Malcolm Gladwell: My Little Hundred Million

Soccer is a game where it matters how good your weakest player is: weak-link

Basketball is the opposite: a superstar can drive the team: strong-link


We would do better by upgrading our weak airports than adding onto our biggest (Denver)

Britain had an advantage in the industrial revolution because it had the most craftsman.

A weak link strategy is not going to be a glamorous one.

Amex, Challenged by Chase, Is Losing the Snob War

“I don’t think it would be American Express,” one diner said. “I feel like that would be braggy, like I’m trying to prove I’m a big shot.”

.. “An Amex says you’re rich, but this says you’re interesting.”

.. Chase was succeeding by, essentially, copying the American Express playbook and chasing the same up-and-coming elites who had traditionally joined Amex’s ranks.

.. Could it be that American Express, the card that had defined ostentatious luxury and capitalist striving since the 1980s, was on the brink of becoming passé? What kinds of hoops would Amex need to jump through to attract these new hoodie-wearing moguls and young tycoons?

Was it possible .. millennials would never be convinced that income inequality was something they should aspire to?

.. For more than 30 years American Express has reaped enormous profits by telling its customers that they are successful, elite, the cream of the moneyed crop

.. people paid American Express up to $7,500 for the privilege of carrying cards that are very similar to the ones Visa and MasterCard give away free.

.. Last year, for instance, the number of American Express cards in use declined by almost 18 percent

the company’s relationships with Costco and JetBlue ..  summarily ended when those firms found alternative credit card partners.

.. Chase and Citibank, have started beating Amex at its own game, often by hiring the same executives who built Amex.

.. “They can book travel for you, they have concierges to recommend the best restaurants. If you leave your reading glasses inside a hotel room in Budapest, Amex will get them mailed back to you. No one else does that.”

.. Millennials, however, don’t really need travel agents or concierges: They have Priceline and Yelp.

.. American Express, for decades, has essentially sold snob appeal

The Chase Sapphire Reserve .. is all about emphasizing what cardholders can do, rather than what they can buy.

.. This is a card for accumulating experiences.”

.. now gives cardholders an annual $200 credit with Uber.

.. more than a third of its new cardholders last year were millennials

.. many people who work at American Express aren’t all that millennially minded themselves. If you visit Amex’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan, you’ll find squared-jawed men in bespoke suits and fashion model-glamorous women, but not a lot of young people in the uppermost ranks.