26 set 2014

Real ‘Scarface’ Mansion for Sale in Santa Barbara – With a $35m Price Tag

Say hello to my little house: the grandiose tribute to poor taste and excess that housed the final hours of Tony Montana in the classic De Palma/Pacino flick 'Scarface' is on the market – after a clean-up and a facelift.

The opulent 10, 000 square foot property is surrounded by palm trees and Mediterranean gardens, and everything about it screams 'Miami' – so much so that a Miami house has run tours for years as the 'Scarface mansion.'  In fact, though, the movie was shot on the other side of the country, in California's Santa Barbara, where this 10-acre property is located on 631 Para Grande Lane.

scarface mansion1

The mansion was built for James Waldron Gillespie, and the design deliberately evokes classical Greek and Roman sculpture throughout.  Designed by architect Bertram Goodhue in 1906, the property even has a name: 'El Fureidis,' meaning, 'Tropical Paradise,' and includes 5 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms and details including painted ceilings with gold leaf trim, tiled rooms and a unique pool  – very recognizeable from a certain angle – complete with fountains.

scarface mansion-2

The ostentatious poor taste that characterised the mansion in the film was added for characterization – the filmmakers thought that the home of Tony Montana should look crass and glitzy, so gold and statuary, including a gigantic pink neon globe bearing the legend,' the world is yours!' was added.  All that has been removed, though, leaving a home that's certainly expensive but no longer looks cheap.

scarface mansion3

Now, the mansion looks stately and palladian, with a dignified neoclassical frontage, bright blue pools divided into quadrants  and an estate packed with palm trees and formal gardens.  Inside, the gigantic piles of illicit substances and terrifying firearms have long since been removed.  Instead, there are parquet floors, statement modern furniture seamlessly integrated with the antiques and spacious, high-ceilinged rooms.  The main 'conversation room' features an 18-foot-high dome 'modelled after the church of St. John Lateran in Rome,' according to the brochure copy.  The recent refit replaced old-fashioned appliances, particularly in the kitchen, without affecting the mostly original fittings and fixtures.

scarface mansion 7

One reason why such a large house has so (comparatively) few bedrooms is that the original design was aimed at producing a house to entertain in rather than a dormitory.  Rather than extra bedrooms, space was given over to patios, an interior courtyard, a rooftop terrace, verandas and Persian gardens.  Indoors, the barrel-vaulted ceilings might interest you – if not, there's a view out over the Pacific Ocean from every room.

scarface mansion 15

The price tag keeps falling, too: the home was last on the market for $35m in 2008, before selling for an undisclosed amount – maybe just over $2m, maybe about $6m, depending on who you listen to – to Russian financier Sergey Grishin.  Now it's relisted for more modest sums and there's even a rental option.  You can rent the mansion for $30k a month.

For The First Time, India's 100 Richest Of 2014 Are All Billionaires

After the Bharatiya Janata Party's landslide victory in May's federal
election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi famously tweeted that "good
days are here." Indeed, they're back with a bang for India's 100
Richest. For the first time the top 100 are all billionaires, with
combined wealth of $346 billion, up more than a third from 11 months
ago. Propelled by the euphoria, the stock market has gained 28% since
January, though the economy, growing at 5.7% in the last quarter, has
yet to catch up. Food inflation, hardly the concern of the wealthy,
still hovers at close to double digits.

Click here for the full list of India's Richest

Snatching the biggest bonanza is ports magnate Gautam Adani, who hails
from Modi's native Gujarat state and is known to be the PM's personal
friend. Shares of Adani's companies started soaring ahead of the
elections on hopes of a BJP victory. The gains added close to $4.5
billion to his wealth, more than anyone else. Adani, who jumped 11
spots to No. 11, has since been on a buying spree: He bought a port in
eastern India from the Tata Group for $900 million and agreed to pay
$1 billion for a power plant in southern India.

Fellow Gujaratis Mukesh Ambani and pharma magnate Dilip Shanghvi have
also raked it in. Ambani is No. 1 for the eighth year in a row, while
Shanghvi, richer this year by $4.1 billion, is the new No. 2,
displacing steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, who slips to fifth place. As
many as 85 of the 89 who returned to the top 100 from last year are
wealthier, and several are billionaires for the first time. Among them
are Qimat Rai Gupta, maker of electrical fittings (see story); V.G.
Siddhartha, founder of the Café Coffee Day chain, India's Starbucks;
and brothers Harsh and Sanjiv Goenka, who run their independent
empires and are listed separately.

The rising market restored some to the billionaire ranks, including
property baron Vikas Oberoi and pharma entrepreneur Habil Khorakiwala.
Pharma is on a roll: More than a fifth of the 100 have pharma and
health care riches, among them half of the 8 newcomers, such as
Hasmukh Chudgar, whose Intas Pharmaceuticals was recently valued by
Temasek at $1.4 billion. Entrepreneur P. V. Ramprasad Reddy, one of 3
returnees to the list, came back after four years on a threefold jump
in shares of his Aurobindo Pharma.

