How to Swim With Your Smartphone

Stephanie BuckJuly 11, 2012 by 

You already listen to music while you jog — why not submerge yourself in tunes while you swim? We’ve collected 10 waterproof accessories that will protect your smartphone from certain underwater death.
Most of the above cases and headphones work with dozens of different smartphones and MP3 players. So, when you switch between iPod and Android, you’re covered.
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Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve (HBR Classic)

by Jim Collins
Source: Harvard Business Review
13 pages.  Publication date: Jul 01, 2005. Prod. #: R0507M-PDF-ENG

Boards of directors typically believe that transforming a company from good to great requires an extreme personality, an egocentric chief to lead the corporate charge. Think “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap or Lee Iacocca. But that’s not the case, says author and leadership expert Jim Collins. The essential ingredient for taking a company to greatness is having a “Level 5” leader, an executive in whom extreme personal humility blends paradoxically with intense professional will. In this January 2001 article, Collins paints a compelling and counterintuitive portrait of the skills and personality traits necessary for effective leadership. He identifies the characteristics common to Level 5 leaders: humility, will, ferocious resolve, and the tendency to give credit to others while assigning blame to themselves. Collins fleshes out his Level 5 theory by telling colorful tales about 11 such leaders from recent business history. He contrasts the turnaround successes of outwardly humble, even shy, executives like Gillette’s Colman M. Mockler and Kimberly-Clark’s Darwin E. Smith with those of larger-than-life business leaders like Dunlap and Iacocca, who courted personal celebrity. Some leaders have the Level 5 seed within; some don’t. But Collins suggests using the findings from his research to strive for Level 5–for instance, by getting the right people on board and creating a culture of discipline. “Our own lives and all that we touch will be the better for making the effort,” he concludes.

This article includes a one-page preview that quickly summarizes the key ideas and provides an overview of how the concepts work in practice along with suggestions for further reading.


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The Discipline of Listening

by Ram Charan  |   1:17 PM June 21, 2012

As the up-and-coming vice president and CEO candidate for a Fortune 500 technology corporation sat before the CEO for his annual review, he was baffled to discover that the feedback from his peers, customers, direct reports, and particularly from board members placed unusual emphasis on one potentially devastating problem: his listening deficit. This executive was widely considered among the best and brightest in his company, but it was evident that this issue needed immediate attention if he ever hoped to advance to the top spot.

He wasn’t alone in that regard. My knowledge of corporate leaders’ 360-degree feedback indicates that one out of four of them has a listening deficit—the effects of which can paralyze cross-unit collaboration, sink careers, and if it’s the CEO with the deficit, derail the company. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Despite today’s fast-paced business environment, time-starved leaders can master the art of disciplined listening. Conventional advice for better listening is to be emotionally intelligent and available. However, truly good listening requires far more than that. As you move toward truly empathetic listening, consider these tips:

Pan for the nuggets. I saw how Larry Bossidy, former CEO of Honeywell, did this. Sitting down with a business unit leader presenting him with information about a $300 million dollar technical investment opportunity, Bossidy divided a sheet of paper about three-quarters across. On the larger left side of the paper, he scribbled detailed notes; on the smaller right side, he occasionally jotted down two or three words, capturing what he perceived to be the key insights and issues being brought to his attention. It was a simple technique that disciplined him to listen intently for the important content and focus follow-up questions on points that really mattered. Whether or not this is your method, you should train yourself to sift for the nuggets in a conversation. Then let the other person know that they were understood by probing, clarifying, or further shaping those thoughts. The benefits of this go beyond ensuring that you heard it right: first, the person on the other end of the conversation will be gratified that you are truly grasping the essence of their thoughts and ideas; second, this gratification will motivate and energize them to create more thoughts and solutions. Listening opens the door to truly connecting and is the gateway to building relationships and capability.

Consider the Source. When working with peers, in and across teams, work to understand each person’s frame of reference—where they are coming from. This is extremely important when disagreements arise. When you truly understand the perspective of others, you are most likely to reach productive solutions; further, all the participants will feel heard, whether their solution is adopted or not. Even better, it’s likely that the solution will not turn out to be one that was brought to the table by any one party; it will be a new approach crafted in the conversational environment you created. Active listening and probing (with humility, not aggression) energizes groups, encourages them to reach consensus, and helps them arrive at new and better solutions.

