With Jason Miklian, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oslo

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What next for businesses? Image from: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/675625

Min Aung Hlaing’s military takeover in Myanmar on Monday exposed long-simmering tensions oozing underneath the country’s celebrated, if flawed, decade-long democratic experiment. The coup d’etat proved for good that the international community’s unprecedented effort to democratize Myanmar by opening the economy through vast sums of foreign investment to backstop political participation has failed.

Hundreds of multinational companies that invested heavily in Myanmar, including apparel firms like Samsonite, Adidas, and H&M, technology firms like Twitter, Microsoft and Facebook, and consumer goods firms like Coca-Cola, Johnson and Johnson and Unilever, are…


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Photo by Martin Katler on Unsplash

Note: I previously wrote about why Tesla isn’t sustainable. This isn’t so much a follow-up or update as it is a follow-on piece. But I’ve structured this piece in such a way that you can read them in any order you like and they will still make sense.

Tesla is an easy target in the sustainability space because they have crafted an image dependent upon a message that doesn’t match with how they operate or the realities of their market.

Many replies to my original piece (reflecting the image of Tesla and EVs) went something like this:

“Sure, Tesla might…


Here’s what to do instead

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“Pursue your passion” is a modern, career advice mantra. From (person) to (person), the career advice that best exemplifies our modern culture is “pursue your passion”.

This advice is dumb and immoral.

“Pursue your passion” is dumb and immoral because of its natural consequences and some massive flaws in its assumptions.

There are, in general, two consequences that naturally follow from “pursue your passion”.

“Pursue your passion” is really the beginning of an if-then argument. If you pursue your passion, then you will be successful/happy/ultimately fulfilled. Most of the “pursue your passion” proponents are really talking about economic success not…


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Lawyers are annoying. I would know: I’m one of them. We are so annoying in fact that they are the subject of endless jokes, some of which are quite funny.

But lawyers will not be replaced by blockchain technologies. Neither will accountants, bankers, or any other job role.

Rather these job roles will be “disrupted” meaning that their current essential roles will change. An example might help…

From computers to computers

Until the 1950s, “computers” were largely assumed to be humans. That’s right: humans who computed data.

Starting from advances made during World War II, machine technology became increasingly sophisticated so that these roles…


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Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Note from John: I’ve been on a break from writing on Medium for a bit, but here’s some thing short that I put together this afternoon. Enjoy!

It used to be that if you produce oil, you competed against other oil companies. If you make movies, you compete against other movie producers. If you make phones, you compete against other phone users.

This alignment bent quite a bit after World War II as companies began to diversify, especially into related fields. It snapped back to attention with the Internet era as smaller players could reach larger consumer segments and thus…


I usually make my annual predictions privately, among friends. I have a pretty good track record and so I’m staking my claim now. There are three general areas that I like to make predictions in — economics, politics, and sports.

Keep in mind: this is all for fun, though not necessarily in jest. In other words, I really think these things are more likely than not to happen, but I’m prepared to be very wrong.

Politics

The war in Syria will reach its conclusion, while Turkey will ramp violence against the Kurds.

In Syria, the forces of Assad are just about in control of all the territory they lost. The major exception are areas in the north…


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Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Exam time always brings out a great deal of stress in my students. This is especially true of my undergraduate students.

The list of stressors around exams are numerous: parental pressure, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of missing your alarm and being late to the exam (okay, maybe that’s just my recurring nightmare)…you get the point.

All relate to one essential lie: that student grades on said exams carry weight. A great deal of weight.

But before we get to why it’s a lie, let’s define what an exam is.

An exam is a measure of your…


Note: I was invited to speak at the UN Business and Human Rights Forum in November 2018 in Geneva at the Palais des Nations. What follows are my (edited) remarks for those who couldn’t make it and for those who attended but want the links to some of the data I cite.

I’ve been asked to speak on reconstruction efforts in post-conflict zones by business and what sorts of gaps currently exist.

What do conflicts and post-conflict zones look like from the perspective of business?

1.4 billion people are affected by violent conflict each year. Roughly 600 million of them are under the age of 20 and more than 350 million of them…


And what they should aim for instead

“Peace” is a utopian state that is basically impossible to achieve.

Countries and communities often talk about “peace” as their stated goal, even when they are not “at war” which we often think of as the opposite of “peace”.

And you can understand why: “peace” is such a great word. It means basically whatever you want it to mean and has whatever meaning your audience wants to hear. “Peace” has become a great brand and a marketing tool for selling just about anything because of this difference in perceived meaning.

“War” and “Peace”

At a minimum, “peace” means a lack of violence. This…


Most people have this misconception built on years of media and news stories that companies like war. The story goes something like this:

Premise 1 — Companies’s natural greedy, capitalist instincts are constrained in peaceful environments by silly things like laws and taxes.

Premise 2 — Companies much prefer settings where they get to hire their own security and create their own rules of operations, depending on no governments and ignoring “local communities”.

Conclusion — Companies love conflict zones, where they can, by this logic, make so much more money than if they had to deal with pesky governments and…

John Katsos

Business Prof, Conflict & Sustainability Researcher, Lawyer, Runner. American, Greek, NY Rangers fan. Opinions my own. http://john-e-katsos.strikingly.com/

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