The biggest loser this year is Indus Gas founder Ajay Kalsi, who lost
$1 billion after the government stalled an increase in the nation's
natural gas prices. With a record $1 billion as the minimum net worth
this year, 11 from last year fell off, including Brij Bhushan Singal,
whose Bhushan Steel's shares tanked after son Neeraj was arrested in a
corruption scandal. The flamboyant Vijay Mallya, who was tagged by his
bankers as a "willful defaulter," also dropped off.

$1 Billion Antilia (Mumbai) – The Worlds Most Expensive House Completed!

The world's most expensive home is complete. The $1 billion (£630 million), 27 storey tower block in Mumbai is the home of Mukesh Ambani — the richest man in India, fourth richest man in the world –, his wife and their 3 children. It is difficult to know what to call it. It is far too big and grand to call it a house, the fact that it has more floor space than the palace of Versailles and 600 staff would ordinarily make it a castle, or Mansion, but can you call a sky scraper a mansion?


Whatever you call it, the building is a physical representation of emerging markets taking over the world in terms of money and power, which is also what it screams (money and power) from the top of its 173 meter high walls: an asymmetric stack of glass, steel and tiles with a four-storey hanging garden and solid gold chandeliers hanging from the ball room ceiling.

"Antilia is marvellous, I remember a Picasso painting [there], it was one of its kind " stunning," one local businessman who visited the building gushed to the Times of India newspaper.

As well as having a health club with a gym and dance studio, at least one swimming pool, a ballroom, guestrooms, 9 elevators, a variety of lounges and a 50-seater cinema, the tower also has 3 helipads on the roof, and a parking garage with capacity for 160 cars in the lower floors.

The family quarters are understandably on the top floors, where they enjoy an incredible view across Mumbai and the Arabian Sea. Experts say there is no other private property of comparable size and prominence in the world.

Photos of the Interior

Ambani, owner of Reliance Industries is worth £18bn according to Forbes magazine. He is not your typical wealthy businessman; in fact he has distanced himself from the Indian business elite.

Known as a deeply private man, there is widespread surprise that Ambani has made such a lavish statement of his wealth. However, the property is thought to have cost an estimated £44m to build, and because of Mumbai's massive land and property prices, is worth at least £630m, it is a very good investment, perhaps too good to miss — will we now see similar extravagant buildings in the world's other great emerging cities?

On the other hand: "Perhaps he has been stung by his portrayal in the media as an introvert. Maybe he is making the point that he is a tycoon in his own right," said Hamish McDonald, author of Ambani and Sons, a history of the business – India's biggest privately owned company.

Whatever the reason behind it, Antilia is currently the biggest and most impressive family home in the world.


Antilia is located on Altamount Road, Cumballa Hill South Mumbai – a popular high brow area in Mumbia, where land prices start from US$10,000 per square meter.
Antilia sits on a 48,780 sq ft (4,532 square metres) plot of land.


Under Construction Back in January 2009


Streets of Monaco to Sail the Seas as first Billion Dollar Yacht

t really had to happen didn't it? Just a few months after the Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani unveiled the world's first $1 billion private residence, a sky-scraping luxury tower in Mumbai, we now have the streets of Monaco set to sail the sea as the world's first $1 billion dollar yacht.

For those of you lost at sea trying to fathom what that last sentence was telling you, a UK yacht design company has designed a yacht which adorns a scale model of the streets of Monaco on its upper deck. Unless it is commissioned by a Monaco-loving billionaire it will never be any more than a design.
The yacht, aptly named the streets of Monaco features replicas of famous Monaco landmarks like the Monte Carlo Casino, Hotel de Paris, Cafe de Paris, La Rascasse, and Loews Hotel, as well as a fully functional go-kart circuit based on the Monaco Grand Prix Circuit. In some ways it is more like a mini-cruise liner than a super-yacht with its multiple swimming pools and tennis courts.

'This is just a concept at this point,' said Scott Poxon, director of Derby-based ship designers Yacht Island Design, the firm behind the project. 'That said, there is a notable amount of detail in place. It would need a commission in order to finalize design requirements of the client and to commence the construction.'

Poxon also said that while many newspapers have estimated the cost of the yacht to be $700 million, that this may not be anywhere near accurate. 'We have not ever quoted any price as this would be agreed between the client and the selected ship yard and would vary significantly depending on specifications,' he said.

As for the Streets of Monaco's chances of sailing the seven seas Andrew Johansson of SuperyachtDesign magazine said:

"We do see a lot of concepts for super-yachts being floated, but not all of them get built. This borders on the extreme, although we did see a design for a flying super-yacht last year, which surely will never get built. Streets of Monaco is a cool idea, though. The designers have done their homework."

25 set 2014

Il nemico allo specchio


Devo essere sincero: Renzi non mi convince. Non tanto per le idee e il
coraggio: apprezzabili, specie in materia di lavoro. Quanto per come
gestisce il potere. Se vorrà veramente cambiare verso a questo Paese
dovrà guardarsi dal più temibile dei suoi nemici: se stesso. Una
personalità egocentrica è irrinunciabile per un leader. Quella del
presidente del Consiglio è ipertrofica. Ora, avendo un uomo solo al
comando del Paese (e del principale partito), senza veri rivali, la
cosa non è irrilevante.

