This CEO has one interview question he’d use to hire someone on the spot

By: Mark Abasi November 23, 2017


It’s rare to find a question so predictive of someone’s personality that it could make a CEO want to hire a job candidate on the spot. But New York Times writer Adam Bryant said there’s one that comes to mind, based on interviews he’s done with hundreds of executives for his “Corner Office” column.

The question came from Bob Brennan, an executive director at the software firm CA Technologies who, at the time of his interview with Bryant, was CEO of records-management company Iron Mountain. Brennan said his one-question interview would be: “What are the qualities you like least and most in your parents?”

“I want to know how willing people are to really talk about themselves,” Brennan said, according to Bryant. “So if I ask you, ‘What are the qualities you like least and most in your parents?’ you might bristle at that, or you might be very curious about it, or you’ll just literally open up to me. And obviously if you bristle at that, it’s too vulnerable an environment for you.” Bryant said Brennan’s question stood out among all the other times he’s posed the challenge to CEOs. “I’ll let the human resources professionals debate whether such a question is out of bounds,” Bryant wrote.

“But I’m hard pressed to think of a better crystal ball for predicting how somebody is likely to behave in the weeks, months and years after you hire them. After all, people often adopt the qualities of their parents that they like, and work hard to do the opposite of what they don’t like.” The question is one of many creative ways executives can cut through the uniformity of the typical job interview, Bryant said. After all, “candidates are so trained to anticipate the usual questions — “What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?” — that CEOs have to come up with bank-shot questions to get around the polished facades.”

Mergers of old-media titans miss the point

It is the monopoly power of big tech that policymakers should worry about

By: Rana Foroohar March 18, 2018

It is rather amazing that two huge US companies looking to cut an $85bn merger are looking like underdogs. But as AT&T and Time Warner go head to head with the US government over the legality of their proposed tie-up, that is precisely what they appear to be.

Makan Delrahim, the Department of Justice’s antitrust head, plans to argue that telecoms powerhouse AT&T should be prevented from buying media company Time Warner because the two companies together will have monopoly powers that would result in higher cable prices for American consumers. The corporations themselves, of course, argue the opposite. They claim the merger is necessary to stave off competitive pressure from bigger fish — Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix. I find myself agreeing with them. These tech platforms are among the largest and richest companies in the world and dominate their respective markets.

Economic research shows that this kind of monopoly power typically stifles innovation, competition, job creation and growth. Whichever way the AT&T-Time Warner case goes, it will do little to solve these problems, because it will not address the main issue: US competition policy today is fundamentally unsuited to the digital economy. It is time to rethink antitrust policy and the definition not only of consumer welfare, but of welfare itself For decades now, American antitrust policy has centred around notions of “consumer welfare”. The key question about any given merger is whether it will make things better or worse for consumers. The definition of “better” has traditionally been defined by pricing.

If consumer costs look likely to go down, a merger will go through. And yet the digital world is one in which data, not dollars, are the currency. Consumers receive services such as search, e-commerce and video streaming cheaply, or even for free. Free is not really free. We pay for these services by handing over our personal data in exchange for access. In this barter economy, using price as a measure of welfare is all but pointless. Consumers have no clear idea how valuable their data are to the companies that mine them. My guess is that the information is worth a lot more than the $65 a month in subscription fees that Time Warner receives for a cable and broadband bundle. The imbalance between Time Warner and the platform companies is highlighted by the AT&T-Time Warner pre-trial brief.

As BTIG media analyst Richard Greenfield recently wrote to clients, this “reads like an instruction manual for investors explaining why they should no longer invest in legacy media companies”. Google offers up to 50 channels of premium content on YouTube for $40 a month. Amazon and Netflix have become content producers that compete for talent with cable network HBO. Apple and Facebook will each spend $1bn this year on video content. US digital advertising surpassed TV advertising in 2016, making it even tougher for companies like Time Warner to keep subscription fees low. Google and Facebook took 84 per cent of that digital advertising market last year. No wonder more than 22m US cable customers have cut the cord as of 2017 — up 33 per cent from 2016. If someone has monopoly power in this world, it is not the legacy media players.

