I say we are just insecure. Or uninformed. Or panicky. Or lots of things.
As a elixir, book readers are buying Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (Simon & Schuster, 2015) by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller, and Paul Solman.
Here is where the book stands on Amazon.com as I write this today:
- #3 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1 in Books > Business & Money > Taxation > Personal
- #1 in Books > Business & Money > Accounting
- #1 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Social Security
Laurence J. Kotlikoff is William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and a professor of economics at Boston University. He is also president of Economic Security Planning, Inc., a company specializing in financial planning software. His company websites are ESPlanner.com and MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com. He is author or co-author of sixteen books, including Spend ‘Til the End and The Coming Generational Storm (both with Scott Burns). His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Forbes, The Economist, Huffington Post, and other major publications. He has served as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, governments around the world, and major U.S. corporations including Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, and AON. In addition, he has provided expert testimony on numerous occasions to committees of Congress. He lives in Boston.
Philip Moeller writes about retirement for Money magazine, the PBS website Making Sen$e, and other media outlets. He is also a research fellow at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, and the founder of Insure.com, a site for insurance information that has provided original insurance content to the Web’s leading business portals, including Microsoft, Yahoo, America Online, and MarketWatch. Formerly a contributing editor at U. S. News & World Report, he has spent forty years as an award-winning financial journalist, Internet entrepreneur, and corporate communications executive for a Fortune 500 financial services firm. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Paul Solman is the longtime business and economics correspondent for The PBS NewsHour. His many awards for work in business journalism include Emmys, Peabodys, and a Loeb award. He is also a Brady-Johnson Distinguished Practitioner at Yale University, where he teaches in the Grand Strategy course, as well as teaching at New Haven’s Gateway Community College. He has been a member of the Harvard Business School faculty and a visiting professor at his alma mater, Brandeis. Solman has written for numerous publications, from Forbes to Mother Jones, co-authored (with Thomas Friedman) Life and Death on the Corporate Battlefield, and wrote the introduction to Morrie: In His Own Words, created entirely from interviews with his former Brandeis sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz (of “Tuesdays with Morrie” fame). He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.
We won’t have this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, as we don’t include individual-based finance books in our monthly coverage.
But that doesn’t mean that plenty of our attendees will find this important to read. While they won’t identify themselves, I am sure we get some people who are insecure, uninformed, and panicky about their retirement years. Maybe they. and many others will find this book a great relief to that anxiety.
I just read this article on Slate.com about Melissa Mayer, the new CEO at Yahoo, Marissa Mayer Is in Over Her Head: That’s just how Yahoo’s new CEO likes it by the always insightful Farhad Manjoo. She described how she decided to work at the then very new company, Google, which had very-few-employees. Here’s the key paragraph:
“I had to think really hard about how to choose between job offers,” she said. Mayer approached the choice analytically. Over spring break, she studied the most successful choices in her life to figure out what they had in common. “I looked across very diverse decisions—everything from deciding where to go to school, what to major in, how to spend your summers—and I realized that there were two things that were true about all of them,” she said. “One was, in each case, I’d chosen the scenario where I got to work with the smartest people I could find. … And the other thing was I always did something that I was a little not ready to do. In each of those cases, I felt a little overwhelmed by the option. I’d gotten myself in a little over my head.”
After weighing her options, Mayer chose Google.
So… work with the smartest people you can find. And tackle a challenge that is just a little bit too much. I think the idea is that if it pushes you just the right amount — tough enough to be very, very difficult, but!, still doable — then you learn more, you might succeed spectacularly, and you are then more ready for the next, bigger challenge.
Mr. Manjoo is not sure that this decision, heading Yahoo, will be successful (there may not be that circle of “the smartest people she can find”), but he is convinced that it will be fun to watch: “And even while I have severe doubts that Mayer will be able to turn Yahoo around, I’m excited to see what she can do with the place. Yahoo has long been headed for failure. Now, at least, it will be an interesting failure, not a depressing one.”
This much is clear: a person with the ability to follow a very serious process of decision making, a process that can lead to a brilliant decision, will probably lead the pack. Because, most of us are just not very good at making decisions.
(an aside: I have said, in one way or another on this blog, Farhad Manjoo is the writer that most consistently gives me the insight that I need).
Call this just a quick, and incredibly obvious, observation…
Dan Weston, business consultant par excellence, tells me that it takes two to three years to even make a dent in the reshaping of the corporate culture challenge. He is very good at it, has a definite plan to help organizations in this challenge, and yet there is no “one session, one retreat, one conversation” magic pill to get this done. Reshaping a corporate culture is a multi-session, over-time, long-haul challenge.
So, imagine the turmoil in a company that faces impressive, almost overwhelming competition (Google, et. Al.), and a workforce that is whiplashed by the constant changing of leaders. That is the challenge facing Yahoo at the moment.
Scott Thompson, Yahoo’s third CEO in about three years, has officially left the building.
(Yahoo’s CEO is out. Now what?)
Uncertainty; whiplash. People need to know “this is what our company/organization intends to be.” A trusted, respected leader plays a pretty big role in that “this is what our company intends to be” task. Going through three leaders in three years makes this almost impossible.
(A personal note: My youngest son is getting married this weekend, so with my current schedule, I may be doing a little less blogging at the moment. My apology. And thanks, as always, to Bob Morris, who keeps this blog a daily source of wisdom and insight with his many offerings).