Renzi ha energia leonina, tuttavia non può pensare di far tutto da
solo. La sua squadra di governo è in qualche caso di una debolezza
disarmante. Si faranno, si dice. Il sospetto diffuso è che alcuni
ministri siano stati scelti per non far ombra al premier. La
competenza appare un criterio secondario. L'esperienza un intralcio,
non una necessità. Persino il ruolo del ministro dell'Economia,
l'ottimo Padoan, è svilito dai troppi consulenti di Palazzo Chigi. Il
dissenso (Delrio?) è guardato con sospetto. L'irruenza può essere una
virtù, scuote la palude, ma non sempre è preferibile alla saggezza
negoziale. La muscolarità tradisce a volte la debolezza delle idee, la
superficialità degli slogan. Un profluvio di tweet non annulla la
fatica di scrivere un buon decreto. Circondarsi di forze giovanili è
un grande merito. Lo è meno se la fedeltà (diversa dalla lealtà) fa
premio sulla preparazione, sulla conoscenza dei dossier. E se
addirittura a prevalere è la toscanità, il dubbio è fondato.

L'oratoria del premier è straordinaria, nondimeno il fascino che emana
stinge facilmente nel fastidio se la comunicazione, pur brillante, è
fine a se stessa. Il marketing della politica se è sostanza è utile,
se è solo cosmesi è dannoso. In Europa, meno inclini di noi a
scambiare la simpatia e la parlantina per strumenti di governo, se ne
sono già accorti. Le controfigure renziane abbondano anche nella nuova
segreteria del Pd, quasi un partito personale, simile a quello del suo
antico rivale, l'ex Cavaliere. E qui sorge l'interrogativo più
spinoso. Il patto del Nazareno finirà per eleggere anche il nuovo
presidente della Repubblica, forse a inizio 2015. Sarebbe opportuno
conoscerne tutti i reali contenuti. Liberandolo da vari sospetti
(riguarda anche la Rai?) e, non ultimo, dallo stantio odore di
massoneria. Auguriamo a Renzi di farcela e di correggere in corsa i
propri errori. Non può fallire perché falliremmo anche noi. Un
consiglio: quando si specchia al mattino, indossando una camicia
bianca, pensi che dietro di lui c'è un Paese che non vuol rischiare di
alzare nessuna bandiera straniera (leggi troika). E tantomeno quella
bianca. Buon lavoro, di squadra.

L’ex manager Pimco e la lettera della figlia che lo ha spinto alle dimissioni

La bambina (11 anni) gli ha consegnato un elenco di 22 momenti importanti
della sua vita in cui il padre non c'è mai stato a causa del lavoro

La sua decisione aveva scosso il mondo della finanza. Soprattutto
perché Pimco, il più grande gestore del mondo di bond con circa
duemila miliardi di dollari gestiti, è considerata da decenni un faro
per le indicazioni strategiche sul mercato obbligazionario. Erano
seguite analisi su tutti i giornali internazionali in cui l'addio di
Mohamed El-Erian veniva ricondotto alle frizioni con Bill Gross,
fondatore di Pimco. Non solo: quando, nel 2013, era sembrato chiaro
che la Federal Reserve volesse ridurre gli stimoli all'economia
acquistando meno bond, il mercato azionario aveva preso il largo e
Pimco aveva subito pesanti conseguenze. Nel giro di un anno gli
investitori avevano ritirato oltre 80 miliardi e a questa fuga era
seguito l'addio di El-Erian.

Il divorzio

Un mese dopo il Wall Street Journal cercava spiegazioni al divorzio
tornando sui cattivi rapporti tra Gross e El-Erian, con quest'ultimo
sempre più insofferente agli errori del suo predecessore. «Io ho 41
anni di successi dalla mia parte, e tu?» gli aveva chiesto
pubblicamente il re dei bond. Mohammed El-Erian gli aveva risposto
senza giri di parole: «Io sono stanco di ripulire la tua cacca». La
lite non si era esaurita lì ma ora, mesi dopo, il caso dell'ex manager
di Pimco, ora chief economist advisor di Allianz e presidente del
Consiglio per lo sviluppo globale di Barack Obama, è tornato a
catturare l'attenzione dei giornali internazionali. Nei giorni in cui
la Sec, l'Autorità di Vigilanza della Borsa Usa, ha aperto un'indagine
proprio su Pimco perché sospettata di aver gonfiato i rendimenti di
uno dei suoi fondi d'investimento, El-Erian torna ai giorni in cui ha
deciso di dare le dimissioni.

La lettera della figlia

Le liti con Gross non c'entrerebbero nulla. «Un anno fa, senza
successo – ha raccontato in una lunga lettera a Worth El-Erian - ho
chiesto ripetutamente a mia figlia, 11 anni, di fare una cosa. Lavarsi
i denti credo o qualcosa del genere. Gliel'ho domandato diverse volte
e dal tono della mia voce deve aver capito che non stavo scherzando».
La bambina gli ha chiesto di aspettare qualche minuto, si è
allontanata dal padre ed è andata nella sua cameretta a prendere un
foglio di carta che poi gli ha consegnato. «Era una lista dettagliata
di 22 momenti in cui io non sono stato presente nella sua vita a causa
del lavoro» ha raccontato El-Erian. Dal primo giorno di scuola alla
prima partita di calcio, dall'incontro con gli insegnanti alla festa
di Halloween.

