escalating levels of incarceration.

Filmed at a maximum security prison in Lancaster, California, the focus of the day was filming the Compassion Trauma Circle where 235 incarcerated men stepped inside the circle for each traumatic event they experience in their childhood, roughly based on the Adverse Childhood Experiences survey created by Dr. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda of the CD

2. Finance

Title: Balance Sheet Evolution
Link: Adventures in capitalism

As we come out of this COVID-19 crisis, I suspect that Directors will demand larger liquidity buffers. How much of a buffer? What if you need six months of op-ex in cash on the balance sheet? What if Directors demand Japan style balance sheets? What happens when you take leverage down at most corporations? You end up with middling ROEs and reduced valuations (like in Japan). I suspect that ROEs across corporate America are going to converge towards a new and much lower level. Think of the lesson from Carnival; if you spent a decade buying back stock and then dilute down 80%, have you created any value for anyone? I think a lot of corporations are about to have some real soul searching after they undertake similar exercises.

3. Human ingenuity

Title: COVID innovations
Link: Covid innovations

COVID Innovations is brought to you by TrendWatching and its sister-site Business of Purpose. We (our teams and communities) love spotting trends and innovations and we love assisting those keen to make a positive impact. We’ll be adding inspiring initiatives to this site on a daily basis, for as long as it’s needed. Why? Well, we hope you will get inspired and then run with anything that will alleviate your customers’ pain in these trying times. We of course also hope that we can shut down this site in the not-too distant future and together with you can focus on the Big Issues For The Coming Decade again. To that point, we’re already busy indexing the biggest post-COVID themes, but that’s for another time. Anyway, if you want to do or learn even more now, then also join our very global, very purposed Business of Purpose Community and / or sign up for TrendWatching’s Innovation of the Day.

4. Geopolitics

Title: The Long, Uphill Climb
Link: Zeihan on geopolitics

The damage in the developing world is certain to be far worse. More densely populated cities defined by more cramped living conditions make social distancing difficult to impossible. Even worse, most of the developing world’s workers do not have jobs that enable telecommuting nor do the developing world’s governments have the raw fiscal power of the United States to simply send everyone home for a few weeks. People have to work, and they likely have to work in economic sectors where they most directly interact with one another in specific places.

All that encourages both coronavirus’ spread and its ability to treat the poorest parts of the developing world as reservoirs. Don’t see cases in the developed world yet? That’s no surprise. The virus started spreading there after most of the developed world so the epidemics are still early. Most of the developed world lacks high levels of air travel or between-city mass transit, slowing the virus’ spread. In addition, the very weakness of health systems in the developing world that will make the epidemic more painful also means there is hardly any testing.

5. Photo series

Title: Wuhan Begins Life After Lockdown
Link: Sixth tone

After 76 days of lockdown, Wuhan, the city at the heart of China’s coronavirus outbreak, is finally free to reconnect with the country. At midnight on April 8, the blockade at the Gongjialing toll station — one of the major arteries connecting Wuhan with other cities in Hubei province — was dismantled and removed.

A few days prior, Hankou Railway Station began welcoming travelers back to the city, and from Wednesday, passenger trains have the green light to depart from Wuhan. Amid the lifting of the lockdown, locals are venturing out to partake in the city’s breakfast culture — or guozao, in the Wuhanese dialect — as they eye a return to relative normality.

+1 Book of the week

Author and title: Carol Dweck – Mindset

When you ‘fail’ at something it doesn’t necessarily mean that the world has come to an end…how you get back up is the key to life. That’s the essence of Carol Dweck’s book and her description of a ‘fixed’ vs ‘growth mindset’.

For background she is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford and pioneering researcher in the field of motivation. Her and other’s research shows that instead of inborn talent it’s more about a mentality of practice, purposefulness and what scientists call a ‘growth mindset’. If you study successful people (I leave the definition up to you) or whom had to overcome significant obstacles you’ll most likely see that they were not concerned with the hand that life had dealt.

She describes these two mindsets in a TED talk:

“I heard about a high school in Chicago where students had to pass a certain number of courses to graduate, and if they didn’t pass a course, they got the grade ‘Not Yet.’ And I thought that was fantastic, because if you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade ‘Not Yet’ you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.’Not Yet’ also gave me insight into a critical event early in my career, a real turning point. I wanted to see how children coped with challenge and difficulty, so I gave 10-year-olds problems that were slightly too hard for them. Some of them reacted in a shockingly positive way. They said things like, ‘I love a challenge,’ or, ‘You know, I was hoping this would be informative.’ They understood that their abilities could be developed. They had what I call a growth mindset. But other students felt it was tragic, catastrophic. From their more fixed mindset perspective, their intelligence had been up for judgment and they failed. Instead of luxuriating in the power of yet, they were gripped in the tyranny of now.”