“My only measure of success is how many people love me.”

On May 29, 1969, Doris and Roberta, two sisters from an average-sized midwestern town, born to an average midwestern family and enjoying an average if happy midwestern life, received a letter letting them know their brother was about to quit his job. Naturally, their first reaction was to ask, “what’s next?” No one would guess that what came next was the largest wealth creation opportunity in history promulgated by a single individual.

When the family’s coffers would be tallied, the family might be the richest on earth, richer than…


“For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” — Matthew 25:29

Andy Warhol

The Matthew Effect is the phenomenon more commonly known as ‘the rich get richer.” We see it when preeminent people are given disproportionate credit for something they did or even did not do. It explains mistakes in perception from the reasons for income inequality to why we misattribute famous quotations. Andy Warhol’s well-known example is “everyone has fifteen minutes of fame,” which Warhol never said. His photographer did. …


The famous children’s rhyme, What All the World Is Made Of, is the handiwork of Robert Southey, one of the great English poets (1774–1843). For reasons that will strike most parents as obvious, the most famous eight lines are extracted from the original 44 lines. The problem is not their eternal cuteness but a suggestion that even Victorian children were subject to a pre-woke gender comparison. Nothing could be further from the truth. One has to read the whole poem to understand Southey was only painting a charming tableau, not drawing grafitti. …


The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000 or about 0.02% of the world’s population and has received 128 Nobel Prizes:

Literature:

  1. 1910 — Paul Heyse
  2. 1927 — Henri Bergson
  3. 1958 — Boris Pasternak
  4. 1966 — Shmuel Yosef Agnon
  5. 1966 — Nelly Sachs
  6. 1976 — Saul Bellow
  7. 1978 — Isaac Bashevis Singer
  8. 1981 — Elias Canetti
  9. 1987 — Joseph Brodsky
  10. 1991 — Nadine Gordimer

World Peace:

  1. 1911 — Alfred Fried
  2. 1911 — Tobias Michael Carel Asser
  3. 1968 — Rene Cassin
  4. 1973 — Henry Kissinger
  5. 1978 — Menachem Begin
  6. 1986 — Elie Wiesel
  7. 1994 — Shimon Peres
  8. 1994 — Yitzhak Rabin

Physics:

  1. 1905 — Adolph Von Baeyer
  2. 1906 — Henri Moissan
  3. 1907 — Albert Abraham Michelson
  4. 1908 — Gabriel Lippmann
  5. 1910 — Otto Wallach
  6. 1915 —…


Outlier solutions are absurd or too simple. That’s why they work.

(This article previously appeared in Chief Executive Magazine)

“As we know, surprises come in three varieties according to former Secretary of Defense: the known knowns — things we know we know; the known unknowns — things we know we do not know; and the unknown unknowns — things we do not know we do not know.”

— Donald Rumsfeld

If you draw your three circles of competence, the things you do not know that you do not know are at the heart of big disasters, nuclear reactor meltdowns, unintended wars, surprise terror attacks, and lastly, pandemics. …


“Until philosophers are kings and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, cities will never have rest from evil.” –Plato

George Floyd

On May 25, 2020, a day that became a dividing line for people across America, an amiable 46-year-old African American walked into a convenience store around 8 p.m. and politely asked for a pack of cigarettes. George Floyd had recently lost his job and was recovering from Covid, explaining why he paid with a $20 counterfeit bill. As he tore open the pack, he could not have known he was living on borrowed time, and the last chapter of his unhappy life was about to end. The only thing standing between him and death was a rendezvous in the parking…


“Knowledge of the past is the only foundation we have from which to peer and try to measure the future.”

Winston Churchill official photo by Yousef Karsh (from author’s collection)

On February 26, 1946, Winston Churchill raised his tiny 5'6" frame to the podium. He looked at the audience of 17,500 students seated in the brilliant light and remarked with that memorable lisp, “I have enjoyed my stay in your genial sunshine, and it has done me a lot of good.” He recently arrived in Florida refreshed and rested after a crushing defeat in Britain’s first postwar election. It didn’t affect his warm and cheerful disposition, yet his message was as foreboding as one he would deliver in Fulton, Missouri warning that an “Iron Curtain” was about to fall over…


“Until philosophers are kings and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, cities will never have rest from evil.” –Plato

George Floyd

On May 25, 2020, a day that became a dividing line for people across America, an amiable 46-year-old African American walked into a convenience store around 8 p.m. and politely asked for a pack of cigarettes. George Floyd had recently lost his job and was recovering from Covid, explaining why he paid with a $20 counterfeit bill. As he tore open the pack, he could not have known he was living on borrowed time, and the last chapter of his unhappy life was about to end. The only thing standing between him and death was a rendezvous in the parking…


One fatal mistake after 100 brilliant decisions still amounts to zero.

Cole Porter Photograph by Horst P. Horst

“Times have changed. In olden days, a glimpse of stocking Was looked on as something shocking, But now, God knows, Anything goes. If driving fast cars you like, If bare limbs you like, If Mae West you like, Or me undressed you like, Why, nobody will oppose. Anything goes.”

— Cole Porter, 1934 musical

Our research uncovered a phenomenon that happens to astonishingly successful people and, ironically, to those at the bottom of the pile. In both instances, it reflects an attitude that the rules don’t apply, at least not to them. …


“I owe much. I possess nothing. I leave the rest to the poor.” — Rabelais

The best things in life come in sevens like Snow White’s dwarfs or the colors of the rainbow. Unfortunately, so do the worst like rolling a seven the first toss in craps or the biblical concept of sin. You can count them: pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth. My old editor at Forbes, Jim Michaels, whom Warren Buffett said was the best of any magazine, told me what people enjoy most is reading about are the seven deadly sins. …

Jeff Cunningham

Professor of Leadership. Extraordinary Lives Project. Author “Be Somebody” (2021); 2019 Telly Award IconicVoices.tv; ex-publisher Forbes

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