Consider Ivan Seidenberg, who rose to become Chairman and CEO of Verizon. Earlier in his career, as a business unit manager, he recognized that he must cut costs. But his division’s operations department was adamant it could not be done given the tremendous complexity of its processes. Seidenberg understood their frame of reference, which was that they were in favor of simplification, but couldn’t achieve it without the collaboration of the product departments. Seidenberg got the two sides to collaborate and much better solutions were found. Not only were costs cut, but operations became more focused and simplified.

Prime the Pump. After GE achieved its goal of being first or second in several of its businesses with exceptional margins, then-CEO Jack Welch faced the challenge of how to spur continued growth. He actively listened to a Business Management Course team at GE’s Crotonville learning center. They suggested that, if a GE business had become the biggest fish in its pond, it was thinking about the pond too narrowly. The definition of the market needed to be changed based on an expanded understanding of its customers’ needs. As business unit managers prepared their next round of strategy presentations for the Chairman, Welch told them all to redefine their market in such a way that their share was less than 10 percent. This released GE managers’ energy to grow their businesses with new ideas. One of those ideas was to grow the services businesses across GE. Today, GE has a $200 billion backlog in its services business.

Slow Down. There is a reason that, over the years, you have lost your ability to listen. It feels too passive, like the opposite of action. It’s much faster to move to a decision based on the information you already have. But in doing so, you miss important considerations and sacrifice the opportunity to connect. Understand that as you begin to change your listening style to a more empathetic one, you may often feel inefficient. It takes time to truly hear someone and to replay the essence of their thoughts back them so that both parties are clear on what was said. The payback is dramatic, but it comes over the long run.

Keep Yourself Honest. No habit is broken without discipline, feedback, and practice. As well as installing a personal mirror to reflect on your own behavior, find a colleague to give you honest feedback on how well you are tuning into the thoughts and ideas of your colleagues, managers, board of directors, and others. Explicitly lay out an exercise regime by which you will practice empathetic listening every day and strengthen your skills. Make a habit of asking yourself after interactions whether you understood the essence of what was said to you, the person’s point of view, their context, and their emotion. Also ask yourself whether that person knows that they were heard and understood.

For leaders, listening is a central competence for success. At its core, listening is connecting. Your ability to understand the true spirit of a message as it is intended to be communicated, and demonstrate your understanding, is paramount in forming connections and leading effectively. This is why, in 2010, General Electric—long considered the preeminent company for producing leaders—redefined what it seeks in its leaders. Now it places “listening” among the most desirable traits in potential leaders. Indeed, GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt has said that “humble listening” is among the top four characteristics in leaders.

Truly empathetic listening requires courage—the willingness to let go of the old habits and embrace new ones that may, at first, feel time-consuming and inefficient. But once acquired, these listening habits are the very skills that turn would-be leaders into true ones.

Ram Charan


Ram Charan is a business author and advisor who works with senior executives to solve their toughest business problems. His newest book The Tilt: How You Can Navigate the Greatest Change in Business History is forthcoming from Crown Publishing in 2013.


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Twitter cuts off service to LinkedIn, API changes draw ire

By Chenda Ngak | Topics Tech Talk | July 2, 2012 12:11 PM

(Credit: Twitter/LinkedIn)

(CBS News) Twitter, the micro-blogging site, has cut off tweets on the professional social network LinkedIn, ending a two-year partnership.

Twitter is a website that lets users broadcast 140-character status updates, or tweets, in real time. The micro-blogging service has had a partnership with LinkedIn since 2009.

“If you had previously synced your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, and selected the option to share Tweets on LinkedIn, those Tweets generated from Twitter will no longer appear on LinkedIn. There will be no other changes to your LinkedIn experience,” Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn head of content, said in a blog post.

LinkedIn users will still be able to post updates to Twitter from LinkedIn, but not the other way around.

Cutting off tweets to LinkedIn users is part of a greater initiative at Twitter to create stricter requirements for developers who use the company’s application programming interface (API). An API is a set of tools that lets third-party developers write custom programs for a service.

