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Economy

Jay Steinfeld – Author of bestselling book The 4 Principals for Profit and Prosperity

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Jay Steinfeld founded and was the CEO of Blinds.com, the world’s number one online window covering retailer. Boot-strapped in 1996 for just $3,000 from his Bellaire, Texas, garage, Blinds.com was acquired by The Home Depot in 2014.

Jay remained as its CEO and later joined The Home Depot Online Leadership Team. After stepping away from these roles in early 2020, he teaches entrepreneurship at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and has increased his involvement on numerous private company boards and serves as a director of the public company Masonite (NYSE: DOOR). He also supports numerous charities.

Jay is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Houston Technology Center. Active as an industry speaker on topics including corporate culture, core values, how to scale a start-up, and disruption, he has more than 100 published articles and writes a column for Inc.com.

He also sings in the same barbershop quartet of which he’s been a part of for nearly 50 years. He lives with his wife, Barbara, in Houston, Texas, and has five children and seven grandchildren whom he proudly refers to as his seven start-ups.

Jay’s book, “Lead from the Core: The 4 Principles for Profit and Prosperity” is a Wall Street Journal Best Seller. It was published on November 30, 2021 and is available for purchase now at all the usual places, including amazon.

Please tell us more about your book.

Against all odds, Steinfeld’s journey in business included failed acquisitions, partnerships gone wrong, perpetual self-doubt, deaths in his family, budget-limited guerrilla marketing, brutal market competition, and his complete disruption of industry leaders, including Amazon and big box retailers. To build something meaningful like Steinfeld, you need to do more than dream about it. You need to Lead from the Core. Learn Steinfeld’s “4 Es”: Evolve Continuously, Experiment Without Fear of Failure, Express Yourself, and Enjoy the Ride. And how bringing humanity back into the workplace will help you build a business far beyond anything you could have imagined.

What inspired you to write this book?

After more than 25 years building the business, I knew one day I’d leave. I wanted to ensure that all my current and future employees knew what made us successful and they could use those principles to help continue its dominance. So the book was part historical framework, but mostly it was the theories, strategies, tactics, and mindsets I used to create teams, manage stakeholders, and disrupt others before they disrupted us.

What are the main takeaways from the book?

Anyone can build a business and a life of consequence by following 4 principles. My 4 Es: 1. Evolve continuously 2. Experiment without fear of failure 3. Express yourself and 4. Enjoy the ride. When following these key concepts, the company will automatically get better every day ( autonomous excellence) compounding over time. They do this by taking small but furiously rapid calculated chances , getting input from everyone, and enjoying the results. You’ll be capable of helping everyone become better then they ever believed possible. Collaboration and synergy happens automatically, leaving you as the leader the freedom to spend less time and have less pressure to find all the solutions.

A lot more on all this in the attached workbook, which you are free to include in the article.

Who are some authors that you have been inspired by? 

I have a list of the most influential authors in my book.

Here are my book game changers:

• Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl—Put life in perspective for me, providing equanimity.

• The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt—Helped me to understand key contributors of happiness and life satisfaction, with perspective on how your brain affects that.

• Built to Last by Jim Collins—First book to show how purpose foundationally affects success.

• Good to Great by Jim Collins—Inspired my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and mission—and was the genesis for my thirst for nonfiction reading.

• Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson—Gave me the hope and optimism that I could market effectively with little money.

• The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni—Full of ideas to conquer a leadership team’s poor dynamics. • The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen—Gave me a better understanding of why the entrepreneur’s mindset to disrupt is antithetical to many corporate executives.

• Tell to Win by Peter Guber—Taught me how to pitch ideas and effectively raise money.

• You’re Not the Person I Hired! by Janet Boydell, Barry Deutsch, and Brad Remillard—A good discussion of how to hire objectively and ensure you’re considering the right hiring criteria.

A turning point in your life?

My wife’s death, right after I started the business full-time.

