The World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings are approaching and development finance conversations are buzzing in DC. In a CGDev Financing the future event Mark Suzman tells us that we are not good enough at telling the aid success story. It reminded me that when we brought Kevin Rudd to talk about the future of the UN 2 years ago, he also pointed to a similar PR failure. Suzman also flags the need to invest in (input, output and outcome) data that can speak about these success stories. Overall an interesting conversation on what the future mix of ODA, private contributions and domestic resources could look like. Another growing conversation, flagged a couple weeks ago, is on universal basic income (UBI) with an interesting perspective this week from Diane Coyle arguing for a shift from UBI, focusing on the individual, to universal basic services focusing on the collective. Finally, several of you pointed to the ongoing chicken vs cash conversation so I need to flag it here for the benefits of those who might have missed it.
This week, a friend mentioned that she wanted to buy Amy Cuddy’s Presence: bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges. Here is where I tell her to save her money. This book was recommended to me by the coach who led my last 360-degree feedback exercise. She was a good coach. But it is not worth buying the book. You’ll get the gist of Cuddy’s thesis in her Ted talk which you have probably seen already as it is the second most viewed (40 million viewers). Her core argument is that mindsets can be changed by adopting specific body behaviors. A few minutes of “power pose” before an interview can increase your (non-verbal) performance. The book expands on this by harvesting evidence from large bodies of research and by distilling the millions of testimonies she received following her TED talk. But, in my view, it does add any substantive meat to the bone. Some, including her research partner, have questioned the validity of the science behind Cuddy’s argument. What I would like to question personally is the underlying assumption of her work that associates performance with confidence, and leadership with success. This made me think of this recent piece by Susan Cain “Not leadership material? Good. The world needs followers”. But then I am not very clear about my position as I also want to appear confident and like to see my kids display confidence. And while I am in full disclosure mode, I admit to have done power poses before recent interviews.
My graph of the week is from EBRD’s Transition 2016-2017. It shows that people born at the time of the transition from a planned to a market economy are on average 1 cm shorter than those born earlier or later. This is comparable to impact observed for babies born or turning one in a war zone! The rest of the report is super interesting due to new data coming from the third round of wellbeing surveys conducted with 51,000 households in 39 post-communist countries and giving a picture of what type of adults those born in the transition years have become.
My quote this week is from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy report “Each year, USD 80-120 billion plastic packaging material value is lost to the economy. Given projected growth in production, in a business-as-usual scenario, by 2050 oceans could contain more plastics than fish.”