Equifax and Why It’s So Hard to Sue a Company for Losing Your Personal Information


After years of screaming headlines about data breaches, we all know the drill. A major company announces it has been hacked, a brief public outcry ensues, and then… not much happens. Down the road you might read about a government inquiry or a class-action suit being settled. People have become numb to these announcements. We assume our personal information has been compromised in some way, take reasonable precautions like canceling a credit card or instituting credit monitoring, and move on with our lives.

The Equifax breach is different. It isn’t the largest (that would be the 2016 Yahoo breach, with over one billion accounts affected), the most embarrassing (Ashley Madison, the affair website), or the one that raises the most national security concerns (North Korea’s hack of Sony). But a couple of key facts give Equifax its own watershed moment in the sordid history of data breaches: (1) Many of

Continue reading "Equifax and Why It’s So Hard to Sue a Company for Losing Your Personal Information"

5 Ways to Focus Your Energy During a Work Crunch


Work invariably ebbs and flows, cycling between steady states, where we feel more in control of the pace and workload, and peak periods, where the work crunch hits us hard. Unexpected setbacks, project sprints, or even vacations and holidays can create mayhem and tension. Maintaining focus and managing energy levels become critical as tasks pile onto an already full load. When you’re in your next work crunch, there are a few things you can do to focus and manage your energy more productively:

Accept the situation. When an acute period hits, it’s easy to resist the fact that it’s happening. We wish for things to be like they were last month, or we long for the pace we had during vacation. By not being present to the here and now, we drain our energy by ruminating on the situation. In fact, physicists define resistance as “the degree to which a

Continue reading "5 Ways to Focus Your Energy During a Work Crunch"

The Grocery Industry Confronts a New Problem: Only 10% of Americans Love Cooking


The supermarket and grocery business is likely to suffer strong headwinds in the future, due to long-term shifts in consumer behavior. Although many people don’t realize it yet, grocery shopping and cooking are in a long-term decline. They are shifting from a mass category, based on a daily activity, to a niche activity that a few people do only some of the time.

I’ve spent two decades consulting extensively for consumer packaged goods companies. Early in my career I gathered some data for a client on cooking. This research found that consumers fell into one of three groups: (1) people who love to cook, and cook often, (2) people who hate to cook, and avoid that activity by heating up convenience food or outsourcing their meals (by ordering out or dining in restaurants), and, finally, (3) people who like to cook sometimes, and do a mix of cooking and outsourcing, depending on the situation. At the time,

Continue reading "The Grocery Industry Confronts a New Problem: Only 10% of Americans Love Cooking"

Prioritize Your Opportunities with This Checklist

Photo by Cris Dinoto

How do you evaluate a business opportunity? The world is replete with SWOT mechanisms for evaluating a prospective new product offering, as well as with opportunity assessment templates for evaluating a project against overall business goals, customer impact, strategic potential, and competitive urgency. These instruments play a vital role in acquisitions, new products and features, and even the new divisions of business you’d like to deploy.

But how do you evaluate the myriad smaller opportunities you come across every day? Should you speak at that event? Author a book? Attend a strategy summit?

Some years ago, I learned a fast and effective way to evaluate day-to-day opportunities from Dan Sullivan, the cofounder of Strategic Coach, which I have refined even further for myself. I have taught it to my teams and assistants as well, as a way for them to evaluate in advance whether an opportunity is

Continue reading "Prioritize Your Opportunities with This Checklist"

How to Help an Employee Who Rubs People the Wrong Way


If you’ve ever cringed in a meeting when your direct report was talking, you know how tough it can be to watch a team member undermine themselves. Maybe the person is interrupting colleagues too often. Or being condescending, or even combative. No matter the specific behavior, your employee is clearly rubbing people the wrong way. As the manager, you know it’s your job to address the issue, but you’re not sure how to start the conversation. What should you say? How do you broach the topic?

What the Experts Say
“It always difficult to give someone serious performance or behavioral feedback in a way that doesn’t put that person on the defensive,” says Caroline Webb, author of How to Have a Good Day and CEO of the coaching firm Sevenshift. And when the feedback is about an employee’s personal style, the task is even harder. Telling employees that they’re alienating colleagues requires “a

Continue reading "How to Help an Employee Who Rubs People the Wrong Way"

Do Tech Companies Really Need All That User Data?

Paul Garbett for HBR

The online economy — from search to email to social media — is built in large part on the fact that consumers are willing to give away their data in exchange for products that are free and easy to use. The assumption behind this trade-off is that without giving up all that data, those products either couldn’t be so good or would have to come at a cost.

But a new working paper, released this week by Lesley Chiou of Occidental College and Catherine Tucker of MIT, suggests that the trade-off may not always be necessary. By studying the effects of privacy regulations in the EU, they attempted to measure whether the anonymization and de-identification of search data hurts the quality of search results.

Most search engines capture user data, including IP addresses and other data that can identify a user across multiple visits. This data then allows

Continue reading "Do Tech Companies Really Need All That User Data?"

The Psychology Behind the New iPhone’s Four-Digit Price


Apple made headlines by announcing that the price for its new iPhone X (a fancy term for 10) will range from $999 to $1,149. These prices are commanding attention because they are significantly higher than the base prices of the two other iPhone models that were also announced, the 8 ($699) and the 8 Plus ($799). The X’s price is also noteworthy because it approaches, and breaches, the key threshold of $1,000. Boosting prices into four-digit territory crosses an important psychological barrier for consumers.

Why did Apple push the limits of pricing on the highly anticipated device? A key reason involves using a premium price to set an expectation of excellence in consumers’ minds.

This is a pricing strategy similar to the one successfully implemented by the Eagles. The popular Southern California band, whose album Their Greatest Hits 1971 – 1975 is the second highest-selling album of all time, had broken up in

Continue reading "The Psychology Behind the New iPhone’s Four-Digit Price"