On August 12, 2002, my wife, Naomi, died of breast cancer at the age of forty-seven. We’d been married for twenty-six years, and throughout that time had been partners in life as well as in business. Now, left to do it all alone with three children and a business still in its infancy, I faced a complete reevaluation of my life. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure how to define happiness, or even whether I could ever be happy again. I thought often about what success meant to me, what it was that made me tick. I’d made it that far in life without ever really considering—at least not deeply— what truly mattered. Essentially, it was only when I found myself on a precipice that I asked myself: What are my core values? Through intense introspection, what I discovered changed the trajectory of my life, and the trajectories of all the people in my life. In fact, it was only after understanding what these values were—the values that drive my behavior—that we were able to begin building a company of significance, a company that became the number one online retailer of blinds in the world.

Is there any particular philosophy you follow?

The 4 Es.

Also, my definition of success is not to have achieved something. Not and extrinsically motivated goal.  Success to me is being in the process of getting better. And helping everyone around me get better. When you have that philosophy, you can be successful ever day. And even multiple times during the day. Isn’t that a terrific way to live?

How can the youth transform its own future today? 

Understand that you do not need to have all the answers today. And that you don’t even need to “follow your passion”. Just start experimenting with everything. Look for ways to influence others. Be as generous as possible with your time, your attention, and your interest in learning about everything and everyone. Then if you stay alert, you will enjoy every day and then you’ll be able to choose from many things that excite you.

Vidhi Bubna is a freelance journalist from Mumbai who covers international relations, defence, diplomacy and social issues. Her current focus is on India-China relations.

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Economy

Another Sri Lanka?: Pakistan’s Economic Crisis

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Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Miftah Ismail warned of “bad days” ahead as he highlighted the looming economic crisis that the nation finds itself in. Addressing a ceremony at the Pakistan Stock Exchange, the Finance Minister blamed the economic policies taken by the erstwhile Tehreek-e-Insaf government for the dire economic state of the country.

A Nation in Crisis

Pakistan’s foreign-exchange reserves have shrunk by more than half in the past year, to just over $9 billion, or about six weeks’ worth of imports. In 2022, the Pakistani rupee has lost about 30 percent of its value against the US dollar. Furthermore, a rise in inflation and unemployment coupled with political instability has only made matters worse. The three major global rating agencies, Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P Global have downgraded Pakistan’s long-term rating from stable to negative, citing the country’s deteriorating economic position.

The current Pakistani government has blamed former Prime Minister Imran Khan for much of its economic woes. These accusations are not entirely unfounded. While he promised to rid Pakistan of its economic troubles, Mr. Khan failed to deliver. His regime saw an increased rate of inflation and widespread economic mismanagement. By March 2022, the country’s total external debt and liabilities reached $128 billion. Unemployment also surged with Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) reporting 31% of the youth to be unemployed. The sudden dissolution of his government added fat to the fire, leading to political instability amid grave economic troubles. However, with a tenure of less than five years, blaming Imran Khan for all of Pakistan’s economic troubles seems far-fetched. Undoubtedly, the economy suffered under the Khan administration but this crisis stems from a much larger flawed system.

Economic Fault Lines

There are various structural flaws that can be located in the Pakistani economy that have time and again led to its unmaking.

The Khan administration is not solely responsible for the ongoing debt crisis. The IMF has provided loans to Pakistan on twenty-two occasions since 1958, imposing 13 Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP). The focus of these programmes has been to stabilise the economy while sacrificing growth in the short term. However, Pakistan’s growth rate has consistently remained the lowest in South Asia since the introduction of the first SAP in 1988. The sustainability and feasibility of these IMF bailouts have also been brought into question considering the frequent visits Pakistan makes to the IMF requesting for bailouts. For instance, the last bailout Pakistan requested was in May 2019, just three years before the current crisis. Furthermore, the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) created a debt of $64 billion for Islamabad which was originally valued at $47 billion in 2014. The excessive borrowing to resolve short term issues has majorly contributed to Pakistan’s economic troubles.

