Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 36, 2017


Do you want to keep up to date with the latest developments in finance, but you are short of time? Don’t worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience.

1. Elon Musk's brilliant email rule at Tesla
Elon Musk is famed for his unconventional management style. The South African-born entrepreneur behind companies including Tesla and SpaceX has described himself not as a micromanager but a "nano-manager", reports. Musk works about 100 hours per week at the electric carmaker and involves himself in even the tiniest aspects of the business - and this email, sent by Musk to Tesla employees several years ago, shows how. In the email, published by Inc Magazine, the eccentric billionaire outlines his approach to communication inside the company.

2. This Navy SEAL Says Your Lack of Motivation Does Not Matter (but Th...
Maybe you haven't heard of Jocko Willink, but there is a good chance you wouldn't want to make enemies with him. Having spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy--with time spent commanding Task Unit Bruiser at SEAL Team 3--Willink intimidates not only with his extensive military career, but also physically. He is the recipient of the black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has been known to tap out 20 Navy SEALs per workout. On top of all that, Willink is also a business founder and bestselling author of the book, Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual.

3. Share Buybacks Are Corporate Suicide
At first glance, stock buybacks may seem a good way to enhance value for the shareholders. By reducing the number of shares outstanding, firms can hike up their earnings per share and inflate share price, to the benefit of hedge funds and other short-term investors. Other winners are top corporate managers who are allocated a large proportion of their pay through stock-based instruments and receive bonuses triggered by a rise in the share price. If things look solid, long-term investors may have no problem with this, but what if the money spent on buybacks is money that would otherwise be spent on new product development and innovation? Worse, what if that money is borrowed?

4. CFOs Should Help Lead Workforce Transformation
A host of trends are pressuring many organizations to rethink their workforce models — and not just function by function or business by business, but enterprise-wide. Such trends include competition for digital and analytical skills, millennials' expectations for progression and development, workforce trends such as the gig economy, and the adoption of robotic process automation (RPA) and other technologies.
A classic problem for HR to manage? Not entirely.

5. Stop Letting Email Control Your Work Day
One of the very first lectures I give each year to new MBA students is about time management. By the time they arrive in my classroom, they are two days into the fall term, and I can already see that some of them are barely keeping their heads above water. I see this lecture as both a reality check and a breath of fresh air. They will never get everything done, but they can get the important things done. Simply giving them permission to take control of their priorities — focusing on the "management" portion of time management — seems to lift some of the tension from the room.

6. How to make board meetings more efficient
Over the years, I have attended many board meetings both efficient and not so efficient. The principal reason for the differences in efficiency has been the actions of the board chair. For a board meeting to be effective, the chair needs to contribute to the meeting by challenging management and welcoming other directors to challenge both management and the board chair. The chair must not lose sight of the fact that he or she has the responsibility to guide the meetings as well as participate in them. And to be effective, the chair needs to ensure that all directors are prepared….

7. Are You Accurately Measuring Your Company's Digital Strength?
There are few business leaders around the world not thinking about digital transformation in some shape or form. Whether improving omni-channel commerce or developing digital extensions to product lines, businesses are working out how to drive profitability through digital. But traditional metrics might underestimate the impact of digital, leaving companies vulnerable to aggressive competitors or pure-play disruptors. Many managers are missing digital signals that could help them better compete....

8. For Apple TV, The Price Is The Problem
Apple is selling expensive streaming TV boxes in a market that overwhelmingly favors cheap ones. And there's no evidence next week's event will change that. To understand Apple TV's struggles, it's instructive to look at the Roku Express. Roku's humble $30 streaming TV device is mediocre at best. It stutters and lags while moving through menus and apps, its single-band wireless connection is a generation old, and its remote control uses clunky infrared technology. Given that Roku's Streaming Stick eliminates all those problems for just $20 more, it's hard to imagine many people buying the Express instead.

9. The Nine Major Ways of Doing Business in the World
A new measure for gauging and understanding the challenge of business abroad. There is a simple truth in international business: All else being equal, the more similar the host country abroad to the home country of a firm, the more likely is success. It is a lot easier, for instance, for a Spanish firm to do well in Portugal than in Switzerland. For firms and internationally active managers, this places a premium on knowing just how different markets abroad are. In addition, it is helpful to know what drives these differences so suitable adjustment strategies can be devised and implemented.

10. Top CEOs Get Brutally Honest About What It Takes to Run a Company
Inc. asked the nation's fastest growing, private-company CEOs to answer a series of wide-ranging questions about their early days and their biggest struggles. Here's how they launched and how they stay motivated, as well as what keeps them up at night. Sixty-nine percent said leading a company was what motivated them to be an entrepreneur. What worries Inc. 500 CEOs about starting companies? Most cited failure (nearly 50 percent), followed by concern for their workers' livelihoods.

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