The Bets are ON…Women

Hey ya’ll! Just wanted to share a super-cool article from the Washington Post. A nutshell summary is below, but if you’d like to learn more, please click “here.”

Ellevate Network - a women’s professional group – has teamed up with the Pax World Management investment firm to create an index fund which primarily invests in companies with high ratios of women in senior management or the BOD. For some time now, research has suggested that companies with greater diversity at the top are less prone to market volatility and produce higher returns as compared to their “vanilla” counterparts. Ellevate network is committed to applying research to practice…and this new fund aims at doing just that.

Can anyone say girl power?

John Legend & The Key to Success


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{Left: The Legend himself; Top Right: Penn Grads; Bottom Right: Me and Ben Franklin, duh}

With a seat at the top of the music scene, nine Grammy Awards, and a chart topping single (All of Me), John Legend knows a thing or two about success. On a sunny Monday in Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love – Mr. Legend was tasked with delivering his secrets to success to a sea of eager grads at the commencement ceremony for the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater. (I was lucky enough to attend to support an old friend.)

Legend attributed his success to one thing. And no, it’s not his Ivy League education (except, how much more do you love him for it?!) It’s not hard work either. It’s not even that his wifey, Chrissy Teigen, was just on the cover of the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated (basically making the duo the less ostentatious version of KimYe).

It’s Love.

In a raw and inspiring monologue, Legend bestowed his thoughts on life and love to the hopeful grads who, like the rest of the audience, were dangling on his every word. His speech (which was just as smooth and suave as his music) went a little something like this:

“We’re taught when we’re young that the opposite of love is hate, but it’s not. Hate is a byproduct. Hate is a result. Being a hater isn’t cool. Nobody wants that. But hate comes from one thing: fear. Fear is the opposite of love…fear is what blinds us. Fear makes us hold back…it whispers to us and tells us that we’ll fail. Fear locks us in place. It starts fights, it causes wars…and fear keeps us from loving.”

“Even though we’re made to love, we’re often afraid to love. We’re afraid of being hurt…of feeling pain. But you’re never going to really love something or someone unless you put those fears aside. Dont hold back. Love causes you to open your eyes, to seek, to search, to wonder. Love is all-consuming. It infiltrates your body and allows you to experience bliss, joy and true friendship. You’ll be more disappointed when something goes wrong. You might fall harder. But the only way you’ll reach any height in life and in love is by taking that chance that you might fall.”

“So love yourself. Love your work. Love the people around you. Dare to love those who are different from you no matter where they’re from, what they look like, or who they love. Pursue this life of love with focus and passion, ambition and courage. Give it your all. The key to success, the key to happiness, is opening your mind and your heart to love.”

“Love changes the world.”

So go. Fall in love.

With work, with someone, with something. No matter who, no matter what, no matter where, no matter when. Just go and love. And maybe, just maybe, the world will love you back.

Birchbox & Benjis

It’s like Christmas, except that its once a month, every month, and it comes in a cardboard box. It’s Birchbox, of course, and for the last 3.5 years, it has made its way into about 800,000 homes, mine included. What is it you ask? It’s a monthly supply of sample size beauty products that runs for about 1/10th of a benji per box. (That’s $10 for all you of you old-schoolers out there. Duh!)

The Company was founded by beauty brazens and Harvard b-school grads, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna in 2010. With about $12 million in seed and Series A funding, the girls set out to establish one of the prettiest start-ups in New York. A few years later, Birchbox has once again sealed the deal for capital, this time ringing to the tune of about 600,000 benjis worth of Series B funding, which translates to approximately $60 Million. Sugar daddies Venture capitalists include Viking Global Investors among others. The Company plans to use the new capital for hiring, geographic expansion and marketing purposes, among other things, according to co-CEO, Beauchamp. Can anyone say girl power?

The Humble Investor: John Bogle

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Yesterday I had the great pleasure of meeting John Bogle. Also known as Jack. He’s been named one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine; he’s been regarded as one of the investment industry’s four “Giants of the 20th Century” by Fortune; he’s also one hell of a nice guy. Witty, too. Oh, and he also founded Vanguard.

Just in case you didn’t know, Vanguard is the largest mutual fund company in the world, managing approximately $2.4 trillion in assets.