La decisione

«Mi sono sentito orribile – ha spiegato El-Erian – ma ho cercato
subito di mettermi nelle difensive adducendo spiegazioni importanti
per ogni occasione in cui non c'ero stato: viaggi, riunioni
importanti, telefonate urgenti di lavoro etc etc…». Il punto però era
un altro. «Per quanto cercassi di razionalizzare, il problema era che
la conciliazione del mio tempo in famiglia e sul lavoro non stava
funzionando. E questo squilibrio stava rovinando il rapporto speciale
che avevo con mia figlia. Non le dedicavo abbastanza tempo». Dalle
dimissioni, El-Erian ha raccontato che ora riesce ad alternarsi con la
moglie per svegliare la figlia, prepararle la colazione, portarla a
scuola. E ha programmato anche una vacanza per loro due. Soli.
«Dopo 14 anni fantastici in Pimco ho preferito prendere un portfolio
di attività part-time e ne sono entusiasta perché posso trascorrere
più tempo con la mia famiglia e con mia figlia». A chi gli ha
contestato il momento tardivo di questa spiegazione e ha insinuato il
dubbio che la storia fosse vera, El-Erian ha risposto così: «Mettetela
così: il mio bisogno di essere un buon padre è stato più forte del mio
desiderio di essere un buon investitore».

15 set 2014


Come replica a chi obietta: Google sarà anche "l'impero del non fare del male", ma la Cina e la Russia non sono di certo dei campioni della libertà della Rete
«La Cina è stata la prima nazione a censurare WikiLeaks: è successo nel 2007. E' una nazione politicizzata ed è spaventata da quello che il suo popolo pensa. Ma in un certo senso,questa è la visione ottimistica, perché la Cina crede che ciò che pensa il suo popolo è importante e, invece, in molte nazioni occidentali la libertà di parola è il risultato del fatto che quello che la gente pensa non conta nulla: le élite dominanti non hanno bisogno di essere preoccupate di quello che il popolo pensa perché un cambiamento nella politica non andrà in nessun modo a cambiare il fatto che quelle élite possiedano o meno le loro aziende. I problemi con la Cina e la Russia sono completamente interni».

09 set 2014

How the Rich Got Rich


Like to emulate the success of others? If wealth is what you're after, look to an unconventional source for tips: the IRS.

John D. Rockefeller, America's first billionaire, said, "If your only goal is to become rich, you'll never achieve it."

Easy for him to say, but his point is well taken: If the only thing you care about is making money, no matter how much money you make it will never be enough.

Still, even though we all define and calculate success differently, most of us would like wealth to factor into our equations.

To find out how, check out the 400 Individual Tax Returns Reporting the Largest Adjusted Gross Incomes, an annual report issued by the IRS. Granted the IRS Statistics of Income division must be where fun goes to die, as my CPA friend Bill Zumwalt (who forwarded me the report) says. But if you want to get rich, there's interesting data buried in all the charts and tables.

(The latest report is for 2009, which to you and me was a long time ago but to the government is really, really up to date.)

In 2009 it took $77.4 million in adjusted gross income to make the top 400. That might sound like a lot, but it's down from $109.7 million in 2008 and significantly down from a record high of $138.8 million in 2007.

A mere $77.4 million only got you in, though; the average earnings were $202.4 million, a lot of money but well down from the $334.8 million average in 2007.

Where it gets interesting is how the top 400 made their money:

  • Wages and salaries:  8.6%
  • Interest: 6.6%
  • Dividends: 13%
  • Partnerships and corporations:  19.9%
  • Capital gains: 45.8%

The top 400 averaged $92.6 million in capital gains income--16% of the total capital gains reported by all taxpayers. (Do the math and the whole 1% thing seems like an overestimate.)

Obvious conclusions:

  • Working for a salary won't make you rich.
  • Neither will making only safe "income" investments.
  • Neither will investing only in large companies.
  • Owning a business or businesses, whether in part or partnership, could not only build a solid wealth foundation but could someday...
  • Generate a huge financial windfall.

The data clearly supports the last point. A total of over 3,800 taxpayers have made the top 400 since 1992, but only 27% appear more than once, and only 2% appear 10 or more times.

Clearly, getting rich--in monetary terms--is the result of investing in yourself and others, taking risks, doing a lot of small things right... and then doing one big thing really, really right.

And hopefully achieving other goals along the way--because then, even if you don't get rich, you'll still be wealthy.

How Real People Make It Big

There's way too much focus on amorphous concepts like leadership and entrepreneurship these days. If you spend enough time around successful executives and entrepreneurs, you quickly learn that none of them ever set out to become either. That's just not how it works.