Another major issue with the Pakistani economy is the huge trade deficit that the country incurs. Pakistan’s trade deficit currently stands at $48.66 billion, a record high. This enormous trade deficit has resulted from lack of exports in the face of steadily growing imports. As the industries fail to meet the requirements of the domestic market, Pakistan has to rely on imports for bridging the gap. Similarly, the exports suffer due to low productivity of agriculture and industries. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Pakistan is ranked 143 out of 185 countries on labour productivity, having its GDP per hour worked at a measly $6.3.

Poor fiscal management and failure of the private sector to adapt to innovations has further shackled the Pakistani economy. All of these issues have contributed to the ensuing political instability.

Another Sri Lanka?

The past few months have witnessed the collapse of Sri Lanka from one of the top performing economies in South Asia to its descent into anarchy. With Pakistan in a similar crisis, it is widely argued that the country might be on its way to follow the island nation into a harrowing economic collapse. With the fate of Sri Lanka at display, it is also feared that escalating political instability might lead to an eventual military rule, as has been the norm in Pakistan.

While the situation is bad and might worsen in the coming days, Pakistan is unlikely to follow the Sri Lankan trajectory. The revival of a 2019 bailout with the IMF on July 13, clearing the way for about $1.2 billion, comes as a relief for Pakistan. This much needed help will allow the country to look for alternative channels to bridge the financing gap. The Pakistani military has also been playing an active role in stabilising the situation, with Army Chief Qamar Bajwa seeking financial help from friendly countries including UAE and Saudi Arabia. The involvement of such external lenders should discourage major creditors like China from requesting immediate repayments, easing the pressure on Islamabad. However, this requires the Pakistani government to keep a check on the steadily increasing imports.

While the present measures are likely to provide respite for now, even in the unlikely scenario of a Sri Lanka-like complete economic collapse, the military would not let the political situation in Pakistan slide into anarchy and is likely to take over by dissolving the government in the worst case.

The Way Ahead

Even though Pakistan might just evade the crisis through IMF involvement and bettering the trade deficit by curbing imports into the country, these are measures that tend to serve short term purposes and are no guarantee against another similar crisis in the coming years. The only sustainable answer would be initiating structural reforms. A self-sufficient economy must be at the heart of a rebuilding project. Increased productivity will facilitate an increase in exports while decreasing the imports on basic commodities like food and medicines. Finding economic stability is also detrimental to which path Pakistan’s politics will take in the future as the shadow of military rule looms large on the dwindling democratic set up which has managed to keep it in the barracks since 2008.

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Economy

What Is Stopping Economic Development Across The Free World?

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Notice the big events of economic booms during the last century and observe the unique role of mobilization of entrepreneurialism on such trajectories. For example, the original Silicon Valley of the USA was not a technology or financial revolution but the mobilization of an entrepreneurial journey, way before the term ‘IT’ became popular, and ‘technology’ conceptualized as worthy enough to trade in billions while staying invisible. The out-of-box thinkers came out of their garages, broke old systems, created new alternates and changed the world forever. Revolution of entrepreneurs, created by entrepreneurs and for entrepreneurs. The rest is history

Today, some 100 other nations are still trying hard with their own version to become the copycats. The existing lukewarm failures around the world on the replications of “silicon valley” of sorts, already speak volumes. Remember, only measured by entrepreneurialism, such goals, unless once Mindset Hypotheses properly understood this entire subject already beyond common narratives on economic growth.

Real economic development always needs methodical advancements of national mobilization of entrepreneurialism, upskilling and uplifting SME sectors to quadruple exportability otherwise, growth and productivity remain stagnant.  The big challenges are to bring the entrepreneurial thinking and job creator mindsets blend across the economic development teams on a fast track basis. Their current frame of mind critically needs uplifting so their confidence level stands up to the global quality, demands for speed and execution able to tackle the power of global competitive forces.  

