Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

DISRUPT.SYDNEY™ 2019 – Rethinking Success


Join us in Sydney on Friday September 20 for the 2019 DISRUPT.SYDNEY Conference, this year centred around “rethinking success.”

DISRUPT.SYDNEY offers new ways of thinking about business success, individual careers, and community needs.

Pushing beyond narrow economic notions of success, we ask anew:

What defines success? Who defines success? Who is success for?

At a business level, success goes to the heart of what business is about, who it’s for, why do it. How will business success be defined in a world increasingly concerned with societal inequality, environmental sustainability, technological disruption, the place of the individual within organisations, and changing notions of work.

At an individual level this means to ask questions such as: what defines my success? How do I know that I am on the right track? How to choose the right workplace? How does success align with my life’s purpose? How does success relate to happiness or satisfaction, to living a good life?

Ultimately asking questions about success is also asking questions about the future.

For more information and to register, visit

PS – ask us about our discount code to save on your ticket purchase! 

How women created some of the world’s biggest education tech companies


Anne says: Following on from last week’s Friday Fave regarding the future of work and the impact on women, I was encouraged and inspired by this article. Given the right environment and opportunities, women can contribute groundbreaking technological solutions. And… they’re all former teachers. Women who have been unable to advance in the male-dominated leadership of education, they’ve reskilled, seen the gap in the market and created some of the highest profile education sites.

Did you know:

  • Daphne Koller, a Stanford University professor and creator of online learning platform, Coursera in 2012 with friend and fellow educator, Andrew Ng. Coursera has more than 40 million registered learners and is valued at more than US$1 billion. (I’ve completed a number of Coursera programs myself – they vary in quality and depth of topic – but it provides access to content and experts I wouldn’t otherwise have access to).
    Update: Daphne Koller sold her share of Coursera to work with Alphabet as Chief Computing Officer and is currently with new start-up Calico, a machine learning company.
  • Lynda was founded by Lynda Weinman, and sold to LinkedIn for $1.5bn
    Here’s more about Lynda’s story and why she sold to LinkedIn.

There are several other impressive examples. One of the questions asked by the article is why are women successful in this particular sector? A number of answers consider that women are more highly represented in education contexts, and the sector is very collaborative and supportive (something I’ve experienced myself and participate in). 

These opportunities are all grounded in dissatisfaction of a system and sets out to create solutions. If we layer these examples over last week’s report, there are some particularly relevant ways that women could be reskilled to enable their ability to identify, design and implement solutions to community problems. 


Watch: Daphne Koller’s TEDTalk from 2012 where she talks about the founding of Coursera.

Robotic tail built by Japanese researchers in bid to keep ageing population mobile


Joel says: Just a few months back I wrote a couple of pieces for the Friday Fave’s about evolution, one here about a species of birds undergoing iterative evolution and re-evolving to meet the needs of their environment and another here about humans apparently evolving to form horns due to our bad technology habits. But as the piece about the birds showed, sometimes it’s worth looking back on an evolutionary chain to analyse why a creature evolved and what may have been lost/gained in doing so. 

In this piece I found over on the ABC, the creature being looked at is us, mankind. Millions of years ago humans evolved and we lost our tails. Much like the Cheetah or the Kangaroo, it’s believed our tails were used as a balancing mechanism that we must have evolved to the point of not needing anymore after making the transition to walking upright.  

But now, a team at Japan’s Keio University is in the process of developing robotic tails that they hope can help elderly people keep their balance. The tail is a 1 metre long wearable device that aims to replicate how a tail would work for a cheetah.

“The tail keeps balance like a pendulum. When a human tilts their body one way, the tail moves in the opposite direction.” says graduate student Junichi Nabeshima.

While the project is still only for use within their testing lab, the team is already thinking of further applications for their technology such as assisting warehouse workers by providing additional balance when lifting heavy items. I found this piece really interesting not only because it’s a cool looking piece of wearable robotic tech but because it shows that taking a look back can sometimes be the key to moving forward. What else that we evolved to seemingly not need will come back next?


A Mexican Hospital, an American Surgeon, and a $5,000 Cheque! 