The tech platform companies argue that none of this is a problem, because the result is great for customers: they receive seamlessly delivered, cheap, high-quality programming. Applying this definition of consumer welfare to our digital economy will ensure more, not less, concentration of corporate power. That is a problem for people like me who believe that monopoly power is an obstacle to shared economic growth. It is time to rethink antitrust policy and the definition not only of consumer welfare, but of welfare itself. The conversation is already brewing, thanks to people like Barry Lynn, a former policy wonk at the New America Foundation, a think-tank. He argues for a return to an earlier approach to competition policy. Before the 1980s, US antitrust law held that too much economic power created too much political power — and that was inherently bad for consumers and society.

It allowed big companies to create an uneven political playing field. (Fact: the tech sector, led by Google, is now the single largest corporate lobbying block in Washington.) This view implies a much broader notion of economic welfare, shifting the lens from the individual to the entire ecosystem. Walmart or Amazon, for example, might lower prices for consumers, but their size also allows them to squeeze their supply chains. That in turn could result in fewer start-ups and thus less job creation.

That definition of welfare is harder to quantify, but it is already used by the US Federal Reserve, which under the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 is obliged to look after the overall economic development of communities. Since 2008, the Boston, Chicago and San Francisco Feds have all vigorously supported this goal, seeking to connect borrowers and lenders and support entrepreneurs. While the justice department is right to focus on corporate power, the Trump administration is picking the wrong target. Mergers between old media giants are beside the point in a digital world.

4 tips for working comfortably at your desk

By: Ceren Cubukcu 

It is important to feel comfortable at your office in order to increase your efficiency and protect your health. There are many small steps you can take to create a better work environment for yourself. You can start by implementing the below office ergonomics tips to improve your work day, care for yourself and decrease work related injuries.

1. Pick a great chair and adjust it right

You probably spend half of your time in the office at your desk chair. Therefore, choose a chair which will support your spine. Make sure the chair can be adjustable according to your height so you can put your feet on the ground. You can also use a cushion to support your back. If you are not happy with your current office chair, ask your manager if it can be replaced with a newer one. Don’t forget to include that this will reduce your back pain and as a result, it will improve your productivity. If you cannot get the approval, consider ordering your office chair yourself.

2. Set your monitor appropriately

Your computer monitor should be directly at your eye level. Try raising your monitor level by placing a stand or some thick books under it. If your computer monitor is below your eye level, you need to keep bending your neck and shoulders. This can trigger neck and back pains in the future. On the other hand, if your monitor is above your eye level, you constantly need to look up and this puts unnecessary pressure on your neck.

3. Adjust the light

An office needs to have lots of window to let natural sunlight in. If you cannot have natural day light in your office, at least use a softer light because it is much better than fluorescent lighting. The lamp should be placed overhead. In addition to that, a desk lamp can also be used for darker days.

4. Reduce eye strain by taking breaks

If you have to work on a computer more than 3-4 hours a day, you need to be careful about protecting your eyes. Try to blink often and look away from your monitor every half-an-hour. If possible, stand up and take a coffee break, talk with a coworker and ease your body posture. If you are very busy, at least look elsewhere for a minimum of 20 seconds.

8 signs you’re on the golden path to success

By: Adam Toren February 16, 2016


In the midst of a long entrepreneurial journey, it can be difficult to tell whether your idea — and more specifically, the way you execute it — is going to be successful. But if any of these eight signs have crossed your path as of late, you may be on the right track.

1. You’re excited about your business.

Those who start businesses for the money or to please friends and family are likely to burn out — or fall flat. The concept behind your business should be exciting from the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey to the end (even though it’s often said there isn’t an end at all).

You know you’re excited about your company when you talk about it obsessively with friends, when you can’t wait to get to work in the morning, or even when you feel a familiar warmth in your chest when you accomplish a minor business-related task. If you’ve lost touch with the “fun” side of starting a business, sit down and write out the reasons you started the company in the first place. What were your goals from the very beginning? Have you achieved any since then — or are you close?

2. People are talking.

If your core idea is a good one (and it’s marketed well), people will talk about it. Check out the conversations circulating social media. If it doesn’t take hundreds of social media posts per week to get people commenting, sharing, tweeting and more, you’re doing pretty well.