Neither across the world, during the entire last decade, did academia build neither the long awaited Fourth Industrial Revolution nor did the bureaucracies digitized, mobilized and uplifted SME economies. Where is the entrepreneurial mix in all such equations? What have the economic development teams really learned recently?  When will they get ready to advance their thinking and blend their efforts alongside the entrepreneurial engines and right mindsets?

When 100 plus nations, talking about digitization, are still trying to figure out mobilization of large sectors of their SME economies, with little or no progress, lingering questions arise. Necessitated now, are some newly mandated activities at every stage of any economic development in progress. Identify and rearrange right mindsets, for right challenges. What worked, last many decades, today, with no results, now ready for thrown out of windows? How long unlimited printing of currencies last, how high will inflation go and how long the recessions last?

The post-pandemic technologically advanced world,  Best option is to balance mindsets and cause change, adjust to global age demands on productivity and performance, otherwise accept a diaper change, surrender to face frailty of life and limits of minds. It is not the absence of expertise that is a problem, it is the mindsets unable to recognize such expertise, in the first place.

The invisible switch: There is no political power unless there is a parallel economic power; after all, there cannot be any economic power without entrepreneurial job-creator-mindset power. Economies without digitization are as if without electricity, economic development without upskilled frontline teams as if without a bulb. Study the solutions via Mindset Hypothesis

The 4B factor: Four Billion on the march; billion displaced due to pandemic, billion replaced due to technology, billion misplaced in wrong jobs now a billion on starvation-watch. The 4B Factor, this digitally connected mass of people making this now the biggest force of global opinion in the history of time.

Global opinion v/s national public opinion: Observe, how fast the world changed, how the ocean of global opinion is now drowning ponds of national opinion. Notice, nations are already so intoxicated, in joy over the popularity of their own national opinion, while having just an opposite global opinion on the world stage. Study the global tidal waves.

Study the Agrarian Age to Industrial Age, later to Computer Age, measure how most talented ‘cow-hands’ were suddenly replaced by steam power and hydraulics and later floors filled with clerks replaced by a single computer. Study “How did we arrive here so suddenly” Excerpted Source: Naseem Javed, Sunrise, Day One, Year 2000. Published, IABC Communications World, Dec. 1995, Volume 12 Issue 11, Article, ‘Chronology Charts’

Over centuries, despite, available like an open book, the government failed to create armies of entrepreneurs but was always successful in creating real armies and real combat soldiers. Simply because, soldiers trained by sleeping in the forests while digging trenches in the rain, but not trained by running around in classrooms with water pistols or drawing pictures of tanks. 

Entrepreneurialism is neither academia born nor academic centric. Let the professors teaching entrepreneurialism break the furniture in protest, their contributions, as theories are excellent only when free, but not for heavy cost and creating student debts. Today business education is more a liability and no longer a real asset. The world changed, minds opened, old-systems closing, new worlds arising with new definitions erupting to manage the future better.

Go build an airline, place aeronautical engineers, and frequent flyers in the cockpits but leave qualified trained pilots in the airport lobbies. Now glued to the radio to find about a crash understand the similarity to current pending financial crashes, nation by nation. As a test, best check out what percentage of entrepreneurial job creator mindsets are in the mix with job seeker mindsets of any local, national economic ministry anywhere in the free world.

Save economies and grab the solutions: They can rapidly upgrade and acquire Mastery on National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism,learn its pragmatism and common sense deployments within months, acquire digitization, mobilization and most importantly to articulate on such advanced new thinking across the national agenda. Learn fast, fail fast, raise fast and shine. Study how Expothon is tabling such ideas globally. 

Today, a shipload of some 7000 economic development officers, representingalmostthe total of top teams spread across free economies of the world should now take a luxury cruise, relax, relearn, unlearn, as their current mathematics is causing serious maladjustments on creating grassroots prosperity for some 100 nations. How fast can this force of 7000 people on a luxury cruise be upskilled on National Mobilization of SME Entrepreneurialism?

