This Week in Business and Brands: Prep for Pain, Checking and Balances, and More

las vegas

Facing the Future: It Ain’t Pretty

Thought the future was looking nice and bright? All it takes is one tech leader to see the cloud in the silver lining, as Alibaba’s Jack Ma warned this week: “In the next 30 years, the world will see much more pain than happiness.” Why so glum and gloomy? The e-commerce mogul sees the imminent disruption from automation and artificial intelligence as the next cause of “massive societal upheaval” when millions (or billions?) of human-run jobs become obsolete. But the warning did come with a suggestion: update the education system (as soon as possible) to prepare future workers for a whole new economy of employment. On top of that, make sure our robotic replacements don’t have too much power: “Machines should only do what humans cannot.” That way, they can be our partners instead of our successors. Easier said than done – especially as leading technologists push towards a superintelligence that deem make much more than our jobs unnecessary. But who knows – perhaps next week the predictive pendulum will pull back towards the positive…

Breaking the Bank: Startups vs. Stand-bys

As you know, it’s not just individuals – entire institutions are set to be replaced from disruption, like the “dinosaurs” of retail banks facing an onslaught of fintech startups. But not all hope is lost, as HBR reports – with the right moves (and fast), there’s room to compete for everyone. In the SME lending market, established banks actually still have an upper hand when it comes to capital costs, where online-only services face more than 10% in expenses sourced from hedge funds and other less-than-certain providers. Not to mention the built-in customer bases enjoyed by big-name firms while online lenders still work towards baseline brand recognition. But those incumbent strengths are only the beginning of an advantage – they’ll still have to figure out integration strategies for turning time-consuming, in-person paperwork into a seamless online experience. Part of that will mean direct partnerships with the scrappy startups, meaning the Goliaths might have to play nice with the Davids before they get a sling-shot to the eye…

Talking Tactics, Tête-à-Tête: Playing with House Money

Las Vegas Strip, Mgm Grand, Hotel, Gaming, Gambling

Want to learn how to make big bets that pay off big dividends for your company? Take a hot tip or two from MGM Resorts’ CEO Jim Murren, whose five initiatives are transforming the hotel and casino business with more than a roll of the dice:

  • On unifying leaders from within: “We parted ways with some good people who weren’t aligned with our new direction; a difficult, but critical step many companies hesitate to take.”

  • On evolving with the times: “We developed a cohesive MGM culture, placing a new emphasis on professionalism, diversity, and fairness, disrupting the industry’s ‘old boy’s network.’”

  • On recruiting blue-chip talent: “We enhanced compensation packages to match Wall Street and Silicon Valley. We built relationships with top business schools, and we promoted our CSR leadership to resonate with the coming generation of business leaders.

  • On embracing social responsibility: “Our mission is not just to provide a short-term bump to a local economy, but to be a long-term partner in sustainable growth, opportunity, and development.”

Igniting Inspiration: “It’s not magic – it’s neuroscience.”

Trying to come up with your next big idea, but feeling a little stumped and stifled? While there’s no magic word for kickstarting creativity, two Stanford Start X experts do have seven questions for you that will get the gears moving. With the help of associative thinking, the neural pathways for generating insights and innovations can be activated with a few simple queries. For example, with Use: “What could you use in a new way, or for the first time?” If it sounds simple and straightforward, there’s a reason for that – this and the other six prompts have triggered the right responses for the 1,000 biggest innovations and their founders. Be sure to click on the above to find out the other questions that make up the LUMIAMI technique.

Video Victory: (Literally) Raising the Bar

That’s all for this week! We’ll leave you with Heineken’s inspiring experiment in building beautiful bonds over a bucket of beers…