Customers, clients and fans can discuss your brand silently as well by wearing T-shirts, boasting stickers and donning pins with your logo or catchphrase. People are eager to be the first to tell their friends about the “next big thing” — conversation surrounding your business may mean it’s just that.

3. Your net income makes your overhead costs look reasonable.

When you’re first starting out, it can be painful to shell out money for web domains, logo design, product prototypes and other start-up costs. Your wallet gradually becomes thinner, and you wonder more than once if that money will ever come back. It often takes 12 to 36 months for businesses to be quite profitable, but if you’re drawing in disposable income before or at that stage, you’re on the right track.  Keep careful records of your company’s finances. Once your loans and overhead costs seem a little less daunting, you’re doing just fine.

If you’re searching for ways to speed up the payback process on your business, remember that good branding goes a long way. My brother and business partner, Matthew, and I have pulled profits within only a few weeks after opening by leveraging well-designed business cards, media kits and websites.

If you’re preparing to sell an innovative new product, take a look at pre-selling through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Test the waters and deliver the best product through A/B split testing and surveys. Last but not least, always strive to keep costs low. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork help you find freelance work for less.

4. You’re willing and able to adapt to change.

Successful entrepreneurs understand that the world of business is fluid — and so are the fields in which their products are services are encapsulated. Any business, no matter how big or small, will have to change along with the times. Those who don’t are denying themselves an opportunity to impress their customers and achieve long-term greatness.

For instance, several occupational domains are facing a digital revolution, such as the publishing industry with self-publishing and ebooks, education with computer math and reading programs, art with graphic design and more. Large publishing houses that don’t put out ebooks alongside traditional books, as well as teachers who deny their students the right to use a computer or tablet for their work, are considered behind the times. It’s clear that you’re on the path to success when you’re capable of adapting to the changes around you.

5. You welcome criticism.

No entrepreneur is capable of growing and enhancing their business if they can’t accept criticism for what it is — free advice. Feedback often comes in unpleasant forms, but many times it identifies areas of improvement. If you’re able to receive criticism and turn it into positive change, you’re that much ahead of business owners who can’t.  Develop a thick skin, and brush empty opinions off your back while absorbing the ones that offer valuable tips on how to polish your business.

6. You learn from your mistakes.

Successful people aren’t those who don’t make mistakes — they’re the ones who learn from them. Much like welcoming criticism, successful entrepreneurs are capable of learning from their mistakes, and much like criticism, mistakes are lessons in disguise. Instead of wallowing in the false sense of failure that often surrounds a mistake, attempt to learn from it: What could you have done better? What obstacles could have been avoided?

Remember that because you don’t have time to make every mistake, you can also learn from the mistakes of those around you — to learn by experience with no cost to your own business, network with your peers and discuss the things they wish they would have done differently. You’re already on the path to success if you consciously gain valuable lessons from your mistakes.

7. You’re capable of being grateful for what you have while still striving for more.

You’ll never be satisfied with your progress if you’re incapable of being grateful for what you already have. During the start-up process, ensure that you differentiate resources you already have from those you have to acquire. Perform brief check-ins with yourself or with your team every six months or so, paying close attention to the victories you’ve experienced that you worked so hard for.

Being thankful for what you have not only surrounds you and your company with positivity, but it will also keep things in perspective when you’re experiencing doubts about your abilities.

8. You don’t have regrets.

You likely jumped into the world of entrepreneurship knowing that it was one full of ups and downs. You’re more inclined to reap the rewards of success if you can acknowledge that even through the hardships starting a business has brought you, you don’t regret stepping foot into such a unique field of business. Those who are truly meant to be entrepreneurs love the hard work they put into their businesses no matter what results come from it — the passion and energy that go into starting a company are enough of a reason to push forward regardless of circumstance.

It’s more than just “knowing” — thousands of entrepreneurs sense shining success in their futures by encountering any of these eight tell-tale signs. When did you realize you’d be successful at what you do? What was the turning point of success for your business?

Fashion gets faster and the CBD is in vogue

Clothing and other items in city-centre Joburg shops are drawing budget-conscious, trendy shoppers. And the big chains are also increasingly aware of the need to respond rapidly to changing demands

By: Sunita Menon & Pales Vuyolwethu Tshandu  March 01, 2018

The heart of Johannesburg’s central business district (CBD) is a fast-fashion haven and “on-trend” this year are ruffled shirts, perspex heels, berets and 1990s-style retro sunglasses. Though such items may set you back tens of thousands of rand from the likes of Gucci and Chanel, fast fashion has made trends easily accessible to less wealthy consumers.

Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by retailers for designs that move from the catwalk to the shop floor, capturing fashion trends. SA’s fast-fashion market ranges from catwalk-esque looks at Mr Price and H&M to entire streets of fashion stores in the CBD.

In the CBD you can find it all, from Zara replicas to Gucci knockoffs to cheaper versions of high-end make-up brands. Though H&M’s recent numbers show that fast fashion may not be a strong model for its brand, Mr Price is soaring.

H&M experienced its worst sales performance in at least 15 years in the quarter through November while Mr Price reported an 8.3% increase in third-quarter sales. Its total retail sales were R6.6bn for the three months to end-December.

When it comes to fast-fashion, H&M’s orders are placed well in advance for high-volume items such as fashion basics. Garments with a high trend factor, or for selected stores, generally require shorter lead times.

Amelia-May Woudstra, spokesman for H&M SA, says: “We can offer our customers the latest fashion because we have our own design [we create our own collections] and buying departments.

“The overarching collections are planned well in advance, and the very latest trends are picked up at shorter notice.”

Woudstra says H&M is ahead of the curve compared with its peers and is working on its autumn/winter 2019 collections. “We can also act fast when new trends emerge. Having effective logistics for all our collections depends on the nature of the item.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a cleaner store layout in Sandton or at Melrose Arch. Like many of the other stores in the Smal Street Mall, Men Express is owned by a foreigner and gives you bang for your buck. A three-piece suit will cost around R2,500.

The informal sector has become something of a microcosm of the malls — the same offerings, only with more palatable price tags. But behind the on-trend shirts, the gaudy prints and the neon lights in town is a R750bn industry. While the formal sector shed 135,000 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2017, the informal sector added 119,000 jobs.

The share of total employment in the informal nonagricultural sector accounted for only 16.5%. A shirt from Zara will set you back anywhere between R400 and R690 in Sandton, but in the CBD similar items cost a little over R60. The biggest brand in the knockoff game is a hitherto little-known player called Rainbow Nation.

Olerato Sesing, a 24-year-old student, shops in the CBD about four times a month and prefers it to malls. “Downtown is very cheap and always has the latest clothes. You can always negotiate the amount,” she says. While a trip to a mall would get you two items of clothes for R1,000, Sesing gets 10 to 15 items for the same amount in the CBD. “I only ever shop there,” she adds.


“Lead times are always a balance between price, time, quality and sustainability,” she adds. According to Euromonitor, North America and Asia Pacific are becoming increasingly dominated by fast fashion with expansion of domestic brands such as La Chapelle and Forever 21, as well as international giants H&M and Zara.

As the rest of the industry reacts to fast fashion, many apparel companies are aiming to implement more reactive supply chains, speeding up production of stock and increasing the quantity of trend-led products.

But other local retailers such as TFG have been at the forefront of fast fashion and say the time between date of order and delivery can be weeks.

Graham Choice, head of TFG apparel and Prestige, says: “The process can take up to eight weeks from the date of order to delivery to stores, depending on the complexity of the order. However, we are working towards increasing the number of orders we deliver within 28 days.

“We work with the best local suppliers including our wholly owned, world-class apparel manufacturer, Prestige [located in Caledon and Maitland in the Western Cape] to maintain their leading edge as the producer of in-demand apparel in SA.”

TFG uses a quick-response (QR) process, relying on collaboration between the retailer, design teams and factory capacity to meet fast-shifting customer demands.

“The QR system allows for flexibility and importantly enables quick action when positive sales call for bestseller repeats or changes to an existing garment can be implemented to meet current trends,” Choice says.


What’s in a Name? Authors With the Same Surname

By: Chelsea Lee


A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, right? Readers often ask us questions about how to handle repeated surnames in references. For example, how do you cite a work where some or all of the authors have the same last name? What if you want to cite separate works by people who have the same last name—how do you avoid making it seem like they are the same person? Read on to find out these answers.

