Episode #165: Free-Rider Friday - October 2017

Ron’s Topics

Mind over matter,” The Economist, September 23, 2017

Can Entrepreneurship be taught? Researchers at the World Bank, National University of Singapore and Leuphana University in Germany conducted a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) for 2 ½ years from 2014 to find out.


They selected 1,500 businesspeople in Togo, West Africa. A typical firm had 3 employees and profits of $173/month. Interestingly, only 1/3 of them kept books.

Three groups of 500 were divided into:

  1. Control group, nothing done
  2. This group got conventional business education in accounting, financial management, marketing, HR, etc.
  3. This group got courses inspired by psychological research, such as setting goals, dealing with feedback, persistence in the face of setbacks, etc.

After 2.5 years, sales in the 3rd group were up 17% (and profits were up 30%) over the control group. Also, the 3rd group had more innovations.

There was no effect in the second group.

The Economist concludes that aspiring entrepreneurs should skip the business shelf and head over to the psychology section.

Pay-per-risk,” The Economist, September 23, 2017

174,000 commercial drones were sold around the world last year. 2.8 million consumer drones were sold.

Insurance4drones, a British specialist, offers a $1,000/year insurance policy on the DJI Phantom, the best-selling drone.

October Flock, a London start-up, insures flight-by-flight at £5/hour. It considers the topography, whether hospitals, schools, airports, nearby, traffic levels on roads, etc.

Verifly, a USA start-up offers insurance on drones as well.

Selling insurance on annual basis is too inflexible. Offering insurance on-demand, in real time can better forecast risk.

Dark Humor from the socialist hellhole of Venezuela,” Daniel J. Mitchell, FEE, September 26, 2017 and “The war on cuteness,” The Economist, September 23, 2017

In Venezuela, 11,000 babies died last year and infant mortality is up 30%. 11.4% of children under age 5 are suffering moderate to severe malnutrition. ¾ of adults have lost an average of 19 pounds on the “Maduro diet.”

The number of women working in brothels has doubled, and the ages have dropped to 12 and 13.

One joke circulating that you don’t need toilet paper if there ain’t no food.

Groceries have been rationed by day of the week, based on your social security number.

So the government has declared, “Let them eat rabbits.” The problem is, kids are treating them like pets, putting bows on them and even taking them to bed.

The Economist calls it a “hair-brained” scheme.

If it’s broken, you can’t fix it,” The Economist, September 30, 2017

If you can’t open it, you don’t own it. The battle cry of a movement that decries the fact that you can longer easily fix that which you own, such as an iPhone, or John Deere tractor.

About a dozen states are considering “right to repair” laws. These laws would require firms to provide consumers and independent repair shops with same documentation and parts available to authorized service providers.

Tesla, for example, forbids its owners from using the car to offer Uber, Lyft, for example. This is because Tesla wants to start its own ride-sharing service, Tesla Network. This prohibition has yet to be legally challenged.

Joe Biden is Right about Universal Basic Income,” Daniel J. Mitchell, FEE, September 25, 2017

See our show on the Universal Basic income (Episode #95).

The skeptics of UBI don’t believe meaning and purpose can come from a handout. Biden says it’s the job that is important, not just the income.

Ed's blog post arguing that Joe Biden was right on another topic. 

Ed’s Topics

FEE article “Schooling is for the industrial era” by Kerry McDonald

Pull quote: "Enclosing children in increasingly restrictive schooling environments for most of their formative years, and drilling them with a standardized, test-driven curriculum is woefully inadequate for the Imagination Age. In her book, Now You See It, Cathy Davidson says that 65 percent of children now entering elementary school will work at jobs in the future that have not yet been invented. She writes: 'In this time of massive change, we’re giving our kids the tests and lesson plans designed for their great-great-grandparents.'"

Huffington Post, Facebook is now the FEC

Pull quote: "Zuckerberg’s address to his nation, carried on Facebook Live, showed a corporate CEO announcing decisions that will govern an important aspect of public elections, including campaign finance, spending and election integrity issues. The new policies have been crafted by a private company with no public input and no democratic mechanism for discussion. Facebook has essentially taken on part of the role of the Federal Election Commission through self-regulation ― which worries some people."


This site tracks the number of times Bitcoin has been reported to be dead. Hat tip to listener Hector Garcia.

Daily Mail article, A fight broke out in empathy tent in Berkeley, CA


This week with Ed

  1. My wife and I, for our anniversary Monday, got Apple watches. Expect to hear more on this soon.
  2. I had the opportunity to Lunch with TSOE listener BJ from Germany who was visiting family here in north Texas.
  3. For birthday, did a Facebook fundraising goal of $500 for the Acton Institute, reaching already $250. Cool stuff!
  4. Began meditating, based on FEE article, “Why knowledge workers should meditate.” There’s an App called Headspace that helps you.

Shout out to Richard Thaler for winning the Nobel Prize in economics.


Ed Kless

Ed Kless joined Sage in July of 2003 and is currently the senior director of partner development and strategy. He develops and delivers curriculum for Sage business partners on the art and practice of small business consulting. Courses include: Sage Consulting Academy, Business Strategy and Customer Experience Workshops. Ed is the author of The Soul of Enterprise: Dialogues on Business in the Knowledge Economy, a compendium of a few of the episodes of his VoiceAmerica talk-show The Soul of Enterprise: Business in the Knowledge Economy with Ron Baker, founder of the VeraSage Institute where Ed is also a senior fellow.