The more I think about it, if I came into the workforce now instead of 30 years ago, I'm not sure I would have made it. Frankly, the odds are much slimmer now. There's just too much distraction, too many shiny objects, too much information keeping people from focusing on what really matters.

Make no mistake: It's still possible to make it big. It just takes some focus, and the ability to tune out the noise and the pomp. This is how real people who grew up with nothing end up making it big in the real world.

By making their own luck. They say luck is when preparation meets opportunity. That's absolutely true. Take baseball. When you get a high fastball right where you want it, it doesn't do any good if you can't hit it out of the park. You've got to be ready when that break comes.

By trusting their gut. I don't get crowdsourcing; it makes no sense to me. When everyone collaborates and has to agree on everything, you don't get innovation and you don't get great work. Sometimes you just need a focus group of one.

By making smart decisions. There's a good reason why smart people do well in this world. They can reason. They don't throw caution to the wind based on one data point from a source that isn't credible. There's simply no way around it. Good things come to people who make good calls.

By taking risks. The single biggest reason why the vast majority of people go nowhere in life is because they don't or won't take risks. They take the easy way out, the path of least resistance. You don't make it big that way. Ever.

By finding big problems that need to be solved. There's a huge misconception that innovation is mostly about inventing or coming up with cool new things. More often than not, innovation is about figuring out what people really need or want but can't have or afford.

By saying "sure, no problem" a lot. If you're always telling people why you can't do something, if you parse everything and nitpick, I've got news for you: You're not going anywhere. If you want to make it in this world, learn to say, "sure, no problem." Practice. It's good for you.

By working their tails off when they need to. Sure, there are people who became rich and successful the easy way. There must be. But I've never met or known one. Not one out of thousands. So forget it. If you're not ready to work your tail off whenever you need to, settle in for a life of mediocrity. And one more thing. First you do the work. Lots and lots of work. Then success happens. In that order.

By focusing on what really matters. You know all the personal branding, blogging, tweeting, liking, messaging, posting, status updating, and social networking everyone spends all their time doing these days. None of that matters. Period.

By negotiating hard. And getting equity. Whether it's your own company or a piece of somebody else's, if you want to make it big, you've got to get a piece of the pie. The catch is that nobody wants to give it up, at least not easily. So you've got to negotiate hard. Do it. It'll pay off big-time.

By finding ways to resolve their issues and complement their weaknesses. I keep hearing about strengths-based leadership. What a crock. If you've got big issues or weaknesses that are holding you back, you need to face reality and find a way to either resolve them or partner with others who can put up with you and fill in the gaps.

By listening and learning from smart, accomplished people. This is the argument for getting out in the real world and working for a stellar company or two while you're young. You'll learn how things work in the business world. You'll learn how to manage. You'll learn the ropes from people who've actually accomplished what you aim to do.

By doing. Nobody ever got anywhere by sitting on their butts and saying, "Someday I'll do that ... maybe tomorrow." Successful people are people of action. They do things. They get things done.

Now go out and make it big.

6 Things You Should Know About The Future

The future isn't what we thought it would be.  We don't walk around in silver suits, travel to colonies on Mars or drive in flying cars.  Instead, we dress casual, take selfies and communicate in 140 characters.

Yet in many ways, we're much better off than we imagined. Rather than a Mad Max dystopia of war, famine and disease we are safer, richer and healthier than we've ever been.  As I've argued before, in a very real sense 140 characters are better than a flying car.

That's the funny thing about the future.  It's never as fantastic as we hope nor as horrible as we fear.  The one thing that's for sure is that times will change and we will have to adapt. While there is no way of knowing exactly how that change will play out, we can identify trends, make common sense judgments about where they lead and prepare for them.

1. Change Will Happen Much, Much Faster

If you think back ten years, the world was very different.  In 2004, Google was still relatively new and just had its IPO.  There were iPods, but no iPhone and no real mobile Internet.  A 42 inch flat screen TV would cost you $4000.  There was no social media, no cloud and very few location based services.  Life was recognizable, but very different.

Twenty years ago there was no commercial Web.  Even simple mobile phones were expensive, relatively rare and so big that we mostly kept them in our cars.  We listened to music on CD's and had very little personal technology.  It's hard to imagine a present day millennial living in 1994.

No one can predict exactly what life will look like in 2024, but there are a few things we do know.  Our technology will be a thousand times more powerful than in 2004 and a million times more powerful than in 1994.  So change of all kinds will happen exponentially faster than it ever has before.

If you thought it was tough to keep up in the past, it will be that much more challenging in the future.

2. The World of Bits Will Invade The World Of Atoms

Probably the most dramatic difference in the next decade or two will be the extent that the world of bits will invade the world of atoms.  A smartphone today replaces an amazing array of technology we used to buy separately.  Now, when you want a new gadget, you download a new app.  We will see similar trends in manufacturingenergy and healthcare.

Solar energy will be competitive—or cheaper—than the grid and getting your personal genome sequenced will cost less than $100.  A vast array of technologies, from CAD software to 3D printers to robots has been transforming the way we produce physical goods.