Same Surname Within a Reference

Nothing special is required when a surname is repeated within a reference. Write the in-text citation and reference list entry normally.

Reference list entry: 

Sue, D., Sue, D. W., Sue, D., & Sue, S. (2015). Understanding abnormal behavior (11th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.


In-text citation:

(Sue, Sue, Sue, & Sue, 2015)

Different First Authors Share a Surname But Have Different Initials

Now imagine a surname is repeated in different references. When the first authors of multiple references have the same surname but different initials, include initials for the first authors in the in-text citations. Never include initials for second or subsequent authors in in-text citations. The reference list entries are written normally.

In the example below, note that although all three examples have an author named Jackson, only D. Jackson and M. C. Jackson are cited with initials in the text because the other Jackson is not first author.

Reference list entries:

Jackson, D. (2018). Aesthetics and the psychotherapist’s office. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 74, 233–238.

Jackson, M. C., Counter, P., & Tree, J. J. (2017). Face working memory deficits in developmental prosopagnosia: Tests of encoding limits and updating processes. Neuropsychologia, 106, 60–70.

Nelson, B. D., Jackson, F., Amir, N., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Attention bias modification reduces neural correlates of response monitoring. Biological Psychology, 129, 103–110.


In-text citations:

(D. Jackson, 2018)

(M. C. Jackson, Counter, & Tree, 2017)

(Nelson, Jackson, Amir, & Hajcak, 2017)

Note: Include initials in the in-text citations only to help the reader tell apart different people. If the name of one person is presented inconsistently across works (e.g., sometimes a middle initial is present, sometimes it is missing), then reproduce the name as shown on the work in the reference list and write normal in-text citations without initials. See this post on inconsistent name formats for more.

Different First Authors Share a Surname and Initials

When the first authors of multiple references have the same surname and the same initials—but they are different people—then adding initials to the in-text citations won’t help readers tell the authors apart. So in this case (as addressed previously on the blog), include these authors’ full first names in the in-text citations. In the reference list entries, also include the full first names in square brackets after the initials. Never include bracketed names for second or subsequent authors in in-text citations or reference list entries.

Reference list entries:

Green, L. [Laura]. (2009). Morphology and literacy: Getting our heads in the game. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40, 283–285.

Green, L. [Leonard], & Myerson, J. (2013). How many impulsivities? A discounting perspective. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 99, 3–13.


In-text citations:

(Laura Green, 2009)

(Leonard Green & Myerson, 2013)

For more on this topic, see the Publication Manual sections 6.14 and 6.27

One of our best 2016 MBA theses on mindfulness and moral responsibility

Mindfulness, responsibility, ethical judgement and ethical intent : A virtue ethics perspective

By: Small, Cherise 2017



Proliferation of corporate scandals stands as a stark reminder that leaders can and will behave unethically. Mindfulness and moral responsibility in the context of elements of the ethical decision making process have received limited attention. As such, this study set out to examine and empirically quantify the relationship between moral responsibility, mindfulness and only two of the four constructs of Rests Ethical Decision Making Model (1986), ethical judgement and ethical intent. A broader understanding of mindfulness and moral responsibility may provide organisations with a lever that can be utilised to improve the ethical decisions their leaders make.

A quantitative analysis was conducted in support of this study, using data collected from 191 decision makers within a specific organisation. A questionnaire was used to measure respondents level of ethical judgment, ethical intent, mindfulness and moral responsibility. Statistical techniques which include factor analysis, multivariate analysis of variance, analysis of variance and paired sample t-test were used to determine whether the responses to each scenario were consistent and whether response bias was evident. And lastly, regression analysis was used to determine the strength of the relationship between the four constructs, and to identify the existence of the mediating influence of moral responsibility between mindfulness and ethical judgment, and mindfulness and ethical intent.

The outcome of this study provided empirical linkages between the constructs of mindfulness, moral responsibility, ethical judgement and ethical intent. The predictive power of the independent variables on the dependent variables were all below 10%, but which were all still statistically significant. Furthermore, moral responsibility mediated the relationships between the variables mindfulness and ethical intent, as well as between the variables mindfulness and ethical judgment.


  • Mindfulness
  • Ethical judgement
  • Ethical intent
  • Moral responsibility
  • Virtue ethics