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G100 Network Notebook | November 2014

Driving Fast Growth

How can companies thrive in highly competitive markets? Box CEO Aaron Levie explains:

You’re always balancing what is possible today and what can we do with technology with the reality and the empathy that we have to have for where customers are. How do we bring them, and how do we bridge them, to where things are going?

Website designers for US airlines have not figured this out, suggests biting remarks from former Virgin American CEO Fred Reid who compares homepage user experiences to “war zones.”

What Ezekiel Emanuel Gets Wrong About Aging

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethics director at the U.S. National Institutes for Health, sparked widespread discussion last month with an Atlantic op-ed that scrutinized the benefits of prolonging life past age 75. While provocative, this stance on aging is also shortsighted, argues an optimistic riposte from Michael Hodin at The Global Coalition on Aging. He adds:

Dr. Emanuel’s piece…is…a sweeping declaration of 21st century impossibility framed by what was achieved in the 20th century. It’s a static view of the human condition, which is his basic mistake. Rather, human imagination that will fuel invention and innovation can continue to propel us to a healthier and more active life as we live to be 100 as a matter of course.

Do Women Make Better Executives?

Last year, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Jack Welch helped us explore what Conscious Capitalism means for business in society. A new book by Container Store CEO Kip Tindell details how this increasingly popular approach helps him lead a company consistently ranked among the best places to work. Key for Tindell is a deep commitment to gender diversity:

It’s okay to say women make better executives than men. So many people think we’re approaching parity on the issue but 24 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. People need to hear this. The Container Store’s culture is female friendly: that’s conscious capitalism. We look for people who are way up in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Gender inequality will persist for the next decade unless more companies rethink efforts to engage female talent, predicts a massive study by Mercer that identifies several proven practices to bolster gender diversity in the workforce.

Why Every Company Needs a Mobile Strategy

Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans recently updated his convincing presentation, “Mobile Is Eating The World,” a viral video with staggering charts and figures to illustrate how mobile technology reshapes industries and business ecosystems. Well worth the 13 minutes. A small sample:

The time spent on in-mobile apps is greater than all the time spent on the web in the US today. … There will be two-to-three times more smartphones than PCs by 2020.

Facebook in China

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned heads last month by speaking Mandarin to university students in Beijing, where his company is banned. The gutsy move could have a long-term, strategic pay off, suggests James Fallows, who followed this story closely.

Zuckerberg has, with one half-hour interview, put the Chinese government on the defensive — at least from a “face” and “politeness” point of view. At this point, he has shown tremendous respect toward the Chinese, and many millions of Chinese are saying “this guy isn’t so bad, maybe Facebook isn’t so bad, our government should really loosen up.”

Here is video of Zuckerberg’s 30-minute Q&A and a working transcript.

Tapping Energy in Mexico

Recent reforms to Mexico’s energy industry may attract up to $20 billion of investment annually, but companies looking to tap this sector must overcome some steep talent gaps. Useful research from Spencer Stuart identifies where these gaps exist and how to start filling them:

The country will need geoscientists who can read and interpret seismic data and engineers with deep technical knowledge. It will need operational leaders who can effect change and motivate people in the context of Mexico’s unique culture. It will also need experienced financial executives who can value assets, budget costs and raise capital.

What Most CIOs Overlook

Their ability to shape corporate culture, says Google CIO Ben Fried in a recent Wall Street Journal interview that offers some peer advice:

CIOs need to understand the cultural thing – they define the culture of their company by the technology they give to their employees. …When CIOs narrow technology choices they actually are setting a culture that is patriarchal and rigid.

The post first appeared on G100 Network.