We've become used to a virtual world where things get cheaper and better with astounding speed, but as X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis argues in Abundance, that may soon be true of the physical world as well.  When the economics of manufacturing, healthcare and energy starts to look like the economics of information technology, life will be very different.

3. Your Technology Will Know You

When IBM recently released its five trends for the next five years, they chose to focus on the personal web.  Up till now, technology has been built for the masses—it works reasonably well for most of us, but can be maddening when we depart from statistical norms.

Our schools educate our children to perform to national standards, but take little note of individual aptitudes and deficiencies.  Go on vacation off the beaten track and, chances are, your credit card will be blocked.  The websites we frequent know our buying history and can recommend us new items, but in the physical world we are strangers.

That will all change.  Google Now can already look at our schedules and alert us if we need to leave early because of unusually bad traffic, but we can expect our technologies to get much, much more personal.  IBM has recently opened up its Watson platform so that every service we use can access cognitive computing.

So in the future, our technology will know us.  Teachers will be able to access data about our child's aptitudes not only across classrooms, but across school years.  Medical treatments will take into account our personal body chemistry.  When we walk into a store, the selection will be catered to our tastes, body size and shape.

4. The Meek Will Inherit The Earth (And Find Out They Are Powerless When They Do)

Technology is not an island.  It ends up affecting every fabric of life.  The automobile did not only end travel by horse, it also created suburbs, gas stations, shopping malls and contributed to global warming and the environmental movement.  The ripple effects often eclipse the initial innovation.

Communication technology has already begun to transform human potential.  Our fates used to be very much tied to the circumstances of our birth.  If you grew up middle class in London, your life chances were remarkably different than a child from reasonably prosperous family in India.  That gap has closed tremendously in the last generation.

Yet as Moisés Naím explained in The End of Power, the effect is probably most deeply felt in power relationships.  Every significant institution—from governments to religions to charities—has declined in its ability to shape events and been replaced with… well nothing really.  As Naim puts it, "Power has become easier to get, but harder to use or keep."

Probably the most salient example is social media.  It used to be that if you had a message for the world, it would be filtered by gatekeepers—the government, an editor or an academic institution—but now anyone with a smartphone can broadcast—in text or video—as they see fit.

We can only expect this trend to accelerate as open technology takes hold.  Today, we all have access to the world's most powerful technology through the cloud.  In a decade, as I noted above, that technology will be exponentially more powerful and no one will truly be in control of it.

5. You Will Have To Learn To Collaborate With Machines

If you've been on a plane lately, you might have noticed that there were pilots in the cockpit, but probably weren't aware that they don't fly planes as a normal matter of course anymore. In reality, they fly-by-wire, meaning that they operate computers that do the actual flying.

But it's not as if pilots don't still have important work to do.  They monitor the flight, communicate with humans on the ground and take over in emergencies.  In the rare case of a crash, data from the onboard computer is analyzed and and the insights gained are applied to future flights.

Now, as Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee show in their new book, The Second Machine Age, computers are starting perform a variety of tasks that we used to associate only with humans.  IBM's Watson system is already helping doctors personalize treatment and it's working on similar solutions for other human endeavors, even cooking.

So in the future, we will all need to learn how to collaborate with machines much like pilots do.   In effect, rather than depend solely on our personal databases of experience, we will apply the sum total of human knowledge to our everyday and professional tasks.

6. Your Business Model Will Not Last

A generation ago, when you started a career, you were expected to learn and then perfect your trade.  As you progressed up the ladder, you gained prestige and authority, but your job didn't really change all that much.

Today we no longer have that luxury.  Whatever your field of endeavor, the one thing you can be sure of is that your business model will not last.  Your basic assumptions about how you will create, deliver and capture value will be disrupted and you will have to radically rethink how you go about things.

So the future is certainly not what it used to be.  We can no longer extrapolate from the past to understand what lays ahead, but must experience it and adapt as it happens.  We can no longer plan, we can only prepare.

30 lug 2014

An Entrepreneur's Most Important Tool: Self-Delusion

It's one of the greatest inventions in human history. Right up there with the wheel, the steam engine and the waffle maker. I'm talking about self-delusion.

I don't mean damaging self-delusion (and certainly, too much can lead to disaster). I'm talking about constructive, healthy self-delusion, which is absolutely crucial to building a business.

As an author, I rely on self-delusion as much as I rely on my laptop, Wi-Fi access and excessive caffeine. For authors nowadays, each book is the equivalent of a startup company. You have to figure out your consumer, your unique approach, your budget, your marketing strategy.

And as with every startup founder, I spent some mornings during my last project battling pessimism and despair. Well, actually, most mornings. I was writing about my quest to be as healthy as possible. I'd wake up feeling the project was too big, too unwieldy. I had too many squats to do, too many diets to test. I'd never finish the manuscript.

My solution? Deception. I tricked my brain. I'd force myself to act in an optimistic way. I'd compel myself to email medical experts and request interviews. I'd coerce myself to call my publisher with elaborate plans for the book launch (A health contest for readers? A Dr. Oz appearance? A party with kale martinis?)

And after a couple of hours, it worked. My mind would catch up with my actions. I would start to feel optimistic. It's astounding how much the outer can affect the inner, how much behavior can affect your thoughts.

