These 5 “productive” habits are doing your brain more harm than good – Tara Swart

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Tara Swart

From Fast Company

It’s probably no surprise to you that exercise, nutrition, and caffeine can have a significant impact on your brain health. You’ve probably read many articles giving you advice on how they can help your mind. You might even have adopted a habit or two.

But while certain practices seem productive in theory, they’re more likely to hamper your brain function rather than boost it. Here are 5 of those common habits, and what you can do instead:

URBAN JOGGING OR CITY CYCLING

Whenever I see joggers on city pavements, I want to stop them and tell them to stay away from the roadside and head to the gym. This is because although cardiovascular exercise is a great way to boost alertness, mood, and learning, inhaling polluted air means you may cancel out much of the benefit. Particulate matter from car exhaust is terrible for the brain–it can lead to neuroinflammation and cognitive decline.

When you inhale polluted air, it reduces levels of BDNF in the brain. BDNF is a protein that enhances brain plasticity–which improves cognition and memory performance. One study looked at BDNF levels among cyclists who rode in heavy traffic and found that the exercise led to no increase in BDNF at all.

The best alternative for urban dwellers is to head to an indoor gym–but if you don’t want to give up your outdoor run, download an air-quality app and check your route before a ride or a run. There are lots to choose from, including Air Matters, Air Visual App, and Breezometer. You can also just avoid major roads altogether, and jog on woodland trails or in park interiors instead, away from traffic and fumes.

Read More »

Learning can lead to more constructive competition: MIT seeks to enhance relationships with Chinese business school faculty – Alan White

IFF Conference Dean’s Panel, Left to Right: He Gao, Deputy Dean, Yunnan; Guoqing Chen, EMC Chair Professor and Former Executive Associate Dean, Tsinghua; Jun Lu, Dean, Lingnan; Jacob Cohen, Senior Associate Dean, MIT Sloan; Xiongwen Lu, Dean, Fudan; Stuart Krusell, Senior Director, MIT Sloan Global Programs.

Groundbreaking Conference Recently Held in Beijing

As new tariffs take hold and a cooling breeze settles over U.S.-China relations, MIT is seeking to build a better and stronger relationship with their counterparts at Chinese business schools by growing our unique and innovative program, the MIT/China Management Education Program—part of the International Fellows Faculty.

On November 12, 2018, Tsinghua University hosted the International Faculty Fellows (IFF) Conference in Beijing for the first time in the program’s history. The conference brought fellows from Global Programs’ partner schools together with industry leaders, alumni, and faculty to discuss the future of Chinese management education, as well as, the latest trends in curriculum development, publishing, and research.

MIT/Sloan did not create this program as a “teach the teachers” program, but a guiding principle of the IFF Program is that the Chinese Faculty would come to MIT as colleagues; they would learn from us, and we would learn from them.

Through the IFF Program, more than 400 faculty from around the world have spent a semester at MIT Sloan.   “In this collaboration, we felt that it was important to share knowledge,” said former Dean Lester Thurow who was an early proponent of the program.  “We never said this is what you should do.   We’ve always said, this is how we do it here at MIT, take that knowledge and apply it in your own way to your own challenges.   And China has done just that.”

Read More »

Why institutional investors are entering the digital asset space – Edward Woodford

MIT Sloan Master of Finance Alumnus Edward Woodford

Digital assets have garnered increasing interest from institutional investors, despite questions remaining around the regulation, security, and reliability of trading venues. Today, the largest trading venues – typically referred to as “crypto exchanges” – serve individual investors and traders, are limited to spot trading, and are often unregulated or based in foreign jurisdictions. What’s more, they often lack the technological infrastructure and depth of liquidity to execute larger orders that institutions require.

As a result, many of these institutional investors – typically those managing large amounts of money – bypass exchanges and turn to the opaque world of over-the-counter (OTC) trading, buying and selling large amounts of cryptocurrency directly with a specific counterparty. Deals are done in the dark, primarily through messaging platforms like Telegram and Skype. We estimate that the OTC market is currently around three times greater than the on-exchange volume.

However, the OTC trading has some considerable downsides compared to on-exchange trading. Participants can see a publicly disclosed order book on exchange, which does not exist OTC. With an order book, there is more transparent pricing, which allows for the best executable price within the market. In addition, contrary to an exchange where the identity of your counterparties is hidden, with OTC, an investor’s intention – to buy or sell – is revealed and thus can cause slippage in price or leakage in terms of your trading intentions.

The fact is that the lack of an acceptable institution-ready exchange is the one of the single largest barriers to crypto asset class growth, as every meaningful financial market is built on a foundation of institutional involvement.

What does the digital asset space look like today?

Today, digital asset trading is dominated by institutions, principally OTC. The type of institutions involved is changing. The early players were proprietary trading firms and family offices, who have the most latitude in their investment mandates. Digital asset hedge funds were also established with specific mandates to trade digital assets. Now, more established funds are entering the space, along with asset managers who’ve had to gain additional comfort.

Read More »

Tips for female MBA graduates seeking mentors – Maura Herson

Maura Herson, Assistant Dean of the MBA Program at MIT Sloan

From Financial Times

The benefits of providing women with mentors are clear. A 2016 study by Frank Dobbin of Harvard University and Alexandra Kalev of Tel Aviv University found that when employers introduced such programmes, “managerial echelons [were] significantly more diverse”. And companies with diverse perspectives on their leadership teams have better results.

According to Iris Bohnet in her 2016 book What Works: Gender Equality by Design, mentorship for women leads to increases in salaries as well as promotions and higher career satisfaction. She also notes that such programmes are associated with an increase in diversity in management.

Through its clubs, its leadership centre and its alumni, MIT’s Sloan School of Management offers its female MBA students many opportunities to both have and be mentors. After graduation, they can use these relationships as models to seek out and structure additional mentor/mentee relationships.

What should women who are finishing MBAs and preparing to start work consider when seeking a mentor?

Read More »

How to motivate people to do good for others – Erez Yoeli

Erez Yoeli, MIT Sloan Research Scientist

From TedxCambridge 

How can we get people to do more good: to go to the polls, give to charity, conserve resources or just generally act better towards others? MIT research scientist Erez Yoeli shares a simple checklist for harnessing the power of reputations — or our collective desire to be seen as generous and kind instead of selfish — to motivate people to act in the interest of others. Learn more about how small changes to your approach to getting people to do good could yield surprising results.

Watch the full talk at TedTalk.

Erez Yoeli is a research scientist at MIT Sloan’s School of Management, where he directs the Applied Cooperation Team.