Archive for November, 2008

November 12, 2008

Google’s Ten Things Philosophy

Here is the more detailed version of the Google‘s Ten Things Philosophy, but I have been thinking on how the principles and philosophies of companies define who they are and what they do.

  1. Focus on the user and all else will follow
  2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well
  3. Fast is better than slow
  4. Democracy on the web works
  5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer
  6. You can make money without doing evil
  7. There’s always more information out there
  8. The need for information crosses all borders
  9. You can be serious without a suit
  10. Great just isn’t good enough

There are start similarities betweent this document and my previous post, both start with putting the customer first, both talk about trust & integrity as being paramount in doing business and both strive for being the best in their respective fields.
Those are just 3 broad themes that I believe makes a company successful. I am going to try to search companies that have principles to investigate if they agree with the above themes… Google did not mention anything about the people who work for Google, whereas Goldman talked extensively about their people being one their priced assets I guess the difference is in the line of business they are in… Goldman is in the people business!

November 12, 2008

Goldman Sachs – Business Principles

The Goldman Sachs Business Principles

  1. Our clients’ interests always come first. Our experience shows that if we serve our clients well, our own success will follow.
  2. Our assets are our people, capital and reputation. If any of these is ever diminished, the last is the most difficult to restore. We are dedicated to complying fully with the letter and spirit of the laws, rules and ethical principles that govern us. Our continued success depends upon unswerving adherence to this standard.
  3. Our goal is to provide superior returns to our shareholders. Profitability is critical to achieving superior returns, building our capital and attracting and keeping our best people. Significant employee stock ownership aligns the interests of our employees and our shareholders.
  4. We take great pride in the professional quality of our work. We have an uncompromising determination to achieve excellence in everything we undertake. Though we may be involved in a wide variety and heavy volume of activity, we would, if it came to a choice, rather be best than biggest.
  5. We stress creativity and imagination in everything we do. While recognizing that the old way may still be the best way, we constantly strive to find a better solution to a client’s problems. We pride ourselves on having pioneered many of the practices and techniques that have become standard in the industry.
  6. We make an unusual effort to identify and recruit the very best person for every job. Although our activities are measured in billions of dollars, we select our people one by one. In a service business, we know that without the best people, we cannot be the best firm.
  7. We offer our people the opportunity to move ahead more rapidly than is possible at most other firms. Advancement depends on merit, and we have yet to find the limits to the responsibility our best people are able to assume. For us to be successful, our men and women must reflect the diversity of the communities and cultures in which we operate. That means we must attract, retain and motivate people from many backgrounds and perspectives. Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be.
  8. We stress teamwork in everything we do. While individual creativity is always encouraged, we have found that team effort often produces the best results. We have no room for those who put their personal interests ahead of the interests of the firm and its clients.
  9. The dedication of our people to the firm and the intense effort they give their jobs are greater than one finds in most other organizations. We think that this is an important part of our success.
  10. We consider our size an asset that we try hard to preserve. We want to be big enough to undertake the largest project that any of our clients could contemplate, yet small enough to maintain the loyalty, intimacy and the esprit de corps that we all treasure and that contribute greatly to our success.
  11. We constantly strive to anticipate the rapidly changing needs of our clients and to develop new services to meet those needs. We know that the world of finance will not stand still and that complacency can lead to extinction.
  12. We regularly receive confidential information as part of our normal client relationships. To breach a confidence or to use confidential information improperly or carelessly would be unthinkable.
  13. Our business is highly competitive, and we aggressively seek to expand our client relationships. However, we must always be fair competitors and must never denigrate other firms.
  14. Integrity and honesty are at the heart of our business. We expect our people to maintain high ethical standards in everything they do, both in their work for the firm and in their personal lives.
November 10, 2008

USA might loose its AAA rating???

Ok, this looks like a self fulfilling prophesy coming true… I just wrote that the US dollar might be under pressure and now the Chairman of S&P; stating that the soverign rating of the USA is at risk? Listen to the interview at CNBC here
This sounds like an in-probable event but what the heck is going to happen if this becomes true? It looks like a global collapse of the magnitude that we did not know about… a Black Swan event!!! (now you should play the JAWS theme song!) I don´t know if that is going to happen or not, USA is still the most innovative country in the world with Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft… but what the heck do I know, maybe if GM and Ford fail all other industries might fall like dominos.

Ladies & Gentlemen fasten your seat belts its going to be a bumpy ride for the next couple of years.

November 10, 2008

Nassim Hussain Taleb – oh why oh why did I not read him earlier!

I have been listening to Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb a derivatives trader who has been calling all the statistical models used by banks as inadequate to manage risk. I think it is high time all “Risk Managers” take notice and do something about their infalliabilities. Lets be honest, we don´t have a clue when it comes to predicting the improbable event… heck we even argue about the premium we have to pay for our life insurance given the event of untimely death the argument to get a deal on life insurance was just a waste of breath!

In following Taleb´s chain of thought I have been doing more reading about his work (I still have the Black Swan to read), here is a very interesting article about “The Fourth Quadrant” – his hypothesis of mapping the improbable event, do we really care it is a subprime crisis or the US dollar bust? Well, I think we need to start buying insurance for the fact that the US dollar could go bust… improbable you say? Think again… time and time again we have pushed aside thoughts our brain is not built to fathom but then again atleast the thing I want to get out of understanding this concept is that we humans are built this way, so lets not take ourselves too seriously when we know that “something is absolutely” the truth. Read his interview on calling the models all Banks relied on – Value At Risk or VAR models as total BS! what amazes me is that he was calling this bogus in 1996! I wish I had read his work before, but hey I got into banking only two years back so I am a faster learner than most of the Bank Risk Managers I know.

My lessons from the reading, accept the Randomness in our lives and make sure you have insurance cover when the S#$% hits the fan!
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