Randall Bolten Blog

September 30, 2016
If there’s anything more appalling than Wells Fargo creating about 2 million unauthorized retail banking accounts over a five-year period, it’s their cowardly – and self-destructive – announcement that they will eliminate all sales quotas for such products. There are lots of reasons for the fiasco, but having a comp plan tied to account creation not only isn’t one of them, it gives a highly effective management and incentive idea a bad name.



July 13, 2016
We all know that bad hires are expensive. In fact, that’s become a cliché, and clichés don’t motivate or impress. So in this blog, we look at what a bad hire really costs, in actual dollars. Read on – you might be surprised.



June 13, 2016
God bless Matt Bud, The Financial Executives Networking Group’s Chairman! His post, lamenting spelling errors and silly grammatical mistakes, is spot-on. And what he has to say applies as much to NUMBERS as it does to words.



June 06, 2016
A fascinating article on L.A. Dodgers pitching ace Clayton Kershaw’s pursuit of an obscure but astonishing baseball record, illustrates just how powerful ratios – or key indicators, KIs, KPIs, or whatever else you want to call these metrics – can be in sports, business, personal finance, and many other walks of life. It also shows how such metrics should NOT be used.



May 28, 2016
For a course I teach at U.C. Berkeley about presenting numbers, I ask students to write a blog for this website. I don’t always get one I choose to post, but this term Lyman Yip’s paper, “How Do Vegetarians Get Their Protein?”, was definitely worthy. Lyman presents his numbers clearly, carefully, and effectively, the text is well-written, and the words in the text and the numbers in the exhibits work well together. Enjoy!



April 10, 2016
With one game left in the Golden State Warriors’ NBA regular season, their MVP Steph Curry has a chance to score an astonishing 400 three-point field goals this season. This remarkable accomplishment underscores why business metrics, and especially ratios, are such a powerful tool for understanding business trends and achievements. Here’s why:



March 06, 2016
To a successful businessman, words must mean what they mean, especially when they are describing complex financial and numerical matters. That’s why Mr. Trump’s endlessly-repeated assertion, “… and Mexico will pay for the wall,” deserves examination.



February 05, 2016
This second post in a short series on TV news innumeracy looks at an even more ludicrous example – the notion of “bellwether” counties. The pundits seem to have an obsession with counties – or towns, or even precincts – that have voted for the winning side in several consecutive elections, as if that information actually meant anything. Well, it doesn’t, and the reason it doesn’t has implications for financial analysis.



February 02, 2016
In last night’s TV coverage of the Iowa caucuses, two words kept coming up – “winner” and “bellwether” – showing that when it comes to the real meanings of numbers as well as words, even the "experts" don’t get it.



January 18, 2016
At a dinner party last night, one of the guests posed a question: Imagine a roomful of people chosen at random. How many people need to be in the room for there to be at least a 50% probability that at least two of the people have the same birthday? The answer to this puzzle tells us a lot about how we process risk & uncertainty, and how we should think when we build financial models.


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