Data points

Published July 25, 2022
Clients of the Russian bank VTB gather at its head office to meet with the bank’s representatives and demand reimbursements for their investments, lost due to the recent western sanctions imposed on Russia, in Moscow.—Reuters
Clients of the Russian bank VTB gather at its head office to meet with the bank’s representatives and demand reimbursements for their investments, lost due to the recent western sanctions imposed on Russia, in Moscow.—Reuters

Stop self-sabotaging yourself

Have you ever had the feeling that you need to get out of your own way? Here are three self-sabotaging behaviours many people experience early in their careers and how to avoid them: 1) Crowing at the crack of dawn. Being confident is great, but being confident without being humble is a recipe for disaster. Learning to balance your confidence with modesty will make you stand out from your peers as “emotionally intelligent”. 2) Focusing on “the way it was” at a former job. Be mindful of your tone when pitching new solutions to old problems, particularly among more senior colleagues. Start by acknowledging that you’re new but that you have some ideas about the problem, and want to discuss them with someone more experienced. 3) Being overly agreeable. It’s natural to want to fit in with your new work culture. One way we fit in is to agree even when we don’t — and, this ultimately lead to groupthink and problems.

(Adapted from “5 Self-Sabotaging Traps to Avoid at Work,” by James R. Bailey and John M. Mezias, published by HBR Ascend)

Billions of collectables

In 2019, Grant LaFontaine left his job at Facebook to start Whatnot with Head, hoping to offer collectors the chance to buy and sell baseball cards, rare toys, comic books and other coveted items in a live, interactive online setting where they could chat with each other and score new items for their collections. The three-year-old company has been growing quickly, and just raised another $260m in a Series D round. That brings its valuation to $3.7bn, more than double the $1.5bn it was valued at last year. The round took just seven days to come together, despite the market downtown and a pullback in venture capital funding. “We had this hypothesis that a new generation of collectors were entering the market,” said Mr LaFontaine, Whatnot’s CEO. “And we thought this generation, which grew up on an iPhone, was not going to be happy with the existing players because a lot of them hadn’t evolved.”

(Adapted from “Livestream Shopping Stays Hot As Whatnot Valuation More Than Doubles To $3.7 Billion,” by Lauren Debter, published on July 21, 2022, by Forbes)

Afghanistan’s media blackout

Afghanistan’s media industry was one of the flagship achievements of the 20 years of US-led intervention in the country. Now, less than a year since the Taliban replaced the Western-backed government, there is little of it left, and even reporting on small, peaceful gatherings of women has become risky. Around 40pc of the country’s radio and television outlets and almost all newspapers have shut down, according to Nai, an Afghan nonprofit organization that trains journalists and supports media freedom. Thousands of journalists fled after the Taliban takeover. Some outlets are still willing to push the envelope. Tolo, the country’s leading broadcaster, in particular stands out, especially when it comes to covering women’s rights — one of the most sensitive issues in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.The risks range from phones or cameras being confiscated to being beaten or detained. When the Taliban took over Kabul last August, many expected Tolo’s days to be numbered. Fearing reprisal, some 90pc of it news staff was evacuated to the US and elsewhere.

(Adapted from “Afghanistan’s Independent Media Is Fading Away, But A Few Hold Out,” by Margherita Stancati, published on July 7, 2022, by The Wall Street Journal)

ESG — three letters that won’t save the planet

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is one of the hottest trends in finance. Companies are eager to tout their ESG credentials; investors who want to save the world buy ESG funds; asset managers charge higher fees for them. Yet the measure is incoherent, lumping together a dizzying array of objectives and offering no guide to trade-offs. Elon Musk is a corporate-governance nightmare, yet by popularising electric cars he helps fight climate change. Closing a coal mine is good for the environment, but awful for workers who are laid off. The measure needs to be simplified. Drop the S and the G, we argue, and shift the E from “environment” to “emissions”. If the measurement of firms’ carbon footprints were standardised, they would be easier to shrink.

(Adapted from “ESG should be boiled down to one simple measure: emissions,” published on July 21, 2022, by The Economist)

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, July 25th, 2022

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