Millard Fuller – the founder of Habitat for Humanity – summed it up gorgeously. He said: "It's easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting."

This is not pseudo-scientific blather spouted bunkum-filled books like The Secret. The idea that your actions alter your thoughts is one of the foundations of cognitive-behavioral psychology and has been studied since the 19 century (both William James and Charles Darwin wrote about it).

Force your face into a smile, you will be happier. Sounds creepy, but it works.

A raft of studies have backed this up, including a recent one in the Journal of Psychological Science that showed fake smiles (or even holding a chopstick in your mouth to mimic the shape of a smile) lowered your heart rate in stressful situations. The book The As If Principle by psychologist Richard Wiseman cites plenty of other research, including how your posture affects confidence and risk-taking (a powerful, chest-out stance boosts esteem).

The idea has spawned rhymes. There's "Fake it till you make it." In Judaism, there's the aphorism "Deed before creed," meaning that if you follow the Ten Commandments, your mind will catch up.

I actually learned this trick not from rhymes, but from writing a book about six years ago. The book was called The Year of Living Biblically, and was about my quest to follow all the rules of the Bible as literally as possible.

This came about because I grew up with no religion at all. As I say in my book, I'm Jewish, but I'm Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is Italian. So not very. No offense. Great breadsticks.

But I had a son, and I wanted to know what to teach him about my heritage, so I decided one way to learn about the Bible would be to live it. To learn it from the inside out.

So I bought a stack of Bibles. I got a board of spiritual advisers. Rabbis, ministers, priests. And I wrote down every rule that I could find. As you may know, a very long list. Over 600 rules.

I wanted to follow all of them, without picking and choosing, to see which improved my life and which didn't. I wanted to follow the famous ones. The Ten Commandments. Love your neighbor. Be fruitful and multiply. (And I'll have you know that I was fruitful and did multiply. I had twin boys during my year. So I take my projects very seriously).

But I also wanted to follow the lesser known rules. The Bible says that you cannot shave the corners of your beard. I didn't know where the corners were, so I just let the whole thing grow. As you can imagine, I spent a lot of time at airport security.

It was a life-changing year. Mostly for the better. Not all, but mostly. But it was also the most challenging year of my life.

The Bible says you cannot gossip, or lie, or covet. I'm a journalist and I live in New York City, so that's pretty much 80 percent of my day.

So I was faced with this huge question: How do you become a better person? How do you undertake an ethical makeover. And that's when I tried self-delusion.

For instance, during the year, I had a friend in the hospital, and I really didn't want to visit him. I hate hospitals. But I said, what would a good person do? And then I acted AS IF I were a good person. And when I was at the hospital, some part of my mind said, 'I'm at the hospital. I must be compassionate." And I became a little more compassionate. I tricked my own mind.

I was blown away by this strategy. It changed me profoundly. Of course, I still covet and lie and gossip a huge amount. But after the book, I do it fifty percent less. Maybe forty. Or thirty five.

The strategy was key to actually finishing the book itself. Many days I'd wrestle with writer's block. I'd faced with that horrible blank screen with the nefarious blinking cursor.

My method: Just start typing. It didn't matter what. Just the action of clicking on the keys is the important thing. So at the start of a writing session, I'd write the most ridiculous nonsense. Whatever came to mind. I'd write about the pigeon bobbing its head outside my window." Or "Here I am drinking some decaf Indonesian coffee." Anything.

Eventually I built up enough momentum that my sentences become semi-coherent. I could just delete the first twenty minutes of babble.

One big caveat: Don't get too carried away with the self-delusion. You need a mix of self-delusion and realism. The best companies have a blend of irrationally exuberant leaders balanced by the hand-wringers. I try to find this blend in myself (mornings are for realism, afternoons for undeserved optimism).

And now, back to work on my next book. I'm acting as if it will be a huge, massive, crash-the-Amazon-server hit.

Eredità da due miliardi di lire Ma Bankitalia non cambia in euro Invece il lascito in marchi subito convertito in Germania

ROVIGO — Trova due miliardi di vecchie lire, poco più di un milione di euro, nella casa di Berlino dello zio paterno, ma non riesce a incassarli perché non più validi. Così Sara Ferrari, 43enne originaria di Rovigo da molti anni residente a Bruxelles dove lavora come funzionario in un ente pubblico, s'è rivolta alla «Federazione nazionale consumatori» per cercare di ottenere quanto ritiene le spetti. Come racconta la donna, «mio zio paterno Salvatore emigrò molti anni fa a Berlino, dove si fece valere per la sua bravura come orafo. Lo zio è morto alcuni mesi fa, celibe e senza figli. Riordinando una delle case che mi ha lasciato in eredità ho trovato alcuni documenti che facevano riferimento a una cassetta di sicurezza aperta molti anni prima dallo zio in una filiale della Deutsche Bank di Berlino». A inizio luglio Sara Ferrari è andata nella banca berlinese con i documenti della successione ereditaria e ha aperto la cassetta di sicurezza. «Al suo interno – riprende il racconto la rodigina – c'erano alcuni Bot del Tesoro italiano con tagli da 10, 50 e 100 milioni di vecchie lire oltre a denaro contante per un miliardo e 450 milioni in banconote da 500 mila lire oltre a circa un milione di marchi tedeschi».