The difficult questions: How quickly options when infused with technology lead to mobilizations to discover new paths. Which economic leadership of free nations can display such transformation or even articulate on such critical topics? Which national or global institution is bold enough to face and debate such challenges? Which economic team is ready to test, explore, or try on such forbidden topics? Nevertheless, the world changing fast and will not stop for anyone.

Observing the change, it will not be the sudden arrival of missed Fourth Industrial Revolution; but the surprised arrival of the First Industrial Revolution of the Mind. Study deeply how the mind is opening up and responding to creative entrepreneurial issues, the old concept already dead, now replaced with new thinking. Leaving behind the woman entrepreneurs is another tragedy for any nation. What are some new solutions

Just like today, we no longer tolerate square wheels or rotary dials, or chasing a form stamped 10 times, across a 10-floor building without a lift. The post pandemic economic recovery in smoke and mirror war games, will no longer tolerate the inefficiencies and bureaucracies. Of course, today, the ability to face the truth now considered extraordinary strength. Change can be beautiful, once minds opened.

Refusing to face the truth; this is where all the hostility and hate breeds,  and where without diversity and tolerance, wars and fakery declared the common games, this is when humankind left as secondary, common good declared waste, societies destroyed, so who needs economic development, anyway? A new wave of grassroots economic development will emerge as the top-level economic development almost already destroyed. Hear the sounds of distant firings. It will be the five billion connected alpha dreamers, who will develop and change the world. The rest is easy 

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Economy

The first Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum Comes On 1-3 September at Barbados

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With the new dawn gradually unfolding, African financial institutions such as the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) are making tremendous efforts and offering support for African leaders in consolidating Africa’s economy within the framework of the African Union Agenda 2063. They have consistently been pushing to transform agriculture as the safest approach to reduce imports and insure food security, improve industrialization and the raise the efficiency of human resource capital in Africa.

The Government of the Republic of Barbados will be hosting the first ever edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) which is being convened by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and Government of Barbados in collaboration with African Union Commission (AUC), African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Africa Business Council, the Caribbean Community Secretariat, and Caribbean Export Development Agency. 

The African and Caribbean ties are deep rooted and based on shared history, culture, and sense of a common identity and destiny that was forged by the slave trade creating large centres of African Diaspora in the Caribbean and elsewhere. While Africa and the Caribbean have renewed their engagement, with a Heads of State and Government Summit of the Caribbean Community and Africa, held on 7 September 2021, the relationship needs to be institutionalized through deepening of trade and investment ties between the two regions.

The holding of the inaugural Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum is, therefore, a key strategic deliverable towards the institutionalisation of the reborn relationship between Africa and the Caribbean. This Forum will further consolidate the political agreement reached by Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community and which aims to strengthen collaboration, unity and to foster increased trade, investment and people-to-people engagement between the two regions.

It is in this context that the inaugural Africa Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF), has been organized to hold during 1-3 September at Bridgetown, Barbados. The Forum dubbed: AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2022, will hold under the theme “One People, One Destiny. Uniting and Reimagining Our Future” vividly reflecting the common cultural aspirations. 

The main goal of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum is to provide a platform for the development of strategic partnerships between the business communities in Africa and the CARICOM Region with the objective of fostering bilateral cooperation and engagement in trade, investment, technology transfer, innovation, tourism, culture and other services. The Forum will also be used as a vehicle to actively promote trade and investment opportunities among people of Africa and the Caribbean, as well as the wider diaspora which will contribute to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and to the Caribbean trade development agenda.

Africa leaders and its people highly appreciate the readiness of external countries, who in practical terms, engage in infrastructure development, agriculture and industry especially at the dawn of the rapid geopolitical changes possibly leading to creating a new global economic order. Noting the significance, a number of countries are simultaneously trying to understand barriers in the region and are steadily exploring ways to leverage unto the newly created AfCFTA which provides a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people in Africa.

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