The new requirements are meant to encourage developers to build apps on Twitter’s website. The company said it would “more thoroughly enforce” its Developer Rules of the Road. Twitter wants to ensure its branding is consistent across the Internet, whether tweets are read on the site or a third-party client.

While the company is cracking down on inconsistency, developers are struggling with the narrowing constraints of integrating with Twitter.

In a March 2011 note to developers, Twitter platform team member, Ryan Sarver said, “developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.”

The challenges of building a program that doesn’t mimic Twitter while ensuring consistency across all platforms has raised the ire of developers – some feeling jilted by the company. Their concern is that they have invested time and resources into developing apps for Twitter, only to have the company change the rules of the game.

“We’re building tools for publishers and investing more and more in our own apps to ensure that you have a great experience everywhere you experience Twitter, no matter what device you’re using,” Twitter product manager Michael Sippy said in a blog post, where he emphasized upgrades, like Twitter Cards. The new addition to Twitter lets users add a few lines of code, or “card,” to a tweet that will add an expanded view of content on Twitter.

Twitter faces its own challenges. Much of the company’s content is viewed on third-party sites or programs. The micro-blogging service must find the right balance of running a profitable business and maintaining a robust developers’ community.


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5-inch worm removed from man’s eye (GRAPHIC IMAGES)

5-inch worm removed from man’s eye (GRAPHIC IMAGES)

5-inch worm removed from man's eye (GRAPHIC IMAGES)

The following images, provided by Fortis Hospital in Mumbai, India, show a surgery in which a 12.5 centimeter worm was removed from a patient’s eye.

The images are graphic in nature, please proceed with caution.

Author: Edecio Martinez, Ryan Jaslow

Credit: CBS/Fortis Hospital Mulund


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Insurance firms stay ahead of mutual funds & FIs in equity returns in past 3 years

Rajesh Mascarenhas, ET Bureau May 15, 2012, 05.45AM IST

MUMBAI: Unit-holders of domestic insurance firms’ equity products have gained more or lost lesser than investors in mutual funds and foreign institutions in the past three years, according to an ET study.

The investment strategy of buying in a weak market and selling when stocks are rising has helped insurancefund managers perform better than other institutional investors, said money managers at insurers and mutual funds.

The value of equity investments of insurance companies rose 23.28% in 2010-11 and 7.82% in 2011-12. Mutual funds’ stock investment value grew 22.91% in 2010-11 and 0.45% in 2011-12. So far in 2012-13, insurers’ stock investment value has dropped 5.9% while that of mutual funds declined 6.4%, according to the ET study of all BSE-listed companies.

The calculation is based on the number of shares held by institutions multiplied by the value at the end of each fiscal after deducting fresh inflows in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

“We do sell whenever valuations go up. This is the prime reason why equity portfolios of insurance companies outperform the broader market,” said Abhijit Gulanikar, CIO, SBI Life Insurance.

When the Sensex rose 10.94% in 2010-11, insurance companies bought stocks worth 3,138 crore while foreign investors poured 1.14-lakh crore into the Indian market. In 2011-12, when the Sensex dipped 10.5%, insurance companies sold stocks worth 9,652 crore while foreigners bought equities to the tune of 40,000 crore. Insurers have bought shares worth 1,625 crore so far in 2012-13 against foreign institutions’ selling of nearly 2,000 crore. The Sensex has dropped 6.8% from March 31 till date.

Insurance companies are able to sell on rise and buy on declines in the stock market, because of the steady flow of premium money into their equity products.

“Unlike mutual funds or FIIs, we are getting funds on a regular basis and we are waiting for the right opportunity to enter,” said the chief investment officer of an insurance company. “The opportunity could be the situation where there are only sellers and no buyers.

On the other side, an FII or a mutual fund gets money only when there is a positive sentiment in the market,” he said. Insurers’ investments have been limited to a few sectors. While insurers invested in nearly 640 listed companies, 68% of their investments were spread across companies belonging to five sectors, including banks, oil & gas, consumer goods, software and auto.

In banks, a majority of the investments came from LIC, which helped several state-run banks meet their capital requirements. Punjab National BankAxis BankSyndicate BankUnited Bank of IndiaDevelopment Credit Bank and UCO Bank were among top picks of insurance companies.


