All posts filed under “Politics

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Thoughts on Obama and leadership

It was clear to me quite early on Election Night that Nate Silver’s reputation was well-deserved, and Barack Obama was going to be the next President of the United States. As blue states were called quickly for Obama and it took quite some time to call red states for McCain, the result was even more clear.

I’m incredibly happy and proud for the United States to have the new leadership that we will soon have. It’s going to be an incredibly challenging time, and the next four years will not be easy for Obama or the country. But I feel that we have a wise, capable and visionary leader.

But I wanted to take some time to reflect on some themes around Barack Obama and his campaign. Fred Wilson posted his list of what he believes the country can expect from an Obama administration:

  1. A world class management team
  2. Honesty
  3. A steady hand
  4. Diplomacy
  5. Fairness
  6. Leadership

There’s a reason that “A world class management team” is at the top of the list, and it’s closely tied to “Leadership.” It’s clear from articles like “Near-Flawless Run is Credited in Victory” that Obama built a solid team. Not only that, but he had the confidence to push out a tremendous amount of responsibility to his organization. From a military outlook, it was an excellent example of what is called “maneuver warfare.” But there’s a great example of his management and leadership styles colliding in this video of his talk to his Chicago campaign headquarters just after securing the Democratic nomination. I encourage you to take 10-15 minutes to observe what Barack Obama is like as a leader:

Obama is clearly a charismatic leader. Just take a look at this incredible collection of photographs from the Boston Globe. And because I think they’re both still so meaningful, check out his New Hampshire concession speech and the video that was made from it. Even in defeat he lifted people up and inspired them.

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that elections matter. I recently created a prediction market on Hubdub for something that I think will become very critical quite soon: Supreme Court nominations. I encourage you to register on Hubdub and predict for yourself!

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Things making me happy today…

These are the things that are making me happy today:

  • Top Gear! – Top Gear is back on television! One of the best shows on TV anywhere, it started its new season last night. Really funny, and just lots of fun to watch.

    This also allows me to bring up a HUGE pet peeve of mine with British TV. They do a HORRIBLE job of promoting new seasons of shows. With American TV, new shows debut around the same times of year (September, January, etc.) and the channels promote that the shows will be starting soon. On the BBC, I have NEVER heard that the new Top Gear season will be starting, even though I was checking their website every few weeks!

    For a show that makes a tremendous profit for the BBC, you’d think they would try to make sure that people are actually… you know… WATCHING IT?

  • Lewis Hamilton – Well done to Lewis Hamilton and the rest of the McLaren team. (Though I doubt he’s reading, congrats Oli!)

    If you don’t follow Formula 1 (far too many Americans, unfortunately), Lewis Hamilton just won the Drivers Championship yesterday in one of the most thrilling and nail-biting races I’ve ever seen or heard of! Coming into the last race (Brazilian Grand Prix), Lewis Hamilton was leading in number of points, but his only competition (Felippe Massa) has always dominated in Brazil, his home country. Even if Massa won, as long as Hamilton placed fifth or better he would become Formula 1 champion.

    The race was crazy. Rain at the start delayed the race and forced teams to upend their strategy as they changed tires to Wets. Hamilton stayed in fourth or fifth for the majority of the race and seemed to be playing it safe in order to win the championship. But on the final ten laps of the race, rain came out again, forcing teams to choose to either leave “slick” tires on and hope it didn’t rain hard or go into the pits and get their “wet” tires.

    On the second to last lap, Hamilton was in fifth place but passed! He drove like crazy trying to catch up, but didn’t, and the championship slipped out of his grasp… Massa crossed the finish line in first place. But out of nowhere, Lewis Hamilton passed the car that had been in third place! It hadn’t pitted to get new tires, and was slow on the wet track. Hamilton caught up and passed him just seconds before crossing the finish line… in fifth place!

    It was an amazing race. Lewis Hamilton became the youngest person to win the Formula 1 World Championship, and the first black man to win the Formula 1 World Championship. Britain hasn’t had a driver win the championship in twelve years, so the country is deservedly celebrating!

