Your Next Big Move Should Scare You | Kanebridge News
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Your Next Big Move Should Scare You

Your gut says no. Here’s why you shouldn’t always listen to it.

Tue, May 23, 2023 8:36amGrey Clock 4 min

Melissa Ben-Ishay was scared when she walked into the first commercial kitchen for baking her cupcakes. She was scared when a publisher proposed she write a cookbook. And she was terrified when the board of Baked by Melissa, the company that bears her name but had long been run by more-experienced executives, offered her the CEO role in 2019.

“It was nauseating and emotional, like in my throat,” she says. She put the “Rocky” theme on her headphones. She considered her blind spots, like her lack of finance knowledge. But she didn’t say no.

“That’s just not an option,” she says. “You have to do the things that are scary.”

Big moments and decisions in our lives can make our stomachs drop. Moving somewhere new, getting married, starting a family—if we’re sizing them up realistically, maybe we should be nervous. (Newborns are exhausting; being a manager is hard.) More than half of workers in a recent poll ranked starting a new job as scarier than skydiving or holding a snake.

Just trust your gut, everyone implores when you’re staring down a new opportunity. It takes effort to distinguish between normal jitters and the kind of fear that’s a real warning sign, though. And it’s more work still to convince yourself to just do it, even if you’re doing it scared.

First, take a breath, advises Luana Marques, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of a coming book about harnessing anxiety. Calm your nerves by meditating, taking a walk or talking to a friend. Then, with clearer eyes, ask yourself: If I said yes, would taking on the discomfort of a new thing get me closer to where I want to be in my career or relationships?

Often, the fear cloaking our big decisions is “an anxiety toward your dream life,” Marques says.

The tough parts

For years, when Jessica Lapp thought about having a baby, she mostly felt freaked out. The wedding photographer, now 29 years old, would scroll through motherhood accounts on Instagram, where new moms lamented having no time to sleep, exercise or shower.

“Why would you sign up for this?” she recalls thinking.

Still, she could envision having a family with her husband. She began to poke at her fear. Was she focusing on the short-term trials of having a baby and losing sight of the long-term joys of having a child?

Fear can even be helpful, she realised, steeling oneself for the tough parts: the colicky baby, the loneliness of those early months.

“It’s the best decision I ever made,” she told me from her home near Charlottesville, Va., while her 1-year-old, Evelyn, napped.

It’s human to overcomplicate the moments that matter, and that’s OK, says Oded Netzer, a Columbia Business School professor who studies the use of data in decision-making. Research from Netzer and co-authors finds that, when faced with a clear but important choice, we start weighing factors that don’t really matter to us, such as the layout of a potential new office or lunch options at the school your kid would attend if you moved. Doing that makes the decision harder for ourselves, but it matches the gravity of the situation.

Spiralling into our fear, he says, ultimately makes us more confident in our call because we’ve done our due diligence instead of blindly trusting our intuition.

Comfortable, miserable

Not choosing is making a choice, too. Many clients who come to Tega Edwin, a St. Louis-based career counsellor, have stayed in bad jobs for years, terrified they’ll fail or be equally miserable elsewhere. And sure, they might.

Avoiding the unknown, Edwin tells them, guarantees a bad outcome: the job you already know you hate.

“I’m going to be in the exact same circumstance and nothing would change,” Danny Thompson, a software engineer in the Dallas area, says he figured when sizing up whether to try martial arts classes.

After gaining pandemic pounds, he was nervous to don the tight shirts required for jiu jitsu, afraid to be out of breath. Yet he knew there was no way his health would improve if he didn’t go.

“Fifteen seconds in, I was exhausted,” he said of the first lesson. Slowly, he got better. He participated in his first competition this winter, still scared, and placed second in his weight class.

Danger ahead

Sometimes you shouldn’t trudge ahead. Anne Mamaghani, a user-experience consultant in San Jose, Calif., felt torn when a recruiter presented a job opportunity that would have brought her near family in Indiana, exposed her to a new industry and boosted her title. The thought of wresting her two children, ages 10 and 13, from their school and community felt awful, though.

The stakes seemed too high to simply forge on, as she’d done in other situations. After all, it was her family members who would pay the price for a wrong call. After a couple of weeks of considering, she told the recruiter no thanks.

Learning to navigate change can be like building a muscle. When Mark Smith moved to Toronto from Salt Lake City a few years ago with his family, panic hit him on the first day of his new job.

“I just started thinking, what have I done?” he says. It took anti anxiety medication, a visit from friends and several months before he felt confident in his new life. That time abroad did bring him closer to his wife and son, he says, and proved his own resilience.