The most striking thing about Mr. Bogle was his modesty. Going into the event, I was expecting someone along the likes of Carl Icahn or Donald Trump; dressed in a fine Italian suit, shrewd and slightly pompous. WRONG. He was more like Mr. Rogers. You know, the gentle old man from the kid show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood who always wore the cardigan and came in singing “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Mr. Bogle quietly entered the room wearing a forest green sweater, and a sand colored blazer. If he wasn’t formally introduced, I would’ve thought he was just someone’s grandpa. [Side note, he is someone’s grandpa, 12 times over in fact.] Anyway, Bogle was asked to speak to his career in front of a small gathering of students and faculty. His words were not so much career advice as they were life advice. Here goes:

Read: “Read, read, read and write, because writing makes you think. Or at least it makes me think”. [Note: Bogle’s book suggestion? The Bible.]

Be yourself: “If you can’t be yourself, fake it. Don’t fake it ‘till you make it, fake it until you become it.” Bogle borrowed these words by an alumni publication issued by his alma mater, Princeton University. One of the many that he reads.

Be a contrarian: “If one more person tells me it won’t work, I’m going to start it myself. So then I did. I started the index fund.” Did you catch that? Mr. Bogle started the world’s first ever index fund, and he did it against all odds.

Hire Nice People: Vanguard’s first ever Human Resource department was comprised of just one woman, a former secretary in the Company. When Mr. Bogle called her to his office to take on the role, the secretary gladly accepted. While leaving his office she said to him: “I’ll do whatever it is you want me to do Mr. Bogle, but what is it exactly that you want me to do?”. At first the man didn’t even know himself. But then it hit him, and he advised her to do just this: “Hire nice people, and tell them to hire nice people too”.

Walk the talk: When I asked Mr. Bogle how he established the culture at Vanguard, he said this: “You work at it. You walk the talk. People have called me many mean things in my life, but they’ve never called me a phony”.

Don’t watch the stupid market: “Bologna is the name of the business in which I find myself”. Wait, what? When someone asked one of the world’s most highly regarded financiers about investing he said “don’t watch the stupid market” and then he mentioned bologna? Yes. That’s right. He also said that the market was just a “giant distraction to investing” and “it creates no value; corporations create all the value”. You know what, Mr. Bogle is right. The market is solely a means of transacting…it’s a simple concept but yet we can’t seem to grasp it. Instead of trying to understand the true essence of corporations, modern day investors are more concerned with trying to attain some sort of clairvoyance in predicting what the market will do next. It’s a waste of time. If you want to start investing, Mr. Bogle suggests you buy into an index fund and let it ride.

Be a good person: ”Never think you are better than anyone…be kind. As you rise in your career, don’t forget to be nice!” Mr. Bogle himself admits that most executives at his level lose sight of what it means to be nice. It seems so simple, but it can take you so far. Mr. Bogle said that he often enjoyed talking to the people that came in at nights to clean as opposed to those that were in the suits.

Never settle: When a student asked Mr. Bogle when he finally realized the point at which he reached success he responded with this: “Not yet”. I have no words. Okay lies. I have one word, and its WOW.

Don’t forget about the rainbows: Mr. Bogle was fired from his first job and at the time, he had 6 kids. However, it was one of his greatest blessings, because it inspired him to start Vanguard. With that, Mr. Bogle noted that life’s most cataclysmic events can turn out to be the best ones. So why did I mention rainbows again? Oh, because they do in fact come after the rain.

The above are just a few of the snippets of advice I was able to garner from this financial sage. The man is truly brilliant, but he’s so much more. He’s modest, he’s humble, and he’s just really, really nice. At several points throughout his speech he downplayed his genius by insisting that anyone of us could’ve done his job and that he was just lucky. [Err..huh? Even me?] Then, at the end of his speech, he apologized for taking up so much of our time. Really? Here’s the guy that basically put the mutual fund on the map, and he’s apologizing for taking too much of my time? How’s that for thoughtful?

Mr. Bogle is a true inspiration, and the world is lucky to have a leader like him. His advice is sought after by presidents, economists, and investors all over the world, and I feel so lucky to have met him. He’s a rarity. Not because he’s a gazillionaire and insanely smart. Not even because he invented the index fund and founded Vanguard. But because he is probably one of the few people in the world that doesn’t think he’s better than anyone else. Now THAT my friend, is special.

Oh, and you want to know the best thing about good ol’ Jack? He’s from Jersey.