  • Barack Obama – Is Lewis Hamilton’s victory a portent of things to come in tomorrow’s election? I certainly hope so. According to fivethirtyeight.com, he’s heavily favored… winning >95% of the simulations.
  • Prototype – The prototype for my new venture is nearing completion. While it is FAR from perfect, I will be launching it within my MBA class here at Judge Business School soon to start getting feedback from real users. The U/I in particular is rather crude (my fault), but I’ve been talking to a really talented guy (a fellow Jesus College grad student) who’s going to be helping me out on the coding/design end of things.

    I do promise to write more about this soon, but that post will take longer to write than I have today!

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A touching story

The election is next week, and it’s clear from my previous posts that I’m an Obama supporter, and have been since he announced his candidacy in January 2007. (I’ve gotten a very good return on my investment in him at Betfair!)

For people that are interested in Obama, his grassroots/volunteer movement, or politics in general, I would encourage you to watch this short (2.5 minute) video. It’s a very touching story about an elderly volunteer in one of his Colorado offices.

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A few random notes

So there are a few things I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but haven’t gotten around to. I’m going to un-clog my mind and post a round-up of stuff here.

  • Stephen Hawking will be retiring from the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Apparently it’s traditional for the person in the post to retire at 67, which he’ll be next year. I didn’t realize he was so old! But he’s certainly still active at the University… a friend of mine has seen him a couple of mornings as he heads to work. For the history buffs out there, this is the same professorship that Isaac Newton held from 1669, as he did most of his pioneering work.
  • Speaking of Stephen Hawking, he dedicated a new clock at Corpus Christi College (the Chronophage, or the Corpus Clock) just a couple of days before I arrived at Cambridge. It’s really amazing; it’s a huge pendulum clock, has a big grasshopper at the top, and doesn’t have any hands. (It uses LED’s instead.)
    CorpusChristiClock.jpg

    Here’s a video:

    What’s perhaps most amazing is that virtually every time I walk or bicycle past it between 2 and 10 times a day people are standing by it, watching it, and taking photos. No matter the time of day or night! I think there’s only been four times in five weeks that I’ve gone by it without someone there! It’s really that captivating.

  • I recently saw an interesting article on Gordon Ramsey. Yes, he’s making tons of money from TV, books, restaurants, etc. But what’s most amazing to me is that he owns:

    1 – Three-star Michelin restaurant
    2 – Two-star Michelin restaurants
    2 – One-star Michelin restaurants

    For my birthday dinner a year ago, LondonAnnie and I went to Maze, his one-star restaurant on Grosvenor Square in London. It was absolutely amazing; the food was incredible, the service was brilliant and we had such a great time. The article mentioned this is his highest-earning restaurant, with revenue in excess of £10million a year!

  • This is a great quote from Evan Williams:

    Starting a company is like landing on the shore of a deserted island

    You have a certain amount of provisions, which you have to make last until you find a way to make the island sustain life—or convince someone to send you more.

    You don’t know how big the island is at first or what predators lie in wait.

    There’s always a chance someone else will raid your island if it looks fruitful, so you need to shore up your defenses.

    Eventually, if you’re successful, you’ll be king of your own prosperous world. If not, you’ll die—or, at least, have to go home.

    Either way, it’s a fun adventure (until you get eaten by a tiger).

  • I really feel for Barack Obama. Just as he’s about to achieve the triumph of a lifetime, his last family member is in her final days. I simply hope that his grandmother will live to see him elected.
  • If you’re fascinated by the current US election, and haven’t gone to fivethirtyeight.com, GO THERE RIGHT NOW. It’s a site run by a legendary baseball statistician, Nate Silver, who has turned his attention this year to the election. In the primaries he made some calls that were well outside the conventional mainstream (in particular Hillary barely winning Indiana and Obama winning North Carolina huge) that were spot on. As of right now, it looks like McCain has about a 5% chance of winning the Presidential election.