Helen says: Last month the burgeoning medical tourism industry caught my interest although, I couldn’t see myself signing up for a knee replacement holiday anytime soon. However, this week I came across a story on a not-for-profit business that is also getting in on the act. NASH (North American Specialty Hospital) is working with Galenia Hospital in Cancun, Mexico, to offer cost-effective treatments in Cancun, performed by American doctors. The program professes to exceed the hospital standards set for the US by The Joint Commission and NASH also covers additional malpractice insurance for their doctors. What’s appealing about this scheme is the focus on reducing risk and uncertainty in what has been a risky leap of faith for people considering surgery abroad. 

It’s hard to fathom just how expensive medical treatment is in the US compared to its neighbour just over the border – significant is an understatement. These exorbitant costs give rise to alternatives like NASH and their model seems to have many winners.  A self-insured employer, Ashley Furniture Industries, claims to have saved in excess of $3M in health costs over the past 2.5 years by having employees take up this service. Their employee receives quality treatment with no out of pocket expenses (medical or travel) and receives an incentive payment of $5K from their employer. The doctors are also paid well – up to three times what they would earn in the US. With such notable savings and earnings to be made, is it possible the NASH model could really take off and if it did, how might it disrupt the current state of play in the US?


The Amazing Psychology of Japanese Train Stations


Jakkii says: Recently I wrote about how the sounds of buildings can affect our mood, and how we could use this knowledge to more thoughtfully design the ‘sound’ of our workplaces. I found that really interesting, so you can probably imagine that the title of this piece piqued my interest immediately. 

Have you ever been to Japan? One of the most wonderful things about a visit to Japan is the Japanese culture, broadly speaking. Another is the specific culture of orderliness, which even in a city as large as Tokyo is still clearly seen and felt. Aside from experiencing the legendary Japanese timeliness and efficiency of public transport, one of the most striking things was how people are so accustomed to other people, to ebbing and flowing with them as the subway moves through stations and people board and deboard, and to queuing and waiting and following directions. It stands in stark contrast to my experiences with people and trains in Sydney!

What I hadn’t appreciated before reading this article, however, was the by design nature of much of the psychology behind the function, setup and running of Japanese train stations. On reflection, it probably should have been apparent to me, but I suppose I just hadn’t stopped to give it much thought. The article touches on several aspects:

  • Nudge theory
  • Mood lighting
  • Music
  • “Youth-be-gone”
  • Pointing

I found it a fascinating read, and I hope you will as well. What’s most intriguing, though, is this in the conclusion:

Like so many aspects of Japanese transit culture, shisa kanko has proved resistant to export (though pointing-and-calling has been adopted in modified form by New York City’s transit authority). In this, as in so many things, Japan’s rail system stands largely alone.

It’s true, Japanese cultural norms not only remain uniquely Japanese, but uniquely resistant – somehow – to being picked up and implanted into other societies where they may just prove super useful. It’s a curious thing, but perhaps that’s part of why so many Westerners have such a love affair with Japan – the culture that resists us.


This Week in Social Media

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

Extremism and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, advertising and PR


Facebook’s Libra and Calibra

In Conversation: Joseph Stiglitz on the age of inequality

Nobel Prize winner and renowned economist, Professor Joseph Stiglitz, says our rising level of inequality is not the unfortunate by-product of economic development but is the result of deliberate policy choices. Who is making those choices?

Dr Sandra Peter and Professor Marc Stears discuss Professor Stiglitz’ challenging ideas.

The Future of Power series is a collaboration between the Sydney Policy Laband Sydney Business Insights.


Joseph Stiglitz’ profile – Columbia University

Warren Buffet on tax cuts

Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Paul Samuelson’s 1948 paper on International Trade and the Equalisation of Factor Prices

Paul Samuelson and Wolfgang Stolper’s 1941 paper on Protection and Real Wages

An overview on Social Contract Theory

Joseph Stiglitz’ Sydney Peace Prize 2018

Joseph Stiglitz’ latest books:

Joseph Stiglitz’ 2001 Nobel Prize for analyses of markets with asymmetric information

Joseph Stiglitz’ TedX talk on The Cost of Inequality

Around the World with Joseph Stiglitz, starting with a tour of Stiglitz’s hometown of Gary, Indiana, led by its most famous native son

Other links

Professor Marc Stears

Sydney Policy Lab

Marc Stears’ article on inequality and politics


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