Se per il cambio della valuta tedesca in euro ci son voluti una decina di giorni e la cifra ammonta a circa 730.000 euro, tutt'altra musica per il cambio in Italia. Sara Ferrari si è recata allo sportello Bankitalia di Milano per chiedere le modalità di cambio del denaro italiano. Qui sono iniziati i problemi. «Mi è stato risposto che in base al decreto Monti del 6 dicembre 2011 – riprende Ferrari – le vecchie lire ancora in circolazione si prescrivono a favore dell'Erario con decorrenza immediata e che il relativo controvalore è versato all'entrata del bilancio dello Stato per essere assegnato al Fondo per l'ammortamento dei titoli di Stato». Insomma, i due miliardi di vecchie lire scoperti nella casa berlinese dello zio Salvatore non possono essere incassati. «Così – afferma la donna - mi sono rivolta alla "Federazione nazionale consumatori" per avviare tutte le azioni giudiziarie contro Bankitalia e il ministero delle Finanze, con possibilità di ricorso anche alla Corte Europea, per ottenere il pagamento in euro della somma che ho trovato in lire». Ma l'amarezza di Sara Ferrari non riguarda solo l'inghippo legato al decreto Monti di fine 2011. «Da italiana che vive all'estero da molti anni – afferma la donna – non posso non far notare che in Germania ci son voluti dieci giorni per ottenere valuta corrente dai vecchi marchi, e si parla della bella somma di 730.000 euro, mentre nel mio Paese non è possibile altrettanto ». Conclude la 43enne: «Nonostante si chiami Unione Europea le leggi non sono uguali per tutti i cittadini».

29 lug 2014

Record $2 Billion Sale Of The Los Angeles Clippers Approved By Judge

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The estranged wife of Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Donald Sterling can proceed with the record $2 billion sale of the NBA team despite her husband's objections, a judge ruled on Monday, in a likely coda to a case of lingering racism in American sports.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said the deal struck by Shelly Sterling with former Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O> Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer was permissible and could be consummated even if Sterling, who has been banned for life from the National Basketball Association for racist remarks, chose to appeal.
Shelly Sterling
"She had every good reason to believe that Donald agreed to the sale of the team," said Levanas, who added that he found Donald Sterling's combative testimony at the emotionally charged nine-day trial "often evasive and inconsistent."

The ruling was a major victory for an embarrassed NBA and Shelly Sterling, who had asked the probate judge to confirm her as the trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers. She acted in May to have her 80-year-old real estate billionaire husband removed when neurologists deemed him to have early Alzheimer's disease and unable to handle business affairs.

Shelly Sterling, 79, cried after the ruling and told reporters outside the courtroom: "Either way we'd win. I am just doing what I had to do."

Donald Sterling's attorneys said they would file an appeal of the decision.

"He doesn't see this as the final battleground," said Sterling's attorney, Bobby Samini. "This is one stage of a long war."

In an unprecedented move, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling and fined him $2.5 million three months ago after his taped private comments imploring a girlfriend not to associate with black people, including NBA Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson, were published.

The majority of NBA players are black, and Clippers interim CEO Richard Parsons testified that team sponsors were ready to leave, head coach Doc Rivers could quit and players would refuse to play if Sterling was able to keep the franchise he has owned for 33 years.

Under Sterling, the Clippers for decades languished as a league doormat and afterthought to the marquee Los Angeles Lakers, but in recent years they have added enough talent to compete in the NBA playoffs.

Sterling had vowed to block the sale he initially blessed because he said his wife improperly removed him as a trustee of the family trust that owns the Clippers.

Shelly Sterling also said she believed her husband's ban from the NBA would be lifted. During the trial, Sterling had treated her with both love and contempt, calling her a pig and liar at one stage.


The NBA, looking to close a chapter that brought shame to the basketball league and outraged fans, said it was "pleased" with the court's decision.

"We look forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement.

The tentative ruling will take formal effect when Levanas issues it in writing in coming weeks after he considers objections.

Ballmer, known for his enthusiasm for pick-up basketball while at Microsoft, is ready to get to work, his attorney, Adam Streisand, said.

"He is very excited ... about bringing dignity back to the Clippers," Streisand said.

Legal experts said the ruling was so strongly in favor of Shelly Sterling that any challenge from Donald Sterling was unlikely to derail the sale.

"He can appeal as much as he likes, but the Clippers are going to be sold to Ballmer," said Ed McCaffery, a professor of law at University of Southern California.

Sterling has also sued the NBA, the league commissioner and his wife in state and federal courts, contending the team was illegally taken from him.

"We expect that we'll continue to get grenades from all directions," Streisand said.

(Additional reporting by Tim Reid; Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Grant McCool and Mohammad Zargham)

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-judge-clears-way-for-2-billion-sale-of-los-angeles-clippers-2014-28#ixzz38qPcXLxy