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The Power of Two

In the fall of 1966, during a stretch of nine weeks away from the Beatles, John Lennon wrote a song. He was in rural Spain at the time, on the set of a movie called How I Won the War, but the lyrics cast back to an icon of his boyhood in Liverpool: the Strawberry Field children’s home, whose sprawling grounds he’d often explored with his gang and visited with his Aunt Mimi. In late November, the Beatles began work on the song at EMI Studios, on Abbey Road in London. After four weeks and scores of session hours, the band had a final cut of “Strawberry Fields Forever.” That was December 22.

On December 29, Paul McCartney brought in a song that took listeners back to another icon of Liverpool: Penny Lane, a traffic roundabout and popular meeting spot near his home. This sort of call-and-response was no anomaly. He and John, Paul said later, had a habit of “answering” each other’s songs. “He’d write ‘Strawberry Fields,’ ” Paul explained. “I’d go away and write ‘Penny Lane’ … to compete with each other. But it was very friendly competition.”

It’s a famous anecdote. Paul, of ...

Depression and Stress Are Killing Productivity

In a hypercompetitive global economy, organizations must be “on” 24/7. Yet this scramble for perpetual performance is taking a harsh toll on employees. They relentlessly push to get ahead and stay ahead—working longer days, emailing after hours, taking fewer vacations—often with little acknowledgment for their efforts. The result is a workforce that’s not just disengaged (Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report revealed that 70 percent of U.S. employees fall into this category), but also stressed and depressed.

And here’s the irony, the constant hustle aimed at increasing productivity and profitability actually decreases both. And since there’s a stigma around mental health issues, people aren’t seeking help. In fact, despite depression and stress disorders being the biggest source of lost productivity, my research shows that 86 percent of those afflicted would rather suffer in silence. That’s very bad news for employers, who may have a big portion of their workforce struggling along at reduced capacity.

I know the ravages of depression firsthand. After spending most of my life as a senior executive with organizations like Johnson & Johnson and A.T. Kearney, I suffered a mental breakdown, culminating in a ...

Should Teammates Get Equal Pay?

In 1998, the Seattle Mariners won 76 games and traded away their star hitter, Ken Griffey Jr. In 1999, they won 79 games and traded away their star pitcher, Randy Johnson. In 2000, they won 91 games and watched their remaining star, Alex Rodriguez, leave.

Having lost their three best players, the Marines should have crashed in 2001. Instead, they had the best season in franchise history, and one of the greatest ever. They won 116 out of 162 games, tying the record set nearly a century earlier by the Chicago Cubs for the single highest winning percentage in the history of major league baseball. How did the Mariners get better after losing their best players?

It may not be a coincidence that in their record-tying 2001 season, the Mariners had the highest salary equality of any team in baseball.

Research shows that in baseball teams, the higher the equality of salaries, the more games a team wins. Between 1991 and 1997, the teams with the greatest pay equality won approximately nine games more per season than the teams with the most pay imbalance. Teams with high pay inequality score fewer runs and give up more runs.

Mariners slugger Jay ...

Maybe Less Productive Employees Just Need a Little Siesta Time

In an effort to boost productivity during the summer months, the city of Seoul is encouraging government workers (paywall) to take a siesta of up to an hour. This might be a good model for the country, which appears to be the most sleep-deprived of the world’s developed economies.

The most recent numbers from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the organization that crunches comparable data on the world’s developed economies, show that South Koreans sleep an average of 469 minutes (7.8 hours) a day. That’s the lowest among the 18 countries for which the OECD gathered data. The OECD average for shuteye is 502 minutes (8.4 hours). The French, who snooze the most among the rich nations, clock 530 minutes (8.8 hours) of sleep a night.

Why such a lack of sleep in Korea? Hard to say for sure, but the Korean propensity to log long work hours likely cuts into workers’ downtime. While that sounds admirable, the Korean workplace culture of rampant overtime and few vacations results in some of the worst levels of worker productivity among the advanced economies.

Reprinted with permission from Quartz. The original story can be ...

More Women Around the Globe Are Networking Over Cocktails

From Shanghai to São Paulo, Moscow to Lagos, the changing role of women in the emerging markets is causing major shifts in alcohol consumption.

According to Harvard Business Review, income growth of women in developing countries reached 8.1% last year. The Grant Thornton International Business Report confirmed that 46% of Russian senior managers are now women and Boston Consulting Group recently reported that women now officially download more content—music and films—than men. With this tech savvy and sophisticated female demographic, companies can no longer depend on cliché marketing adages for women like “shrink and pink it.” This insight is particularly salient in the new ways that professional women around the globe are using alcohol to socialize, network, and assert their independence.

How do we know? We recently ran a cross-cultural, ethnographic study of female empowerment with one of the world’s leading global alcohol and beverage brands. It specifically focused on how women go out, and ultimately how they consume cocktails and drinks. In addition to extensive research and interviews with female entrepreneurs, health, beauty and cultural experts, we also spent a significant amount of time studying a select group of women in emerging market cities ...