Smith jumped at the chance when the family had an opportunity to move to Italy last year. This time, he says he felt no fear at all.

“A good life,” he says, “requires a few risks.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West

Competitive pressure and creativity have made Chinese-designed and -built electric cars formidable competitors

Thu, Jun 8, 2023 4 min

China rocked the auto world twice this year. First, its electric vehicles stunned Western rivals at the Shanghai auto show with their quality, features and price. Then came reports that in the first quarter of 2023 it dethroned Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter.

How is China in contention to lead the world’s most lucrative and prestigious consumer goods market, one long dominated by American, European, Japanese and South Korean nameplates? The answer is a unique combination of industrial policy, protectionism and homegrown competitive dynamism. Western policy makers and business leaders are better prepared for the first two than the third.

Start with industrial policy—the use of government resources to help favoured sectors. China has practiced industrial policy for decades. While it’s finding increased favour even in the U.S., the concept remains controversial. Governments have a poor record of identifying winning technologies and often end up subsidising inferior and wasteful capacity, including in China.

But in the case of EVs, Chinese industrial policy had a couple of things going for it. First, governments around the world saw climate change as an enduring threat that would require decade-long interventions to transition away from fossil fuels. China bet correctly that in transportation, the transition would favour electric vehicles.

In 2009, China started handing out generous subsidies to buyers of EVs. Public procurement of taxis and buses was targeted to electric vehicles, rechargers were subsidised, and provincial governments stumped up capital for lithium mining and refining for EV batteries. In 2020 NIO, at the time an aspiring challenger to Tesla, avoided bankruptcy thanks to a government-led bailout.

While industrial policy guaranteed a demand for EVs, protectionism ensured those EVs would be made in China, by Chinese companies. To qualify for subsidies, cars had to be domestically made, although foreign brands did qualify. They also had to have batteries made by Chinese companies, giving Chinese national champions like Contemporary Amperex Technology and BYD an advantage over then-market leaders from Japan and South Korea.

To sell in China, foreign automakers had to abide by conditions intended to upgrade the local industry’s skills. State-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group developed the manufacturing know-how necessary to become a player in EVs thanks to joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, said Gregor Sebastian, an analyst at Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Despite all that government support, sales of EVs remained weak until 2019, when China let Tesla open a wholly owned factory in Shanghai. “It took this catalyst…to boost interest and increase the level of competitiveness of the local Chinese makers,” said Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a research service specialising in the Chinese auto industry.

Back in 2011 Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, explained what set Chinese capitalism apart from its American counterpart. “In America, when you bring an idea to market you usually have several months before competition pops up, allowing you to capture significant market share,” he said, according to Fast Company, a technology magazine. “In China, you can have hundreds of competitors within the first hours of going live. Ideas are not important in China—execution is.”

Thanks to that competition and focus on execution, the EV industry went from a niche industrial-policy project to a sprawling ecosystem of predominantly private companies. Much of this happened below the Western radar while China was cut off from the world because of Covid-19 restrictions.

When Western auto executives flew in for April’s Shanghai auto show, “they saw a sea of green plates, a sea of Chinese brands,” said Le, referring to the green license plates assigned to clean-energy vehicles in China. “They hear the sounds of the door closing, sit inside and look at the quality of the materials, the fabric or the plastic on the console, that’s the other holy s— moment—they’ve caught up to us.”

Manufacturers of gasoline cars are product-oriented, whereas EV manufacturers, like tech companies, are user-oriented, Le said. Chinese EVs feature at least two, often three, display screens, one suitable for watching movies from the back seat, multiple lidars (laser-based sensors) for driver assistance, and even a microphone for karaoke (quickly copied by Tesla). Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers such as CATL have gone from laggard to leader.

Chinese dominance of EVs isn’t preordained. The low barriers to entry exploited by Chinese brands also open the door to future non-Chinese competitors. Nor does China’s success in EVs necessarily translate to other sectors where industrial policy matters less and creativity, privacy and deeply woven technological capability—such as software, cloud computing and semiconductors—matter more.

Still, the threat to Western auto market share posed by Chinese EVs is one for which Western policy makers have no obvious answer. “You can shut off your own market and to a certain extent that will shield production for your domestic needs,” said Sebastian. “The question really is, what are you going to do for the global south, countries that are still very happily trading with China?”

Western companies themselves are likely to respond by deepening their presence in China—not to sell cars, but for proximity to the most sophisticated customers and suppliers. Jörg Wuttke, the past president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, calls China a “fitness centre.” Even as conditions there become steadily more difficult, Western multinationals “have to be there. It keeps you fit.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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