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How IndiGo’s Aditya Ghosh is the only airline boss still flying

Binoy Prabhakar, ET Bureau Jun 3, 2012, 10.31PM IST

One would expect India’s airlines, thanks to the business’s distinctive capacity for oomph and sexiness, to attract a certain type of cocky businessmen and managers who have a knack for wisecracks and plainspokenness. That has been the case overseas.

Take for example what Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary had to say about his scheme to charge passengers using the toilet: “If someone wanted to pay £5 to go to the toilet I would carry them there myself. I would wipe their bums.” OrDelta Airlines founder CE Woolman’s thoughts about his job: “Running an airline is like having a baby: fun to conceive, but hell to deliver.”

Indian airline bosses have been largely tame in contrast. The most interesting comment from an airline boss for many years was Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal’s startling revelation that his mother arrived in a dream and ordered him to take back sacked pilots.

Barbs and witticisms have emanated since from his counterparts, but they have been few and far between.Kingfisher Airlines owner Vijay Mallya last year took a dig at low-cost carrier IndiGo. “…it has been downhill for civil aviation except for one airline that defies the odds and claims to be profitable, however unlikely that may be,” he wrote in a memo to employees.

SpiceJet CEO Neil Mills too fired barbs at IndiGo. “It is whether you believe fairy tales,” he said, referring to reports about IndiGo’s much lauded punctuality in an earlier interview with ET on Sunday. “A carrier that is financially insolvent and has a third of its fleet grounded has the best on-time performance among all low-cost carriers in the world. I believe in faith, but this is believing a little too much.”

Reticent Chief

A quote hunter would have savoured the prospect of a retort from the airline at the receiving end of these jabs and the public slanging match that would ensue. But IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh, 36, has adopted a monk-like silence, as has been his wont in his nearly four-year tenure at the helm.

Ghosh is not the man about town, an aberration of sorts in a high-visibility business and a case study for corporate chiefs not thrilled with the spotlight. Yet, he sees nothing unusual in his averseness to publicity. Passengers, he says, fly IndiGo not because they know the president of the company.

High-flying teamGhosh with key IndiGo personnel: (Standing left to right) SK Bansal, director, planning logistics & materials, engineering; Alphonso Dass, director, airport operations & customer services; Kailash Rana, director, budgets & financial analysis, finance and accounts; KS Bakshi, director, human resources and Sanjay Kumar, chief commercial officer

(Sitting left to right) Annie Vig, executive assistant to president; Summi Sharma, director, corporate learning & development, I Fly and Sunita Srivastava, vice- president – OCC & Dispatch. Most of them have been with the airline since inception; some have risen through the ranks from the trainee level

The closest Ghosh came to making a statement, though of a different kind, happened last November. Airline bosses in India sought a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for help to tide over a wrenching crisis. Ghosh, accompanied by IndiGo promoter Rahul Bhatia, drove to the meeting in a CNG-powered Wagon R that sported the colours of their airline. Other airline bosses turned up in swank chauffeur-driven cars, drawing comparisons with US automobile bosses who flew in private jets to seek a bailout from lawmakers.

Sitting in his unassuming office room – a stuffed bookcase, a cupboard filled with pictures of family and colleagues, certificates and laurels of IndiGo that hang on the walls and inviting furniture take up space – Ghosh displays his discomfort with the attention. He refused to be photographed with airhostesses, saying he is “not a Vijay Mallya”.

He agreed to the interview after repeated requests and much persuasion, but you had the feeling he might develop second thoughts and dash out of the room midway. “I find it odd talking about myself,” he says, adding that he would prefer talking about IndiGo.

Asked if driving the Wagon R was a conscious decision, Ghosh, who owns a second-hand Honda Accord and a four-and-a-half-year-old Nissan, says IndiGo doesn’t have large cars. He says there was a choice between the Wagon R, a Swift Dzire and a Winger that day. “The Winger and Dzire are used to transport people within the airport. And so the Wagon R was available. It’s a great car and it had IndiGo colours.”

The IndiGo brand of austerity is the hallmark of every successful global low-cost airline. Southwest Airlines,Spirit Airlines and Ryanair, to name a few, are still flying high thanks to their relentless focus on costs. IndiGo follows the same rulebook. The airline has shunned frequent flier programmes, airport lounges, special check-in counters for a particular class of passengers and TV screens on board.


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