April 21, 2021

Mellody Hobson, Chicago Corporate Trailblazer

A few years back, friends invited me to a luncheon benefiting a Chicago science and math school for girls. Chicago-born Mellody Hobson, the president and co-CEO of Ariel Investments, was the impressive keynote speaker. Not only was she a charismatic communicator, but she was whip smart and a terrific role model for girls interested in math and science.

This past week, Hobson was made chair of the board of directors for Starbucks, making her the only black board chairwoman of an S&P 500 company.

As side notes, Hobson and “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas have been married since 2013. On the tv show “The Good Wife,” Vanessa L. Williams based her character, Courtney Paige on Hobson’s TED talks presentations. Hobson is also a financial contributor to “Good Morning America.”

Founded in 1983, Ariel is the first and oldest minority-run mutual fund firm in the country. Although I am focusing on Hobson, I would be remiss in not mentioning John Rogers, Jr., founder and current CEO of Ariel, philanthropist and former board chairman of Chicago’s Park District.

Kudos to you, Mellody. We need more women like you to prove to young girls that careers in science and finance are indeed possible.

“Pod Save America” and “The Daily” Podcasts

Podcasts continue to proliferate and gain popularity with people world-wide. Friends suggested I check out the progressive political podcast, “Pod Save America.” The twice-weekly podcasts feature former Obama Administration staffers, Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor and Jon Lovett on Mondays, and Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer on Thursdays.

I liken the shows to listening to very smart political insiders discuss the news of the week, with a decidedly left-of-center bent. Be forewarned that four letter words abound.

The show averages 1.5 million listeners per episode and the podcast app has been downloaded 120 million times so that is a lot of ears tuned in to this irreverent and sometimes hilarious audio show.

Their umbrella company, Crooked Media, films their podcasts and releases them on YouTube, but I like listening to the show while cooking, cleaning or driving. It remains to be seen if the show will be as amusing in the post-Trump era.

Let me add a brief note about another podcast show I wrote about in February 2018, the New York Times’ show, “The Daily” with Michael Barbaro. This October 2020, the New York Times newspaper said 4 million people were subscribers of “The Daily,” which surpasses its number of print subscribers. Think about that! “The Daily” is number two on the Spotify most popular podcast list, and number three on Apple’s podcast line-up.

Instead of emphasizing political irregularities, “The Daily” has consistently featured a broad array of topics on its episodes, so they may have the easier transition in the months to come.

If you want to see what the “Pod Save America” hosts look like, here is a video link. Both “The Daily” and “Pod Save America” podcast apps are downloadable in your chosen app store.

Dec. 3, 2020 Pod Save America episode on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSD40GvBPbA&list=PLOOwEPgFWm_NHcQd9aCi5JXWASHO_n5uR&index=1

I also add this “Daily” audio link about Covid from February 2020. You might find this 24-minute podcast thought-provoking as the alarm was sounded at this very early stage.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/podcasts/the-daily/coronavirus.html

“The Social Dilemma” – A Must-See Doc on Netflix

Two different people urged me to catch “The Social Dilemma,” an informative and frightening documentary on Netflix. Following their advice, I spent around 90 minutes watching social media insiders warn about the pernicious effects of our electronic devices.

High-level executives from Instagram, Google, Pinterest and other tech companies seemed almost apologetic that they have helped unleash this beast that consumes our time and our brains.

Dramatic scenes are interspersed with talking head confessions. We are told that Silicon Valley moguls discourage their own children from using the apps and hardware from which they derive profit. FaceBook and ilk are highly addictive and encourage people to become myopic in their view of the world. You are only shown material which coincides with what you have already viewed. This selective sharing of information partially explains why we are so divided in our view of truth and governmental policy.

I can’t say this film will be a fun ride, but you will certainly be better informed after catching “The Social Dilemma.” If you feel similarly enlightened after viewing the doc, please spread the word. This might be essential to watch before the election.

Culture Beat Blog History

Way back in my high school days, I started writing a column about theatrical plays, music and books called “What’s Up” for my school newspaper. It helped that the editor was my best friend. I even had a logo of a student giving a “thumbs up.” Mind you, I had never heard of Siskel and Ebert.

During one of my longer piano bar tenures (at the Chicago Fairmont Hotel), I resurrected my column and mailed it to fans and friends under the rubric “Culture Beat.” When the internet allowed me to bypass postage, I converted my culture writings into an online blog featured on my elizabethdoylemusic web site. The Constant Contact app has made it easy to keep in touch with my favorite people on a regular basis.

The next time you are searching for a new book, a nature venue or new food, check out my “Past Blog Posts” for new ideas. My particular area of interest is foreign drama television. We are living in a time where you can find Scandi-noir, historical romances, documentaries and detective shows from every major European country, DownUnder, South America, the Middle East and Asia.

I have literally been writing a version of “Culture Beat” for decades. To keep things fresh, I welcome your recommendations for movies, books, videos, nature walks and all things that make life more creatively interesting. “Culture Beat” blog posts are definitely my favorite thing to share, after MUSIC, of course. (Neon image of me is by multi-media artist John Bannon.)

The Wall Street Journal: print version

You know those come-ons you receive in the mail where you can use airline miles to subscribe to printed newspapers and magazines? I am not going anywhere for quite some time, so I used my unused miles for a magazine and a newspaper.

I now have a daily delivered subscription to the Wall Street Journal. One friend quipped that I did not seem like the WSJ type. It has been years since I read a “paper” newspaper and I must say that this old world habit is rather nice.

Daily editions feature general news, business and finance sections. Let me confess: I skim the business section, but avidly read the hard news. The opinion pages have a conservative slant (Fox TV owner Rupert Murdoch owns the WSJ) so I read editorials with an open mind, yet skeptical eye.

Other featured sections throughout the week include Mansion, a Friday real estate round-up of extremely upscale properties and Marketplace, coverage of technology, health and media business news.

On Saturdays, the WSJ includes sections called OffDuty and Reviews plus a cultural magazine which just might become must-reading for me. “Inside Frank Sinatra’s Personal Address Book” and “In Images of Ancient Frescoes, Hidden Legacies Are Exposed” were just two of last Saturday’s intriguing articles.

https://www.wsj.com/news/magazine

The WSJ discontinued Sunday editions in 2015, so I just may have to re-subscribe to The New York Times, Sunday edition if this resumption of a paper news habit sticks!

Great Big Story on CNN and as a downloadable app

When all of the negative and scary news starts to get you down, consider visiting the Great Big Story initially launched by CNN.

Short documentaries on various POSITIVE topics might just keep you from slipping over the edge. I especially like to have these clips playing when I exercise, cook or clean.

The link I included will send you to a Great Big Story on Hungarian piano-maker David Klavins who is veering away from Steinway, Fazioli and Bosendorfer in a big way.

https://www.greatbigstory.com/stories/piano-maker/?xrs=CNNHP

The Great Big Story site hosts short films on a myriad of topics that will amaze and uplift you. For kicks, type “Paris,” “London,” “China” or “Italy” in the subject line which will bring up short films for those of us who would prefer to be traveling the world right now.

Politics, illness, floods and bad economic news will become background noise, at least for a few minutes.

You can download Great Big Story from your app store or go to the GBS link:

https://www.greatbigstory.com