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Our Writing Process: Strategy meets Craftsmanship

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DS in the Real World

The following is known to be true in business: High Price, Low Volumes. High Volumes, Low Price. Or is it?

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In this article, I share with you my experience in building a dynamic pricing system for a long-distance train company, and how we increased the number of seats sold without changing our timetables, nor lowering our average price per seat, by applying very basic principles of microeconomics.

This implementation also applies to any business in which the service it sells shares some characteristics with train seats, that is to say:

  • The cost of selling one additional unit, or marginal cost, is close to zero.
  • If a unit available is not sold by the time the service is rendered, (e.g. A…


The economics of deposits, loans, and the money multiplier

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You may have heard a variation of this story before:

Alice, an author, deposits a $100 check she received as an advance for her next book in the bank. Brandon Baker takes that $100 out as a loan from the bank to buy flour for his bakery from Mary Miller. Mary takes the money, and pays Frank Farmer for what she owes him for the wheat. Frank then takes the hundred dollars, and pays Mike the mechanic for what he owes him for repairing his tractor. Then Mike takes the money, and pays $100 he owes Brandon for catering for…


Francisco Xavier de Balmis and his twenty-two orphans’ smallpox vaccine expedition

Image: Francisco Pérez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It is said that King Carlos IV of Spain may have made the decision to send Francisco Javier de Balmis on the Royal Philanthropic Vaccine Expedition of 1803 with his broken heart. Carlos’ beloved daughter Maria Teresa had died of smallpox, and the expedition was the first global immunization campaign waged by humanity.

Smallpox’s mortality rate of one-in-three among those infected made it a severely lethal ailment in Europe, but the pandemic was devastating in the Americas. The conquistadors had subjugated the natives with guns, steel, and germs to which they, in their isolation, had not developed genetic resistance. It…


How remote work drained me of energy and how I fixed it

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I’m an introvert, and verily so. A test puts me at three standard deviations above the average person in introversion. If accurate, that would mean that I am more introverted than 99.7% of all the people who took that test. So, it was with great relief that I received the news of COVID-induced, social-distancing rules coming into effect at work. I was already working from home one day a week. You know, to do all the serious work that required deep thinking that I could not get around to doing whilst subjected to the constant din of the office. That…


Things to bear in mind when balancing people, planet, and profit

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Humanity’s ability to model worldly phenomena in unprecedented: Grow the supply of money, and you spur economic growth, though at the risk of inflation. Get in line of sight of at least two GPS satellites, and you can accurately triangulate your location anywhere on Earth.

Here’s another one: Pump carbon dioxide and methane into the air, and the sunshine trapped under the atmospheric greenhouse thus created will raise global temperatures.

Ironically, despite all our modeling prowess, the path ahead in our next century will not be an easy one to chart. The very same advances in science, technology, and economics…


Be bad at many other things first

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The better I got at the viola, the worse I realized I was, says comedian John Oliver to Stephen Colbert in this interview. I know the feeling, brother. If life is a case study in ironies, then it is no surprise that comics are a well rich in pithy wisdom.

Acquiring knowledge is like blowing into a balloon. The more air you put in the inside, the more balloon surface you have coming in contact with its outside. Increased knowledge gives you a growing awareness of how much more knowledge you have yet to acquire. …


Lessons from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and WordPress’ Matt Mullenweg

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Jeff Bezos has added 70 billion dollars to his fortune since the start of the pandemic. While this is no doubt to no small degree thanks to the economics of the markets in which Amazon operates, it is also worthwhile to point out one aspect of the culture that Bezos has imparted to his management teams that make them particularly well adapted to virtual and remote work environments, and that is how he runs meetings.

Bezos’ rules for effective meetings

Bezos’ famous three rules for running effective meetings are:

  1. Two pizza teams
  2. No PowerPoint
  3. Start with silence

The two pizza rule is good for…


For better performance in the socially-distanced workplace

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After experiencing consecutive waves of adoption of remote working practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the organizations that she worked with, corporate coach Alyxandra Savage detected an undercurrent of stress and anxiety developing among many of their employees.

It is now becoming clear how we may have underestimated the crucial role that in-person social micro-interactions play in the workplace in providing the context and mooring that are vital for office workers’ psychological security the initial implementations of remote work

By depriving employees from the subtle but continuous feedback that they received from these micro-interactions, social isolation can fuel…


How to prime your mind and body to form a habit of high performance

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In the late 1990s, Alyxandra Savage was counseling heroin misuse clients when she discovered that as soon as they started applying the tourniquet and heating the spoon to dissolve the heroin powder to self-administer the drug, their bodies would already start to prime themselves to receive it, by altering their brain chemistry. She understood then that the ‘natural’ surge of neurochemicals triggered by the pre-injection ritual made it an integral part of a substance dependent client’s habit.

Armed with the skills she acquired helping her clients to kick their pernicious habits and rituals, and replacing them with new, healthful ones…

Etienne Yuan

Writer. Consultant. Innovation. Digital. Marketing. Data & Analytics. www.theninetynine.com | one@theninetynine.com | @etienneyuan

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